New Runes

There’s a couple things that have been fascinating to me since I was at least 12. Primary among those is the material commonly known as Hematite. I loved the stories around it, I loved the feel of it, I loved the ability to had to get me to focus. I’d find smooth flat stones while my family was traveling and those were my reminders of where we’d visited.

I wasn’t reading books on stones or gems or meditation or anything like that when I was 12, but I was drawn to it, and running my fingers over the stone just made me feel better. As I started reading about such things when I got a little older (16 or so when I think everyone cracks open a New Age book or really starts to read their horoscopes more closely), I read about the effects of other semi-precious items like quartz and what have you.

Nothing ever really did anything for me, except the Hematite. (I did, however, have this wicked cool quartz-shard necklace. Looked like something that would’ve ended up being the key to the Astral Gates in a D&D game – similar to This Picture except with a black leather strap vs chain).

I digress.

I chose maple wood runes because maples are a pretty prominent tree back in my hometown. I honor my family in all things, and so it made sense to have that connection. Plus I was unsure of using stone or metals for runes, as they didn’t initially seem earthy enough, and when I started this I was very concerned about getting things “right”. I also wanted to have something that was quality, and that was respected and I knew that The Magical Druid would give me that peace of mind.

But alas, they don’t make their own hematite runes, so – Maple Wood it was.

Then a friend of mine in a slack channel found Hematite runes on Etsy that were perfect for me, and you can take a look see if you’re interested. I’ve pocketed the “blank” rune as a good luck charm for my purse, since neither Taking Up the Runes nor my good ADFs friends feel there is a need for a blank rune in the Elder Futhark.

And truthfully, my set feels right without one, and that’s good enough for me.

Today’s devotional was to attune the new set, and to make sure it was accepted by my People. (People I think is a good umbrella term – at least for me – to include Kindred, Ancestors, Spirits, and Gods. Like the nerd I am, when I go to a con I am among my people. When I open the gates I am still among my people.)

Offerings and devotions where made to all, and things felt in a good place the entire time. I’m feeling less awkward and clumsy with each ritual – though I did do some controlled breathing to meditate on what to say between each offering because I hadn’t thought ahead on it at all.

I put all the runes in my offering shell, as a shared offering – a connection between my People and I – and then drew a single wooden rune as a sign for how they felt about them overall (with the intention to leave them in the offering shell for the next 24 hours regardless – either to strengthen the bond, or attempt to change their minds >.> ). I drew Dagaz.

Directly, Dagaz is the rune for Day. For obvious reasons this makes it a positive rune all around – the other runes can have an impact on what kind of positivity you’re dealing with, in this case I drew only the single rune and was not compelled to draw more.

Dagaz is both a rune of beginnings and endings. In magical work it can be both sun rise And sun set. It can begin or end magical work, and I take extra solace in this single rune that it can aid in new beginnings or successful conclusions.

Quite the single rune to draw when one is leaving the new runes out for a full day and night.

All in all I am pleased with the outcome, and grateful to my People for their time, protection, and honor. I will continue to do my best to honor my Ancestors, my Spirits, my Kindred and my Gods – that I may grow and be better in all things.

Blessings,
Quin

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Afraid

I’m going to write this a bit out of the usual order for one of my devotionals, and backtrack a bit as I cover the runes I drew. I’ll end by summarizing the purpose of the ritual, and hopefully it’s not so disconnected as to be intelligible.

Before I drew these runes I did not ask for anything, I asked that whoever was listening say to me what they wanted to say. Because I didn’t ask a question I wasn’t sure that what I drew would make sense to me. All three runes came out together, and so my intent was to read them in no particular order and go from there. Moving around sentences and concepts until something jumped out and said Yes! This is what we said.

For its worth, that happened while I was looking them up.

Ansuz – The rune of Odin, of words, of mouth. A rune, specifically in this case, of communication. Ansuz is a welcome rune to me, a good sign and one that I feel close too – it’s spiritual, creative, and if I’m being honest it’s hard not to preen a little when you draw Odin’s rune. Even if Odin kind of intimidates the piss out of me…

Hagalaz – The rune of hail, change, chaos. In reading, depending on what else surrounds this rune it can mean disaster or act as a warning to brace for a change. Positivity resides on either side of Hagalaz when I drew these, the rune was literally sandwiched in between the other two.

Hagalaz is a warning, and even surrounded by positivity I don’t mean to take that warning lightly. Be it in regards to my love, my passion or my job, I don’t want to be blindsided in anything.

I think, however, in this case the change is internal.

