Hello again! Before I begin, I want to say that starting today with this post, I will be posting either weekly or once every two weeks a new piece on runic divination from my Galdr-Book. I hesitate to propose any sort of posting schedule for this at all, due to the work itself being unfinished, but recently I’ve been extremely cognizant of just how little time I have to learn and teach, just because the breadth and depth of the topics I want to explore is so enormous. No matter how much understanding I achieve in this lifetime, I will undoubtedly reach the end of it wishing I had learned more.
Sorry. I don’t mean to be morbid or depressing. The point of this article is to uplift, not to bring others down. With that goal in mind, I happily present the fruits of tonight’s labor, which is essentially a set of (offered, not demanding) instructions on how to get yourself into a good state of mind for divining and conversing with whatever divine forces you choose to connect with. Especially if you’re having trouble manifesting that connection, this guide is for you. It is all based on my personal experiences, so I can say for certain that my methods work for one person at the very least. If I’ve done my job right, they will work for you too.
In the reading of runes, one seeks to attain mysterious and divine knowledge—from the gods, from dead relatives, from local spirits, or from the Akashic record itself, if you believe in that sort of thing. If one wishes to seek out what is hidden, a good state of mind for finding and interpreting information must be maintained. This can be achieved through what is ideally a series of consecutive actions, which are as follows. (Please note that I do not wish to present this as the only valid method, though; there are as many methods as there are people who practice runic divination.)
Step One: Incitement
In his records of the early Germanic peoples, the Roman historian Tacitus described what he came to know of their most powerful warriors, Wōtan’s berserkir, or bear-shirts (and to a lesser extent, the úlfhéðnar, or wolf-coats). He said this:
A particularly powerful incitement to valour is the fact that not chance nor the accident of mustering makes the troop or wedge [Bragiteilen’s note: Tacitus describes the battle formations of the Germani as “wedge formations”], but famiy and friendship. A man’s dearest possessions are close at hand; he can hear nearby the laments of his women and the wails of his children. These are the witnesses that a man reverences most, to them he looks for his highest praise.
What Tacitus was describing nearly two thousand years ago, we would still today, in certain circumstances, recognize for what it was: a heightened state of arousal caused by the rushing of chemicals through the brain that lent the berserkir seemingly supernatural strength and invulnerability. In addition to the enthusiastic encouragement of their loved ones, the berserks would also work themselves into their incredible battle frenzy by dancing, shouting and singing with wild abandon.
In the era we find ourselves, and almost everywhere in the world, we can access that same state of spiritual arousal and furious energy in much the same way, at dance clubs and music festivals. Though the enormous resonance of concert speakers, so loud that they make a person deaf to all other auditory input, might be more readily compared to the riotous celebration sounds of an ancient Roman Bacchanal than the all-encompassing destruction of battle to the death, there are elements of both in today’s equivalents, and the concept behind each example is the same: Through movement and noise-making, a person, even one alone in their own bedroom, can work themselves up to a point where the rushing blood and chemical reactions inside their own bodies transport them to another state of being. It is at once chthonic and high-soaring, both carnal and enlightened, and it amounts to one of the only truly universal experiences among human beings: inspiration to reach a higher state of consciousness, perhaps even to the point of closing the gap between God’s outreaching hand and our own.
With all that in mind, know that the divine wants you to dance and sing and be rowdy. The divine cannot maintain a good foothold in our world without also maintaining contact with you, so begin your journey towards the divine’s doorway by shouting, singing until your throat is hoarse, and moving until you collapse onto the ground, drained of all your earthly troubles and aware of nothing but your own urgent breathing. Like a thunderous footfall coming ever closer, your own pounding heartbeat will incite the divine to awaken and look out its window to see you approaching from the distant, earthly realm where you begin your journey.
Step Two: Meditation
Like the goal of incitement by dancing and noise-making is to arouse your spirit in preparation to receive much greater spiritual input than usual, the goal of meditation is to harmonize with it. With meditation, one seeks to attain self-realization through mindfulness, mindful presence in the here and now, and knowing identification with one’s core of self-awareness rather than with one’s thoughts. Harmony with both the corporeal and the spiritual is the ideal outcome of the practice of meditation. By filtering out the unnecessary, the distracting, and the actively injurious, you can distill and amplify the ingredients you now possess to make a perfect philosopher’s stone in your mind—the form of your psyche that will allow you to access the supernatural and harness it for the benefit of yourself and everything around you.
In pursuit of such a harmonious frame of mind, some people practice regular meditation sessions of an hour or more. Some allocate only five or ten minutes. Personally, I find the ideal time frame to be around 15 to 20 minutes, as less is not enough time for me to achieve a relative peace, and much more will start to become counterproductive as I start to get bored. As with anything else, though, your mileage may vary. Find the time frame that works best for you and try not to change it too drastically too quickly. I also suggest keeping a voice-recording device handy in case your flowing thoughts (as in mindfulness meditation) should provide you with a question you hadn’t thought to ask but would now like to. I recommend a voice recorder specifically and not any writing tools because simply speaking the question will cause less of an interruption in your meditation than writing it down will.
And now, here are some actual instructions for starting and completing a meditation session:
There are two meditation methods I know of. The first is “concentration meditation,” which involves focusing one’s mind on a single point, such as one’s own breathing, a single word or phrase to chant, a repetitive sound, counting prayer beads, etc. The second method is called “mindfulness meditation.” It involves observing wandering thoughts as they drift through one’s mind, without getting involved with or judging those thoughts. Before you begin, choose a method and try to get the most out of it that you can. To that end, I’ll tell you that no matter which method you choose, your body posture can make or break the session.
