Hail – cold grain and shower of sleet and sickness of serpents. Icelandic rune poem, Runic and Heroic Poems, Bruce Dickins
Traditional meaning – hail
Association – destruction that brings new growth
Pronunciation – hah-guh-lahz
Galdr – Haw, Hawga, Hah, Hahg, Hahgal
Element – ice
Dates – 28 October – 13 November
Verb – to adapt
Animistic Qualities – able to observe the agency and impact of Self among the agency and impact of others
Challenge – To cope with adversity and change
Traditional lore – Hagalaz presents a state in which external unwanted change destroys some aspect of our life, and we have to choose how we go forward. In this way, the tone of hail is both the damning and inspirational, and we must adapt to survive.
Animistic lore – Hagalaz is the first point in the traditional ordering of the Elder Futhark that we can’t just get by on our own agency. We become involved in the agency of other persons. We have to be responsible for the impact of our agency on ourselves and others. We have to navigate the agency of others and engage when their impact is problematic, even if unintentional. Hagalaz truly presents a place that we must confront our powers of destruction as human-persons, how we’re going to handle that power, how we respond when we cause harm, and when we have been harmed. It presents the point that custodianship of the planet leaves a scar, yet we still have to respond to calling.
Hagalaz is the rune of the broken path,of our break from our awareness of ourselves as Naturekin and the aftermath of culture built on that lack
I’m Kelley Harrell, author, animist, and creator of The Weekly Rune. Soul Intent Arts is my soul tending practice, and you are listening to What in the Wyrd–my podcast in which I talk about runes, animism, soul tending, and deathwalking, and how all of those are in relationship on my path.
Before we jump into this episode’s rune, I want to mention a couple of things that are coming up–I will be hosting some open deathwalking group sessions–In the Danger of Death–in October and November. Higher Patreon tiers can join these for free, and the public can join for $35 for both sessions. The first will discuss basic animistic deathwalking skills with Q&A, and the second session is a group ritual in which we release our unquiet dead. You can find information about In the Danger of Death on my website soulintentarts.com.
Also coming up will be info on next year’s cohort of The Spirited Path, the soul tending training that I mentor. 2024 marks 10 years of the intensive, and it will have a new format that I’m excited to share. So if you’re interested in that, subscribe to my mailing list for upcoming details.
What else? I will be teaching a monthly runes course through Patreon–subscribe to get those details, as well.
In other news, I am thick in manuscript edits for my upcoming book, From Elder to Ancestor, so the condensed format of The Weekly Rune will reflect that for a few weeks. The current runecast is out now, and I’ve done a weekly runecast for 11 years focused on Nigel Pennick’s calculation of a pan-northern runic calendar. It’s focused on the current half-month rune, which I center in ecosystem with the elements, directions, seasons, and Spirits of Place. Each week I invite you to frame the half-month rune in the way you relate to your spirits of place and see how your rune work deepens.
If you want to learn more about runic calendars, listen to the early episodes of What in the Wyrd, or just go read The Weekly Rune. The one that I work with is explained fully at the beginning of every runecast. The full version of TWR is available weekly only through Patreon, though you can also subscribe to the highlights for free. So get notified when they come out by subscribing at soulintentarts.com.
In this episode of verbing with the runes, we’re focusing on Hagalaz.
of the galdr haw, hawga, hah, hahga.
Hagalaz is a rune that a lot of people dread in their runecasts, not gonna lie, but let’s talk about it in the context of the traditional Elder Futhark ordering. Hagalaz follows Wunjo, joy, bliss. And if you’ve been in form for five minutes, you already know that not only does bliss not last, but there are systems in play that actively work against us having it. So any rune that follows Wunjo is going to get shade.
That said, Hagalaz opens the second aett, and it hits the ground running, like maybe for your life, kind of running. Hagalaz represents external, if not environmental change that we can’t control. It means hail, as in ice that can randomly fall from the sky and destroy your home, your car, or back in the day–your livelihood. The catch-22 of hail is, yes it destroys, then it melts to nourish the land. So we have this conundrum in Hagalaz that while shitty things happen, they still progress into beneficial things. In the same way that bliss doesn’t last, neither does destruction.
That’s a widely known way of looking at Hagalaz, and is the underlying distress most people carry about it. I identify another that isn’t widely discussed, and that is Hagalaz as the speed bump into the second aett.
So let’s back up for a second. We’ve spent the first aett figuring out how to be a quality soul in form. We’ve explored our resources, interdependence, belonging, our unconscious, inspiration, agency, relationships, and bliss. These aspects are the base kit of learning to soul-in-form. When we move to the second aett with Hagalaz, our awareness shifts into a more collective experience. We’re not doing all that souling in form alone, and in truth we never were. But with the advent of Hagalaz, the abrupt conflict that leaves us hitting the ground running, we know we’re not coping with the challenges of form alone. I contend that is an equally distressing experience as the continuous potential for external conflict. I’d even one up that and say the added realization of other humans as a source of continuous potential for conflict is enormous. You might say it’s deeply psychological.
The way I look at this dynamic is, if the first aett is establishing the protagonist, me/you, the second aett is the plot twist. It’s the introduction of conflict and the antagonist by way of the chaotic dance of all of us realizing while we’re busy being the protagonist, we’re someone else’s antagonist. Another way of saying that is, in the second aett we realize that our agency has impact. We realize that other peoples’ agency has impact. In fact, it can really screw us up on our otherwise happy little soul-in-form trajectory.
So not only is the landscape out to get us, the intentional AND unintentional impact of others is, too. To say nothing of the wyrd implications of using our agency to cause harm… intentional or unintentional.
