For the week of 18 December 2022

The Agency of Place and Darkness

Every December Solstice I make the full runecast publicy available. Thank you for your support and encouragement through the year, and all you do to be your place.

Jera (ceramic tile) is the half-month rune through 28 December. Sowilo (Baltic amber) is the intuitive rune, and Eihwaz indicates Reagency’s message to us. For this week of Wild Hunt season the spirits of place anchoring the runes are Pine Cone in Winter, with elements Timing in the direction of This Side/Right (East). Read right to left is Jera, Sowilo, then Eihwaz.

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

Hagalaz gave us a grounding entry into the second aett. Harbinger of the truth that shit happens always comes after Wunjo’s reinforcement that Joy happens. By the time we progress into Nauthiz, we’ve reacquainted with (or met for the first time) our need for boundaries and understand more personally what humaning really means.

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 reach Jera in the second aett, we’re ready for harvest, ready for a break. We need to see the results of our efforts, so that we know if how we’re working our agency is having the impact we intended, and if not so that we can regroup and adjust. December Solstice is such a time of reflection and what I call “Hearth Accounting.”

Jera is the mid-point of the Elder Futhark. It follows the soul-in-form exploration of the first aett, and the trio of gritty metaphoric winter runes that slow our roll to make sure that we learn how to function when life throws us into difficulty. We often sit with Jera as a celebratory rune, and it is. It’s also a pause rune, in that it has us examine and assess how we got where we are and discern how we go forward. When we sit with what that means at an animistic level, it means we decide how we go forward in relationship. We think about how we’re going to apply our agency and lay the groundwork for doing so.

Over the last few runecasts, we’ve talked about how there’s no such thing as an individual, or the concept of being individual. Everything is in relationship, all the time. How we engage within that awareness is everything. Jera is the first point in the traditional progression of the Elder runes that we see soul-in-form giving us feedback on how we’re doing with that. We did a harvest. We did that. 

Harvest is a cyclic, ongoing observation of engagement with place-space that gives direct feedback on how that relationship is going. It is an annual opportunity to examine what went well and what we should do more of, as well as what we should tweak to be a bit better, new methods we should invite for engagement, and actions we should perhaps never take again. And all of it comes as the direct result of our experience learning to regulate with the icy, challenging opening runes of the second aett. In harvest we learn that our relationship to place-space is everything–literally. It’s how we survive, maybe thrive. It reflects the health and success of our ecosystem. It’s all inextricably interwoven, and in that realization we form intentional alliance with it.

With Jera we ally with place.

Sowilo as the rune expressing how we can best engage Jera is beautiful, and also curious given December Solstice. Pay-it-forward. Do unto others. Meaning sun, sol, Sowilo is the rune of interdependence and belonging. From our earthly purview, the sun keeps us alive. It provides the stability our planet needs to function as we know it. 

From an animistic standpoint, we are in relationship with the sun in such a way that we derive what we need from it, so that we can give others what they need. In this way, the sun forms the center of our interdependence, our belonging. It forms the basis of our cellular awareness that we all have a duty within our communities. We all have a unique gift that only we can bear to the planet, and our relationships foster us to do so. The intersection of bearing our duty to community through our calling is what we do here. Sowilo sanctifies this intersection, such that we are sustained not just from the person-to-person relating, but also by what we learn about ourselves and life-in-form in the evolution of those relationships. 

In the global north, much of our honoring of December Solstice is about light and bringing it back. By virtue of Sowilo, it is coming back. We don’t have to do anything to bring it back, though our ceremonies about this transition matter. Ceremony in place evokes parts of us that can only be located while in that place, that seasonality. For December Solstice it matters that we not rush toward light and truly be with the darkness, that we allow what it has to teach us to come forward. It matters that we honor the native closure of this time, that we see a cycle deathwalked to its next experience of itself. Give it over to the Wild Hunt. What happens in these Solstice moments can only happen in these Solstice moments. If we don’t carve out the space for what these moments can evoke, we will miss them. Our agency is required.

As well, it matters that we see the season for what it naturally is: a sacred transition. This Solstice is the preservation of future harvests. It is the collective hope that our needs are met. Ceremony to honor December Solstice is the physically expressed relationship and gratitude to the planet-sun bond that regulates all of life here.

Such ceremony is our gift to our ecosystem that says we know, we’re involved in that greater relationship, and we care how it holds us all.

Eihwaz through the voice of Reagency struck me as amusing. Reagents are components added to a system to generate change, though it didn’t come to me in that straightforward noun sense. It came to me as a stance we initiate to outcreate systems. We become Reagency, the thing added and the force of change, itself.