- The correct posture involves all of these steps:
- Sit down, legs crossed.
- Elongate and straighten your spine.
- Rest your hands.
- Relax your shoulders.
- Tuck your chin slightly.
- Relax your jaw.
- Relax your eyes, whether opened or closed.
If you are practicing concentration method, after correcting your posture you may find the use of a chant helpful. The best meditative chants embody the goals of meditation. Some of the ones I use are:
- “I am one. I am all.”
- “I am everything. I am nothing.”
- “I am the beginning. I am the end.”
- “I am good. I will be better.”
- “I am body. I am mind. I am soul. I am all.”
- “Reach in. Reach out.” (When I use this chant, I tend to visualize some tendrils like octopus arms attached to my body, curling inward as I inhale and helping me feel “oneness” within my own body and mind. Then as I exhale, the tendrils reach outward, helping me feel “all-ness,” which connects me harmoniously with the rest of the world.)
Instead of using a short chant, you may also find it prudent to use single concentration meditation sessions to memorize single rune poems through repetition.
You may also find visualization or white noise helpful, but I don’t recommend using these at the same time as you’re using a chant, as trying to focus your mind on too many things at once will, at best, halt your progress, and at worst it will be completely counterproductive.
To get the most out of each meditation session, try to meditate at the same time every day. For me, that time is right before I lie down to sleep, as meditation helps me calm my racing thoughts and quiet my mind, and in that way I gain a little edge over my DSPS (delayed sleep phase syndrome). A body scan at the start of your meditation session may be useful to relax yourself, but be sure that your posture is correct at the end of it. Also, do not attempt to control your breathing; you should let it flow as it normally does without you thinking about it. If you become aware of your breathing and then inevitably start attempting to control it, simply “move on” from the thought and go back to your chant, white noise, or visualization, if you’re using any of those tools.
Step Three: Re-Familiarization
If you find that it helps, after you’ve emptied your mind of distractions, you can re-familiarize yourself with the set of runes you’ll be using before you get down to the business of casting/pulling and interpreting. Lay them all out in front of you; organize them into whatever categories you want, whether it’s by general divinatory meanings or more specific ones, or something else entirely, like “alphabetical” order or in the structure of the three aetts. The point is simply to make eye contact and say hello before you begin the conversation.
Step Four: Reorientation
Though you could argue that “reorienting” is the same thing as “re-familiarizing,” in this case the two words come with different connotations and recommended instructions. While by “re-familiarization” I basically meant “re-introduction” and the simplicity that you’d probably expect to go along with that sort of concept, “reorientation” as I use it here means the step that comes after re-familiarization. What is written next can apply to both people who maintain animistic worldviews and those that are less inclined to concern themselves with the concept of “the soul” at all. In either case, the way you look at it is purely a matter of semantics.
Anyway, to get to the actual point: after you “say hello” to your runes, as you would with a fellow human being, you should probably do the courteous thing and ask them how they are; whether or not they’re doing well physically and how they’re feeling emotionally, among other courteous questions that are often disdained as “small talk” by people who don’t care to know the answers. In this case, and in my opinion, in the case of talking to people as well, you should want to know the answers to the questions, as they are often very instructive on how you should proceed from there. If there are problems to be dealt with, deal with them. If you discern that you should tread carefully, do so. If everything’s going swell and your prospective conversational partner is feeling up to talking, feel free to launch into a beguiling tale about a stranger you saw at the grocery store or whatever else.
When you reorient yourself around your runes, and your runes around you, the goal should be to get a sense of what you’ll be able to do with them and how much they’ll be able to help. Like with another human, if you’re not in sync with your conversational partner, there won’t be much meaningful talking and a true understanding of anything you do talk about isn’t likely to be achieved. When you talk with someone, you always subconsciously take the personality and behavior they display into account, and shift your own personality in real time responses slightly along your personal spectrum of demeanors in order to best align yourself with them, like finding the right key to fit into a particular lock. In the case of interpreting your runes, the key that fits into the lock can be found by saying the right things after you’ve asked the courteous questions.
I imagine I’ve probably exhausted my metaphor allowance for this section by now, so now I’ll give you explicit tips on exactly how to proceed. To reorient yourself with your runes, you may find it beneficial to:
- Touch them with your different senses. Feel their weight and texture in your hands, hear the sound they make as you move them, see how they shine or cast shadows. The more sensory input you can get out of the way before you begin, even if that input is so minimal as to be barely noticeable, the less distracting it will all be.
- As you look at each of them, touch them and say their names. Recite the poems that accompany them. Call forth your memories of previous experiences with your runes.
- As you remember, close your eyes, breathe deeply, and sense the path to knowledge that each rune and each memory contains. Revel in this brief journey through your psyche; dance in turn with each small fragment of information as it taps you on the shoulder, never lingering too long with any of them. Keep moving, and eventually you will wind up on wisdom’s porch. Knock on the door and bow as it opens, and as you glide and caper inward, say, “I am here, and I would have you tell me secrets, if you should deign to open yourself to me.”
Step Five: Asking the Question
By now, you have aroused, filtered, and distilled your own spiritual energy, and greeted and made your initial small talk with the keepers of the divine knowledge you seek. You can ask your questions, and with all the effort you put into arriving in their halls, I can now promise you that they will answer. What you do with the answers they give you though is for you to decide, and as that is a wholly different topic for another time, I leave you to your conversations, and hope that they will be fruitful indeed.