Alphabets and Divination: Norse Runes

runes

My sense of the Runes is that they tell a complete story of the Wyrd of the Well. My goal as a diviner is to uncover this story, and find meaning in it. I regard the Runic Aettir as chapters in this story, with the individual Runes as sentences. (For me in Runic divination, the questioner is a thread in the tapestry of the Wyrd.) I need to attune to the Runes to discover how the questioner’s thread fits into the overall Story.

For learning the Runes, I decided to do two at a time. By learning in pairs, I could study them as a dyad. As I did, I would ask myself, “how do these Runes fit together.” I would contrast and compare each, as well.

First, I would lay out the entire Rune set to see how the Story develops. Then, I would take the pair of the day, and ask that these Runes speak to me. As their pictures would form in my mind, I wrote down my insights. As each Rune developed into a full picture, I placed it in my memory palace.

For me, the meanings of the Runes lie on a continuum. I regard the meanings of each Rune to be fluid with a center, end, and beginning points. The center point is the “standard” agreed upon meaning. The “standard” meaning also governs the beginning and end points. As a diviner, I see shades of meaning from either side of “standard.” Therefore the Runic insights that I got were usually variations of this “standard.”

An example of how this works for me is as follows. Hagalaz (“hail”), Nauthiz (“need”), Isa (“ice”), and Jera (“harvest”) can be viewed as one chapter of the Runic Story. These Runes can flow together to form a picture. Depicting disaster, Hagalaz is the hail pounding on the roof, causing the roof to cave in. After the roof falls in, the fire goes out in the home. Now the home owner has to make a “need” fire (Nauthiz) by rubbing two sticks together. While everyone, in the home, waits for the fire, they are “frozen,” much like the ice (Isa) that hangs from the eaves. When the warm weather comes, the ice melts, watering the fields. Jera is the field that becomes ready for “harvest.” Through these four Runes, the chapter of a cycle turning and a new one beginning is depicted.

For me, learning is to go inside each Rune to hear the story that each tells. Then, the Runes become pictures or scenes, which resides in my memory palace. When I access them, the Runes flow from one to the next, each telling me what I need to know.

Monotheistic Filter: “The Vast Spiritual Battlefield”

Polytheists regard the world to be neutral, both clean and dirty. Polytheist author Kenaz Filan explains, “The world is a clean flowing stream, and miasma the sewage dumped into the water. We clean the stream by filtering that sewage or by redirecting it…to where it can be properly contained.” (Note 1, Note 2)

In the official theology of Christianity, evil is the absence of good. For a person to be evil, they have to choose to disobey God. Meanwhile, Manicheanism divides the Cosmos into Spirit and Matter, Good and Evil, Light and Darkness. The two are equal and opposing powers. Evil has agency and purpose to overtake Good.

Christianity considers Manicheanism to be a heresy. However, because of Augustine who was a Manichaean before converting, some of its heretical doctrines have become embedded in Christian thought. Augustine stated that world was both corrupt and corrupting. And, in the minds of many Christians, evil has to be fought or it will overcome the good.

The duality of Manicheanism has carried over to Polytheism via Christianity. For example, the Norse God Loki does not conform to Christian morality. He becomes problematic for Heathens who still carry the Protestant world view. They will not invoke Loki at blots, since they regard Him to be evil.

Notes:

Note 1. The Romans have a Goddess – Lua – who protects all things purified by rituals and for rituals.

Note 2. Kenez Filan, “Miasma” from “With Clean Minds and Clean Hands,” Galina Krasskova, ed. p. 69.

Works Used:

Adkins, Lesley and Roy Adkins, “Dictionary of Roman Religion.” New York: Oxford University Press. 1996.

Jones, Kile, “A Comparison between Manichean and Christian Views of Evil.” Meta Religion. Web: http://www.meta-religion.com/Philosophy/Articles/Other/Mani_paper.htm

Kirsch, Jonathan, “A History of the End of the World.” New York: HarperCollins. 2006.
“God Against the Gods.” New York: Penguin Books. 2004

Krasskova, Galina, “Devotional Polytheism.” Sanngetall Press. 2014.
“With Clean Minds and Clean Hands.” Sanngetall Press. 2017.

