This book will “rune” you…

Review of Taking up the Runes by Diana Paxson, revised edition of the Weiser Classic Series

Rune books have come a long way since the 1980’s when interest in the runes as a divination tool took off. There have since been many authors providing interesting experiences and perspectives on the runes which include academic works about their use to express language in the written form. One of the definitive works to come out in the last 20 years is that of Taking Up the Runes by Diana Paxson, published by Weiser Books originally released in 2005. 

As part of its Weiser Classics series, the company has given the book a fresh new look and reissued last year. Taking Up the Runes is a must have book on the shelf for anyone who is studying the esoteric use of the Runes. The new edition includes a new cover and introduction, updated bibliography and references, and a new section for the nine Anglo-Saxon rune staves added to the Elder Futhark. Other than these, changes (if any) to the text are minor. 

A comparison to many pages throughout the two books show the main text is identical to the original edition. There may be some minor updates in the more than 400 pages, but they do not appear to be significant to the greater work if there are any.

What makes this book so valuable is the collaboration of ideas, experiences, and understanding presented throughout. The book developed from a rune study course conducted by Diana with her group Hrafnar. The lessons learned and shared about the runes during that year study and subsequent groups form the basis of this work.

Another aspect that makes this book essential to a rune student is the inclusion of ideas from other authors as well as Diana’s own interpretations. By doing this, she shows that the study of the runes is truly more than relying only on one person’s understanding of the runes and how they express them. This provides input for the student to feel comfortable exploring the directions and theories that the runes themselves will lead to.

The book is developed in two parts and is set up so it can be used a study aid for a group or for an individual.  Part I explores the Elder Futhark runes taken in pairs. She provides translated text of the three rune poems: Anglo-Saxon (from which the Elder Futhark is most connected), Icelandic, and Norwegian. Each section explores ancient meanings, how the rune can be used in modern times, and a section on interpreting the rune in readings or other usages. 

Part II contains rituals, songs (with music), and meditations for each of the rune pairs. These are quite extensive and wonderful opportunities to connect on a deeper level with the runes that most books do not include.  These can be especially enlightening when doing them together with a study group, but not necessary. Some of the material was contributed by members of the study group and add that additional community gnosis and shared experience to connect to the runes and each other on the Web of Wyrd.

The new addition to the book is the inclusion of the nine rune staves from the Anglo-Saxon runes. Before getting too excited, however, this is not an in-depth exploration of these runes as with the 24 of the Elder Futhark. That would likely add another 75 pages. What she does include are the remaining five verses from the Anglo-Saxon rune poem in Old English and translated. She also wrote verses for the next four that were added which have names, but not text in the rune poem. Ben Waggoner provided Old English text for the new verses.

If you have a copy of the previous edition and wondering if you should invest in the new copy because of a lot of changes, you may not want to do it. There just isn’t that much different from the original edition that I think would make it worth the cost. However, if you are due to upgrade your old, well-worn copy of the book or haven’t picked up a copy yet, the new edition is perfect. You can easily transfer your important notes to the new copy because the page numbers are essentially the same which will enable you to find the locations to add your references. And consider having it spiral bound so it will open flat and allow for easier note taking and reading. This really improves the study experience.

For anyone studying runes, this is a valuable and essential resource. It will help lay the foundations to build a relationship with the runes and a solid background from which you can explore other interpretations and perspectives.  When you take up the runes with this work, you will indeed be runed.

Holiday Season 2021

It’s coming up on the end of 2021 and the holiday season is in full swing already with loads of things coming up and to have fun with. The biggest for me this year is the release of the second edition of The Christmas Oracle deck!

The Christmas Oracle

The Christmas Oracle is a divination deck themed for Christmas. It’s a delightful nod to the fun traditions of the season without the religious implications. The deck had an limited first edition in 2017 and this year a run of 500 copies were printed. The artwork is the same as the first edition with minor adjustment for the card placement. A full color booklet was created with the card image and meanings and edges gilded in metallic red for a sparkling ornament effect. It’s packaged in a nicely decorated telescoping box.

