Issue #9, Mead-Moon

Welcome to the Mean Moon issue, with Episode 5 of Ingrid Fischer’s Germanic Soul-Lore. This part is on Dreams, and how they can manifest one’s fylgja for guidance and warning.

 

DREAMS

Dreams played a significant part in the lives of the Germanic peoples, and elaborate descriptions of dreams can be read in the Eddas, as in the Second Lay of Gudrun, the Atlamál and the Baldrs Draumar, and also in Old Icelandic saga literature. Dreams in Old Icelandic literature were a favourite means of developing and taking forward the story, especially if they served as prophecy of what was certain to happen later on in the tale. However, it would be all too simple to state that dreams were used as a stylistic device only, far from it. The Germanic peoples believed strongly in the prophetic nature of dreams and it was even considered a disease not to have dreams (ON draum-stoli means a dream-stolen man, a man who never dreams). One’s own fylgja would appear in one’s dreams and warn of striking disaster, or one would see one’s enemy’s fylgja (mostly in animal shape) approaching and would thus know that the enemy was near. Dreams often supply that which is lacking in a person’s conscious attitude and their contents may be seen as the individual’s psychological self-guidance. The prospective function of dreams is an anticipation of future achievements arising in the unconscious – this is Urdhr and Verdhandi necessarily leading to Skuld, or Urdhr and Verdhandi meet and the dreamer can see that which is to become. Dreams are a combination of all perceptions, thoughts and feelings which have escaped consciousness and, furthermore, they have the help of traces of memory which lie below the conscious threshold and are no longer accessible to the conscious mind.

Dreams in saga literature often serve as a means of conveying the inevitability of fate. Man’s feeling of helplessness and powerlessness against fate is shown in many dreams and frequently it is man’s fylgja that warns of doom. It seems almost as if the fylgja would want to offer man a way out – a way of challenging and defeating fate. And indeed, the fylgja is that part of the body/soul complex that brings hidden resources and powers to the fore and offers them to the individual to absorb them into his conscious traits, thereby almost putting them on a higher level and transforming his life – if the individual is open to this. Dreams in present time may be seen much like the ones described above. They frequently show us a way out or more accurately, a way forward, if we are open to listen to them. It will always be our own soul which shows us the way, and dreams are the window to gain us access to its hidden depths.

In the following I shall give you two famous examples of dreams in the saga literature; I recommend that you read some of the better-known sagas in order to get a fuller picture not only of dreams but of life in olden times in general.

Not only fylgjur in animal shapes appear in dreams, but we also find the expressions draumkona and draummaðr, namely dream-woman and dream-man. The most famous ones are probably Gisli’s1 two draumkonur, who are two rival dream-women, one good and one evil, one believed to represent the new faith, i.e. Christianity, and the other one the ancestral belief. It is true that Gisli gave up sacrificing after coming under Christian influence when visiting Viborg in Denmark but, more strongly, the saga shows how Gisli adheres to the old ethics to the end and his belief in an inevitable fate is unbroken. The Saga of Gisli stands out from other sagas in that it describes in clear words the strong emotional bonds that finally lead to Gisli’s death, it speaks about feelings and thus goes further than other sagas, which put the emphasis on outer events, leaving the psychology of the hero in between the lines for the reader to guess. As much as the two opposite dream-women foretell Gisli’s untimely death, they even more show his inner turmoil. He has killed his brother-in-law, his beloved sister’s husband, and even though he was honour-bound to do so, he caused grief for his sister and therefore for himself and his family. Also, he is not by nature violent but is calm and considerate and a loving family man. The saga goes even further and describes how much Gisli has come to fear the dreams of the evil dream-woman; his anxiety grows to such an extent that he is unable to stay on his own and he risks discovery by his enemies rather than being apart from his loving wife and her comfort. One might say that Gisli’s slaying of his brother-in-law is a deed which is out of character and goes against the conscious traits of the hero. The blood and gore which plague him in his dreams accentuate his opposite side and as he is unable to balance the opposites in ways that would lead to him growing as personality, they seal his fate. This is made quite clear in the text where we can see the hero’s increasing inner exhaustion. It is never his courage that fails him, he becomes too weary and there is something self-resigning and passive in the way he faces his hopelessness. In the end, it seems that Gisli is glad to have arrived at the action of his last fight and his death is welcomed as bringing long desired peace.

Another well cited example of dreams in the saga literature can be found in Njal’s Saga. Gunnar of Hlidarend, lifelong friend of Njal, has the following dream: ‘…and in my dream I saw a pack of wolves coming out at me. I retreated down to Rang River, where they leapt at me from all sides, but we fought them off. I shot those that were in the lead, until they pressed so close that I could not use my bow. Then I drew my sword and fought with sword in one hand and halberd in the other; I never used my shield and did not know what was protecting me. I killed many of the wolves, and you were protecting me, Kolskegg; but they overpowered Hjort and ripped open his chest, and one of them seized his heart in its jaws. Then in my dream my rage was so violent that I sliced the creature in two behind the shoulder; and with that the rest of the wolves fled.’2 Later that very day of Gunnar’s prophetic dream events took place just as he had described them. Again, we see animals as the bearers of what is to come, and in this example they are wolves as the fylgjur of Gunnar’s enemies. Not long after this bloodbath with the feud ongoing, Gunnar is made an outlaw for three years and ordered to leave the country. He refuses to do so, as he cannot bear to give up the beauty of his homeland. This and the treachery of his wife, Hallgerd, eventually lead to his untimely death – just as his prescient friend Njal had foreseen.

Practical work:

Having concentrated on the core triad for the last two weeks, you should now start keeping a dream diary (if you already do so, even better). Watch out for any symbolism or very realistic dreams about the three components of your soul’s core triad. Are there any animals appearing in your dreams? Do you feel they could hint at your animal fetch?

1 The Saga of Gisli, translated by George Johnston, notes by Peter Foote. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 1963.

2 Njal’s Saga. Translated with an introduction by Magnus Magnusson and Hermann Pálsson, Penguin Books, 1960

Issue #8, Afterlithe-Moon

Welcome to this, the Afterlithe-Moon issue. This month, we have a Rune-Poem by D. Jonathan Jones, who is a poet and a Master in the Rune-Gild. His books of poetry include The Songs, available here.

