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The Elder Futhark: Thurisaz

The Elder Futhark: Thurisaz

The next rune in the Elder Futhark is Thurisaz, the third rune in Freyr’s ætt. Like many runes, this rune has both positive and negative meanings, depending on where it ends up in the cast. Let’s look at Thurisaz and see why it’s an important rune.

Thurisaz’s Meaning

If you take the name at face value, the first thing you probably will think of is the day, Thursday, since it is very similar in spelling. It’s meaning is “thorn,” “giant,” “danger,” or in some cases, I’ve seen the word “threshold” associated with it. Given that Thor is half giant, we can easily see how Thor, Thursday, and Thurisaz fit together. Since it is associated with giants and thorns, we can assume that if you pull Thurisaz out of your rune bag, you (or the person you’re casting for) may be in for a rough time. Thurisaz is the “th” sound. In Anglo-Saxon, the word is “thorn” and in Old Norse, the word is “thurs.”

Divination with Thurisaz


If you cast Thurisaz, chances are you’re in for something powerful and dangerous, just like the Jotun. But not all Jotun are evil, so don’t immediately think you’re doomed if you pull this rune. A lot depends on where it ends up and what other runes surround it.

Thurisaz means danger, thorn, and giants. It is the rune of extreme change, sometimes violently. It also means conflict, which can be a source of frustration or anguish. When it means “threshold,” it says you’re standing on the cusp of something, just like the threshold to your house. Your home is usually associated with safety; past the threshold is largely the unknown, or “here there be monsters.” It takes a fair amount of courage to step into the unknown when there’s giants lurking outside the safety of your home.

At this point, when you get this rune, look at the other runes. When Thurisaz is in the obstacle position or the current situation position, you can bet the future rune will influence it. If the future rune is a positive rune or a beneficial rune, you can bet Thurisaz is there to warn you that you are either standing on a threshold of something big that will try you, or you are in for a rough ride, but things will improve. If it ends up as a future rune, you might prepare for some type of conflict ahead. When the obstacle rune is a positive rune with Thurisaz in the future rune, chances are you’re striving towards something, only you’re not seeing the whole picture and don’t see the pitfalls. Thurisaz can serve as a warning.

Some Final Thoughts on Thurisaz

At this point, you’re probably concerned if you pull this rune. And rightly so. But it doesn’t have to be bad.  In fact, if you cast Thurisaz, it may be a warning from the Wyrd that if you continue down the path you’ve chosen, you won’t like it. The Wyrd is giving you information that will hopefully help you steer clear of the problems. And that is always helpful.

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The Elder Futhark: Fehu

The Elder Futhark: Fehu

As I’ve promised, I will go through each of the Elder Futhark, hopefully once a week. I may write about other runic alphabet variants, should there be enough interest in both the runes and my understanding/interpretation/insights in them. This week, I start with Fehu, being the first in Freyr’s ætt. The runes are traditionally split up into eights or ættir. Those ættir are Freyr’s (Or Freyja’s) ætt, Heimdall’s ætt, and Tyr’s ætt. So, let’s talk about Fehu.

Fehu’s Meaning

Fehu means “wealth,” “cattle.” In Anglo-Saxon the word is Feoh and in Old Norse it is Fe. It’s meaning is along the lines of acquired wealth, cattle, or livestock.  In the past, our ancestors considered cattle and livestock as wealth that was acquired and made, not inherited wealth from the family or clan. This was wealth one would earn due to one’s hard work. In the alphabet, it corresponds to our letter “F.”

Divination with Fehu

Since Fehu is associated with acquired wealth, it’s actually a nice rune to show up, especially if you are looking to earn more money. Of course, that depends on where it shows up in a casting, but it is usually a good rune to see. For example if the cast combines Fehu with Wunjo (joy), it can mean success in earning money, a new job that will bring about success, or a payoff in investments. However, when the cast combines Fehu with Hagalaz (disruption), it can mean destruction of acquired wealth or loss of a job, again, depending on where the runes sit in the casting. Or it may suggest that you will have a sudden disruption in your finances, either good or bad.  (A lot is finesse here when it comes to interpretations.)

Reading Fehu depends on what your life situation is as well as the runes around it. But when you see this rune, you can assume it is something having to do with your career or investments.

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Runes as a Divination Tool

Runes as a Divination Tool

Our ancestors have used runes as divination tools for centuries. Whether fashioned from bone, wood, stone, or something else, people relied on runes as a written means of communication, powerful talismans, and a means of learning about the future.  I’ll explore why in this piece.

Obtaining Immortality

Runes — and writing, for that matter — is the human attempt at establishing immortality in a very mortal world. Look at the runic inscriptions we have from our ancestors: they talk about deeds, imbue power into weapons, mark the existence of a person, keep track of goods, or give us a magical formula of some sort.

