Seeking Unity in Diversity

Category: Hrafnbjorn

Discerning the runes around you.

Discerning the runes around you.

When we move through or lives we walk through a world made possible through runic interaction(s).  Therefore, we can, if we look, listen, and feel what is, discern those runic interactions making our experience possible.

We must first understand the time paradigm in which runic philosophy evolved.  To the Germanic peoples time, and therefore evolution of being, took place on a dual axis.  The only one we can truly observe is the mundane axis that is our normal time experience.  They saw this axis as Urd (that which was), Verdandi (that which is), and Skuld (that which may become).  These take mythic identity in the form of the three giantess sisters called the Nornir (singular = Norn).  The nornir are said to “weave” the fates of all beings into wyrd, and thus making them become.  This is a dynamic only possible because of where the individual Norn observes action.  Urd sees what was (actions having been done), which she communicates to Verdandi, who observes what is (action done, with action being done).  Verdandi, in turn communicates this to Skuld, who discerns how the actions of the past and present should interact to create outcomes.  This is the essence of the thurs/thurisaz rune- that is the interaction of two forces coming together to create the third, which is the doing.

Within this context of time, and action, we can know the past, see/hear/feel the present, and therefore understand what may become.  Since we only observe the action, this is not the same as divination in the common sense, but takes the form of “hale signs,” where you do not see the potential future outcome, you see the potential luck involved in a given action.  To give an example, imagine you are able to discern strong influence from what we may call fe/fehu.  In common divination things are often broken down to keywords, in this case cattle/gold/wealth.  Runes, being the interactions, not the items, do not fit into this mode of thought.  Instead, being tied to the Proto-Indo-European root bepo (the aspect of livestock being supported by the folk so it can support the folk), it is, therefore, seeing the mutual exchange between two things for the benefit of both.

I should note here, the history of runic divination for the sake of understanding why we have tarot style divination with rune staves today.

We step back in time to 1902 Austria where a man named Guido Von List had a year long period of blindness after having eye surgery.  While he was temporarily blinded, he claimed to have had the “primal runes” revealed to him.  He correlated these, which he counted as 18 in number, to the section of Havamal containing 18 rune-songs.  Von List was a well known occultist, and was well studied on the various tools of the occult movements of the past, most important to his Armanen Runes was his knowledge of tarot.  To understand the environment, and forces at play here, we must understand that the 19th and early 20th centuries were a period of intense Germanic nationalism.  We find that many folk, such as Von List, and Viktor Ryberg, etc., were trying to Germanicise the non-Germanic things around them (which would ultimately result in the Nazi movement of mid-20th century).  Von List took his knowledge of tarot, and threw rune staves at it, and modern runic divination was born.  Fast forward to the later mid-20th century pagan revival in Europe and the Americas, and authors took Von Lists work, and mass marketed it as tradition.  It is left to the individual whether they wish to use this tarot based structure (such as the ‘spreads,’ and keyword association), or not.  The only thing that is important is to understand where it fits, and that you find subjective validation in whichever path you take.

How then may we discern runes around us?  This is an endless question to answer, but we have a few things to watch for.  The first is knowing those interactions that are the runes.  The second is sound, as each rune has its sound, which is the foundation of galdr magic.  Thirdly, and by far the most difficult is shape.  This third method is most difficult because shape can change, most easy to see is the change between the runic futhark rows.  Another reason is that runes can take the form of codes, called lonnruner, or “secret runes.”  To understand secret or coded runes we must understand how rune-staves were numbered, and even then there are variations.  Each rune-stave has its number, which is more of a coordinate as it includes two numbers, first is the aett number (1,2, or 3), second is the staves number within its aett.  The aett number makes it even more difficult because in some cases it is reversed.  If we write out the staves from a given futhark row, we find that all of them have three rune-staves which never change position.  These are where each aett begins.  So we find fe/fehu being the first, known as Frey/Freyja’s Aett, hagal/hagalaz begins the second, known as Heimdall’s Aett, and tyr/tiwaz begins the third, known as Tyr’s Aett.  Sometimes the aett can be reversed, so instead of Freyr’s aett being counted first, Tyr’s aett is first, and Freyr’s aett is couted third.  Below is a chart showing this using the Younger Futhark in the method named “tré-runar” (tree-runes) with the aett count reversed:
a sample of coded-runes
So when a number is assigned to a rune-stave, it is really two numbers, such as 3:1 (3rd aett, 1st stave) for fe/fehu, for example.  An example, to write the word example with younger futhark we first write its runic phonetic value as: iksambl, and then find the stave count: 2:3, 3:6, 2:5, 3:4, 1:3, 1:2, 1:4.  This allows us to then create lonnrunar out of anything we can find count in.  I could use the keys “|” for the aett, and “.” for the stave, which makes “example”
It is vitally important to learn this method because often we have to use it to discern a rune in the environment.

