For the week of 12 March 2023

Agency, Brevity, and Rehabilitation

Tiwaz is the half-month rune through 14 March, at which point Berkana moves to the fore until 30 March. Algiz reversed is the intuitive rune, and Othala reversed indicates Brevity’s message to us (it didn’t get reversed in the photo). The spirits of place anchoring the runes this week are fossilized Squalicorax Tooth (crow shark) and element Water in Winter and direction Beyond (Earth marble). Read right to left is Berkana to come, above, Tiwaz, Algiz reversed, then Othala reversed.

The full runecast will be publicly available here, two weeks from publication. You can find it in full on Patreon, now.

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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 a two-week examination of our relationship with the rune.

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

Tiwaz has put us in our feels, though given us the gift of an outlet for them. The reminder that grief is part of life and that we learn to make space and feel it is a life lesson from the godden, or at least the Ancestors.

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?

This runecast has our shift from Tiwaz into Berkana, which carries bittersweetness. On the surface, it sounds great to move out of that battle stance and victory moment into a more quiet, rehabilitating space. And it can be the perfect balm. The thing about Tiwaz is it does have that battle zing, and for anyone who has endured personal trauma, sometimes the bump from the adrenaline of PTSD feels a lot better than the plummeting of emotions when we realize the depth of what’s on the table that needs our attention. The repetition of Othala from last week, regardless of orientation, drives home in this cast just how deeply that avoidance runs, and the ramifications of allowing it.

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The Runes Through 14 March

Tiwaz modified by Algiz reversed suggests that we need to strengthen our ecosystem relationship to fortify how we sit with grief. It may literally mean, “Look to ecosystem for lessons in death and what relationship with the dead looks like/can look like.” As the rune of protection, and from my vantage point one of the most blatantly animistic runes, Algiz reversed can point us to where we may not be in our ecosystem awareness as much as we need to be, or as much as our ecosystem needs us to be. Our unprocessed stuff harms everyone we’re in relationship with, even our space. It could be that the elements there can help transmute aspects of our grief, we need only offer them up. But of course the ability to do that implies that we have pivoted from Plan A to Plan B, as Tiwaz teaches. Perhaps it indicates a life area in which we feel possessed by grief, or don’t realize that we literally are, such that we’ve given our power over to it unconsciously. We don’t believe we can change our relationship to grief, even over time. Reversed, Algiz can also indicate where we may be carrying someone else’s grief. Given Othala reversed as the final and more ethereal influence in the cast, this isn’t a possibility, but a given.

Othala reversed through the voice of Brevity speaks to not owning our place in relationship to the Ancestors and Descendants. We, the soul-in-form, have the most agency on this plane, not just to fulfill our calling to community, but to clear and maintain the space for those who came before us and those who come after us. It’s our job to leave it better, which means not leaving things a hot mess, and using our unique gift to transmute the hot messes we know. 

Brevity’s note on that is our time here is short, shorter than we can comprehend. Yet the actions available to us to hold our agency well are simpler, sweeter, and more brief to employ than we think. The emotional drag of Tiwaz can make us think life is heavy, we’re ineffective, why bother. It’s so easy to get sucked into that void and stay there. I’ve done it. I still do it without realizing. It is the tailspin that is mental illness. The one thing that’s hardest to see while in it is the brevity of everything, thus the impetus to not get stuck.

The irony.

The Runes 14-18 March

Berkana is the rune of rehabilitation. Folx refer to it as the rune of midwifery, healing, the kind of protection that fosters rejuvenation. Yes. However, some things don’t heal. Rather, they must be rehabilitated, in which we are taught how to tend them over time, perhaps indefinitely. We learn a new way to live around scar. I find this is more realistic to the way life works, while still leaving room for things that recover and don’t leave a mark–or at least not ones that change the entire course of our life. For me, rehabilitate covers the depth of this rune better than characterizing it as meaning just ‘healing.’

Also, this rune is often associated with the feminine, and female menstrual cycles. While I don’t gender things in that way and don’t experience binary gender myself, I don’t even approach gender in terms of myself–AND I can appreciate the cycle of those with uteri and I can confidently say that menstruation is not something that heals. It is not something that is even the same one moon to the next, so a static application of healing doesn’t even apply. Rather, it is an experience rooted deeply in the flux of the body, predicated on the capability to pivot–Tiwaz. That capability comes from education, experience, and wisdom–all the things we would want to get from safe refuge that teaches us how to function when we don’t function the way the system expects us to. Gender aside, I find menstruation is an apt descriptor of how Berkana functions as rehabilitation.

And FTR, in the Icelandic and Norwegian rune poems, Berkana is associated with Loki, but not just Loki. It’s associated with that time that Loki became a mare and became impregnated with Sleipnir, who while being Odin’s vehicle for soul travel is also Yggdrasil. So yes, gender is not gender with Berkana.

