For the week of 9 April 2023

Living for Death

Ehwaz (cedar stave) is the half-month rune through 14 April. Algiz is the intuitive rune (carved reindeer slice), and Tiwaz reversed indicates Decay’s message to us. The spirits of place anchoring the runes this week are fossilized Belemnite and element Timing in Winter, and the direction of Front (North/Nordri). Read right to left is Ehwaz, Algiz, then Tiwaz reversed.

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

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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 a two-week examination of our relationship with the rune.

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, 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.

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
  • optional services with me
  • discounts on soul tending services

The Runecast

This week’s runecast requires a bit of a preface: Our push to make new normal be now is deeply interfering with our experience of what is, all of which is creating more and new wounds without us consciously realizing it. These wounds feel familiar, because this is a more rapid fire and recent experience of the slow burn of supremacy we’ve felt since landing on this soil. It’s just in our faces 24/7 as a result of not thoroughly deathwalking our recent and copious dead through the pandemic, but also for not deathwalking systems that are sycophant zombies at this point.

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?

In our time with Berkana, we talked about how what is usually a lighter time felt a bit heavy. The same can be said for Ehwaz. All the busy-ness and excitement of Spring is being conflated by a lot of undone stuff, both personally and collectively. It feels less like blossoming new life and more like just a pollen bomb straight to the face.

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Thus, our usual time with Ehwaz as a point to tend things at a soul level and refine relationship is being felt more like spiritual courting what we’d like and being rerouted to what we need. We are craving creature comforts right now at a deep soul level and they are just not there to be had. Drive-by, simple solace, yes, but for the foreseeable future, we’re not tucking in with our etheric weighted blankets any time soon. Shit is stirred, it’s supposed to be, in form and in spirit, we (human-persons) are the only ones who can help it settle, and we can’t do that from a place of comfort. It is not the place of the spirit world to fix the imbalance of formed being, so. Ehwaz it is.

I haven’t had this happen with a half-month rune before, though with Ehwaz I keep getting pulled back into how we are abusing it, or are abusing our relationship with it. And this isn’t intentional. It is a direct result of living in a culture that has separated us from Nature, animism–the very things that are our vehicle into the sacred, into Death, into ourSelves. Ehwaz is that vehicle. It is the rune of bridge that we must make effort to access into the unseen of all of Life. Our task is to see the cultural broken path for what it is and still reach across the divide for that unseen relationship. 

Given that, I have experienced Ehwaz season as an escape. I’ve done it; I’ve witnessed it. It’s too easy to see the spiritual layer of existence, the spaces we travel to access that layer, as not real or as better than being in form. Finish this last week with Ehwaz with integrity around that, around the purpose of soul travel done now, and what is being done in Midgard with the medicine brought back from it.

When we are traveling out to feel supported, to find answers, to feel worth–those are all good things to do in the realm of being a healthy human. They are all helpful in their moment. But they are things sought from that cultural wounding. They are not our calling. They are the work we do so that we can approach our calling. They are not what we came here to do for our community, the Ancestors, the Descendants, or All Things. Believing that they are is a product of just how much hasn’t been tended in settler culture. It’s a gauge of just how wide that break in the path is. 

This is what our remaining time with Ehwaz wants us to get straight on, and do the work, the healing, the tending needed to hold such a stance ongoing. We can’t really travel out with integrity until we do the healing needed on Earth, in the land, in our relationship with ecosystem. 

Algiz as the best way to Ehwaz kind of gives me shivers. Algiz is our Nature relationship. If we boil it down to what the sedge grass and elk are, they are territorial Nature Spirits. When we explore how we make them active in our lives, we are drawn to the Nature Spirits of our own ecosystems and how we are in relationship with them. Ehwaz is horse. It is both the Yggdrasil–the soul travel destination and navigation system–and Sleipnir–the conduit that allows us to travel out. In ON culture, the horse was the fylgja of humanity. It was the protective spirit of soul travel. That layering of significance, of role with destination, with movement, navigation, and safety…  That is the formula I teach in soul travel. It is a real and necessary thing. Algiz as the best way to get in step with that this week is another pointer back to our own ecosystem as the cradle of our sacred. 

Tiwas reversed through the voice of Decay is a new presence in TWR. Tiwaz is the rune of survival. It is the turning moment in battle, when we have to change tack and put our faith 100% into that choice. Reversed, we’re delaying making that choice. In the context of the unquiet dead of the pandemic, the zombie systems we prop up to steal our life force–we’re delaying the Decay that is a natural part of what allows us to live. The dead have to go. They. will. eat. us. if. they. stay. Here. They are eating us. When this kind of dynamic prolongs, we enter the terrain of PTSD in psychological vernacular, soul loss and stealing in soul tending vernacular.

