For the week of 13 August 2023

In the Time of Níðhöggr

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Ansuz is the half-month rune through 29 August, (carved porcelain tile). Raidho is the intuitive rune (carved polished lapis lazuli), and Dagaz indicates Restraint’s perspective. The spirits of place anchoring the runes this week are Fossilized Sea Urchin with element Acid, in the direction of Within, in the season of Autumn. Read right to left is Ansuz, Raidho, then Dagaz.

The full runecast will be publicly available here, two weeks from publication. You can find it in full on Patreon, now.

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.

Why Join Patreon?

This is the free version of The Weekly Rune.  Get the full benefit of the  ad-free, detailed version every Sunday, by joining my private runes community at Patreon. The paid runecast includes:

  • more detail 
  • ad-free
  • audio blog, with galdr of the runecast and instruction on how to use each sound for felt sense resonance
  • the current runes’ impact on human life force 
  • insights on how to best manage the curves and twists therein
  • introspective prompts to nuance and tend self-work

Other Patreon offerings:

  • Community connection via ​Discord
  • live video classes
  • runic insights,  book excerpts, release newsfree classes
  • Soul Reading and Soul Tending sessions, based on tier
  • optional services with me
  • discounts on soul tending services

The Runecast

Our progression into the First Aett this cycle has been less chaotic than previous ones, while also not as calm as we might have hoped. The tone that has been reflected with this cycle is one of deep and sweeping change within and without. We recognize this change began a few years ago, though intra-pandemic it felt more shook than it is now. Not to say that it’s stable now. Rather, we’re up-in-the-air, but with roots. We might say, like the swaying branches of a great tree, whose roots are… disturbed.

Learn more about this seasonal progression, and how to draw its insights into the personal spiritual path in Runic Book of Days.

To access the audio blog recording and continue reading:

  • If you’re on a desktop, log into Patreon or become a community member with the buttons at the right sidebar.
  • If you’re on a device, scroll all the way to the bottom of the page to find the buttons to log into Patreon or become a community member.

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What Does It Mean?

Ansuz is the rune of breath, of life force. It is equated with Odin and speech, as in spell-speaking, as in, humans have the same life force moving through them as the godden, as All Things. It’s not limited to speech, though. Life force is everywhere, all around us, and we engage it all the time. Speech is perhaps the most prized form of agency transmission, though I maintain we can be less ableist about that and know Ansuz as the many ways we express our agency. 

How we express our agency is under great scrutiny right now, and not just in American settler culture. I’d even say, not just on Earth, and not just humans. Over the last 5-6 years TWR has indicated big shifts afoot in how we human, but even more widely in how we Earth. Many beings participate in Earth, on it, within it, Beyond it. I wrote several years ago about an experience in which I had a vision. I intercepted a missive I wasn’t supposed to, and it was about how the Allies Beyond Earth can engage with it–in that they were asserting they could not. It was arresting and it took me weeks to metabolize. Fast-forward a few years and cultural collapse and pandemic, and one legal social injustice after another, and we need to start asking some questions. 

For several years Byron Ballard has called this Tower Times, which from what I know of tarot, is a spot-on description of the revolution under way. In my vernacular, it’s the Time of Níðhöggr, the undulating, animated life force of Earth, in all its serpenty deathwalking and reconciliatory glory. If we restore one thing in our time here, let it be the human relationship to natural order, and the runes in this week’s cast have a good bit to say about how we can do that.

Even in the eddas and myths Níðhöggr is presented as an annoyance, the serpent biting at the roots of the world tree–shaking the branches of Yggdrasil. At best they’re characterized as chaos and at worst, as a menace to humanity. But what if that biting isn’t to incite provocative tension? What if it’s just the byproduct of underground life force moving, of Flow, of Earth’s internalization and offering of sacred order emanating through everything? 

If Earth’s energy was to our remotest Old Norse Ancestors originally characterized as a watery flowing serpent, then was conscripted as a demonic agent of chaos, what is human life force?  If we are children of Earth, what is our Ansuz? These are the questions asked in the cast this week. What is our life force doing in the world–right now, with all that is shaking? What is our life force preserving? What is it destroying? 

Change is still rooted. Branches are built to withstand tremors, gusts, inhabitants.

And remember–once we were trees.

Raidho, movement, as the best way to explore Ansuz tells us not just to be mindful of how we express our agency, but do it on the go, out in the world. Don’t just keep it to Self and ruminate on it. Take it out, let it out. Bring what Self offers to the world because it needs it right now. 

We’ve come through the culling of Uruz, how we fuse into Body, and Thurisaz, how we stay primally connected to that earthy life serpent within, and natural process has trusted it. Sacred order has trusted it; so can we. So can Place. In fact, when we start expressing our agency to Place, distributing it, as it were, we only enliven our agency and that of our ecosystem even more. We enliven the Níðhöggr of being here, now.

Dagaz through the voice of Restraint seems contradictory to this Raidho rally, though perhaps it isn’t. This combination suggests summer solstice-like transmutation from this have-life-force-will-travel exploration. Personally I approach that with caution, though I can appreciate the finer points of knowing what I can accomplish in a day, and based on that going to sleep knowing who I want to be tomorrow, how I need to be in relationship with my agency to live up to those plans. 

