Saturday, 24 May 2014

The Haegl Rune-a Rune of Transformation and Positive Change

Following on from a discussion with the Folk Warder recently about the action of the Haegl Rune I would like to spend some time exploring this enigmatic Rune and my experience with it over the years.

Haegl occupies the 9th position in the Anglo-Saxon/Northumbrian Futhorc and in the Elder Futhark where it is known as Hagalaz, its Proto-Germanic name. In the Younger Futhark it is known as Hagall and occupies the 7th position. In the Armanen Futhork it is called Hagal and likewise it is the 7th Rune.

Its original position as the 9th Rune is significant for this number is closely associated with Woden who hung Himself upon the World Tree for 9 nights in order to receive the wisdom of the Runes. His ring Draupnir has the ability to multiply itself and every 9th night it produces 8 more rings like itself. There are of course 9 worlds in the cosmology of the Germanic peoples.

According to Adam of Bremen every 9th year at the temple at Uppsala the people gathered for feasting and sacrifice. At Ragnarok Thunor retreats 9 steps and dies after killing the Midgard Wyrm. Freyja has to wait 9 nights before His union with Gerd. Hama had 9 mothers. Hermod's ride to Hel to rescue Baeldag took 9 nights. The Valknut has 9 points and 9 named Gods survive Ragnarok: Baeldag, Hoenir, Hod, Widar, Wali, Magni, Modi, Njord and the daughter of Sol. The square root of 9 is 3 (3 x 3), which in itself is another highly significant number in Germanic mythology.

As 9 is so closely related to Woden and our religious lore we should not be surprised about the significance of the Haegl Rune. It is the Rune that brings destruction, being likened to the action of hail stones:

"(Haegl/Hail) is the whitest of grains, it comes from high in heaven. A shower of wind hurls it, then it turns to water." (Old English Rune Poem, translated by Edred Thorsson)

"(Hagall/Hail) is a cold grain and a shower of sleet and the sickness of snakes." (Old Icelandic Rune Poem, Thorsson)

"(Hagall/Hail) is the coldest of grains; Christ shaped the world in ancient times." (Old Norwegian Rune Rhyme, Thorsson)

The Old Norwegian Rhyme is obviously like the Old English Rune Poem heavily xtianised. Edred Thorsson in his Nine Doors of Midgard presents A New Rune Poem, a clever synthesis and cleansing of the historic poems from xtian influence. Rather than view this as an act of reckless revisionism I would ask my readers to consider that the Rune Poems which have survived have in themselves been largely tampered with by xtian scribes so in effect Thorsson's work is one of restoration. This is the stanza for the Haegl Rune:

"(Hail) is the coldest grain and the whitest stone of heaven; it was hard on wheat, and yet worse for worms- but from the stone did Sig-Father shape the world."

Clearly the reference to "Christ" who "shaped the world" is a revision by a xtian scribe where Christ was substituted for Woden.

Ann Groa Sheffield in her Long Branches. Runes of the Younger Futhark points out that Haegl as well as being cold is referred to as a "grain" and thus has within itself the potential for growth as it contains a seed within. So Haegl initially brings destruction but in its wake there is potential for new and necessary growth. It basically sweeps away the old dross and makes way for something new and better.

Back in the late 90s Haegl had a signicant influence in my personal and spiritual life. It swept away the old for something new and better. Whilst attending a craft fair I approached the stall of a Rune Mistress and saw that there were a selection of crafted Rune Stone pendants made of slate. I asked to purchase a Tiw Rune pendant as I have always been drawn to this Rune and the Rune Mistress said no, the Rune had to choose me! I closed my eyes and my hand was drawn to the Haegl Rune. I immediately understood the significance of this. There was a 1 in 24 chance (less than 5%) of me drawing this Rune. The Rune was symbolic of the chaos that was ensuing in my life at the time. This Rune enabled me to see that what was happening was part of the Wyrd set in motion by the Norns and had to be worked through but there would be a positive change at the end of the day.

