I was browsing Pinterest and found a post featuring a Rune Chain crafted for home protection & goals. I thought it was a really innovative way to use runes as decor, especially the combining of runes into multi-meaning symbols (kind of like sigils). I am very interested in how people create tools and objects that ‘hold’ their intent, and this seemed like such a wonderful idea that I had to see if I could make it work for me. I am so pleased with how well it turned out!
In the original post, the author was very thorough in laying out all of her steps, so I won’t cover that again. The part that interested me most was the actual crafting of the runes and how they were combined, so that’s what I am going to focus on in my post.
Here’s a disclaimer that I feel like I should probably make: I am in no way a rune-work expert. Other than a couple of classes I’ve attended on runes, and a couple of craft days where I made sets of runes, that’s about the extent of my knowledge. They’re not a thing that I use terribly often, though I have gone through phases in the past where I’ve been more interested in using and working with them.
That said, I really like them: the having of them and holding and handling of them. I like the way they’re shaped and formed, and find them incredibly visually appealing. I like them for their simplicity and their complexity. On the surface, runes are a fairly straightforward type of tool. They can be used to create words and text, or cast for their divinatory meaning, or used on a daily basis as a meditation focus or ‘wisdom/warning of the day’ type of practice. On a deeper level, runes carry ancient memory and meaning. Using them ties the practitioner to an ancient history, and sometimes that connection is felt more than others. I like divinatory tools with more than one meaning, and runes fit that profile. To some degree, the interpretation of the runes – be it a single drawn rune for the day or a casting – is left up to the practitioner to interpret. Those interpretations vary according to so many factors, and it is that kind of personalization of practice that appeals to me so very much. That’s why this project spoke to me with such a loud voice!
I spent some time looking up the meanings of various runes, and deciding on words, meanings and aspects of their meaning that I liked. As I wrote and doodled, I found runes that worked well together or complimented each other and worked out how I wanted to combine them. Once I had a few that represented the main ideas I wanted to bring to life in the chain, I drew them in the order I planned to arrange them in on a piece of paper. Then I created a word cluster for each of my created symbols, which helped me decide what aspects I wanted to draw on, and how the runes worked together to create a specific or more focused meaning.
To start with, I created a rune symbol that combines ‘Algiz’, ‘Eihwaz’, and ‘Jera’. I really like her concept of ‘binding runes’, but I tweaked her meaning a bit; rather than a rune that reinforced the symbol above it, I chose to create a binding rune that reinforces the entire chain, and is repeated throughout it as a central feature. My binding rune pulls on the parts of the runes used throughout the chain to ensure that the goals expressed in the chain are reasonable, and that the efforts we put into realizing them are matched with the strength to see them through. There’s a protective/defensive element as well; to protect our home and family, both physically and spiritually.
I made my chain with 6 binding runes. I began the chain with it, and ended it with a binding rune, to reinforce the intent and purpose of the chain. The binding rune is also between each rune and the next, to reinforce the strength of will and restate the intent.
The second rune (and the next to the last rune) is the most complex. I am calling this the ‘marriage rune’. It’s another type of binding rune, and holds space both in the beginning and end of the chain. My husband and I celebrated 18 years of marriage (and over 20 of coupledom) the first week of August, and our marriage is the platform from which every other aspect of our home and family are built upon. It is the stable base that serves as the foundation for every aspect our lives. It is the thing without which our family would not exist, and is therefore absolutely central to anything else that will happen in our home. From that perspective, this is perhaps the most important rune form in my chain.
The runes I chose to create this symbol are ‘Ehwaz’, ‘Mannuz’, ‘Dagaz’, ‘Gebo’, ‘Wunjo’, ‘Ingwaz’, and ‘Othala’. Combined in this way, the symbol draws on the individual aspects of each of the runes used to create it to reflect the importance of, strengthen and protect our bond and union as the touchstone of our family, as well as calling on the elements of the individual runes that speak to home life, communication, harmony and joy.
After the binding runes and marriage rune, there are three focused runes, intended to reinforce the values we favor in our home, and what we want for our children, separated (and reinforced) by the binding rune between each of the three focused runes.