Algiz reversed as the best way to engage rehabilitation for this time implies that we look to our ecosystem, to our relationship with it. The power of Algiz is that we are so present in our place-space relationships that it travels with us wherever we go. That is the most powerful protection we can have. It also teaches us how to be present and respectful when we travel into other ecosystems. Where Berkana is expressed in this relationship is that where we need rehab, so does our ecosystem. There is no distinction, and I don’t mean metaphorically. Literally, where we carry illness, our ecosystem carries illness. Their sources are connected, as are their remedies. Perhaps the reversal is internalizing just that–intermingled wellbeing. Maybe it’s that a little extra attention is needed in that relationship. Our fundamental wellbeing is tied to our immediate Nature. Whatever we can do to hold that in our awareness as we move among and respond to inclusively as life deals its blows…  That’s humaning well. Because when we can make that connection to place-space, we make it with other human-persons. All human-persons.

Othala reversed and Brevity express deep perspective on rehabilitation. Rehabilitation isn’t just for Self. Our wellness isn’t just for Self; it’s not all about Self. Because Self is plural. Self is in continual relationship with everything, All Things. The idea of Self as a discrete, isolated being can be attributed to the development of what would be the human neocortex 200,000 years ago, to various philosophies that said, “I am!” It’s not an inherently bad realization, though where we’ve industrialized it is manifest destiny, systemic othering, original sin. To embrace Self as a collection of relationships is to take responsibility for All Things, for our every moment here, our every action. To relinquish individualism is to realize how in relationship we truly are, all the time. To relinquish true, interrelated, interagential Self-hood is also to die, which brings us to Othala reversed. 

Until we can let the idea of individualism die, we stay in a rat race we can never live up to trying to do everything ourselves. We’re not built for it. Nothing in form is. And things out of form–probably already know that. Brevity for the human-persons means we just don’t get much time here. We don’t get much time in form. It flies by, and one of the ways we maximize what we do here is through relationship. We don’t do everything ourselves–we don’t even try. We trust other beings to manifest their unique gifts–which meet other needs than our unique gift. We let them do their thing, so we can do ours. Functioning in this collective, intervention, interdependent way gets shit done. It makes our brevity count. And our brevity counts most with Othala–as the elder in form, working between the Ancestors and the Descendants.

Othala reversed with Berkana leaves me questioning where me not rehabbing aspects of my life gets passed on to the Descendants. Where it doesn’t tend the Ancestors. Where it takes me out of relationship with ecosystem. Where I don’t see myself as an elder or capable of becoming one. Where I don’t see myself, life, trajectory, community, wyrd, orlog, or culture as rehabbable. Othala represents the base requirements of humaning well: elder well, die well, ancestor well. Where we don’t see ourselves empowered in those responsibilities, where we’re capable of redirecting our lives to fulfill them–that’s where we are directed to explore this week.

The Helping Spirits holding space with us this week are fossilized Squalicorax Tooth (crow shark) and element Water in Winter and the direction of Beyond. Winter sets the space of support by underscoring qualities of Berkana – rest, grounding, endurance, resourcefulness. This is not a time for far-reaching, overextending, or being overtly bold. It’s an internal time for recovery. 

The greatest protection of our space this week comes from Beyond/All. I mentioned a few weeks ago that the directions and seasons have asked for visual representation in the runecast. I’m still working on how some of them can be shown, though will do a proper introduction of them all when it’s sorted. When I asked how Beyond/All wanted to be represented, I saw a tiny Earth, which didn’t make sense to me. I expected something that would indicate inclusion in galaxy or larger. I was told this direction is represented as the Earth from the vantage point of All. I rested my case. It’s a gorgeous marble, though its detail doesn’t convey very well.

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. This is who is best holding space for us this week, and can best protect it.

The earthly Helping Spirit is Squalicorax, which is a genus of extinct lamniform shark known to have lived during the Cretaceous period. Squalicorax, and all sharks are a symbol of power, strength, and tenacity. Sharks are about base survival and being honest with ourselves about what we’re willing to do to survive, confronting the part of us that violent, and knowing when a situation calls for violence. We don’t talk about violence as an agent of change in American settler culture, largely because the ritual of violence is in the hands of people who don’t respect it as a life force in its own right. It’s used to punch down, to dehumanize, to control. The serrated edges of this shark’s teeth mean that it ate prey too big to fit in its jaws. Squalicorax knew how and when to punch up, and it encourages us to think through our feelings around survival and violence this week, particularly as they relate to grief and tending ourselves, our lineages. 

Transmutation this week is brought to us by element Water. Water brings flow, depth, balance, Water is always level. In the Old Norse Creation story, water came from the blood of Ymir, which demonstrates its importance in our survival and ancestral lineage to the Jotnar. All water flows to the ocean. There is no deterrence, which gives the assurance that we are flowing in sacred order, as well. As a force of transmutation, water can destroy as easily as it can support. 

Where we were with 3:1:3 in the runecast last week, this week we have a 3:2:3 aett sandwich. Our focus with these third aett runes is in how we can hold space for them amidst the challenges of everyday life.  Because grief and rehabilitation are everyday life.

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Half-month Rune Prompts

  • What can you give to water to take away?

  • How are your grief and rehabilitation connected?

  • How does violence situate in your cosmology?

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Galdr

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

  • Berkana/Berkano/Beorc – Ber, Bair, Beor, Berka, Bairka

  • Algiz – Awl, Awlyee, Ail, Ailhaw, Ailha

  • Othala – Oadth, Oadtha, Oadthal

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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.

#beyourcommunity ~ #youareecosystem

elder well, die well, ancestor well

@kelleysoularts

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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.