Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Book Review: Practical Guide to the Runes, by: Lisa Peschel

This is actually one of the first books I suggest people read when they are getting into the runes. Not only is the price great, but the way Lisa writes if very accessible and easy to read. She is not trying to hide everything in esoteric mumbojumbo, it's just about getting people interested in the Runes.

Starting with a quick and simple history of the runes and fallowed by a great discussion on how to make your own set of Runes, Lisa Peschel shows how easy and personal runes can be. Even though the infamous “blank rune” is included in her descriptions of the runes, she does point out that it is a modern invention by Ralph Blum. Fallowing Lisa's concise, no nonsense rune dictionary is a wonderful introduction to using the runes in divination. But, the best thing about this book is the magic section. Clear, easy to read, and one of the bindrunes that is printed in the book, specifically the prosperity bindrune, I had build on my own BEFORE reading the book. So it was very nice to see my bindrune proven by another runester.

Finally, Lisa's suggested reading shows that she did her research well and has all of the best books on runes listed up to the time of publishing in 1989. Overall, I give this book 5 stars, and consider it a must read for any beginner.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rune Talk: Fehu

Rune Talk: Fehu

Wealth is a comfort to all men;
yet must every man bestow it freely,
if he wish to gain honor in the sight of the Lord.
-The Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem, from Ragnar's Page.

source of discord among kinsmen
and fire of the sea
and path of the serpent.
-The Icelandic Rune Poem, from Ragnar's Page.

Wealth is a source of discord among kinsmen;
the wolf lives in the forest.
-The Norwegian Rune Poem, from Ragnar's Page.

Fehu is the first Rune in the futhark, it's phonic Value is F, as in Fee.

From those three Runic poems, we can gain much information on what Fehu means. We can also infer much information from other clues. From the Anglo-Saxon Poem, Fehu is wealth, but it's wealth that must be given away to stay in good graces. An exchange of energy and services. For the Icelandic Poem, wealth is also the focus but we have a bit more... The fire of the sea, and the path of the serpent. Fire of the sea has been suggested to refer to Amber, or the Nibelungenlied gold. Diana Paxson also suggests that the “path of the serpent” is referring to Fafnir's death at the hands of Siegfried his kinsman. Then with the Norwegian Rune poem, wealth being an issue with family is again brought up, but then we have a wolf living in the forest, for me, that suggests a warning to greed and that your money can be taken away from you.

What else can be inferred about Fehu? Linguistically Fehu means cattle, specifically the domesticated type. So the wealth the poems are talking about is movable wealth. Today we would think of it more as money. It can be traded, given away, and even stolen. Also with the idea of cattle, we have Productivity, fertility, and generative energy. All the things you would think of with cattle. Fehu, being the first rune, gains the meaning of beginnings. I think that's part of where the idea of “you have to have money to make money” comes from.. You have to have cattle to make cattle.

So what now? We know a little more about how Fehu works, but what's the practical use of Fehu? Well lets break this down for easy reference.

Divination: Beginnings, Wealth, Personal Pets, Energy, Improving of Health or Wealth, A person who works with Animals or Finances. Foresight and planning,

Magic: To start over, To bring Wealth and Prosperity, To give energy to a project or spell, Passion, Productivity,

The Rune poem Translations that I used were taken from Ragnar's Ragweed Forge :

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Lore: What are the Runes

Many of those reading this will already know what the Runes are, but as many of my friends have recently told me, repeating information isn't a bad thing.

