For the Week of 10 December 2023

Dreams and Darkness

Isa is the half-month rune through 13 December, at which point Jera moves forward through 28 December. The intuitive rune is Wunjo reversed. The earthly spirits of place anchoring the runes this week are Honey Bee and Wheel, Death (plastic skull), whispers of the Hunt (stag button), dead things, World Ancestors (wee wooden spoon), in the direction of Right/Austri/East (Atlantic Dwarf), with element Plant (caloglossa red moss), in the season of Summer. From right to left are Isa, Jera (lapis lazuli) above, then Wunjo reversed (ceramic). 

Why Join the Runes for Change Community?

Runes for Change provides community and resources to gain insight into the Elder Futhark runes oracle, elder well with ancient wisdom, and cultivate a strong spiritual path. When you join Runes for Change, each week you will receive the full version of The Weekly Rune, which is only available to the Runes for Change community. The runecast includes:

  • fully detailed runecast
  • an audio recording of the runecast with galdr and instruction on how to work with each sound
  • the half-month runic impact on human life force
  • insights on how to best manage the curves and twists therein
  • devotional introspective prompts to nuance and tend self-work for the week
  • Early access to What in the Wyrd episodes
  • Community connection via ​Discord
  • Excerpts of articles and upcoming books, exclusive first peeks at current projects, and galley copies

Optional Runes for Change offerings:

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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.

What's a bindrune?

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What Does It Mean?

Our time with Isa has been a love-hate dance of stillness with deep revelation. We’ve learned more about ourselves and our culture than maybe we wanted to know in the last two weeks. We can’t get where we say we want to go without that knowing, which is in part the job of Isa. If we want to stop perpetuating what we don’t want and create what we do as a collective, we have to have those simmering moments in truth, and that’s exactly what Isa brings, and will continue to bring in the background, well into the third aett. Isa is our opportunity to dream up how to do better, and with the reprieve it brings, actually be equipped to do so.

We move into Jera on 13 December, which nudges us into Solstice range. While December Solstice hits a bit less intensely than June Solstice, it’s still a very tender time. Maybe it’s more on pointe to say where I experience June Solstice as energetically intense, I find December Solstice more emotionally intense–YMMV. Each offers an inner vs outer overhaul in its own way. 

Jera is the rune of year, another trip around the sun, akin to Earth’s birthday. For many (myself included) Jera is the true new year, and it brings new hope of something better following challenging darkness. It’s a light at the end of the tunnel. We talk about it as harvest, and in generally optimistic tones. Where I am, in Jera season it’s still dark, finally starting to get really cold (in the climate of yore, at least, not so much the new one), and comes with a lot of confusion around instinct to slow down and cultural pressure to speed up. This discombobulation coupled with pandemic disjoint has brought a lot of body/mind confusion.

To walk gently with Jera I have to bring myself back to the spaces betwixt, and December Solstice is such a space. It presents beholding the bounty the harvest that has come, and also radical honesty about how we can actually apply our agency to the sacred seed Isa has planted. It is the time to dream, and to plan out how to allocate effort behind the dreaming as light returns. 

Wunjo reversed epitomizes the tone of the time. Big dreaming is the work of now. It’s the time to let Self be enchanted and wrapped by the magick of the season, even as we acknowledge very awful things happening in the world right now, as we hold complicated grief about them, and acknowledge our own need for whimsy, release, and joy. I typically experience Wunjo reversed, joy upended–not as the lack of it–but more like disappointment in my expectations of it. 

There’s a strong case for being disappointed in current systems, PTB, relationships, the presentation of season, all of it. And it’s valid to feel confused about it all. As complicated as it may be, it’s important that we feel it all the way through, now, in the moment,  even the most contrasting feelings, so that we don’t internalize them and  carry them into the dream. In fact, now is a good time to reach out to Dream Team for support in all that comes up this sacred season. I don’t remember a December Solstice in which we were so challenged to dream beyond bleak realities, and the only way we do that with integrity and sanity is together.