At the time my first name began with the letter 'H', which is obviously the letter associated with Haegl. Also at this time I was reading a book by Nigel Pennick, titled Runic Astrology. Pennick posited the theory that the Elder Futhark Runes governed the 12 months of the year, a Rune for each half-month. Haegl he positioned as governing the half-month from 28th October to the 12th November. Significantly my birthday falls upon the 28th October, the very beginning of this half-month. Jung would call this synchronicity or a meaningful coincidence.

In addition to drastic personal changes I finally began to abandon the xtianity which I had embraced in the 1980s. The Call of the Blood which I began to hear from 1989 onwards became stronger. A few years later in the early 2000s I received an unsolicited communication from Woden's Folk, a mail shot. From that moment on I embraced Wodenism. I had already spent a number of years by then researching the Runes and reading about Germanic mythology-anything I could get hold of but I had no means of expressing or practicing this new-old religion. Woden's Folk gave me that structure and consolidated my Weltanschauung. This was all part of the enfolding of my personal Wyrd. For the first time I had encountered a belief system and world outlook that reflected the one that had been slowly but surely forming in me.  This is why I have no doubt that Woden is working in Wulf Ingessunu and this is why the Haegl Rune has been so significant for me. Another aspect to Haegl is hael as in whole. Haegl brings healing and wholeness but its operation may be drastic at the time. It brings healing and wholeness to the whole folk community. According to Guido von List (The Secret of the Runes) it is the 'All-hedge'. Do not fear Haegl-respect it!

"Harbour the All in yourself, and you will control the All!" (von List)

The Scandinavian and Armanen version of Haegl takes the form of a crystal and when enclosed encapsulates every Rune stave. It is the All-Hag, the Krist-All! I am of course referring to the Nordic and Solar Krist, not the Jewish Christ, which is a perversion of the Aryan concept.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Wendhorn, the Rune of Turning and the Eternal Return

The Swastika as I have remarked upon before is primarily a polar rather than a solar symbol although it has over the course of time and the wanderings of the Aryans taken on this latter and subsidiary meaning.

The reason why it is so closely associated with the Aryan peoples is because of their original northern Thulean homeland, their Ur-heimat. Even when some of them migrated towards the southern hemisphere they took their lore and polar symbolism with them. This is why we see traces of the Swastika across many parts of the world.

Connected to the Swastika or Fylfot is the Irminsul or Caduceus which sustains it:

"If the swastika is the prime symbol of the Pole in its aspect as center of the celestial or terrestrial circle, then the caduceus is the prime symbol, in the West, of the World Axis that joins the two." (Arktos. The Polar Myth in Science, Symbolism and Nazi Survival, Joscelyn Godwin, 1996.) 

The Caduceus came into the possession of the Greek God Hermes (Roman equivalent: Mercury) who was compared by the Romans to our own Woden. I feel that this is significant for Woden is the master of travel (like Hermes/Mercury) between the nine worlds via His steed, the eight-legged Sleipnir. As Woden Initiates we emulate Him and seek to attain similar powers in travelling between different worlds or dimensions-or states of consciousness which we attempt to do via the spiritual disciplines of Rune Yoga, self-hypnosis and meditation.

It is no coincidence that the Aryan system of chakras or wheels are situated along the spinal column. It is via this column or world tree (Irminsul-YR-MAN-SOL) that we travel to experience new worlds (chakras/wheels) and attain varying states of consciousness and new experiences.

Elizabeth Goldsmith in her Ancient Pagan Symbols likens the Caduceus to the sacred Tau symbol, which as we know is associated with the Hammer of Thunor. Eugene Goblet d' Alviella in his The Migration of Symbols (1894) refers to the presence of this symbol on the monuments of the Aryan Hittites. However the latter writer considers it to be primarily a solar rather than a polar symbol.

Via the pole which connects the earth (Midgard) to Asgard the soul of the Arya travels prior to birth and after death of the physical body. This fact is represented symbolically by the 15th and 16th Runes of the Armanen Futhork, Man and Yr, representing life and death respectively. The fact that one follows the other in the Futhork sequence is significant in this regard.

The Arya chooses the moment of his birth or rebirth and the circumstances surrounding it. It is not by pure chance. One single physical lifetime may not be enough for us to fulfill our task, our mission. The Einheriar understands this and for that reason has no fear of physical death. It holds no terrors for him.

