Half month of Perthro

PerthroHail to the deep waters, the collective consciousness and the mystery of mysteries.  The half month of Perthro is now at its peak (20th-21st January).  It began on January 13th and will pass over to its successor rune, Algiz, on 28th January.

The Perthro rune page provides information for Healers, Seers, Sages, Mystics and Magical Practitioners on how to work with the rune.  You can also access the free Pertheo rune journey (part of the Second Aett rune journeys series) to help you connect with the rune.

For more on birth runes, birth hours and the rune calendar visit the Birth Runes page.

Hail Zeus!

As the opening ceremony of the Olympics prepares to kick off I would like to offer those of you of a more spiritual bent the chance to do some meditation with the patron of the Olympics, Zeus.  This hymn to Zeus Kydistos was prepared for a devotional to Zeus which has been a long time in the planning, little did I know all those months ago when I set the date that the Olympic torch would be making its way through my home town that very day.  Little did I know as Zeus gave me the words for my hymn that I would be singing ‘Zeus reign over us’ over and over again for the last few weeks – and he has been well and truly raining over us (his pun, not mine, I promise).   The hymn is just under seventeen minutes long so make yourself comfy before you listen.

Please feel free to use the hymn for your own devotional work.  It is for Zeus Kydistos, Zeus Most Glorious.  Hail to Zeus during your great festival.

Latest research on the legendary Viking sunstone

On Radio 4 this week Material World includes an interview with Vasudevan Lakshminarayanan who is publishing the latest findings concerning the Viking sunstone.  In legend we are told that the Vikings used a ‘sunstone’ to navigate their ships and many since have tried to ascertain what stone this might be.  In recent years Iceland Spar (a particular form of calcite) has been the most popular candidate and now Lakshminarayan confirms that his research has found that Iceland Spar can be used to determine the position of the sun on a ‘sunless’ day.

The sunstone is traditionally linked with Sowilo, the rune of the sun which is also known as the ‘joy of seafarers’. Although the link between Sowilo and Iceland Spar has been around for some time, it is very exciting to get another piece of evidence which seems to confirm this link and also provides us with a clear and practical demonstartion of the existence of the mythical ‘sunstone’ – a navigation methods which pre-dated even the compass.

Crystal Healing

Crystals have been used for healing and magic since ancient times. Cultures including Egyptian, Inca, Aztec, Greek and Stone Age European all worked with these beautiful gifts of the earth.  Priests, shamans, magicians and healers used crystals to contain, transmit, restore, rebalance and extract energy; building a huge body of lore around the properties, uses and benefits of crystals, stones and metals.

Today holistic healing is often understood as working with vibration – every object, every energy, every thing has its own vibration which we can work with to bring about change.  Modern science has now confirmed that different crystals resonate at different frequencies, creating unique vibrations.  This discovery helps to explain why crystals of different mineral content, structure, and colour work to assist with particular diseases, disorders and imbalances.

My own training incorporates a shamanic approach to crystal healing.  Shamanic practitioners take an ‘animistic’ approach to the world around them, we don’t see crystals as simply having unique properties – we work with each crystal as an individual being, a spirit gifted from the earth to assist us in the healing of ourselves and our world.

Crystal healing works on all levels to bring about physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and soul-level healing.  Receiving a crystal healing is a beautiful experience which brings about deep relaxation and long-term healing.  I also incorporate crystal healing into shamanic ceremonies as their energies bring powerful support to power and soul retrival work.

Below you will find more information about specific aspects of crystal healing.  I have also put together a selection of books at the top of this page that you may like to look at for more in-depth information about this powerful healing method.

I learned crystal healing from the lovely Bhavna Mistry of Life Healing Values.  She teaches intuitive crystal healing right from beginners level through to incorporating crystal healing into our own established practice.

Working with a healing matrix

A healing matrix is created by placing crystals on and around the body.  Each crystal has unique properties and is ‘programmed’ by the healer with a particular healing purpose.  Each crystal performs its own unique task during the healing, but is also part of a wider matrix which works to balance, release and restore energy across the body.  Common matrixes include the placement of crystals at the chakras, the creation of a balanced pattern around the body, or a clustering of crystals around the centre of a particular illnesses, injury or site of imbalance within the body.  During a healing I will normally adjust the matrix a number of times, removing crystals that have completed specific tasks and positioning new ones to move the healing forward to the next phase.

