For the Week of 17 December 2023

December Solstice
Thu, Dec 21, 2023, 10:27pm

Jera is the half-month rune through 28 December. The intuitive rune is Ehwaz reversed. The earthly spirits of place anchoring the runes this week are Death (plastic skull), whispers of the Hunt (stag button), dead things, World Ancestors (wee wooden spoon), Pine Cone, in the direction of Front (Majorelle Dwarf), with element Tree (pine cone), in the season of Spring. From right to left are Jera (reindeer antler slice), then Ehwaz 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:

  • Community-only classes, self-paced and live
  • Soul Readings (diagnostic overview of spiritual needs)
  • Soul Tending Session (soul retrieval, shadow tending, energy balancing, etc)
  • HighSeat with the runes
  • discounts on soul tending services

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?

On each Solstice I make the full weekly runecast public, so that folx have insight moving into the seasonal change. Our progression through the winter runes beginning the second aett has been challenging. It always is, as they are the speed bump from the meandering exploration of soul in form of the first aett, into the challenges of intermixed agency of the second aett. Moving from the still dreaming of Isa into the light of the new year, we are pressed to take that brightness and warm the world, while continuing to incubate our sacred seeds into those cherished dreams. Against the backdrop of grief and tension in the world right now, it’s an even bigger ask than usual.

Jera, meaning year, represents the closure of a cycle and the opening of another. It’s thought of as harvest, from the standpoint of assessing what came to pass through the year, how we can honor those outcomes yet tweak our actions for the upcoming year to do better, be better. I think of Jera as hearth accounting, getting our house in order. Seasonally, it is the time of The Wild Hunt facilitating our harvest by sweeping out the dead of our lives, so that we can create and hold space for what we need to come.

Ehwaz reversed as the best way we can Jera speaks to refocusing our intentions. In Runic Book of Days, I express Ehwaz reversed as:

Ehwaz reversed evokes feelings of being lost, offtrack, or confused. It indicates where thinking has become unclear, and the scope of a project, relationship, or dynamic has crept from its intention. Evaluate the intention, and if necessary, take a prolonged pit stop until things are back on track.

The Weekly Rune earthly helping spirit for 17 December 2023 on Intentional Insights- by S. Kelley Harrell

Indeed, I hear every day folx expressing that they feel lost from their sense of timing, ritual, and place in the world. This can only come on the heels of tremendous pandemic trauma that has not been collectively expressed. We have not been prepared to live in the world that is the result of that deep separation and withheld grief. Indeed, the intention of folx’s divinations these days has turned from fear of what the future will bring, to fear of no future.

In Runes and Astrology, of Ehwaz Nigel Pennick says, “Ehwaz signifies that movement necessary to undertake any task, more specifically, the task of life that our Wyrd has set us.”

The question to ask ourselves at this time is what movement is possible under the current constraints of wyrd? How can we scratch that itch of need to feel movement in our lives, while also sitting with the realities of life on the planet at this time? How do we generate meaningful change while feeling strapped to even take a breath? How do we harvest?

The support for difficult harvest is held firmly by Front – North/Norðri. It’s cold, and Front encourages us to think ahead as we forge new bonds. The direction of ice, air, and lineage, Front specifically emphasizes the Descendants. They are everything ahead of us, and the benefactors of every choice and decision we make now. Luckily Front is also the direction of  knowledge and wisdom, which allows us to draw on our Allies as much as our skills and experience to know and do what’s best for ourselves, and our communities. In this light, Front reminds us that how we harvest right now isn’t just about us, but about what we leave for who comes after us. It’s about how we leave it better for the Descendants, and even every small gesture we take can do that.

North is the direction to which we appeal this week for our strongest and most appropriate holding of boundaries and filtering of what we need, what we must let go, and facing what remains in that transition.