There are a small number of historical Rune-Poems which all runic practitioners will (or should) know their way around. Beyond this, part of the initiatic process of the Rune-Gild’s Nine Doors programme is to write your own Rune-Poem, crystallizing your own understanding of the staves into something that can act to inspire other Runers. David’s Rune-Poem is written to the staves of the Elder Futhark, in a special structure with nine lines to each stave.

We shall also be publishing other Rune-Poems in the next few months.

Three Paths Through Midgard

A Rune Poem
By D. Jonathan Jones

Fehu
I awoke! As if at the first dawn.
What was this burning that stirred me thus?
As if all my open eyes beheld
Were a flame and as lit from within
Or as by some magic spun from gold.
Where my eye fell was fire and gilded.
Kin saw not, minds chewed cud and slept still.
The grey shapes moved silent in the woods,
Heavy hung the gold torc mystery.

Uruz
Fled I from the herd to the wild moor.
To heal, grow strong, twixt water and earth,
And so thus I did in Utgard thrive.
Bold I roamed the moor to hone my form.
I sought the beast, sought the great horned one,
My mettle to prove in hunt and kill.
I saw him not, save once in a dream,
He nosed the scraps of my shed man-skin
Said “No beast here is abroad save thee”.

Thurisaz
Thus, as a thurs I roamed the wildness,
And delighted in my strength and force,
Hate and fear my only bedfellows.
A terror to men and women was,
Till all had fled and alone I stood.
Raged I then at the wind and mountains,
Raged I then at my own fierce raging,
Until, as though I watched some other,
Sat down a fool and in this was wise.

Ansuz
Now my power seethed within its banks.
Safe, the sword enclosed within its sheath.
Thus, I set to seeking out all things
And by knowing all, perchance know me.
My eyes sought the stuff behind all forms,
Each knowing brought a hundred questions.
Was there no end to each mystery,
As I spoke its name and knew its soul?
So behold! A god now rode the beast.

Raidho
And, so the road it lay before me.
Ever I sought my stories’ kenning.
Who knows how far then did I wander?
Oft I made a path where there was none;
Driven on as if I was the mount,
Lost to the rhythm of the riding
And found within the rhythm of it.
I was road and rider and ridden;
The endless destination was self.

Kenaz
By my journeying, changed was I made.
The fevered sore brought forth the new flesh.
Ran glad into uncertain darkness,
Lit with torch of self in search of self,
Stoked I glad the timbers of my pyre.
Beat slag from mind with hammer of mind,
Forged anew, shook myself from ashes,
Burning with craft all formed at my thought,
As though it were thought that gave all form.

Gebo
Given the greatest of gifts I was.
Yet, was this body new to my mind
Or mind gifted fresh to this poor flesh?
Each breath as though a world in full flux,
Each moment charged with aeons portent,
I was gift and giver and gifted.
This one prize of all and of nothing.
To which god should I give for this luck?
Mind given mind, in this I was god.

Wunjo
Joy was all; life a roaring pleasure.
From this high place my laughter rang loud,
But the shadow that it must end loomed.
How then to cheat death in this revel?
Where voices sang my name, there was I.
Where mind sought mind, there was I searching.
Return then I, though outside remain.
I mirthsome rode to holy mischief,
To light fires in the minds of sleepers.

Hagalaz
Wyrd crashed in like hail on the barley.
Knew we our borders through their breaching.
Most crave frith, good harvest, a straw death.
What is a warrior without war?
Secret our smiles at peace broke in shards,
Enemies welcomed as an old friend.
War is the holy; it brings forth change.
Wherever swords meet there is Utgard,
The sacred isle where heroes endure.

Nauthiz
The frost of war drove our need fire’s bow,
This, then, the ordeal of our heart’s wood.
All chests tighten at the call to arms;
When steel meets steel, which need proves greater?
The coward’s life or family name?
Whose bold red dew flows down to wyrd’s well?
Whose heart proves weak and beats on in shame?
Who shall lie ash and who rise as fire?
Our doubt, the grand thrill in this testing.

Isa
With ice of will we hearth the war fire,
Fix firm in mind thought of victory.
The new blade is tempered in cold flow,
Thus hard, its doom to bathe in blood warm.
True warriors cool in battle’s heat,
Heart as stone to the death, gore and screams.
His own death as nought to the bold man.
Worse, freeze in fear or flee from the field?
Who dies, whose name and deeds live in song?

Jera
The season of war gives frith meaning.
Long are the hours at play with steel,
Thus, arms grow stronger for the harvest.
The fruit of this toil: skill at slaughter.
What is sown and grown must then be reaped.
How we die gives meaning to our life.
Warriors scream loud at the spear thrust,
But greater fear a silent deathbed,
Worse still, live on as a foe’s plough-slave.

Eihwaz
Dead is the tree without root or branch.
Rich blood flows down to roots, well and Hel,
What soars up to the highest of boughs?
Warriors are all light and all shade,
Minds dappled wild in Utgard’s bower.
Our praises sung while we were at war,
Fearful eyes watch us brood in boredom.
Peace? Better for us death’s cold embrace;
I know not me till I find a foe.

Perthro
Fate rolls our dice out on the bloodfield,
Where luck is tested best, in struggle.
Some throw the bloodtwigs and ponder Wyrd,
But the warrior’s soul is action
In the gaming of king against king,
But kings move, too, as a God’s board piece.
When swords meet, time stops, wyrd and should sleep.
The unfolding is all, is endless,
Till the lot is cast and one must die.

Elhaz
He gave good service, left not the field,
Bold in the fray his cuts were deadly.
Slain now, in youth’s full bloom and vigour.
Did some eye mark him for greater cause?
Though he lies dead what figure here comes?
Beauty beckons. A sister? Lover?
His soul soars up away from cold flesh,
In swan wings gathered toward a new fray:
Just reward for valour well tested.

Sowelo
Now onward and upward toward the glow,
Holy light strikes the crystal of will,
Thus the rainbow bridge is cast for use.
Stepped out of the cycles of rebirth,
The bold of all ages now benchmates,
No longer is a piece, but player.
He stands shoulder to shoulder with Gods
In the fight at the grand end of time,
Where all is renewed in destruction.

