Day 346: Tyr’s Aett, Ehwaz

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As I’ve mentioned before, all the information below comes not from Roderick’s book, but from Diana L. Paxson’s Taking Up the Runes

EHWAZ
Pronunciation:  “EH-wahz”
Meaning:  Horse
Supporting Meanings:  Trust, partnership, power, privilege, transportation between realms

Ancient Meanings:  Ehwaz does not appear in the Younger Futhark, likely because the “e” sound it stood for in old Germanic languages migrated to a long “a” sound.  In the Anglo-Saxon rune poem, ehwaz is aligned with the horse and associated with aristocracy, prosperity, and mobility.  It calls the horse “a joy to princes in presence of earls” and calls the horse proud of its hooves with rich men mount it and bandy words.  It also calls teh horse a comfort to the restless.

Modern Meanings:  Edred Thorsson sees ehwaz as a symbiosis between partners, be they man/horse, man/woman, etc:  any form of complementary dyads working together toward a single goal.  Osborn and Longland call it the vehicle of transcendence that increases physical power, or the body which is the soul’s vehicle.  Freya Aswynn views it as that which forms a link between one’s emotional attitudes and the external world and, like Thorsson, sees it as a rune of partnership, cooperation, and adjustment.  For Gundarsson, ehwaz is the vehicle of communication between the worlds, and can symbolize the joining of mystical interpretation and earthly prosperity.  Paxon calls attention to the relationship between horse and rider, calling it “significantly empowering” and saying that together they are able to do things that neither would accomplish alone.  She also notes that ehwaz seems to represent extension of strength through union and spiritual or physical energy, operating in both the physical and spiritual realms.

My Take-Away of the Meanings:  Riding a horse is a powerful experience.  You have to trust the horse to be conscious enough of you to not kill you, and the horse has to trust you to direct it upon a safe course and to care for it.  It’s a real partnership, not simple tool utilization such as driving a car.  And that’s nothing compared to how it feels to ride a horse at a full run!  It is like flying!  No wonder people associate this rune with bridging the spiritual and physical realms!

Paxson’s Interpretation and Use:  Depending on context, ehwaz’s meaning in a reading can include change and movement or an increase in capacity in either the physical or spiritual realms  as a result of cooperation with another.  It can also indicate the possibility or need to change a situation through changing one’s relationship to it.  It can be used as a protective rune in workings involving trance or altered consciousness.  Thosson holds that it stands for connection, loyalty, and the principle of teamwork.  Willis feels that it may mean one is on the right track and success is imminent.  Peterson associates it with physical or astral travel, and Aswynn says that it refers to the relationship with a mother or an older female in divinatory readings.  It can be combined with elhaz in a bind rune to hunt a wandering spirits.

Paxson’s Practice for Living Ehwaz:  The obvious practice here is to experience riding a horse.  However, this is not practical for everyone as it involves a level of physical fitness and coordination…not to mention a healthy pocketbook!  You can find the next best thing in literature, though.  Paxson recommends viewing the film The Black Stallion which skillfully transforms the relationship between the boy and the horse into a metaphor of transcendence.  Similarly, reading Laura Hillenbrand’s book Seabiscuit or even watching the later film can help give you insights into this profound sort of relationship.

Day 345: Tyr’s Aett, Berkano

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As I’ve mentioned before, all the information below comes not from Roderick’s book, but from Diana L. Paxson’s Taking Up the Runes

BERKANO
Pronunciation:  “BER-kah-no”
Meaning:  Birch Tree
Supporting Meanings:  Goddess, Earth Mother, pregnancy, nurturing, birth-death-rebirth, life cycles

Ancient Meanings:  According to Diana Paxson, all three rune poems agree that this rune (Beorc in the Anglo-Saxon and Bjarkan in the Norwegian and Icelandic) all mean “birch tree”, though Osborn and Longland cite a gloss on the Anglo-Saxon that argues the meaning as “poplar tree”.  The Anglo-Saxon poem notes that the birch tree is a splendidly branched tree that forms a ‘gloriously adorned’ lofty crown that reaches to the sky, but also that the birch bears no fruit or seed and is generated by suckers that develop from its leaves.  With this description, Osborn and Longland may be on to something as poplars readily reproduce through suckers.  Birch trees typically reproduce sexually through the production of catkins which then develop into seeds.  Many of the seeds do not result in trees, however, and birch trees do have a limited ability to reproduce asexually through the formation of suckers.  The Icelandic poem notes that while birch is “a leafy branch”, it is a youthful wood and is a little tree.  The Norwegian verse is the most cryptic, saying that “birch is the greenest-leaved of branches; Loki was lucky in his deception.”