Working with pendulums and wands

Pendulums and wands are crystals which are not placed on the body, but are rather used by your healer as tools.  You may be familar with the concept of ‘dowsing’ (using a tool to locate a lost or hidden item), this is a very common technique used within crystal healing to find areas on the body that need to be worked on.  Pendulums and wands are also used to connect your matrix together (helping the crystals ‘talk to each other’), clear and extract blockages within the energy body (e.g. opening the chakras and meridians), and promote the flow of healing energy through the matrix.

Colour healing with crystals

Colour healing is a powerful form of healing in its own right, but there is a great deal of crossover between crystal and colour healing because crystals are, after all, prized  for their beautiful colours and brilliance.  I have already mentioned that crystals work with the chakras and, of course, many of the best crystals to use with a particular chakra will share its colour.  On other occasions, a crystal matrix may be made entirely of crystals in a single colour, bringing powerful healing on a particular spectrum.

Spirit guidance

Because I work under guidance I seek to develop a relationship with each of my crystals so that I can understand how best to use them for healing.  My practice is, of course, always guided by spirit and there are times when the guiding spirits and ancestors of people I work with will also come forward to assist in the healing.

What does it feel like?

Different people experience the crystals in different ways.  Some report a gentle sensation such as the flow of reiki, while others feel heat, a pulsating energy moving through them and, every now and then, someone will ask if there was an earthquake during the healing!  It is common for people to feel that they go to a deep, peaceful place during healing and, those who are psychically sensitive may receive messages and guidance during their treatment. No healing is the same but a crystal healer will normally seek to bring you into a receptive state at the beginning so you are open to the healing and will ensure that your energy body is sealed and you are fully ‘present’ before finishing.


I enjoyed my crystal healing session very much, and felt very relaxed and refreshed – similar to the effect I get from a yoga lesson but without actually having do to anything!  I was surprised when Magin told me afterwards that she had detected a problem with my left shoulder and had spent some time working on it.  I had strained the shoulder a few weeks previously and it was causing me increasing discomfort, but I hadn’t mentioned this to her at all.  There was no instant miracle cure, but I’m pleased to report that the pain disappeared completely over the next few weeks.  Linda, North London

 I found Magin provided a warm and holding space that gave me nurturing and rest. This brought it’s own depth which allowed two important new images to emerge, which I am still working with and gaining benefit from. I would happily recommend Magin.  Tim, South East London

Thurisaz rising from the deep

It is now exactly one year since I started looking at the rune half months!  The time has gone so fast and there is so much to explore that I plan to continue this work, albeit looking at new aspects of the runes this year.  If you missed any of last year’s entries you can always look at the full listing under my rune calendar.

The runes are much more than a divinatory system, rune casting represents just one aspect of their mysteries.  Runes are also gateways into other worlds, emanations of the full spectrum of energy, repositories of wisdom, lore and healing potential.  Each one of them can be used for a range of specific purposes and, combined, their potential is limitless.  In this year’s series of articles I plan to focus much more on the Rune Crafting aspects of rune work: working with rune energies to restore balance, bring about change and transformation.  This is perhaps the less well understood part of the rune mysteries but, in my view, it is the next step on from rune casting – why bother to seek wisdom if you can then do nothing with it?  If the exercises and meditations picque your interest please don’t forget that I offer a number of in-person and correspondence courses ranging from beginner to practitioner level, my aim is to open the fabulous mysteries of the runes up to as many people as possible.

Thurisaz – stress management for your thorny side

The beauty of the runes is that they grow with you, each one has a simple shape, a simple set of meanings and a simple sound.  As you progress your familiarity with the rune increases, you learn more about its lore, associations and energies – but you can start off with the simple stuff.  The Old English rune poem describes Thurisaz as a thorn.  Envision a thorn, dark black, with a wicked point; it sits in front of you, menacing, its sharp tip poised for action.  On an emotional level Thurisaz represents what we often think of as our negative emotions: anger, jealousy, rage, fear.  In the right context these emotions are designed to protect us, they get our adrenalin pumping so we are ready to defend ourselves and our loved ones, but in this day and age we don’t often need to resort to fisticuffs or a quick sprint to our cave so these emotions have become frowned upon and we are taught to supress them – unfortunately the feelings are still there.

