Journey to Retreat and Renew

This blog post is a companion to my article A Rune Journey to Retreat and Renewal presented in the December 2020 edition of The Cartomancer Magazine. It is available now as a downloaded pdf. The full journey is available there for now.

When life gets hectic, crazy, and overwhelmed with activity, taking a half an hour or so to reset is an important act for personal and spiritual growth. Sometimes, it’s as simple as reading a book, disengaging from social media, or visiting nature in some way. For cartomancers and other seers, turning to divination cards or divination tools also provides a way to take a journey of retreat and renewal. The runic journey presented here is just one way to tap into the insight and energy of the universe to guide you along this calming path.

The rune journey to retreat and renewal is a mediation designed to take some time aside to calm the mind and shock the system with a bit of a reset.  This will help gain a better perspective, be able to recognize a new idea or different approach, and perhaps just have a needed time out. 

The journey could take a short period of time up to 30 minutes or longer, depending on you. The runes create a type of “rune walk” that leads along a path from the hectic activity you are currently experiencing through a slowing and evaluation period, a revelation and recognition, and seeing the growth of that calmness reveal a renewed vigor. The runes are: kenaz, isa, naudiz, perthro, ingwaz, and berkano.

Expanded Meaning of the Runes

We gain our rune basics from three rune poems composed between the 9th to 10th centuries, written down in the late 12th to early 13th centuries, and preserved as copies later. These are the Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem (Old English; OERP), the Old Norse Rune Poem (ONRP), and the Icelandic Rune Poem (IRP).  Here are some expanded meanings of the runes used for the rune retreat meditation.

Runes clockwise from top: kenaz, isa, naudiz, perthro, ingwaz, berkano arranged in a circle.

The runes as arranged for this Runic Journey

  • Kenaz is the torch/lamp burning brightly. In the OERP, it burns brightly and shines where people are calm and relaxing. I shows us that it represents not only the action we are currently experiencing, but also that even in the light of this activity, we can relax. And likely should. Light and fire generally represent activity and action. Much that we are experiencing in modern life and society.  
  • Isa is clearly stated in all three poems as ice. There are many properties to ice. It is cold, slippery, potentially dangerous. Contrarily, it is also beautiful, it preserves, it can also bridge gaps and form large masses like glaciers. When we look the environment of ice, we find other factors to consider for our journey.  One of those is the slowing down and stilling of our activity. Ice is water. Water molecules are always swiftly in motion. As the molecules cool, they slow down and this forms ice. For this exercise, we use isa to remind us to slow down – there will be time to become active again, but for now slow down.
  • Naudiz shows us the things that are needful. When we slow down and contemplate, we can seed what the difficulties and troubles are. It is not easy to have these in our view, but when we do – we can plan how to respond to those needs, how to take them on, and to listen to it in the stillness of isa.   
  • Pertho is the revealer of mysteries, the outcome of the games played. In the OERP, it shows the warriors and community relaxing in the hall. Strive for that peace and relaxation. When you get that relaxed state of mind about something, pieces can get into place (like on a game board) and finally lead you to the solutions you need.
  • Ingwaz is one of the few runes directly connected to and named for one of the gods, Freyr – also called Ing. It is the rune of potential and fertility. Unlocking that seed of potential will require some specific factors. Factors to review during the isa and naudiz portions. These factors include the right timing, the right conditions (some are trials by fire and some by water), and preparing the ground to provide optimum circumstance for it to spring forth.
  • Berkano is the animation growth potential.  Berkano’s renewal comes from within not from without: “The poplar bears not fruit; yet without seed it brings forth suckers [shoots], for it is generated from its leaves.” (Bruce Dickins translation) Berkano is most often connected to Frigg, goddess associated with hearth, home. It’s the rune used in childbirth and to bring forth new ideas and success. This can be manifested with branches full of green leaves and reaching majestically to the sky.

Taking the Journey Through Tarot or Oracle Cards

In the article, the journey to retreat and renewal was presented with runes for a runic meditation.  But you can also use the journey outline with your favorite tarot or oracle card deck.  If you are feeling adventurous, you can use multiple decks or add the runes to  your card journey to see how they enhance or enlighten the message you received from the tarot or oracle.

