For the Week of 29 October 2023
Scar and the Preparation for Deathwalking
Before we launch into this week’s cast, I’d like to point back a few weeks to Hagalaz making a random appearance in TWR, in which was said
We will be seeing the skull, stag, and other dead things in the runecast for a while. As they appear and the north moves more into shadow, it’s appropriate to make your reverse wishlist: the Let-go List. Yes challenge comes, the hail kind, the inflation kind, the ‘How am I going to get through this kind.’ Be with the season as much as possible by realizing what is no longer needed, and offer it up to the Hunt as we move closer to it. The more active we can be in our process, the more thorough our process can be. What the janitors in cosmology can take, give it to them. It doesn’t have to be this week, or this month. As the Hunt moves into space with Self, offer up what can be taken, and stand in the freedom of its wake when it goes.
As we go into this week beginning Irish Samhain, Czech Dziady, and Nordic Alfablot and Vetrnætr, and the many iterations of ancient holy days celebrated around the world, strange things are afoot, and this week’s cast delves into those roots.
Hagalaz is the half-month rune through 13 November. The intuitive rune is Algiz. From right to left is Hagalaz, then Algiz. The earthly spirits of place anchoring the runes this week are Death (plastic skull), whispers of the Hunt (stag button), dead things (paper wasp nest, potter wasp nest, mink skull), and World Ancestors (wee wooden spoon) in the direction of Within (mink skull), with no specific element representing, in the season of Spring (tree button).
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?
Over the last couple of weeks we’ve sat with Wunjo, privilege, and how pretty much anything following that is a drag. I described this closing rune of the first aett as, “Wunjo is the meeting of beneficial change and opportunity. A little elbow (probably a lot) and the right place at the right time.” I talked about how joy becomes complicated with supremacy culture, and that while humaning is hard, supremacy makes it harder.
When we take that logic into Hagalaz, the opening rune of the second aett, that truth might sit a bit harder. Hagalaz means hail and all that it signifies: sudden hardship beyond our control, devastating loss, which we may have seen coming but couldn’t stop, either way. This may show up in literal natural disaster, interpersonal interaction, and/or human person vs human-person systems. It’s hard, and Hagalaz is a rune no one wants in their casts.
In What in the Wyrd, episode 115 on Hagalaz, I talk about this rune as one of adaptation, one in which Scar becomes who we are and how we function in the world. With Scar, we’re not who we were, who we are becoming isn’t here and may always be in -progress. In this way, Hagalaz is the speed bump into the second aett. In the first aett we’re getting our humanity in place, and it’s largely a wonderland of souling in form among ecosystem. The second aett changes all of that. We gain the self-consciousness to realize that we are learning how to apply our agency among all these other beings doing the same, and it’s sloppy, hurtful, beautiful, inspiring, and heartbreaking, often all at once. I’ve called the second aett the plot twist of the Elder Futhark, and that is no less true about Hagalaz, specifically. With this rune our agency is called to the carpet, not because it demands that we have coping skills in order to adapt, but because sometimes we are the destabilizing force.
As well, if a single rune can be the rune of the broken path, it’s Hagalaz. It represents both our break from our awareness of ourselves as Naturekin and the aftermath of culture built on that lack.
Seasonally speaking, Hagalaz is the first of three wintry pause runes, each of which has its own story about being between. In the north this hesitation shows up in the transition into The Dark Time, The Dead Time. Autumn is our time to prep for the deathwalk that is Winter. It’s an awkward time, if not uncomfortable, confusing, and necessary. Again, Scar emerges from this space, and we are worthy of its wisdom. We’re taught to search for the meaning of Scar, though I think it’s more that Scar is the meaning of us. Change doesn’t happen without it. We can’t human well without Scar. We have to learn to adapt.
