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Archive for the ‘Runes’ Category

Sometimes the universe just hits you with a clue-by-four. I’ll save that for another day, but suffice to say that I’m about to get a lot busier with my spiritual practice.

As a check in, my current practice includes:

  • Full COoR ritual once a week (usually Tuesday nights, sometimes Fridays too), which includes divination
  • “Crowdsourced” Full Moon rituals with my grove
  • Weekly study meetings with my grove
  • Daily practice even if it’s just 3 minutes at my altar to light some incense
  • Regular offerings to the Gatekeeper, Earthmother, my three primary deities (Ingwe Frea, Frige, Hela), and to my house spirits
  • High day rituals with my grove (which I write and coordinate)

Which is honestly a pretty full slate of ritual practices, now that I look at it. I’ve come a long way in the last almost three months, and it’s kind of startling to think that I’ve been rebuilding this fast (and at the same time it feels almost painfully slow).

If I can keep up this level of enthusiasm and motivation, I will be thrilled, but I do know that some of what is coming will be a slog. But that’s okay.

On the celebratory front, this weekend is Lammas! This is my favorite high day, I think, which is funny as there’s been a number of posts around the pagan blogosphere about how Lammas is one of the “forgotten” high days. I guess because I’ve never associated it with Lugh at all, and instead celebrate the first harvest, and the sacrifice of that harvest, it’s always been a different thing for me.

My very first Lammas celebration included my having to “make a sacrifice” – both monetary (the destruction of something of monetary value – in that case, a silver mercury dime) and metaphysical – as part of the coven I was working with, and I have kept to that practice every year, using the harvest season as a time of “giving up” something. I know what I need to give up this year, but it will be challenging. But if that’s not what spiritual disciplines are for, I don’t know what would be. I will be keeping this “sacrifice” from Lammas through Samhain.

There is a lot of UPG floating around about how Freyr (Ingwe Frea) is the lord of the first harvest, the golden grain god who is cut down as a sacrifice. While I don’t know what I think about that as UPG, the general idea of him being at his height – and then cut down – at this time of year appeals to me. The story of John Barleycorn is old – possibly all the way back to Anglo-Saxon paganism and the myth surrounding Beowa (Barley, with some association with Frey). And so it is with both joy and sorrow that I see the first harvest, the sacrifice of the grain, which then blesses and feeds us throughout the year.

My personal celebration of this high day is similar to the one the Anglo-Saxons would have done. I bake a loaf (in my celiac-disease-having state, a loaf of cornbread), bless it, and sacrifice it to the earth at the four corners of my home as protection throughout the coming winter. Since I live in an apartment now, that means depositing cornbread outside, but my neighbors already think I’m odd.

So as we move into August, let’s remember the sacrifice of the grain, of John Barleycorn, and perhaps consider making a sacrifice of our own, to ensure a good harvest and the continuation of our communities.

 

This week’s divination is as follows:

  • Ior – the eel (or beaver) – flexibility/adaptability
  • Rad – the journey – a journey or path, something that might seem easy from the outside but is a challenge to do
  • Gyfu – the gift – reciprocity, hospitality (and the rune I have consistently drawn regarding my path to the priesthood)

I know that, on some level, rune drawing is random – I’m pulling random symbols out of a bag. But sometimes they speak so strongly.

Be flexible, adapt to your situation and to those around you; you’re on a long journey to priesthood, but this is the journey you need to take. 

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Briefly describe the symbology of your chosen method of divination, and include a method of application for that system. (minimum 100 words overall description plus at least one sentence or line per symbol)

The runes are an alphabet, with each letter representing a sound in one of the Germanic languages. This particular set of runes is derived from the Anglo-Saxons, and is slightly different than the typically seen Elder Futhark, which contains 24 runes. The Anglo-Saxon rune poem describes 29 runes, though the actual number of Anglo-Saxon runes can vary, up to a possible 33. The rune poems give a description of the “meaning” of each rune, whether as a source for divination or simply as a mnemonic device for memorizing them I do not know. (It is certainly more sophisticated than A is for Alligator, B is for Bear.) The translation I’ve quoted below of the Anglo-Saxon rune poem is from Runic and Heroic Poems, by Bruce Dickins (13-23).

You can see the images of the runes here, but note that this includes 4 additional runes that are not part of the rune poem, so I have not included them as part of my rune set.

