Taking up the Runes

My story began long before that date in 2013 when the Runes downloaded themselves into my brain like a computer program. Yet on the day I was taking up the Runes, was the day the best part of my life began.

Do you know yourself?

In 1974 my 10th grade Sociology teacher, Harry Whiteside of Orchard Park, NY, offered our class the burning question: Do you know yourself? Consider the roles you play, your likes, dislikes, and ambitions. Yet these self-aspects are not who you are.

I took Harry’s question to heart. As my life unfolded, I was driven by an inner compass which put me in front of ideas that I needed to explore. My parents were devoted Christians and church was a regular thing that left me with more questions than answers.

As a child I felt an intimate connection with God, especially when I was exploring in Nature. An overzealous pastor, whose teachings that humanity is unworthy of God’s love, fractured that connection for me. My heart yearned to re-gain the intimate sense of God that I had felt as a child.

I remember a conversation with my mother who was a dedicated Sunday school teacher. Our talk centered around her belief that unless you were Christian, you were not going to Heaven. Curious, I asked her, “What about the souls of all the people who were born before Jesus came into the world?” According to Mom, those folks would not make it into heaven either.

Simple beliefs

There is something beautiful about the simple belief that if you believe in Jesus that is all you need to do. It serves some folks very well. I am not one of them.

Questions stick with me, especially questions that arise around the contradictions I perceive. Christianity has no monopoly on God. No single religion does. With a Minor in Religious Studies, I think religions have more in common than they are different. Reading a lot, I see bridges where other folks see divides.

I believe God is Love, and that the Judgment of God exists to guide, not condemn. The spirituality I study has become the foundation for my life. I consider myself Interfaith and a Rune Shaman. I have re-gained my intimate connection with God by changing my conditioned thinking about God.

Fear-based versus Love-based thinking

The Christian teachings of my youth taught fear more than they taught love. This is an impasse of the duality we encounter in life: either versus or, yes and no, right and wrong. When a religion or a people believe in punishment more than forgiveness of mistakes, it traps their followers and their culture into a fear-based outlook on reality. I believe we need our mistakes to learn and grow consciously, spiritually, and for our well being.

If you read further, I hope you will not settle for my conclusions, but verify from your own experience. Taking up the Runes for me was taking up a new language into the life I wanted.

The trap of language and the need to be right divides humanity

I would speak directly to humanity about the Gods and the Spirits from my experience as an Interfaith Rune Shaman, but I repel the crowd that believes there is neither God or Spirits. Yet when scientists talk quantum physics, I know that the language of science explains what I know in a different way.

People get trapped by language and how we think about reality. The need to be right enters into any argument here, and divides human beings. People assume that the way they define a word is how someone else defines a word, yet to each the meaning is entirely different. So how do we talk?

  • Dropping the need to be right
  • Be willing to listen
  • Making an effort to discern what is heard to open bridges of communication
  • We have more in common than differences

We realize that we have different beliefs about the way the world is. With effort, we can discern another person’s point of view to find areas of agreement.

Human beings are part of Nature born with the seed of conscious being.

I am a spiritual amalgam. I believe all religions–and science is a religion, too, don’t mistake it–are pathways to the divine. We can identify our own pathway to the divine by what attracts us versus what repels us.

Since my church did not feel loving or welcoming, I longed for a spiritual practice in Nature. Movies like Billy Jack, made in 1971 fueled this desire. The Native Americans did a ceremonial dance in an outdoor kiva with a rattlesnake that brought Billy Jack into his power. I wanted to experience initiations that connected me powerfully to Nature like they had.

In Harry Whiteside’s classroom, I learned about the problems of Native Americans since colonialism. I learned about the injustice colonialism did to other races on the basis of color. Yet something in my soul knew that even in our brokenness, we are all human, worthy of love and acceptance. I began questioning everything I was taught as reality.

Inside all of us is the ancestral seed of indigeny

Our way of dwelling in the Earth requires healing. How do we go about this given all that divides us? How can modern humans overcome the disconnection that separates us from Nature? Denise Linn (Kindling the Native Spirit, 5-6) writes beautifully about honoring the voice of the indigenous ancestry deep inside us.

If you trace your ancestry back far enough, you’ll discover that you have earth-based ancestors who lived in harmony with nature and understood that all things are connected. Their very survival depended upon their ability to interface with the natural world and you carry their DNA. You carry their memories. The native spirit already dwells in you!

