What in the Wyrd podcast

Kelley Harrell explores animism and soul tending seasonally through the Elder Futhark runes.

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Elder Futhark

Transcript below

How Can a Rune Even Be Blank?

by Kelley Harrell | Trailer

Episode 103 – Episode 103 – Tiwaz Happens

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, actionable animism, soul tending, and how all of those intersect through sacred activism on my path.

Thank you to everyone who listens to the podcast, to those who send notes and share their experiences of the runes. That’s what it’s all about, and I’m grateful for the engagement.

Thank you to everyone who listens to the podcast, to those who send notes and share their experiences of the runes. That’s what it’s all about, and I’m grateful for the engagement.

I also want to thank my Patreon supporters, who make the sharing of my runework through the podcast and the runecast possible with their financial support. If you have benefitted from the runecast, the podcast, or the ton of free articles on the runes, animism, and soul tending on my website, you can show your support through buying my books–which you can find at soul intent arts dot com or Amazon–by making a one-time contribution through Paypal or Square, or by contributing regularly through Patreon. Just go to patreon.com and search for kelley harrell. You can also subscribe to the paid version of the weekly rune there.

And thank you for it.

The Weekly Rune is out, and if you’re not sure what it is, it’s a runecast that I’ve done for years focused on the runic calendar and the current half-month rune. The Weekly Rune is now available in full on patreon.com. –just do a search for Kelley Harrell to find it, and you can find the archive of all past runecasts on my site, soulintentarts.com

If you’re not sure what a half-month is or what the runic calendar is, listen to the early episodes of What in the Wyrd, or just go read The Weekly Rune. It’s explained fully at the beginning of every runecast.

Before we get onto the topic for this episode–remember you can find transcripts of the latest episodes on my website–soul intent arts dot com. Go to the LISTEN menu item, and find full transcripts of What in the Wyrd.

We closed our time with the second aett a little bit leery, right? After the last year of pandemic and deep exploration of relationship to harmful systems, we came through this massively reflective grouping of stellar events over the December Solstice that were pretty much akin to shit or get off the pot. They were hardcore, and it seemed appropriate to honor that for what it was, sit with the divinity of Sowilo, and stay open about the potential of Tiwaz and Berkana.

We ended up having the most empathetic experience of Tiwaz that I can remember in my adulthood, and our time with Berkana has proved equally as benevolent. For those who haven’t worked with the runes in season for long, Tiwaz is the rune that demands emotional focus. Not restraint–not holding back on how you feel–but that you feel what you must fully–ALL THE WAY THROUGH–so that as you move on from battle you don’t take any of it with you. Can you take none of it with you? Is that even a thing? How about you reconcile it such that you can live embodied with what you take with you? 

Fair enough? Okay that works for me.  I like that better.

It’s not an accident that Berkana comes next in the progression of the runes. If Tiwaz is the survivor rune (my wording), then Berkana is the rehabilitator rune. I’m going to pause right here [BIG DEEP BREATH] and say it took me 10 minutes to figure out what the word should be for someone who holds space to be well and all that entails…  I was like, “Is it nurse? It’s sort of midwife, but not just for infancy. Is it counselor? No, cos it’s not just the emotional and mental aspects…”

I had to sit with that because as someone who is a survivor, it’s taken me the better part of 50 years to know a world or role beyond surviving. And I know a lot of you know what I mean by that. If you have survived trauma, particularly in childhood, you cultivate a life that can’t see beyond that–even conceptually. Even when you’re doing the best you can–you’re doing all the stuff to take care of yourself. And we need to get to Berkana. We need to be able to conceptualize ourselves as rehabilitators of our own lives. So work with your own words around that. They do matter, and go with the one that best describes your relationship to Berkana. For me, for now, it’s Rehabilitator.

In the last episode we talked about how our Dream Team has regrouped without us, our Spirit Allies put us on hold, and we were sitting with being an adolescent who has to step into the adult world. In so many ways, that’s what this past year has been all about–where are we not humaning well? I can’t bring myself to say adulting but you’ll have to buy my next book to learn why. So anyway–where are we not stepping into an elderhood that is chasing us with a stick to own it and embody our power? In the last year, everything has been hyper-focused on all of us dealing with our shit so that we can show up for the most vulnerable people on the planet.