Decay speaks to this as a fear of shadow. We’re terrified of death and dying, so we hold onto life until the wheels fall off, and that they will fall off is a guarantee. When we hold that fastidiously to anything, we stunt its life cycle, as well as our own. If we don’t release into the unknowns of shadow, Decay can’t happen. Whole networks of spiritual microbial, fungal midwifing never happen. So not only are we being eaten by the dead, we are starving ourselves and the Descendants of the nutritive humus of a healthy ecosystem. 

We’re a culture of stunted life cycles, alive at a time when true liberation of Decay is happening. Byron Ballard calls it Tower Times, though I’ve called it hinge times. We are supposed to be in the middle, facilitating moving away from what doesn’t work, opening to what can, without ever really arriving there, ourselves. That is the harsh truth of being on the planet right now, and we’re built for it. But we can’t tap into the strength and resilience of our own time here unless we allow Decay. This is the way we live for death. We’re here to set up not just ourselves to die well, but every unquiet dead for the last 4 thousand years, and our Descendants. That is what’s on the table when we talk about traveling out and making it be with integrity.

The spacial Helpers this week are Winter, which assures us the best ways to make what we need to happen are with rest, grounding, endurance, and resourcefulness. This week’s roll is slow and purposeful, which has everything to do with seeing processes to their completion. 

Front (North/Norðri) as the boundary-holder for the work we do this week reinforces that restfulness of Winter, encourages us to think ahead of how we act, as we forge new bonds. The direction of ice, air, and lineage, Front specifically emphasizes the Descendants. They are everything ahead of us, and the benefactors of every choice and decision we make now. Luckily Front is also the direction of  knowledge and wisdom, which allows us to draw on our Allies as much as our skills and experience to know and do what’s best for ourselves, and our communities. This week what’s best is letting the dead be dead, and realizing that’s pretty much the only reason we’re here. 

The element Timing is on our side this week. Even though it feels big and heavy and overwhelming and due, like, last millennium, we are moving with the elements at least better. The experience that greater laws are in relationship and carrying out duties, the ability to pace Self according to the cycles of Nature, to be in relationship with Nature such that our habits and body rituals sync with natural occurrences..  We’re doing it. We’re living it as the deepest, most delinquent rebellion we could bring, by being family with Nature.

Fossilized Belemnite as our on-the-ground (or in the water, as in this case) Ally this week has a curious and long world history. They were in the Cephalopod family, now in existence to us as what look like fossilized bullets. The part of the Belemnite that has survived all this time was its armor, essentially. It’s an internal dart-shaped bit that made them sturdy, and if cut concentrically, its rings tell how old the Belemnite was. 

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. This doesn’t situate in Old Norse cosmology directly, but came well after, in the Anglo Saxon cosmology, which absorbed aspects of the ON one. 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.

I don’t read this in the context of this runecast as something that will happen, but already has. It’s a way we’ve lived in American settler culture since its inception, and quite possibly is a way of moving among that we’ve gotten used to having invisible darts thrown at us, 24/7. Whatever the case, we need to be aware of it now, aware of how we are vulnerable, when our fylgja says RUN, when our body says no to respond in kind. Algiz paired with the Belemnite is all about defense from submersion, which for us means to be not just near ecosystem, but within it, part of it. And despite the many rough edges of this cast, there’s a gentleness in that relationship, that ecosystem can teach us about Decay, so that we can find better relationship with it. 

Decay is already happening, in our ecosystem, our body, our culture. We are in relationship with it already, whether consciously or not so much. The teachers who can help us shift into that are all around us. That two of our runes are third aett and one is from the second indicates we’ve done the work to be able to cope with that shift in perspective. We just need to surrender to what it has to teach us.


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Half-month Rune Prompts

  • How do you regularly show respect to the unseen in your life?

  • When you feel into the gap of the broken path, what comes up?

  • How are you in relationship with Decay?

  • How does your ecosystem hold space for your soul work?

  • How do you give back to it?


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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.

  • Ehwaz – Eh, Ehwuh, Eoh

  • Algiz – Awl, Awlyee, Ail, Ailhaw, Ailha

  • Tiwaz – Tee, Teewuh, Teewaw, Tyr


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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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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.