For the week of 15 March 2020

Complicated Stillness

Berkana (Berkano) is the half-month stave through 30 March. Mannaz is the intuitive rune, and Isa indicates The Focal Point’s message to us. Read right to left is Berkana, Mannaz, then Isa.

I truly believe that #theweeklyrune includes the keys to making better choices based on keen insight into the present, to help each of us be more active in creating a better life for us all. That realization process includes learning to tend what can’t just be fixed, and using every tool at our disposal. 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 we can create ourselves as fit elders, so that upon our good death, we can be well Ancestors.

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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).

Learn More

The Weekly Rune is a three-rune cast. Those runes are the half-month, the intuitive rune, and the overview. The half-month is a set rune, which for the most part follows the traditional ordering of the Elder Futhark. The intuitive stave (meaning, I draw it blind) indicates the life force most available to us, to the focus of the half-month rune into sharper focus. It 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 different voices. These voices have been Nature, Earth, Creation, though are sometimes others. I note who’s speaking each week, as it is revealed.


New to The Weekly Rune?

  • 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, including Google Play and  iTunes.
  • 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.

The Runecast


Berkana ushers in a soothing balm on the heels of Tiwaz. Given the current world circumstances with coronavirus Covid-19  pandemic, the focus of the rune of nurture, itself, is more challenged than it would normally be. Indeed, it’s a reprieve after the coming to terms of Tiwaz, though its placement in overall events means a bit more work will be required to soothe. That seems simplistic on the surface, though comes with a great deal of nuance and insight around where coronavirus  and connection situate into our lives right now.

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

What does it mean?

Berkana comes with a lot of contention, regarding its traditionally accepted meaning. What’s common among those uses is the recognition of detached nurture. The nuance of that description is very important. When we’re too emotionally involved, we don’t have detachment. However, when we’re informed on a dynamic without emotional involvement, we can affect that dynamic in the way that’s best for all involved. That is the vibe for this week, learning how to understand elegant discernment and response, particularly in light of community impact of Covid-19.   Read more…

This week’s cast comes in a bit more jumbled up than usual, so telling its story will be less linear than usual. The juxtaposition of Berkana and Mannaz is critical in understanding what’s happening on the planet right now. Where Berkana is often depicted as a pristine space of care given, as in tending someone in their sick bed or just a rehabilitative state in which someone is deeply tended and nurtured back to vitality. We may identify with the care giver, or the one receiving care. The point is the dynamic of detached tending, such that we are gaining strength and skill, and in doing so reviving to a state of engaged life. We are being tended to heal and grow more active. There’s no implication that this process is easy, just that it’s well-monitored and supported on all ends. But of course this week Mannaz challenges even that restful image.

Definitely, Berkana is a rune of balm, however it’s delivered to our lives. It can also be one that expects us to play that role for ourselves and/or others. It will be important to pay attention to what tenderness and care is needed, particularly right now, and that’s where Mannaz enters. It’s the rune of social involvement and also deep thinking. It’s all about the exchange of information at the mental level, with emphasis on the intercommunication, the synapses sparked by that exchange, and the information that derives from that involvement. That’s doesn’t sound very Berkana, does it? It doesn’t sound particularly restful, particularly as social isolation is now mandated.

This interjection of social and mental activity onto Berkana points to having to adjust our thoughts around the whole process of detached caregiving. Perhaps the care that’s needed isn’t personal at all. Maybe it’s at a planetary level, or in the immediate community. And maybe it’s not about sharing big thoughts, so much as creating outside the current system, which is being brought to its knees before our eyes. The demands on those who can stay well right now will be great, to fill in the gaps of our local communities. That job will require excellent boundaries, self-care, and self-soothing.

At a collective level, adjusting our thoughts around caregiving can also point to how badly unsupportive our health systems are, and how it’s time to change them so that they actually work for everyone. On that note we can engage and use our critical thinking for how we can do it better, and to demand change.

Purple text reads "Runes for Change" with a grayscale billowy tree with purple runes carved in it and an owl perched in the branches

Gain animistic insight into the runes, learn to elder well with ancient wisdom, and cultivate a strong spiritual path

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I can’t elaborate on the voice of the tonal rune this week without sharing something that happened recently. At the point that the world was shutting down, I saw Billie Eilish perform. I was dubious about going to the show, though I felt deeply tugged to do so, without understanding why. The short version is, at one point in the show she played a piano solo, and as soon as she started I left my body (not expected). I found myself in a black-and-white meadow just edging forest. An aspect of Billie danced there. After a few seconds she told me to follow her, and she took off running. I ran after her, until we came an enormous cliff face.