Tiwaz
Gazing up I saw the cloak of sky.
While heaven holds its stead all is well.
The night bright eye of the pole gazed down,
The holy nail round which the stars spin,
Sure comfort is found in this wheel turn.
Earthly life plays out in the same round,
Each man’s life as the heavens mirror,
Subject, as the stars, to rise and fall,
Lone, the tree that props this vault, endures.

Berkano
Below me lay the mothering earth.
Midgard’s mound, oh this fertile barrow,
Birch door of secrets from which life springs.
Glimpsed in the swell of breasts and buttocks,
Sap rises at her beck and lust blooms.
Full fearsome, too, into death she calls,
Roaring, cast our lot into her void.
Know all and nought in that timeless spend,
Snug grain of should in dark womb slumbers.

Ehwaz
Lovers bedded close, content entwined,
The mystery of two become one,
From this pairing oft is made new life.
Hand in hand, earth and sky make the space
Where Midgard teams with life full holy.
I ploughed a furrow, cut staves in soil,
Horses pulled together, might combined.
I, the guiding hand and eye behind,
All pairs are false: hidden lurks a third.

Mannaz
Man is made as the measure of things.
His is the eye and his is the hand.
Those parts that the noble Gods gave up
He wields, for their purpose, in Midgard.
Short his span: a curse or a blessing?
Joy and sorrow he finds in others.
Needs enemies, as much as lovers,
To describe like and not like for him.
In toil, for stead, as man amongst men.

Laguz
Life is flow, one form to another.
Each man as a ship, his soul the crew.
He braves the restless waters of life.
This cargo of gold he brings to land.
His name, his word, all that he has done,
These goods his kin share after he goes.
Rich they are while his memory lives.
Gone he to earth full moist and fertile,
Forth burst the new shoots from this rich loam.

Ingwaz
All men go to grave to rest a while,
Even Gods must face the eastern dark.
Oft the barrow beckons like a bed.
It is wise to say “Enough!” and cease.
The sleeper dreams, his arms and legs thrash,
The mind of man is never stillness;
Though all movement he has yet done nought,
He must plant his dreams in solid earth
To reap a crop, else the seed sleeps on.

Dagaz
Behold! A furious dusk or dawn.
This moment of my death spread endless
In a wave of changing, changeless glow,
Where opposites yet collapse and fuse,
Where light reveals dark as his brother
I danced twixt horns of all dilemmas.
Stepped out, yet dissolved within the whole,
Twined round all as though it were my love,
Mind everywhere was I, then gone.

Othala
At the homestead’s edge there stands a howe.
There my father’s bones lie and moulder,
His father’s, too, and down through ages.
This mound marks full well what we call ours,
His flesh and blood wed to this good earth.
Where the rest of him be, no man knows,
Though I glimpse his eyes in my children’s
As they stare forth bold into Utgard
And challenge all who deny their place.

Rûna Magazine back issues

Some back issues of Rûna Magazine are still available. These mags have stories, poems, interviews, philosophy and essays about Germanic esotericism form all sorts of angles. When they’re gone, they’re gone!

£3.00 each.

Postage

UK: up to 4 Issues = £ 2.00. 4 + = £4.00

Europe: 1 Issue = £4.00. Add £1.00 each for further issues.

Rest of World: 1 Issue = £6.00. Add £1.00 each for further issues.

Payable via Paypal to ianfread@gmail.com. Please include name, address and which issues you want.

Contents

Issue 11

  • Peter Béliath – Envoys of the Æsir
  • Exchange Listing
  • Tansy – Nine Herbs Charm
  • Didrik Søderlind – The Allure of the Lur
  • Valgard – The Valknutr Working
  • Edred Thorsson Speaks
  • Collin Cleary – The Missing Man in Norse Cosmology
  • Valgard – The Duodecimal System
  • Reviews

Issue 15

  • Thierry Jolif – The Cernunnos Mystery
  • Joshua Buckley – Nigel Pennick Interview
  • Reviews
  • Paul Fosterjohn – Völsungadrekkr II
  • Exchange Listing
  • Michael Moynihan – A Germanic Magic Lantern Cycle
  • Edred Thorsson Speaks
  • Simon Collins – Light My Fire

Issue 16

  • Joshua Buckley – Nigel Pennick Interview II
  • Local Wyrm – The Lyminster Knucker
  • David J. Jones – Waxing in Water
  • Reviews
  • Exchange Listing
  • A Conversation with Stephen Edred Flowers
  • Michael Sangster – A Peculiar Quality IV
  • Dave Lee – Rig’s Tale

Issue 17

  • Sarah Crofts – The Fowler’s Troop Jack in the Green
  • Dave Lee – The Sky Under the Earth
  • Reviews
  • Roger Digby – English Country Music – A Personal View
  • Exchange Listing
  • A Conversation with Stephen Edred Flowers
  • Ingrid Wultsch – Grettir the Strong – A Doomed Hero
  • John Kirkpatrick – What English Folk Music?
  • P.D. Brown – Rune-Poem

Issue 18

  • P.D. Brown – On Poetry
  • Jonathan Jones – Creation Myth
  • Dr Stephen Edred Flowers – Vedic India
  • Paul Fosterjohn – Tungltal
  • Valgard – The Valknut as a Devotional Item?
  • Jim Chisholm – Learning and Teaching Old Norse
  • A.C. Haymes – The Wail of Wóden
  • Alice Karlsdóttir – Idun
  • A Conversation with Stephen Edred Flowers
  • Exchange Listing
  • Reviews

Issue 19

  • Ristandi – Turning the Elf-Mill
  • David Jones – Evil?
  • Tapio Kotkavuori – Rites of Passage
  • A Conversation with Stephen Edred Flowers
  • Exchange Listing
  • Ensio Kataja – The Runes of the Holy
  • Elizabeth Griffin – The Griffin
  • Paul Fosterjohn – Tungltal
  • Reviews

Issue 20

  • Jennifer Culver – Echoes of Dragon Slaying
  • Exchange Listing
  • A Conversation with Stephen Edred Flowers
  • P.D. Brown – Skyland
  • David Griffiths – Tolkien – A Radical Traditionalist?
  • Michael Kelly – Carpe Diem
  • P.D. Brown – The Ninth Wave
  • Paul Fosterjohn – Tungltal
  • Reviews
  • Jonathan Jones – Horsemeat

