Issue #17 – Storm-Moon

Welcome to the Storm-Moon issue! Today we present the first part of Dave Lee’s illuminating and surprising interpretation of the creation myth in the Edda. This story can be found with other inspiring tales and insightful articles in his Masterwork for the Gild  Bright From The Well.
The following is an excerpt from this book:
The tale we read in Völuspá and Gylfaginning of the formation of the world from cosmic fire and ice, the growth of the giant and the cow and the sacrifice of the giant to pave the way for an intelligible cosmos is not really a creation myth. There is no overall creator, sitting in gaseous solitude until he ejects everything. Rather, it is a myth about how automatic cosmic processes give rise, by a process of fatal inevitability, to stages of evolution.

It provides a sophisticated hierarchy of the development of new forms. We start with cosmic principles – fire and ice, and the pregnant magical void ginnungagap which separates them. The next level of organization to arise is that of the androgyne Ymir and the cow Audhumla. From Ymir grows the race of giants. Among these giants are the etins, wise immortals who appear to us a little like the laws of the universe. In parallel, Audhumla licks and shapes the matrix of ice and salt where a proto-man is growing. These new forms interbreed to form the first truly conscious beings – Odin and his two brothers Vili and Ve. The brothers dismember Ymir, the old universe, and build a new one which reflects their conscious state. Consciousness is carried forward from the gods into the stream of organic life when the three brothers endow two trees with that spark and give rise to the first man and woman.

We can see that we are living in a layered universe, each layer of novel development stacked on top of another layer of completed development. All the structures that our awareness is built on top of are still visible. All the ancient layers are still with us. I have hung the tales and ideas onto that robust old story, understood as a sequence of nine stages.

Preamble, Or Act 0: The Seeress.

She sits in a cave at the centre of all edges, in the twilight of morning, in the red dusk behind closed eyes. In her gaze the universe around her creates and destroys, harvests and sows, cherishes and abandons, emits and absorbs, spins the moon’s emptiness and fullness… The soundtrack is a timeless music, as if you just walked into a performance that has been going on for forty thousand years. A single eye blazes out from under the traveller’s broad-brimmed hat. He leans forward. ‘So how did it begin?’She takes a long, silent breath. Her eyeballs roll up under closed eyelids, as if she is brimming with something.’It happened in stages. Each stage led to the next, with no possibility of it happening any other way.’

Act 1: Fire And Ice

In the polarity of cosmic Ice and Fire arises the spring Hvergelmir, rivers of venom roll, frost fills the gap, thaws and drips…We are in a moment before life appears, in the presence of the most primal layer of power.

Act 2: The Cow And The Androgyne

He lives on the melting ice, always has done. In the frost-covered void he meets the cow Audhumla and feeds from the streams of milk that flow from her four udders. She too is always there, a child of the Gap-frost. She smells salt and moves away from the hot place. She blends into the mist, through which occasionally emerge glimpses of an icy void, her world ending just over there. She follows the bloody scent to the edge of the ice sheet. She lives on an eternal edge, on a shrunken border between two unlivable extremes, two universes of death. The air is always wet.

Issue #16, Wolf-Moon

Welcome to the Wolf-Moon issue! This will be the final issue under present editorship; Issue 17 onwards will be edited by Mathew Hern.

For this issue, I present my own Rune-Poem, from 2001 c.e.


Rune – Poem

FEE to be free must freely be given;

gold hoarded makes human cattle;

the serpent’s shining scales crawl with fatal envy.


AUROCH’s strength is limitless, surging from the shadowed earth;

an ancient bull bellows on the frozen moor –

but fine rain melts hard ice


THURS thrusting from the mindless rocks;

three thorns thrown for torment;

but this force is terrible for man or woman to grasp.


ANSUZ is the tearing wind of Odhr’s breath;

the mighty Word leads the wise,

but is a terrible sword to the common man


RIDING on the right road is a swift journey,

and in the hall a ready rede,

but rowning the rites is rough on the horse


KEN’s cunning fire makes clear light;

yet children cannot play

with the scourge of art


GIFT is honour to the host and good for the guest,

and a kiss that begets greatness;

though the wise should grasp the cost of the gain.


