Rune Songs

Runes are the mysteries of the universe and the complex nuances of our existence on this mighty sphere. If you’ve worked with the runes at all, you know that sound and song are central to their mysteries. That can include anything from toning and chanting to accompanied singing, all of which – with a magical aspect – can fit into what we call galdr. Often with the runes we feel compelled to pull them into the romanticized past where nothing can touch them but our skillfully crafted, oddly rigid imagination under the guise of deep spirituality.

Lately I’ve been focused on situating the runes and their mysteries in the here and now of my daily life, and that includes contemporary music. As the new year dawns I’m determined to experiment with new ways of engaging a host of spiritual topics. So, in my work with runes, I’m bringing them into the present musical moment because their mysteries rattle and shake everything, including the vocal stylings of my favorite artist as well as the artists that I despise. And so, with that, I offer the (probably first of many lists of) songs that I associate with the runes. Enjoy!

If you have some too, please don’t hesitate to include them in the comments.

runesymbols

Fehu – Royals by Lorde

Uruz – Move B!tch by Ludacris ft Mystikal and I-2o

Thurisaz – Toxicity by System of A Down

Ansuz – Roar by Katy Perry

Raidho – Don’t Stop Believing by Journey

Kenaz – Wake Me Up by Avicii

Gebo – Lose Control by Timbaland ft Jojo

Wunjo – Dreams by Van Halen

Hagalaz – Crawling by Linkin Park

Nauthiz – Carry On My Wayward Son by Kansas

Isa – Ice Queen by Within Temptation

Jera – Mother Earth by Within Temptation

Eihwaz – The Hanging Tree from The Hunger Games (Peter Hollens version)

Perthro – I See Fire by Ed Sheeran (Peter Hollens version)

Elhaz – Titanium by David Guetta ft Sia

Sowilo – Morning Comes by Delta Rae 

Tiwaz – Renegade by Styx

Berkano – Suvetar by Gjallarhorn

Ehwaz – Howl by Florence and the Machine

Mannaz – Get By by Talib Kweli

Laguz – Blinding by Florence and the Machine

Ingwaz – Nature Boy by David Bowie

Othala – Hometown Glory by Adele

Dagaz – One Day by Matisyahu

Notes on the Rune Ansuz

ansuz

The rune Ansuz is the fourth rune in the first aett of the Elder Futhark. The rune’s literal meaning is “god” or “mouth”. As a “god” rune, I associate it strongly with Odin. He is chief among the gods after all, and so I associate it with him in his many guises. Odin is a changing and changeable god with many forms and many functions across a wide number of domains. In addition he has influence across many realms. Due to its sympathy with his nature, the power of Ansuz can be harnessed to aid in connecting with Odin.

The might of Ansuz is also bound up with consciousness. This is a major part of Odin’s might and of Ansuz’s as well. Through the power of Ansuz, self-awareness emerges. Also, this rune stimulates knowledge and develops wisdom. Ansuz is the sweet breath of the god, Odin, awakening the mind, stimulating thought, seeding memory, and lifting us up on a whirling wind of possibility. Ansuz is our ability to give and receive inspiration as well. As our consciousness expands so too does our access to inspiration.

The_Sacrifice_of_Odin_by_Frølich

Odin’s sacrifice depicted by Lorenz Frølich, 1895

Because I associate Ansuz with expanding consciousness, it signifies the purpose of Odin’s sacrifice, self to self, upon the World Tree. Ansuz is the code for Odin’s Nine Nights of Sacrifice. He hung that he might extend his consciousness which meant growing in self-knowledge, personal power, and wisdom, all of which were necessary for his own enrichment and for the advancement of his creation. In my work, I use Ansuz for a similar purpose, scratched on the forehead with a fingernail (which I do a lot) or painted on in white, storm blue, or red. In addition to writing this rune on my flesh, I also use galdr. In my work, Ansuz is the quintessential rune of galdr magic, of consciousness manifested in breath and expressed in song. Through this rune I draw closer to Odin and the meaning of his sacrifice.