Issue 21

  • John Cooper – The Man Who Met Odin
  • Collin Cleary – Philosophical Notes on the Runes
  • Alice Karlsdóttir – Steps Along the Way
  • David Jones – Mauschwitz
  • A Conversation with Stephen Edred Flowers
  • Michael Cunningham – A History of Song
  • Jonathan Jones – Performance
  • Carlos B. Hagen-Lautrup III – A proliferation of Heathen Names in Iceland
  • Jim Chisholm – The Common Law is Pagan, Not Christian
  • Exchange Listing
  • Reviews

Issue 22

  • Michael Cunningham – In the Shadow of the Tree
  • A Conversation with Stephen Edred Flowers
  • Exchange Listing
  • Collin Cleary – Philosophical Notes on the Runes II
  • David Griffiths – Symbolic Resonance Between the Brythonic and Germanic Traditions
  • Reviews
  • David J Wingfield – Canis Canem Edit

Issue 23

  • Jason Moffatt – The White Horse and the Alcis
  • Michael Cunningham – Flesh and Stone: Dualism and the Drúedain
  • Mark Deavin – Hidden Symbolism in Hávamál 138?
  • Exchange Listing
  • David J Wingfield – Canis Canem Edit
  • P.D. Brown – Calling to Heimdall
  • Michael Cunningham – The Bidding of the War-Shaft
  • P.D. Brown – October 14th
  • A Conversation with Stephen Edred Flowers
  • Reviews

Issue 24

  • Ingrid O. Fischer – Luck, Fate and Heroes
  • Thomas Karlsson – Dark Initiatory Witchcraft
  • Exchange Listing
  • A Conversation with Stephen Edred Flowers
  • Jonathan Jones – Albion Song
  • Reviews
  • Tyla at Ajna Bound
  • Interviews Thomas Karlsson
  • Jon Sharp – Little Wolf and the Art of Concealment
  • Michael Kelly – Dragon Runes
  • Robert N. Taylor – Pathways to the Gods
  • Annabel Lee – Grail Medicine

Issue #7, Lithe-Moon

Welcome to the Lithe-Moon issue of the Rûna-Eormensyl blog. New Moon is tomorrow, so you are getting this a little early, for various reasons. We are continuing with Ingrid Fischer’s ‘Introduction to Germanic Soul-Lore’; this is episode 4. In this piece, Fischer writes about the traditional view of identity, which is rather different from what most people assume about themselves.

DEVELOPMENT OF PERSONALITY

To quote C G Jung, ‘Personality is a seed that can only develop by slow stages throughout life. There is no personality without definiteness, wholeness and ripeness. These three qualities cannot and should not be expected of the child, as they would rob it of childhood.’

Our Germanic ancestors waited until the ninth day after a child was born, before they named it. These were harsh times and a child was considered to have a soul only once it had proven that it was strong enough to survive these first critical days. In general, on the ninth day the father would look at his child and something in the child’s appearance would remind him of an ancestor, whose name the child was then given. According to the saga literature, the child was picked up by the father, put on his knee and then sprinkled with water (ON vatni ausa) whilst being given his name. By naming the child, ‘it’ became a ‘he’, a fully accepted member of the tribe with all its rights and responsibilities. And of course another, very important thing happened when the child was named. By receiving the name of an ancestor, the child received the traits and reputation of this ancestor and all expectations that came with it. Now there is a start to the development of one’s personality!

Every man born carries in him seeds (or you may call them genes, inheritance of the forefathers, fate) for what he may or may not develop; they are hard or impossible to discern, and only his deeds will reveal who he really is. This progress will span a whole lifetime and it is the essence of nature to move only when causal necessity forces her to. Human nature follows the same rules and human personality will only ever develop itself by force, be that an inner or outer one. Even in young children we can observe this rule. When they go through one of the typical childhood diseases like measles or mumps, they seem to have matured afterwards. All critical stages in life, be they pleasant or painful, will bring about changes in a man’s psyche and are a ‘kick in the behind’ reminder from nature that it is high time to get on with developing one’s personality.

Remember the Old Norse soul complex from last week, the core of this is the triad hugr, minni and óðr and it is here that the work has to start.

Hugr (hugh) is the conscious will and the cognitive faculty; minni (myne) is in simple terms memory and the reflective faculty; óðr (wode) is the principle of inspiration or enthusiasm. Surrounding these is the hamingja-fylgja complex. The fylgja or fetch is a complex entity and is partly independent from the individual. This is the faculty where a man’s deeds are stored and that makes a man grow; transpersonal powers and responsibilities are transmitted to man from here. Hamingja or luck is closely related to the fetch and is also partly independent from man.

Work on hugr will mean studying and increasing one’s knowledge; with it memory (minni) will increase and also one’s ability to reflect on the learned. As a consequence, this newly acquired knowledge and its assimilation into one’s storage of understanding and view of the world, will trigger connections with facts previously known and may contribute to a new and more mature world view. Following on from here, óðr may be activated and new creativity and inspiration will enhance your life even further. When óðr, hugr and minni grow and push their boundaries outwards, this will cause the fylgja to grow also and consequentially, the hamingja. Also, successful development involves balance. No good would come of it if only one part of our core triad were to enhance. The hamingja will grow because your actions and deeds will be informed by greater wisdom, creativity and maturity; you will be more ‘lucky’, you will have more influence and power, and if you pass some of this on to others, the whole complex will gain again.

To illustrate how our forefathers saw this development I insert a quote from the Hávamál, which is part of the Poetic or Elder Edda:

Þá nam ek frœvaz         ok fróðr vera

            Ok vaxa ok vel havaz

Orð mér af orði              orz leitaði 

Verk mér af verki         verks leitaði

 

‘Then I began to thrive,

And grew well in wisdom.

One word led me to another –

One Deed led me to further deeds.’

– Hávamál, stanza 141.

 

Practical work:

Start again by standing up straight, inhale and intone, three times:

uruz   ansuz isa eihwaz   ehwaz odhilaz

uruz   ansuz isa eihwaz   ehwaz odhilaz

uruz   ansuz isa eihwaz   ehwaz odhilaz

Now visualise again the core triad covering your whole body in a three-dimensional triangle: óðr is located at the crown of your head, hugr to your right and minni to your left. Continue where you left off last week, but this time try and find out any imbalances and obstacles to a free flow of energy between the three parts of your soul. Is any one the strongest; is one too weak etc.