The first, I call the ‘prosperity’ rune. It is made up of ‘Fehu’ and ‘Uruz’. There’s an element of good fortune and luck tied to this one, but also the wisdom and vision to make sound investments and financial decisions. There’s a fair amount of self-direction as well, and since independence and leadership are two things I value for my children, I think that makes for a good combination to represent prosperity in both a financial sense and generally-in-life sense.
The second rune, I’m jokingly calling the ‘upward mobility’ symbol, and is made up of ‘Raido’ and ‘Kenaz’. In reality, it would probably better be described as the ‘self-actualization’ rune. Raido is traditionally the ‘travel’ and ‘protection in travel’ rune, which works for my kids’ futures as they’re getting to the age where plans for college and embarking on their own journeys outside of our little nuclear family are imminent. More than that, though, I am calling on the ability to see the right move and make it, and the power that is inborn within them (and in all of us) to shape our own futures into happy and successful ones. I very much want both of my children to find their calling – to find the thing or things that make their souls happy. I want them to find their unique rhythm, and their place within the rhythm of the world, and thrive there.
The third symbol is my ‘strength and endurance’ rune. It’s made up of ‘Pertho’ and ‘Nauthiz’. Pertho calls again on being able to determine your future path, and Nauthiz for self-reliance, strength and endurance. Though I am not ashamed to call on good fortune and blessings, I know that a happy life isn’t just handed to you; it takes work – and often a lot of it. Along your path, there are adversities that help shape you into the person you will become, and help you see yourself more clearly; to become who you are ultimately meant to be. Mental illness runs in my family, and it is with a realistic eye that I recognize that my children may also struggle with mental health issues, however much I hope that they escape them. Strength sometimes means accepting weakness and asking for help; endurance means recognizing when you need to stop or slow down so that you can rest and regroup before continuing on. It is those qualities that I call on in this symbol, for my children and for myself.
Finishing the chain are the marriage rune again, and the last binding rune, to seal the chain and reiterate the intent and purpose of it.
Last week (last night when I started this post) was the Full Moon in Aquarius. I took my oracle cards out, my moon journal, and my rune chain to cleanse and charge it under the light of the full moon, with palo santo and sage to smudge. It was such a pretty night; fresh from rain all day, but a clear sky towards the evening. Afterwards, I hung the chain on the back of our front door, so it’s visible every day as we come and go.
Most of us are familiar with the various names for the Full Moon, but when I went looking for the names of the New Moon, I was a little surprised to find that there weren’t any. It seems odd that such a notable recurring event wouldn’t also have names to mark the passage of time, especially pre-calendar. I’ve talked before about non-traditional elemental associations and since this is one that I am making up, I thought I’d share my thought/creative process. For each month, I looked up several things, ranging from the history/origin of the month’s name and the deity(ies) they were associated with, as well as properties and other associations that go along with them. I also considered my own personal feelings and insights. Since this is a slice of my personal practice, how I interpret the months and times of year as the cycle turns plays a role in how I chose their names.
Because it’s the first of the year, let’s start with January. Even though, for many Pagans (myself included), January isn’t the beginning of the magickal year, it’s still ‘a’ beginning. I orient myself in the years’ planning starting in January, so for me, it is a beginning. Because I typically print of create my Moon Calendar by calendar year, and because my almanac runs from January through December, this is a logical starting point to me.
