For the Week of 3 December 2023
Tiny Fear and Trickster
Isa is the half-month rune through 13 December.The intuitive rune is Perthro. The earthly spirits of place anchoring the runes this week are Key, Death (plastic skull), whispers of the Hunt (stag button), dead things, World Ancestors (wee wooden spoon), in the direction of Beyond (world marble), with element Metal, in the season of Winter. From right to left are Isa then Perthro (Baltic amber).
We’ve entered the timing of the final winter rune, Isa. A while back a reader of Runic Book of Days asked me why I call them the winter runes when they don’t exactly correspond with northern ‘winter’ months, by the Gregorian calendar. They are the ice runes (though fire is a big component of Nauthiz), and their impact on us is wintry. Their impact is stillness, observation, disruption, even straight up stuckness. Isa is the last incubation space of that slowed journey, and it seems fitting that it prefaces Solstice. Isa is the point that we commit our agency to some precious manifestation of our calling (a sacred seed of sorts), and with this rune we gestate it into being. We dream it into being.
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
Other Patreon offerings:
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What Does It Mean?
Our time with Isa is fraught with planetary suffering and grief. None of us are untouched by it. Our challenge is to hold the space for our own dreaming and that of others, even as the dream is not now manifest, and perhaps can’t be any time soon. Our capability to live the dream can’t diminish our dreaming of it, and that’s a hard thing to sit with.
Perthro as the best way to engage Isa underscores the question of our relationship to outcome. With Perthro, we don’t know where things will land. We can assume they will generally be favorable, as the rune’s precedence hints in that direction. But we don’t know, and we can’t know. We can only know that outcomes will happen. It’s empowering and humbling at the same time, as it speaks to our both agency and vulnerability with wyrd.
Earlier in 2023, during Perthro’s time I said in TWR,
“Perthro breaks the 4th wall of the Elder Futhark… It is the tender spot in wyrd where wyrd looks back at us. It’s the point that we realize it is alive and engageable, even if we don’t really know what wyrd is. It’s the realization that we’re in relationship with it, and we play a part in how it transpires is, in itself, the greatest enlightenment we can ever have.
Perthro interjects chance, risk, luck (although I cringe over our simple definition of that one, though). Perthro introduces just how much impact our agency can have, all the while cloaking our odds of success or failure.
With Perthro we recognize the moments where we can peer behind the curtain and widen the grounding from which we make choices, and still not really know how it’s all going to turn out. Because Perthro isn’t about the outcome; it’s about realizing we are part of the agency generating it. It’s a process based on risk. To risk, by default, means to take action. We have taken a risk by including ourselves in the forces of creation and we have cast our lot with The Powers That Be.”
That lack of knowing how things will land in our Ally relationships, in our cosmologies, our communities, our systems…. It’s scary. And in a way, it’s supposed to be. I’m about to do a thing I rarely do, which is situate a rune with a tarot card. Perthro is The Fool. It is the tender notknowing and still having to move through life as if we do, willing to screw it up, but always with the sound knowledge that we showed up. We took the risk of being right, wrong, stupid, but never impartial or paralyzed. And to show up implies an intentional relationship with fear. Life is made up of the tiny fears we string together to risk improving on whatever it was that made us need to find more to life. And that relationship is all trickster. It’s all about turning the status quo up-the-fuck-side down, when the collective can no longer see that the status quo is what’s causing the harm.
That is the tone of now, and I think the background of function for the foreseeable future. The delicate balance of agency, frivolity, and tiny fear is what Isa demands of us, even as we continue to incubate who we are and what our agreements on being in form together are. We have to be able to both gestate what needs to come–against all odds–while still coping with the historic odds not having been in our favor.
The direction best holding space for us this week and most able to protect it is Beyond. Beyond/All is the container of all that we know and beyond. It is the direction of sacred order. It’s the realm of Watchers, Norns, Multiversal Jotnar who caretake the machinations of all life. Given that, it can also be the microbes, the mitochondria, the bacteria. It’s not just Out There, but also that strata of managerial oversight that aligns with respect for all life at all levels. It is the direction of Source.
Back is the direction others consider South/Suðri, which in my cosmology is heat, fire, flat, sandy land. It’s also the direction of the janitors continually deathwalking what is no longer needed, so that fungi can lay down the new network and teach us all how to use it. It is what is behind me, place of past and letting go, so that we know what comes is what is right for us. Back is the direction of earthly Ancestors–the plants, the rocks, the primordial soups that created life as we know it. It is the Ancestors, who are literally behind me, because they have my back.
This week explore what Ancestors can teach around deathwalking and adaptation. I would even take that a step further and inquire what queer Ancestors can share about these, as their worldview and beyond lies outside supremacy.
The elemental ally this week is Acid. We often forget the power of corrosion to dissolve detritus.
The slow releasing of what is no longer needed is the superpower of Acid. It erodes away what we can’t, or perhaps what we shouldn’t carry further. In this way Acid is more of the tending side of things, rather than curative. It’s about process and staying with it. This is a great time to work with Sacred Acid to loosen and drop the crud, so that we don’t bring it ahead with us. Remain mindful that Acid works slowly. What is left to dissolve now may take extra time and tending. Once given over, check in on it intermittently to stay attuned to its process. We can’t speed it up, but we can be present to it until its end.
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.
I love this matching of season to seasonality in the north, for this week. It reinforces that we need rest, and that the demands of what lies beyond our doorstep require it. The season requires it. In American settler culture we really don’t ramp down for Winter. In some cases, we speed up. Sit with what rebellion toward rest is possible this week, and maybe for the remainder of Winter, and let Self name that rebellion exactly what it is: outcreating the system(s). Practice feeling shamelessly unapologetic for rest, setting and holding boundaries, and saying no.
Key as our earthly helping spirit can signify different things. It can indicate freedom, that which was previously locked is now open to us, which grants us new possibilities. It could be that which was wide open and inundating is now locked, tucked away–or we are tucked away from it, protected. The thing about Key is it allows us to choose: opening, closing. It is the conduit that reminds us of choice, selection, and boundaries.
In this runecast we have the second aett tension with the third aett wisdom. The drama will pass. We will adapt. Our capability of doing so is sacred order for a survival much bigger than just ourselves. Look to our ecosystems for guidance, teaching, boundaries, and community. They do not fail
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Half-month Rune Prompts
- How well do you manage constriction?
- Could it be a comforting space?
- What would need to be in place for it to be nurturing?
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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 – Eess, Eessuh
Perthro – Pair, Pairth, Per, Perth, Peorth
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.