WYN is wonder when the wind waves the banner,

and happiness of the war-band;

but if a man lose his way in joyous company,

then woeful is his lot




HAIL is hurled from the heavens,

wreaking harm to crops, and havoc to the beast;

yet it is the seed of perfection,

sown for the world’s remaking.


NEED is a narrow way through hardship,

and terrible toil;

yet it is a goad to greatness,

and the midwife of magic.


ICE is cold beauty, the bridge over endless chaos;

slippery and untrustworthy, it is death to the fey;

but the wise may use and enjoy, while trusting not.


YEAR brings to term whatever we sow;

the good earth guarantees growth –

but the gain is in grief

when the germ is rotten


YEW stands alone, strongest in the stead;

yet its branches bear berries of death;

and none but a Lord may string the bow of fire.


PERTHRO is played with passion and joy,

testing and igniting the luck of bold Lords;

yet things unknown to men are born in the web of Wyrd.


ELKSEDGE shoots up from the mud

sharp and dangerous to the young seeker who tries to grasp it,

setting out on the bloody road to wisdom.


SUN’s glory guides the seaman on his voyage;

if he has no love for clouds and ice,

victorious he returns 



TYR the noble leader faces the great wolf;

a lone star shows him his truth;

often must he turn to guide his clan,

showing not his one hand.


BIRCH is first to brighten the young wood,

her lovely limbs beauty and birth and nurture;

but the unwary spirit may be lulled to sleep in her shade.


HORSE is true friend, and good speed among the nine worlds,

and joyous companionship;

but if carelessness brings nightmare, then closeness is deadly


MAN is joy unto man, glad mortal company in the ship of forever;

but law and compromise must he make

when love fails


LAKE is life’s water, and endless depth unto death,

and the place of fearful sacrifice;

but the leek thrusts up green and healing


ING is the God of the old forest earth,

reaching East,

reversing the spin of the polar swastika,

bringing serpent gold from the ancient past.


DAY is the famous light,

mirth and hope to all,

and the unseen cleft in the world’s dawn


HOME is the enclosure, warded with inborn might, and holy,

where live the athelings in freedom and pleasure,

if there be right;

but many a stronghold is poor in spirit,

and a place of woe to its folks.

Issue #15, Yule-Moon

Welcome to the Yule-Moon issue. We have a contribution from Michael Kelly, a piece which takes us from psychology to magic, perhaps the readiest route to the esoteric in scientistic culture. Other of his writings can be sampled here. We also have some samples of Nigel Pennick‘s magical artwork – ceramic plaques. Details of Mr Pennick’s books can be seen here.

Rune Magic for Sceptics

One of the first things that we can discern by studying the Futhark is that the runes all have concrete, readily understandable meanings. They either refer to something tangible, such as cattle, the Sun or a yew tree, or they refer to a readily understood concept, experience or emotion, such as joy, or a year. The inner principles which lie behind these rune meanings are likewise easy to understand. Everyone knows what is meant when we talk of finance, or necessity, or motherhood, or ferocity.

So if I turn around to a complete sceptic and say, “We have here twenty four runes, which are each a kind of shorthand for the things and the principles that they represent. If you spend time memorising these runes and their shades of meaning, you will give yourself an easy way of cataloguing these aspects of reality, which you will then be able to bring back to mind in all their fullness simply by seeing or thinking upon the shape or sound of the rune.” That sceptical person will find little reason to find fault with what I have said. By spending time to learn the runes, they will provide themselves with powerful mnemonic keys to bring these meanings back to mind. There is nothing ooga-booga or make-believe about this, everything is grounded in what can be seen, felt and experienced by any rational person. So far, so good.

If this sceptic then worked hard at internalising the runes, their meanings and principles, until they provoked automatic subconscious recall and recognition, they would then find no difficulty in agreeing with me when I pointed out that we had now installed brain software which would categorise and assess internal and external phenomena and impressions. For instance, if they took a car journey, they would think raidho; if they saw the Sun in the sky, they would think sowilo; if they gave a present to their spouse, they would think gebo; if they flicked a light switch, channelling electricity to illuminate a room, they would think kenaz. And all of these associations would occur naturally and instantly, purely by dint of them having learned the attributes of the runes. There is nothing supernatural about any of this.

