Archive for the ‘ Runes ’ Category

Incurred obligations & reciprocity

Gebo

Today as part of my personal rune studies I was considering the rune Gebo/Gyfu. This rune represents gifts given and obligations incurred. Among other things, it can symbolize the reciprocal nature of gifts. It seems the Norse believed that a gift calls for a gift. So if one is given a gift or done a favor then you are expected to gift something of similar value or return the favor in some way (similar to the Northwest Native peoples tradition of potlatch). Thinking about the nature of reciprocity and gifts made me wonder about past gifts and how they obligate me as an adult.

I’m not referring exclusively to presents given for special occasions such as birthdays. I’m talking about other, sometimes more intangible, gifts. For example I had a teacher for third and fourth grade, Sister Esther, who made a huge impact on me. She forced to try harder as a student. I was (and still am) a lazy student. I do what I need to in order to pass the course. I regularly wait until the last minute to complete assignments (unless I’m working with partners). Luckily for me this behavior had little impact on my grades. Even when I half-assed it I received good grades. However Sister Esther refused to accept any half-assing from me. She would push me and prod me to dig deeper for answers. It’s as if she knew the I had a lazy streak and would be satisfied with doing just enough work to get by. As a result of Sister Esther’s prodding, I developed skills that allowed me to half-half-ass it. I developed note taking techniques and study techniques that allowed me to remember facts and information so that I didn’t have to study very hard in order to pass tests. I learned how to read reference papers with an eye towards ignoring extraneous and non-essential (to me anyway) data. As a results I am still able to wait until the last minute to complete assignments but they’re still well done.

Hidden Realm 6 of Pentacles

Another teacher who influenced me was a religion teacher I had in high school. His name was Mr. McCommiskey and I truly believe I made his life miserable. I had his religion in my freshman year and it was right after lunch. I was often sleepy and would nod off. To avoid nodding off I took to reading during class. This frustrated the poor man and he would regularly confiscate my books. He finally asked me why I continued to read during his class and I explained that reading kept me awake. If I wasn’t reading then I would fall asleep. As long as I wasn’t disrupting and participated in class discussions, he never bothered me about this again. I mention Mr. McCommiskey because despite our rocky moments, he taught me so much about spirituality and not accepting the “official” version of events. He was a liberation theologist (this was the early 1980s and as I look back I am truly amazed at how blessed I was by my Catholic high school education). He often pointed out facts left out of the official version of events such as that women used to officiate at early Christian masses. He once led us in replicating what an early Christian mass might have included, along with making unleavened honey oat cakes for us to try. He tried to enlighten our remarkably uninterested teenage minds to the hypocrisy and inequality in the world (he had spend a few years in El Salvador). I truly believe this man is one of the reasons my spiritual path has explored so many areas. When I met him again at a recent high school reunion I made a point to seek him out and than him. I think he might have been touched by my appreciation (even though I admitted I was no long Catholic).

Victorian Trade Card 6 of Pentacles

On a deeper and different level I thought about my parents and the gifts they gave me. Despite their dysfunction, my parents did give me the gift of life and as a result dramatically changed their own lives. They taught me to think for myself (which I’m sure they had many occasions to regret) and to fight for what I believed. They taught me that family is important (something I did not appreciate during my teen years) and should be defended. They taught me that no matter how difficult and challenging things become we shouldn’t give up. From my mother’s side of the family I learned that family doesn’t walk away when things get bad. I watched as my grandmother, her eldest brother and visiting siblings cared for their mother (my great-grandmother) who was senile and unable to care for herself. They all worked together to keep her home and cared for until she passed away. My maternal grandmother survived burying two husbands (the first when she was only about 18), her 6 month old son (also when she was 18) and raising her only daughter by herself. She refused to break. She might have bent under the weight of her responsibilities on occasion but she didn’t give up. She was stubborn and strong-willed and I adored her.

So how can I honor and reciprocate such intangible gifts? The best way I can see is paying it forward. I now tend my ailing mother-in-law because of the gift my grandmother and her family gave me about understanding family obligations and responsibilities. Did they struggle? Of course they did, but they didn’t give up. Even though I was able to thank both the teachers I mentioned that doesn’t mean I can’t pay those gifts forward too. I have nieces and nephews. By teaching them to question and seek answers I hope that I am gifting them with a lifelong curiosity that will pay back the teachers who gifted it to me. There are many more instances I could mention but I think the point has been made. In so many ways we are all blessed in our lives; we are given many tangible and intangible gifts. We should be sure not to take them for granted and to reciprocate in kind in whatever way possible, or at least that what I’m going to try.

Oolong with Odin

I have recently begun re-acquainting myself with Runes. I have dabbled in them at various points in time. I know some of the basics of working with them but I want to explore them in more depth. I’ve begun connecting with the energy of the Rune aligned with each half-month (each Rune is assigned a two-week period over the course the year, in order). I have no idea who created this system but it seems a good place to start. I then pull another Rune each day to see what energies might impact me and how they connect to the energies of the Rune associated with the half-month. Based upon the message I get from the joined energies of the two Runes, I then draw two Tarot cards for further insights or clarification. So far it has worked  well. This process is allowing me to begin working with the Runes on a deeper level. However I kept feeling blocked; as though there was more to be gained but I could not access it. After pondering this for a while I realized that my problem is I was avoiding connecting with Odin, the Norse god of magic, runes, war and a plethora of other areas who also happens to rule the Aesir. That’s like learning to drive a car via computer simulation. You may grasp the concepts but you’ll be limited in true understanding.