Back in the day Odin and his brothers killed the very first being, the giant Ymir, and created the world from his body.  When he was slain, his blood gushed out and formed the seas, but it also drowned all of his children apart from two who managed to get away and found the land of the giants ‘Jotunheim’.  This set in motion a seemingly unending conflict between Odin’s kind (the gods) and the giants; the myths are full of stories of the gods outwitting and killing the giants so that they might defend their kingdom and the kingdom of mankind.  Now, in my view, the giants have a pretty good case for being upset and, one way of looking at them, is as the emotions we are told are unacceptable – even though we darn well feel like they are totally acceptable at the time.  Now, I told you that one of the meanings of Thurisaz is ‘thorn’, well, the more common one is ‘giant’ – the rune might therefore be said to represent those primal, instinctive feelings that com about when we feel hurt or wounded. 

Imagine that the thorn tilts towards you, ready to thrust at you.  You may, like me, feel a sensation within your body as you prepare, even in your imagination, to defend yourself from attack.  This is your fight-or-flight response kicking in, it is your own manifestation of Thurisaz – you are bristling with your own thorns, creating a burst of Thurisaz energy to help you at a perceived time of danger.  The problem is that, if you don’t then need to run away or give something a good punch, then the Thurisaz energy has not discharged itself.  I can be quite a stressed-out person at times and visualising the thorn helps me to pinpoint where I am holding my stress (for me my heart and stomach feel tense and constrained).  I see the answering ‘pain’ in my body as a sign that I am holding negative Thurisaz energy inside me; don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a healthy dose of anger or a bit of an outburst every now and then, but if we hold this inside us all the time it will do us harm.

The interesting thing about all the anger, rage, fear and aggression flowing from Thurisaz, is that we wouldn’t have it if we didn’t have something to lose.  Ultimately Thurisaz is the force that protects our survival, and the survival of those we love: the giants are angry because Odin killed their great, great granddad and drowned all their other relatives in his blood, the thorn makes you bleed because it is protecting its flowers and berries.  Underneath all that dark Thurisaz energy is a flood of pure love, a will to survive.

The You Tube video below provides a short meditation which you can use as a daily exercise (perhaps during the half-month of Thurisaz), or just when you are feeling particularly crazy.  The meditation will help you to release excess energy raised as your personal thorny ‘armour’ so that it doesn’t get re-absorbed into your energy body to float around doing damage to you rather than your absent ‘enemy’.  If you feel that there is already Thurisaz energy stored inside your body (e.g. if, like me, the imaginary thorn pointing at you provokes a physical response in your body) then you might want to consider getting in contact with me to discuss rune energy healing, shamanic extraction work or a more intensive form of self-healing that we can devise together through one-to-one mentoring (see my practitioner page for further information).

For more experienced runesters

If you are already familiar with Thurisaz then you may well know that this rune is intimately connected with Mjolnir, the Hammer of Thor.  I see Mjolnir as a container of Thurisaz energy, the great hammer transforms the dark, angry energy into a controlled form which can be used for protection and blessing (as well as to smash things when necessary, of course).  In my Hammer of Thor self-study course I include a working for finding your own Hammer which you can then use to connect you more solidly to the Hammer of Thor itself.  Instead of grounding the excess Thurisaz energy into the earth (see the You Tube video), you can channel this energy into your own Hammer, storing it for use when you need it.  When using the meditation I have given, see your Hammer resting before you on the ground and channel the thorn energy into it.  You might want to draw a red Thurisaz rune upon your Hammer before you channel the energy, and then see it change into the Hammer of Thor sigil at the end of the meditation so that your Hammer knows to transform the Thurisaz energy into a more balanced form ready for you to work with at a later date.

Working with a life garden

Chalice Well Gardens, Glastonbury

A common practice within many healing traditions is the creation of an imaginative ‘safe space’ where a person can go to feel relaxed and secure during meditation and healing sessions.  The most common place to imagine is a garden, a safe, natural setting where Mother Nature can tend and care for us as we heal.

 I work with the concept of a ‘life garden’ which takes this concept a bit further.  Imagine a garden that acts as a representation of your inner world: the layout of the garden tells you about the way you think, the health of the plants tell you about how you care for yourself, the way you feel about the garden as you view it tells you how well you are fulfilling your own needs and desires.

