For the week of 27 November 2022

A Gathering of Isas

In the spirit of Isa season, this week’s cast is quite condensed, and there is no audio version.

Isa is the half-month rune through13 December. Third in the second aett, it begins completion of the metaphoric ‘winter trio,” the first three runes of the aett, which are associated with various icy formations.

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.

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

Our journey into this aett began with significant demands on our resilience. Hagalaz introduces the reality of our agency clashing with that of other persons, and that we must adapt, without compromising our embodiment or place-space relationships. Nauthiz follows, with clear advice on how to reinforce those relationships in the midst of difficult times: by remembering our elemental relationships, and calling on them through the alchemy of ritual. It is the point that we understand our needs (and boundaries) in the face of adversity and follow through to meet them.

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?

By the time we greet Isa, things have already been a challenge, and we’ve already dug deep to move through them. This rune is associated with the sacred seed, which in Old Norse cosmology symbolizes the pure, core heart of us (and All Things) that is aligned with sacred order. It is the rune of which we don’t get to just know things; rather, we must be in direct personal relationship with them. In coming to know them, for all their beauty, challenges, and demands of us, through the adaptability and  discipline learned from Hagalaz and Nauthiz, we regulate around that knowing. We truly grok them.

To continue reading and access the audio blog:

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Isa is the point that the sacred seed in me sees the sacred seed in you.

But of course humans struggle with that sort of thing. I’m always quick to point out in broken-path (meaning non-indigenous in this use) settler culture, we haven’t just not been taught to hold that embodiment and carry that awareness, the systems therein actively work against us doing so. 

However, Isa, even in its time, meant ice and all its attributes–shining and fair, sharp and painful, cold and lethal. There’s an underlying meaning that both aesthetics and harm can coexist. Even with the sacred, there’s room for pause, space for true knowing, and not necessarily liking or enjoying any of the aforementioned.

Isa also has been brought forward as synonymous with stillness, again pointing back to winter and the gestation of the sacred seed. Likewise, with that travels the conceit of ring-not-pass, that until we’re truly ready to situate into the next depth of awareness, we must stay where we are. We must be still. We must rest.

Another thing that settler culture humans aren’t great at: resting. Resting as productivity. Resting as active stillness

We’ve spent the last few weeks on TWR talking about the season of The WIld Hunt, which is upon us now in the north. We’ve discussed how this lunar-observed 13th month holds us in the dark time, the dead time. Indeed, we rest now, as the winds of the Hunt do their work. They sweep out what can’t be brought into our next depth of awareness, or what may be blocking it. They, and the elements of our place-space, clear us so that we can recognize readiness when it comes.

Our job right now is to let that happen. Just let that happen. If there’s active engagement to be done in the process, do it, then rest. If nothing requires our involvement, light the fires, say the thanks, and rest.

It is the song of the season, and we have to actively attune our heart truths to it. And when we do, it becomes our job to sing along.



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.

  • Isa – Ees, Eesuh



Runes for Change community, Soul Intent Arts, Kelley Harrell

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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.

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