As a “mouth” rune, Ansuz is connected to expression in general. When I think of Ansuz as an expressive rune I think specifically of inspired creative expression. In this way, Ansuz is linked to the Mead of Poetry that Odin won and to the art of poetry as a divinely inspired endeavor intimately linked with Odin’s furious passion. I also consider Ansuz’s power to be an integral part of oracular work in which the gods and spirits open us up and use our breath, our voice to bring messages to the folk. In that work I expand my awareness and my consciousness so that I can access messages from the powers that be. On top of that, I then have to ensure that my mind is open and my tongue is loose so that the message is accurately expressed to those poised to here it. Ansuz is a magical rune for me. So much of my work includes spoken charms, singing, chanting, proclaiming, and prophesying. The might of Ansuz is bound up in that process.

I also associate Ansuz with communication in general; however, it opens not just the mouth but also the heart and mind so that what comes out of the mouth is worth the breath expended. As the Hávamál warns in verse 29 of the Auden & Taylor translation:

Wise is he not who is never silent,
Mouthing meaningless words:
A glib tongue that goes on chattering
Sings to its own harm.

And so for me Ansuz is a rune of potent meaning. It is not simply the act of communicating but of speaking true and well. Ansuz allows us to say what we know and articulate what we understand, about our selves, about the world, about the gods, and more. In that way Ansuz is the rune of legend and lore and it is the stuff of Odin’s conversations with Sága in Sökkvabekkr as they consume draughts of blessed mead from golden cups. Simply put, Ansuz is in wise words well spoken, not idle chit-chat. Here’s a handy meme that captures the type of communication that I often associate with the power of the rune Ansuz:

ihatesmalltalk

With regard to other contexts in which the might of Ansuz may manifest, as an academic in the last leg of Ph.D. program I associate this rune with the academy, with research (i.e., generating knowledge) and dissertating (i.e., recording that knowledge for later intellectual consumption) as well as the academic conferences that I am expected to attend (i.e., orally presenting said knowledge). I am reminded as well of the Greek symposia filled with wine, entertainment, and debate. In addition, this rune conjures images of the Thing to my mind, an ancient annual Germanic assembly of freemen for the purposes of dispute resolution, political decision making, public religious practice, and commerce. In that form, Ansuz is about the kind of communication exchange needed to create and maintain a civilization.

The above are the ways in which Ansuz is exalted and well-manifested from my perspective, but runes are tremendous founts of power and their might has both light and dark aspects. I have seen Ansuz’s might corrupted in the form of gaslighting, mind games, and manipulation and where its might has been twisted Ansuz can be used in bindrunes and charms to help untwist the situation. With Algiz, it forms a quality ward against such foul play. With Thurisaz, Ansuz can help one to mount an active offense designed to detour future bullshit. Void where prohibited and all ethical taxes apply. With Laguz and Algiz, it can be used to ward one’s dreams against foul play of a manipulative nature. With Nauthiz and Algiz, you can give back exactly as foul as you get. Think of it as the Aikido of baleful magic. Contained in Ansuz’s power is the wisdom and savvy to know what manner of person you are dealing with, and to act accordingly. As the Hávamál counsels in verses 18 and 38 of the Auden & Taylor translation:

He who has seen and suffered much,
And knows the ways of the world,
Who has traveled, can tell what spirit
Governs the men he meets

A wayfarer should not walk unarmed,
But have his weapons to hand:
He knows not when he may need a spear,
Or what menace meet on the road.

The might of Ansuz is a howling wind carrying thought and memory, knowledge and wisdom, good communication and divine inspiration within its currents, and I am quite taken. Hail Ansuz and Hail Odin, Winner of the Runes!

Sigyn and the Burden of Her Arms

"Loki and Sigyn" by Mårten Eskil Winge.

“Loki and Sigyn” by Mårten Eskil Winge.

Many moons ago, I fell asleep thinking of Loki. It was a Wednesday night. On the edge of dream, I was drawn into the astral. There, in a dank cave – sometime between ages ago and just the other day – I met Sigyn, one of Loki’s wives. The Lady stood worn, on the edge of her hope. Loki was there, bound to a large boulder. Surprisingly, he slept for most of the time that I was with them. He is sometimes able to sleep just after Sigyn has emptied the bowl.

