Mystic is a broad term which I have taken to mean a person seeking the deeper secrets of a spiritual tradition through ritual, contemplation, meditation, devotion or ecstatic practice (e.g. shamanic techniques or yogic practices). The northern tradition has so much to teach us, so many as yet unplumbed depths which yield great rewards and spiritual growth. Runic practice includes yogic techniques, chanting and song (galdr), as well as limitless potential for meditation on the meanings of the runes and their connections. Meditation upon the unfolding of creation from the time of the great void Ginnungagap, through to the flowering of the worlds yields huge rewards. Odin himself is a master shaman and has much to teach those who will listen and seek his mysteries. Each of the races living within and upon the World Tree has mysteries to share with those they deem worthy.
Runes for Mystics
I really love working with the energy of Fehu, particularly in conjunction with other runes. Fehu and Ansuz combine beautifully to create a double Wunjo rune (see the Magical Practitioners bind rune). For me this symbolises the joy, peace, and power that the truce between the Aesir and Vanir brought about. It also indicates the combined wisdom of Odin (master of galdr) and Frejya (mistress of seidr). Meditate on the energies of these two runes coming together and forming a golden double Wunjo rune and see what happens!
Another good combination to try is Fehu and Uruz as force and form coming together. Try sitting cross legged on the floor to establish a good earth connection, then hold your hands in the shape of Fehu to make a Fehu mudra. Chant the two runes as a blended single word ‘Fey-ooooo-roooz’.
I would highly recommend that Mystics also read the Kenaz section for ‘Sages’; building your kenning hoard requires the discipline of the scholar combined with the deep meditations of the mystic. Work with Kenaz to develop your understanding of the way in which our reality is forged through our creative ability and skill (or lack thereof). Make the Kenaz shape by holding your thumb and index finger at a right angle to each other. Rest your dominant hand on your abdomen in the shape of the rune and let is fire burn deep inside you as you invoke its power with chanting, colour and fire. You may notice that it also appears burning at your third eye, you can harness this energy to travel to the dragon’s lair, the Smith’s forge, the fiery realm of Muspelheim and the home worlds of the dwarves and elves (or let Kenaz take you where you need to go to learn of its mysteries). To start you off why not try the Kenaz meditation.
Wunjo can manifest as a harmonious golden, calming energy. It is also, however, the rune of ecstasy in all its many glorious forms. As I chant Wunjo I become aware of a higher pitched motif laying itself over my own voice ‘Wynnnnn! Wyyynnnnn! Wynnnn!’ which is the Anglo Saxon descendent of Wunjo. The modern word ‘win’ comes directly from Wunjo, in Anglo Saxon it meant victory after struggle and toil. The path of the mystic is often a hard one with many false turns, setbacks and moments of questioning. Working with the Wunjo rune will help you overcome these dark times and reclaim your path once more.
Meditate on the symbol of the magical cauldron in which individual elements are combined and a new substance created. Work with Frigg and the Norns to explore the mysteries of Wyrd and Fate or commune with Mimir to access the collective memories of the past. Perthro is a beautiful rune to chant and your voice will help you open to the rune’s mysteries. Remember that when you work with the waters of Wyrd the substance of Wyrd is different to the physical substance of water we know within our own world. Wyrd is the flow and physical manifestation of time and consciousness and as such should be approached with care; it can teach us deep mysteries and bring about huge transformation but as you are a conscious creature dwelling within time it will work on you whenever you work with it. Ensure you have sought patronage and guidance before undertaking any work with Wyrd. The rune Perthro is a gateway into the mysteries of Wyrd and as such you can work with it to prepare yourself and to open the channels of your consciousness. Before undertaking a journey to the Well of Wyrd draw the symbol of Perthro with your finger over a coin and then flip the coin to check it is a propitious for you to undertake the work – that way you’re already working under its guidance and placing yourself in the hands of the rune of fate.