The artwork is colorful, good for all ages, and includes diverse representation. Listen to the Gifts of the Wyrd podcast episode 53 for an interview with Ancestral Tarot’s Nancy Hendrickson about the deck and it’s creation. You can also see a video of the cards in the deck at Jennifer Ball’s Witch House and a full review by Benebell Wen.

It’s available now for your stocking stuffers, personal use, and as a special divination gift. Join in the card-a-day share as part of #christmasoracledivination which will show each of the decks cards through Christmas day. Visit Etsy Feniks Shop for a short video, details, and to order. #thechristmasoracle


Little Book of Yule

Llewellyn’s The Little Book of Yule by Jason Mankey, published by Llewellyn, is a delightful book to get you ready for your Yule/Christmas season. Compared to other books, this hardback edition may be little at 6.5 x 5 inches in size, but it has some really nice material, tidbits, and fun things to do (exercises).

Mankey includes a lot of history and background from a variety of cultures rising from the Roman celebration to Saturnalia, to the Germanic, English, and Northern European customs developed during the Christian Middle Ages, to the modern interpretation from the United States. Rather than an academic tome filled with pages upon pages of scholarly research (that would likely end up on a shelf rarely opened), he presents the material in a readable style that is accessible to everyone in the family as well as enjoyable to read.

Throughout are projects and exercises, recipes, and rituals/divination to enhance the experiences as you read along. One of the nice aspects of the book is that Mankey doesn’t present it as “this is how it must be done.” Instead, he presents the background for the traditions and customs we enjoy today and lets the reader decide which they identify with and include into their holiday celebrations.

I enjoyed the section describing Krampus and Santa Clause. It seems that Krampus has become more popular in recent years, particularly amongst pagans, so having a little background as a starting point is nice to step off to further study. Having Dutch heritage, I was very happy to see many paragraphs devoted to Sinterklaas, who I grew up with as part of my holiday experience growing up. The recipes are fun, though I chuckle at the inclusion of a bûche de Noël which is not an easy bake.

The title using “Yule” is misleading as the book is not so much about the Nordic Yule (Jul) that one might think when looking at the title. It’s more about reclaiming the pagan roots from the Christian practices and developing ways to integrate them as a vibrant and joyful part of modern pagan practices. This will be a very nice addition to the season’s activities. * #llewellyn Pick up or order from your local book shop, from Llewellyn, or online bookseller.

Sunwait Candles/Väntljusstaken

As of this post, the Sunwait candle custom has passed its second week. The practice is a modern introduction by Swedish Heathens who adapted it from the advent candle lighting. On Thursdays for the six weeks prior to the Winter Solstice, a candle is lit and a verse of a poem recited for each of the first six of the Futhark runes. The purpose is to bring in good luck and energy for the new year.

It’s a fun activity for the family to decorate candle holders and candles and to be part of the lighting ceremony. Although the Swedish light the candles on Thursday as part of very long traditions, they can be light on the day of the week that the solstice falls upon the five weeks prior with the sixth being lit on the 21st.

For more information about the practice, listen episode 25, see the previous blog post, and follow on Facebook (@vanljusstaken) and Instagram (@sunwait_candles). #sunwaitcandles #vanljusstaken

Wolfenoot

Finally, for this post, it’s coming up to Wolfenoot on 23 November. Wolfenoot (wolf-eh-noot <as in boot>) is a totally modern, fun celebration of wolves, dogs, and pets/animals of all kinds created by a young boy out of Australia. He decided that wolves should have a special day and wrote a story about Howly the wolf who returns on the 23rd and leaves gifts for people who are kind to animals.