What we know about the origins of the Runes are very little. There are many scholars who believe the runes date back at least to the year 50 A.C.E., if not before. This however can not be proven due to two common practices. The first is inscribe the runes onto wood. The second is scraping the runes off the wood, and burning it after it's use was done. As far as I know the earliest actual carving was found in the second century A.C.E. It is my belief that the runes themselves came from a collection of sacred symbols that had religious significance and was probably used in magic and divination. Then either one genius or a small group of people decided to collect some of the symbols an give them phonic values. There are theories as to what or who influenced the shapes and sounds of the runes, and if you are interested please feel free to explore this. Archaeological Runography is a fascinating subject, but is a little out of the range of this blog. What we can surmise from non-runic sources is a bit more varied. Tacitus, a Roman aristocrat wrote about the world outside the Roman Empire using both first-hand accounts as well as second and third hand accounts. From one of his books “The Agricola and the Germania” we have a reference to the “casting of lots” that many scholars believe reference the Runes. The Sagas of Iceland and the Vikings have many references to the use of Runes. We also have two texts, the Poetic Edda, and the Younger Edda that give some great information on the Runes, if in an indirect manner.

So, the next part of our story of the Runes begins in 400 A.C.E. with an artifact that is commonly called “The Kylver Stone”. This is the oldest artifact we yet know of that shows the Runes in a “Futhark” order. This artifact is also what many runesters and runeologists use as the basis for the “Elder Futhark”. Futhark by the way comes from the phonic values of the first 6 runes, F-U-TH-A-R-K. From here there are Hundreds of cataloged and uncataloged runic and semi-runic inscriptions found throughout most of northern Europe, as far south as Italy, and even (with some scholastic doubt) in America. Stone is the most common material, but wood, metal, bone and horn have also been found. To me, this speaks of many things. The first is the versatility of the runes, the second is to the Norse and Viking's skill at long distance travel. Now since the Norse people liked to travel so much, eventually with the change of culture, the Runes themselves changed. From this we have 3 “classic” rune rows: The Elder Futhark, The Younger Futhark, and the Anglo-Frisian Futhork. In modern times we have added to these the “Armanen”, the “Tolkien” and one or two other attempts to modernize the runes to deal with the sounds that are currently used in modern English. We will examine all of these at a later date.

So, even with all of these artifacts, very little direct information has survived on the Runes themselves. Beyond some brilliant Anthropology and Archaeological work on said artifacts, what we do have are some poems copied down by some early Christian monks. The Anglo-Saxon rune Poem, The Norwegian Rune Poem, The Icelandic rune poem, and there is also the “Abecedarium Nordmanicum”. That's it. That's the only direct source we have to date on the actual meanings of each rune.

So, in short, what we know about the Runes today has been pieced together by many brilliant minds from a large number of sources. For now, here are some good places to start dealing with the history and origins of the Runes.

Further Reading:

Wiki Runic Alphabet

Wiki Kylver Stone

Wiki Rune Poems

Sneak Peek...

I wanted to give everyone a sneak peek at the books I plan on reviewing soon. In no particular order:

"Taking up the Runes" by Diana Paxson
"A Practical Guide to the Runes" by Lisa Peschel
"Secrets of the Runes" by Nigel Pennick
"Futhark: A handbook of Rune Magic" by Edred Thorsson
"Leaves of Yggdrasil" by Freya Aswynn
"The Enchanted Alphabet" by Dr James M. Peterson
"Helrunar" by Jan Fries
"The Elements of The Runes" by Bernard King
"Rune Games" by Marijane Osborn and Stella Longland

Ohhh there are more I plan on Reviewing, but this is a good start. For example, Thorsson, also known as Stephen Flowers, has quite a number of books on the market, as does Nigel Pennick. There are other authors that I haven't listed just because i want to surprise everyone ;)

Enjoy your Anticipation!

Monday, July 5, 2010

It's time for you to pick up the Runes...

Welcome to my new Blog... I will be your guide as we explore the Runes. My goal is to give practical information on the Runes and how to use them, commentary on different books I find, and of course my own insight that i have gained in the past 20 years love affair with these curious little figures... From historical and Anthropological books, to books on Lore, Magic and Divination and when possible discussions and interviews with other runesters... I am also seeking to get my ideas sorted out for the book I have been working on for some time now, but more on that later...