Working with my life as a garden helps me to think like a gardener: I need to take my time in planting, tend those plants I already have, work in tune with the needs of the land and plan around the seasons.  Shamanic practice is a little like seeing underneath what is happening in the physical world: getting to the source of things, accessing and working with the root cause of what is going well and what is going wrong.  Working with a life garden is one way in which you can begin to access your own ‘inner knowing’: your imagination is a limitless mechanism for communication between your conscious and unconscious self.

One-to-one mentoring can help you develop your own ‘inner knowing’ through learning to work with concepts such as the life garden.  This means that you can take control of your own healing path, identifying for yourself areas where you need assistance to dig out deeply entrenched beliefs and patterns of negative energy which shamanic healing is designed to tackle.   

Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed and make yourself comfortable.  You may want to play some music, light a candle or burn some incense to create the right mood for yourself, but these aren’t essential.  Close your eyes and draw your attention inwards, away from the outside world into your own self; focus on your heart centre and keep drawing your attention inwards, into the quiet of your own being.  Allow all worries, images and intrusive thoughts to float away (I find that releasing my worries as I exhale is effective).  Let yourself be surrounded by darkness.

When you are ready ask your garden to reveal itself to you.  You may hear birds or water, perhaps you smell particular flowers, feel a gravel path beneath your feet, or see the green of leaves dancing in the sunlight.  Allow your senses to guide you and don’t worry if you don’t experience much at first, you have plenty of time to explore your garden at your own pace.  Make a note of all you see.  Are there other creatures in the garden?  What plants are growing there, is it open or enclosed?  Where are you particularly drawn to in the garden?  There may be areas of darkness or patches of land where the plants are sickly or dead – don’t worry, you can deal with these.  Some people have very few plants (don’t forget that some beautiful gardens are made entirely from sand, rocks and water); these gardens still have messages for you that you can access if you think like the person responsible for the garden).

A life garden can be used to help you get some perspective on your life and see what’s going well and what’s going wrong.  Let’s say you have a new project you want to initiate.  Have a look at your life garden, is there space for another plant?  If not, what needs to be cleared to allow you time to start your new project.  Time wasting activities, acts of self sabotage, and negative habits can appear in your life garden as weeds; as you work through these you can symbolically dig up the weeds to make room for the new.  When you have enough space, mark the beginning of your new projects by planting a seed in your life garden.  As time progresses check on the progress of your seed, how is it growing? Are you giving it enough care and attention?  Have weeds sprung up around it or is the soil too dry from lack of watering.  Your life garden functions on two levels: you can make changes to your life garden to represent change you want to make in your ‘real life'; you can also visit your life garden to give you an overview of what is happening in the physical world.  Your life garden is a representation of your life – what happens in one will happen in the other.

When I first started working with my life garden it was quite small and enclosed by beautiful grey stone walls, it felt safe and peaceful.  There was a door in it out onto fields at the back, and only I had the key.  I needed this safe, nurturing space to feel truly comfortable and able to relax.  Sometimes I went to the garden simply to relax, at other times I went for healing work, or to look into the waters of the well there and see the messages from my subconscious that formed on its surface. As my life progressed new objects would appear in my garden, as my personal healing and development moved forwards the garden expanded outwards and I ventured more often into the fields beyond its walls.  Finally, a crisis point came, a time when I was ready to make the big changes in my life which I knew I needed.  As part of that journey my garden was raised to the ground; I cannot say I was happy about this, it had served me so well and I still miss it.  For a long time I visited the place where my garden had been and found only darkness, then, one day, I saw a huge seed, sitting right in the centre of the dark earth – the next time I visited the place had exploded into life.  My new life garden is teaming with places to go and things to explore so I expect I will be busy for a while to come.

Blackbird and goddess

One-to-one mentoring can help you develop your own ‘inner knowing’ through learning to work with concepts such as the life garden.  This means that you can take control of your own healing path, identifying for yourself areas where you need assistance to dig out deeply entrenched beliefs and patterns of negative energy which shamanic healing is designed to tackle.