Prior to beginning your meditation, shuffle the deck, pull six cards, then place them face down in either a circle or a line. As you progress in the journey, turn over the appropriate card to contemplate on the message it is providing you.

  • Position 1: What is the activity that I need to focus and work with?
  • Position 2: What can help me to slow down, retreat from the bustle, relax? 
  • Position 3: What are the greatest needs that this issue brings out?
  • Position 4: What is revealed to redirect and refocus myself?
  • Position 5: How best to prepare for that new energy to sprout and grow?
  • Position 6: What will help me put those plans into motion to come into its fullness?

That brings you back to the real world with a fresher look at a topic and a direction to move to improve its affect on you.  As with the runic journey, take the time you need to contemplate each message.

Thank you for taking the journey, either with the runes or your tarot or oracle deck. Please consider sharing your experience in the comments or via email.

Rune cards used in feature image from Runes of the Northern Light Oracle by Paola Tartara. Publisher, Llewellyn. Runes made from a Utah Quaking Aspen branch by author with crochet “Heimdall” rune bag.

Yggdrasil: Norse Divination Cards

Yggdrasil: Norse Divination Cards was published in summer 2019 by Llewellyn and is by Haukur Halldórsson with G. Hauksdottir. The deck has 81 black and white illustrated cards depicting gods, goddesses, Jotuns, Dwarfs, Elves, and other beings and realms. This oracle deck is special because, unlike other oracle decks, it includes more than the commonly known gods and goddesses of the Aesir, Vanir, and Jotunar.  The inspiration for the artwork and details are from the stories, mythology, and spiritual practices of Northern European Traditions (Vanatru, Heidhrinn Craft, Heathenry, Rokkr, Asatru, Forn Sidh, Norse Paganism, etc). 

Creators Haukur Halldórsson (artist) and G Hauksdottir (writer) open doors to the realms of beings that have a lot to explore and show us.  When I first saw the announcement in a Llewellyn catalog at my local metaphysical shop, I was immediately drawn to the artwork and excited about the potential of this deck. The tiny image showed only the box cover and four of the cards to entice my interest and anticipation for the summer release.

This was a deck that I looked forward to looking at the artwork, the divination/oracle aspect of it, and the stories that would be included. When I received the deck, I eagerly opened the box and flipped through the cards.  What a delight to see so much more of the artwork and to have the accompanying book to begin a journey with these diverse beings.  With that, here are my impressions:

DECK DETAILS

The cards come in a sturdy box, magnetic closures, and an insert that holds the cards in place. The cards are a sturdy cardstock with semi-gloss finish and a size of 3 ½ x 5 1/8”.  

This is a good size to showcase the art, but does make shuffling the deck a bit of a challenge.  Some will find it useful to utilize an over-hand shuffle or riffle shuffle the cards in smaller groups.

ARTWORK

The artwork is very detailed and interesting. Artwork in an oracle deck is pretty important because it is what draws a person to it and sparks that connection to the spirit (wyrd) of the experience. Here the artist goes in a direction not usual for oracles, black and white line work instead of the colorful/fanciful images of other decks. Here it works very well. It is detailed and evokes a sense of classic artwork that is found in very old books which used block prints for images. I really enjoy it on each card.

Halldórsson’s artwork on the characters appears to take different styles or genres.  It is subtle and when I asked about it, they mentioned that it was just the way he draws. I like that it evokes, in my untrained appreciation, the artwork of the classic era, modern Klimt or Picasso, avant garde, and some tribal elements.  It’s really a great way for each of the beings to show just a little bit of their personality.

On just a couple of the cards, the art is slightly overcrowded and probably represents better in a much larger format. When reduced to the card size, it is easy for more detailed images to become more condensed and harder to see. But this is only on a couple of them and does not render the image useless in the deck.

There are also some designs that seem a bit out of place or oddly chosen. When I showed the deck to some of my female friends, they thought that depictions of some of the goddesses diminished their power and strength. I understand their arguments and present it as a topic of thought for others to consider as they work with the goddesses on this project.