Feoh – Cattle – Movable Wealth, Generosity, Money, Exchange of Goods

Feoh is about having enough wealth to share it freely, about not being miserly, and about recognizing the inherent instability of wealth (especially wealth in cow-form).
Wealth is a comfort to all men;
yet must every man bestow it freely,
if he wish to gain honour in the sight of the Lord.

 Ur – Aurochs – Strength, savagery, bravery, courage, fortitude

Ur is bull’s strength, both in the sense of great physical strength and in having a great deal of courage or intestinal fortitude/mettle.
The aurochs is proud and has great horns;
it is a very savage beast and fights with its horns;
a great ranger of the moors, it is a creature of mettle.

 Thorn – Thorn – A warning, caution, impending danger, potential hazard

Thorn is a prickly warning, a hazard coming your way, and it can be seen as particularly bad luck (especially if, as in the rune poem, you sit on one, yowch).
The thorn is exceedingly sharp,
an evil thing for any knight to touch,
uncommonly severe on all who sit among them.

 Os – Woden – Language, wit, cunning, communication, inspiration, guidance, wisdom

Os is often translated as Woden, but I see it also as being about beginnings (the source) and wit and wisdom. Like Woden, that can come in many forms.
The mouth is the source of all language,
a pillar of wisdom and a comfort to wise men,
a blessing and a joy to every knight.

 Rad – Journey – A journey, movement from place to place

Rad is a journey, and not necessarily an easy one – it might look easy from the outside, but when you’re traveling it, it can be pretty challenging, even with a stout horse.
Riding seems easy to every warrior while he is indoors
and very courageous to him who traverses the high-roads
on the back of a stout horse.

 Cen – Torch – Light, fire, creation or, if uncontrolled, destruction

Torches light halls, and are the ancient equivalent of “We’ll keep the light on for you” – but they also represent fire which, if mishandled, can cause great destruction. (In the Icelandic poem, Kenaz is ‘ulcer’, which is distinctly more negative, so I try to read this rune with nuance. It should not be confused with “ken” or knowledge.)
The torch is known to every living man by its pale, bright flame;
it always burns where princes sit within.

 Gyfu – Gift – Reciprocity, partnerships, friendships, social obligations

Gyfu is a gift, though whether it’s a gift that is coming to you, or a gift that you owe someone else will come out of the reading and context. In general, it’s a favorable rune.
Generosity brings credit and honour, which support one’s dignity;
it furnishes help and subsistence
to all broken men who are devoid of aught else.

 Wynn – Joy – Delight, Contentment, Having enough, Having what you need

Wynn is contentment, in the sense of having enough of what you need to get by. To the Anglo-Saxons, this was true bliss – not knowing need.
Bliss he enjoys who knows not suffering, sorrow nor anxiety,
and has prosperity and happiness and a good enough house.

 Haegl – Hail – Destruction, transformation, a problem that might turn out to be beneficial in the end (but is definitely currently a problem)

Haegl is extremely destructive, and while something good might come out of it in the end, it takes the work of transformation (for it to be beneficial, it has to become water, instead of being ice), and in the here and now, it’s almost always negative. It does not, however, represent the end of a situation, merely the destruction of what is there now and the possibility of transformation into something different in the future.
Hail is the whitest of grain;
it is whirled from the vault of heaven
and is tossed about by gusts of wind
and then it melts into water.

 Nyd – Need – Hardship, Loss, Difficulty, Strife, Struggle, A need unmet, A problem that might be avoided with proper planning, a warning

Nyd is the experience of hardship and loss, but can be avoided or mitigated with quick action. This rune should always be examined closely.
Trouble is oppressive to the heart;
yet often it proves a source of help and salvation
to the children of men, to everyone who heeds it betimes.

 Is – Ice – All is not as it seems, A warning, Caution – tread carefully, lest you slip

Is is very beautiful, but also very dangerous; it is the personification of things not being as easy or as nice as they look. Take careful action.
Ice is very cold and immeasurably slippery;
it glistens as clear as glass and most like to gems;
it is a floor wrought by the frost, fair to look upon.

 Ger – Year – Fulfillment, Reward for hard work or actions, Plenty, Right Order

Ger is the time of plenty at the end of the year, when the harvest is fully in, and nobody is hungry. It represents all being right with the world, and the order of sowing and reaping.
Summer is a joy to men, when God, the holy King of Heaven,
suffers the earth to bring forth shining fruits
for rich and poor alike.

 Eoh – Yew – Reliability, Something overlooked, “All that is gold does not glitter”

Eoh’s bark is rough, and it might not be particularly beautiful, but it is strong, well rooted, and reliable. The yew is a very slow-growing tree and, due to its ability to live for literally thousands of years, can be seen as connected to the ancestors.
The yew is a tree with rough bark,
hard and fast in the earth, supported by its roots,
a guardian of flame and a joy upon an estate.

