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Posts Tagged ‘elder futhark’

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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Last week’s rune was Dagaz – the rune of daylight and hope. Aside from an amusing (and frustrating) correlation to problems I had with the power company on Tuesday (whereby I literally had to deal with “the lights”), I’m not sure I get a strong feeling where this rune applies to last week. There are a few situations that are minorly improving or showing signs of awareness of a need for improvement, but no great realizations or hopefulness or anything. Perhaps drawing the rune was little more than a joke about keeping the lights on.

This week’s rune is Berkano: Birch, Strength, Flexibility, Resourcefulness

      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. – Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem

This is the rune of resourcefulness and making something from nothing, and Rev. Dangler speaks of it as the rune of “female strength” (Very Basics of Runes 47). It speaks of birth and rebirth, and physical or mental growth. There is also an element of strength and pride to this rune meaning, alongside the current of fertility and creativity, that you can see in the last two lines of the rune poem. I see self-sufficiency as well, in the first lines of the poem (the tree that brings forth new trees generated from its own leaves).

I have a scheduled “girl’s date” this week that I hope will be reflected in this poem – though admittedly that will be a gathering of female strength and about sharing our burdens and working together as much as it will about self-sufficiency. The self-sufficiency aspect I hope will be more reflected in my work this week, as I could use a dose of this sort of energy in my professional life in a big way. Hopefully both of those will come about this week.

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