But what if I wanted to teach this sceptic how to work magic? Would such a thing be possible? All I would have to do is point out to him that since the runes were now encoded in his subconscious, he could use them to bring into conscious consideration all manner of insights and bright ideas that might not otherwise have occurred to him. All he would need to do in order to achieve this would be to encode a suitable message in runes; these runes would then cross the conscious-subconscious divide and bring forth the desired deep level response.

For example, let’s say our sceptical runeworker is short of money. He will struggle to pay the rent this month unless he somehow manages to remedy a shortfall in his cash flow. So he takes a small piece of paper or wood and writes upon it the following runes:


Fehu bookends the design, emphasising his need for money. Othila has the central position, because the purpose of the required funds is the security of his home; he needs to pay the rent. Othila is flanked on one side by nauthiz, emphasising that this money is requested out of genuine need, not flippantly; on its other side is perthro, calling upon the opportunities to fulfil this need.

The sceptical runeworker then smears the prepared runes with a tiny amount of his own blood. This invests himself in the process and asserts his responsibility for the runes he has written. A gesture of this sort is not lost upon the subconscious. He then sings the rune names as he stares at the prepared paper or wood, sending his request deeper into his subconscious as he does so. When he feels ready, he burns the paper or wood to ashes, symbolically removing the matter from his conscious fretting and relying upon his subconscious to furnish the solution. This it will invariably do. Within the next two or three days, he may recall some forgotten item hidden in the loft that he may sell to raise the needed money. Or his senses may simply be more open to opportunities which are always around him in his daily life, but which he normally pays no heed to. Someone needs to hire temporary bar staff perhaps? Or he realises he has some skill that others are willing to pay for which he has never previously considered? We are all surrounded by a multitude of such opportunities every day, but we make a point of ignoring them because usually they don’t matter and we have other things on our minds. But his subconscious now jumps to the task, alerting him to these things which are usually filtered out of his awareness. If it judges that his short term shortfall is symptomatic of a longer term problem, it may even give him the necessary nudges to effect a more permanent change in circumstances. But if done properly, the magic will work. And he doesn’t have to believe in a single supernatural element; he need only believe in his own psychology.

Issue #14, Fore-Yule-Moon

Welcome to the Fore-Yule-Moon issue, with guest editor Dawid Rudzinski. Dawid is an artist and some more of his work can be seen here.


A Call To Arms

We live in a time when the stench of Zeitgeist is the incense on altars of abandoned Spirit. The breaking of bonds with nature shattered the shreds of the human spirit, irretrievably preventing many from rising to what is divine in Man. Fenrir’s abstract bindings are broken, his hunger freed, consumerism devours the Sun, our highest aspiration for growth.

The schools that were created for growth of the soul have been overtaken by Thurses. Religions become empty words attracting us with their exoticism; they are at most an ornament, a decoration or a superficial lifestyle. Alternative paths of development seem to be for the most part a big pseudo-magic tinsel shop. The task of the modern priest is to tune man to the best consumer performance. Such a coach will explain to you that you are a winner; then you will give your blood and lose your life, becoming the fuel for this machine of decline of the Spirit. You will do it with a smile on your face, drunk, intoxicated by dancing at the funeral of a human/god hybrid. The emptiness yawns and terrifies; depression this year is the second-most dominant disease of our time. In 2020 it will triumph, winning gold in this macabre race. Depression is a disease of the soul, it is aggression directed against itself. Fenrir is doing well!



In all this chaos, sprinkled with powdered corpses staring at the technological idols erected on the pillars of science and atheism, the North Star, the unshakeable axis of the wheel of the world, tirelessly points the way for daredevils ready to fight the giants, to the Holy War, to a personal War for their own Spirit.

No time has called you more to find your axis mundi. To find the eternal immovable nail supporting the vault. Indeed, this path is endless, without even a visible goal. Nobody promises a golden mountain, holy peace, mindfulness or nirvana. The joy and reward is in a search of itself, a creative act which fruit becomes you alone, different, unexpected, unplanned, other. On the way to the unknown, you gradually throw off unnecessary decorations, you put on various masks to adapt to the new conditions and environment. At some point you capture at least for a moment a flash of what is invariably behind each mask …

: Reyn til Runa :!