Once you have used the above methods of discerning sound, shape, and action, you must also observe what is happening around it, after all no action exists independently, so, therefore, those actions around it influence how it will manifest.

I will end here so as to not make this too wordy and confusing.  Please feel free to ask me to clarify where it is confusing.

My Rune System


This is my attempt to explain the runology I use. It is, of course, based on lore, history, and when necessary, opinion based on the other two.

I should begin at the beginning. Within the Heathen cosmological model, the runes play an important role. Some believe them to be living things residing someplace, others believe them to be a symbol in which the will is placed. To me, when I look at the mythic creation of the cosmos, and try to place a beginning of the runes, I find the first rune becoming when the first thing happened. This was the moment within that Yawning-Gap when expansion (Muspelheim) and contraction (Niflheim) became. From that moment, all runes became. Below we see from Voluspa v.3 this beginning.

It was in the earliest times that Ymir dwelled.
Neither sand nor sea, nor cold waves, nor earth
were to be found. There was neither heaven above,
nor grass anywhere, there was nothing but Ginnungagap.
Ár var alda, þat er ekki var,
vara sandr né sær né svalar unnir;
jörð fannsk æva né upphiminn,
gap var ginnunga en gras hvergi.

Ginnungagap is literally translated as “Yawning-Gap,” or “Ginnung’s Gap,” however we can break this down to find the meaning behind just what it is, and why this period is so important.  The name can be broken into two parts “Ginn,” and “Gap.”  Ginn is a primal magical stuff that exists throughout all.  It is the soul-substance that animists see in all things, and the root for the modern English word “beginning.”  Gap is identical to our modern English word gap.  So, in this context, Ginnungagap is literally that void of being in which only the primal substance of being exists, and where the shaping forces work their magic, and the energy through which the runic interactions cause effect.  When we use galdr to effect the self, or the outer world, the sound and will grab some of this ginn and put it to use.

What then is a rune? Here, I should point out a distinction between rune-staves (the runic alphabets), and the runes. Runes are the primal laws of interaction, and existence, that have been the product of how all interaction has played out since the beginning of being.
If we take into account the Heathen concepts of time, and fate, we have a model in which to place the runes (and visualization exercise for the rune-staves). First, the belief that time is cyclical, occurring on two axis. This is important for our experience of existing because it gives time and place a three dimensional aspect. Spiritually these are the axis in which the soul/self evolves, which is a vertical cycle, and the horizontal which is the evolution of mass, and our mundane time experience. It is this three-dimensional container in which the cosmos was created. When time and fate came together, it gave things location, and evolution, which allowed for interaction, which allowed for runic-change, which allowed for conscious observation of runic change, which allowed for inspiration, which allowed for will, which allowed for creativity, and the list goes on, but I hope I make my point.

The second aspect of fate is not exactly how we view fate today. It is not a fate in which all things are decided before the action takes place. It is the belief that an action creates potential options, and/or reactions. It is a process of the creation of ‘branches in your path’ though action creating specific options/potential. A simple example is dropping a ball, while on Earth, it interacts, and falls to the ground. Its path moving up to being dropped, was changed by the lack of support against gravity, and the moment that support left, the fate of the ball changed. The pattern created when you make an image of the entirety of the fate of all existence is in essence an intricate web filled with myriad paths, and branches leading to new paths and branches, and so on.

To view the runes in their truest form, is to see the moments of interaction, and to discern the potential change. When the mythic story of Odin discovering the runes is read, it reads as if he saw them as a whole, but understood them as individual aspects. It is important here to have a basic understanding of the Odinic archetype in the lore. I can not say “Odin’s lore,” because it is unknown if Od (the husband of Freyja) is Odin, or not, but for the sake of this model, I use them as one in the same.

