For the week of 1 October 2023
Scar, Death, and Transformation
After a strange tech blip we don’t have Gebo for this week, but Hagalaz…
Hagalaz is the half-month rune through 13 November. The spirits of place anchoring the runes this week are Death (plastic skull), whispers of the Hunt (stag button), dead things (paper wasp nest, potter wasp nest, mink skull), and World Ancestors (wee wooden spoon) in the direction of Beyond (Earth orbit marble), with element Acid (lemon zest), in the season of Autumn (tree button).
I’m half-way through the book edits, which are going very gently. It’s nice to re-read bits of the book and have AHA! Moments all over again. So far no OH SHIT! Ones. Thank you for your patience with TWR.
What's a runic calendar?
The Elder Futhark runic calendar I work with is based on the work of Nigel Pennick. It has the potential to provide humanity keys for how we live in season with All Things. Through #theweeklyrune I share the Futhark’s insight on how to live better as animists, to make better choices based on keen insight into the present, and to help each of us be more active in creating a better life for us all. That realization includes living with All Things as family, learning to tend what can’t just be fixed, and using every tool at our disposal to do so. The runes are such a tool, and in the Old Norse tradition, this process is wyrdweaving at it deepest potential. The runes provide one way that we can create ourselves as fit elders, so that upon our good death, we can be well Ancestors.
What’s a half-month rune?
“Half-month” is an astronomical concept in which each month is divided into two parts: days 1-15, then 16-month’s end. In terms of the runic calendar, each half-month rune is one of the 24 runes of the Elder Futhark, and governs for a tad over two weeks (14 and 1/4 days, or a fortnight).
How is the runecast done?
The Weekly Rune is a (mostly) three-rune cast, situated among spirits of place. Those runes are the half-month, the intuitive rune, and the sacred overview. When the runecast falls at a half-month transition, the fourth rune is included. The half-month is a set rune, which for the most part follows the traditional ordering of the Elder Futhark. However, in the calendric ordering observed by Pennick, the order is slightly different. The intuitive stave (meaning, I draw it blind) indicates the life force most available to us, and suggests how we can best handle the half-month energies. The final rune (also drawn blind) provides a high overview of the current time, and speaks from voices other-than-human, which are non-human concepts and beyond Earth beings. These sacred voices are Allies, and have been Nature, Earth, Continuity, Creation, First Ancestor, Survival, etc. I note who’s speaking each week, as it is revealed.
Spirits of place are represented through osteomancy, season, elements, and directions. Each brings a nuance of how to work with the half-month rune, or how to engage forces of the season on a more personal level in the reader’s geographical and cosmological context. Osteomancy honors other-than-human Helping Spirits on Earth. The elements indicate our best deathwalking/enlivening/tempering force for the time, and the directions offer relationship to place as the best energetic grounding or area where work is needed. These additional beings in the cast give us actionable ways to engage the runes in season and move among with them. Readers should feel free to work with Spirits of Place that most resonate with this runecast, even if they show up differently in their cosmologies and relationships.
This runecast isn’t divinatory in the sense that each half-month rune represents events to occur in its fortnight. Rather, the timing of each rune allows us to greet where we are with what the dynamics each rune represents. It offers an examination of our relationship with the rune and what it may teach us about current events and dynamics.
What do Spirits of Place have to do with runes?
Everything we do is rooted in place. We are ecosystem. We are relations with place. In order for that relationship to truly be exalted we must formally invite Spirits of Place into our rituals, and ensure that we craft our rituals to the benefit of the whole ecosystem.
I don’t live in Europe, where the Elder Futhark flourished. I don’t live in 200CE, when the runes were in wide use. But my Ancestors did, and to honor them I must carefully include them in my place-space rituals, including this runecast. In order to do include them in a way that benefits the whole ecosystem of my present, I introduced my ancestral Spirits of Place to the Spirits of Place I live among now. Negotiations were made and boundaries were drawn to support this full relationship I walk among to bless us all, as well as readers and their ecosystems.
In this runecast Spirits of place are represented through osteomancy, season, elements, and directions. Each brings a nuance of how to work with the half-month rune, or how to engage forces of the week on a more personal level in your geographical and cosmological context. Osteomancy honors earthly other-than-human Helping Spirits, which includes humanity’s animal and plant Ancestors, and other earth-centric Ancestors and helpers. The elements indicate our best deathwalking, enlivening, tempering, and/or transmutational force for the cast, and the directions offer insight into the best boundaried space for where transmutational work can be done. Season provides an expression of how we can best hold our agency, or the energetic tone of the cast. These additional beings in the cast give us actionable ways to engage the runes for the week and move among with them. Feel free to work with Spirits of Place that most resonate with this runecast, even if they show up differently in your cosmologies and relationships.
New to Runecasting?