Dawid Rudziński

Issue #13, Blood-Moon

Welcome to the Blood-Moon issue of Runa-Eormensyl blog. Today we have the final instalment of Ingrid Fischer’s Germanic Soul-Lore, Fate. As Ingrid writes, ‘the work on your soul should not stop here’; I hope some of you have been inspired to carry on this work and make it part of your lives!


Asc veit ec standa,                        heitir Yggdrasill.

hár baðmr, ausinn             hvítaauri;

þaðan koma døggvar,                      þærs í dala falla,

stendr æ yfir, grœnn,                         Urðar brunni.


Þaðan koma meyiar,                        margs vitandi,

þriár, ór þeim sæ,                   er und þolli stendr;

Urð héto eina,                         aðra Verðandi

– scáro á seíði – ,                     Scul ina þriðio;

þær løg løgðo,                         þær líf kuro

alda bornom,                           ørløg seggia.

– Voluspá, stanzas 19-20.


I know an ash tree,                 called Yggdrasil,

A mighty tree                         moist with white dews;

From there come the floods falling in the valley;

Evergreen it stands             over Urth’s well.


From there came three maidens             deep in wisdom-

From the water               which stands under the tree-

Urth one is called,             the other, Verthandi,

Skuld the third:               scores they cut.

Laws they made,             lives they chose:

For the children of men     they marked their fates.

Thus we are told in the Elder Edda: Three maidens, the three Nornir, determine the fate of men. Urdhr, Verdhandi and Skuld they are called. Remember that in previous chapters we spoke about them at length in connection with the Germanic concept of time. Verdhandi, that which is becoming, Urdhr that which has become, and Skuld that which out of necessity has to become.

In Old Norse soul lore there are several layers to fate, and broadly speaking we may distinguish between individual fate and the fate common to all members of a clan, a folk and even to all living beings (or beings with a soul), whereby the individual fate is also contained in the fate common to all living beings. Fate in Old Norse is called ørlög that is the primal law, fate, weird, or doom. Ørlög also means the primal layers and from here we may see that the three Nornir do not just speak the fate of individual beings (ørløg seggia) but also that of the clan and mankind in general. To say it simply, no man comes from nothing or nowhere. Each newborn child bears inherently in it all experience and all happenings from those who came before, be it the genetic make-up, the family history, the wars his forebears fought, the fields his ancestors ploughed, and so forth. Ørlög is the layers that have been laid down by past actions and which condition present and future. Implicitly, this means that each and every one of us contributes to his own fate and to that of his descendants.

I have avoided saying that each of us is ‘responsible’ for his own fate, because although we are responsible to some degree, it is only in the short time span of Verdhandi. It is all there in the well of wyrd, in Urdhr’s well. All our actions turn into what has become and what is to become by necessity, however, all our actions are pre-conditioned by those who have been before us and whose actions and results lie in Urdhr. The Old English word for fate is wyrd, a feminine noun developed from the past tense of the Old English verb wêorðan, ‘to become’ or ‘to turn’. Wyrd, therefore, is that which has become and which affects present and ‘future’1. Again, this leads us back to the Old English Wyrd Sisters or the Old Norse Nornir. This cyclic view is the Germanic concept of ‘fate’ and shows a close link with the concepts of time and causality. Urdhr and Verdhandi condition, but do not determine Skuld. This is exactly the point I have raised earlier, namely that each man is responsible for taking his fate into his own hands and giving it his personal, individual shape. Or, as Edred Thorsson says in Green Rûna, speaking about Urdhr, Verdhandi and Skuld: ‘The first two condition but do not determine the third. These conditions are produced by the deeds of the person who receives the fruits of those deeds. The Nornir are not causal agents but rather the numinous organisms through which the energies of actions are received, transformed, and re-directed back to their source.’2