Aboriginal lifestyles leave the biosphere less contaminated than human industry and technology. Yet I realize that as people struggle through uncertain times, change comes hard. I can only begin with myself. Ultimately, I asked: What was the indigenous faith of my ancestors before Christianity? and How can I adapt what I have learned to my modern lifestyle?

I began by exploring the idea that if God is in all things, then we dwell in an animistic universe. Taking up the Runes brought me more into connection with this idea.

If God is in all things, then we dwell in an animistic universe

Our ancient, indigenous ancestors and modern indigenous, aboriginal people know the animacy of the universe. In the animistic worldview, everything has spirit and consciousness. Webster’s 9th offers: “1 : a doctrine that the vital principle of organic development is immaterial spirit 2 : attribution of conscious life to nature or natural objects 3 : belief in the existence of spirits separable from bodies.”

The root word for spirit is the Latin “Spiritus” and means “Breath.” Technically we all have Spirit. Winds of Spirit author, Renee Baribeau, discovered numerous creation myths in which the Creator gods were wind gods. The language of spirit, energy, and consciousness mean essentially the same thing.

I have met many people who have lost a sense of wonder and reverence for life.

Fear-based thinking breeds anxiety and hopelessness. Education that emphasizes the intellect at the expense of emotional well being limits, constrains, and divides folks into extremes of poverty and wealth. Society emphasizes that wealth is a good thing; behind the facade, maintaining that wealth can be a vicious cycle of competition and appearances. Appearance is not always reality.

Modern technology can be hypnotic, capturing personal attention we might otherwise invest in the art of living. The art of living is simply being in love with ourselves and our life. To recapture a sense of being in our living adds meaning and purpose to life. The act of taking up the Runes assists this.

BEING enriches life. A new way to think about wealth is as the enjoyment of life.

Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass, is relearning the Potawatomi language of her ancestors. At one point, only nine Potawatomi speakers remained, and they are reteaching the language of their people nearly lost through assimilation. Her difficulty in learning the language arose from the very different ways that language reflects the thinking process behind it.

In Ojibwe, a language related to Potawatomi, she was frustrated by a lack of nouns and an excess of verbs. Things did not have a simple noun for a name, but the verb which included the essence of the name. Not just the simple noun “bay” but “to be a bay.” Then she suddenly understood.

The essence of language teaches us how to think
An electric current sizzled down my arm and through my finger, and practically scorched the page where that one word lay. In that moment I could smell the water of the bay, watch it rock against the shore and hear it sift onto the sand. A bay is a noun only if the water is dead. When bay is a noun, it is defined by humans, trapped between its shores and contained by the word. But the verb wiikwegamaa–to be a bay–releases the water from bondage and lets it live. To be a bay holds the wonder that, for this moment, the living water has decided to shelter itself between these shores, conversing with cedar roots and a flock of baby mergansers. Because it could do otherwise–become a stream or an ocean or a waterfall, and there are verbs for that too. To be a hill, to be a sandy beach, to be a Saturday, all are possible verbs in a world where everything is alive. Water, land, and even a day, the language a mirror for seeing the animacy of the world, the life that pulses through all things, through pines and nuthatches and mushrooms. This is the language I hear in the woods; this is the language that lets us speak of what wells up all around us.
Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass

To experience life in the fullness of our own sensory experience and with acceptance that all beings have consciousness is to regain a lost reverence for life. Without a profound awareness of Being it is easy to get trapped in ego and materialistic desires. When this is true, it does not matter how much we attain, there will always feel something is missing.

Being might be defined as the practice of being fully embodied in the present moment, mind and heart aligned with the body.

When our hearts open, we remember we contain our own light. In actuality our body is inside our spirit, not our spirit inside our body. Scientists skilled in quantum field theory and unified field theory explain the intelligence of the universe better than I do, but what I know…

From my own experience, being in tune with my own energetic field, the overlapping energy shared with another being–a plant, my dog, my husband, or a friend–I am merged with something greater than myself. This offers a taste of the Oneness that the mystics talk about.