Again, record all your findings and keep concentrating on imbalances and what you intend doing about them.

Issue #6, Threemilk-Moon

Welcome to the Threemilk-Moon Issue of the blog. This month we have something different again – a piece by Matthew Hern, on the gods of the path of initiation.

The Dagazian Dawn: Part I: Of Odin, Shiva and No-Thing

There is no god and this is exactly our God.

– Ian Read

There are mysteries in this world and there are laws of the universe. When it comes to religion, magic and illumination it’s better to have a Zen mind = beginner’s mind, even if we already have a huge amount of knowledge. But to be initiated we need to empty ourselves of ourselves. A cup that is full is not capable of receiving new, fresh water of insight. Because the answers we find are never the final destination, but rather shores and islands, at which we rest for a while before we set out for the great ocean again, on this mysterious journey we call “life”. The answers we find can lead to great ecstasy, but then the mantle of newness wears off and we realize that “our answer” turns into another comfort zone, another mental construct, another habit. All concepts are tools, another rung on the ladder, another step on the staircase, another door, which we must exit to continue on the Path of Mystery. Thus the nature of our Quest is eternal in a mythical sense: Every single image is a reflection in the mirror, ultimately we are the mirror reflecting, but not the reflected images: all our illuminations are finger pointing, at the eternal sky, in the sudden moment of awakening, like the snap of your finger, in the moment you relax in total presence, suddenly we see: Yes, everything is the manifestation of innate wisdom light. And then another yes: Like a mirror isn’t changed by any thing that is reflected in it, so is our nature. And yes again: Like a crystal that is pure whatever light flows through it, so is our nature. It was always here, the great mudra, the perplexing pattern, the self-originating mandala, the infinite Self, the vastness of space, the great ocean upon which the endless waves crash down, the eternal Yes. All our practice is only for this, this one perfect moment out of time, like an 8 lying on its back, like a serpent’s perfect movement, like Dagaz dawning…

So let me begin with the proposition that religion exists because the Divine exists, and a human being is a homo religiosus. More than that: man is an ecstatic being, who will never fulfil his/her complete potential until s/he experiences states of Higher Consciousness. Transformation and ecstasy, illumination and inspiration, creativity and Self-exploration, meditation and world(s)-expeditions, these are at the core of human consciousness, which – according to the myths of our forefathers and foremothers – is a Gift of the God who Himself represents these qualities: Óðinn, Woden, or Wotan.

This is also true of another major deity of the wider, older Indo-European tradition: Shiva. Shiva is considered in Tantric Shaivism as the embodiment of (enlightened) ‘pure Consciousness’ (Frawley 2015). And the greatest living German poet, Rolf Schilling, said in his poetic genius and divine intuition that Odin is Shiva’s “divine brother.” In Kashmir Shaivism the Divine – represented by the deity Shiva – is present to everything. It is nothing but pure Consciousness, the fullness of absolute I-Consciousness or purnahanta (Bäumer 2005). However, with regard to Ian Read’s statement quoted above there is a mystical paradox present here: this divine I-Consciousness is now here and yet nowhere to be found. This divine state is a Void, a Nothingness, a state of in-betweenness, which cannot be fully grasped:

In Kashmir Shaivism this void is precisely found in all the in-between states – the most important and yet not easy to catch being the void between breathing in and breathing out. And in this in-between is found the pure consciousness, the thought-free state: nirvikalpa… (Bäumer 2005: p. 3)

Matthew Hern

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Image: Geoff Sumner with Ian Read in Geoff’s vé, a sacred landscape structure.

Issue #5, Easter-Moon

Welcome to the Easter-Moon Issue. This month we have Part 3 of Ingrid Fischer’s Germanic Soul-Lore.

May you know the blessings of Eostre!

COMPONENTS OF THE GERMANIC SOUL

[Above] you can see the traditional Old Norse body-soul complex with its many components, according to Edred Thorsson.  (Figure: traditional body-soul complex[1])

 The fylgja or fetch is not something every man has; some men have a very weak and underdeveloped one, but powerful men have a strong fylgja. Here again, we see the connection to the ancient belief in physical strength and power in general. This shows the beginnings of a body-soul separation where the soul is no longer entirely bound to the body but takes on personal, individual traits. 

Óðr, the ‘soul’ in a state of utter arousal opens the access to new and normally unreachable worlds and man can find a higher, freer existence which enables him to succeed against enemies and other detrimental situations. Óðr makes man transcend mediocrity. In its second meaning it shows poetry born out of the passion of the soul, out of enthusiasm and divine inspiration.

Hugr (ON), the hugh or hidge, is the cognitive faculty and is that part of the mind which can analyse and work with data. Whilst in ancient times hugr was bound to the body, in later times it becomes independent from it and forms what we call a man’s ‘personality’. This is when hugr becomes the seat of man’s will.

Minni (ON), the myne, is in simple terms memory and the reflective faculty, the storehouse of consciousness and the unconscious that also contains transpersonal elements, i.e. the archetypes of the collective unconscious.

Hamingja (ON) or luck is the life force and power of the soul which can be passed on even during one’s lifetime.

The lyke or lík (ON) is the physical body; it is given its shape by hamr (ON) or the hyde; önd (ON) is the ‘breath of life’, the athem.

Sjálfr (ON) is the Self which potentially can lead man to synthesise and understand all other faculties; sál (ON), the soul, is the death shade and all actions are recorded in it.

It is important at this stage to point out the clear distinction between the psychosomatic soul complex (i.e. önd and óðr) and the semi-autonomous concepts (hugr, hamr, hamingja and fylgja). As Flowers states, ‘önd and óðr denote activities, qualities, forces or essences which are active within a man’s psychosomatic complex, but which do not approach the measure of autonomy or transferable characteristics’. The second group, with hugr, hamr, hamingja and fylgja, is the more autonomous and also in most instances personifiable one. It seems that fylgja is the most personal and individual part of the soul; it is the most anthropomorphised of the various soul concepts and appears to have developed a will of its own. However, once the individual has gained an insight into the past and his (ættar-) fylgja, it becomes more evident that the ‘being’ which seems to be ‘other’ than himself is in truth the sum total of all that he is, and all that he has done.

Next time we shall discuss the development of personality.  