Healing through the Wheel of the Year

The Wheel of the Year consists of eight festivals which were celebrated by different peoples in ancient Europe as a means of marking the movement of the Earth around the sun and the cycle of the harvest.  The practice of celebrating the entire eight festival cycle within a single tradition is relatively modern, but it cannot be denied that the sequence of eight celebtrations, each falling approximately six weeks apart, creates a harmonious and balanced whole.  The lovely thing about the Wheel of the Year is that it doesn’t just help us to mark our progress (e.g. ‘Look how much I’ve acheived since this time last year!); it also forms a practical means through which to channel our intentions, plans and projects in line with what is happening in the world around us.  

Working with the seasons helps me to feel in tune with, and supported by, the Earth as it rotates through its natural cycle.  Below, I have put some of the common ‘themes’ for each festival (known as ‘sabbats’) which we can work with to help us harness the energies manifest in nature at any given time, and develop our own connection to the cycles of time and the land.

Samhain, 31st October (1st May southern hemisphere)

Samhain (commonly known as Halloween), it is the time when the veils between the worlds of men and the realms of the ancestors, faery and other spirit beings are at their thinnest.  It is a wonderful time for honouring our ancestors: taking time to remember our departed loved ones; giving and receiving healing through the ancestral line; seeking information and guidance from those who have gone before us.  Samhain is also a good time to work with the ‘shadow self’, the aspects of the psyche which are often unacknowledged or actively repressed – these parts of ourselves teach us valuable lessons about who we were, who we are, and who we want to become.  In 2011 StarFire Alchemy is running a special one day event dedicated to ancestral healing.

Yule, between 21st and 23rd December, dependent on the time of solstice (21st-23rd June southern hemisphere)

Yule, or Midwinter, falls on the shortest day of the year at the time of greatest darkness.  The celebration marks the re-birth of the Sun which will grow stronger from the solstice onwards.  Yule is an excellent time for contemplation of what you want to achieve in the coming year; your plans and wishes will then be strengthened as the hours of daylight grow longer.  This is also the time to celebrate the bounty you have received during the previous year, acknowledge your achievements and hopes fulfilled. 

Imbolc, 1st/2nd February (2nd August southern hemisphere)

Imbolc means ‘in the belly’, referring to pregnant ewes.  The festival celebrates the first stirring of the earth, snowdrops are blooming and we are filled with hope for the coming year.  Imbolc is strongly associated with the Celtic goddess Bride, as well as Saint Brigid; through them this the time of year is associated with purification, healing and the kindling of the creative spirit.  Imbolc is both a time to initiate the new, and say farewell to the old: shedding old habits, behavioural patterns, and outworn beliefs.

Spring Equinox, 19th-23rd March depending on the movement of the sun (19th-23rd September southern hemisphere)

The spring equinox is the point of balance in the year when the hours of day and night are equal.  It is a time of re-birthing when we are able to shed the old (like the shell of the easter egg) and bring transformation and change into our lives.  It is also an excellent time to re-examine your life balance and initiate projects to improve your health, well-being and happiness.  Intentions formed at Imbolc can be given extra strength at this time, and the Spring Equinox can also provide that last push you need to make difficult but necessary change.

Beltaine, 1st May (1st November southern hemisphere)

Beltaine is a time of union, fertility and celebration.  It is a lovely time to affirm partnerships and family connections.  Six months previously, at Samhain, the shadow self was ready to be made known; Beltaine is also a time when the veils are thin and work with the ‘gendered self’ can be very effective here.  Exploration of your masculine and feminine qualities can lead to a greater sense of wholeness within the psyche.  The idea that both men and women have feminine and masculine sides was developed by Carl Jung into the concepts of the anima and animus – shadow ‘selves’ which we can work with to understand our own natures better.  

Litha, 19th-23rd June depending on time of summer solstice (19th-23rd December southern hemisphere)

Litha falls at the Summer Solistice, the point when the hours of daylight are longest and the sun is at its full strength.  Litha is a time of celebration as we look forward to a fruitful summer anda bountiful harvest.  Now is the time to bring into manifestation any final plans for self development and healing that you want to bring into manifestation within this cycle.  In 2011 StarFire Alchemy hosted a manifestation rite where we identified underlying obstacles to our personal growth and burned these away with a fire ceremony before raising energy as a group to bring our goals into manifestation.