Samples, Kevin, “Exploring Manichaeism: St. Augustine, Part 3.” Reasons to Believe. 26 June 2012. Web: http://www.reasons.org/blogs/reflections/exploring-manichaeism-st.-augustine-part-3

 

 

The Alphabet and the Cosmos

 

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The Tree of Life by the Hebrew Alphabet

 

Alphabets do more than simply freeze speech. They extend the power and reach of people. In reading Shakespeare, a person is partaking of the thoughts of a man long dead. Alphabets form the basis for magical speech and prayers to the Gods.

Traditionally, alphabets are thought to be the organizing principles of the world. For example, Christians believe in Christ’s statement: “I am the Alpha and the Omega.” (Christ is referring to the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet.) He is both ordering the cosmos through the alphabet and becoming the cosmos, itself.

Each letter contains the world, the means and form of creation. For many cultures, the letters themselves are holy beings. For example, the Norse viewed their Runes as living entities. The Ancient Greeks saw their letters as part of the cosmic order. Every letter conveys an idea, a poem, architectural design and textual space.

Letters through time have affected and reflected Western consciousness. Alphabets string letters together forming words. In this manner, they offer a magical portal to bridge the worlds. Moreover, individual letters have cultural meanings. In the Middle Ages, the capital “T” represented the Cross of Christ, associating that letter with the Crucifixion.

In 1529, French typographer Geoffroy Tory (1480–1533) in Champ Fleury, his treatise on the alphabet, reflected the Renaissance worldview that the Roman alphabet should one of harmony, balance, symmetry, and scale. He wrote that “L” was the letter of balance, because it was the shadow cast by the body at the autumn equinox. Tory presented “Y” twice: once in the “moral sense of the Pythagorean letter (Sens moral de la letter Pythagorique), and again as the choices presented in Dante’s Inferno.

Letters have shaped culture as each culture has shaped the letters. According to Cicero (First Century CE), the “Y” (upsilon) was associated with Hercules. The letter indicated the two paths – good or bad – that He had to choose. From this association, the “Y” became a letter which represented the physical geography of the Western world – the “fork in the road.” And also, because of its shape, the “Y” represented the moral choices that a person has to make.

The next time you meditate, ponder the shape and order of each letter in the alphabet that you use. What does each say in the relation to the world? For example, in the Roman alphabet, why is “X” the unknown and not “P?” Meanwhile, the Chinese use “N” for the unknown in mathematics. Why is “A” the grade for the best and not “L?” What does your alphabet say about your world and your consciousness?

Further Reading:

DeLooze, Laurence, The Letter & The Cosmos. University of Toronto Press: Toronto. 2016.

The Twelve Handmaidens of Frigga

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By Grace Palmer

 

At her hall of Fensalir, Frigga, the Norse All-Mother, has twelve handmaidens or ladies-in-waiting to attend to Her. Not much is known about who these handmaidens were since the Lore is scanty about Goddesses in general. Much of what is known today is by Group Verified Gnosis. Diane Paxson and Raven Kaldera, both, have collected this information and written their views about the Twelve Goddesses.

The listing is as follows from Snorri in The Younger Edda.

Saga
At her hall, Sokkvabekk (Sunken Hall), Saga drinks with Odin, the All-Father. The two Gods spend their time trading stories. In common usage, “saga” means “a long tale.” Since She is the Patroness of Historians, Saga collects and passes on knowledge.

Eir
A master physician, Eir lives with Mengloth, the Jotun healer, at the Mountain of Healing, Lyfja. As the Healer of the Gods, Eir could be considered a shaper of fate. She is the Patroness of Doctors.

Gefjon
As an Ancestor of the Kings of Norway and Denmark, Gefjon plowed Zealand into existence. Since She holds power the land and sea, Gefjon is the Giver of Gifts. In addition, all unmarried women go to her hall when they die.

