For the week of 22 October 2023

Catastrophe and Joy

I have long-approached the runes as the keys to humaning well, and that  has been the underlying intention of The Weekly Rune. However, apart from anything I’ve been going through personally that has affected my capability of doing the runecasts the way we’re all used to, there is a matter of needing to approach them a different way for the catastrophe that is humaning now.

When I approached the runes for this week’s cast, the half-month rune spoke right away, and then nothing, yet I felt there would be another rune. It wasn’t until after I recapitulated my own concern that in the shedding of so many culturally sacred things, are the runes still sacred? Are they really still keys to humaning well?

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The answer was mixed. They are, but they require more specificity to dial into what we are required to human. Specifically, the intention of the runecast this week is insight into how to human well through catastrophe. It’s a minor tweak, yet it gives nuance to what the runes have to say in a context that would not have been readily recognized without that subtle detail.

Another subtle detail is the consistent lack of a bigger Beyond Earth voice. I am seeing this reflected in my own spiritual engagement and in that of many folx I frequent. All on really different paths. All engaging different godden, rituals, and pacing of soul work. The only folx I’m not witnessing having this stripping down of cosmology are folx on intact animistic paths, which is to say the folx who are experiencing it are folx on the broken path. This also seems appropriate.

When I held space for a Beyond Earth voice I was immediately told the big Earth voices are most significant right now, and they will be reflected through the various helping spirits who speak. Ie, dig into ecosystem not Beyond Earth.

And so. The shape of the runecast will change until further notice, as it has changed several times in the past to indicate what’s most helpful and supportive to us right now, through catastrophe.

Wunjo is the half-month rune through 28 October. From right to left is Wunjo, then Uruz reversed.  The spirits of place holding space with the runes this week are Death, whispers of the Hunt, dead things, and World Ancestors. Surprise also joins us. Honey Bee is the earthly Helping Spirit walking with us in the direction of Right, with the element of Mycelium, in the season of Spring. Again, we have no Beyond Earth Helping Spirit engagement.

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.

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What Does It Mean?

We’re fully in The Dead Time in the north, which brings our seasonal allies for deathwalking. In the runecast these are Death, the presence of The Wild Hunt, the bones of dead things, and our World Ancestors. This is a good time to tend estate affairs, literally documents that need to be drawn up, letting go of internal and external clutter, and taking time to be outdoors if possible. Talk to ecosystem. Witness its transition. Speak aloud to it with support for its transition, and speak Self’s transition into this season. Honor where they are joined. Listen to what Nature has to say about it all. This is the true utiseta of the Norse tradition–sitting out and just listening to Nature being Nature this time of year.

Wunjo is the meeting of beneficial change and opportunity. A little elbow (probably a lot) and the right place at the right time. A nuance of Wunjo that gets lost is it is unusual. It is a wonderfully beneficial outcome in a sea of typically not-so-great outcomes. I can’t help but feel like that speaks to the human experience, to a degree. Supremacy culture has set us up to feel like if we aren’t acting in a way to produce Wunjo all the time we’ve failed at humaning. We’ve commodified Wunjo and made it transactional.

By the same token, I don’t think that the human experience is constant trial. Supremacy culture has a lot to do with that, as well. If we were in direct personal relationship with Nature and community as the cultural default, if we posited interdependence and belonging as core standards of living, we wouldn’t recognize personal trials. We would only have community ones, and I can’t even comprehend how much relief from human trials that would bring. I’m not sure that it’s trials or no trials, so much as greeting it all in community.

How differently would we experience Wunjo if we experienced ourselves as continuously moving in community? The first place that humanity learned this was by observing Nature; it’s how we re-learn it now, and I feel like that’s the point of the Beyond Earth Helping Spirits standing back and the focus becoming ecosystem spirits as core cosmology. Godden is in the land; hearth is altar.

I suspect Wunjo in catastrophe isn’t non-existent, though becomes very small. Quite possibly Wunjo in catastrophe is an opportunity to divest of supremacy and reinstill interdependence.

Uruz reversed points us back to Body, to really tend how soul in form is faring. Uruz is the point that we realize we are in Body. InBodied. We ae untamed wild, like the aurochs, yet Body is our most taming factor of our experience here. I don’t think it’s supposed to be, though. Yes, we don’t bring the fullness of our soul capacity into form, though the equation of Body as unreliable with our soulfulness comes from organized religion. Body is meant to be our expression of soul, and it is that examination we must tend this week.

With the direction of  Right (That Side/ East/Austri) in my cosmology there is water, flow, being carried. It specifically is [Atlantic] Ocean, which represents home, in that all of life emerged from the Ocean. All water flows 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.

Element Mycelium [network] is incredibly supportive, but also deeply educational. Mycelium underlies every aspect of life–death, support, birth. It may be the original midwife and deathwalker. Given that, there is no one “meaning” with it. It may be more useful to explore it as the backbone of life, and check in with it to learn how to deepen bonds with ecosystem or how to be fruitful with moments of Wunjo. In short, Mycelium holds the secrets to souling-in-form well, which means it knows a lot about the trials of form. More than that, it has the vision of the ful arc of trial. It can see what has been, what is, and what is coming, all at once, and well before we can. Mycelium is living divination.

We’ve had Autumn as the tone of the runecast so often this cycle that it really stands out to stand in Spring energy this week. Spring, which presents new growth, creativity is also 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. This futuristic aspect, along with that of Mycelium, portends that our agency matters. Rooted in these Nature Spirits, it can be used more in alignment with collective need.

The earth-spirit who can help us best step into finding Wunjo this week is 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 vial in the photo is the last that was extracted from his hives before he died, when I was 17.

Honey Bee supports this intentionally pivotal time. If anybody knows how to work as a collective, to lift the whole, it’s Honey Bee. Honey Bees are conductors of souls; they are natural psychopomps. They are the epitome of sacred order, always focusing their agency to 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 alongside catastrophe.It may be that very specific things need to be deathwalked in our lives right now–things so small we don’t realize they are problematic, or that they just can’t go where we’re going right now. For the safety of the hive, we need to at least pose the question of what needs to be deathwalked.

I don’t think we can have catastrophe without both deathwalking and joy, so it may be a useful exercise to see where they are all in relationship. I think this is where Suprise comes into the picture. Last Autumn and this one it came into the cast along with the death aspects. I think it interjects that small awareness that all of this change isn’t for nothing, even if we don’t know what it is actually for, where it’s going. It’s a surprise, and we can find some solace in that.

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

  • When you sit with how soul enters form, consider where joy enters form, as well.
  • Where is home, really? On what land do you feel at home?
  • What role do dreams play in human trial?

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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.

  • Wunjo – Woo, Woon, Woonyo, Wyn

  • Uruz – Oo, Ooroo, Ur

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Runes for Change community, Soul Intent Arts, Kelley Harrell

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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.

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elder well, die well, ancestor well

@kelleysoularts

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