You can experience Oneness on the land where you are

The land is alive, as fully permeated with the thrust toward life as the seed in the soil, the baby in the womb, and the lust of the father for the mother. The spirits, or energies, of the land are found in groups of plants, trees, rocks and land formations, streams, creeks, rivers, lakes, oceans, mountains, deserts, and meadows. Each has varying degrees of consciousness that can communicate with humans.

I’ve also experienced what seem to be hierarchies of spiritual realms occupied by beings who oversee the care of the natural landscapes of Earth. Folk tales have various terms for these nature beings: elves, faeries, brownies, wights, gnomes, vaettir, and more. The Overseer for the place on Earth where I live is a Druid, who when he retired from life in this dimension, took up similar duties on the astral plane.

I merged with the spirits and elementals of the land through meditation. As my practice with the land deepened, I began to meet the old Gods of my ancestors. My pre-Christian ancestors worshipped Odin, Thor, Frau Holle, the Norns, and other beings whose stories come through history to us from the Norse Mythology. I write about my experiences with them here.

Taking up the Runes is to take up a practice that connects us intimately with the life of the land, the beings of the land, and magical practices that enrich us with the land.

The Weave, the training of the Norns, and how I made peace with my contradictions

The Norns took me into the Weave and their teachings. Their way of teaching was to pose questions that I had to research to answer. They demanded of me my emotional honesty. Their teachings led me to delve deeply into my own shadows for emotional healing. To read the full story of my meeting the Norns, click here.

Because Christianity had instilled a lot of fear in me about other types of spirituality being demonic, I wanted to experiment with the Norns. Their guidance felt purposeful and good, yet my fear remained. I invited them in one day to pray and worship with me. This they did; I heard as I often do with them, the sound of the eternal OM. I lost my fear of them and could now wholly trust them.

My Ancestors were intimately connected with the life of the forest and with agriculture. In the Creation Myth of the Norse Mythology, the Creator gods–Voden, Villi, and Ve–made the first humans by giving breath, will, and heart to two trees. Unlike the Judeo-Christian myth of Genesis, there was never a fall, and humans were not disconnected from Nature. Read more here.

Being is our source-substance. There is no separation.

Why does it seem like there is separation?

In a physical body, we are separated and individuated, yet simultaneously connected by the Spirit. I like to imagine God shared his I AM with us that we might know ourselves and to know God. An awakened heart is our connecting link.

Individuals are at various levels of evolving spiritually. Some people seem more godlike because of their level of awakened consciousness, yet others are still waking up. Radical acceptance looks at that and knows we each have our own part to play for a beautiful life. We can know consciously evolved people through their level of Presence.

My vision of World War 2

The Norns paid me a visit on the night of a full moon in February 2013. I saw a city, bombed and burning, and heard shelling and the buzz of airplanes all around. They recalled to my mind the six million Jews and other folks sacrificed to the Nazi genocide, and said, “Make it right!”

I was stumped at the magnitude of that assignment, and I asked, “How do I begin to make that right?”

On a similar night, also on the night of a full moon, Odin came to me. His energy felt vibrant and upbeat. He spoke in German, “Wilkommen al kriege!” I had been diligently pursuing my Rune studies, and Odin is the God of the Runes. Again he said, “Wilkommen al kriege!” Again I was plunged into the vision of the flaming city, heard the planes, and saw the bombs. In English, he commanded, “Make it right!” Again stumped, I asked, “How?”

Taking up the Runes, I cast the Runes for a solution.

Wilkommen al kriege–Welcome the warrior

There is no way to undo what has been done. History cannot un-live such atrocities visited upon humanity by humanity. If the horrors propagated in World War 2 fail to touch human conscience, it is time to read that story again: NOT to rewrite it. I never learned about the Holocaust in the WASP public school I attended. This is another failure of modern education.

Eleven years later, I am still asking the Norns and Odin, “How am I to do what you have asked of me?” As I write this on May 31, 2024, the horrors of war continue. Israel battles Gaza in retaliation for Hamas’ brutal kidnapping, rape, and murder of Israeli women and children on October 7, 2023.

Be the light in the world

Hamas has not returned the hostages, yet the world is speaking out in support of Palestinian suffering, and against Israel. There is a worrisome trend of rising antisemitism, when people should be seeing the suffering on both sides. It is a heartbreaking situation. I have said that I stand in support of Israel against terrorism, although I don’t condone what Netanyahu is doing.