- Catch a couple of my IGTV videos, which explain the intention and process behind the runecast, and what makes it different from other ways of casting.
- Listen to my What in the Wyrd podcast, which is available across all popular podcast platforms.
- A few people have asked the reason that I switch between different rune sets for TWR. The short answer is: because. The more nuanced answer is, I ask which sets wants to speak each week. I don’t assume the same elements are in play according to the timing of the runes; I also don’t assume the same elements of my runes are appropriate to speak each week. I did a podcast on this subject, so there’s more info there. (See above)
- Also, for deep work on coming into relationship with the runes in season, check out my book, Runic Book of Days.
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What Does It Mean?
Moving into Hagalaz makes things real, regarding The Dead Time. Any whispers of the seasonal change in my part of the world are full-on shouts, now. I’ve been tidying the yard to tuck it in for the cold, and after a scathingly hot summer during which I pretty much disappeared from scape tending, it’s good to reconnect.
I work with Hagalaz through sacred scar. It traditionally means hail and represents external change we can’t control, and as I said in the latest episode of What in the Wyrd, it’s the rune no one wants in their runecast. Ever. Most folx pipe up with their favorite rune when we talk. In 30 years no one has ever said Hagalaz.
Sad, and also on pointe.
Humans don’t run to adversity; we’re born into it. I don’t think that’s entirely by design, though soul-in-formness just is what it is, and the real grit of that duality comes up with Hagalaz.
That it comes in The Dead Time, seasonally, actually takes some of the sting out of it for me. I feel more psychologically prepared for severity in the cold. I’ve hunkered down and gotten my affairs in order. At least that’s what I tell myself. Most truthfully, I’m at home in the dark and with the dead things, and somehow that realism of company and truth in the open soothes even hard things to me.
For that reason Hagalaz shows up for me as scar, as the interstitial having forged a way to adapt, even if that adaptation comes with friction, tension, and maybe a limp. Hagalaz is the rune of things not going the way we planned and having to keep on keeping on. And one way or another that leaves mark. And the sun still rises.
We will be seeing the skull, stag, and other dead things in the runecast for a while. As they appear and the north moves more into shadow, it’s appropriate to make your reverse wishlist: the Let-go List. Yes challenge comes, the hail kind, the inflation kind, the ‘How am I going to get through this kind.’ Be with the season as much as possible by realizing what is no longer needed, and offer it up to the Hunt as we move closer to it. The more active we can be in our process, the more thorough our process can be. What the janitors in cosmology can take, give it to them. It doesn’t have to be this week, or this month. As the Hunt moves into space with Self, offer up what can be taken, and stand in the freedom of its wake when it goes.
With direction Beyond/All Things, we are ‘beyond’ the cardinal, which means in liminal space, unknown yet totally familiar territory. The primary four directions uphold the connection between Earth and Other. They are our safe space. They are our highway to Beyond. Any time this direction comes to hold space for us, our travel gets bigger. This week engage the forces that dwell in that far-reaching space. They are home. They are void. They are within.
That the World Ancestors are in Beyond is fitting and sweet. These are the folx who have gone through what we endure. They know it inside and out, and they succeeded at it. That includes how to navigate the far-out reaches of beingdom. Not that we need to worry about that, or be stretching our energy out that far. Most of us don’t even have the energy to stretch into tomorrow. But we don’t have to because they carry the wisdom of the grounded walk with human feet in earthy soil, and of the flight to Other, soul, and All. We can know it through them. They are trustworthy ushers, but we do have to ask them to show the way.
Acid as the element that shows the way is slow and purposeful. It takes a long time for acid to transmute something, but when it does it’s thorough. What’s left may not even be recognizable. Such is the openness we need to take into the transformation we enter in this dark time. We don’t have to know where we’re going in it, but we do need to be open to whatever it can teach us, whoever we can become with it.
It is indeed Autumn. This is the season of beholding harvest and squandering spoils, of setting aside seeds, and blessing the final kills. As we sit with the encroaching shadows, let us think of what holds us in the dark, who sits in it with us, and how this time of Ancestor wisdom is the way through.
I also want to note that just because this season, figurative in the runecast and entering the arena in the north, is about the Ancestors, it isn’t just about the helpful ones. Maybe part of our deathwalking this season is for the Ancestors who aren’t so great, the ones who aren’t able to be supportive because they’re still locked into their patterns of trauma. They can be Hagalaz destruction just as easily as a sudden hail storm. And their reconciliation can also be the water that our figurative needy land craves.
I really love the Morbid Curiosity deck, and the prompt this week comes from that deck. I really didn’t select the card. It really was a random draw, and it reads:
“Psychopomps are spirits or entities that escort you to the afterlife. Which psychopomp do you want to accompany you when it’s your time?”
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.