 Peordh – Dice cup – Friendly competition, games of chance, an unpredictable outcome

Peordh is about the games of chance played frequently by idle warriors; as an outcome, it is as unpredictable as a game of dice.
Peorth is a source of recreation and amusement to the great,
where warriors sit blithely together in the banqueting-hall.

 Eolh – Elk-sedge – Protection, Defense, Careful action in the face of danger, Warning

Eolh is found in the liminal marshes and can dish out a nasty wound to someone who treads there without being careful. It is defensive, only wounding when touched, but may also represent a warning about the dangers of the marsh.
The Eolh-sedge is mostly to be found in a marsh;
it grows in the water and makes a ghastly wound,
covering with blood every warrior who touches it.

 Sigel – Sun – Guidance, Good advice, Good fortune

The sun was used as a source of navigation, and thus represents a sunny outcome and good advice or good bearings in difficult waters.
The sun is ever a joy in the hopes of seafarers
when they journey away over the fishes’ bath,
until the courser of the deep bears them to land.

 Tir/Tiw – The North Star – Order and Truth, Justice, Fairness, Keeping faith

Tiw is both the North Star and the God of Justice; as such, it represents order, truth, and fairness in all things, as well as keeping good faith and giving good guidance.
Tiw is a guiding star; well does it keep faith with princes;
it is ever on its course over the mists of night and never fails.

 Beorc – Birch – An unexpected (but probably positive) outcome, creativity

Beorc trees reproduce in an unexpected way – they are internally strong and creative, and very beautiful.
The poplar bears no fruit; yet without seed it brings forth suckers,
for it is generated from its leaves.
Splendid are its branches and gloriously adorned
its lofty crown which reaches to the skies.

 Eh – Horse – A strong ally, empowerment, strength

Eh is a great blessing and a strong ally, both to warriors and to rich men.
The horse is a joy to princes in the presence of warriors.
A steed in the pride of its hoofs,
when rich men on horseback bandy words about it;
and it is ever a source of comfort to the restless.

 Mann – Man/Mankind – Relationships, community, tribe (Positive or negative interactions)

Man can be both kind and cruel to his fellow man. The social relationships will define how those interactions go, but ultimately ones wyrd determines the outcome.
The joyous man is dear to his kinsmen;
yet every man is doomed to fail his fellow,
since the Lord by his decree will commit the vile carrion to the earth.

 Lagu – Water, The Sea – Imbalance, Instability, Lack of preparation, Unreliability

Lagu is an unpredictable thing and must be treated with respect. While I instinctively want to read a “water” rune as overflowing and carrying blessings (because as a modern human, I have a deep love for the ocean), in the rune poem it is clearly negative.
The ocean seems interminable to men,
if they venture on the rolling bark
and the waves of the sea terrify them
and the courser of the deep heed not its bridle.

 Ing – Ing Frea – Ancestor worship, Fertility, Divine connection

Ing was the progenitor of kings, and thus one of the mighty ancestors. He is also a god of fertility, and one who goes among men.
Ing was first seen by men among the East-Danes,
till, followed by his chariot,
he departed eastwards over the waves.
So the Heardingas named the hero.

 Ethel – Estate, Home – Inherited wealth, Home, Family, Prosperity

Ethel is the kind of wealth you can count on – your estate. It represents true prosperity, possibly due to the value placed on owning land in ancient times.
An estate is very dear to every man,
if he can enjoy there in his house
whatever is right and proper in constant prosperity.

 Dæg – Day – Blessings, Good fortune, Hope, Happiness

Daeg brings the rising sun, which shines upon both the fortunate and the unfortunate. It is a source of hope and happiness in a very real sense.
Day, the glorious light of the Creator, is sent by the Lord;
it is beloved of men, a source of hope and happiness to rich and poor,
and of service to all.

 Ac – Oak – Adequate resources, A potential challenge

Ac feeds livestock (with acorns) and provides the wood for ships – where it’s good faith is tested by the sea. It is an extremely useful tree.
The oak fattens the flesh of pigs for the children of men.
Often it traverses the gannet’s bath,
and the ocean proves whether the oak keeps faith
in honourable fashion.