Practical work: 

From the diagram above you can see the core triad of the soul complex: óðr, hugr and minni. I call this the core triad because without any one of them, or with one weaker than the other two, your whole being will be out of balance and you will not be able to reach your full potential in life.

Many of you will know the UAIEO formula. This time we shall add one vowel and vocalise the sequence in runes, up and down your body. Stand up straight, inhale and intone, three times:

uruz ansuz isa eihwaz ehwaz odhilaz

uruz ansuz isa eihwaz ehwaz odhilaz           

uruz ansuz isa eihwaz ehwaz odhilaz 

Now visualise the core triad covering your whole body in a three-dimensional triangle: óðr is located at the crown of your head, hugr to your right and minni to your left. Think of what they represent and feel their power circulating. Record your feelings, emotions, obstacles you encounter and so on. You will need these notes next week and we would like to hear about them here. Remember regarding feedback that being courageous enough to show a part of yourself to fellow travellers is an act that will, in and of itself, help with this work – so don’t be shy.

[1]          Edred Thorsson, Nine Doors of Midgard

Issue #4, Storm-Moon

A happy Storm-Moon to all our readers! This month we have a tiny excerpt from Christopher Smith’s 2016 ground-breaking study ‘Icelandic Magic’. I reviewed the book here and would recommend it highly for anyone interested in Northern European magic.

Abridged extract from “Icelandic Magic” by Christopher A. Smith (Avalonia, 2015)

Introduction

More than any other country, perhaps, Iceland has an iconic status for students of ancient Germanic lore and culture. The reasons for this are not hard to seek. The environment itself is dramatic, the perfect setting for tales of heroism and magic. A sub-Arctic island, oft-times battered by the cold waves of the North Atlantic Ocean and storms from the polar region, it is a land of glaciers and volcanoes where the primal forces of fire and ice compete to increase the hardship of the small population. Summers are brief and winters long, while spring and autumn struggle to find any place at all among the seasons. Arable land is hard to find, and even good grazing is at a premium. The earth itself shakes and rumbles from time to time. It is a land of liminality, where the world of men is squeezed and constricted between vast and hostile forces.

Remarkably, however, Iceland is less famous for its geography than for the vast outpouring of literature that its people have produced, especially in the Middle Ages. The very word ‘saga’, meaning ‘story’, has passed into English to denote a tale that is epic and heroic. From the earliest settlement at the end of the ninth century, Icelanders developed, passed on, and eventually recorded the tales of their lives, first by oral tradition and eventually through the establishment of a strong tradition of vernacular literacy.

The people of Iceland jealously guard and preserve their culture. Though predominantly Lutheran by religion these days, they are as familiar with the mythic tales of Thor and Odin as they are with tales from the Bible. Even young children are taught at school to recite “Þat mælti mín móðir”, the first poem of the famous Viking, poet and sorcerer Egill Skallagrímson.   The Icelandic language has changed little over the past thousand years, certainly in comparison to its linguistic relatives in Scandinavia, the European mainland and the English-speaking world, and the country’s educational establishment does its best to prevent the adoption of foreign words.

From the elaborate sagas of the Middle Ages to the folk tales and legends collected and recorded by Jón Árnason in the nineteenth century, the stories of Iceland are shot through with magic and dealings with supernatural beings such as elves, land-wights, ghosts and trolls. Even today, many Icelanders attach credence to the continued presence of the ‘hidden folk’; even if they do not absolutely believe in elves, they would not go so far as to categorically deny their existence. It has even been known for a major road to be diverted so as to avoid disturbing a place where the hidden folk are reputed to have their home.

The grimoires (galdrabækur, or ‘books of magic’) in the Icelandic National Library and the Arni Magnusson Institute, together with other old manuscripts relating to runes and magic, are, or certainly should be, of great interest to anyone with a serious interest in the authentic practicalities of Germanic magic. They are certainly not hidden from view, as many of them have been catalogued on the website www.handrit.is together with others in the Arnamagnaean Institute in Copenhagen, and even made available as digitized copies, which one can download. The earliest, AM 434a 12mo ‘Lækningakver’ dates from between 1475 and 1525; the most recent, ‘Rún’, dates from 1928

Given the availability of this material, it comes as something of a surprise that nobody has yet attempted a comprehensive survey of Icelandic magic in the early modern period. Much has been written about magic and witchcraft in the Middle Ages, but most of these works tend to focus on the anthropological, ethnographic or sociological perspectives without much consideration for the practicalities, the ‘nuts and bolts’ if you like, of magic in northern Europe

 

An even greater surprise is that these preserved volumes of Icelandic sorcery have been so little exploited and largely ignored by modern practitioners of Rune magic. Instead, much emphasis is given to the characters of the various Futhark rows (Elder, Anglo-Frisian and Younger) and their esoteric interpretation, mainly based on the evidence of three Rune poems and a handful of archaeological finds whose magical significance will always remain the subject of debate. Considering that the use of Runes plays a relatively minor part in the early modern magic of Iceland, is it possible that we have been barking up the wrong tree all the time?

Issue #3, Wolf-Moon

Welcome to the Wolf-Moon issue of the Runa-Eormensyl blog. We have for you the second part of Ingrid Fischer’s Introduction to Germanic Soul-Lore.
(As you can see from the notes, this is the second part of the first week of the Arcanorium course.)

Germanic Soul-Lore, Part 2

Following Stephen E. Flowers’ (Towards an Archaic Germanic Psychology, Rune-Gild, 1985) proposed three-fold pattern of soul conceptions (the breath concept, the emotive faculty and the cognitive faculty), we find that the earliest mentions of soul aspects are connected with breath and related bodily functions.

In these pre-magical soul concepts ON fjör (= life; compare OHG ferah, ferh = soul, life) and önd (= breath, life, soul) feature prominently, but without developing any personal qualities or attributes they remain undifferentiated and basic.

Fjör, life, is the body soul which is tied to the heart, the respiratory organs and the diaphragm (in connection with the kidneys that were thought to be the centre of all psychic powers). We can see that there a dualism between body and soul has yet to develop. In Old Norse literature fjör is never used in kennings; it shows man without any individuality and without any consciousness of its existence. Fjör, if seen as the highest personal possession, which is fully committed and defended in battle however, forms the transition to the individual soul.