I spent a portion of the devotional admitting that I didn’t understand my being drawn to a Norse hearth-culture. I am not fierce, I’m not brash or a warrior. I’m more a cup runneth over with kindness and sheer terror towards just about everything from Outside to Bugs.

But I had to admit I can be fierce, I can be a warrior. I have planted my feet on a few occasions in my life that were important enough to me that despite a spinning head, pounding heart, or knotting stomach, I knew I needed to not back down. I sobbed during the ritual, asserting that I wasn’t weak, but that I wanted to be stronger, I wanted to be more assertive, I wanted to be more – but I wanted to stay me.

I cannot emulate my Norse gods and goddesses, that is not who I am from head to toe, but I want to be able to honor them better in words and actions and I need to change to be able to do that.

Elhaz – let’s just pull this from the book directly. “[..] almost certainly means protection […] possibly by means of drawing natural powers or allowing previously suppressed aspects of the personality to operate.

I have a fire in me, I know I do. I’ve seen it blaze and shine on a few occasions in my life. But that fire is scary at times, because I don’t tap into it often, so when I do it’s like wrestling with a part of me that could just splash out and light everything around me. Sometimes I don’t want to catch things on fire, sometimes I’m afraid of losing control if I do ignite something in others.

Mostly, I’m just afraid.

A lot.

I’m afraid of making people angry, I’m afraid of letting down my family, I’m afraid of being a disappointment to my mother and father, I’m afraid of losing the love of my life, I’m afraid of not being successful, I’m afraid of crashing and burning with my art, I’m afraid of bugs, I’m afraid of people, I’m afraid of my own MIND.

But for the hour of my ritual, for the time of my devotion, when I’m speaking to gods and spirits and kindred, when I’m making myself a beacon for all things in all worlds and reaching out beyond the Gates, I’m not afraid. I can feel the boughs of Yggdrasil protect me, I can feel the warmth and see the light of the flames of fire that guides me, I can feel the cool life-giving flow of water at my feet.

Looping back to the runes I can almost see the words before me from the draw, something like “I am communicating with you, that change is coming and to brace, but be not afraid for it is change that you want and it will be welcome.”

I don’t know who “I” is in this case. It felt assertive and powerful, but neither maternal/fraternal.

I don’t know, it’s just that it so strongly feels like a single statement.

The main purpose of today’s devotional was to use the tree I’d received from a dear friend at least once before the high day celebration I plan to do either tonight, or very very early tomorrow. From there it kind of spontaneously turned into its own thing, but I feel confident in the transfer, and now I can use my stand in tree as the journal I’d intended it for and leave the other with the alter.

Blessings,
~Quin

Odd Omen

Today’s ritual started off with a knotted back, sore legs, and a tangle inside my own soul to be perfectly honest. I’d had a rough week at work, and my last devotional had gone south, which probably lent itself to the clunky week. I even ended up calling off on Wednesday – not a thing I do – because I felt ill at the idea of even going into work that day.

So today’s ritual was just as much about reconnecting with my gods and goddesses as it was strengthening myself and unknotting things internally. At first I wasn’t sure it was going to work, but as the ritual went on I realized I was relaxed.

When I first got my current job I was pretty excited. It was a decent jump in pay, plus a couple extra holidays and a LOT of vacation time for a new job. (15 days, vs ten.) On top of that I knew I was going to learn a ton of new things in my field and the vibe of the office was a lot more friendly and casual than my last position had been.

Lately though, things are hinky, and I’m realizing that there are, sadly, quite a few phobic-toward-anyone-not-white-and-straight-and-Christian types in my immediate vicinity. The amount of racism, transphobic and homophobic thoughts are unsettling. And they’re subtle too – for the most part, which makes it very difficult to report on, or even talk about directly to the persons involved.

Top on a little good old fashioned technophobia and office favoritism, and barely 9 months after I started, I’m ready to leave.

So, yeah, internally, very knotted up. =/

But, as I said, the ritual went well, it had the intended effect I had been hoping for. I shared a drink with my ancestors, the Kindred, and the gods/goddesses. It was, perhaps, not the wisest of me to share hard apple cider with my faith first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, massive light weight that I am, but someone was looking out for me, because I don’t even feel the tiniest bit woozy.

At some point I was compelled to draw an omen. I asked for signs about my job, but backpedaled on that – my mind is made up, I already know what I’m doing in regards to that, and it feels right, even if it’s scary. So instead I just asked for whatever omen they desired to give me, and if they were so inclined, some kind of hint as to who was reaching out to me.