The lad’s mom casually mentioned it on social media as a cute thing her son did and people around the world took to it. Now in its third year, wolfenoot is being joyfully celebrated by donating to animal charities and sanctuaries, sharing photos and stories of pets, and all around kindness in the world. Hear an interview with Wolfmum on episode 43 and read the blog post here. #nohateonlysnootboops #woolfenoot find the official accounts at: FB: @wolfenootmom IG: @realwolfenoot

Enjoy the season and please share how you are celebrating on Facebook (@giftsofthewyrd) and Instagram (@wyrdgifts1).

(*) I received the book from the publisher for review. Comments reflect my own opinions.

The Jotunn War: Collected Edition

The Jotunn War by Ian Stuart Sharpe

My introduction to the Vikingverse is with this collection of books into a collected trade paperback which will include issues 1-3 of the Jotunn War and issue 4, which is released for the first time.  The collected work will contain all 4 issues.  The project is currently on Kickstarter which closes on July 17.  Good news however! It IS fully funded!  So if you are seeing this prior to 17 July, please back it now. But if you see this after, you can order from the publisher, Outland Entertainment.

I found out about the series when I was doing some research for my interview with the editors of the Althingi: The Crescent and the Northern Star anthology from the same publisher.  I was interested, but hadn’t had time to look more into it before the Kickstarter launched. So that was enough to get me motivated.

I interviewed author Ian Stuart Sharpe on episode 52 of Gifts of the Wyrd podcast and had a great conversation. Please check it out. I’m writing a short review here just to get the word out on another platform and talk about the book!

For the interview, I received a reader pdf of the book to start my adventure into the Vikingverse.  There are two other books (The All Father Paradox and Loki’s Wager) that are part of the Vikingverse as well as Old Norse for Modern Times phrase book. But what is this ‘verse being spoken of? Rather than reinvent the description, I share with you from Outland Entertainment’s webpage:

 “The Vikingverse is a parallel timeline where the Norse rule the seas and stars with restless fleets and Christianity has been put to the Viking sword.

In a series of interwoven sagas, the storied heroes of mankind emerge in new and brutal guises drawn from the pages of mythology, fighting for a future stretched to breaking point by the ever-present peril of Ragnarok.

Be Warned: the meek shan’t inherit this Earth!”

Sounds like a great adventure to me!

– Website: Outland Entertainment

Book details:

  • Creator and Writer: Ian Stuart Sharpe
  • Pencils and Inks: Devmalya Pramanik (issues 1-3) Ger Curti (issue 4)
  • Colors: Paul Little
  • Letters: Ed Dukeshire
  • Editor: Alana Joli Abbott

“Your Empire Needs You: Enlist Now”

I enjoy a good alternate timeline. A “What If?” scenario that takes a moment in time and asks what would happen if things went differently and what are some possible outcomes of those new paths? In this world, the gods, goddesses, and beings of Norse mythology are fully engaged in the Nine Worlds and we are in the midst of the battle to defend Midgard from the monstrous Jotunns. Why do the Jotunns want to conquer Midgard and who is their leader? The full details are only known to the Norns and will be revealed in due course.

The Norns from The Jotunn War issue 4

For us, we have the beautiful artwork of both Pramanik and Curti who capture the bleakness and fear of war to bring the visual glory to Sharpe’s story. It’s not cartoony and isn’t overwhelmed with details and linework; just enough to provide the visuals needed. At first, I didn’t pay attention that there were two artists. So when Curti came aboard with issue 4, I was a little surprised. But it didn’t stop me or take me out of the story and I found both art styles kept the story moving from page to page. The color design also provides a great fit that captures the mood and tone of the book well.

If you are looking for graphic novel retellings of the old Norse stories, this isn’t it. But, if you want to read stories where the sagas and eddas are real and important parts of the everyday lives of the characters, back this project and pick up the other books.  I love graphic novels and am happy to see them done as well as this is. 

The Vikingverse is available through Outland Entertainment as well as other great books, comics, and games. 

The Christmas Oracle Deck

HO! HO! HO!

