For the week of 27 August 2023

Tending the Custodians

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Ansuz is the half-month rune through 29 August, at which point Raidho moves to the fore (wrought iron tile). Tiwaz is the intuitive rune (carved antler slice), and Thurisaz reversed indicates the perspective of the Origin of the Runes. The spirits of place anchoring the runes this week are Fossilized Belemnite with element Metal, in the direction of Beyond, in the season of Winter. Read right to left is Ansuz above, Raidho below, Tiwaz, then Thurisaz reversed.

Find the full runecast on Patreon.

Also, find my daily #thebodyawake rune pulls on Instagram.

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 full version of The Weekly Rune is only on Patreon, and it includes:

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  • 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 
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  • introspective prompts to nuance and tend self-work

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The Runecast

We have but a sliver of time left with Ansuz in this runecast, though it wanted expression this week all the same. It comes with the whisper to honor truth no matter what the week brings, though it comes with potential calamity, as well. Tiwaz as the best way to work with each half-month rune suggests we’re holding grief that needs expression with our truth. The bigger memo coming from Thurisaz reversed suggests these unexpressed feelings are more complicated than that. With Thurisaz reversed, we’re talking about primal jotnar that are rumbling. They’re rough and tumble, emotionally combustible Nature Spirits who have truth to share, though they don’t have refinement to share it respectfully, maybe even without compassion. They’re essentially hurt and angry four-year-olds but with an adult’s range to cause harm.

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:

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What Does It Mean?

The first few days of this week are going to be rough (isn’t Mercury retrograde?), with regard to deep feelings that want expression–likely grief–though not having a space that can hold feelings this raw. I feel like we talk a great deal in current culture about grief and feelings, though we don’t talk about the unnamable qualities of grief and how when they’re old and resident within us, they’re berserkir-level jagged. Don’t underestimate the harm they can cause Self or others, or the need to think ahead and have Dream Team ready.

Raidho is the middle rune of my wyrdweaving Ansuz + Raidho = Kenaz recipe. It’s where we take our agency out into the world with purpose, and in doing so how we hold our agency and what we do with it changes. Raidho is where we begin to cultivate a sense of communal impact from how we move in the world, and how we allow moving in the world to shape us.

Tiwaz as the best way to weave our wyrd interjects a bit of awareness of grief, where we may be denying ourselves a pivotal soul moment, and/or where systems we move among may be denying both. There is grief to be honored in our relationship to moving in this world–our own and that of others. There’s also a very fine line between acknowledging that fact, and being consumed by grief. I feel like that hazy space is where Raidho and Tiwaz are converging this week.

This isn’t attested in any way, and is based solely on my decades of reading runes for others–Tiwaz often intuitively comes up when a challenging mental dynamic is presenting, something that has a fuzzy gaslighty feel, yet is totally tangible and having an impact in life. Places to sit with Raidho this week are matters of shame, guilt, and potential to effect change. These three aspects of Tiwaz and Raidho have something important to say, and they need intentional space to do so.

Which is where Thurisaz reversed comes in. Still in the vein of repressed jotnar, visceral inner voices have something to say about hurt and how it needs to come out. Thurisaz is prickly in the best of placements. It represents change that we control, instinct mitigated with ego. When reversed, it reminds us that we can’t avoid thorns, and to try to do so deprives us of learning the necessary skills in dealing with them.

This isn’t a push boldly forward week, yet it’s not a hide-in-the-closet one, either. It’s a good time to  let off some steam–and in good company, where possible. Raidho isn’t a social rune in the way that Gebo or Mannaz are, though it speaks to having our complicated experiences out in the world, among, enough in the world to let that sense of belonging shape our experience, and to let our awareness of being-out-among shape who we are. It really is reciprocal.

A couple of interesting things came up in the course of this runecast. The first is the third rune that I drew actually was Raidho also, reversed. It didn’t feel like it wanted to be a true part of the cast so much as a footnote indicating taking a grounded, as sure-footed-as-possible approach to how we bring our agency out into the world this week.

Also, the Origin of the Runes speaking through Tiwaz took a minute. I understood right away what it was, because I began feeling it in my own body several years ago after an impromptu initiation. I had (then and now) a very vivid felt sense of the space from which the Elder runes were created, which reflect something Beyond this world but whose life force is specifically intended to fill a gap for the planetary custodians between Beyond and Midgard. Ie, humaning well tools. 