Önd, breath, is an element of nature as it stands for ‘life’. This is not an individual life, it does not differentiate between worthy and inferior but encompasses that which is common to all humans and beasts. It is a power which drives and moves the body but has no consciousness and is undifferentiated.

A step closer to the Viking era is what might be called the period of magical soul concepts with clear mention of what Flowers calls the ’emotive faculty’.   The three ON words to mark the development in these soul concepts are hamr m. (skin, shape, form), oeði f. (rage, fury, madness, frenzy) and oeði n. (nature, disposition, mind).

Hamr is not strictly speaking the human shape but rather the animal one, and not the whole body but only that which builds its outer form, i.e. skin, fur etc. Man puts on the animal hamr and changes form to gain physical power. This so-called hamskiftning or hamramr enabled man to control even giant powers with animal strength. Through shape-changing, man (and the gods) was (were) able to free himself (themselves) from the fetters of his (their) body. Hamstoli (= deprived of one’s wits, frantic, furious) points to an internalised idea of hamr as a soul-form that can easily be changed but also lost. Hamhleypa (= a human being who travels in the shape of an animal; a witch who goes in ham-farir) casts off all bonds to do with space and time and reminds us of the hamingja. Hamingja developed from *ham-gengja and originally meant ‘the soul going around in a form’. The more psychic power a man possesses the larger his hamingja would be and, after his death the hamingja would attach itself to another human being, mostly within the same family. The hamingja was fed by honourable deeds or by gaining numinous knowledge; and is also an embodiment of a personal moral ‘law’ and a cumulative quality. The hamingja is the first model or ideal of the soul concept based on magic and stands for life force and soul power. Later on it takes on the more abstract meaning of ‘luck’ or more accurately, ‘indwelling’ luck.

Closely connected with the concept of hamingja is the fylgja (‘guidance’ or ‘following spirit’, a noun related to the verb fylgja which means ‘to accompany’, ‘to help’) in its forms of mannsfylgja, aettarfylgja (‘family-

fylgja’) and dyrfylgja (‘animal-fylgja’). The concept of fylgja puts a lot more emphasis on the personality of man than any of the previous models; the fylgja or fetch is unique to an individual and is yet completely independent from him.

One step further in this development is óðr (= mind, feeling; song, poetry), which is the spontaneous stirring of the soul born out of its own inner ability without the need for an environment to trigger it.

This was a brief overview of how Germanic soul lore developed; further information on the various components of the soul will be offered in Week 2.

  Practical Work: Stand up straight, inhale and chant the following rune sequence three times; each rune also three times before going on to the next.

Ansuz for the Æsir

Jera for the Vanir

Hagalaz for the Etins

Eihwaz for the Elves

Mannaz for Man

Contemplate what you have learnt and how it relates to the different kind of beings; what are the differences; similarities and so on. Let us all know your insights and results.

 

Issue #2, Yule-Moon

Welcome to the Yule-Moon issue of Rûna Eormensyl. This month’s offering is a seasonally-relevant piece on the Wheel of the Year by Dr Jon Sharp.

A good Yule to all our readers!

Dave Lee

The Wheel of the Year – A brief exploration

Authenticity
Most, if not all of us, are familiar with the concept of the ‘Wheel of the Year’, but there is often confusion about the authenticity of its inclusion within Heathenism. To some, the Wheel of the Year is a contemporary invention that has no necessary relationship to the praxis and beliefs of the pre-Christian peoples of Europe.
This begs the question of what exactly we mean when we talk about ‘authenticity’. If this term is understood in the historical sense, then the Wheel of the Year is authentic only if it can be shown that it was originally used by our pre-Christian ancestors.
However, if we think of authenticity in Jungian or existential terms, then the authenticity of the Wheel of the Year is dependent on whether it performs a useful integrative function in the life of the individual who engages with it conceptually, aesthetically or through their spiritual or magical praxis.
When we examine the origins of The Wheel of the Year, we must acknowledge that it is a product of the Twentieth century. It first appears in the 1950’s, and it used by both the Gardnerian Bricket Wood coven and the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. The first published Heathen Wheel of the Year was designed by Stephen McNallen in the early 1970’s. If we are concerned solely with historical provenance, the Wheel of the Year is certainly not authentic.
However, there is a fundamental contradiction in valuing a conceptual design by virtue of its antiquity, while at the same time regarding the associated praxis as something more profound than a form of re-enactment. Ritual structures are formed within a matrix comprising (as a minimum) spiritual universals, tribal or clan based particulars, historically shaped modes of behaviour and the cultural environment in which the ritual structures develop. Consequently, ritual praxis must respond dynamically to the changes in the cultural environment in order to be effective. By the same token, valuing ritual purely in terms of its historical trappings confuses the contingent form of ritual with the source of its functional power.
My own approach is to value Traditionalism as a methodology to be applied rather than to value the artefacts that it might generate at a given point in history. Traditionalism does not depend on the ossification of behaviours or on quasi-religious games of dress-up; rather it requires that we apply the core values and modes of being predicated by Traditionalism within our current historical context. It may be a paradox, even a Dagazian paradox, but Traditionalism is most effective and authentic when it is dynamic.
The Wheel of the Year, whether 6 spoked, 8 spoked or some other variation, is a wholly modern invention, but it is nonetheless authentic. What matters is that we approach it with a clear understanding of its history and value it as a useful tool rather than a faithful representation of ancestral conceptual structures.
If we take a Jungian approach to authenticity then the Wheel of the Year has much to offer and we will explore this in the next issue of the blog. . .