I’ve been wary of working with Odin for a loooong time now. In the myths, he is often portrayed as quite the trickster. He has his own agenda and we may not fit with it the way one anticipated. I have always felt more drawn to Thor and Tyr for their more plain-spoken and honorable approach to matters. For the most part Thor is not very straight-forward and Tyr’s word is his bond. Odin take a more diplomatic approach to matters in that he doesn’t lie but may not reveal the full truth either. His connection to Loki has also worries me a bit. I can understand the benefits Loki brought to Asgard but his tricksy, sometimes malevolent nature does not appeal to me. All that has become a moot point because I realize that if I want to truly understand the Runes then I need to work with Odin.

Legacy of the Divine 9 of Coins

So yesterday I sat down and had a chat with Odin. I asked if he would find a daily cuppa tea an acceptable offering for picking his brain. In response I drew the 9 of Coins (being more familiar with Tarot I used them for this conversation) which I’m taking as a resounding yes! So I made up each a cuppa oolong tea (Flower of Asia to be exact) and pulled a Rune – Othala, to go along with the Rune of the half-month Eihwaz. I then proceeded to ask Odin questions about the connections between these two Runes and how their energies work together and complement each other. It was a very interesting process. After each question I would pull a Tarot card. If I didn’t understand the response I could pull another card for additional insight but that didn’t happen. Each response I got from Odin made complete sense to me. It was exhilarating! I’m very excited to see where this journey will lead me. For now I’m taking baby steps but very much like a toddler I’m feeling quite a sense of accomplishment already.

Okay, I am getting bored with asking the same questions for my Card of the Day readings.  So I decided to start pulling a rune each day and developing a question from that.

 

Today I drew Eihwaz

Meaning:  Eihwaz, a shamanic rune bearing the secret mysteries of life and death, represents the giant yew tree that supports the Nine Worlds.  Its transcendent nature allows for communication and travel between different realms of being.  Eihwaz is also a rune of mighty endurance against the forces of evil.

Affirmation:  Life moves to death, but I stand strong and tall as the yew tree.  Evil cannot crush my spirit.  (Stephen McNallen)

A “rough tree” on the outside, and perhaps the hardest of all the runes to fully understand, Eihwaz is the “keeper of the fire”: the hidden, but all-holding might of runic wisdom. As Jera embodies the interaction of opposites and the gradual growth of understanding, so does Eihwaz embody the melding of opposites and the lightning flash of revealing at the completion of initiation. The yew is known to the folk as the tree of death, having been planted in cemeteries until this day.

Eihwaz strengthens the will. It is the might which holds memory and purpose through death and rebirth, and it may be used to call upon wisdom and might from earlier existences. You can learn from both other dead and the dead whose knowledge and power have been passed on and hidden in your own soul.  (Teutonic Magic by Kvelduf Gundarrson)

So my question become: What is the limit of my personal power?  3 of Swords (Vikings & Old Path)

 

The number 3 symbolizes the generative force, creative power, multiplicity, and forward movement.  They are about planning and preparing, putting the details into place before beginning the work.  The suit of Swords is associated with reason, thought, logic, will, courage, verbal skill, matters pertaining to the mind, communication and the element of air.  It can represent getting all your plans and thoughts assembled in a coherent manner before presenting them to the public.  It’s about deciding how to incorporate these plans and ideas into your current lifestyle.  The 3 of Swords can also indicate a conflict of the heart or a flash of insight that allows the seeker to perceive a situation for what it is.  Sometimes it suggests a sense of betrayal and heartbreak, something that our mind thought would come true has failed.

This card answers my question on two different levels.  On one level is the idea that the limit of my personal power is my own ability to plan, communicate and move forward with my creative energy and power.  It’s reflects the need to think and plan and then move forward.  Many times I have a tendency to act first and think later.  That limits my personal power because by not considering all the factors and possible alternatives, I’m denying myself the benefits of actually manifesting my plans and seeing them through to fulfillment.  I think a portion of this is due to the fact that sometimes I get distracted or I lose interest in the concept for the time being.  I need to find a way to coherently and creatively make plans and follow through on them.  Otherwise I’m limiting my personal power.

On another level this card can be seen to represent betrayal and heartbreak.  In the context of this question I think this card serves as a reminder that one of the limits of my personal power is how others act towards me.  I cannot control how other behave (and that’s probably a good thing) but that means that sometimes I will be hurt by what others do and I can’t change that or control it.  My personal power lies in how I handle those types of situations and in how I behave towards other to prevent them from betraying me.  That can be tricky because sometimes we can’t be sure what will trigger betrayal from someone we trust.

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