***image1***Runes are the most obvious example of the sacred applications of language. They are a very ancient tool used to channel into higher energy. They usually consist of twenty-five stones, pieces of wood, crystals or slices of antler. Each rune has a symbol carved, burnt or drawn on it. These symbols come from the Runic Alphabet. There are many theories as to the origins of this alphabet, but the best contender seems to be the Elder Futhark.
This was used in the parts of Europe inhabited by Germans and Scandinavians in the 5th century. Various other communities have changed the language, but it still bears remarkable similarities to the one legend says was brought down from a tree by Odin, who hung upside down from a tree limb, waiting for higher knowledge. These symbols were used for writing and magic by the high priests.
The choice of material has to be yours. Personally I am more drawn to the energy of stones and crystals, but you can also use wood of course. Some I really liked were made from discarded pieces of deer antlers. They were collected on Exmoor by an old man, cut into slices, and then had the symbols burnt onto them. It seemed like a nice way to combine nature into the art.
When casting runes, there are various spreads that can be used, as with Tarot Cards, and you can use whichever seems right to you, from drawing one a day for yourself, to doing a full reading. The usual way is to ask a question and then pull out a handful of runes. These are tossed onto a white cloth, and any that land upside down are ignored.
Then comes the difficult part, in interpreting them, taking note of those that are touching each other, and may therefore be connected in their meaning. Some people continue to ignore the ones that landed face-down, but others say these are things on the periphery of your life, and can still hold useful information. Of course, as with any tool, users tend to develop their own meanings as they go along, but the original meanings of the most common symbols are these:
ALGIZ —This symbol has two meanings. It first acknowledges your need for healing and protection, but also recommends meditation on the painful things if life. This will make you ready for your next battle, and give you the necessary strength to face it.
ANSUZ —This symbol directs us to pay attention to our past — possibly even past lives. By looking back this way we notice all the marks of our passage and can then utilise the knowledge we have gained along our journey.
BERKANA —This symbol conjures up images of new starts and birth. This could be to do with physical birth — fertility, or it could be growth in another area of your life. It means that you should concentrate on fruitful outcomes.
DAGAZ —This symbol encourages you to help your community. As it concentrates on the daylight hours, it’s usually to do with career, and the need to bring compassion and caring into whatever you do.
EHWAZ —This is the symbol of the horse. Of course in the times of the Runic alphabet, horses were the most prized of possessions, and long journeys would be very difficult without them. So this indicates a need for us to remember and be thankful for the tools that enable us to reach higher states, for without them we would stagnate.
EIHWAZ —This is the symbol of the yew tree, which was the material used to make the Vikings’ weapons. Although today we don’t tend to kill our adversaries, the yew tree still symbolises a need to protect ourselves against the spite of others.
FEHU — This means cattle, and of course in Viking days, a man who owned many of them was considered very wealthy. The symbol would encourage you to count your blessings and realise that wasting commodities given to us by the Gods is very wrong. This could apply equally on a personal or environmental level.GEBO — Reminds you to try and live in harmony with nature. It also focuses on your Karmic balance, and tells you to acknowledge that you must lay the ground with good deeds, if you expect a good life in the future.
HAGALAZ —In ancient times the weather and the forces of nature played a greater part than they do today, so this symbol warns us that we must accept the good times with the bad. We should accept that poor weather which ruins crops will take turn and turn about with good harvest. In all things there is balance.
INGUZ —This is another symbol of fruitfulness, but it refers directly to human fertility. The Vikings believed that Meditation on this rune could bring about a much-wanted pregnancy.
ISA —This signifies a danger from severe cold. However, this can be applied to many situations and not just the weather. A relationship may be cooling for instance.
JERA —This symbol epitomises the art of patience. It’s a good one to meditate on if things aren’t moving fast enough for you. It encourages you to see the big picture.
KANO —If things are looking very dark and gloomy, this symbol tells you that a way out into the light is about to present itself. Use all your energies to watch out for and utilise this opportunity. Be aware that if all doors are closed, there may be an open window.
LAGUZ —We are all on a journey, a river of life. This symbolises the higher powers that guide us on our journey. Energy must flow, both in the spirit and in the body. Sitting in a by-water or struggling for the bank implies a delay in the inevitable. Go with the Universal flow.
MANNAZ —Though the shape doesn’t reflect it, this symbolises the circle of life, in as much as all souls are connected together and make a whole. The rune encourages you to accept others as part of yourself and see that their experiences parallel your own. Accept that every fragment of humanity s part of the whole and worthy of your respect — including yourself.
NAUTHIZ —This symbol is to remind us that we often get what we need rather than what we want. It also tells us that we should live in the moment, rather than dwelling on past hurts of living in anticipation of future ones.
OTHILA —This symbol can help you through grief of loss. What one should concentrate on in those sad times is the inheritance you have been given, not so much in the material but in wisdom, experience and loving lessons. It also says that the mantle of responsibility is now yours, and that you are permitted to try new ideas.
PERTH — This rune tells us that we should accept that for some things there is no explanation. The acceptance of this, and the trust that mysteries can be good things, can help towards happiness. The reasons for some random events are beyond our knowledge.
RAIDO – This symbol tells us that a journey is about to take place. It can be a journey of the mind, body or spirit. Meditation on this rune can help to decide the right time and route that should be taken to ensure that the journey is safe, and that we learn what we are meant to learn from it.
SOWOLU — This symbol reminds that we have all been given life by Universal powers. Just as we are physically dependent on the sun to give us life on earth, so we are dependent upon God to give us spiritual life. This knowledge and realisation brings balance between body and soul.
TEIWAZ — If you are approaching an adversarial situation, this symbol will give you strength of purpose and determination to overcome and turn the odds in your favour. It is the rune of the warrior, and will help keep you safe.
THURISAZ — We all have a dark side, and this rune acknowledges that. It tells you that you need to accept your dark side as a facet of your whole, and that your human struggle is to control that part of you, and overcome it.
THE UNKNOWABLE —This is the extra rune in this set. Most people use only twenty-four of the twenty-five. As it represents nothing it is a reminder that we come from nothing and will go back to nothing — physically. It can also be used as a focus to meditate on, and therefore face your darkest fears.
URUZ —This rune symbolises the strength of the lion. It’s to remind you that you need to live each moment with the speed and energy of the wild beast, who does not anticipate his death, but lives without fear of it. If you live your life to the full, then there is no need to fear its end, for there will be no regrets.
WUNJO —When this rune is selected it means that you have reached the place where you can be truly happy, for you have escaped from need and from pain. You have overcome a big battle and can now enjoy the spoils of your success,satisfied to the point of bliss.
It’s interesting that as I was writing these I found it very easy to tune in and put my own interpretation on the symbols whilst staying true to their original meaning. This is what the art of intuitive ‘readings’ are all about. You first learn the meanings of the symbols, words or pictures on the cards or runes or whatever you use and then you gradually learn what they mean to you and therefore what they mean to the client. This is because you have tuned into the client’s energy, and that is why readings for different people, even if they choose the same symbols, will be different for each one.
To see the details of Jenny Smedley’s story, books and cd’s, visit www.jennysmedley.com