The Latin word for January is ianua, or door, since January is the door to the year. January’s deity is the Roman Goddess Juno. There’s some contention with that; apparently Janus was the original deity associated thought to be associated with January as He is the God of Beginnings and Transitions, but more recent research suggests it was, in fact, Juno. Because I am a woman, happily married and mother, the association with Juno speaks to me more. She is generally thought to be linked with protection of the state and of women, love, youth, fertility and vital force, marriage, and other complex roles. In particular, Juno’s name is associated with the Latin words iuvare, “to aid, benefit”, and iuvenescendo, “rejuvenate”, which could potentially connect her to the renewal of the new and waxing moon, which suggests that she may have been revered as a moon goddess. I like that idea. The word for January, or door, fits because in a way, Juno – and thus, January – can be seen as the guardian of the new year. She holds the doors to the year ahead, and as a gatekeeper, creates the way for the new path. For me, January is a time of beginnings – it’s when I reset my calendar, I’ve filed away things from the previous calendar year and get ready for the new year ahead. It’s a time of starting fresh, of making plans and setting goals and intentions – it’s sloughing off the previous year and starting anew. Because of those ideas and concepts, I’ve decided to call January’s New Moon the Renewal Moon.
Because of the potential length of this post, I am breaking it up into several parts. I will come back and edit the list below with the links to the other posts as I make them. For now, subscribe and you’ll get future posts in your inbox!
- January – Renewal Moon
- February –
- March –
- April –
- May –
- June –
- July –
- August –
- September –
- October –
- November –
- December –
- Black Moon (2nd New Moon in a month, also called the Secret Moon or the Finding Moon)
Do you have names for the New Moons? I’d love to read about it!
Houston’s Pagan Pride day is coming up soon, and my Circle-mates and I are planning on having a vendor’s booth set up, which means that I am going into arts-and-crafty-mode very soon to prepare. I’ve been thinking about what kinds of things I have typically seen for sale at events like this and considering what I might want to make. As a consumer/practitioner, I don’t typically buy tools for my personal practice because I prefer to make them myself (for various reasons), but there are some things I can’t make, and some things I want to purchase because they have a level of craftsmanship that I lack. So in that vein, I’ve been considering what kinds might be attractive as a customer, what skills I have as a craftsman, and how the two might merge.
I have an Etsy store, but if you’ve ever clicked on the link, it’s usually closed; I don’t craft with sales in mind, so this is kind of a new thing for me. The only reason I started the store was because I went through a period of sculpture and thought the little figurines I made were cute, but I didn’t need quite so many of them! I ended up giving them away, and then lost the inspiration for sculpture, so my store has been closed for a long time. My next crafty endeavor was wood burning. Turns out I love doing that, so I started making spirit boards and boxes and other burned art projects. I kinda ran out of things I need personally, so that may be a great way to blend my talent with what someone else may be seeking.
But I am getting off-topic of what I really wanted to talk about, which is art. Yes, crafting is art, but I mean meaningful art. The argument could be made that all art is meaningful, but I am specifically talking about art with a purpose. In this case, Shadow Books (or Books of Shadows/Light/Mirrors or Grimoires – whatever you choose to call them individually or collectively – I call them all Shadow Books because it’s easier and I’m too lazy/busy to make the distinction). I love art journaling; I’ve been an avid fan for several years now. When I first started, it was just art for arts’ sake – nothing particularly meaningful behind it. But as I progressed, it took on new forms; I found myself working through personal issues through my art journals, and eventually that spread to my practice.
I was looking back through a few of my old journals, and came across these – a couple of Shadow Books in art journal format. They’re both fairly old, from around 2012. The one on the left is a more personal reflections journal (Book of Mirrors) and the one on the right is more path-based (Book of Shadows). It was interesting to go back through and read what I had written. Some of the things in the Mirror Book were dream logs, which was fun to go through. I don’t write my dreams down as often anymore and it’s actually something I miss doing now that I have had the opportunity to read back over how detailed my log was – I don’t remember that much anymore!
There is a lot of drawing in both of these books – something else I don’t do nearly as much anymore. I just don’t have the time – more to the point, I am not making the time to work on these kinds of reflections that I used to.
Over the next few weeks, I will be working on creating arts and crafts to offer to my local Pagan community. I do take pride in my work, and I put a lot of time and effort into making sure that anything I make that is to be used in practice is mindfully and intentionally made. I am grateful for both the skill and the opportunity to create beautiful things hat will serve its bearer well, and I love the thought that something I make might be passed down to a future witchling. I think this stroll back through my older books is also a wake-up call that I needed as a reminder of what I loved and to make time for that style of reflection and note-booking. As a Pagan, I like having the progression of my practice – how it’s changed and evolved over the years, and I think it will be an interesting keepsake to pass down to my children one day.
