For the Week of 7 January 2024

Sacred Berserkir

Eihwaz is the half-month rune through 13 January. The intuitive rune is Thurisaz. The earthly spirits of place anchoring the runes this week are Death (wee skull), World Ancestors (wee wooden spoon), fossilized Squalicorax Tooth (crow shark), in the direction of West (Green Dwarf), with element Mycelium (acrylic mushrooms), in the season of Winter (I forgot the button 🙁 ). The bolder helping spirit holding space with us this week is norn, Skuld (Yggdrasil card). From right to left are Eihwaz (polished amethyst), then Thurisaz (carved cedar stave). 

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:

  • more detail in the runecast
  • 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

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What Does It Mean?

Our passage through Winter Solstice and Yule have been quite intense, leaving the calendric movement into the new year… somewhat lackluster.  I mean, yeah we’re grateful still to be here, and yet we are allowed not to feel grateful for what the state of being here feels like. I’ve never witnessed a less enthusiastic welcome to a new year, and yet that’s on par with where we are collectively–exhausted, overworked, under-supported, and craving change.

Eihwaz is just the rune for such a sore spot. The thirteenth rune in the Futhark, this second-aett omen represents death, but also life, and quite possibly whatever is between them. It is the full circle of being, thus challenges us to hone in on tensions closest to home. We can’t worry about everything. We can’t fix everything. What we can tend is what’s in our immediate orbit, our ecosystem, and reserve our energy for doing what we can, and resting when we can’t. It’s a micro dance of life and death, and everything between. It’s listening to Body and responding supportively.

In my relationship to Eihwaz it is the Sacred Self rune. In the traditional ordering of the Futhark, we’ve come through the sweet innocence of the first aett. There were prickly moments with Thurisaz, but for the most part we’ve worked through it with intention, to arrive at the capacity to navigate ourselves among others trying to do their best in the second aett. And the thing is, that’s really hard. 

The second aett is the aett of humaning well in a deeper way. It requires that we still be able to find sweetness when things are shitty, and that doesn’t mean fake-it-til-you-make-it, or other tweet-bytes that don’t understand that Body knows the truth. There’s no faking it, which means we really do have to figure out how to tend our state of being. We have to find our sacredness.

In From Elder to Ancestor I talk about the Sacred Self as:

the part of me that knows the full depth and expansion of my earthly agency and strives to express it all the time with the interagency of All Things at the fore. To that end, I’m also careful not to say “the Sacred Self,” and say merely “Sacred Self,” to emphasize that fluidity and not tether it with language. Sacred Self is the part of me that is not only sacred but is connected to the sacred order. It cannot function any other way. It can’t not support my unique gift to bear.

How interesting that Thurisaz, the rune of berserkir is the best way to work with Eihwaz this week…  

In the What in the Wyrd episode on Thurisaz, I said something like:

if we haven’t done the work with Uruz to know what embodiment feels like and to understand how to live out of that even with each of our unique challenges, then our experience of Thurisaz can be really fraught. If we move from Uruz without an awareness of how we are in our body, then we move into the experience of our inner thurs without the ability to ground it, which is akin to berserker energy without the focused container and outlet that’s intended for the release of such energy. Ie, it’s dangerous for us and the people around us. And the way we get that focused container is to learn grounding skills. They are not the same as embodiment skills. With Uruz, embodiment, we are coming into body as fully as we can. With Thurisaz, grounding, we are engaging the elements in our Spirits of Place and within ourselves to root into Earth Parent and Sky parent to help us hold our wild. Subtle but big difference. 

What happens when we cross Sacred Self with that grounded, well-resourced Berserkir Self? We’re about to find out. This week it’s all on the table, as far as our capacity and authority to hold the extremes of Self and still function, still be pissed about the state of things and still get life done–and it’s all still sacred. We don’t have to demonize any of it. It just is. This week there’s deep honoring that we don’t have to separate it all out. We can hold what seem like opposites in ourselves and the world, and not combust, and not damn it all to Hel. Yet, we are still allowed to have the emotional and cognitive responses that we need to, to keep our relationships within and without healthy and strong. We can be the wise being acting out of sacred order and still not take any shit.