 Æsc – Ash – Stability, Reliability, Defense, Stubbornness, Strength against Odds

Aesc is often used to make spears and tools as it’s extremely hard and durable wood. It sustains a beating against the odds and is stubborn in its resistance.
The ash is exceedingly high and precious to men.
With its sturdy trunk it offers a stubborn resistance,
though attacked by many a man.

 Yr – Longbow – Skill, Ability, Success, Craftsmanship, A practiced art

Yr represents the skill and craftsmanship of the longbow, and the art that is practiced by an archer. It is a positive rune, though it comes with hard work, and it represents a skill that is reliable.
Yr is a source of joy and honour to every prince and knight;
it looks well on a horse and is a reliable equipment for a journey.

 Ior – Beaver or Eel – Adaptability, Flexibility

Depending on the translation, Ior is either Beaver (which makes sense in the poem) or Eel (which makes less sense, as eels do not eat on land). However, both are good representations of adaptability and flexibility, and I think that is well expressed in the rune poem.
Iar is a river fish and yet it always feeds on land;
it has a fair abode encompassed by water, where it lives in happiness.

 Ear – Grave – Endings, Death, Sadness, Loss

Ear is the grave that will take us all, and represents endings – not in the transformative sense (which is more to be seen with Haegl), but in the sense of finality, mortality, and loss. All things pass away, and though this loss is not necessarily catastrophic, it is still sad.
The grave is horrible to every knight,
when the corpse quickly begins to cool
and is laid in the bosom of the dark earth.
Prosperity declines, happiness passes away
and covenants are broken.

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Identify and describe one method of divination to which you find yourself attracted, and discuss its relationship to paleo-pagan divination. (minimum 300 words)

I have a fairly long relationship with divination, having been given my first set of runes when I turned approximately 12, by an uncle. (My parents did not know what they were, or I would not have been allowed to keep them, and they included the infamous “blank rune”.) I turned to tarot quickly though, finding that I couldn’t make heads or tails of my rune readings. This may or may not have been due to my using entirely New Age meanings for them, but we shall see how my relationship deepens now that I’m using more historically minded source material. Since joining ADF, I have rekindled my interest in runes, specifically in the Anglo-Saxon rune set, as part of my Anglo-Saxon hearth culture. While there are only very brief and vague mentions of runes being used for divination in Paleo-Pagan times, they are very clearly a Paleo-Pagan alphabet, and there is some (if scant) historical evidence of using alphabets as sortilege type divination throughout the Indo-European language group.

As an alphabet, the runes started in the northern part of the Germanic lands (probably Denmark-ish), and spread quickly. The Elder Futhark, with 24 symbols, was adapted for different languages and areas, which included Iceland and England (Angle-land), where the Anglo-Saxon rune poem dates from. While it contains elements that have been Christianized, the essential flavor of the runes remains, and (of course) the more overtly Christian elements can be translated out.

While there is no direct paleo-pagan source for using runes as a divination method, there is attested use of runes for magic and for writing, and in Tacitus Germania, there is a reference to divination by something which sounds a great deal like it would be runecasting. Small pieces of wood are carved with symbols and cast upon a cloth, where a seer chooses among them and reads them to divine the future (Germania 10). This sort of divination, at least in terms of the casting of lots inscribed with magically meaningful marks, is incredibly similar to the process I use for rune readings.

I am attracted to the runes as a source of wisdom and knowledge, both from a mythological standpoint and from a love of language and poetry. Woden is said to have sacrificed himself on the world tree to gain the knowledge of the runes, and then chose to share that knowledge with humanity. As a seeker of wisdom, I think it’s fairly smart to study things that are known to bring wisdom and knowledge, but also I greatly appreciate the sheer magic that is writing. Though most Anglo-Saxons were illiterate, most modern English-speakers are not, and I think we forget the magic that is inherent in language. I can read words that were written down by people hundreds of years ago, and they make sense. I can push some buttons on my desk, which makes little electric marks on this imaginary page, and you (my reviewer) can read and understand them (hopefully). Language is powerful, and using a language based divination system appeals to me greatly.

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Within the context of a single paleo-pagan Indo-European culture, discuss three different forms of divination or seership, and give an example of each. (minimum 100 words each)

Working from Tacitus, the Sagas, and the Poetic Edda, I’ve found three different forms of divination used by the Germanic culture group, which includes the Scandinavian and Icelandic cultures. While it could be argued that these three cultures are separated by both time and geography, their similar language, alphabet, cosmology and mythology is more than enough for me to be comfortable talking about them as a group together.

