May 20th, 2008
Well I finished Runelore and I must say that it's an interesting book.. At different points I had differing opinions on it.. It is very well researched I want to say that.. Thorsson is nothing if not thorough in this book. He appears at times to repeat information, but then it shows that he is approaching things from a different angle. I had to set the book down a lot in order to get through it. This was in part so that I could digest the information in bits and pieces. If you are not up for some seriously scholarly works, Thorsson is probably not your choice. Luckily I am very happy to have access to such. He does however tout the Rune Gild a bit much for my taste. I suppose that since it is his book and his society it's his right.. But still sometimes less is more. It was a turn off to me. Also, there were a few things that I didn't agree with in his book.. For example his use of the term bisexual in describing Ymir, this, according to him is why he was able to produce progeny of his own without a mate. I hate to tell you this Mr. Thorsson, but bisexuality has nothing to do with being able to reproduce without a mate. Yes, it's a small thing, but it stuck out. There were a few other details that stuck out as well, but that was the biggest one. I disagreed with him on his description of Odhinn as amoral due to the manner in which he recovers the mead. Rather I think he is anti-ethical but that's just me. Yes, I really got into this book. It had a lot of very good points to it as well and I honestly couldn't tell you all the wonders in it. He is incredibly big on charts in this book. And, one of my favorite things, at the end of the book, he gives all the varied futharks, from the elder, to the anglo-saxon, younger and armanen. I am really looking forward to trying to master the armanen eventually. I'm in the process of trying to figure out which chart I think will translate best for this community which is going to be a chore as I like so many of them.. *sighs* But it's a work worth doing. I think overall this book is definitely worth the read. Just be prepared to take it as what it is, the work of a man who is dogged and yet, at the same time inspired.. He's capable of making mistakes and you need to keep that in mind.
I wouldn't call this a 'chart' per se. But this to me was of immense interest and I think that to most runesters it will be as well.
This is how Thorsson puts it...
"To some extent the runic tables of interpretation reveal a good deal of lore concerning the meanings of number and numerical relationships among the runes. However, as a detailed reading of the oldest texts of Germanic lore shows there are specific powers of characteristics of numbers that the aspiring runester should know. These characteristics are quite often different from those of a Mediterranean numerology."
One(1)is the number of beginnings of root causes and solitary force. It is rare in operative runecraft and in mythological references.
Two(2)is the number of cooperation of the redoubled working of tandem forces. In operative work it is sometimes used to strengthen, especially physically. In mythological lore it shows the power of teamwork between complementary pairs: Huginn/Muinn,Geri/Freki (Odhinn's wolves), `Arvakr/Alvidhr(team of horses that pulls the sun's wain), or the divine tandem `Odhinn/Loki.
Three(3)is a "holy number" that is vastly represented in lore. It indicates a complete functioning process process, and is the root force of dynamism. In runecraft, three is used to complete and quicken things--to move things to action. In the mythic lore three's abound; for example, Urdhr-Verdhandi-Skuld, `Odhinn-Vili-Ve`,the three "roots" of Yggdrasill,and the three containers of the poetic mead, `Odhroerir-S`on-Bodhn.
Four(4)is a number of stasis, of solidity and waiting. It contains power, and this is one of it's chief operative uses. In myth we learn of the four harts that chew the leaves the leaves of Yggdrasill and of four dwarves Nordhri-Austri-Sudhri-Vestri at the four cardinal directions.
Five(5)is the number of ordered time and space. The ancient Germanic week was five nights long--called in Old Norse a fimmt--which was also the interval of time one had to respond to a legal summons. It is rarely found in mythological lore,but for operative purposes it is a powerful invocatory formula.
Six(6)is the number of vibrant life and strength.This can be used to create or destroy. It is rarely found in mythic contexts.
Seven(7)is the number of death and passive contact with the "other worlds". A seven-night interval(ON sjaund,)is traditional between death and the performance of funeral rites. Not often seen in mythology. Some mythic occurrences seem to have been influenced by astrological lore.