Someone listened, but since I’ll be looking these up as I’m writing this, right at this moment I don’t know who. I just I know that I usually draw three runes. Today, I drew 5. The first two came out easy as you please, but the last three came out all at once, there was just no separating them while my hand was in the bag. There’s plenty of room in there for my tiny hand, so it wasn’t for lack of trying.

I’m not 100% sure what to do with it, but it feels like those three should be considered very strongly connected when I do decipher them.

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First is ELHAZ, for which there is a very repetitive theme of protection. Be it from an animal-spirit guide, in general, from one’s own spiritual power, and/or as a sign of good luck. There’s a warning against grasping Elhaz, that while it offers protection it can cut those that are rough toward it. I’ll take this as a sign of being protected, we’ll see how it holds up against the rest of the reading, as it could be an introduction to whomever has their eye on me.

Next, RAIDHO, the rune of traveling. When paired with Elhaz it implies protected travel. Raidho is often considered to be a statement of the “right way to go” or that one is on horseback (a mode of transportation, i.e. Raidho) and that it is leading one along the Way. I personally struggle with accepting the idea of fate, and that our lives are predetermined before us – but I do believe that we have a series of paths available to us. With varying degrees of the correct path vs essentially having gone off the path. Elhaz and Raidho back to back like this, feel to me like an assurance that the choices I’ve made regarding my career is the correct path and all I have left to do now is follow through assertively with that change.

Then the inseparable three. PERTHRO – DAGAZ – OTHALA

Perthro is, as far as I can gather, the unknowable rune. It can be tied to luck, to fate, to Figg and the Norns. It is the cup and the well, the caster of dice and the caster of runes. It implies fate, luck or chance in a reading and I’m left with the distinct impression that I’ll not know what this implies until I’ve looked at the other runes.

Dagaz the sun, a rune of positivity and hope. Dagaz in a reading often lends itself to a positive outcome, a kind of stay strong and things will get better sort of vibe. Possibly it means slow and measured progress vs sudden outcomes, and/or a clarifying rune to bring things to “light” as it were.

Finally, Othala. The rune of family, homeland, inheritance, of connection both with past lives and current spirits. “As the final rune of the Futhark, OTHALA “Contains” the power of all the other runes, our mystical heritage.”

My initial feeling on this, even after sitting here for long moments and contemplating things which has left said initial feeling unchanged, has me feeling that it’s the runes themselves that are calling to me. Which is kind of an odd feeling, and not at all what was expected. There’s a fringe assumption that in line with that it does include Frigg, with whom herself and the Norns are closely tied to the divination portion of the runes.

But then as well, Odin himself is very closely tied with the runes, and the utilization of them in magical ways. To be perfectly fair, Odin kind of scares the sprinkles out of me, and I’m not sure how I’d react if it was him who took to me. I suppose I’d need to begin construction of an actual functional backbone quite immediately.

Through the runes as well, is a pathway to connecting with my ancestors, and Kindred and all the gods and goddesses. Very family-esque, very connected and protected. Which is rather indicative of this and previous readings.

At this rate I may have to face my fears, and make from scratch my own runes, though I still say that fashioning tangible items is far and away not a skill I possess.

Gift of the Grandmother

I had a third Devotional, technically speaking, that I did right at sunrise and something about it felt wrong to write about, so I didn’t. I also kind of realized that instead of counting these, as though some growing numerical tally would lend itself to some odd sense of credibility or wisdom on my part, it was best to just date them. But then it dawned on me that the blog site does that for me and perhaps even better would be to summarize in the title. (Seriously, I’ll get a system eventually).

This morning’s devotional was more of working my way up to the upcoming High Holiday this 31st. While my hearth culture is definitely Norse, my surroundings are the desert, not the most ideal place to welcome in Winter Nights. It gets cold around here at night during the winter, but as I was born much farther north than this, it doesn’t get that cold.

Besides, I am close to my family, and wanting to be closer to my ancestors is one of the many reasons I’ve sought this way of worship. I don’t know if it’s selfish of me, but I mean to honor my grandmother primarily, and then work my way along from there. These rituals aren’t her rituals, and these gods weren’t her gods, but if ever there was someone to watch over me, it was her, and I want the chance to talk about things and to honor her and those who came before me.

So today I went through a little more detail, today I gave an extra offering, and today I asked for nothing in particular in return as I drew the runes. Once I’m more comfortable in my rituals I will actually detail out what I do during them. It still feels like crawling at this point, but I’ll get there.

Again, the message was positive. Either I’m projecting my natural optimism on these rune readings OR they’re legitimately continually good signs. My statistical brain is still struggling against this, and expects that probability will come back to haunt me at some point. But in that statement is the assumption that the runes are drawn in a scientifically random way, vs occurring via the will of the ancestors, gods and whoever else is paying me heed during these devotionals.