First, there’s a documented form of trance-like seership called seidhr. In Leif Eiriksson’s Saga (ch. 4) a seeress named Thorbjorg is featured who is highly honored by the farm she visits. She is brought there during a difficult time for the farm, and she spends a night there, honored by the various guests and given special food (milk porridge and animal hearts). After some reluctance (ostensibly due to being Christian) the women of the farm come and form a circle around her, and sing the ward songs, and she is visited by the spirits, who tell her that the hardship will last no longer. As well, she sees great reward for the woman who sang the ward songs. This type of divination is also seen in the Voluspa, and is perhaps the most formal and ritualistic type of seership among the Germanic and Norse cultures.

In Tacitus Germania, there is a reference to divination by something which sounds a great deal like it would be runecasting. A little bough is chopped off of a tree and cut into small pieces, which are given certain markings. They are thrown at random over a cloth, and then either the priest (or the head of the family) chooses three of them and finds meaning according to the marks. This is extremely similar to most modern practices of runecasting (Germania 10). Also, later sources (Egil’s Saga, Ch 44) show runes being used for magic, and Thorsson believes that runes were “born from a magical tradition, not a purely linguistic one” (5). Between the rune’s associations with magic and their predating Tacitus’ encountering them among the Germanic tribes (Thorsson states as early as 200 BCE (12)), I am comfortable considering runic divination, at least in terms of the casting of lots inscribed with magically meaningful marks, a divination tradition among the Germanic and related cultures.

In Svipdagsmal (Poetic Edda, Hollander) young Svipdag is given a terrible task by his evil step-mother (proving that Evil Stepmothers existed from quite a ways back). In order to get help and learn how he can complete his task, he goes and sits outside on his mother Groa’s grave, a practice called utiseta or “outsitting”. Groa comes through for Svipdag, and he not only learns how to complete his terrible task, but also is granted nine magical spells. This practice was also used in the conversion of Iceland to Christianity, when Thorgeirr (who was chosen to moderate the conflict between the Pagan Icelanders and the Christian forces from Norway) sits out for a day and a night under a skin in order to determine the fate of religion in Iceland. This practice of outsitting is a way of getting information and help, often specifically from the ancestors, and divining the future with their aid.

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Hail to you, Hela, Grandmother Death.
Silent your wisdom, yours my last breath.
Reading our wyrd in cobwebs and lace,
Ancestor´s hostess, grant us your grace.

Hail to you, Hela, ender of strife.
Half fair, half rotten, mirror of life.
Cool is your comfort, equal for all.
Highways and alleys end in your hall.

Hail to you, Hela, Lady of Dust.
All wyrd will ever go as it must.
Carving our way on the edge of a knife,
Éljúðnir´s Mistress, teach us of life.

© Michaela Macha

This poem is in the Common Domain and may be freely distributed provided it remains unchanged, including copyright notice and this License.

I have an interesting relationship with Hela. To be quite honest, I’m still uncomfortable with the whole practice, but I figure it’s better to do something uncomfortable than ignore the blatant requests of a goddess, especially one like Hela.

Some background.

Last year, as I was first starting to work with the runes (and while I was still working with the Futhark, before I’d started working with the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc), I started having a run on Hagalaz. It didn’t make sense – I wasn’t going through a period of change or destruction, my life was actually pretty stable, my relationship was good, my job was fairly consistent, my health was stable. Nothing that would suggest my repeatedly drawing a rune of destruction, especially in the context of blessings received.

So I turned to someone whose runework and seidhr I trust – Laure Beth Lynch – and asked her to look into the matter at one of her open seidhr sessions. She got a clear response back from Hela Herself that She was looking for me, trying to get my attention, and that I needed to pay more attention to my dead. There was no ambiguity to the response Beth got, and even a hint of “Well, everything else I tried didn’t get your attention, so I figured this might work”. Not exactly a comfortable response, especially for someone to whom work with the dead does NOT come naturally or easily. (I’ve always loved learning about my ancestors, but I had, at the time, only a cursory practice of actually honoring them.)

I have since deepened my work with my Idesa (and the Prairie Godmothers), and joined ADF’s new Order of the Dead, which focuses on work with death, dying, and the ancestors. My work there is still pretty new (the order has only existed for about a month), but it wasn’t something I hesitated about at all – I saw the call go out on ADF’s email list, and immediately knew I needed to be there.

I am still building my practice though, and building what can loosely be called “shrines” for my ancestors. I make offerings and burn candles to my Idesa on my stovetop (my “hearth”), and I have a special bookshelf where I keep all my family histories and stories, which I am fortunate enough to have excellent documentation for, thanks to my mom, my paternal uncle, and my husband’s maternal aunt – all of whom have done extensive research into our families.

