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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in runes
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Did Odin Hang from Yggdrasil?

It's a truism of modern mythography that Odin, Lord of the Runes, hanged himself from the branches of Yggdrasil, the old Norse Tree of Life.

But did he?

According to the famous passage from Hávamál:

I know that I hung

on the windy meiðr

all nine nights:

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Teach Us Those Runes

 Geriht us þat geruni.

“Teach us those runes.”

(Old Saxon Heliand, circa 850)

 

Writing is a magical act.

The old North Sea ancestors had two words meaning “write.”

One was to scribe. That meant “to write with pen and ink,” as the Romans did. This was the newfangled way to write, with a newfangled Latin name.

But the old word, the ancestral word, was to write. This originally meant “to carve.” The first writing that the ancestors knew was the carving ("risting") of runes into wood.

Note which method they favored.

In our hyper-literate society, in which most of us write with light rather than with ink or with lead, we tend to take writing for granted.

We shouldn't.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

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“The word ‘rune’ originates in words meaning ‘secret,’ but ‘rune’ has also come to mean ‘a poem, charm, or spell.’ Runar (from the Norse) means ‘a magical sign,’ and runa (from Old German) is ‘to whisper a secret.’ ‘Hidden,’ ‘magic,’ ‘whispers,’ all words long associated with Faery, the secret country. So when we talk of runes, we are speaking of objects that have multiple meanings, letters both worldly and otherworldly in origin and aspect. Their ‘secrets’ may not reside so much in hidden meanings, but in ways of seeing the world. In this sense, each single rune creates layers of phonetics, poetry, and power built up over time. Runes are intended to endure. They record things that must be remembered or heeded. Runes are letters and words that must not be lost or wasted. They embody and express essential knowledge…”

–Brian Froud, Runes of Elfland

Several years ago I had laryngitis and was completely mute. I woke up in the morning with a crystal clear vision of the earth, suspended in space, feeling awe-struck at the majesty and complexity of this planet whirling through space, part of the vast, unfathomable universe. It seemed so clear to me that I was seeing the “invisible net of incarnation” of which we are all a part, the earth held in this enormous web of the universe. Upon rising for the day, I was thinking about my ideas about divinity and reflecting on my cosmological view of the universe as the “body” of the Goddess and the idea that the very web of life itself is the Goddess. Accompanying the sense of majesty was then a profound sense of impersonality. How can I possibly connect personally with something so vast and so powerful? So, as I sat that morning at my little corner altar in the living room, I asked (silently—I had laryngitis, remember!): “what do I need to know about the personalization of the divine?” I drew a Crone Stone from my little bag by the altar…

Remember the laryngitis and then also imagine the huge smile on my face when the stone I drew was, “The Speaker,” with the questions included in the interpretation, “is your voice being heard?” and “how will you share your voice with the world?” And then the final message, “let your voice pour forth like a flowing river…” At this moment I felt I had received an answer to my wonderings—that the Goddess is both as enormous and impersonal as my vision of the web holding the earth and yet also personal enough to offer me this cosmic “wink” through my Crone Stone.

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The Passion-Saga of Thurid Jónsdóttir: A Tale of Witchcraft and Revenge

Iceland, 1655. The reverend Jón Magnússon is convinced that he's bewitched.

The devil haunts him whenever he tries to carry out his priestly functions. His livestock have fallen ill. One of his servants is struck dumb.

Obviously, someone has hexed him.

His suspicions fix on two of his parishioners, a man and his son, both named Jón Jónsson. (The vast majority of Icelanders accused of, and executed for, witchcraft were men.) He denounces the two to the sheriff and they are brought before the local court on charges of witchcraft.

A search of their home turns up galder-books and galder-staves. Galder—sung magic—has long been a primary form of magic in the North. (The word derives from galan, “sing, chant,” as in nightingale, “singer by night,” and gale, the “singing" storm.) One gales (chants) the spell and rists (engraves) it on a stave to “set” it.

On this evidence, both father and son are condemned. Both are burned alive.

But the burnings do not end the haunting.

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Pagan News Beagle: Watery Wednesday, May 18

What's "punk religion" and does Paganism fit the label? Can gods be "slackers?" And do the dead ever really leave us, even after millions of years? It's Watery Wednesday, our weekly segment on news about the Pagan community from around the globe! All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!

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The Kensington Runestone Is Genuine

Some years back a friend and I drove out to see the famous runestone in Kensington, Minnesota.

Purportedly discovered by a farmer clearing a field in 1898, the runestone's inscription records the supposed visit of 14th century “vikings” to what is now Minnesota. Experts have mostly written it off as a hoax.

I think that the experts are probably right. My initial impression when I saw the runestone was that it doesn't look like a runestone; it looks like a page from a book. Historic runic inscriptions tend to be serpentine, curvilinear, not neatly arranged on the page in lines of equal length.

But I still think that the Kensington Runestone is genuine.

Let me explain.

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