Lammas, 1st/2nd August (2nd February southern hemisphere)

Lammas (loaf-mass) is the first of the harvest festivals where thanks is given for the bounty of the earth.  Lammas is particularly associated with the corn harvest and it is a lovely time for the contemplation of the mysteries of the seed which began to stir at Imbolc and has now bloomed, fruited and is ready to fall.  Traditionally this would have been a time of great work and activity as the harvest was brought in, the festival provides a short period for celebration and thanks, an opportunity for you to look back and assess how your own seeds have grown: how were they tended, have they grown strong, and what unexpected harvests are you now reaping?  This festival also signifies the beginning of the time when the shedding away of the old is called for.  What sacrifices are you prepared to make to bring your dreams into being?  Are their parts of yoru life which have already become dry husks and are ready to be shed?

Autumn Equinox, 20th-24th September depending on movement of sun (20th-24th March southern hemisphere)

The Autumn Equinox is the fruit harvest, second of the harvest festivals (the last being the meat harvest at Samhain).  This is a time of generosity, reconciliation, and releasing.  Take time to see your friends and enjoy the bounty of the earth together.  Prisoners were traditionally released at the Autumn Equinox (cynically, this is likely to have been because food would be in short supply in the coming winter); the Autumn Equinox is an excellent time to look deep within and see what you are holding on to which is either not yours, or which you no longer needs.  Healing such as cord cutting, past life regression and the removal of energy blockages would be particularly appropriate at this time.

StarFire Alchemy runs courses, workshops and one off events which honour the turning of the season and help participants tune in to the cycle of the year for healing and self development.  View our future events pages to learn more.

Devotional to Hestia

 StarFire Alchemy hosted a devotional evening for Hestia, the Greek Goddess of the Hearth, in February and we would like to share this with you.  Devotional work can be done with gods, ancestors, elementals, healing guides – if you work with them, then you can spend time with them, developing your relationship and deepening your connection.  

The devotional ritual below is a blend of modern day devotional practice and what we we believe the ancient Greeks would have done to honour their household and city gods and guardian spirits.  Please do feel free to use the devotional structure and song, let us know if you do, we would love to hear from you!

Hestia is a beautiful Goddess to work with; gentle and powerful, she is both the comfort and strength of home.  She is often referred to as ‘First and Last’ because she was the first born of the Olympians but Kronos swallowed each of his children until his last son Zeus defeated him and freed his older brothers and sisters (Hestia emerging last). Her fire is not just the roaring hearth fire we think of today in old country houses, it is also the fire in the kitchen – the centre of the home where food and heat are produced.  To honour Hestia regularly you might like to keep a candle or oil lamp in your kitchen, giving thanks to her for the comfort and happiness of home when lighting the flame; appropriate words to use are ‘Khaire Hestia’ (‘Kar-ay Hestia’ – Welcome Hestia) or ‘Hail Hestia, First and Last’. Unless you have an enormous kitchen, however, you will probably want to locate more elaborate devotional work in your regular temple space, by your fireplace if you have one, or in a place which seems to you to best represent the centre of the home.

Our devotional

We began the devotional outside the temple space, washing our hands and changing into our robes.  We entered the temple space in darkness and the priestess lit the first candle ‘Khaire Hestia, First and Last’.  She then faced east and rang the bell once ‘Hekas o hekas este bibeloi’ (Begone all unholiness) – she then repeated this in the south, west and north.  The altar was placed before the hearth, decorated with flowers, flames, and a statue of Zeus who holds Hestia in high esteem.  The priestess held a bowl of water over Hestia’s flame ‘Kherniptomai’ (‘ker-nip-toe-my’ – Be purified), she then sprinkled water around the temple space and each participant washed their hands within the bowl; the bowl was then placed outside the temple space, carrying all impurities away.  Barley was scattered over the altar to bless and purify it and the first offerings of incense were made to Hestia.

Hestia, First and Last, be with us gracious goddess of the hearth.  Golden lady of flame, fill our sacred space and share with us your wisdom and your blessings.  Beloved sister of Zeus, keeper of the flame, you who dwell always at the centre, we ask you to be present to hear our words and bless us.