A few years ago, I created an oracle deck to tap into the spirit of the Christmas season. The first printing was a limited run and is gone. With the encouragement of friends, Bela Siol, and some inquiries, I decided to see if it could be released again.

Working with Bela, we found a printer, designed a guidebook and box, and a slight tweak of the original artwork to fit on the cards. And now, The Christmas Oracle deck Kickstarter is launched through July 29!

The deck includes full color guidebook, a Christmas charm, 36-card deck, and an optional add-on reading cloth. It will make a wonderful gift for yourself and friends this holiday season.

To promote the campaign, my good friend Nancy Hendrickson took some time to talk with me about the inspiration for the deck. We had a delightful conversation about the deck, artwork, and magic of the Christmas season. Please have a listen and I hope it helps bring the spirt of Christmas about. Please consider backing for yourself and gifts for friends. Check out the podcast episode here and the kickstarter at the link above or clicking below.

#thechristmasoracle #christmastarot #oracledecks #indiedeck #indiedecks #indiedeckcreator #indiedeckcreators #wyrdgifts #giftsofthewyrdpodcast #divinationcommunity #oraclecards

2021 Mid-year Update

It has been a while since this site has been updated. And much has happened. The spring was filled with a lot of change for me and my family. Tower and Hagalaz change along with Eihwaz. a lot of time and energy was just spent on keeping things moving along and orderly, so the blog was not updated regularly. Podcast episodes were still recorded and posted. I had some very interesting guests and topics.

  • Episodes this year are:
  • 45 Ancestral Tarot author Nancy Hendrickson
  • 46 Blood Unbound: A Loki Devotional editor Bat Collazo
  • 47 5 year “Wyrd”iversary
  • 48 Freya Chat with Freya Lady Vanadis author Patty LaFayllve
  • 49 Allthingi anthology editors Joshua Gillingham and Muhammad Ahmed
  • 50 Urban Paganism with Paul Mercurio
  • 51 Circle of Frith: A Devotional to Frigg and her Handmaidens author Maira Durkan
  • 52 The Jotunn War graphic novel author Ian Sturate Sharpe

The podcast is available on Podbean’s app or giftsofthewyrd.podbean.com. It’s also now on Spotify and Stitcher as well as through Apple and Google podcasts and other podcast catchers.

Thanks for the support and please have a listen to catch up or share with others.

Follow me on Instagram at @wyrdgifts1 and FB @giftsofthewyrd

Runic View of 2021

Happy New Year and welcome to 2021!

2020 definitely has been a year, overall, that we would all like to get into the past and leave behind. The pandemic which overwhelmed the world in March 2020 is still going strong. Even as vaccines begin to cross the world, a new strain emerges as well. It will be some months before in-person meetings can begin if all goes well.

Many are doing readings for the new year. Twelve month spreads, seasonal, astrological, and other creative spreads are being used with runes, tarot, ogham, and oracle cards of many themes and styles. As part of this new year tradition, I encouraged a year ahead monthly rune pull with each month have a generic topic. I posted it daily after Winter Solstice as #12DaysofRunes to go along with the holiday traditions of Yule and Christmas.

You can elect to do a daily rune pull for 12 days, or take some time and do all 12 for the 2021 at one sitting. Here are the topics for each month. These are also a guide. You may decide to change it to fit your experiences with the month based on season, holidays you celebrate, or any other influences.

As select each rune, write down what your thoughts are about what insight it brings or how it might guide you during that month. Refer to it during the year and at the end of the year, have a look at it as a whole and see how it matched the year. Take into consideration that this is a potential snapshot based on things now. There are always possibilities for changes, but these can be referred to as advice for dealing with the month or items during that month.

Below is a handy little diagram for your runes. You can place this in a journal, a year planner, or a file on your desktop as a handy reference.

Please feel free to comment about your experiences by email or on in comments on the posts on Facebook (@GiftsoftheWyrd) or Instagram (@WyrdGifts1).

May your year be health-filled, successful, and meet your needs.