Eight(8)is the number of complete manifestation of wholeness and perfect symmetry. It's chief significance can be found in the eightfold division of the heavens(see chapter 6). It is the number of spatial ordering. Eight is abundant in mytho-magical lore, mainly as a way to list things, for example the eight woes and their remedies.(Havamal, 137)and the eight "best things"("Grimnismal," 45).All of these these texts are to be found in the Poetic Edda.
Nine(9)is the "holiest of numbers" and the root of psycho-cosmic powers. It lends it's force to any purpose. It is the number of life eternal and death unending. Nine transforms what it touches, yet it remains eternal within itself. Its use abounds in myth and magic. Just to name a few of the many examples of the use of nine; nine are the worlds of Yggdrasill, nine are the nights `Odhinn hung upon it and is thereafter taught nine mighty songs, nine is the number in which the valkyrjur often appear to the Erulian.
Futhark is a well written book on many levels. It's not a large book by any means and if you apply yourself to it, it shouldn't take long to get through. In this book Thorsson takes the time to go indepth on the subject of the creation of taufir for magical purposes and not just the creation of runes for divination. In fact he goes indepth on the subject of Runic Numerology( a bit more time spent on it than I cared for) and also Stadhgaldr/Rune Yoga. Personally I found that I was most drawn to the concepts behind the making of Magical Talismans/Taufir and Stadhgaldr. This is not surprising as I suck with numbers. But, he gives mostly equal time to all of them I would admit. Though I think he may spend a bit more on the Numerology than on Stadhgaldr. I think that comes from personal bent more than anything if you will excuse the pun. He does go into the fact that Stadhgaldr is more than just getting into a position and holding it, it's about channeling energies through your body, and that those energies may change from point to point even on the same rune from session to session. I have to say I really enjoyed that. On the point of Talismanic Creation he discusses the entire 'birthing' of the talisman, so that it is not just an item but a being with it's own wyrd/orlog. I was impressed. He makes it so that not only an experienced Vitki can do this but someone who has never gone that route before. There are not a huge amount of charts in this book that can be translated to the computer. Most of his tables and such are drawings. I had already translated one chart when creating the community, I will look for one that can be brought forth but I'm not optimistic. Overall I think this book is very good for what it is.
So, the question I'm going to throw out to the community is this, Runes and Witchcraft, how do you see the two? Let's get some discussion going folks!
I have to say that I was sorely disappointed in this book. Mr. Pennick had his mythology off.. And I know you are probably going to get tired of hearing me state this as a reason to dislike a writer, but it sticks in my craw, if an author cannot get their mythology right, then what else are they getting wrong? You don't have to be a Heathen to understand the myths that the runes are based on. Really. Mr. Pennick had a lot of interesting information about the runes as pertained to the British Isles. I would like to think that all of it is valid, but I'm not totally sure in this case.At any rate, it was neat. One thing that was a turn off, was that he referenced Ralph Blum an awful lot, and I have no respect whatsoever for Mr. Blum, nor does any long term runester that I know of. So this again made me feel.. Iffy toward him. He did have some interesting things which he attempted to do in this book however.. For example, rather than just putting up pictures of the varied futharks, with the names of the letters beside them, Mr. Pennick briefly covered each futhark in turn, in the book. I was somewhat impressed by his attempt to do this. But, I think that he probably was trying a bit too hard at times. For example, he tried also to give 'female slants/definitions' to each of the runes. While that is nice, the definitions he gave were in my opinion stretching it on several of the runes if not 'out there' ... Also, he defines the runes as a whole as being a product of a male dominated society that had little regard for women as it concentrated mainly on plunder and so forth. I see this as a very neo-pagan attitude, and I don't see him as having a very sympathetic attitude toward Norse Culture, if this is so why is he writing a book on runes? He also states that runes should only be used as a force for 'good' and all that stuff which sounds extremely neo-paganistic. I would not deign to tell someone how to use the runes, I would only explain to them about taking personal responsibility for their actions, and give them some backing as to what might occur a result to their action. The Norse weren't worried about 'forces for good' to my knowledge. If so, why did they have Nidhing Poles? The other thing he goes into that I was interested in was Rune Yoga. There are only a few brief pages on it though, and I would have liked to have seen more. He does have some useful spreads in the back of the book. Some of them are very elegant in their simplicity. Others I think trip themselves up and frankly aren't worth the trouble.I do like the fact that he shows varied media being used for rune casting. He shows sticks being cast, he shows stones being used, and he shows rune-cards. Rather nice there. All in all? I'm not a fan of this book, if you want to buy it for the layouts, go for it. The pictures are very nice, but the content? I would grade it at about a C to a C-.