Tree (Pine Tree) as element brings long memory, efficient use of resources, wise counsel, and care to community. Tree represents our connectedness to formed being and Earth, as well as our relationship with our unseen and Beyond Earth. In the Old Norse creation story, humans were made from trees. Across many cultures Tree is the unifying symbol of consciousness, spiritual and earthly realms, and longevity. Tree may be a helpful ally to appeal to when exploring our own life span, both in form and beyond it. If nothing else, Tree helps also remind us that our time here matters. Even our smallest gestures can leave it better than we found it. In this way Tree transmutes our perspective. We may not think we’re doing much, yet we come to see the long reach of what we do here, even after we’re gone.

Spring, which presents new growth, creativity is the seasonal point that human-persons can more safely venture beyond their own thresholds–utangardr–return to the forest. The space that Spring holds is one of opportunity to verge outward and explore new territory. It’s curious that in this most still, dark time of the year, we can proceed with the jubilation of Spring. 

Pine Cone is our close earthly Ally this week, both bringing and reminding us of longevity, peace, enlightenment, regeneration, fertility. Pine cone is a key landvaettir for me. I’ve never known my experience of Naturekin without it. Their fragrance, prickly scales, and earthy color all speak home to me. Pine cone encourages us to draw on our immediate resources and think bigger. We are here to create, and our capability within that is far greater than ourselves, as is the impact of our creation. Pine cone fuses the vision and wisdom of Self with the manifestation and support of ecosystem. 

Other earthly helping spirits this week are the dead things, which have featured in the cast since Samhain and Vetrnætr. They represent the dead in our lives, relationships, and psyches that need to be let go, as well as The Wild Hunt, and honoring of our own shadows. They remind us not to rush to the light, and to remember that we have as many allies in the dark as we do the light.

Nornir as Beyond-earth Allies we can appeal to regarding Jera…  Well. It’s been a long while since Beyond-earth Allies showed up in the runecast, and of all who could make an appearance–the Norns. They haven’t held space with TWR before, so this is a particularly prodigious moment to pay attention to.

The Norns are Jotun sisters, Urdr, Verdandi, and Skuld, who are the weavers of wyrd. Even the godden fear them from the power the Norns hold in the direction of things. They have been interpreted many ways, though are known as That Which Was, That Which Is Becoming, That Which Will Become, which roughly means what is in the past and is unchangeable, what is underway based on our current affectivity, and that which is probable given the aforementioned. The Norns are slippery by nature, not out of ill-intent. 

Their appearance at this time eclipses the usual godden-like beings who used to frequent the runecast. TWR has reflected this entire runic year that the strata of allies that are off-planet aren’t reachable in the way we have been accustomed. They are engaged in their own reorganization and changing of systems. In that absence, we’ve found godden in the yard, our food, our breath. The appearance of the Norns now is potent. Winter Solstice, Yule, is the time of dreaming what we need into being, even as we can’t fathom those dreams coming to fruition. This slight nod of support from the Norns reminds us that our agency matters. It matters more than we know, and the spirits of the season can help us do the clearing work to be fit to shape and support those dreams, as well as help us shepherd them into being. 

Take some time to thank the Norns this week, perhaps as part of Solstice ritual, as Mōdraniht (Mother’s Night/Yule Eve) observations, to honor our own agency in our lives, bless the places where our wyrd is our wyrd, and express gratitude for the allies who help us navigate those rocky passes.

The runes for this December Solstice reflect the heaviness we’re all feeling, as much as they hold space for us to dream up some hope and joy. We can honor the darkness of the time while also doing the work that darkness provides us shelter to do, in preparation for the return of light.

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

  • How do you honor darkness?

  • How well do you sit with dualities?

  • Can you set rest as a priority?

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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.

  • Jera – Yer, Yeruh, Yarrow, Yair, Yairuh,Yairaw
  • Ehwaz – Eh, Ehwuh, Eoh



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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.

#beyourcommunity ~ #youareecosystem

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.

Ancestor Well

So that your descendants never elder alone.