Rune stones at large

Two decades ago my inner life was in turmoil. My father’s death in 1994 had pulled my spiritual and emotional legs out from under me. I didn’t realize this for years, wrote it off as grief-induced internal discord. Eventually, I told myself, I’d get over it.

Daily life went on as usual- -for a time. Circumstances I’d been comfortable with gradually eroded. What had once been appropriate, ideal, even, had become rubble. The changes within prompted changes without.

Enter rune stones. Not by themselves, but through the introduction of my friend Erin. Erin is a person of great spiritual depth, bold in her willingness to explore spirit guides, Pagan rituals and other means of universal connection and self-discovery.

Runes are part of the “Oracular Tradition” according to The Book of Runes (Ralph H. Blum, tenth anniversary edition © 1993 St. Martin’s Press). In the preface, Dr. Martin D. Rayner, Professor of Physiology, University of Hawaii School of Medicine, states:

“An Oracle does not give you instructions as to what to do next, nor does it predict future events. An Oracle points your attention towards those hidden fears and motivations that will shape your future by their unfelt presence within each present moment. Once seen and recognized, these elements become absorbed into the realm of choice. Oracles do not absolve you of the responsibility for selecting your future, but rather direct your attention towards those inner choices that may be the most important elements in determining that future.”

In short, an Oracle can reveal your subconscious.

There are twenty-five rune stones, twenty-four of them engraved or painted with symbols and one blank (symbolizing the Unkown). The symbols are letters of an alphabet used by several Germanic languages before the adoption of the Latin alphabet. The stones are drawn from a pouch and cast in a particular pattern. It can be as simple as drawing a single rune from the pouch to contemplate the overview of an entire situation, or as complicated casting all the stones on the ground and consulting those that land symbol side up. If a rune stone is drawn right side up, it will have a different meaning than if it’s drawn upside down. Nine of the twenty-five runes are symmetrical and have the same meaning, regardless of orientation.

Per Blum, in contemporary use, runes “. . .will serve the Spiritual Warrior, the one whose quest is doing battle with the self, the one whose goal is self-change.” When I was undergoing personal crisis after Dad’s death, casting runes was a means of organizing my thoughts and looking for patterns in the emerging future.

I haven’t worked with rune stones for years but I often think of them when I’m contemplating the value of patience. “The reward of patience is patience,” a quote attributed to St. Augustine, is mentioned in The Book of Runes. Having fallen out of practice, I had wrongly remembered that there was a Rune of Patience. Instead, the quote appears in a discussion of the rune Teiwaz, the Rune of the Spiritual Warrior. Teiwaz is a rune of courage and dedication in a quest to cut away the old, the dead, the extraneous, yet remain unattached to the outcome. A tall order. Patience comes in when, after the Spiritual Warrior has cut away what no longer works, he or she acknowledges that the universe always has the next move.

Patience is essential to a writer. We send our work out to editors and agents, then wait for the submission “response time” to expire or, occasionally, to receive an acceptance. Always, always, the universe (be it editors, agents, conference organizers, book store owners or a cranky printer) has the first move when it comes to getting our work out into the world. Even if you self-publish, the universe has much to say about reviews and marketing opportunities.

My personal rune stones are polished semi-precious stones engraved with gold-painted symbols. They live in a green velvet pouch in my dresser. Today they are having an outing on my desk. Dare I put them to work and look into my subconscious this very moment? No. Today, the universe can make the next move.

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