As I’ve mentioned before this journey is, in part, to help me reconcile two sides of the same thing inside my own brain. For to me there is no science without magic and no magic without science, and I can’t see how you could revere one and not the other. The idea is to do so in equal measure, for ultimately balance is the importance of it.

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Well, what a start for this! Thor, then Odin – Thurisaz and Ansuz.

Thurisaz has some heavy meanings to it, believed to cover both Thor and the Thurs that he fought against. (Believe me I’ll never look at Thursday the same way again.) It’s a powerful run in magic, but in this instance – as for a reading – it’s meaning is more dependent upon what follows. As it can be greater luck and greater good, or advise caution for tiding that aren’t as positive. Since it’s followed immediately by Odin’s Rune – Ansuz – which is very strong in a spiritual sense, and even in a more practical reading refers to old knowledge.

Like the kind one would receive from one’s Ancestors.

Normally in a reading – I say normally, like I’ve done this a thousand times, ha! – it feels like the three runes together are giving me an insight over all. Like reading a sentence or a paragraph; there’s a connection between the three that tell a definite story.

In this morning’s reading it feels less like reading a sentence, and more like watching the first two runes infuse and strength the final. Like a line of people with buckets of water, moving a higher volume of water with their bucket line than would be possible by merely running back and forth.

And both lead to Wunjo – the rune of joy and bliss.  Taking Up the Runes by Paxson, has a lot to say about Wunjo. Joy in friendship, in strong family bonds, in spirituality, in gifts and life. It cautions fleetingly against complacency in these gifts (Don’t get too fat on the hog, one day you may need to run to save yourself!), but to not worry overmuch and enjoy them, give thanks, etc.

With what leads up to Wunjo I feel like I get bombarded with a lot of meanings for this final rune. I have a strong sense of approval toward how I intend to celebrate the upcoming Ancestor’s Night, and that I mean to begin – officially – my Dedicant’s Path on that day is seen positively as well. I can almost feel my Grandmother’s embrace coming to me through Wunjo, and it feels like a blessing.

The after thought, the feeling that lingers quietly after the initial impressions however, is one that I should focus on the runes and reading them, and utilizing them more often. It’s this wispy kind of tug, like soft spider threads in the back of my mind, and I’m just beginning to know enough to recognize them. That while the news, gifts, and omens they impart may not always be positive, that I will find personal bliss in being a scholar in their meanings.

But, I worry about arrogance too – that maybe my own desires are bouncing back at me in those small little wisps and that they are small because they’re not really part of the gift. For better or worse, time will tell! All I can do is walk the path I feel is the best, and pay the consequences if I’m wrong.

Blessings,
~Quin.

Some Light Reading

I’m beginning to wonder if I’m ever going to sleep again!

But, busy is good and I’m okay with it. So I haven’t kept pace with my #Blaugust stuff, but to be fair it’s been a crazy week and I’m just happy I haven’t dropped the ball on a drawing a day stuff as of yet.

For right now, I’ve got 460 page book to devour – and I say devour because not even 6 pages into it and I’m finding it’s dangerously hard to put down. It was recommended to me, and I recommend it to you, whoever you are. Margot Adler’s Drawing Down The Moon is a very well-written, and easy to read, book. It covers a lot of stuff about Paganism, Neo-Paganism, and it’s place in this modern world.

Even if you’re not taking a Journey to find your own spirituality it’s still worth the buy in my opinion. It’s a practical look things – neither overtly praising or demeaning of any given religion. Be prepared though, it’s dense. I stand by the fact that it’s easy to read, but there’s a LOT there.

Two other books I’m planning on devouring once I’m done with the first are Bonewits’s Essential Guide to Druidism, and Taking Up The Runes. Mostly because I’m deeply interested in Druidism – and Adler’s book focuses more on Witchcraft than the other Neo-Pagan ideals (I don’t yet know why, but I imagine it had to do with access), and also because the concept of Runes has been a draw for me since I was very young.

There’s just something… connective about them.

Anyway, I’ll try to read them as quick as I can, and subsequently share my thoughts on them here. I’m rather excited, it’s been a long time since I’ve had the access and drive to dive into religion and spirituality, and if I’m really lucky I’ll find what I’ve been looking for finally.

From Many, One.

A book was delivered to me today, titled Drawing Down the Moon – recommended by two very good friends. The basic idea of this book is a over-arcing view point of modern paganism.

But Quin, Pagans are ancient!

Well, yes, so’s Christianity in the strictest sense, but it’s certainly changed and become modern – albeit a little slower than I think it needs to catch up to the times – over the course of its history.