Even today, humans want to leave their indelible mark on the world. Whether it’s a person who wants to be a published author, an actor appearing on the silver screen, a recording artist, an Internet blogger, or a tagger spray-painting graffiti on a boxcar, all these people are looking to achieve some sort of immortality. The Internet and movies are just another form of media that came from the written word.  Before writing all people had were their memories and oral traditions. Sure, the person learned the story from their parents and grandparents, but over time the stories morphed into something less recognizable by the original teller.  Like an ancient form of the kid’s game “telephone,” original details were lost and new information was added. Only when the stories were written down did we have a record of what the story was at the time it was written. That’s assuming, of course, that the scribe wrote it down word-for-word without embellishment, which generally didn’t happen.

The Magic of Writing

If you’ve been one of my long-time readers, you know I eschew the word “magic.” But in this case, I’ll forego that avoidance. Writing, itself, is magical. Think about it.  We can convey our thoughts, stories, feelings, and beliefs to people we have never met.  To people whom we will never meet. This power is something we take for granted now, but writing has really only been around for a little over 5000 years.  The world’s oldest writing is cuneiform written in 3200 BCE. Scribes developed and used cuneiform to record transactions in the Sumerian city-state of Uruk, which is in present-day Iraq.

Agrarian societies invented writing to keep track of goods, possessions, and taxes.  Writing is a by-product of commerce, which makes sense.  Even Scandinavian/Viking merchants used runes to keep track of their goods.  I would argue that until produce and trade developed, humans had little need of the written language. Sure, there were magic sigils and marks, but until people exchanged money, or at least goods and services, they didn’t have a pressing need for a written language.

How Does “Magic”Divination Work?

Warning!  Personal Unverified Gnosis Ahead!

I believe part of the runes’ sacredness comes from the “magic” of being able to learn from people long gone from the world. How magical it must feel to hear the voice of an ancestor from something written.  The ancestor most likely carved the runes into something more permanent like rock, bone, wood, or metal. This lasted far longer than his or her 40 to 50 years in this world.

Another magical part of the runes is the ability to tap into our subconscious selves.  That part of our mind pays more attention to the world around us. It’s where we often get our insights and hunches.  And it’s more likely what hears the gods when they speak to us. When we touch the runes, our subconscious knows what rune we touched.  The feel of the wood, bone, or stone, the rough cut of the rune, the shape of the rock: our subconscious mind knows what it is even if we can’t consciously identify it.  So, the runes help us find the answer within ourselves and our subconscious observations of the world around us.

(At this point, I can hear purists who believe in magic screaming that I’m full of shit.  Cool. You don’t like what I say?  Bitch somewhere else.  You got the warning above; deal with it.)

Whether you believe that Odin gave our ancestors the runes or not is immaterial.  The runes are here and they possess a quality that we can use to explore our mind and our collective unconscious.  It may serve as a way to understand what our conscious minds haven’t grasped.  And it may be a way to know what is happening in the future.

Block Heads and Block Universes

If you’ve read my piece about free will, I go into the block universe theory and why we may not have free will at all.  Briefly, the block universe theory in physics states that everything has already happened and it’s just our limited perception of time that keeps us thinking sequentially. The past, present, and future exist simultaneously.  Time doesn’t go forward, per se, we just experience it in our limited capacity as if a spotlight is being shown on that particular instant in our lives.

I wonder if people can and do access those other parts of space-time, just not consciously. As a Science Fiction and Fantasy writer, the thoughts are intriguing, certainly.  If we can access the past and future subconsciously, it makes sense that the runes help us do it.

Rune Meanings and Interpretations

My sister gave me a rune set and Ralph Blum’s Book of Runes when I was a teenager. I actually have a first edition somewhere, assuming it didn’t get lost in moving. Whether or not you think Blum’s book is a bunch of crap, you have to admit that it was and still is quite popular. I did some pretty successful runecasts with it, despite its faults.

Even so, I subscribe to the more traditional interpretations, though.  I also don’t believe in using merkstave as a reading, because merkstave was added to make the runes more tarot-like. Plus, there are plenty of negative sides to the runes already–we don’t need more.  I also don’t believe in using the blank rune, because the runes already have perth, which is the equivalent as such.

That being said, because the runes are our gateway into reading into the future with our subconscious mind, my guess is you can have whatever interpretation you fancy and still get the reading right. (I can hear the purists screaming now.)  The main thing is to stay consistent in interpretation, otherwise it’s unlikely you’re going to have a good reading.  I prefer using traditional meanings over others, if , for no other reason than to have consistency.

I would say go with whatever works for you.  If merkstaves and blank runes work, then do it.  If going the completely traditional route works, then do that. Hel, if you find Ralph Blum’s interpretations work, then use those.  Let me know what works for you in the comments.

 

Runecasting for Recons (not really)

Runecasting for Recons (not really)

Gods, I love alliteration.  So, I couldn’t help myself with the title.  But who knows?  Maybe the recons will learn something when they read this.