BOOK/TEXT

The book that accompanies is a good size and printed in easy to read type. It is laid out with an appropriately sized image of the card and the text of the story. The characters (they are not all gods and goddesses) are categorized into nine groups of nine beings.  Each group is connected to one of the Nine Realms of the Northern Tradition cosmology.

The interesting thing about this form of groups, is that you may be surprised by a group that Halldórsson assigns to a certain character. Rather than get upset or declare his experiences/choices as “wrong”, it creates an opportunity to look into this aspect of expression and see how it will add to your own connection to that being.

The text is written by G. Hauksdottir who includes the stories of the beings along with divination possibilities. Many of these characters do not have easily found sources from which to learn more. Some might even challenge how we look at the “accepted” explanations of them. The most obvious of these is for Urd, Verdandi, and Skuld. In this deck, they are interpreted as present, future, and past instead of the widely accepted and taught past, present, future (resp). 

When I asked G about this, she related that these are the stories they grew up with in Iceland. When looking at the Norns example, for instance, the understanding of them relies more on the nuances of language, interpretations, and how sometimes things are simplified.  I found this freeing and opened opportunities to start with these stories and learn more about a being from a different starting point and looking into those with whom I am familiar with a different approach. 

Just a couple of technical items about the text of the book. 1) A more complete table of contents would be appreciated. Currently it lists only the nine groups. Because there are so many cards with unfamiliar characters, it will be very useful to have an alphabetical listing of each card with the page number. This way, when a card is drawn it can be easily located in the book.

2) The stories are really great and it would be useful is references to where they come from (if they have such references, such as Eddas, mythology, collections, folklore, etc) would be indicated. Also that if something goes in a direction so drastically (as with the Norns), just a short explanation to help readers understand that process.

USING THE DECK

This is a large deck and has a lot of possibilities. Included is a spread for the Nine Realms (Worlds) and how each position relates to the other in a reading as well as when related cards show up in the reading.  It’s a big spread with a lot of possibilities and attention. Slightly complicated, but I think with regular use it will be easier to use. I do not think this deck will lend itself easily to the more common layouts and spreads that are included in many tarot and oracle offerings. In addition to the spread included for topics needing a lot of feedback, I think this deck will be really good companion to use with other oracle, tarot, or rune readings as clarifying or helping advice.

As with any tradition, I believe it is important to become familiar with the culture, mythology, beings, and traditions (historical and modern) that are part of that expression. This deck is based on Northern European Traditions (Icelandic, Nordic, Germanic) that has a rich mythology to explore and include when connecting with the cosmology of that wyrd (spirit). 

This is a really nice work and a very good addition to accompany a divination and spiritual practice.  You can pick up or order from your local bookstore if possible or from your preferred online retailer.  Follow @divination_yggdrasil on Facebook and Instagram.


This article appeared in The Cartomancer Magazine, June 2020. The masthead image is from the article. Order your pdf copy from thecartomansermagazine.com. Reviews have also appeared in Idunna Magazine, published by The Troth and Oak Leaves, published by ADF.

Runes laying on colorful mat

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.

Lighting the Sunwait Candles 2020

As we approach the darkest time of winter in the northern hemisphere, we also enter the period leading up to Christmas and Yule. Even amidst the commercialization and the widely associated christian traditions, Heathens and practitioners of Norse/Germanic Paganism can enjoy meaningful practices during this time.

Lighting of candles at this time of year has been traditional in northern European countries for centuries and are a mix of welcoming returning light to recognizing the birth of Jesus.

Lighting the Sunwait Candles for a Modern Tradition

Recognizing that candles are not only something for one specific religion, the tradition of the Väntljusstaken (Sunwait Candles) has been re-envisioned from the Advent Candles. I discovered this in 2017 from the post of a friend and found the page on Facebook to inspire the growth of this delightful tradition for the entire family.

It takes the premise of lighting a candle for a specific number of days or weeks prior to Christmas eve (usually twelve days) and changes some of the parameters (which are also flexible depending on the individual).  The Väntljusstaken/Sunwait Candles practice came from Swedish traditions and updated for people of today to have a meaningful experience.