In short, what Dagaz seems to offer Ansuz in this runecast is depth. Ansuz and its futhark successor Raidho are still in this training wheels first aett bubble. They involve playing a bit with agency, letting it loose on the world, but still in a lighter, contained way, when we take these runes in terms of progression. Dagaz gives that agency cosplay roots. It reminds us that while trying things on and seeing possibilities in how we implement our agency, they still have impact. They still matter, and that’s the memo of Restraint. We can play responsibly. We can mature playfully and still not harm.

The helping spirits this week are in full force support, starting with elemental ally, Acid. We often forget the power of corrosion to dissolve detritus. The slow releasing of what is no longer needed is the superpower of Acid. It erodes away what we can’t, or perhaps what we shouldn’t carry further. In this way Acid is more of the tending side of things, rather than curative. It’s about process and staying with it. This is a great time to work with Sacred Acid to loosen and drop the crud, so that we don’t bring it ahead with us. And in this context crud is probably internalized voices that challenge how we express our life force and how we’re in relationship with the life force of Earth. In other words, it’s hard to be sync with the life force of the planet and navigate the systemic pull away from it. This is where Acid and Níðhöggr can be of assistance. Where Acid dissolves, Níðhöggr absorbs and releases. They are the transmutation of decay into growth.

Deathwalking what needs to be let go is also reinforced by Autumn. This seasonal backdrop supports preparation, bounty, maturity, harvest, turning from the forest. In Autumn, our focus turns to tending hearth, getting stores, ground, home, and harvest ready for needier times. It’s a time tending both outdoors and indoors, and conserving energy for the cold to come, honoring Nature’s retreat underground. Autumn is also the wind up for the Wild Hunt, the ethers of which may be potent to call upon for the work of releasing what inhibits expressing our truth, what allows us to find meaning in it.

Within, our direction for this cast, is the realm of Níðhöggr. It literally is both the underground caverns of inner Midgard and the secret tunnels within us. It represents our torso, nervous system, gut instinct. It speaks directly to our animism, our personal relationship with being on the planet, and our capability of allowing Body to be both the boundary for and determiner of our experience here. Within reinforces that we take initiative, we set the parameters–again, do agency. It informs us that there are parameters to be set, as well as we have to take action on them–as in, if we don’t Ansuz, other forces will plug in random parameters that may or may not be beneficial or represent our truth. And our spirit helpers can’t do it for us. It was never their job to do so, but apparently now more than ever, they aren’t in a place to intervene.

Within is the direction of the center of who we are–our center of personal cosmology, stretching out into All Things. It is soul in form. It is animisming in interdependence and belonging. It is our direct personal relationship to being here, now, embodied. It reiterates our accountability to formed being, the reminder that we have a foot in both worlds, which meet at the heart. Despite that the heart and passion can easily dictate how we move among, we are challenged to remember to move with our whole Selves, with our whole Within. 

It both exalts what is wonderful about being in form, while fully honors that we are also Other. It fosters us to remember that we do not and cannot forego honoring all of who we are. We literally do not have to choose. We are the form and the expression of it.

Our best earthly ally this week is Echinoid Fossil (Sea Urchin). To make support for expressing our agency more tangible and felt, the Fossilized Echinoid specifically shows up to bring success in disputes. The headline here is a good outcome, though the subtext is with full affirmation that a dispute is actually happening. It’s not just our feelings or perception deluding us. 

Straight from first aett to third hints at simplifying how we think expressing our agency and making room for it in the world needs to go, and to realize we’ve done this before. How can we do it again more efficiently, gracefully, and with more compassion, particularly for ourselves?


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Half-month Rune Prompts

This whole runecast is a prompt, but if I had to point to specific things to pay attention to, they are:

  • Where are you at odds with how you express your agency?
  • Where do you feel reluctant to share it with the world?
  • Where do you feel you truly should hold back, and why?
  • How do you feel in relationship with Níðhöggr ?



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The way that I use galdr is through chanting. I find repetition of the base phonetic helps me feel the rune. Remember that the Elder Futhark isn’t a language. It was originally an alphabet, incorporated into mythical origin. It functions phonetically, both in spelling and pronunciation. Given that, galdr isn’t terribly different from the overall pronunciation, and the emphasis is on the intention of the chant, not so much the pronunciation.

My personal emphasis in galdr is on the vowels initially and I incorporate the consonants later. For instance, with Ansuz, I focus on ‘ahw-oo,’ before incorporating the middle ‘n,’ such as ‘ahwnsoo.’ There is no right or wrong with galdr (although I guess there could be a flat-out wrong?), though often the final consonants aren’t pronounced, as in ‘ahwsoo.’ Practice galdring different ways, and go with the way that you feel in your body.

  • Ansuz – Ahn, Ahnsoo, Awn, Awnsoo, Oss

  • Raidho – Rhye, Ryedthe, Ryedthoh

  • Dagaz – Dthah, Dthahg, Dthahguh


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Originally published on Soul Intent Arts.

S. Kelley Harrell, M. Div.

I’m an animist, author, deathwalker and death doula held by Tuscarora, Woccon, and Sissipihaw land. 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 several books on soul work and runes, and when moved 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


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