Each participant then knelt before the altar in turn, speaking privately to the Goddess and placing their offerings in the offering bowl (we chose to make offering of money which will be given to the charity Shelter).  The priestess then spoke the following words from the Homeric hymn to Hestia:

 Hestia, you are the one who takes care of the holy house of sacred Pytho, the house of the archer Lord Apollo, soft oil, flowing forever from your hair.  Come into this house, come, having one heart with Zeus, and be gracious to my song too, (Trans Jules Cashford 2003)

The group then sang the devotional hymn to Hestia (see our You tube video above:):

(CHORUS) Hestia we tend your flame,
First and Last we sing your name.

Sacred hearth fire, endless light
Shine upon us Goddess bright


Keeper of Olympus’ flame
Trusted guardian, you remain.


Ancient Goddess, founding light
of our hearth fire, burning bright.

We sang the song until it gradually faded and each participant sat in silence, communing with Hestia.

We then asked Hestia to bless food and wine, reserving a share of each for her.  To end our devotional we gave thanks to Hestia and the bell was rung at each of the four cardinal points once more.

Half month of Sowilo

Wow the year is progressing fast!  The half month of Sowilo is upon us as of 13th February, the rune of the sun, strenghtening the land and brightening our days.  I don’t know about you but time certainly seems to be speeding up this month, lots of things to do, Mother Nature busy at work, places to go, people to see.  As the sun rises higher in the sky the time for reflection and contemplation comes to an end.  The rune Sowilo represents the sun itself, personified as the Goddess Sunna who rides her chariot across the sky each day.  The shape of the rune suggests eternal motion, the two halves of the rune chasing each other around a central pivot, becoming the sun wheel.  Sowilo is a rune of motion, action, guidance (the position of the sun helping us assess the time and direction), and healing (Sunna is mentioned as a Goddess assisting with bone healing).  

Through January Perthro and Algiz helped us to look inwards, to seek guidance regarding the flow of Wyrd.  With the rise of Sowilo it is time to take action, trusting that you are on the right path and that the energy of the sun will inspire and guide you as you forge ahead.  Use the rune to energise you in the morning, singing its name, allowing its dancing, flowing energy to move through you.  Greet the sun as she climbs  up over the rim of the horizon, celebrate her glory as she breaks through the grey skies of winter, bid her au revoir as she speeds on her way to the other side of the Earth each evening.  Particular goals and projects can be assisted through the use of this rune in candle spells or worn as a talisman – sigilise it in gold or yellow to bring its bright, positive energy into your life.

Spring greetings to you all – may Sowilo bless your path.

Rune casting: rainbow casting cloth

As with the previous cloth I featured, the design for this casting cloth was given to me during a journey to see the three Norns.  It features the upper, middle and lower realms which can also be viewed as the higher self, conscious self and subconscious self, or as Asgard (the realm of the Gods), Midgard (the realm of Man) and Hel (the realm of the Dead).  Asgard is reached via the Bifrost bridge or rainbow bridge, and the design of the cloth features a rainbow at its centre which connects the three realms;  its colours can also be related to the chakras (referred to as ‘hvels’ (wheels) in the modern Northern tradition).  The central design is bounded by the energies of fire and ice, the primal forces from which all manifestation flows – fire representing pure energy and ice pure form, neither is able to manifest unless combined with the other.  Runes that land on the rainbow or the three elipses indicate energies presently at work, while those in the realms of fire and ice represent energies which are nearing the surface but not yet manifest.

This cloth is 90x90cm, which makes it excellent for throwing the runes down and allowing them to scatter where they will.  Even with this big cloth, the Jera rune (year, harvest, time) went spinning off across the floor, rolling fast on its edge, its two halves spinning over and over each other.  This signalled to me that my client was very focused on the future, feeling that time was running away with her and worried that she would not be able to manifest all the things that she desired; this was to become a central theme of the reading.

There were sufficient runes turned face upwards for me to feel that all the runes facing downwards could be treated as being irrelevant to the reading.

The Fehu rune (vitality, wealth, forward movement, growth) was also balanced on its side (I turned it over for the picture); it had settled very close to the top edge of the cloth, in the realm of fire.  Closer to the point of manifestation was Inguz (the seed of potential) and the rune closest to the active part of the cloth was Isa (lying horizontally).  The theme of seed, growth and harvest was very strong on the left side of the cloth, and it seemed to me that the ice rune lying on its side represented a blockage which was stopping my client from accessing these energies (hence the anxieties about the future).  An important motif for this casting cloth is of fire and ice coming together to create the rainbow bridge and the three realms – so clashes of fiery and icy energies are key to the reading.