For now, I encourage you to try art journaling as a way to take notes and record how your practice looks and feels. Even if you’re not particularly ‘artsy’, it’s still a really great way to convey more than just words. If you’re raising witchlings, art journaling is a great thing to introduce to them – something you can do together!
I’ve been seeing quite a few posts on Facebook lately that talk about ‘women’s wisdom’, and the idea that all women have something of a witch inside them. That notion feels right to me; any woman who has children (be they born to her or only close to her heart) has an innate sense of them – sometimes reaching far beyond what science would consider reasonable – and yet she KNOWS when her child needs her. This sense too can be applied to her partner or spouse, siblings or even close friends – many of us have either experienced it firsthand or know of a woman who has. I don’t think that this applies only to women, of course; many men are very sensitive to the vibrations or cosmic twinges or whatever it is that makes your spidey-senses tingle. That intuition is there, if only we care to listen to it.
It’s more than just an awareness of your kindred though; it’s the connection to the moon, and the cycles of life that are inborn in women that connect us to each other and to the earth. I’ve been spending some time contemplating these connections and it’s led to some interesting thought experiments! Since I’ve been exploring Germanic paganism more of late, and I came across the witte wieven which are (depending on which source you’re looking at), either the spirits of the ‘wise women’ of a village, or the women themselves. It could also be referring to folklore and elven healers, but in the historical context, I tend to think of them more as the wise women or healers… the witches, if you will.
Witte wieven in modern Dutch literally translates to “white women”, but originally meant “wise women” in dialects of Dutch Low Saxon. Historically, the witte wieven are thought to be wise female herbalists and medicine healers who took care of people’s physical and mental ailments. It was said they had the talent for prophecy and looking into the future. They had a high status in the communities, and so when they died ceremonies were held at their grave sites to honour them. According to mythology, their spirits remained on earth, and they became living spirits (or elven beings) that either helped or hindered people who encountered them. They tended to reside in the burial sites or other sacred places. It was thought that mist on a gravehill was the spirit of the wise woman appearing, and people would bring them offerings and ask for help.
My interest in my Germanic roots, and the arrival of Spring has brought all of this together. Spring is the time of year that I start checking the medicine cabinet and preparing for fall and winter, so I thought it was interesting and appropriate that I look to the witte wieven, in my case, my maternal ancestors, to help me with that task this year. The connection of the witte weiven to traditional folk healing (so-called ‘white witches’) is an easy one to make, and so I thought it quite appropriate!
I’ll be making another post on what’s in my medicine cabinet, so be sure to check back for that!
Imbolc is a time to ‘wake the Earth’ from her slumber. For many, it is also seen as the Return of the Goddess from her trip to the Underworld that started at Samhain. Traditionally, Imbolc is the Sabbat celebrating the passing of another winter, and the start of the agricultural year. For Pagans who celebrate the Triple Goddess, Imbolc is the point where She transitions from Crone to Maiden.
A big part of Imbolc for me is the celebration and honoring of the Goddess Brigid. Brigid is a Triple Goddess, and so gets honoured in all of Her aspects. Though technically Imbolc is the beginning of Maiden energies, as a mother, the Goddesses of Fertility, Birth, Midwifery and Motherhood feature prominently in my practice since that’s where I am at this stage in my life. Brigid, being associated with midwifery, would naturally fit, along with Frigg, Hathor, Nephthys, Hera, Artemis, Bast, Diana, Hekate, and Juno, among others. With the birth of the Sun at Yule, I love the imagery of the ‘baby’ Sun nursing from the Goddess’s breast. Now that my kids are older, I sometimes miss the (admittedly sometimes frustrating) nights awake with just my baby to keep me company and Imbolc is a time to honour not only the Goddess and Her Son, but also my own.