It is a tradition that can be created and enjoyed by the whole family. The procedure of the event is to light one candle each week leading up to the solstice, recite the stanza of the poem that coincides with the rune/day (this can also be expanded to include meditation on what it means), and welcome the inspiration of the season. Väntljusstaken poem takes the first six letters (staves) of the Elder Futhark (F-U-TH-A-R-K) as a runic “guide” to bring in blessings for the coming year.

Listen to episode 25 the podcast about Vantljusstaken which includes a reading of the poem in Swedish and English.

Creating the Candles and Holder

Selecting and preparing the candles and candle holder for the Sunwait lighting, can be a fun experience for the family. No need to have commercially prepared materials; though that is also an option based on your ability, availability, and time. Select any six candles you want to use for the year. Any color, shape, size. Be mindful of your candle holders and how you want to decorate them (avoid flammable additional materials). Carve or draw a stave on each candle or onto the candle holder base. You can anoint each candle with an oil or incense and call/galdr the energy of each rune into the specific candle. For example, Fehu (the first rune) represents prosperity and wealth. Anoint with that energy for prosperity of health, love, job, finances, etc.

You can also creatively decorate a base to hold candles using regular holders, plates, clay pots, or however inspired. If you cannot use real flame for safety or other reasons – no worry! Use electronic candles or small lights. Your intent and enjoyment in the process is connecting to the tradition and the energy from the Web of Wyrd. (See the many examples shared on Facebook -linked above- and Instagram – @sunwait_candles – for ideas.)

2020 Dates

Sunwait dates for Thursdays prior to Winter Solstice

December 21 falls on Monday and you can begin on November 16 with the final candle lit on Dec. 21. Or you may start on December 16 and do one each night before Yule.

The Väntljusstaken / Sunwait Tradition

The lighting of the candles begins six weeks prior to the Winter Solstice/ Yule on Thursdays. Thursdays were selected because of a Swedish tradition known as Thorshelg.

“The reason for the Thursdays is that, Thursdays have a traditional significance in Scandinavian folk lore. Thursdays have been the day for trolldom (folk magic) and communicating with the gods and nature spirits long into Christian times,” explained one of the page organizers. “There are accounts as late as the 19th century where the Thorshelg (Thor’s hallow) was celebrated by inviting Thor and Frigga to the house on Thursday night”

She continued to state that other cultures have a specific holy day and that as there isn’t a one day specific to all of Heathendom universally, it makes sense for people to select what works best for them in this “tradition in development.”

Some may choose to do the activity on the six Thursdays prior to the Winter Solstice (21 December), some may  choose to do it on the day that the solstice falls upon for six weeks prior – with the final candle on 21 December, some may choose to begin six days prior with the final day on  the solstice, and some may choose another day that is special to them. “I think everyone should feel free to do as they feel most comfortable. We are creating this together,” she said.

On the chosen night, light the candle while reciting the Väntljusversen poem (available in Swedish, Dutch, French, and German on the page) or one of your choosing that is meaningful to you/your family. The rest of the ceremony is up to you to create to suit  your desires for the winter, Yule, the coming year, etc.  One thing I do with the poem is to contemplate on the energy of the rune of the week. How does that energy/power influence and interact with my life? I call on their specific energies to bless me and guide as I move into the new year.

For example: I call on fehu to give me prosperity in the things I do creatively, at work, with relationships, to generate wealth, etc. I would reach to uruz to give me the strength to meet the challenges the year will bring with the guidance of my ancestors and ability to keep going. And so forth with the rest of the runes.

Extinguish the flame when you are finished. For the next week, relight the prior candle(s), then repeat the program with the next verse of the poem. Some choose to allow all of the candles to burn down on the final night, sending the energy and intents of the working into the universe. (A note of caution: do not leave burning candles unattended, accessible to children and pets, or around flammable decorations or items.)

Vantljusstaken_Pantheon Skulptor
Sunwait Candles with statues by Pantheon Skulptor.