Fate, as the sum of all our ancestors’ and mankind’s development which has been passed on to us, is ‘impersonal’ and cannot be changed as it is woven in and through the past, the past that was before the ‘person’ began. The ancestors (in most cases) created this past and the ones before them theirs. The fylgja carries in it all their pasts and holds the individual’s fate. It is impersonal because the seeds were laid before the individual came into being. It is stored in Urdhr and cannot be changed. What has been done cannot be undone. There is a small window though: every moment in an individual’s life when everything becomes personal. In Verdhandi it is up to the individual to deal with his fate and create new fate and a new part of Urdhr, laying the seeds for Skuld. In Verdhandi, and only in Verdhandi, the gods can have influence and guide and change the individual’s way. One could even say that the gods exist in Verdhandi eternally, at least on the level of an individual’s understanding. The gods live, work and create the past, namely Urdhr, in Verdhandi. Fate lies beyond this and even the gods cannot alter it.

Practical work:

This is the last part but your work on your soul should not stop here. This should be a life-long pursuit. There will be setbacks of course, but the most important thing is to never give up, always keep going, one step after the other.

Start 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

Contemplate the three Nornir and what they stand for. Concentrate on Verdhandi and what this means to you; what can you do in every single moment of time – now – to affect Urdhr and Skuld; and by doing so, not only affecting your own fate but also that of your descendants.

1 Germanic people did not have our concept of future; this came to us from outside our own culture and was adopted early on by Christianity.

2 Edred Thorsson, Green Rûna, Runa-Raven Press, Texas, 1996

Issue #12, Winter-Moon

New Moon greetings to all our readers! This month we have a facsimile-excerpt from a 1998 book which is hard to find these days: The Valknutr: 9 Lays of Power, by Valgard. The valknut itself, as I learned from my mentor in the Gild, Godwin, is the ultimate glyph of Odin, because it summarizes the whole of magical action as being binding or unbinding. This unpacking of the symbolic structure and meaning of the valknut is unique.

Issue 11, Holy Moon / Winter Moon

Welcome to this issue #11, falling between Holy-Moon and Winter-Moon solar months. We have another episode of Ingrid Fischer’s profound and powerful Germanic Soul-Lore, on the Fylgia.


The fylgja (‘guidance’ or ‘following spirit’, a noun related to the verb fylgja which means ‘to accompany’, ‘to help’), or fetch, is that part of the body/soul complex that receives the energies rising from Urdhr (past deeds) and Verdhandi (current deeds) and transforms them into the individual’s drives and powers which influence his life.

The manns-fylgja (ON, the fetch of a man) is always portrayed as being of the opposite sex, which is reminiscent of Jung’s animus/anima. It works on a mostly semi-conscious, psychosomatic level but individuals who have taken up communication with their unconscious will come to know it and integrate it into their conscious psyche. This is part of what I mean with ‘taking one’s fate into one’s own hands’. The fylgja (at least the manns- and the ættar-fylgja) is passed on after the death of an individual mostly within one family, and we can see why people in old times put great emphasis on their ancestors. This is also partly the reason why it was so important to lead an honourable life and be remembered by one’s deeds.

However, once the individual has gained an insight into the past and his ættar-fylgja (ON, the family guardian spirit), it becomes more evident that the ‘being’ which seems to be ‘other’ than he, is in truth the sum total of all that he is, and all that he has done with the ‘gift’ of the Nornir when he was born.

Something more has to be said about manns- and ættar-fylgja. The first is a man’s individual fylgja, which everyone can have; some men have a very weak and underdeveloped one but powerful men have a strong fylgja. The second is the fylgja of the family or the clan and attaches itself always to the strongest member, who will also have a very strong hamingja. Our ancestors also believed that the fylgja could take on animal form (dyr-fylgja), and it depended on the man’s personality what animal this would be.

It seems that the fylgja is the most personal and individual part of the soul and puts a lot of emphasis on the personality of man; it is the most anthropomorphised of the various soul concepts and appears to have developed a will of its own.

Practical work:

If you have done the practical work over the last four weeks you should be ready to find your animal fetch or dyr-fylgja.

In the introduction to this course Ian mentioned Ristandi’s excellent work on how to get to know your dyr-fylgja, and I recommend that you try this method. This is a simple method from folk-tradition for finding out your animal fetch.