Brigid is the Goddess of things you make with your hands, and in the aspect, as an artisan, appeals to me greatly. Imbolc is Her day; a festival and Goddess figure so important to ancient Celtic peoples that is reflected in the Christianization of Her into St. Brigid. The Church couldn’t eradicate Her as they did with other deities, so they adopted her. Craftsmen and women invoked Her in the crafting of everyday items, from clothing to farming or animal husbandry equipment, to poetry and art. I keep a mini Brigid offering dish in my kitchen window in remembrance of how essential and influential She is in daily life, and usually keep my Brigid devotional candle lit while I am crafting.
I am part of a Flamekeeping Cill for Brigid, Cill Willow, and have been for several years now. Every 20 days, each of the 19 people in our Cill takes a ‘shift’ tending the eternal flame, saving the last day for Brigid. Though I participate in the flamekeeping vigil during my appointed shift, Imbolc is also a time for communing with Her and tending Her sacred flame.
After the dearth of Winter, Imbolc is a celebration of Light – the return of the Sun and celebration of its returning power. The God may be visualized as a lusty young man, spreading his warmth and attention to the Earth (Gaia), fertilizing and encouraging the growth of the early Spring flowers and vegetation. The connections to fertility are obvious; so fertility rituals and the ‘rekindling’ of everything – activity, agriculture, the birth of animals and babies. The connection to warmth and heat and light and Fire is and important on for me. There are several ‘fire’ associated traditions that appeal to me; the snuffing and re-lighting hearth fires. We don’t have a fireplace, but have found that ritually re-lighting candles symbolizes the same. Other traditions include sweeping out the old and welcoming in the new, filling the house with the smell of baking bread, making corn dollies filled with intentions for the year, and other such ‘Spring Cleaning’ activities that set the tone for the coming season.
With the kids, taking time to celebrate the beginning of the calendar year, recalling seasonal and Sabbat Lore to strengthen their connections to their paths is always a focus. Though I don’t seek to indoctrinate my kids into any particular pathway, offering various Spring seasonal stories, recounting traditions and coming up with ways to honour that passing of season to season is important to me; much more than cementing a particular belief system is just the recognition and honoring of the Turning of the Wheel. Since this is a devotional Sabbat, it re-affirms my own path, and helps me maintain my focus for the coming year, and whatever my children take from that to form their own path works for me.
I have said in the past that I feel a special affinity for cross-quarter days (Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasadh & Samhain). These ‘in-between’ times are times of change and examination. This is when I evaluate, and make adjustments when needed, to my path or journey towards a goal. I update my journals, Shadow Books, make changes and consolidate information, and occasionally add a new Shadow Book or section in my existing Books if I need to. It’s a time of ‘housekeeping’ and organization in both a literal and symbolic sense.
This year, I am focusing on ‘simplicity’. Though I tend to focus on the Sabbat throughout the month, I have lately felt the need for a simplified ritualistic practice that marks the occasion on the day of. I recently found this Simple Imbolc Rite that really spoke to me, and thought I would share.
Here’s my Imbolc altar and simple ritual:
How did you celebrate Imbolc this year?
I really miss the alphabetical challenge that the Pagan Blog Project was doing – though I understand why they stopped, it was a fun challenge, and even though I don’t think I completed one of them ‘on time’, it did keep me writing. So I thought I’d do a modified version of it just for myself, with a more-or-less weekly alphabetical update.
I also found another site with monthly blog prompts, at Mom’s a Witch. I’ll probably work some of those in over the course of this coming year as well.
Starting with ‘A’, this week’s post is on Air in the North, Part II. A while back, for one of the other PBP posts, I did the original Air in the North post, but I’ve learned more since then and thought it was worth another post. I also met another few people who put Air in the North, which was really cool, since most of the people I practice with on a regular basis keep to traditional elemental directions.
At Pagan by Design, the article starts off with acknowledging the discrepancy and sometimes conflict among different Pagan paths regarding elemental and directional correspondences. There are a lovely few paragraphs that indicate other Pagan cultures and paths that use additional directional and elemental correspondences (of note, Chinese, with fire, wood, metal, earth and water). I particularly like the Celtic and Gaelic preference of North, East, South, West, Above, Below, Within; and the concept of the Spirit being divided into 3 – Light, Dark, and Soul. I’ve written Druidic-inspired Rituals, using only three correspondences: Land Sea & Sky; and have participated in Native American-inspired Rituals where we did a Medicine Wheel rather than a traditional Quarter Call.