The cliff was higher than any peak I’ve ever seen, and was hundreds of feet wide. Most remarkable about it were the many colors, textures, and focuses of artwork carved into it. It looked like a blocked quilt, top to bottom, with each squar-ish section a different color, with different drawings and styles of artwork drawn in. Most curious was that the figures etched into the colorful blocks were moving. The figures in them were not static or playing out a single moment over and over. Rather, each represented a different culture with different skills and teachings, and their spot on the cliff face marked their embodied commitment to do so. It looked like a prehistoric rendering of every culture that has ever existed, Brady Bunch block-style. (I’m Gen-X. Don’t judge.)

Billie stood beside me while I took it in, and she watched me process what it was–because she already knew. This whole thing took mere seconds to play out in Other, though I experienced it as a slow, calm display of the distilled convergence of every earthly wisdom moment ever. Every culture’s wisdom compressed into a single representation on the cliff face, that energetically could have fit on a pin head. I reeled from the saturation of being in that space and what those images meant until my daughter put her hand on my shoulder. I looked at my her and she looked distressed. I don’t know where I was or what I did, but she was alarmed. I told her I was fine and found the cliff face again.

When the voice that spoke to me for this runecast identified itself as The Focal Point, I knew it was the cliff. The significance of Nature electing to hold all earthly wisdom means everything. We can all tap into The Focal Point, not to exploit it for wisdom, or even ask for anything. That’s not what it’s for, and the message I got from it during the show is echoed by Isa.

All of these wisdom stories of life’s survival have been maintained by their Ancestors, each in their own cultural narratives, but they haven’t been brought together this way, before. A special intervention has happened, is happening, right now, to mass-restore ancient wisdom, lines, and support.

It is an un-breaking of the broken path, which feels very different from mending. The gap isn’t gone. It’s still our job to live into it and build life beyond it. The Focal Point is more like a restore point, in software that has diverted from its intended function. We can’t undo what has been done, though we can bring what is to a healthier point of forging forwward. Such is the job of The Focal Point.

Know there’s nothing bypassy or PollyAnna about this unbreaking. We are still on the line for the work that is ours, and that work lies in the gap between the brokenness and where we stand now, at the base of this cliff. We aren’t to do any radical shifting of energies right now. Instead, we are to hold the space for the powers of The Focal Point to do so. Yes, do the things family, community, and planet need done. That’s our job. The job of these particular Ancestors is to do some heavy lifting on our behalf, and if so moved at all, leave them offerings for it. Thank them. Thanks the energies that have elected to be The Focal Point and change our direction, because this isn’t coming from the Watchers. It’s not coming from what I refer to as beyond-Earth soul space or beings. It’s coming from right here, Earth-soul Nature beings who don’t really need a damn thing from us. They’re doing it because they realize we are part of Nature, and our role within it has to be reconciled. 

Isa means to be frozen in place. It is not a chosen stillness, but a forced one. It is not our job to do the heavy energetic or soul work for now. It is our job to do the people work–human-people, Nature-people. I talk about this in deathwalking and it applies here as well: doing work we haven’t been called to do stands in the way of the work that needs to be done. Meaning, trying to force an approach to healing will harm. Trying to stave off death will harm. Trying to exert influence over how The Focal Point holds space or works is harm. This is not human territory. We have been frozen out, and that’s okay. It’s appropriate for where we are right now, and we will not un-freeze until The Focal Point has done its job.

Our job, for now, is to hold space for it, and our ability to do that rests on understanding that we aren’t alone, literally, or in terms of wisdom. The Ancestors hold information about what ‘s happening right now, and it can help us outcreate the system. The Nature Spirits do, as well, but they are in their own shitshow and might not be able to help. We have to bring our personal skills to the table and use them in community. We have to use them for our own self-soothing and boundary-setting. By acknowledging this bigger work being done, holding space for it, and doing our work, we preserve The Focal Point in a living, active way that wasn’t done for us. We create an intact way of being among, embodied, that our descendants are begging for and know in ways that we have forgotten is possible. Thank you, Billie, for that reminder, actual Billie and meadow Billie.

So yes, nurture. Yes, think critically and engage where possible and healthy. And know that changing how we do both of those two things for ourselves and as a collective is everything right now. That is the work before us, as we hold space for the beings of The Focal Point to do theirs.

Now’s the time. #beyourcommunity

Half-month Rune Prompts

  • How do you experience The Focal Point?
  • How do you experience the broken path?
  • How can you show up in community, right now?
  • How can you communicate your immediate needs best?
  • What thoughts/beliefs/ do you need to change to outcreate the system?
  • What resources do you have in place to support the effects of changing them?


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. 

  • Berkana/Berkano/Beorc – Bair, Beor
  • Mannaz – Mah, Mahn, Mahna
  • Isa – Ees, Eesuh

For suggestions on how to weather the season gracefully, subscribe to my private runes community on Patreon.


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


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.