Eihwaz is the rune that traditionally follows Jera, and it is attributed with aspects of death via the yew tree, which is a treasure or a weapon, depending. However we approach it, Eihwaz is a reminder that life and death are connected by us. They are connected by all persons, relationships, communities. We are representations of life, death, and both at once. We are the connective tissue of life and death, and so much happens in that betwixt space.

In Runic Book of Days I talk about ordeal being a way that we apply our agency to experience initiation, or growth, which isn’t approached lightly. Ideally we choose ordeal as initiation, because we recognize that we can’t continue to function as we have been. We need to change, a better way, and in order for that change to be internalized, we have to let go of who we were so there’s space for who we can be. The thing is, ordeal is coming, regardless. Life is ordeal. Agency is ordeal. When we take the time to tap in and realize we need change, to create space for ordeal–that’s the best way to Eihwaz. Nature will do it for us. Impact will do it for us, though part of the reason we work with the runes in season is to read the signs–those of our place-spaces, our bodies, our relationships–to make timely, healthy choices in our own agency, in our wyrdweaving. We do it so that we can choose our time for ordeal, rather than just be subjected to it.

Seeing the need for change and stepping into it is a way that we hold ourselves to the edges of life and death–in the scar, so to speak–to learn another iteration of who we are, who we could be. We step into the unformed betwixt to explore possibility, then we return from ordeal with the impetus to live into the Self or Selves we met there. In this way we aren’t just applying our agency, we are our agency. Again, we are Reagency–the thing creating the change, the force of the change, and change’s outcome. We are the possibility that evolves from it.

What stands out to me most in this collusion of second aett runes is how delicate it all is. All of this harvest tending, interdepending, outcreating, for us all, at once. The complexity of it. The fragility of it. In the dark.

I’m not someone who approaches everything as having meaning. Rather, I listen to what dynamics might speak, might point to. In this last week of Hearth Accounting for the year, explore where Reagency is pointing Self as we greet this natural spectacle of darkness and light. What in Shadow is ready to be let go? What in Shadow is ready to be celebrated? What part of Self needs to be planted and tended? What of our harvest needs to feed community?

The Helping Spirit of Pine Cone in Winter encourages us to invite our Spirits of Place and Nature Spirits to help us in the endeavor of Reagency. Allow those among them who are able to hold space for the Solstice shift to take up space in daily life. While Winter speaks to rest, grounding, endurance, and resourcefulness, Pine Cone adds to this regenerative stillness. It speaks to the longevity of the impact of our agency, despite our short time here, and it fosters peaceful opening to our awareness, embodiment, and agency.

Remember that Pine Cone opens in light and closes in darkness. Even such simple transitions need blessing. How can we best bless this Solstice?

The element of Timing in the direction of Right carries a bit of instruction regarding our agency for this seasonal shift. Timing, or tið in Old Norse (the hourglass, pictured), is the experience that greater laws are in relationship and carrying out duties, and it is also our ability to pace Self according to the cycles of Nature. To hold an awareness of Timing is to be in relationship with Nature such that one’s habits and body rituals sync with natural occurrences, which are an awareness and manifestation of sacred order. 

For this reason, energy tending is a key way that we locate our own relationship to sacred order, which is also quite dependent on our relationship to place, to ecosystem. How we stay in sacred order is through observation of the seasonal Timing of our place-space. Because Timing hasn’t visited us in a good bit in TWR, it feels important that it comes now, in the Solstice runecast. Consider how harvest and personal agency are in relationship. How could they be in better relationship? How is that relationship reflected in ecosystem Timing? Where might we be forcing agendas, or completely oblivious to ecosystem needs? 

In my cosmology, Right (That Side) is East. It is the direction that indicates water, flow, being carried. It specifically is Ocean, which represents home, in that all water flows to the Ocean. All of life emerged from the Ocean. So when this direction comes up in casts, explore what homes means, at the most sacred and embodied level. Literally, consider where the 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.

Harvest is a time to consider our dreams and the alliances we need to manifest them. Through the lens of Sowilo, it’s also the time to verify if our dreams keep our communities in mind. Can our dreams benefit both? And as we greet thoughts of ordeal, how can we apply our agency so that we become what we dream?

All from the second aett. All among other persons sitting with the agency of their harvest. In the dark.

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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.

#beyourcommunity

elder well, die well, ancestor well

@kelleysoularts

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Elder Well

So that you bear your unique gift to the world.

Die Well

So that you leave the planet better than you found it.

Ancestor Well

So that your descendants never elder alone.

Read the full Weekly Rune and learn to wyrdweave with the Elder Futhark