Fulla
Because She looks after Frigga’s shoes, Fulla can be considered the Goddess of Footwear. Her other duty is guarding Frigga’s treasures, which are kept in a casket. She is also a close confidant of the All-Mother. Paxson says that Fulla is the “Keeper of Women’s Mysteries.”

Sjofn
Snorri writes Sjofn “who is much inclined to direct people’s hearts to love.” Sjofn could be considered the Goddess of Love. Not simply erotic love, She oversees all kinds of love. One of her duties is to heal quarrels between families and communities.

Lofn
Snorri writes Lofn “who is so kind and good to pray to that She gets leave from the All-Father or Frigga for people’s union… even if before it was refused.” Lofn shows the way to love for those who cannot. She can be called on to bless unions not permitted by society.

Var
One of the first oaths in Norse marriages is to Var, who oversees contracts between people. Var punishes perjurers and oath breakers. She is the Witness to Spoken Promises.

Vor
Snorri writes that Vor is “wise and enquiring, so that nothing can be concealed from Her.” She know what is kept hidden and what should not be. Vor is the Goddess of Divination.

Syn
As the Gatekeeper, Syn guards Frigga’s Hall. She also is the Defender at trials against things She wants to refute. Syn can be considered a Goddess of Boundaries and Justice.

Hlin
Frigga asks Hlin to protect those who She wishes to save. Hlin gives refuge to the fugitive since She could not save Baldur, Frigga’s son. For that reason, She also comforts those who mourn.

Snotra
Wise and prudent, Snotra encourages basic civility and courtesy towards others. She understands why there exists rules of conduct. Snotra can be regarded as the Goddess of Diplomats.

Gna
Riding Hofvarpnir (Hoof-tosser), Gna carries Frigga’s messages through the Worlds. Since She travels between the worlds, Gna can be relied on to carry prayers to Frigga.


Prayer cards for Frigga and Her Handmaidens can be bought at Frigga and Her Retinue

Diana Paxon’s writings can be found here at Her website.

Raven Kaldera’s writings can be found here at Northern Tradition Paganism

Virtual Shrine to These Goddesses: Shrine by Northern Tradition Paganism

Gods of the Month: December

For Romans, December is a month to honor the Gods, who ensure the fertility of the earth. People are concerned about the winter sowing and the future crops. It is also a month for family and friends, including the local Nature Spirits. Saturnalia, which celebrates the Golden Age of Saturnus (Saturn), occurs in the middle of December. It is a time of lights, games, and gift-giving. Gods of the Month: December 2016

These are the Gods of the Month that I honor.

BONA DEA: December 3 is the day of women’s mysteries for Bona Dea, the Good Goddess. This Goddess of Healing also ensures women’s fertility. God of The Month: Bona Dea

TIBER RIVER AND THE SEVEN HILLS OF ROME: Two festivals – one for the Tiber River and one for the Seven Hills – occur on December 8 and December 11 respectfully. God of the Month: Tiberinus and the Seven Hills

CONSUS: The second festival for Consus, the God of the Granary is held on December 15. God of the Month: Consus

SATURNUS (SATURN): Saturnalia from December 17 to 24 celebrates the time that Saturnus Pater ruled the earth. God of the Month: Saturn

OPS CONSIVA: The Opalia is held on December 19 for Ops Consiva (the Sower). This Goddess of Abundance is the Consort of both Consus and Saturnus. God of the Month: Ops Consiva

ANGERONA: At the Divalia, on December 21, Angerona, the Goddess of Secrets is honored. God of the Month: Diva Angerona

ACCA LARENTIA: On December 23, the Larentalia was held at her tomb. She is the Founder of Roman and Goddess of the Lars.

Non-Roman Gods that I honor:

FRIGGA AND THE DSIR: On the Winter Solstice which is Mothers Night, I celebrate Frigga, the Norse All-Mother, Her Twelve Handmaidens and the Mothers of my ancestral line. God of the Month: Frigga and the Disr

THE ACHEULIAN GODDESS: An ancient Goddess from Paleolithic times, the Acheulian Goddess is for me the Goddess of Beginnings. God of the Month: Acheulian Goddess of Prehistory