Väntljusversen poem

vantljusversen-swedish.jpg

Fehu – In the first of sunwait we light
The candle of Fehu so bright
Until the return of the queen of skies
May her beauty and splendor in it rise

Uruz – In the second of sunwait we light
The candle of Uruz so bright
With all that has passed and ahead of us lies
May the passing of time in it rise

Thurisaz- In the third of sunwait we light
The candle of Thurisaz so bright
When the force of winter upon us lies
May the return of spring in it rise

Ansuz – In the fourth of sunwait we light
The candle of Ansuz so bright
In worship of gods old and wise
May the powers of Regin in it rise

Raido – In the fifth of sunwait we light
The candle of Raidō so bright
In yearning for that which never dies
May our longing for new life in it rise

Kenaz – In the sixth of sunwait we light
The candle of Kenaz so bright
A light in darkness again shall arise
May the hope of yule in it rise

In Heathenry and Germanic Paganism, we develop our practices and relationships with the Gods in ways that are meaningful to each of us today. The Väntljusstaken is not a right or wrong way to honor Yule or the Gods.  It is a way to do it.  If you find this is a way that brings joy and meaningfulness to the season, please share your experiences and photos on the Väntljusstaken/Sunwait Candles and Gifts of the Wyrd Facebook and Instagram pages (@sunwait_candles and @wyrdgifts1). May your Winter Solstice/Yule Tide seasons be filled with joy and amazement.

Images used in this article are from the Väntljusstaken/Sunwait Candles Facebook page with permission. Header photo is my own.

It’s Wolfenoot Season!

AWOOOOOOOOOO!!!  Halloween/Samhain/Winter Finding/Alfarblot is passed and now heading into celebrating wolves, dogs, and pets of all kinds with Wolfenoot!

Joining me on episode 43 of the podcast is the delightful Wolfmum Jax Goss to talk about the new holiday, Wolfenoot.  

Wolfenoot (pronounced wolf-uh-noot <as in boot>) was created by in 2018 by 7-year old Wolfkid who thought it would be great to have a holiday dedicated to being nice to animals and pets. So, he invented one. And it has taken off around the world. This is the third anniversary of Wolfenoot which will occur this year (and every year) on 23 November.  

Join me to chat with Wolfmum about how the event came into being, what do do on Wolfenoot, being nice to animals, supporting charities and rescue centers when you can (either monetarily or by volunteering), and sharing small gifts with loved ones and pets. 

Although Wolfenoot is named for the Great Wolf Howly, it is not just for wolves and dogs. Find out more by joining our conversation and join the Wolfenati!  #wolfenoot #nohateonlysnootboops

Have a Howly Wolfenoot!

More about Wolfenoot: 

Official website: www.wolfenoot.com
Official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/wolfenootmom
Official Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/wolfenootcentral
Official Twitter: @realwolfenoot

Check out Wolfmum’s chats with Wolfkid about Wolfenoot in his own words at: https://wolfenoot.podbean.com/ 

Download the Wolfenoot Story as PDF here: https://sparabel.com/product/the-wolfenoot-story-pdf/

The Oracle of Freya is near!

The wait is over and the The Oracle of Freya – Journey of The Völva oracle card set is now on kickstarter (and later for sale on the website).

To “kick” off the campaign, I interviewed deck creator Bela Siol on Gifts of the Wyrd episode 42. The campaign is fully funded now and is live until November 15.

Bela is the creator of the Oracle of Nehalennia (featured on episode 22) and the Transformational Oracle of the Morrighan (featured on episode 29). These decks are still available at belasiol.com.

We have a fun time discussing her inspiration to create the Oracle of Freya and how Freya connected with her to do it.

The Kickstarter campaign is live here with an anticipated shipping in spring 2021. Back the deck at the Kickstarter campaign here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/oracledecks/the-oracle-of-freya

How to find Bela and the cards: Facebook: @belasioloracledecks Instagram: @bela.siol

Freya chant written by Bela Siol, sung and performed by Elsa Field. Facebook: @elsafieldmusic or by emailing: elsa@elsafield.co.uk

Find Gifts of the Wyrd on Podbean, Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, and possibly other podcast outlets. Follow on Facebook: @giftsofthewyrd, Instagram: @wyrdgifts1, and Twitter: @wyrdgifts.