Modern Meanings:  While Osborn and Longland align Berkano with the black poplar, that doesn’t really impact their interpretation of the rune:  they take this description of asexual reproduction to represent continuous growth and an example of the masculine principle.  Thorsson, however, calls it a rune of the Earth Mother, which makes sense as many cultures feminize the birch tree in their poetry.  Berkano, then, suggests pregnancy and reveals the mystery of birth-death-rebirth and rites of passage.  Gundarsson agrees, calling berkano “the rune of the earth who receives the sacrifice/seed and holds it within herself, guarding and nourishing it until the time has come for it to return to the worlds outside again.”  Frey Aswynn ascribes the rune to the Goddess Berchta, who guards mothers and children, and takes special care of abandoned children and infant spirits.  Wardle describes the rune as the shining may Queen and interprets berkano’s shape as an image of the open womb, making it the sequel to the birthgiving of perthro.  Paxon notes that if berkano is a birch tree rather than a poplar, the rune may be interpreted as a symbol of the tree goddess found in many cultures, female and motherly, source of nourishment and protection.  She prefers to see it as a rune of Frigga, the most motherly and most queenly of the Northern goddesses.

My Take-Away of the Meanings:  Birch trees are one of the first trees to return to an area after a fire, flood, or any such disaster.  Indeed, many grow from the stumps of older birch trees.  They are a sign of the earth re-birthing itself, and is a sign of the Great Mother

Paxson’s Interpretation and Use:  Berkano turns up at significant life passages.  It indicates birth and becoming, rootedness, the feminine.  Gundarsson calls it a rune of “bringing into being” and is the first protection given a child at his or her birth.  It is useful in all female fertility magic and women’s mysteries.  It hides the workings of other runes until their action is ready to be revealed and is a rune of hidden transformation and growth.  It’s a useful healing rune for women’s troubles and menstrual problems.  It suggests success for new enterprises or something beginning.  It indicates healing, recovery, and regeneration.  Birch also has some pain-relieving and fever-reducing qualities as willow, so it can be used magically to speed healing on these lines, too.

Paxson’s Practice for Living Berkano:  One of the major uses of the birch in Scandanavia is in the sauna, a particular type of sweat-lodge where heavy stones are heated with birchwood; therefore, the scent of birch smoke is part of the true Finnish sauna experience.  Fresh birch branches are tied together, and people swat themselves and other sauna bathers with it to improve circulation and to enjoy more of the birch scent.  In Finland, the sauna is the most sacred place after the church, and prior to mass hospitalization, it was the place where women gave birth.  Even today, the experience of a sauna is said to be cleansing for both the body and the mind.  Since birch, healing, and motherhood are all important aspects of the sauna, it might do well to reflect upon berkano as you experience a traditional sauna.

Day 344: Tyr’s Aett, Tiwaz

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As I’ve mentioned before, all the information below comes not from Roderick’s book, but from Diana L. Paxson’s Taking Up the Runes.

TIWAZ
Pronunciation:  “TEE-wahz”
Meaning:  Tyr
Supporting Meanings:  Justice, the just fight, righteous war, governmental guidance, spiritual warrior, sovereignty

Ancient Meanings:  According to Diana Paxson, tiwaz is one of the two runes named after a deity.  Therefore, mastering this rune requires understanding the god whose anme it bears.  Alas, Tyr himself is not easy to understand as he is a very old figure and successive groups of people attributed different qualities to him.  As Wikipedia notes, Tyr is portrayed in the Icelandic Eddas alternately as the son of Odin or of Hymir, while the origins of his name and his possible relationship to Tuisto suggest he was once considered the father of the gods and head of the pantheon, since his name is ultimately cognate to that of Dyeus, the reconstructed chief deity in Indo-European religion. It is assumed that Tîwaz was overtaken in popularity and in authority by both Odin and Thor at some point during the Migration Age, as Odin shares his role as God of war.  Looking to the Rune poems, the Anglo-Saxon one focuses on Tyr as “a guiding star” who keeps princes faithful and never veers from its course.  The Icelandic poem refers to the myth of Tyr binding the Fenris wolf and having his hand bit off in the process.  The Norwegian poem refers to this myth, too, but notes that Tyr often employs blacksmiths…presumably to make his weapons of war.  Paxon is careful, however, to note that Tyr’s role in fighting was not bloodlust, but to make sure the battle served divine justice.