A more sophisticated, in-depth and time-consuming method is the Útiseta working or Rite of Sitting Out which is described in detail by Edred Thorsson1.

Preparation, meditation and the lone work in a secluded place outside somewhere allow for a powerful experience.

1 Edred Thorsson, The Nine Doors of Midgard, Third Revised and Expanded Edition, Texas, 2003.

Issue #10, Holy-Moon

Welcome to Issue 10, Holy-Moon. This issue goes out three days early, because I will be travelling over the New Moon.

This month we have another Rune-Poem, a document that demonstrates an initiate’s understanding of the runes. The title of Nathalie’s poem should make sense to all those who have contemplated the Allfather’s self-to-Self sacrifice on Yggdrasil, and the words of Edred Thorsson on his own contact with Odin.

Runa murmurs to me…

by Nathalie F.


FEHU is the flame of the river that spreads all over;

The essential spark to any start.

But from the bond of the snake dissensions arise.


URUZ is a horned and courageous animal;

His ferocity defies the novice.

But the nectar fertilises the valleys and fills the horns.


THURISAZ is the rage of giants;

The sleep thorn that pricks the valkyrie.

But the hammer swirls and crashes on skulls.


ANSUZ is the Lord of the Aesir;

His vital breath bestowed life.

But the guardian of the fountain does not spare his pledge.


RAIDHO is the shaman who rides;

The wheel turns and the wagon goes forth.

But he who wants to travel far will spare his mount.


KENAZ is the blacksmith’s art and the sun of the house;

The torch releases the darkness.

But the consuming fire defies the piercing stare.


GEBO is a gift for a gift;

A sacrifice to the peak of the world.

But better is to refuse what cannot be honoured.


WUNJO is the bliss of the carefree man;

Birds of a feather flock together.

But happiness has true worth only when shared.



HAGALAZ is the hail that plummets and destroys everything;

The shower strikes and releases the sacred seed.

But the ever green plain will turn green again.


NAUDHIZ oppresses chests and tightens hearts;

The vital fire flickers and resists distress.

But the hero penetrates his web and shapes it.


ISA is the icy beauty of the ford and the sleep of the furrow;

The bark of the rivers leads to the deceased.

But the destitute is chilled to the bone near the tree of crows.


JERA is an abundant harvest;

One reaps what one sows.

But everything dies and everything is reborn eternally.


EIHWAZ is the sacred tree that underpins the world;

The traveller breathes its vapours.

But its berries taste like the wheat of wolves.


PERTHRO tests luck both in combat and games;

The bold rattles the cup of fate.

But Urðr has pronounced her judgement.


ELHAZ raises his antlers to the highest in the helm of air;

The initiate soars on the wavering path.

But stung are those who draw too close.


SOWILO is the candle of the world that shows the way;

She brings hope on the hawk of the shore.

But if the Cold collapses everything will go up in smoke.



TIWAZ is the shining lantern on the pathways of the moon;

Raising towards the sky it upholds order and justice.

But the one-armed no longer wields the bough of wounds.


BERKANO is the glade that welcomes and conceals;

The ribbons twirl around the immaculate pole.

But barren the sanctuary becomes a cemetery.


EHWAZ is the close bond between a horseman and his steed;

Eager for open spaces together they hurry and glide across the worlds.

But his neighing rings like a confidence.


MANNAZ is the pleasure of the exchange between peers;

A life of valor calls for a glorious death.

But any given word is immortal.


LAGUZ is an endless stretch and the gushing source of life;

The wave stallion bursts into flame and sails seawards.

But the stand of storms works for the ferryman of souls.


INGWAZ lies buried in the depths of the earth;

Matured it tears its flesh to coddle men.

But an excess of embraces distracts from the utmost aim.


DAGAZ is the Glittering that arouses hope amongst men;

The fires of Surt consume the remains of the ancient world.

But awakened the vitki sees beyond the veil.


OTHILA is the sacred ancestral enclosure;

The Follower bonds with the worthy youngest of the noble lineage.

But each one within the boundaries has a role to assume.

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 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

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.

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”.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.