I needed to understand why I stand with Israel. My late husband was Jewish. Long before this war, he expressed his opinion that it is good Israel has its own state again, yet he felt concerned the Israeli leaders were not doing a very good job of being a light in the world.

This is why I support Israel. The people were chosen to carry their light into the world. I don’t believe that job is limited to Jews any more. It should be all of us carrying the Light of the World. It should be the job of those of us with eyes to see and ears to hear.

Dreams connect us to the Gods, Saints, and Prophets.

Last night I dreamed. The Gods came collectively and talked to me. This is the message I bear for them, from them: Humanity was created in joy, for joy. It was intended that our creative innovations be for life, in the support of life. Instead humanity has taken the killing of one another to its highest art form. The Gods remind us: BE A LIGHT IN THE WORLD.

In another dream I had, I found myself in a huge amphitheater. It was labeled the Theater of the Arch Absurd. I found myself seated next to Anthony Hopkins, the actor, who has some motivational podcasts out on living a purposeful life. Donald Trump was walking around dressed in the luscious purple robes of a professional fortune teller, and a big hat like Johnny Carson wore in his schtick on the Tonight Show.

Physical life is a theater

Physical life is a theater, our bodies are costumes, and we put on the substance of life and forget so that we might make choices that hone our spiritual development. People make errors. Mistakes help us to learn to do better next time. To own our mistakes and to be accountable is part of the path of self realization.

The level of drama on the Earth plane has approached a point of no return if humanity cannot mend its ways. I see no choice for myself but to be a light in the world. My soul cries for all who have been brutalized by war, rape, abduction, and murder. Human suffering demands I take no sides but to see the middle ground with prayer for all who are hurting.

The playing field is conscious evolution. A spiritual master has a gift of conscious humility that can acknowledge its own greatness and still be of service. It becomes an act of reverence, not arrogance. An example is in Jesus washing his disciples feet at the Last Supper.

An analysis between the Creation myth of Genesis and the Norse Creation myth can be found here.

My passion to facilitate through taking up the Runes

In these web pages I work with Odin, God of Knowledge, by taking up the Runes. The jealous God of Judaism cast humans from nature for eating from the Tree of the Knowledge. Yet on the Norse Tree of Life, Odin brought forth the Runes to share with humanity. Knowledge is celebrated.

The fundamental difference between these two religions, I feel, is self-determination. In the Christian faith, Jesus does everything for you. You are to know nothing and believe in everything the priests tell you. But in the Norse faith, your path leads to self-empowerment.

Odin’s Way of the Runes is a pathway that encourages you to explore and verify your own answers. The Runes themselves provide communication between the Subconscious and the Gods. This is knowledge and self-empowerment.

Of the many pathways to understand your own nature and your relationship to the Holy Powers, the Runes will not be for everybody. Taking up the Runes in a powerful way requires dedication and practice.

I want to give special credit to the Native American indigenous and aboriginal life ways, especially to those who have shared their teachings despite the wrongs done to them by colonialism. The rest of us need these teachings to revere the manifest and bountiful gifts of Earth. Taking up the Runes is a wonderful way to connect powerfully with the indigenous spirit of the ancestors deep within us.

Old Norse and Celtic traditions renew a closer relationship to Nature

In the Norse tradition there are three Creator-Gods: Vodun, Vili, and Ve. They gave gifts of life–breath and heart, mind and will, heart beat and the six senses–to two trees they shaped into humans: an Ash and an Elm. The trinity in the Norse mythology echoes the Judeo-Christian concept of humanity created in the image of God idea with body, heart, and mind.

Our three-natured being generally manifests as duality. This is to say we experience conflict from internal and external sources until the part of ourselves known as the Watcher or the Witness awakens within us. At that point our inner triad is aware and we can begin to learn to regulate our excesses.

Our conditioning co-exists beside our essential nature (heredity, DNA). As infants, we had no choice in the conditioning we received. We need that to get along in the world. Yet there is an equal biological imperative that we honor our essential nature as well.

Conditioning and essential nature in children

As children, in situations where authenticity threatened survival, children have chosen to sacrifice authenticity for survival (Gabor Mate The Myth of Normal). Conditioned thinking develops enough layers to mask our essential nature. This is why saints have struggled with demons, and people have a history of behaving in ways opposite to their intention, and often why accidents happen.

