For the week of 4 December 2022

Sacred Rest

Isa (cedar stave) is the half-month rune through 13 December. Ingwaz is the intuitive rune, and Laguz indicates Decisiveness message to us. For this Wild Hunt season the spirits of place anchoring the runes this week are Petrified Wood in Spring, with element Poison (small vial) in the direction of Left (West). Read right to left is Isa, Ingwaz, then Laguz.

[ppp_patron_only level="1.00" silent="yes"]The Weekly Rune - Isa Audio Blog, for the week of 4 December 2022 [/ppp_patron_only]

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

This week Isa closes our time with the cluster of icy runes that open the Second Aett. They bring an abrupt entry after the sweet, lulling affirmation of Wunjo. Isa can have notes of that. It can also be internally muddling, as it ushers in a kind of stillness that we don’t really get to choose, though we do choose what we do with it.

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?

Stillness is a mixed bag in American settler culture, as is rest. I’d go so far as to say our nervous systems haven’t been cultivated with either in mind. So when a rune comes along and says, “Stay!,” it’s hard to know how to take it. Stay with what? And do what with it? What if I don’t like what I find? What if I like it better than what was before? What comes after Stay?

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After 34 years (I literally dragged out a calculator for that–don’t judge) of working with the runes, I finally feel like I get what Isa is about. I’ve known intellectually and been in full reception of it as a prompt for stillness and rest, but I haven’t been able to achieve them. PTSD does that, and we all have a relationship with PTSD in one way or another. 

For me stillness has meant sitting with the discomforts, because I couldn’t feel the comforts. Not really, anyway. The Netflix and the fluffy blanket and the chocolate chip cookies (gluten-free) yes I feel those comforts. But not the kind of comfort that is neutrality within. Things are shit and I’m okay. I haven’t been able to get to the uncharged-nervous-system part of Isa, only the locked-in-a-room-with-my-shit part. 

When we are pinned to stillness without the skills to declutter what occludes stillness in the first place, that’s sheer terror in my book.

Where most people get upset over Hagalaz or Tiwaz, for me Isa is the distressing one, for that reason. Having to sit with shit without the tools to actually assess the relationship to the shit is torture. And we do it all the time in self-help/healing culture. We are encouraged to do it. We are judged when we don’t.

True Isa, though, is really only functional in relationship, which we could say about pretty much everything. That’s the part that makes Isa so uncomfortable to many folx, by which I mean me, not that we all wouldn’t benefit from rest, but being held still when we don’t know how to be still on the inside is stirring of the bad, emotionally and mentally. In those circumstances, it’s us in ring-of-no-passing mode, literally without what we need to pass. It’s a restrictive kind of rest or stillness.

In relationship, Isa is intentional space made for stillness and rest. Stillness needs support to really happen. Rest needs support to really, sacredly happen. They need to be offered up from the heartspace of community that holds us so that we can rest in a way that supports and enriches us, so that the whole community benefits from our Isa-ing. It’s related.

At the risk of venturing deeper into painful, find stillness where possible this week. Find what prevents stillness. Talk with it. Talk with rest. Work with Isa as an ally who already knows all anyone would ever need to know about cultivating capacity for stillness, and invite them in. Have a conversation. Or don’t, as rest dictates.

Ingwaz, as the relationship adjective describing Isa, presents potential, possibility. Ingwaz is the culmination of a long micro dynamic playing out in the runes (of which there are probably many), that starts–that’s right–with Isa. 

It starts with the sacred seed gestating, the active, still place where all that’s needed is gathered before exertion. No matter how passionate, how driven it is to come into being, the seed knows it can’t spring out of the pod flinging its calling everywhere. It waits. It grows. It cultivates the supports needed to help it bear its gift the best that it can. In fact, it will not budge until then.

And if that isn’t beautiful enough, sacred order doesn’t want it to budge until it’s truly prepared to.

It doesn’t want us to, either.

If we have internal sacred order, inner frithgard–a space that inherently knows and offers balance and peace–it’s our nervous system.

Every one of us knows it, and reclaiming that relationship to it is sacred rebellion.

Laguz in the spirit of Decisiveness reinforces that sacred order bit. The unfrozen water rune, Laguz, has been overlaid with more modern attributes of water, like emotion, femininity. Those aren’t part of how we reference it in what we have in the rune poems. It’s more about water as an entity of vast potential and peril.

If we sit with water as a base element of being on this planet, we come back to flow, Flow, more specifically. Circulation, life blood (we might even say Ymir’s literal blood, which when dismembered by Odin created the oceans). Water can be both relaxing and horrifying. We could say water is haphazard, but is it? It follows natural laws that require Decisiveness to stay in balance with the whole.

Just like we do. Our rest and Flow won’t be if left to happenstance. In the way that Nature abhors a vacuum, settler culture reviles stillness. Those two put together are a pretty good argument for plotted, scheduled, actionable goals of rest. Wyrdweave supportive, sacred stillness into being with the alchemy of “no” and preservation of Self as radical reformation for community.

Kin supporting us in that endeavor is earth spirit helper Petrified Wood. As the helping spirit on the ground with us, it taps into expansive memory, roots that grant us incredible power over time. It speaks to having and realizing a strong foundation, which helps us gather our scattered energies, draw close what facilitates our rest. That it occurs in Spring suggests that time is regenerative, perhaps in ways we know while we’re in it. We can only plant the seeds, tend them, and honor how they choose to go forward.

Again with the seed and active stillness.

Poison to my Left, as the element best for wyrdweaving this week, dissolves what we can’t. That’s its job. It also is significant in bane work, small amounts heal though large amounts kill; balance, duality; all about proper application, timing, dosage. knowledge and skill are required, lore, relationship. Poison requires a balance of science and lore, and along that vein, impulse control. All of these are relevant to choosing the decisions we make to foster rest in our lives and the relationship we forge to how we go forward with it.

Left in my cosmology, would be west for others. It represents lush green, with endless opportunity for fertile growth. It’s expansive but undefined, intentional but not at all limited. Left is the direction of growth and possibility. Combined with the fortuitousness of Spring, this week promises to bring uplifting results with our endeavors for supportive stillness.

Likewise, we are full-on into Wild Hunt Season and the sweeping away of the dead, as we approach Solstice. The meeting of these forces makes for a grand opportunity to release any resistance to rest or compulsions to stay busy. 

The weight of third aett runes in this cast lean toward our challenges with rest being more about coming to terms with life, culture, and systems being what they are without feeling we have to change them, and finding how we we can outcreate them by putting our energy into living the way we most need to, despite those challenges.


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Half-month Rune Prompts

  • How do you honor your nervous system?
  • What does your body suggest as a plan for routine rest?M/li>
  • What needs dissolving in your life right now?


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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.

  • Isa – Ees, Eesuh
  • Ingwaz – Een, Eengwa, Eengoo
  • Laguz – Lah, Lahg, Lahgoo, Law, Lawgoo


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Originally published on Soul Intent Arts.
S. Kelley Harrell

S. Kelley Harrell, M. Div.

Kelley Harrell is an animist, author, deathwalker, and death doula held by Tuscarora, Woccon, and Sissipihaw land. For the last 25+ years, through Soul Intent Arts she’s helped others ethically build thriving spiritual paths. Her work is Nature-based, and centers soul tending through the Elder Futhark runes, animism, ancestral tending, and deathwork. She hosts the podcast, What in the Wyrd, and also writes The Weekly Rune as a celebration of the Elder Futhark in season. Work with her in the Runes for Change community or in her intensive soul tending training, The Spirited Path.  Full bio.

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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.

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