Honestly I would like to be able to recommend this book, but I cannot. I think the author tries very hard, but, he doesn't get a lot of the mythology correct. And he has for some reason,maybe randomly (he never goes into why) decided that the second aett is the aett of Heimdall as opposed to the aett of Hel or Hagal as it normally is seen to be. Yeah, that got my hackles up. He writes like someone who has a lot of ideas running around in his head but doesn't know how to express them well, and he probably should be writing fiction as opposed to writing about runes. He just doesn't make any of his reasons for why he feels that he should radically change the definitions of the runes around known, and he comes off as not being well schooled because of it.I actually had to put this book down for a significant(read over a week) period of time because I couldn't take it anymore. I ended up feeling like he was a nitwit, even though at times some of what he said made sense, more of it didn't. On a scale of 1-10 I'd rate this guy a 3. He needs to go hide in the Outback
I tried very hard to like this book as I had heard how wonderful Leaves of Yggdrassil is, and that this is essentially the same book with the name changed. In fact this is my second read through of the book because I thought I was missing something. Apparently there were some radical changes to the book as I was told last night by a friend who owns both books. Thank you to ironknot
, whom I spent some time on the phone with.( yes it's long and not very nice but it's honest continue if you will... )
We use the time in each rune study group to review the rune covered in the last study group, it tends to be a brief review though sometimes depending on what people have retained it can be extended. Then we progress on to the Rune of the Day. After we have concentrated on this, we have a session of Galdr. We try to galdr both runes but if we do not have time to do so will concentrate upon the rune of the day. We try to incorporate any projects folks have done, as far as discussion or if they have brought them, presentation. I hope this helps those who wish to become part of the working study group.
For me Jera is a very important rune. Now I am not sure how important a rune it is for many other people but it is dominant in a lot of what I do. I have come to see it as representative of Idunna for the fact that she controls the aging processes of the Gods which shows a link to youth, middle age, later age. I have come to see it as also connected with Freyr as as secondary expression of his function in that he is a deity not only of life but of death, he is god of the mound and of the alfar who are our male ancestors. Thus it has a very practical application to him. And I have come to see it as attached to Eir in that it shows the stages of healing. I also see it as indicative of the different stages I have in my relationship(s) to those deities whom I am oathed to. At varied points I work very heavily with each of them, and then I move on to the next stage, moving on so to speak in an almost cyclical pattern. There are very different aspects of each of the deities with which I work as well. Trying to pigeon hole them and say that "Freyja is thus and such, or Frigga is such, or especially that Odin can be reduced to this," could be very misleading. Each of them is extremely flexible and has different stages of development and application for the individual from what I have found. Jera, more than any other rune is almost the 'universal rune' that acts as a gateway for understanding to the individual if they will but allow themselves to step within that level of consciousness. I also think, at a very intrinsic level that it can have a balancing, almost polarizing effect upon those who are bi-polar, allowing them to learn new ways of finding their consciousness. But it must be done in a deliberate manner or it could actually further destabilize the individual. I hope that this little bit of insight has helped any who have read it. These are thoughts which have popped into my brain as of late and I am almost, 'taking notes' as it were.
One and all to runesforall
I hope we will have many discussions about runes and their impact on the world(s) here.