It seems to me that in the process of living, the choice of waking up begins at adulthood. Once we are no longer in the arena of survival, we might feel safe enough. Then, like an onion, we begin peeling back layers of conditioned thought to arrive at the seed of emotion buried in its soil. Identifying that seed, no matter how painful, frees us from the need for protective masks and layering. Now we might really grow into right relationship with who we are and with those we love. Taking up the Runes provides guidance and direction.

Awareness offers the choice of responsiveness over conditioned reactivity

The more observant and aware we become, the more “woke” we are. Conscious Masters such as Christ or Buddha are special teachers. Most of us will need to adopt a practice of intense long-term effort. I believe this effort is worthwhile and rewarding. The path you are drawn to choose contributes to your satisfaction of your life journey, giving you guidance, meaning, and purpose.

Taking up the Runes deepens understanding of Self, Humanity, and God

I began with the Runes in 2013 when like a computer download, I suddenly understood them. Not long after that, I was introduced to the Norns, the Scandinavian powers who oversee fate and destiny. I became like an apprentice to them when sporadically over the years they guided me to understand how conscious and unconscious choice weaves karma. They show me how to work within it to have a more satisfying life. My personal intention in taking up the Runes has been the personal desire for an empowering and deeper connection to the life I have.

Taking up the Runes for self-empowerment

The Runes are unconventional guides to conscious becoming. To some folks, the Runes seem another method of divination like the Tarot or Oracle cards. However, they are much deeper than this surface impression. The Runes are secrets, mysteries.

They are an alphabet, yet simultaneously they are also conscious and energetic powers that guide humanity as an interface between the Subconscious and the waking conscious. With your consent, the Runes act to bring you into deeper knowledge of yourself. They are not demonic and they do not work without your involvement.

Carl Jung and the Subconscious

Carl Jung learned from his work with the Subconscious and the Archetypes, that a deeper connection to your own Subconscious brings you into deeper connection with the soul of the world. Like Carl Jung, I have been learning this as I go. Jesus, the Christed One, said “Heaven is among you.” This is indeed the truth I have discovered in this work.

Where people fall short in their understanding, is in wanting an easier way that is without pain and suffering. Yet we have entered into Earth life, where pain, suffering, attachment, conflict, struggle, and obstacles abound. The way through is a willing acceptance to undergo, and then you rise above the difficulties with detachment, head held high, from understanding.

Self honesty and hard work are required to wake up

All ancient philosophies seem to begin with this adage: KNOW THYSELF. Yet the forces waged against this are great. It requires patience, persistence, and time. It requires a willingness to be honest with yourself, to see yourself as you are without self-incrimination, guilt, judgment, or blame.

You see there is that within us which acts to protect us against our waking up to a painful truth. Self-deception, my Gurdjieff teacher Don Petacchi used to say, is the hardest deception of all. If you enter this work with the Runes, you will meet your shadows, as well as your highest light. The struggle lies within you between your personal areas of conflict.

A mindfulness practice and the Witness

It is important now to develop a mindfulness practice, as well as a balanced attitude toward our life. We want to develop the Witness, an inner watchfulness that oversees our actions in the world. The Witness has the power to provide us with the clarity to detach and remain unidentified with the issues that come up around areas we try to buffer ourselves from.

With a daily practice as you work through these issues, you learn to let concerns pass through you until you have time to deal with them, or even decide if they are worth dealing with. With an increased capacity to let go of what is bothering you in any given moment, you also increase your capacity for more inner light and clarity. These daily practices include meditation, journaling, making art, working with earth as a gardener, or having someone you can trust to listen to you with presence and not critical judgment of your process.

Taking up the Runes

The process of becoming our authentic selves includes a struggle to see through and release the conditioning that no longer works for us. Taking up the Runes is a profound way to do this. The practice of releasing and allowing our emotions–feeling our feelings fully–means we no longer have to engage so much of our energy in repressing painful things. The Runes can guide us into getting in touch with those.

Clarity coach Brigid Hopkins once told me to step fully into my emotion, engage it wholly and it will pass. I am living proof of the truth of this, which is also being talked about by people like Brene Brown and Cathy Caminaro. When we allow ourselves to release the negative and embrace the positive, it works, it really does.

The services I offer–Rune classes, divination and oracle readings, and Rune consultation–are intended to guide others on the path as I have experienced it.

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