Here’s the deal though, we can’t do that until we can see ourselves as survivors and rehabilitators. Until we can really hold the truths that Tiwaz and Berkana reveal about ourselves, we can’t grow up.

Which one of those identities is hardest for you to sit with? Being a survivor, or being a rehabilitator? Both come with challenges and pressure. Both represent slices of life you didn’t want and damn sure didn’t ask for. 

Cos immediate responses to questions like that are–the Rehabilitator, obviously. It represents the clouds having cleared. It’s a life stage that’s prepared and ready to meet the world. Who in their right mind wants to identify with Survivor? That one hurts. It represents an awful time in life. 

The thing is, you can’t get to one without the other. We rehabilitate because something got hurt, and when something gets hurt, it needs tending so that you can find a way to function in the world again. 

One of the hardest things to face in surviving trauma is that nothing waits for you to get well. Your calling still demands expression.  Your community still needs you to show up. We have to find a way to rehabilitate ourselves. Life really does go on, and we have to find a way to be okay with that–REALLY okay.

Survivor and Rehabilitator are on the same end of the spectrum. They are in relationship with each other. What is your relationship to that truth? 

I personally don’t think being a Rehabilitator is any easier than being a Survivor. I’m grateful not to have the daily PTSD anymore. I’m proud of the hard work I’ve put into that. And I can say [in a way] that hard of surviving work won’t ever end–because of the imprint it’s left on my body, because of the culture we live in, among systems that don’t want any of us to survive anything.  But I can say with 100% certainty the work of the Rehabilitator will never end. It won’t end because taking on the mantle of self-care, embodiment, grounding, reconciliation –all those things that are the rehabilitation of the soul while it’s in form–are life, they are every day life. They are a point of elderhood that IF we’re all functionally capable of understanding, we’re all supposed to reach in our time here.

Tiwaz happens. I’m gonna print that on a t-shirt. If I do, I will tell y’all first. But seriously. Bad shit happens. I’ve been talking about being a literal survivor, myself, and I know that many of you are. What we need to understand impeccably right here, right now is that the intergenerational circumstances of the last–I don’t know 4-5 thousand years–have made us all survivors because that’s life with supremacy. It’s here to kill us all, eventually. That’s it’s only purpose. That is the contemporary version of chop-wood-carry-water on a spiritual level, and we’re working on a massive woodpile. We have to wake up to that fact, personally and collectively. 

Tiwaz isn’t an aberration that got in the way of our Berkana.

It’s the reality of life in form, we just have a lethal version of it as our norm. It’s unfortunate. It’s fucked up. And somehow we all have to still wake up to our duty to the planet. This year, this Tiwaz–we have all been personally traumatized and we’re not all waking up to our duty to the planet. We’re not getting to the Berkana, as a collective.

I say that thoughtfully, carefully, and honestly as someone still waking up.

It’s a process, not a switch. It’s not something you kind of do. And if you’re on this seasonal runic journey, you doubled down on your waking over the last year, and being able to hold yourself as Survivor and Rehabilitator makes you an authority on you, on your own power. And that’s what we need. That’s what rehabilitates this whole human-persona narrative.

We’re in Berkana now, having just passed the March Equinox. And the Berkano Half-Month Affirmation from Runic Book of Days: 

I did this.

I am enough.

I am enough.

You are. We can do this.

Thanks for listening. If you have questions or insights about working with the runes in season, or you just want somebody to bounce your ideas off, feel free to email me at Kelley that’s k e l l e y at soulintentarts.com or you can call into the Anchor app, which you can download for Android or iPhone.

Also check out earlier episodes by downloading them from Google Play or iTunes–and various other podcast platforms. And you can learn more about me, Runic Book of Days, and my work by visiting soulntintentarts.com or on Instagram @kelleysoularts. I’m Kelley and this has been What in the Wyrd.


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S. Kelley Harrell, M. Div.

I’m an author, lifelong deathwalker and animist, and the founder of Soul Intent Arts in North Carolina. For almost 25 years I’ve taught 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.


elder well, die well, ancestor well


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