Modern Meanings:  Edred Thorsson defines Tyr as a sky god who is specifically associated with justice as decided by war and judicial combat.  He says that Tyr is the self-sacrificing sovereign who rules cosmic order, precise and careful.  Osborn and Longland identify Tyr as the polestar, which is a dependable guide.  Wardle fees Tyr as the star that marks the midpoint of the heavens, which makes it a symbol of the world axis whose equal arms could be considered to resemble the rune.  Gundarsson agrees with the Latin writers association of Tyr with Mars, and interprests the one-ended form of the rune as separating earth and heaven, reflecting Tyr’s unipolar and single-minded character (in contrast to Odin’s flexibility).  Tyr only sees the one right way, not the many shades of gray in a situation.  The tiwaz rune strongly resembles a spear, which–by Viking times–had become associated with Odin.  However, the spear is also a sign of sovereignty.

My Take-Away of the Meanings:  I think that part of this rune is the process of statecraft.  While there may be many variables contributing to a situation with different levels of justice in each, government can really only take one action.  Tiwaz represents coming to the most just response and galvanizing all around you to that response.

Paxson’s Interpretation and Use:  In readings, tiwaz can indicate a legal problem or a situation in which one must fight for one’s rights and seek justice.  The querent needs to pay attention to duty and serve a higher truth.  It can provide moral strength and will to succeed.  Willis states that tiwaz can be used to obtain victory in any matter in which there is competition.  It indicates strength of will, determination to win, and the potential for conflict.  Peterson interprets it to mean victory in legal/political areas or in physical combat.  Thorsson sees it as justice and victory won by self-sacrifice.  Aswynn sees it as a rune of the spiritual warrior, stimulating the courage and energy needed to come through difficult situations.  It’s most useful in legal matters when combined in a bindrune with raidho.  Gundarsson says it develops courage, strength, and honor and makes one aware of one’s duty.  It can be extremely useful in magical work in the personal/social realms.  It focuses one’s energy and directs it single-mindedly to a given purpose.  Since Tyr is a god of absolute justice, if you invoke him, be sure that you are in the right, for he will do justice…not necessarily seeing that you win.

Paxson’s Practice for Living Tiwaz:  Try meditating on the meaning of justice, perhaps through the myth of Tyr and the wolf Fenris.  The gods decided to shackle the wolf, but Fenris broke every chain they put on him.  Eventually, the gods had the dwarves make a magical rope, but Fenris sensed their deceit and refused to be bound with it unless one of the gods put his hand in the wolf’s mouth.  When Fenris realized he’d been tricked and the ribbon held fast, he bit off Tyr’s hand.  Was the wolf just in his action?  Why would Tyr have had the courage to submit to Fenris’s demand, knowing that the rope was a trick?

Day 343: Casting Hagal’s Aett

Gather together all eight of Hagal’s runes.  Turn them over so that you cannot see their inscriptions.  Stir the runes with your left hand while you look skyward.  Think of a question about which you would like some insight.  Hold both hands over the runes, look skyward, and say:

Guide my hand with the hand of fate,
Goddess drawn from Hagal’s eight!

Draw a single rune for your answer.  Make the connection between your question and the rune symbol.  Now take action based on the insight you receive.

Like I did when I cast Freya’s Aett, I’m interested in the energies surrounding certain job applications.  Since Freya’s Aett casting, though, I’ve gained employment and I’m not so desperate.  Granted, I want work in my field and work that doesn’t make me depressed just by showing up to the office…but I’m just not desperate for work now.  These jobs I have in mind are applications to become a high school teacher, which is now the dream.  I have some options right now…I can either find work in a new part of the country where you can become a teacher without first getting an MAT, or I can go back to school.  This reading was for whether or not I should apply to the actual jobs before applying for more school.

The rune I pulled was Pertho, which as Paxton notes means I should “explore the implication of the operation of fate” in this situation.  There’s some truth to this.  I’m scared to confront the uncertainty of signing on to be head of a classroom when I’ve got no official training in managing a K-12 group.  But there’s also the implication of gaming here–lightening up and just playing the game.  I’ve got work now…I don’t have to view every application as life and death.  I can just enjoy the process and let the chips fall as they may; let fate find me instead of chasing it, perhaps.