The memo I took from that space engaging through Tiwaz is this is such a moment. This is a moment of realizing the tools that are at our disposal, to help us be here in the best way that we can. It’s too easy to forget that we have support, inherently as part of the deal, and that it’s on us to delve into who and what that support is, how it enriches our lives. That is one thing to me that is most sad about humaning under the current systems–we have been blinded from what support is truly there for us. 

Take some time this week to get to know who that is for Self. What aspects of it are only for Self? What ones are for All Things? How can we allow Self to feel and engage those relationships, and live in a way that lets others know they are held? This is how we do what the runes do for us.

Our more obvious support this week blends a wealth of representation. The tone of how we move this week is set by Winter, which brings a cloistered space, huddled for warmth, slow-moving, and ample stillness. The world gets smaller in winter. The forest becomes less approachable and perhaps even hostile toward human-persons. We are less involved with the outdoors, and must pay closer attention to our reserves. It is the time of the Wild Hunt and standing in the danger of our dead.

Given that, there’s a lot less emphasis on deathwalking this week than there was last, and more on post-death phases. Element Metal is bringing in a vibe of rebuilding by way of first establishing boundaries. It is literally laying groundwork for the inner jotnar influences we’ve been dealing with since Thurisaz. Metal is what gives Earth structure. Like it, we harden under duress, yet can be continuously shaped.  When metal gets too strong, however, it becomes rigid. When it’s melted, it is likewise dangerous. It burns everything in its path. Balanced metal allows for healthy boundaries, an easy routine, and inspiring rituals. It is a good ally this week in helping us navigate how we set course for direction with Raidho, yet remain open to what experiences that exploration brings.

Beyond/All is the container of all that we know and beyond. It is the direction of sacred order. It’s the realm of Watchers, Norns, Multiversal Jotnar who caretake the machinations of all life. Given that, it can also be the microbes, the mitochondria, the bacteria. It’s not just Out There, but also that strata of managerial oversight that aligns with respect for all life at all levels. It is the direction of Source. This is who is best holding space for us this week, and can best protect it. This sparks my interest, as over the last couple of weeks we’ve gotten the memo of Beyond being less reachable–both ways, us to them or them to us–and that our best community right now, even for the bigger supports, has been local ecosystem. 

Fossilized Belemnite brings a curious life force to the runecast. Members of the Cephalopod family, Belemnites exist to us as what look like fossilized bullets. They’re the only part of the Belemnite that has survived all this time–its armor, essentially. 

From a lore standpoint, ancient cultures on different continents record them as being connected to lightning, and in the Old Norse cosmology, they were the bits that lodged into the ground from the lightning of Thor’s hammer, regarded as elf, gnome, or pixie lights. In Scandinavian folklore they are still referenced as vatteljus, which translates to ‘gnome lights.’ 

For those who are up on their fair folk lore, we’re talking about elf-shot. Vatteljus isn’t attested in Old Norse cosmology directly, but is better known in the Anglo Saxon cosmology as elf-shot. Likewise, there are indications of elf-shot in Viking culture. In a medical text of that era, Wið færstice, which means ‘against a sudden/violent stabbing pain,’ it describes elves shooting invisible arrows at humans as the source of sudden, terrible pain in the body.

Does this mean there are otherkin lying in wait to hurt us this week? I couldn’t say. My take on the fair folk is our myths locate them as indigenous custodians of the planet before humans were conceived, who were at the mercy of their own experiences of colonization, and that did not go well. They had their own version of making peace with how they would continue to hold presence in formed being under great duress, and, well, fae wrath is real and deserves empathy, if not compassion. 

Fossilized Belemnite reminds us to at minimum consider where we are caught in crossfires not of our own making, yet we are nevertheless involved, impacted. It also challenges us to question whether we are living life in such a way that only our armor will survive. It’s a question worth asking as we transition from speaking our truth with Ansuz into taking that truth on the road with Raidho. At this point in the Futhark we are faced with the realization that our agency has impact, just as we are impacted by the agency of others.

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Half-month Rune Prompts

  • Is your truth safe in the world?

  • How are your truth and your armor in relationship with each other?

  • How are whimsy and your truth in relationship with each other?


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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

  • Tiwaz – Tee, Teewuh, Teewaw, Tyr

  • Thurisaz – Thoor, Thooree


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Originally published on Soul Intent Arts.

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


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Elder Well

To bear your unique gift to the world.

Die Well

To leave the planet better than you found it.

Ancestor Well

So that your descendants never elder alone.