For someone who is deepening a practice with the dead, I am not overly fond of skulls or skeletons or other typical “death” imagery, so I’m still searching for things to keep on my altar as a representation of the mighty dead. I also don’t have an altar representation for Hela herself yet, though I am actively looking for one. That said, when I make offerings to the Kindreds, I call out Hela by name, alongside Ing Frea, as they are the two deities I work most closely with. (I am aware of the irony of the two of them together – Ing Frea as a god of fertility and peace, the god of the harvest – who is sacrificed and spends time in Hela’s realm every year. They are an odd pair, but who am I to argue?)

It all still feels very new and strange though – I’ve never had a fascination with the dead, death, or the otherworld, and I’ve never been into the typical “death” imagery or séances or anything like that. I have no ESP, I can’t feel or talk to the dead. (Yet?) I have very few “ancestors” in the sense of people I have known who have died (I would probably count four people on that list, and only two are family members).

I can’t deny that the calling is there, but it’s taking a pretty big step out of my comfort zone to approach it with the kind of dedication that a practice like this deserves. Still, I am not willing to ignore such a blatant message that it’s something I need to do, so I am doing it.

Hail to you, Hela, Grandmother Death.

 

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(A third G entry for this week, because I thought of it on the way in to work yesterday. Now I’m all caught up with the PBP2014! Yay! On to H!)

Generosity brings credit and honor, which support one’s dignity;
it furnishes help and subsistence
to all broken men who are devoid of aught else.

Gyfu is one of the runes identified in the Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem, and it represents Generosity and Hospitality, and the very important cultural concepts of both. For the Indo-Europeans, the guest-host relationship was extremely important (which I talked about in my post on *ghosti) and provided a lot of the substance of social interactions. It provided for care of travelers, established social relationships, and represented humanity’s relationship with their gods. One’s hospitality was a measure of one’s worth, and it was extremely important to maintain those cultural and social bargains.

As a rune, Gyfu is the “gift for a gift” transaction that comes out of that relationship of hospitality. It is common in ADF to hear that we have given offerings, and we now ask for blessings, “as a gift requires a gift in return”. Not in a manipulative sort of way, but in a way of cultural and social understanding of how the world worked for the Indo-Europeans. This transaction is what is called for in this rune, and it can be representative of needing to uphold your own side of the bargain, or a representation of something coming back to you as a return gift. (No rune is without nuance, of course, so interpreting it in the situation is important.)

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((Here it is Thursday of the first E week and I’m just now getting around to posting last week’s posts. Here’s a second D entry, and we’ll see what happens tomorrow!))

I’ve been doing some form of divination longer than I’ve been doing paganism – tarot was, in a way, a sort of gateway drug. I got really into tarot reading at the end of my time in college, when I got involved with the Aeclectic Tarot forums and started swapping for decks and doing readings. I’ve done readings on and off since then, never for money, but often for barter. My favorite deck, by far, is the DruidCraft tarot, which I’ve loved since the day it came in the mail. I got it used as part of a swap, and though I’ve gotten many other decks since then, it’s my go-to reading staple. It reads very straightforward. (I also like the Shadowscapes and Revelations decks, as well as the good old standard RWS deck.)

Now I’m trying to learn runes, since that’s a very Anglo Saxon type of divination, especially given that there’s a full rune poem. I’m not very good with them yet, and still prefer to read tarot when I’m pressed for a quick answer.  Since I’m working primarily with Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian Gods, though, I’d really prefer to develop fluency with a divination system that they’ll be easily familiar with.

I use divination in two different ways, and right now that lines up with the two different systems that I use.

On one hand, I use it as an introspective way to examine the complexities of a situation – for this, I almost always use tarot. I don’t really use spreads, I just draw cards until I feel like I’ve got enough information. I don’t see this as “looking into the future” at all, more like looking into the present (and sometimes past) to see what influences I might be missing or not aware of.

The other way I use divination is as a way to communicate directly with the Kindreds, in ritual and in meditation. As part of ADF ritual, we make offerings in return for blessings from our Kindreds (the Gods, Dead, and Nature Spirits). These blessings are divined by a seer as part of the ritual itself, and can take several forms. I typically draw three runes, one for each Kindred, asking specifically what blessings are offered in return for our sacrifices.

I know it’s possible for a skilled seer to get the kind of nuanced rune readings I get from tarot, but I’ll just have to work toward that.

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