The Weekly Runecast for 7 January 2024 on Intentional Insights- by S. Kelley Harrell

The direction helping us do that this week is  Left,  which is West for others, Vestri in Old Norse. For me the direction of rolling green and the watchful tree in the goat meadow. It represents lush green, with endless opportunity for fertile growth. It’s expansive but undefined, intentional yet not at all limited. Left is the direction of growth and possibility. The boundary it holds for us provides flexibility, yet security. We can stretch into the extremes of Self and life, without losing the stability we’ve created in the second aett.

Element Mycelium is also incredibly supportive. Mycelium underlies every aspect of life–death, support, birth. It may be the original midwife and deathwalker. Given that, there is no one “meaning” with it. It may be more useful to explore it as the backbone of life, and check in with mycelium to learn how to deepen bonds with ecosystem or how to be fruitful with holding life’s extremes. In short, Mycelium holds the secrets to souling-in-form well, even when ‘well’ seems extreme. 

Winter 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 we are natively slipping from that state–still feeling the dregs of The Dead Time but not so much the intensity–we need a warm, cozy space to process all that the close of last year dredged up. The seasonality of Winter is meant to give us that. The Dead Time doesn’t just disappear in a night like the cookies left for Santa. Seasonality, thus our bodies, are meant to have long, nurturing rehab to greet the coming light.  The Dark Time is intense, by design. It is Nature’s deathwalk. The softly growing light of late Winter is meant to give us time to be ready for the brightness to come. This runecast encourages us to take rest everywhere we can.

The earthly Helping Spirits holding space with us this week start with fossilized Squalicorax Tooth (crow shark), which is a genus of extinct lamniform shark known to have lived during the Cretaceous period. Squalicorax, and all sharks are a symbol of power, strength, and tenacity. Sharks are about base survival and being honest with ourselves about what we’re willing to do to survive, confronting the part of us that is violent, and knowing when a situation calls for violence. 

We don’t talk about violence as an agent of change in American settler culture, largely because the ritual of violence is in the hands of people who don’t respect it as a life force in its own right. It’s used to punch down, to dehumanize, to control. The serrated edges of this shark’s teeth mean that it ate prey too big to fit in its jaws. Squalicorax knew how and when to punch up, and it encourages us to think through our feelings around survival and violence this week, particularly as we sift through what our Sacred Berserkir can stand in this world, and what they can’t.

Pressences in the runecast have been morphing for a while now, reflecting the upheaval so many have expressed in their cosmology relationships, in their Allies not being [as] accessible. In the lead-up to Solstice I felt that new-ish iterations of those big helping spirits wanted to lean in closer (as opposed to months of them being MIA). In the process from the year’s end, I’ve felt that we have to let the godden and Watcher-level helpers be new for our relationships with them to really be beneficial to them and us. We have the idea in settler culture that godden don’t grow. They don’t evolve. They came into being perfect, they’re never wrong, so we never update how we see or work with them. If that was ever really true (I don’t experience that it was), it’s not now, and we can’t expect Bridgid to be the same Brigid. We can’t expect to interact with her the same way or for the same needs. We have to be impeccably clear in expressing the state of the world to them and asking for what’s needed. We have to see our relationships with them as clear channels and not consumerist prayer request hotlines.

I think this shift of letting our Allies change and updating how we honor them is why Skuld came when I consulted the Yggdrasil deck for insight into leaning in without being fully present. We’ve talked in the runecast for a while about the godden being distant, managing their own conflicts with themselves and each other (and Midgard), and how in order for the sweeping changes we’ve put into motion here to root, the godden have to change too. Skuld is the youngest of the nornir. She is typically expressed as simply the future, though with the nuance of what may be, based on how we weave our wyrd as we go forward in life. In that regard she’s different from the other nornir (Urd, the past, and Verdandi, the present). The other two sisters oversee circumstances that are pretty set in how they influence us. With Skuld, yes there are aspects of wyrd influencing how we can apply our agency going forward, but it’s not carved in stone. It is still changeable, and as long as we stay aware of the interwoven threads of our part of the great tapestry, we can create the changes we say we want here. And if we’re all working toward the same collective improvements…  Well, let’s just say that takes nothing less than Sacred Berserkir to make happen.

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Half-month Rune Prompts

  • What do you think of when you hear “berserk?”

  • Why do you have the views about it that you do?

  • What part of you is berserk?

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Galdr

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.

  • Eihwaz – Eye, Eyewuh, Yew, Yewuh, Eoh

  • Thurisaz – Thoor, Thooree

     

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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.

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elder well, die well, ancestor well

@kelleysoularts

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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.