Yule Ornament Idea: Pasta Angels

It’s been my experience that angels are something of a divisive issue in the Pagan community.  There’s a very vocal camp that maintain that they’re a unique creation of the Abrahamic religions (and Zoroastrianism) and that there’s no place for them in Neopaganism.  There’s another camp that reminds us all that angel-like creatures are not unique to the Abrahamic religions and that important influences upon contemporary Paganism placed a good deal of emphasis on them.  In particular, Theosophy–an esoteric philosophy repopularized under Helena Blavatsky in the late 19th century that influences a lot of contemporary Paganism–developed a concept of devas (a word taken from a similar being in Buddhism), which were essentially solar or planetary angels that could be reincarnations of human beings.  In Theosophy, Nature spirits, elementals, and fairies also share a lot of similarities with these angelic devas.  In addition to Theosophy, another influence on contemporary Paganism, the Hermetic Qabalah, also insists upon angels, and incorporates 10 archangels into its magical system.

If you’re a pagan who uses the concept of angels in your practice, this “craft-tastic” holiday ornament might interest you and your family.  Break out the dried pasta and acrylic paints and get ready to return to pre-school!

A couple Pasta Angels perched on my Pentacle.

A couple Pasta Angels perched on my Pentacle.

What You’ll Need:

  • Twine or other thread/ribbon for hanging
  • A bobby pin to help thread the twine through the head
  • A number of wooden beads to serve as heads
  • Ditalini pasta (n. 45) to serve as hair
  • Rigatoni pasta to serve as bodies (squatter, thicker rigatoni shapes work better than longer, thinner rigatoni)
  • Farfalle/Bowtie pasta to serve as wings
  • Elbow macaroni to serve as arms
  • Thumbtacks to serve as candles
  • Hot glue gun
  • Hot glue sticks
  • Acrylic paint: at least 1 white bottle and 1 colored bottle (keep in mind that green doesn’t show up well on a tree).
  1. Paint the farfalle pasta white on both sides.  Paint the rigatoni pieces, too.  You may need to do two coats, depending on the paint thickness.  If you desire to paint the ditalini or elbow macaroni a color, do so now as well.  However, these pieces are very small and painting them will be very laborious.
  2. Poke the closed end of the bobby pin through the wooden bead and thread the twine through it.  Pull a loop of twine through the head and knot it at the bottom of the doll’s head.  Cut the twine off next to the knot.
  3. Using the hot glue gun, glue the ditalini to the head to look like curled hair.  It is best to try to lay just enough glue to tack three pieces to the head at a time.  Continue to glue ditalini to the head until the entire back of the bead is covered.
  4. Run a bead of hot glue around the knot at the base of the head bead and fix a rigatoni to it.
  5. Dab a bead of hot glue onto the back of a farfalle and affix it to the back of the angel, about halfway down the rigatoni.
  6. Dab hot glue onto one side of a macaroni and attach it to the front of the rigatoni so that the open ends of the macaroni point upward.  Repeat with the other macaroni in a mirror image of the first.
  7. Dab hot glue onto the top of the two macaroni openings in the center of the angel and fix the top of a thumbtack to it so that the point is upward.
  8. Let the angel cool completely and hang it from your tree.

Day 342: Hagal’s Aett, Sowilo

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As I’ve mentioned before, all the information below comes not from Roderick’s book, but from Diana L. Paxson’s Taking Up the Runes.

SOWILO
Pronunciation:  “So-WEE-lo”
Meaning:  Sun
Supporting Meanings:  Illumination, guidance, nurturing, triumphing, will, inner light, guiding motion and journeys

Ancient Meanings:  According to Diana Paxson, the Anglo-Saxon, Icelandic, and Norwegian rune poems all agree that Sowilo stands for “Sun.”  In the Anglo-Saxon poem, the sun is the hope of seamen ferrying over the sea until their ship comes to land.  The Icelandic poem sees the sun as a shield, which defends against the cold and melts ice.  The Norwegian poem, interestingly, links the sun’s light with respect to the heavens:  “Sun is the light of the lands; I bow to heaven’s doom.”  Since the light of the lands is obviously cyclical in Norway (vastly different daylight hours in summer and winter), I think that this particular line also notes a respect for cycles.

Modern Meanings:  Edred Thorsson sees this rune as signifying the sun and its light, the solar wheel, the wheels of the solar wagon, and the sun disk itself.  It is the force of lightning which links heaven and earth, and the whirling wheels of energy we know as chakras.  He also sees sowilo as the will to victory, the illuminating beacon that guides the seeker across consciousness’s sea.  Similarly, Willis sees it as the light that vanquishes evil.  Osborn and Longland interpret it as the sail that drives the ship in the poem, or the quartz that allows the navigator to perceive the sun’s position.  Peterson views it as the life force, consciousness and wholeness, and the power to calm stormy seas.  Freya Aswynn emphasizes that the sun in Norse myth is feminine, and suggests that the Sun can be seen as nurturing with its welcome heat and light.  She defines sowilo as a rune of the higher self, which directs the process of individuation and provides spiritual guidance.  Gundarsson focuses on sowilo as a source of invincibility and triumph, a rune of the will.  Most commentators agree that sowilo is a rune of illumination and movement

My Take-Away of the Meanings:  Where would we be without the sun?  Without its warmth and radiation, there would be no life.  And if we could imagine a world with life but no sun, it would be a rudderless life.  We would have nothing to anchor our place on the planet.