The green elipse represents the conscious self, the realm of Man, and so it is appropriate that the Mannaz rune (the rune of Man) is found here; however, it is reversed which indicates that my client is having anxiety about her self image and her role in the world.  The Mannaz rune falls in the red spectrum of the rainbow – suggesting these anxieties run deep, creating insecurity.  On the other side of the elipse we find the Kenaz rune (torch), it has fallen in a relatively free area of the cloth and its fiery nature suggests that my client may be able to start working through the energies of the obstructive Isa rune by using her creativity (Kenaz being the rune of the craft person).  A secondary meaning of the Kenaz rune is that of an ulcer or sore, and I felt that it also indicated gnawing worries and concerns – again, bound up with the anxieties for the future.


The upper realm is very busy, and I felt that there were perhaps too many things going on (compare this elipse with the clearer middle and lower realms).  The Ehwaz rune is taking on an important role in mediating between the conscious self and higher self – the Ehwaz rune being the rune of partnership which might signify a loved one or perhaps my client’s own animus.  The Ehwaz rune is situated over the green spectrum of the rainbow, indicating that loving relationships are important to my client – this is emphasised by the presence of the Gebo rune in the indigo spectrum, the rune of exchange and gift giving as a means of communicating with others.  However, the presence of the Thurisaz rune reversed (indicating a defensive position) and the Hagalaz rune reversed (indicating anxiety about loss of control and concern about adversity in the future) suggest that my client may not trust that gifts of love and partnership will be forthcoming without effort, maintenance and control on her part.

The rune poised above the others, at the highest point within the self, is the Eihwaz rune – a rune of strength, transformation, and flexibility.  These features of strength come up again within the reading and there is much that is balanced and strong within the reading, particularly on the central axis (which we might see as the very core of my client’s being).

The reading indicates that my client is very cerebral with a great deal of personal strength to draw upon , but also a high capacity for worry and over thinking.

The lower realm seems relatively clear in comparison with the crowded upper realm.  The rune Raidho mediates between the conscious and the subconscious.  It rests upon the violet spectrum of the rainbow, providing a clear and high vibration connection between mind and body –  it is a rune of ritual action, progress, the motion of the wheel, the rider.  The rune suggests that routine, mindfulness and a focsus on the simple actions of the present will help to keep my client grounded and centred when she feels worries about the future overwhelming her.

The runes in the lower realm are Uruz (strength, stamina, health) and Berkano (rapid growth, fertility, feminine power).  As the Ehwaz rune (partnership, often represented by the union of horse and rider) mediates between the conscious self and higher self, so the Raidho rune (rider) mediates between the conscious and subconscious; this suggests to me that my client has good instincts and should be able to trust in her intuition at both an instinctive and a psychic level.

Later in the reading I drew some runes from an additional set to clarify elements of the reading – this included the runes in the lower realm and, once again, I drew the Raidho rune – emphasising the benefits to my client of focusing on the rhythms of her body and daily routines.

On the right hand side, in the realm of ice, I found the Nauthiz rune and Sowilo rune (both fiery runes).  The nauthiz rune indicates need and distress, it is the need fire lit in the coldest times to bring back the warmth of the sun (represented by Sowilo).  There are strong echoes of the blockages seen in the fire realm here, the Nauthiz rune is closer to manifestation than Sowilo – the fire must be lit if the ice is to melt and the true will (also represented by the Sowilo rune) found.

Finally I drew two futher runes to shed more light on the interplay between fire and ice in the reading.  In the fire realm, the Sowilo rune appeared again – indicating to me that my client’s task is to break through the obstacles of ice (in the reading manifesting themselves as anxiety, a need for control, preconceptions about life path and self image) and allow the energy of fire to flow and guide the way (the Sowilo rune) to development and growth (bringing in the energy of the Fehu rune and a good harvest in the future).  In the ice realm, the appearance of the Uruz rune emphasised the strength my client possesses (both Isa and Uruz representing strength) but also gave a reminder that the union of fire and ice produces water and deep cleansing at an emotional level.