Paganism is the same way. What was valid thousands of years ago, just isn’t today. If a belief can’t keep up with the changes of society and technology it will fall by the wayside and be fully forgotten. Because details aside, all religions offer pretty much the same basic things.

They provide a meaning to living, hope of a peaceful end, and security of help beyond that of mortal people. They teach morality and other lessons of life through various stories, concepts, etc. How they go about it can vary wildly from one to the other, but those basics are found within every religion.

Some people don’t need these assurances to live a full life. Some don’t want them. Some can’t find peace without them to the point of fanaticism. Maybe they throw their life fully to devotion – a nun, monk, devotee, etc. Maybe they throw their life fully to some mis-interpreted version of their religion – often to the detriment of those around them.

I’ve studied quite a few “popular” religions, and Drawing Down the Moon gives me a chance to learn the paths of those less popular. Nothing before now has connected with me fully – some have come close, and some have offered a way of looking at things I had not considered before. Mostly I learned that it’s a bit silly to deem a religion/philosophy more or less correct than another. At their core, they are all alarmingly similar.

The failing, I think, in any faith, is in the believer, not the religion. It’s a disconnect between the words and the person hearing them. Such misunderstandings are also exacerbated by those who are not truly devout  – but who seek to twist a religion and its followers to some end. Usually in a way that lifts them to more power/money/fame, and in the process belittles some other group of people.

Faith is, to me, a personal experience. It’s not meant to decide fates of the masses, it’s not meant to reside over entire countries. It’s for the home, the hearth, the heart – the person, not the culture, and not the governing body (be they kings, queens, or elected officials).

Maybe this book will help me find that one path. Or at least help me better define the path which I mean to walk.

A Name For Everything

And Everything By Name.

Or something.

I feel I should clarify some stuff before I continue on with this. I mentioned runes in the post before this, but I’m not set on learning or practice divination in regards to them. I likely will as I continue further down this journey, but it’s far from set in stone. (Well, they /are/ wooden, but that’s not my point.)

My point is I was raised Christian. There’s nothing wrong with this, and I’ve nothing against Christianity (the “basic” ideal of the Bible/Christianity is love and acceptance – if I have ANY issue with the religion it’s the manipulation of power and politics abused via its “followers”, and not with the religion itself) – the problem is, currently, I’m stepping into Not-Christian territory with a very Christian Educated Mind (CEM).

As such I think some of my words might be wrong, even if the meaning is something different to me.  I don’t have any formal education in Pagan religions, or really anything not-Christian – even though I’ve read enough to know the basic differences and similarities.

It’s a very tip-of-the-iceberg situation, and add to that I’m personal already at odds with a lot of Christian ideals.

My CEM wants to see Good and Evil as definable almost unchangeable ideals.
My exploratory mind (EXM) sees Good and Evil as something more mixed – something more Yin and Yang – and even beyond that more blended. Rare is the murderous or hateful mind that actual believes it is evil – almost always there is a justification, a fear, a motive, some circumstance that makes their “blotch” not a blotch.

My CEM puts God at the top and creates a cascading hierarchy.
My EXM sees no difference between myself and God – and also isn’t sure God is the right way to describe it.  This is a large part of what I hope to figure out while I take this journey.

My CEM hopes for Heaven when I die, and contemplates the exactness of Hell and how the afterlife works.
My EXM feels connected on an atomic level, and I don’t believe I’ll lose that connection when I die – only that it will change. It’s an odd comfort to me because by that logic I’ve not suffered a loss in my life, only an event that has forced me to change how I interact with those who have passed.

My CEM believes everything happens for a reason, and that I am guided.
My EXM believes God is just as fucking confused as I am and while likely privy to an indeterminably larger world view than I am, is no more capable of omnipotence or omnipresence than my cat.

And I don’t mean that last bit as a slight to anything or anyone – I just think the idea of either is more perception than substance. As a child I marveled at the rainbow and all the possibilities of its ends and origins. As an adult I know what makes the rainbow, how it functions, and why it appears as it does – The rainbow is not lessened by my growth and knowledge, as it is still beautiful and marvelous, but I understand more of how the world works now and can create rainbows for children to marvel at.

Back to my reason for this post:

If you follow this blog and walk beside me on this odd journey, kindly forgive me if I struggle with the ideas of rituals, magic, divination, god/desses and spells – my CEM sees these things as fanciful (even though the Bible totally believes in magic), and it is REALLY hard for me to grasp them with the same surety I have in other things. Any disrespect is fully unintentional, and I appreciate advice and help if/whenever I do stumble.