I haven’t mentioned this in a long while, but as I talk about the directions, elements, and season, hold the runecast within how Self experiences them. Hold these runes the way Self relates to them. It’s not about how they show up for me. I record how I experience them as an invitation for further exploration. Whether how we’re in relationship with all the pieces and parts is the same isn’t the point. Rather, acknowledging that we’re all in relationship is. We’re going to start the Runevaettir and Landveattir class working on these place-space relationships, first. Check out the posts on Patreon to register for that.

With Right (That Side/ East/Austri) as the direction holding us this week, in my cosmology that indicates water, flow, being carried. It specifically is Atlantic Ocean for me, which represents home, in that all of life emerged from the Ocean. All water returns to the Ocean. So when this direction comes up in casts, explore what home means, at the most sacred and embodied level. Literally, consider where Body feels best. Consider what makes a space feel sacred. Consider how to get more of those needs met in the immediate living space. 

For me Right also is the place of dreams, the primordial soup of our desires mingled with multiversal forces that can help create them into being. It is the direction of realizing our agency, of truly grokking that how we as human-persons align with form is unique in evoking deep change here. And with that unique potential is the responsibility of using our agency to benefit all touched by its impact. This is double the magick of dream, moving from the nesting of Isa into the whispering of dreams into the narrowly lit hopes of Solstice.

Plant – caloglossa red moss –  as the best elemental influence for how we manifest suggests our best efforts will be behind the scenes. Moss isn’t a center-stage life force. It’s liminal, and as such, it occupies diverse space at once, and demonstrates comfort with both light and shadow, and everything between. It exudes calmness and soothing. This elemental support accepts all of who we are and encourages us to do the same. Moss is comfortable betwixt and suggests we can be, too.

As the forest reanimates in Summer so do we. I have to pause with this season, as it’s the hardest one for me and I want to give it fair attention. It’s become a brutal challenge where I live, though, and some of the more traditional romanticization of it has rubbed off for me.  Indeed human persons are more welcome to be outdoors in summer, and it represents good times and coming into power. It’s a time of adventure and expanding innangardr, and Summer is an opportunity for human persons to more intimately deepen our relationship to Nature. Where I live though, trekking into Summer must be well-planned and chock full of resources, as the heat kills and Summer is only getting longer and hotter. 

It is interesting that in this progression to December Solstice our best energetic stance is that of Summer.

When I asked what earthly helping spirit walked with us this week, two spoke. First was Honey Bee. My grandfather was a beekeeper, and because of the years of helping him tend his hives, my relationship to Honey Bee is represented with honey. The honey in the heart vial is the last that was extracted from his hives before he died, when I was 17.

Honey Bee supports this intentionally transitional time. They are conductors of souls; they are natural psychopomps. They are the epitome of sacred order, always focusing their agency on the wellbeing of the collective through teamwork, resilience, adaptation, methodic engagement, interdependence. It may be appropriate to work with Honey Bees this week in helping let go of what can’t be brought forward into our dreaming, and to understand how Self’s dream benefits the collective.

Wheel also presented, and also references the natural sequence of timing and seasons, in that each season depends on the other in order to keep the movement going. So do life stages that All Things move through. Wheel portends movement, in general, of feelings, currents, thoughts, dynamics. Again, where assistance is needed in mooring to sacred order and the search for grounded routine and life-shaping, call upon Wheel this week.

The dead things remaining present in the runecast continue to hold space for what we are letting go. Part of forming the dream of what we want must be releasing what occludes its coming. That might be the hardest part of transitioning from Isa into Jera. Let the allies of Hunt do that work for us. Call on trusted allies to usher what can be released into the winds, and tend Self deeply in the transformation that follows.

Learn more about this seasonal progression, and how to draw its insights into the personal spiritual path in Runic Book of Days.

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Half-month Rune Prompts

  • What supports do you have in place for coping with the busy-ness of the holidays?

  • How can you make sure that your spirit relationships and path are represented in your festivities?


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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
  • Jera – Yer, Yeruh, Yarrow, Yair, Yairuh,Yairaw

  • Wunjo – Woo, Woon, Woonyo, Wyn


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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.

#beyourcommunity ~ #youareecosystem

elder well, die well, ancestor well


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Die Well

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