Continuing my story of my personal journey on my heathen path, after I received the rune book for my 17th birthday in 1986, I started applying rune magic to other types of magic I was learning.
A quote from my memoir, Greater Than the Sum of My Parts:
“Cynthia and another Wiccan lady went with Jay and the regular crowd to Cavedale Road one night. She taught us to cast circles of protection to keep out evil entities. “I will demonstrate,” she said, and to our attuned senses the circle she drew in the air glowed with white light.
“That felt like moonlight,” someone said, and I had felt it too, exactly like moonlight: soft white light with indistinct edges.
“Now you try,” Cynthia directed, and we each cast our own circle in turn. Jim the Goat’s was of granite, Juleh’s a thorny briar like barbed wire, and each in turn I felt them, saw them, all of us seeing the same thing. When I cast mine, it was an electric blue glow with the twenty four runes written over it in red, repeating forever. “That looks intricate,” Cynthia said. For once even she could not identify the substance of a student’s circle.
“It’s runes,” I said. She smiled, a knowing and satisfied smile, I thought, as if remembering the book she had given me.”
The practice of rune magic led me to the gods. Here is another quote from my memoir. I've put in some additional remarks in [brackets] that were not in the quote but which the reader would have understood in the context of the book.
“I performed many rune readings for friends with my homemade set of painted river rocks. Once Jim the Goat asked me for a magical stick that would turn him into a werewolf, so I researched an appropriate set of symbols and walked along the bike path with my bundle of tools, looking for a likely oak branch. I spotted one, jumped and grabbed it and it snapped off in my hand cleanly, as if cut. When I finished the “tine”—jargon for a stick with runes on it—I remarked on this to Jim and pointed out the moss which was still wet and green, and he believed it to hold great power. Later he told me it had worked exactly as he had envisioned. Personally I had my doubts Jim could actually turn into a wolfman, but I kept it to myself.
“Doubt is my enemy,” I told myself often that summer. [That summer = the summer between high school and college when I was 17.] The runes excited my curiosity about the culture and religion that had produced them, and I made numerous trips to Berkeley with Jay to buy obscure books.
[It was 1986 and the era of buying books off the internet had not yet arrived. Living in Sonoma, the closest place to access affordable used books of the type I wanted to read was Berkeley, which was a 45 mile trip each way via California's I-580, and I did not have a car. I tagged along with my older brother Jay when he visited Berkeley.]
I decided that this was the path for me, that I had finally found a system of belief that made sense, but though I tried I could not make myself actually believe in deities. I could easily see the truth behind the myths, that the gods represented the forces that govern the universe, such as sun, earth, grain, communication, and so forth, but I could not see them as existing, only as symbolizing.
I knew if I could harness the kind of faith that Jim the Goat had in my tine, I could do incredible things, as the masters of chi did when kung fu was of the Shaolin temple, as faith healers still did the world over. I discarded Asimov’s definition of magic as any technology more advanced than one’s own, and accepted the definition that Wiccans and other pagans used, that magic was an act of will intended to affect reality. Belief was a power that could unlock the potential of my mind. I could go far beyond the simple pain suppression techniques I’d learned from the TV, and the enhanced athletic performance I’d sometimes managed in martial arts. [When I wrote about pain suppression learned from TV, I was talking about Mr. Spock from Star Trek, my childhood hero. He used his mind to ignore pain.] The question was, how to get it?
I struggled with doubts, as I’d once struggled to learn the Meditation on Nothing. Just as suddenly as with new meditations, everything clicked into place. I told myself, “I believe in myself. I know I can use magic, I’ve seen it many times. I therefore enspell myself with belief. I believe because I will myself to believe!” Then I laughed out loud with the inrush of possibility.”