Timidly, I approached Sigyn and the smaller of the two burdens of her arms. I offered to hold the bowl as an offering to her. I could feel the noxious poison accessing my pores and threatening my life even through the bowl. I warded immediately and also projected Elhaz onto the vessel in an attempt to block its corrosive effect on me. Then I attempted to craft a bindrune, both Elhaz and Thurisaz. That one caused the sleeping Loki to stir and the hanging serpent to hiss. Got it. That rune is off limits in this place.

Very soon after that Sigyn gestured for the bowl and she sent me to obtain a glass of water for her from the stream that runs near her hall, which was some ways away. The waters there are incredibly pure and healing. I drank deeply and felt better instantly upon drinking. I brought a cup of that water back and offered it to Sigyn. She drank her fill and thanked me. A strong scent of licorice filled the cave when I asked what offerings she might like.

And then I was gone.

Two Purification and Warding Tips

I recently purified my apartment and renewed my wards. Typically, when I purify and ward I smudge each room and closet with white ceremonial sage (purchased long before I became aware that this plant is endangered) or a blessed incense blend. Then I raise energy through toning, clapping, and/or singing to set the wards. I often project a warding rune toward each of the six directions (S, E, W, N, above, and below), but not always.

This time around as a part of my cleansing and warding process I employed a tincture that I crafted several months ago. The tincture contained the five herbs that I blessed at the time of the Super Moon for apotropaic workings. I added a three tablespoons of the tincture to approximately 27 ounces of distilled water. Using that magical mixture:

1) I sprayed the air vents in my apartment, and

2) I poured the remainder of the blessed liquid down every drain (including the toilets).

I had not really thought about it before but ducts and drains are access points, and they are not necessarily one-way when it comes to unwanted energies. For example, unwanted sounds and smells often waft through the ducts from neighboring apartments. Since completing this quick work, my apartment feels clearer and more balanced, in addition to simply being better protected. I also used the oil blend containing the same herbs to mark the windows and mirrors with a warding rune.

Purification and warding are two of the most basic magical workings. They are quite necessary for spirit workers and others who often move between worlds attracting various unwanted energies and also unwittingly dragging unwanted energies into other realms. To my thinking purification and warding are part and parcel of good magical hygiene practices and when done regularly they can make life easier. I hope you have an opportunity to try this or something similar, and feel free to let me know what your experience is like.

Of Shadow, Gods, and the Gift of Dream

Two gates the silent house of Sleep adorn;
Of polish’d ivory this, that of transparent horn:
True visions thro’ transparent horn arise;
Thro’ polish’d ivory pass deluding lies.

~From the Aeneid by Virgil

From my perspective, at every level of consciousness – i.e., unconsciously, subconsciously, and consciously – our souls are always Working. We are always laboring to more fully and potently be and to harness our skills, talents, and resources for a (hopefully sacred) purpose. Ancestors, spirits, gods, and other Holy Powers may choose to aid us in that process – either to serve their own agenda and/or because we supplicated them and they’re invested in us. However, in the process of Becoming, the Powers only offer aid…a lantern light that is ignited to illuminate an important idea, feeling, direction, etc. Though others help out, in the end we are responsible for our own personal growth and development. The Powers can’t do our Soul Work for us (or any other Work, really). [This simple truth is how we end up with magical practitioners – powerful or not – that are some variety of dysfunctional, pathological, and/or assholes, or are generally uninterested in making strides to become better people, or insert *other irresponsible response to problematic aspects of self and life* here.]

Enter Dream. Dream is a place where fragmented parts of our Psyche can be articulated and reconnected. It is also a place where Holy Powers can interface with us and participate in the process of our Becoming (or deliver a message or insight or inspiration that has nothing *directly* to do with our growth and development…but that’s another topic for another post). I have had a smattering of dream experiences over the last several weeks that have aided my psychotransformative process i.e. my becoming, and have helped me to accomplish tasks given to me by the Powers with whom I work. One in particular stands out.

About two weeks ago, just before bedtime, I marked the Algiz rune on my left wrist and anointed it with a blessed dandelion tincture. My intention was to add some extra oomph to the protection work I’ve been doing for about a month or so. Following marking and anointing I slipped into bed and crossed over into Dream. Gripping the elk-sedge (another name for the Algiz rune) and pierced by the lion’s tooth (a folk name for dandelion) I entered a truly murky realm where Powers and shadows whispered together.