Algiz as the best way to Hagalaz brings us back to the focus of the last several weeks of TWR, and that is the godden in ecosystem. Localized sacred. We haven’t had a Beyond Earth ally show in the cast for quite a while, alongside the messaging to seek the local godden. Work with them as the most direct means of creating community, applying agency, and evoking change. This memo has also coincided with large scale change in the cosmology of many of us. It is a synchronicity underscoring that such a shift from Beyond to Among is right.
In the elder rune poems, Algiz means elk, while in the later Anglo-Saxon rune poem it is referenced as the elk-sedge grass. Both represent pokey, protective boundaries that can only be crossed by vetted, respectful beings. From an animistic perspective, this speaks to our relationship with place-space, literal ecosystem, and its spiritual inhabitants and presences. The way that I reference this dynamic in Runic Book of Days is
“Herein lies the protection of this stave: we know our strengths. We become them so intensely that we carry them with us wherever we go.”
We are in such focused relationship with the spirits of our ecosystem, that they travel out with us, everywhere. The wisdom of ecosystem guiding how we move with Hagalaz is powerful. We best adapt in community. I’d go even further with that and say we can only adapt well in community, because we are always in community. The question is whether we realize and acknowledge that fact. We are part of our ecosystem. In truth, ecosystem is our original community. Ecosystem taught us how to human well, and we carry that forward by being watchful custodians of our place-space, and in fostering our human-person spaces accordingly.
This week call on local Spirits of Place. Work with Land Elders, let Naturekin play their native role in the boundaries of local sacred, and be active in their process. Particularly with regard to our varied celebrations of the dead this week, practice útiseta, or sitting out, being part of Nature. Don’t interject, just listen in. Learn how it approaches this season. Observe how it prepares for Winter’s deathwalk, how it prepares for The Wild Hunt.
When we actively spend time in our Nature spaces, the notion of a ‘veil thinning’ drops away, also. We come to realize that the engagement of Other is always and ongoing. We acknowledge the seasonal decline of light only forces us to know more readily that ecosystem is Other and always has been.
This awareness that Midgard is Other, and that we have work that is solely that of human-persons to do reinforces our capability of adapting. In the seasonality of Hagalaz so much of that work revolves around deathwalking unquiet dead. The direction of Within ties this theme in even further.
Within 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 (again, Algiz–boundaries), 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 honor the ecosystem Algiz boundaries, other forces will plug in random parameters that may or may not be beneficial or represent the health of our ecosystem. And our spirit helpers can’t do that for us. It was never their job to do so, but apparently now more than ever, they aren’t in a place to intervene. And while our ecosystem certainly can balance itself, it can do that job more readily with us in compliance. #weareourecosystem
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 that 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.
The tone of all of this preparation, protection, tending of Scar is Spring. A conversation I’ve seen in several places this Autumn is the inflection of Spring into Autumn. I’ve never seen or experienced that before, though we had such a horrifically hot and dry Summer, that when the cooler weather came the skinks and squirrels behaved like it was Spring. Instead of being in conservation mode and scampering around to tuck away needs for Winter–which they usually do this time of year–they have been lying in warm spots on the steps and frisking in the frithgard. I’ve never witnessed that before–the Spring in Autumn.
The elements encouraged us each to work with the one most speaking to us this week. In that there was no specific one emerging as the transmutational force. Rather, let us each take time to find and work with that being in our own ecosystem this week.
Spring, which presents new growth, creativity is also the seasonal point that human-persons can more safely venture beyond their own thresholds–utangardr–return to the forest. The space that Spring holds is one of opportunity to verge outward and explore new territory. This is a gorgeous message for how we can have faith in our place-space now, even if it is climate-altered and not fitting how we usually experience seasonality. Even with that we must adapt. The long Hagalaz.
Both runes in this cast are from the second aett, and they speak of intentionally sitting with place–one from the perspective of adaptation, and the other from the perspective of boundaries. They seem like extremes on the surface–move, but don’t. How very Hagalaz…
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
To bear your unique gift to the world.
To leave the planet better than you found it.
So that your descendants never elder alone.