Or probably just talk smack on Reddit.  Just saying…

Anyway, I’ve decided to talk about how I do runecastings.  They’re not the only way.  In some heathen circles, they may not even be right.  But it works for me, and if it works for me, I go with it.  So, let’s go through the basic rune cast.

Equipment for Runecasters 101

I’m pretty simple when it comes to runecasting.  So, when it comes to your runecasting stuff, you need the following:

  • Runes (duh!) — I use Elder Futhark runes.  You can use whatever runes suit you, but I know the Elder Futhark best and I know the meanings (mostly).
  • A rune pouch to keep the runes in.  —  It can be something special or not.  Most people will probably go with special.  Most rune sets come with pouches anyway.  If you make your own, you’re going to want to sew your own rune pouch. Or have someone who sews make it for you.
  • A cloth to do your runecasting on. — It doesn’t have to be fancy.  Hel, I don’t think you need it.  But it is nice to have.  I use a wolf bandana that is a custom design by a woman in this area.  

That’s it, essentially.  You can have candles, incense, offerings, whatever, if you feel it is appropriate.  I don’t worry about such things.

Basic Runecasting

I don’t have a particular casting method, though others may.  Other people may shake runes out of the bag, or even dump the bag and pull out the runes that are face up, or select from those that are face down.  I’ve heard of gythias and godhis using sticks and tossing them down.  The rune patterns that they saw in the crossed sticks were the ones they read.

I don’t do that. I pull each rune from the pouch and place it in its spot where the cast will go. Other runecasters do that too.  If I accidentally pull out extra stones or some other stones come out, I read them as well.  I figure if the stone wants to be read, who am I to put it back?  It might be an extra message.  Or it might be garbage.  Whatever.

I’ve had my cat suddenly take an interest in my reading occasionally and move the pieces.  Apparently I had the runes in the wrong spots, or so she thought.  I don’t argue. When you have a cat name Freyja, you listen to her.

I read my runes right to left, not left to right. I’ve heard that others do it that way, but I’ve seen it done left to right too.  I don’t use blank runes, nor do I read reverse or merkstave.  Those are obvious later inventions, one by Ralph Blum (or someone he knew) and one is too close to tarot.  Runes are not tarot.  Thank you.

The Patterns

There are plenty of patterns to cast and read your stones. I tend to stick with the simpler casts.  The reason is straightforward.  I don’t have to worry or pay attention to complex readings.

The pattern I tend to rely on is the three stone pattern.  It’s a good pattern and on and you can decide which one works for you.

  • Single Rune — This is the easiest cast of all.  Basically it’s the response to the matter under consideration.  Good or bad. It just is.
  • Three Rune Spread — This is a cast that is flexible enough to gain insight while still simple enough to not have a lot of convoluted mumbo-jumbo.  You can cast it the way I do as 1. matter under consideration 2. Problems or situations that may arise 3. Possible outcome. Or you can do the 1. Past 2. Present 3. Future
  •  Five Rune Layout, Seven Rune Layout, etc.  This webpage seems to have the basics of these larger layouts.
  • Tiwaz Shoat — There’s a pattern called the Tiwaz shoat that is in the form of an arrow.  For the life of me, I can’t remember the reading directly and I need to dig out my books on it.  Let’s just say it’s out there and if I find my books, I’ll try to tell you about it.
  • Extra Runestones — Occasionally you’ll have some runes spill out.  If this happens, look at the stones and see if they have some bearing on the situation at hand.  You may find that they do.

Sample Runecast 

Okay, you have your runes, your bag, your rune casting cloth, and whatever else you feel is necessary to get yourself in the right frame of mind to do a cast. For the sake of argument, let’s say you’re doing a Three Rune Spread.  In this case, start by pulling the first runestone out of the bag and look at it.

I pulled: ᚠ ᛒ  ᚱ

Now, don’t forget I read right to left (I pulled the ᚱ first).  So I start with ᚱ which is Raidho, which generally means travel, but can mean movement, journey, or a change. The matter under consideration is travel, for the sake of argument.  Okay. 

The problem or situation that may arise: Berkana or ᛒ.  This is the rune of growth, nurturing, fertility, etc.  Not necessarily a problem, unless it is growth due to pain or loss.  I’m not seeing that in the runes just yet, because

Fehu or ᚠ means wealth or cattle. This rune is associated with fortune and positive outcomes. Usually requires work to achieve them, but what doesn’t?

What the Runecast Might Mean

Here comes the million dollar question: What does the runecast mean?  I wasn’t really asking any questions, I just did a general cast.  What it suggests is that the travel I take in the future gives me an opportunity for growth and a chance at achieving good fortune or wealth, if I choose to take advantage of it.  Overall, it’s a positive spread and I’d be glad to have such outcomes.

I hope this gives you some ideas as to how you can do runecasting for yourself.  Let me know about your own castings.  I’d be curious to hear about them.