For the week of 26 February 2023

Humaning, Grief, and Jotnar

Tiwaz (silver polymer clay tile) is the half-month rune through 14 March. Dagaz (carved cedar stave) is the intuitive rune, and Nauthiz (dried rosemary polymer clay tile) indicates Tectonic Force’s message to us. The spirits of place anchoring the runes this week are fossilized Crinoid Stem and element Flesh (hair) in Autumn, in the direction of All. Read right to left is Tiwaz, Dagaz, then Nauthiz.

The full runecast will be publicly available here two weeks from publication.

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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.

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

Sowilo closed this season with the second aett, which indicates a shift from a place of remembering our sacredness and the necessity of holding on to it, into Tiwaz, which challenges our ability to do just that. In the traditional ordering of the Elder Futhark each aett ends on a very high note, though dips harshly back into the harsh realities of humaning. For me, the transition into the third aett is more felt than the one into the second. I think a lot of people feel that way, because we have culturally not been taught how to hold the attributes of Tiwaz.

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?

If there’s a shorthand to what Tiwas symbolizes, it’s grief. I arrive at this association through the various rune poems, and through the story of Tyr/Tuisto/Buri/Ymir. It symbolizes the 1.0 god of ON, as far as humanity knows, thus the rune also indicates their downfall. I say their because at least Ymir in that chain of associations was intergendered. What they all share is the lore of becoming outdated and overthrown by the new generation (Odin). It’s the lore of one who has humaned well enough to know that they will eventually be heartbroken over things they can’t control, that change is required, and that even wanted change can be heartbreaking.

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Tiwaz is the rune of the elder. It is the rune of change that comes through wounding. It lives in the scar. For American settler culture animists, it’s the rune of The Broken Path. This first rune of the third aett is the wake up call for humaning well, and it doesn’t bypass any aspect of it.

To remind us all, this runecast isn’t divinatory in the sense that what each half-month rune represents is going to happen sometime in its fortnight. Rather, the timing of each is for us to greet where we are with what the dynamics each rune represents. This season of Tiwaz is a two-week examination of our relationship with it. It is an opportunity to explore how our embodiment is holding up with the challenges of our life. It is a time to choose how we engage grief, and to observe through the framing runes and helping spirits how we might improve that.

Dagaz is ‘day.’ It carries the same depth of scrutiny of how we spend our time that Jera, ‘year,’ does, but compressed. Distilled. Summarized down to understanding what we value in a day, which brings meaning, what we give meaning. We are not required to ascribe meaning to anything with Dagaz. Rather, we are invited to assess its value to us, whether on a day-to-day basis we want to expend energy on it. ‘Meaning’ is my shortcut for that assessment.

Given that, how do we value grief? Do we approach our relationship with it if we’re not forced to? What about it is so uncomfortable that we blot it from our awareness until we’re face-to-face with it? How might sitting with it at interval change our relationship with it? These are the questions Dagaz has us ask of our time with Tiwaz.

Nauthiz through the voice of Tectonic Force is… moving. Nauthiz is often construed as ‘need,’ though to be more culturally accurate with ‘needfire,’ it’s all about ritual. It’s about understanding the important of engaging ecosystem in a very sacred and directed way, as a whole community, to tend relationship to that community. In this way, our approach with Tiwaz this week could involve very on pointe ritual. Maybe we need to grieve something, some things, under carefully constructed ritual. Maybe we need witnesses. Maybe we need moirologists to inspire emotional release. 

Tectonic Force hasn’t appeared in TWR before, though it’s on pointe with Cosmic Breeze from last week, and other BIG natural forces over the last few weeks. I felt this as the ground shifting beneath my feet, not necessarily in a visible way, but felt. Things below re-arranged. That hidden new order affected things above. 

It’s fair to say that the planet is re-organizing. It’s fair to say that everything on it is as well, including humanity. It’s fair to say that capitalist culture is collapsing. Big shifts are happening within us. The only way we can really understand just how significant they are–how significant how we live right now is–is for those changes to be presented as Jotnar, as forces of Nature.

Anytime Nature is anthropomorphized, it points back to animism. It reminds us that the path is only broken in our perception of our proximity to Nature. Human-persons with wings. Trees with faces. Mountains that speak. To make mythic is to weave deeper into Nature relationship. No distinctions, no caveats. We are not just standing on shifting sands. We are the shifting sands, of now. Now is mythic, and we are required to live like it. The job before us is to feel Tectonic Forces in the world and move with them, facilitate them, within and without us. 

And to do that means having an open relationship with grief. It is to Tiwaz. To have awareness of what needs to change and grieve what we must let go of to show up differently. Ability to hold space for change, move differently among, and grieve what that stirs for us is how new normal meets needs the way we’ve all craved. Our ability to do this well sets the pace for the rest of the third aett, and for how well we greet when it’s time so do it all over again.

The relationships helping us to do that this week are showing up strong.  Flesh (shown as hair) as the element in league with Tiwaz brings us back to the fundamental boundary that separates us from other things. It is firm but porous. It is the surface of our protection, and provides our physical appearance.  Flesh is what makes us whole, into one solid system; flesh makes form complete. It is super important to being in form, because the physics and mysteries of Flesh are what allow us to focus our agency. They are what make our agency do.

However, we have to remember that we aren’t really the only ones inhabiting it. We are not individual in form any more than we are in spirit. Our flesh is riddled with other ecosystems in and on it, with whom we are in continual relationship, continuous evolution. Flesh is also intimately engaging the elements inside and out, all the time. So while we can sit with Flesh as a pivotal distinguishing element, it’s also the main one that represents our interdependentness.

I swear, every time Nauthiz comes up in a cast, the earthly helping spirit who speaks is fossilized Crinoid Stem. There’s a relationship between needfire and the “holdfast” foot-like root these animals have that helps them to anchor for stability and sustenance. Not unlike ritual holding us in a place to accomplish the same. 

The direction of 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 that strata of managerial oversight that aligns with respect for all life. It is the direction of Source. And we inhabit it, we are it, even though it seems so far out of reach.

That we are again in the graces of Autumn with Tiwaz is very supportive. This exploration of relationship to grief will be underscored by preparation, bounty, maturity, harvest. We’re ready for it, and this timing readies us to be able to bring ourselves forward to newer, more stable places with grief.

We’re visited by two runes from the third aett, and one from the second. With those families, we’re securely in form, and coming to terms with what we do with it.


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Half-month Rune Prompts

  • How do you define grief?

  • Does the way you define it mesh with how you feel it? With how you experience it?


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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.

  • Tiwaz – Tee, Teewuh, Teewaw

  • Dagaz – Dthah, Dthahg, Dthahguh

  • Nauthiz – Now, Nowdth, Nowdthee


Runes for Change community, Soul Intent Arts, Kelley Harrell

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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.

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elder well, die well, ancestor well


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Elder Well

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Die Well

To leave the planet better than you found it.

Ancestor Well

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