Some rune sets come with a rune known as ‘Wyrd’. This is not a rune found in the original Elder Futhark but rather a later addition made by Ralph Blum. The Wyrd rune has no shape or sound which makes it, for me, distincrtly non-rune like. Having said that, I used the Wyrd rune successfully in readings for some time before I found other books on the subject which explained what Wyrd actually is. If you have been using the Wyrd rune don’t panic and don’t assume that you need to stop using it immediately – it’s your rune set after all.
The Wyrd rune is sometimes explained as being the ‘god’ rune, or the rune which tells you to stop asking silly questions because you’re not going to get any more answers. We might liken it to ‘Ur’, the primal force identified as existing even prior to the Gods; ‘Ur’ and ‘Wyrd’ are linguistically linked and it is possible that ‘Ur’, or a seed sound linked to it, was the primal scream made by Odin when he found/ created the runes. Interestingly, Blum recommends that the Wyrd rune be made out of a small piece of each of the other 24 runes, suggesting that it contains all the other runes within in, which makes sense if it represents the first primal sound from which they came.
Another way of looking at the Wyrd rune is as the void Ginnungapap which existed before anything else came into being. In this sense it is the emptiness before creation which contained all, as yet unmanifest, potential within it. Both Ginnungagap and Ur are concepts so vast that they are unfathomable to the human mind – the Wyrd rune therefore represents that which is beyond our grasp or understanding at this point. In my personal experience the 24 Elder Futhark runes are perfectly capable of telling you that you aren’t going to get any further answers from them; giving them another rune to help them be yet more mysterious is making a rod for your own back.
Lots of rune sets come with an extra blank rune and, when this is the case, my advice would be to keep it as a spare. I dedicate my extra ‘Wyrd’ runes to the Norns and keep them with my Norns altar as representations of the Well of Wyrd. Some of my students like the idea so much that they bring their spare Wyrd runes with them when we work together so they can be added to the altar! If you have already been working with your Wyrd rune as part of your set, however, you may not feel comfortable just cold heartedly removing it.
Removing the Wyrd rune from your rune set
When I came to the decision that I wanted to remove my Wyrd rune from my first rune set I felt that it was necessary to perform a parting ritual to unbind the Wyrd rune from the set and return any energy it held to the other runes. I worked on the assumption that the 24 runes are distillations of ’everything’ – a little bit like a spectrum of 24 colours which combine to make ’light’. It stood to reason, therefore, that a set with the Wyrd rune would be divided into a spectrum of 25 and would therefore need to be adjusted back down to 24. Working on Blum’s notion that the Wyrd rune contains a little bit of all the other runes my original departure ritual used the four elements from the western magical tradition. I passed each of the runes in turn through incense, water, and a flame, and then buried them for a short period to cleanse and energise the entire set. I then placed each rune on top of the Wyrd rune and said farewell in turn, seeing the energy of the rune slowly separating from the set. When it was complete, I re-buried the Wyrd rune.
Since then I have developed a rite which relies less heavily on the western magical tradition:
- Get a bowl of water and your rune set.
- Set up a safe space to work in and invite appropriate witnesses for your rite (I invite the Norns and Odin).
- Place the bowl of water in front of you and close your eyes. Visualise yourself sitting under the world tree and see the bowl as the Well of Wyrd. Chant ‘Yggdrasil-Urthasbrunr-Yggdrasil-Urthasbrunr’ to bring the energies of the World Tree and the Well of Wyrd into your space. When the water is charged open your eyes.
- If you have a non-porous rune set (e.g. clay, pewter, crystal) then hold the Wyrd under the water and slowly swirl it around in your ‘Well’. Visualise the rune energy leaving the rune (you might like to chant ‘Unwind, unbind’ as you do this). Feel that all the rune energy is being released, leaving the stone cleansed and blessed by the water, but no longer part of the rune set.
- Remove the Wyrd rune from the Well. At this point you can dedicate it to Urd, Verdhandi and Skuld for their altar if you wish. Otherwise you can keep it somewhere safe as a spare or bury it or drop it in water.
- Take the rest of your rune set and place them all in the bowl together. Swirl the waters around them.
- Take each rune from the water in turn and sing its name into it, filling it with rune energy once more and seeing it whole and full of that rune energy.
- If your rune set is porous then you can create the same effect by simply sprinkling each rune with water and circling it above the surface of the water to either unbind (in the case of the Wyrd rune), or re-balance and re-empower.
- When you have fininshed give thanks to your witnesses, the Well and the Tree. Visualise the space returning to normal and remove any protection you put up. Dispose of the water.