This begins with the marriage, and interaction of Od and Freyja. Freyja, the seidh-wise, and Od, who’s name means ‘inspired’ would undoubtedly have exchanged arts. It is said that after a time, Od became restless, and left his family behind. This is where Odin’s story picks up. Odin, having learned the seidh arts from Freyja, was able to do his first shamanistic sacrifice at Mimr’s well. Here, it is said, he sacrificed one of his eyes. This could be seen as a shamanic initiation into the seidh arts, as that requires one eye on the profane/conscious, and another on the sacred/unconscious. Now the he can see both sides of existence at once, he is equipped to see those moments between, the moments of interaction’s changes (the runes), which are so fleeting, they cannot be measured… Odin did this through a shamanistic self-sacrifice upon the world tree.

I know that I hung, on a wind swept tree
for all of nine nights,
wounded by spear, and given to Odin,
myself to myself,
on that tree of which no man knows
from what root it rises.

They dealt me no bread, nor drinking horn.
I looked down, I drew up the runes,
screaming I took them up,
and fell back from there.

Veit ek, at ek hekk vindgameiði á
nætr allar níu,
geiri undaðr ok gefinn Óðni,
sjalfur sjalfum mér,
á þeim meiði er manngi veit
hvers af rótum renn.

Við hleifi mik sældu né við hornigi,
nýsta ek niðr,
nam ek upp rúnar, æpandi nam,
fell ek aftr þaðan.

His goal, perhaps to knowingly witness that moment of change (between existences/worlds), which even the dead have not seen, for they transferred between states too quickly. Since we see with two-eyes, we can only see where we are. Odin was able to see the moment between worlds, because as one eye observed his approach from one side, his other saw it from the other side. During that moment, which was so intense it made Odin scream when he took them up, Odin saw, felt, heard, smelled, tasted, and perceived how all things interact, and produce new potentials.

It is left unsaid how Odin then taught the runes to other beings. It is said that humanity learned them from the god Rigr (Heimdal). We can never know exactly when the runes, and the staves to which they are assigned came together. It is likely the beginning of the runic philosophy goes way back to a mundane way of teaching how things work in the world, for example, “respect the cattle’s contribution to the tribe,” may have morphed into the early runic theory of mutual exchange (fe/fehu), symbolized by the livestock being supported by the tribe, so it can support the tribe, and finally into the exchange of wealth/gold. The runes retained their sociological lessons all along, which we see from the rune-poems, which often warn about the negative side, as well as mention the obvious positive side. It is safe to say, however, that while the change in staves, and common meaning has a specific model through which it changed, the stave’s and their mundane meanings, should not be seen as the center of study, but the philosophies behind them. In other words, do not get caught up in key-word associations with the runes, even though it is appropriate with the rune-staves, but even then, only for linguistic reasons.

Here is where there usually follows a description of each rune-stave. I am going to leave that part out for many reasons. Important among those reasons-

  • The description of each rune and rune-stave would create an entire book, and since they are about interactions, one must train themselves through mindful observation, and wisdom, to understand how interactions are happening around them. Without understanding that, the stave classifications are useless.
  • The changes between the stave-rows also makes discussion of them according to stave hard, unless you list only one set of staves and their associations, which only paints a partial picture of runology.

How then are runes usable? Certainly the rune-staves are useful for writing, even if too simple, yet complicated to be practical. The use of rune on an esoteric level has two forms, one which is that which is coming in (down) and that which is going out (up). When we observe that which is around us, we can observe, if we choose, the runic interactions, and gain wisdom from that. Likewise, we add to those interactions around us through action, including sound, which is the foundation of galdr magic, form, and interactions between forms and sounds.



Runa-staða & Staða-galdr


There is a compelling, but often ignored aspect of runology called
runa-staða.  To simplify this, we can consider it a type of runic
yoga, however, it goes far beyond a system of physical fitness and
meditation.  While there is no definitive proof of this practice, we
can find possible evidence on the Gallehus Horns.