Purpose and Application
While there is no evidence that the Northern European peoples made use of a Wheel of the Year, the temporal divisions it displays and the festivals it records, were understood and embedded in the culture of our ancestors. Moreover, the Wheel of the Year visually emphasizes the pre-Christian understanding that time is non-linear.
A Wheel of the Year hanging on the wall can remind us on a deep level that time is a circular/ spiralling function. At its most basic level, it can also be used as a handy calendar. We can draw one out and use the dates of the current conventional calendar to ensure that we never miss Walpurgis Night again.
We could select a version of the Wheel of the Year that includes only those dates of consequence that we definitively know our ancestors marked through some particular celebration or rite. Using this model of a Wheel of the Year we can learn much about the aspects of life that mattered most to our ancestors; which seasonal periods were times of concern and anxiety and which were associated with plenty and conviviality.
At another level, the visual structure of the Wheel of the Year encourages us to think about the nature of time itself. In particular the circular repetition creates a model that both emphasises the permanence of the cycle of return and the ephemerality of each individual year. This in turn has implications for we might think of our own place in the Heathen cosmological model.
Runic Reflections*
In closing this very brief consideration of the Wheel of the Year as a tool within our Tradition, I would like to suggest some thoughts about how we might use the concept to stimulate a deeper understanding of Rûna.
Runic epistemology as discussed in my Master-Work, moves from a trothful approach based on accepted lore and the knowledge given by our senses, through to a pragmatic and skilful application or manipulation of knowledge and finally to a deeper or wiser appreciation of the Mystery within. We can apply this epistemological triad to the different focal points in the wheel of the year and to the concept of the wheel as a whole. Each festival is both a moment of manifest trothful activity and requires the application of knowledge to be celebrated. From a runic perspective we can also use the three modes of knowing from the final stage of epistemology – Thinking, Remembering, and being fully conscious to explore the runic nature of these festivals more deeply.
Dr Jon Sharp

Rûna magazines for sale

Some back issues of Rûna Magazine are still available. You will likely live to regret it if you miss this opportunity!

£3.00 each.

Postage

UK: up to 4 Issues = £ 2.00. 4 + = £4.00

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Payable via Paypal to ianfread@gmail.com. Please include name, address and which issues you want.

Contents

Issue 11

  • Peter Béliath – Envoys of the Æsir
  • Exchange Listing
  • Tansy – Nine Herbs Charm
  • Didrik Søderlind – The Allure of the Lur
  • Valgard – The Valknutr Working
  • Edred Thorsson Speaks
  • Collin Cleary – The Missing Man in Norse Cosmology
  • Valgard – The Duodecimal System
  • Reviews

Issue 15

  • Thierry Jolif – The Cernunnos Mystery
  • Joshua Buckley – Nigel Pennick Interview
  • Reviews
  • Paul Fosterjohn – Völsungadrekkr II
  • Exchange Listing
  • Michael Moynihan – A Germanic Magic Lantern Cycle
  • Edred Thorsson Speaks
  • Simon Collins – Light My Fire

Issue 16

  • Joshua Buckley – Nigel Pennick Interview II
  • Local Wyrm – The Lyminster Knucker
  • David J. Jones – Waxing in Water
  • Reviews
  • Exchange Listing
  • A Conversation with Stephen Edred Flowers
  • Michael Sangster – A Peculiar Quality IV
  • Dave Lee – Rig’s Tale

Issue 17

  • Sarah Crofts – The Fowler’s Troop Jack in the Green
  • Dave Lee – The Sky Under the Earth
  • Reviews
  • Roger Digby – English Country Music – A Personal View
  • Exchange Listing
  • A Conversation with Stephen Edred Flowers
  • Ingrid Wultsch – Grettir the Strong – A Doomed Hero
  • John Kirkpatrick – What English Folk Music?
  • P.D. Brown – Rune-Poem

Issue 18

  • P.D. Brown – On Poetry
  • Jonathan Jones – Creation Myth
  • Dr Stephen Edred Flowers – Vedic India
  • Paul Fosterjohn – Tungltal
  • Valgard – The Valknut as a Devotional Item?
  • Jim Chisholm – Learning and Teaching Old Norse
  • A.C. Haymes – The Wail of Wóden
  • Alice Karlsdóttir – Idun
  • A Conversation with Stephen Edred Flowers
  • Exchange Listing
  • Reviews

Issue 19

  • Ristandi – Turning the Elf-Mill
  • David Jones – Evil?
  • Tapio Kotkavuori – Rites of Passage
  • A Conversation with Stephen Edred Flowers
  • Exchange Listing
  • Ensio Kataja – The Runes of the Holy
  • Elizabeth Griffin – The Griffin
  • Paul Fosterjohn – Tungltal
  • Reviews

Issue 20

  • Jennifer Culver – Echoes of Dragon Slaying
  • Exchange Listing
  • A Conversation with Stephen Edred Flowers
  • P.D. Brown – Skyland
  • David Griffiths – Tolkien – A Radical Traditionalist?
  • Michael Kelly – Carpe Diem
  • P.D. Brown – The Ninth Wave
  • Paul Fosterjohn – Tungltal
  • Reviews
  • Jonathan Jones – Horsemeat

Issue 21

  • John Cooper – The Man Who Met Odin
  • Collin Cleary – Philosophical Notes on the Runes
  • Alice Karlsdóttir – Steps Along the Way
  • David Jones – Mauschwitz
  • A Conversation with Stephen Edred Flowers
  • Michael Cunningham – A History of Song
  • Jonathan Jones – Performance
  • Carlos B. Hagen-Lautrup III – A proliferation of Heathen Names in Iceland
  • Jim Chisholm – The Common Law is Pagan, Not Christian
  • Exchange Listing
  • Reviews

Issue 22

  • Michael Cunningham – In the Shadow of the Tree
  • A Conversation with Stephen Edred Flowers
  • Exchange Listing
  • Collin Cleary – Philosophical Notes on the Runes II
  • David Griffiths – Symbolic Resonance Between the Brythonic and Germanic Traditions
  • Reviews
  • David J Wingfield – Canis Canem Edit

Issue 23

  • Jason Moffatt – The White Horse and the Alcis
  • Michael Cunningham – Flesh and Stone: Dualism and the Drúedain
  • Mark Deavin – Hidden Symbolism in Hávamál 138?
  • Exchange Listing
  • David J Wingfield – Canis Canem Edit
  • P.D. Brown – Calling to Heimdall
  • Michael Cunningham – The Bidding of the War-Shaft
  • P.D. Brown – October 14th
  • A Conversation with Stephen Edred Flowers
  • Reviews

Issue 24

  • Ingrid O. Fischer – Luck, Fate and Heroes
  • Thomas Karlsson – Dark Initiatory Witchcraft
  • Exchange Listing
  • A Conversation with Stephen Edred Flowers
  • Jonathan Jones – Albion Song
  • Reviews
  • Tyla at Ajna Bound
  • Interviews Thomas Karlsson
  • Jon Sharp – Little Wolf and the Art of Concealment
  • Michael Kelly – Dragon Runes
  • Robert N. Taylor – Pathways to the Gods
  • Annabel Lee – Grail Medicine