In the the dark of a mausoleum in some forgotten cemetery in Dream – somewhere between Soul and the Astral – He spoke. It was the first time in a long time that I heard him, urging me to release him. He shared what he knew of the Little One – buried alive – who scratched at the walls of the mausoleum. He was quite frustrated with my ignorance of who she was. He was downright furious that I did not seem to initially recognize him either. He wanted his freedom and he was willing to shake me in anyway he had to in order to get it. This was a confrontation, and he’d been waiting for many years to have his day with me.

His rage was palpable. I wanted to diffuse it so I opened the door to the tomb and told him to depart if that was what he wished. Then I saw. He was missing a wing. Algiz flashed across my mind’s eye. My intuition told me that Algiz and his wing were one. When I first gripped the elk-sedge, it was with my left hand. I now needed to grab it with my right. I awakened in order to scribe the rune on my right wrist, then I returned to Dream. When I did, He was released. He walked through the cemetery without breaking stride and emerged in a ruined city where a woman covered in what appeared to be black mud raged through the streets. She slashed with her razor sharp talons at every poor soul attempting to flee her fury. Between her talons and her teeth blood ran freely. It was chaos. She was chaos and quite a bit more.

He embraced her and her rage cooled. His rage converted to purpose. I could feel their calm. They walked the streets as one and ascended to a building roof where they looked out over the vast and ruined lands. He stretched, with her still in his arms. His wings were broad, grey-black, and strong. They could carry them both above the destruction below. The dream seemed to end there.

This dream was ripe with shadow, made manifest by the might of Algiz. As a rune of protection Algiz seems to know that it is the fate of inner shadows to meet the light because it is difficult to gain protection against a thing that one won’t face. In dreamtime I’d journeyed the labyrinth. Oddly they were my shadows but they were also supercharged. They seemed set ablaze, fueled by a holy fire. The Dream was on the cusp of internal and external, divine and personal. When I woke up my temptation was to forget about it, or to minimize its impact on me and treat it as a bit of undigested food. But the fire in me after it was done would not let that happen.

In Dream, my own shadows and the might of the Gods merged. There was a message there and I am still decoding it. I do not know which powers kicked my shadows into high gear, but I have a sneaking suspicion of their identity. It likely holds the key to the next steps in my becoming. In some ways I would rather this dream have been of ivory but it smacks of horn. So…I look forward to my Work and theirs with great anticipation!

Additional Thoughts on Uruz

Uruz by Benjamin Gitchel

“Uruz” by Benjamin Gitchel

Uruz energy is the thrust of will needed to give something form, and the final product. It is the exemplar of will made manifest. However, Uruz is not concerned with instantaneous manifestation sans effort. It appreciates and invites strength of will, strength of character, and due diligence. Uruz’s power can be wild (seemingly uncontrolled/uncontrollable) when first encountered. But I feel it speaks of drive and ferocity combined with goals and

plans laid. Uruz is the Chariot card of the Tarot. Invoking Uruz power can see you through to extraordinary ends. Uruz is interesting because of its momentum full throttle can deliver mighty successes. If you enlist the aid of Uruz it can dull doubts that might otherwise thwart your plans. Uruz is the wild, sure, and passionate True Will, the grit that underlies existence. Invoke Uruz to seek who and what and why and how you really are, all bullcrap and self-doubt aside. Uruz shows the seeker what he is made of. It is a rune that I heavily associate with rites of passage into greater echelons of might.

In addition to associations with raw strength and physical prowess, I associate Uruz with achievement and success. It is the will to accomplish a task and to satisfy a goal and it is the jolt of energy that comes with a job well done. Uruz also has connotations of endurance in my mind. Sometimes we are not called to battle or to fight, but to stand and endure. Uruz is the strength to stand your ground when that is what’s called for. Related to strength and endurance, Uruz is resilience: the ability to bounce back when one is overwhelmed or overcome. There’s a temptation to talk at length about never letting an opposing force take us down but we have to accept that defeat can and does happen. Uruz is the power to get back up and push forward with even more conviction.