A short
history of the Gallehus Horns:

The Gallehus Horns are 2 horns made of sheet gold, found in Gallehus,
southern Jutland, Denmark in 1639 and 1734.  They have been dated to
the early Germanic Iron Age, roughly 5th century c.e.  The originals
were stolen and melted down in 1802, but we are lucky that cast molds had
been made beforehand.  Several reproductions have been made from
those molds, but, like the originals, they have a history of theft.
Today there are copies in several museums in Scandinavia and England.

On these two horns we can find several images of human figures in
positions that appear runic.  There are also many animal, and
anthropomorphic animal images.  Below are images showing some of


We see in this image, at the top, the
positions that led to the development of the runa-staða
paradigm.  Obviously there are positions that do not
immediately appear runic, so this is by no means proof.
In this image, we find at the very top text from the Elder Futhark
showing that the Gallehus horns are undeniably Germanic, however
many of the other images show a possible Celtic influence as
well.  The Celtic influence should be no surprise considering
the date of the horns, and the likelihood that there were still
Celtic tribes in the Jutland region.  We can also see runic
meaning in some of the animal images.  On the third panel, you
can see a definate fe/fehu in a bovine nursing its calf.  On
the 3rd, 4th, and 5th, we can see ties to reið/raidho in a man
riding a horse, as well as men leading horse, and a deer or goat.

In the end, all we can say for certain is that the horns are Germanic, and
date to early Germanic Iron Age

Staða in

The concept of runic yoga is based on the idea of creating the stave
shape(s) of one of the rune rows.  For this reason, I will give an
example of one theory using the Elder Futhark.  This is certainly the
more popular, and has been written about by Edred Thorsson, and Jan
Fries.  Below is an image showing the possible postures:

These are just examples, and there are many things to take into
consideration.  It is my opinion, that if you are going to practice
runa-staða, you should not stick to one method, but instead, do them
standing, do them laying, and even look for them in the postures of
other folk, and/or shape of trees, etc. to take runic meaning from your
environment.  Also practice moving from one posture to the next,
either making your way through your chosen Futhark, or, if using them
for galdr, spelling out your chosen gladr.

You should pay special attention to how your ond (vital breath) and/or
hamingja (luck/vital energy… but for this case we just use the vital
energy aspect) flow depending on the posture, as well as each
other.  Ond and hamingja are tied to each other, and effect each
other.  So try to discern how, when you make an expansive action,
how you exhale, and how this effects the flow of your hamingja… or
conversely, if you make a contractive action, how you inhale,
etc…  In other forms of yoga, whether the Indian formal yoga, or
some of the Shaolin based martial arts, the direction of the palms
effects whether the action is expansive (yang) or contractive (yin), so
try each posture with the palms facing away, as well as with palms
facing towards you, and see how it effects the flow of your breath and

Thought of
what to do in each posture:

In each posture you should not only focus on the cycle of breath and
expansion/contraction, but you may also, if you choose, sing the galdr
for that specific rune.  With regards to timing your breath, when
you aply strength to lift you weight, or if you are projecting you
energy, you want to be exhaling.  When you sink into a posture, or
you are trying to bring energy in, you want to be inhaling.  Also,
be mindful of how the posture effects your balance, and for this reason
bare-foot is best, so you can feel the pressure on different parts of
your feet.

If you have problems calming your mind, or getting your breath slowed
and rhythmic, try placing the tip of your tongue on the roof of your
mouth, and very gently click your teeth together at the rhythm of your
desired breath rhythm.  The breath and heart rate are tied
together, so to calm the body, calm the breath.


I have purposely tried to find a balance between providing a frame work,
and being vague enough to promote experimentation.  None of this
should be taken as traditionally Heathen, because I have provided
technique from yoga, as well as Zen meditation to enhance the
functionality of the staða practice.  They key is practice practice
practice, and above all, learn to listen to your body.  It will
tell you if you are right or wrong.  And, of course, have fun!


Freyr, best friend to man


When we hear about the Heathen gods and goddesses we generally hear of
only the Aesir, such as Odin and Thor, or when we do hear about Vanic
gods, it is almost always Freyja.  What if I told you that the most
commonly venerated god/dess was not one of the Aesir, nor was it
Freyja?  When we look at the history of Heathenism we see that there
has been a transition which has led to the Aesic gods being most
common.  Continue reading

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