Use this rune to connect with your ‘higher self’; in Germanic soul lore this might be viewed as the Valkyria or Fetch but the run is very accommodating to other belief systems. The Algiz rune journey in the second set of my Journeys with the Elder Futhark series (see below) will help you connect with and explore the Algiz rune.
Stretch our your hands and then draw your little finger and rung finger to your palm leaving the other three fingers splayed – you have now made the rune’s mudra with your hands and can meditate on its energy in this position. Use the fork of the rune to draw rainbow energy to you or create a double Algiz rune with one fork up and one fork down to draw sky and earth energy to you (try seeing the straight stalk of the rune as your spine and allow the forks to stretch up and down like the canopy and roots of a tree).
Algiz will help you connect with the watcher of the Gods, Heimdal, who guards the rainbow bridge and has hearing so acute he can hear grass grow. He will bring you much wisdom if you seek him with reverence and follow the northern ways of gift giving.
Sowilo is a great rune for anyone undertaking shamanic journeying or other rites where part of you leaves your body. As you will see from the correspondences the object of power for Sowilo is the shield and an examination of the rune’s poems will show its importance in gaining safe passage through uncharted territories. Inscribe Sowilo upon your body in oil, create a Sowilo pendant or chant the name of the rune to invoke its powers prior to your journey. Feel its presence strongly around you within the physical space so you know the rune will guide you home safely Once you are within your journey cast the rune above your head to guide your way and, should you encounter a threat, see the rune spinning in gold at the palm of your hand so that it forms a disc of light – then let it grow to form your impregnable shield. Sowilo is not an aggressive rune but it will demonstrate your power and the protection you are able to call to you;the energy of the shield will also easily expand around you to form a protective bubble when needed. Still feel like you might be in trouble? Then note how well Sowilo and Teiwaz partner (see magical practitioners above) and look to forge yourself a Teiwaz sword as well.
A less well known aspect of the Teiwaz rune is its symbolism as Irminsul which means ‘pillar’ or ‘column’. These were pillars commonly made of wood used in Germanic pagan worship, although their exact purpose is unknown. The Irminsul is often depicted as a straight pillar with a pair of wings or furls at the top and it is from this shape that the association with the Teiwaz rune is likely to come. For me the Irminsul is a form of the World Tree and its form represents the union of earth and sky (the Teiwaz ‘hat’ forming the sky), Midgard and Asgard, conscious and subconscious, mundane and divine. The Irminsul pillar represents both our desire for the union of dualities and the successful achievement of this state. Mystics from other fields will note the similarities with practices such as kundalini rising and qabalistic rites. You can journey to the Irminsul and experience it as an actual pillar reaching from earth to the sky, or meditate upon it as the pillar of the spine uniting the consciousness of the individual with divine consciousness (as the wings unfurl at the top of the pillar). As the priest to the Gods Tyr will be of great help to mystics in coming to an understanding of the mysteries of the Irminsul pillar and divine truth. Work with Odin around his initiatory rite upon the World Tree will also be enhanced through an understanding of the mysteries of Teiwaz and the Irminsul; Teiwaz is here both the World Tree upon which Odin hangs and the spear he uses to wound himself.
Although Berkano is often associated with vigorous growth and an explosion of life, for me its most powerful mysteries occur before this phase in the unseen quickening before Spring is truly underway. By the time the trees are in blossom, the world is carpeted in green, and the pregnant belly is visible in all its glory the mystery has already been in process for some time. Where Inguz signifies the inert seed Berkano is the transition point from inertia into life. Its greatest mysteries are shrouded beneath the earth and within the belly.
Berkano is associated with that which is hidden not just in terms of the life hidden within the darkness but also in the mysteries of shape-shifting and acts of subterfuge and secrecy.
Work with Berkano to find the stillness within so that you may uncover the hidden mysteries which come not in the blinding flash of Dagaz but slowly and gradually in solitude and contemplation. Early springtime is the perfect time to seek the mysteries of Berkano as the catkins sway in the trees, snowdrops and crocuses peek out of the cold earth and the first buds begin to appear – beneath the surface Berkano is working hard.