Paxson’s Interpretation and Use:  In readings, sowilo indicates illumination, clarification, the appearance of a guiding principle, change or development after a period of stagnation.  It is a beacon of hope for those who strive.  The sun mean strength, energy, life force, success, honor, and achievement.  It also is the light of truth and enlightenment.  It may indicate health or a need to rest and restore it.  It can be interpreted as a journey rune, especially over water (in conjunction with raidho and laguz), or even a sailor.  Its illumination may arrive through a teacher’s help.  With isa, it may indicate a blocked will.  Magically, sowilo provides guidance in journeying and can be inscribed on luggage for protection.  Invoking it helps one find the right path.  It can be used to kindle and maintain energy needed to carry projects through to their completion.

Paxson’s Practice for Living Sowilo:  One of the most obvious ways to experience sowilo is by tracking the sun’s journey.  In medieval Iceland, time was counted in day-marks, or by noting the position of the sun in regard to features in the landscape.  Obviously, these features changed from place to place.  Try identifying the day-marks for your own environment and use them to tell time.  It can be an interesting psychological exercise, and can be easily made a spiritual one by accompanying each observation with a prayer.  Doing so aligns your personal time with that of sowilo.

Day 341: Hagal’s Aett, Elhaz

As I've mentioned before, all the information below comes not from Roderick's book, but from Diana L. Paxson's Taking Up the Runes

As I’ve mentioned before, all the information below comes not from Roderick’s book, but from Diana L. Paxson’s Taking Up the Runes

ELHAZ
Pronunciation:  “EL-hazh”
Meaning:  Elk
Supporting Meanings:  Protection, linking divine and natural worlds

Ancient Meanings:  According to Diana Paxson, the Anglo-Saxon rune poem is the only one to include this rune, and it does so by aligning it with a plant, “Eolh-secg” which some translate as elk sedge, eelgrass, or holy place edge.  This grass (or the edge of a holy place” is found mostly in fens and grows in water, but it causes stinging wounds to any brave soul who tries to hold on to it.  Whether this is protective or harmful, I suppose, depends upon your perspective:  are you using the grass as a defensive shield, or are you trying to work your way through it?

Modern Meanings:  Edred Thorsson describes elhaz as a sign of protection, calling to mind the horned elk that feeds upon the Worldtree.  It could also stand for the link between man and his spirit guide.  He says that its protection comes from one’s relationship with his or her own personal divinity.  Peterson finds elements of hunt magic in the rune.  Osborn and Longland point out the danger of eelgrass, but note that knowledge of one’s environment would allow you to operate safely and ward off danger.  Freya Aswynn belives that its use as a termination in language makes it primarily magical in function.  For her, this rune can be upright or upside down and can be feminine and masculine:  therefore, when combined together in a bindrune, they can represent marriage.  She does, however, also agree that the rune is a force for connection and protection.

My Take-Away of the Meanings:  I like to think of the rune as protective, defensive antlers.  But it also looks like a man with his arms raised to the sky in worship and channeling.  It’s protection comes from increased connection with the Gods.

Paxson’s Interpretation and Use:  In a reading, this rune almost certainly means protection, possibly by means of drawing on natural powers or allowing suppressed aspects of personality to operate.  It indicates a beneficent new influence, willing sacrifice, or an exchange of lesser for greater good.  It can be dangerous to the untrained, and can be used to turn back an attack so that it wounds the attacker.  Combined with other runes in bind runes, it invokes their force for protection.  The Elk rune is used to protect or hallow in situations where Wiccans would use the pentagram.

Paxson’s Practice for Living Elhaz:  To raise elhaz energy, ground and center while standing, reaching deeply for power.  When you have a strong sense of the energy, slowly stand with hands at your sides and draw the power upward.  As it fills you, lift your arms, extend them at an angle, and project the energy out through the crown of your head and the tips of your fingers in offering, or bring your arms downward again so that the energy forms a protective sphere.  As you do this, meditate on your guardian spirit.  Protection is intensified by drawn the rune with a fingernail on your forehead, chest, or the palms of your hands.