I am drinking a cup of tea with an Othala rune printed prominently upon it. The cup wasn’t designed by some neo-Heathen runic enthusiast; indeed, the text on the cup reads “Staff & Executive Resources”. Am I surprised? Not in the slightest. Ever since my first real initiatory experience I’ve tended to see runes everywhere. Often they seem to bear significance, though I can’t always puzzle this out.
For example, I once lived in a three storey terrace in the inner west of Sydney. In the middle of the middle floor was situated the bathroom. The bathroom tiles were decorated with a motif that featured hundred of Othala runes.
It occurred to me that, insofar as Othala might possibly be considered a symbol of Midgard, it was no accident that the room with these runes would be right in the heart and centre of the dwelling. I know, that’s a little trivial, but on the other hand, someone’s aesthetic decision was unconsciously shaped by a runic instinct, and that seems less trivial.
I wanted to document some other examples of this sort of thing. These things make me smile, because there the runes are, right where they belong, sneaking through the collective unconscious without the slightest hesitation. We are more connected to the arch-Heathens than we tend to think, floating on a deep and wild ocean of history and symbolism.
To me Dagaz represents liminality – that’s my personal take on the rune of course, but consider this little poem I wrote a while back:
Dagaz [Day] is sunlight
Dappled on yew-leaves;
The hidden revealed
Cleared through and through
seen and not seen.
I often notice that over windows people erect metal grilles in the shape of Dagaz runes. Or on doors and gates. Speaking of the latter, you get many Ingwaz runes on security gates, doors, entry alcoves, and the like. Ingwaz to me has a resonance of protective enclosure that seems to correspond nicely to this sort of co-incidence. Wire mesh fences also often are composed out of thousands of little Ingwaz shapes, too.
One example of rogue runa I often encounter is the hail form Hagalaz. It crops up on air conditioner grilles, on the covers of drains and drainage grates, and seems to appear any time there is an opening designed to let some things through but stop other things. As though it were some kind of purification device – well that’s my best guess.
I guess if hail destroys the inessential, then what is left is distilled and allowed to pass through. But this is one runic correspondence that I can’t yet fully explain to my own satisfaction.
And sometimes in elevators I see Eihwaz runes – my sense is that, just as sap flows up and down the yew tree’s trunk the elevator carries us up and down the column of the building.
So while some authors have made much of the use of rune-like shapes in old school European buildings, few have noticed that these symbols still seem to pop up with monotonous regularity and thematic coherence.
Admittedly the more self-consciously modern architecture is less likely to have these sorts of little features. Then again, modern design seems often to be divorced of any archetypal or psychically resonant content. It is pure disembodied ego in character and offers little or no shelter for mystery. The utilitarian aesthetic strips buildings of their homeliness and ironically causes them to serve their utility less well.
It doesn’t happen as much these days as it used to, but I often see rune shaped objects as I wander about the place. Sometimes scratches in the pavement or walls, sometimes in the way twigs fall from trees. Graffiti artists often unintentionally leave runic inscriptions on train barriers and tunnels. The world around me seems to pulse with runic manifestations.
Jan Fries argues that to understand the runes you need to go back to the Palaeolithic, look at the very origin of the urge to scratch symbols into stone or bone. I think he is onto something, and think that the various modern examples I’ve given here also attest to his views.
While my specific interest might be the Elder Futhark, it remains that all the Futharks grew out of a more primordial human need and practice, and we are well served to ponder the ways in which these symbols are able to well up out of the imaginations of folk who do not know anything about them consciously.
I find myself pondering whether this year I should be exploring the art of rune magic and runic inscriptions more thoroughly. Since I want to develop a really strong results magic practice, and since runes are well suited as the carriers of intention in such magic, I really ought to combine the two.
Here is a prototypical bit of magic I did last year to illustrate. We were living in a ground floor unit and new neighbours moved in upstairs. This new family had three young boys who really needed a big back yard, not to be cooped up in a little balcony. And they were pretty damn badly behaved. Soon they were dropping their rubbish in our garden in fact!
This couldn’t go on. After a few neighbourly confrontations the most flagrant misbehaviour stopped, but the people upstairs were nevertheless oppressively noisy. The family as a whole seemed riddled with conflict and a lot of sniping and backstabbing. Lovely people. And every nasty word was audible downstairs. Things got pretty intolerable.
I cast two spells to deal with the situation. The first was to make a Raidho rune out of plasticine and then place it facing up at them on the top of a cupboard. The message was move on.
The second, to control the excesses of the worst child, was to draw an image of a giant wolf eating a child. In runes I wrote “I have you now”. I then attached this to the clothes line, facing up towards the obnoxious peoples’ unit.
Results? Well the child in question suddenly pulled into line very nicely. And not long after I installed the Raidho rune the people upstairs moved out – in fact, they weren’t there very long and definitely broke the terms of their lease which in New South Wales had to be for at least six months.
I don’t know what happened, but given all the arguing going on I guess they realised that they would never be able to have stability in a small unit and moved to digs that would better accommodate them and give much-needed relief to everyone. Mission accomplished.
It took a month or two for these sigils to reach their fruition. Even if they had nothing to do with the changes that occurred, I sure felt a lot better about the situation. Doing that magic returned to me my sense of control over a frustrating situation. Psychologically speaking I think that is a very important aspect of any kind of magic or ritual and not something to be overlooked.
But I like to take credit for them moving because I specifically enchanted for them to break their lease – and they well and truly did. Call me crazy – I know I do. I had a lot of emotion behind these spells, since these people were so damn annoying. I bet that helped things along too.
So there you have it – Rogue Runa, stalking through the modern world by accident or intention. Some time soon I will have to document one of my better experiments, a runic formula for money that has made me perhaps $3,000 in my own deluded thinking – the dreaded and fearfully uttered TRIPY COMES. What ever you do, DON’T think about that phrase bringing you plentiful wealth. And don’t think about it doing that for me either. Got it?