Part of my preference for Air in the North comes from thinking along these lines:
The North improves mental wisdom, discovery, and logic in an illuminating fashion. Knowledge accumulated through our lives is purified, as if a swift breeze blew away all dust and confusion. We prepare for intellectual illumination as these winds sweep into our awareness. It seems that gusts of enlightened, intellectual processes of “knowing” blows into our lives.
I was also particularly intrigued to find that the Lakota People also associate North and Air. I am not Lakota, but I’ve learned a bit about them over the past few years as one of my good friends is of Lakota heritage, and identifies with some of the spiritual paths and practices of the People. That makes total sense to me, as the Dakotas would be among the first territories to feel the chill of the Northern Winter storms – Air would absolutely make sense coming from the North for them, which is a big part of my feeling that Air belongs in the North for me as well.
After a lengthy explanation of why traditional correspondences exists and speculation as to how they came about, Pagan’s Path ends with this:
For you, the wind might be warm instead of cold. The waters might be cool instead of warm. What do you “feel” when you think of each element? Does the fire rise or flicker? Does the Earth rise or spread out upon a vast land? Make your own saying and then think about where these elements fit within the cardinal directions of your location. Is it cold in the North or the South? Does the warm water flow to the South or East? Does the sun represent your fire? If so, when it rises in the East or sets in the West? Does the Earth rise up to greet you in the mountains of the East, West, or maybe some other direction? These are the things that make you connected to the elements, the directions and the Divine Energy around you. It’s not how your friend feels, or your partner thinks, or what your Teacher says is right or wrong. None of those outside forces are going to be there when YOU sit down to do a working or to commune with the Divine world around you. So this is your time to think about where you are, and what you believe. You have the answers within yourself. Just sit down, meditate a little and ask your higher self what goes where and why.
That, I think, is one of the key elements as to how ‘being Pagan’ works. “You have the answers within yourself. Just sit down, meditate a little and ask your higher self what goes where and why.” This, exactly.
Though I am pretty vocal about my preferences, I don’t have to have Air in the North to be part of a Ritual Circle. I have, and do, function just fine when someone whose correspondences differ from mine leads Ritual. In fact, I’d go a step further and say that my practice is enriched by being part of Circles where things are vastly different form how I normally do them. Being exposed to new things always adds an element of wonder to my experience within that Circle, and I have always come away from that experience with something to take back to my practice (or know with certainty that something is ‘not for me’).
If you keep non-traditional correspondences, I’d love to hear form you – what they are and why you have them!
“When celebrating the Wheel of the Year, you can interpret it many ways. You can see it as symbolic, agricultural, astrological, etc. You could even do a combination. How do you find significance of each holiday in the modern world we live in? For example, during the fall season, the holidays relate strongly to the harvest. In this day and age, most of us don’t live on a farm harvesting grain and ensuring the following year’s crops. How do you stay in touch with the roots of the holy days we observe when some times we are so far placed from them?How do you interpret the Sabbats of the Wheel of the Year and make it fit the modern world around us?”
Yule is the Winter Solstice as well; traditionally a time of rest – settling in with kith and kin by the fire, counting blessings and weathering out the last of winter. Though I’m in the Southern United States, and our temperatures reach to 80’s (F) sometimes, the sentiments are the same – gathering close to freinds and family, and counting ourselves fortunate.
Another observation that I feel is important to do is ‘Walking the Boundaries’. Every year, on the Quarter Days (Yule, Ostara, Litha & Mabon), I walk the boundaries of our property and leave Thanks and Offerings to the boundary spirits for continued good-will and protection. We share the land with Those Who Came Before, so we try to honor them with a little something.
If you’re so inclined, feel free to use the same promt and write your own blog post. Be sure to link back!