So how do we deal with that? How do we create a life with the looming potential of Hagalaz? Again, that’s part of the deal of coming into form. Whether we know that coming in is a whole other topic, but we figure it out pretty dang fast that life is collision of impact, over and over. And the way we deal with it is by adapting. So yes, while we could verb Hagalaz as to change, to be destroyed, to destroy–both of which are totally true and accurate–a more animistic verb that suits our drive to grow and go is to adapt. To adapt.
I mean, what’s the other option? We survive terrible things all the time. It’s what we do here. We can choose defeat. Frustration. Anger. Living out of our trauma. They are all feasible responses, and are likely ones we will experience, if we haven’t already. Over and over. And I say ‘we can choose defeat,’ when I mean we can choose how we respond to conflict. But in reality we’re not taught emotional options. We’re not taught that we can opt out of sitting with defeat or anger. Or trauma… We’re not taught how to live beyond the conflict and into whatever version of us and life forms after it.
A few years ago I took a class taught by Bayo Akomolafe, Tyson Yunkaporta, Sophie Strand, and Vanessa Andreotti on the power of scar–as in, “Ouch, that hurt. That’s going to leave a scar.” Through the whole thing I sat there thinking, “This is Hagalaz. Hagalaz is learning to live in the scar.”
In my 90s, mostly-American-settler-culture soul education was the concept of ‘the wounded healer.’ The archetype of the wounded healer was around long before the 90s, though that’s when this whole modern shaman business was reaching a zenith in American settler culture. In that context it was put forward as folx who are called to healing paths all experience an initiatory wound. I find this to be true. At the time of my formative teaching, the wounded healer was projected in this gross, as in yucky, romanticized way, as if we all want this path, or we all want this wound, which really cheapened the experience of initiatory wound. And the passive aggressive vibe was that to be good healers, to have integrity and compassion, we must stay wounded, which cheapened healing, which created a harmful martyred pathologizing of Self. I don’t find it to be true that we have to stay wounded to be solid facilitators of healing, yet I still see it put forward that way. Which, if we’re really situating this calling from an initiatory wound standpoint, it’s missing the initiation part. All we have is wound.
Something that we talk about in The Spirited Path, the soul tending intensive training that I mentor, is you’re not initiated if the experience of wounding wasn’t brought to some form of closure. I don’t mean it doesn’t hurt anymore, or that there aren’t modifications in life that must be made–taboos, if you will. But if the rituals around holding your initiatory wound don’t give way to a sense of oneness with the wound, with All Things, with ecosystem, with human-person community, with interdependence, belonging and all of that first aett soul-in-form stuff, it’s just trauma. It’s post-traumatic stress. And I say that carefully having just re-explored my own experience of initiatory wound with the 19th anniversary of the publication of my book about my initiatory wound.
I want to pause a moment and say that we can learn to do that. I can help you bring closure to initiatory wounding and to become who you are in that next context. This is what I do through soul work, deathwork, and rune work. I also do it through this podcast, and this is the spot that I thank my Patreon supporters who make the What in the Wyrd and The Weekly Rune possible with their financial support. The Weekly Rune is insightful and more often than not profound, and you can subscribe to it on Patreon. Just search for Runes for Change, and you can subscribe for free, or you can join a paid tier and gain access to classes, deeper insights on the runes, soul tending sessions.
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Initiatory wound, every day life, hail–it all leaves scars. Not everything heals, and it all leaves scars. And there’s nothing romantic or pathological about that fact. Scar, by definition, is neither here nor there. It is liminal. It isn’t who we were before. The scarred version of us didn’t exist before the wound. Scar defies static description of who we are now, and it’s something that inherently never becomes, yet always could become. It is organic flux that we continually negotiate from our power, ecosystem supports, spirit allies, human-person community. It is adaptation at our most core levels of being, which is why I no longer say wounded healer, but scarred tender.
Another way that I look at Hagalaz is as the rune of the broken path. It represents both our break from our awareness of ourselves as Naturekin and the aftermath of culture built on that lack. It is scar. We are scar.
Hagalaz is coming into relationship with the difficulties of soul-in-form and working with scar as possibility, as connective tissue offering a relationship with unknown territory. Our journey into this aett begins with significant demands on our resilience. Hagalaz introduces the reality of our agency clashing with that of other persons, and that we must adapt, without compromising our embodiment or place-space relationships. And its association with hail assures that adaptation is possible.
Thank you for listening. If you have questions or insights about working with the runes, soul tending, or if you just want to drop me a line you can do that at Kelleysoulintentarts.com, that’s k e l l e y at soulintentarts dot com.
Learn more about me, Runic Book of Days, and my work by visiting soulntintentarts.com. I’m most often on Instagram @kelleysoularts. Check out previous episodes, and find detailed notes on this episode on my website, under the menu option Learn… Liveable Runelore. The transcript of this episode can be found along with the episode description.
I’m Kelley and this has been What in the Wyrd. Thank you for all the gorgeous agency clashing that you do.
Adapting with Hagalaz Introspections
- How do you nurture Scar?
- How do you avoid Scar?
- How is Scar in relationship with adaptation?
S. Kelley Harrell, M. Div.
I’m an animist, author, deathwalker and death doula. For the last 25+ years, through Soul Intent Arts I’ve helped others to ethically build thriving spiritual paths as fit, embodied elders, who upon death become wise, capable Ancestors. My work is Nature-based, and focuses soul tending through the Elder Futhark runes, animism, ancestral healing, and deathwork. I’m author of Runic Book of Days, and I host the podcast, What in the Wyrd. I also write The Weekly Rune as a celebration of the Elder Futhark in season. Full bio.
#beyourcommunity ~ #youareecosystem
elder well, die well, ancestor well
To bear your unique gift to the world.
To leave the planet better than you found it.
So that your descendants never elder alone.