This month, I want to talk a little about the Runes, which are an integral part of Heathen Tradition.
For a few years, albeit many years ago, I used to give family and friends Runic readings at New Year. Unfortunately, I only knew a small amount about them then and could only give a basic reading, but my readings were always well received.
Over time, and exposure to the deeper meanings of the Runes, I have come to learn that they are a most fascinating and interesting extant remnant of the Northern European way of Heathen life.
A bit of a background on the runes and what they mean can be found here on The Runic Journey website.
One of the best authorities, considered today in the Heathen community, is Diana Paxson’s book ‘Taking up the Runes’. A few years ago my husband was gifted this book and, as it is an excellent learning tool, I began to read it. With time and practise, I now see the Runes differently from how I did all those years ago. I would like to put this in words for you, but I think that the author, Diana, who has kindly agreed to give her comments on Runes here for us all to share, can say it much better than I…
‘The runes are many things—shapes, sounds, symbols, mysteries. They can be used for purposes as mundane as writing sales slips, as they were in the trading town of Birka, or as doorways to the Nine Worlds. The goal of rune study should not be “mastery”, but integration. Rather than seeking the runes as a path to power, whether over them, or over others, we can learn to work with them to focus and fulfill our potential and enrich our lives.
Because the runes operate in many dimensions, “taking them up” requires a multi-level approach, sensory, experiential, and spiritual. At the sensory level we learn the shapes and the sounds, and draw the runestaves. According to educational research, most people have a dominant sense through which they learn most easily. Visual learners remember best by reading and contemplating. Aural learners do best by hearing and speaking. Kinesthetic learners need to physically interact with the object of study. However we have found that working with secondary senses can stimulate areas of the brain that are less used. When studying the runes, all the senses should be used—learning to recognize the shapes, chanting them, and writing them.
The next level is experiential, in which we learn the significance of the runes for the Germanic peoples and how they manifest in our own lives. Fehu, for instance, means cattle. Most of us would associate that with milk or steak—a tasty part of the diet, but no more. In the old days in the North, cattle were the major food source and the measure of wealth, prosperity on the hoof. Studying Fehu is a good time to work on a budget, evaluate your resources, or look for a more rewarding job. When we understand Fehu, we can look at how we measure prosperity in our own lives. How do we get it? How do we tend it? And how do we use it? Fehu can also lead us to a study of the Vanir, the clan of gods who were particularly (though not solely) associated with agriculture and prosperity.
The third level of integration is spiritual. Once you have internalized knowledge of a rune through study and experience, you can use each rune as a doorway to meditation, in which your unconscious mind combines the information in new ways, and the powers behind the runes lead you to new insights. Contemplating the runes in various combinations illuminates new aspects of each one.
The runes are a basic tool for working magic in the Northern Tradition, a key to Germanic beliefs and culture, and a path for spiritual development. Divination may be the most popular application, but it is by no means the only one. Once you have internalized their meaning, you will find yourself using them in many ways, including healing and protection. The runes have been called a magic alphabet, or perhaps an alphabet of magic. Certainly they bring magic into our lives.’
~Diana L. Paxson is the author of twenty-nine novels of historical and legendary fantasy, including ‘Sword of Avalon’ and the ‘Wodan’s Children’ trilogy, and non-fiction books such as ‘Taking up the Runes’ and ‘Essential Asatru’. She is an Elder in the Troth and edits their journal, ‘Idunna’. She is also a pioneer in the recovery of oracular seidh and has just finished a book on the history and practice of oracle work. www.avalonbooks.net , www.westria.org , www.hrafnar.org
I would just like to say a huge thank you to Diana, for taking the time out of her busy life to contribute here today.
Over the years, I’ve tried both the Runes and Tarot and somehow, the Tarot just doesn’t fit with me at all whereas the Runes seem to be just right and are still a wonderful journey of discovery.
Why not get yourself a set of Runes, like the ones pictured above and take the time to get to know them and their various meanings. They are a great tool for any spiritual practise, whether Heathen or Pagan.
Go on, discover something new.
Blessings to your Hearth,
Paranormal/Fantasy Novelist, Best Selling eBook Author and Award Winning Blog Writer.