The Man Rune whilst signifying life, the shape of a man with outstretched arms to the Gods (the mode of prayer of Germanic man), is paradoxically more indicative of the soul which has left the physical body and is returning to Asgard, whilst the Yr Rune which signifies death ("Think about the end!")  is yet the soul travelling down from Asgard to the awaiting physical incarnation on Midgard. This teaches us that our physical incarnation in life is really a form of death-"in the midst of life we are in death", whilst our true abode is most definitely in the incorruptible home of the Gods, Asgard.

Here on Midgard we can see things only dimly, as through a veil but in Asgard we shall know and be known! In Virgil's Aenid the dead must drink from the waters of the river of forgetfullness, the river Lethe, in order that they can forget their previous incarnation in order to be reincarnated.Viktor Rydberg found a Germanic parallel to this myth as he writes in Teutonic Mythology Volume 1:

"In Saxo we find an idea related to the antique Lethe myth, according to which the liquids and plants which belong to the lower world produce forgetfulness of the past. Therefore, Thorkil (Thorkillus) warns his companions not to eat or drink any of that which Gudmund offers them. In the Gudrun song (ii. 21, 22), and elsewhere, we meet with the same idea. (Chapter 50)"

In Chapter 51 of the aforesaid work Rydberg identifies Mimir as being the same person as Gudmund. 

The Man and Yr Runes are stylistically combined in the Wendhorn Rune. Nigel Pennick in his The Complete Illustrated Guide to Runes states regarding this Rune that:

"Everything goes in cycles, and Wendhorn reminds us that we must experience good and bad alike."

Surely life and death is part of the cycle of continuous Arising-Becoming-Passing Away-New Arising? The Woden Initiate should consciously take this Rune to be a sign of his own eternal becoming. Pennick relates this Rune to the changing phases of the moon and silver is its associated colour. Guido von List in his Das Geimnis der Runen, translated by Dr Stephen Edred Flowers (Edred Thorsson) as The Secret of the Runes refers to Wendhorn:

"The crescent moon as the 'Wendehorn' is, however, also the rune of Freya, who promotes childbirth."

He does not however include the Wendhorn in his Armanen Futhork. The German verb wenden means to turn. One could thus consider it to be a Bindrune of Man and Yr and a most powerful one at that.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

The Mediaeval Runes as a Fifth Aett?

My readers will no doubt be aware of the 24 Elder or Common Germanic Futhark, the 29 Rune Anglo-Saxon Futhorc and its extended 33 Northumbrian Futhorc,the 16 Rune Younger or Scandinavian Futhork and the 18 Rune Armanen Futhorc but how many you will be familiar with the Mediaeval Runes which do not belong to a Futhark/Futhorc/Futhork?

The best information available in print about these Runes is to be found in Nigel Pennick's The Complete Illustrated Guide to Runes (1999), probably the very best and most comprehensive single volume esoteric treatment of the Runes hitherto published. The Mediaeval Runes also feature in his Secrets of the Runes (1995), also highly recommended.

In  Secrets of the Runes he suggests incorporating these additional Runes as a Fifth Aett. Strangely although the later book details 8 of these Runes, the earlier book only refers to 5 of them and in the later book he does not refer to them as incorporating a fifth Aett. Secrets of the Runes refers to the Runes Wolfsangel, Erda, Ul, Ziu and Sol. The Complete Illustrated Guide to Runes however refers to these Runes and 3 others: Wendhorn, Fyruedal and Wan.
This discrepancy may be due to Mr Pennick only becoming knowledgeable about these 3 later Runes after he published the earlier book.

In the later book he states:

"Although they are less well known than the previous rune-rows, there were a number of runes used individually in the Middle Ages, which are largely mediaeval Germanic and Dutch in origin. They are associated mainly with gods and goddesses who were worshiped in secret in Christian times. They were used for protection and healing, but not in runecasting. They are newer than the Gothic runes and form a separate category of their own."

The above paragraph is interesting for two reasons. Firstly he states clearly that each Rune is associated with a God or Goddess. For those of us who do not simply use the Runes for divination but recognise them as tools which can be used for communication with the Gods they have a sacred character and thus should be utilised. Secondly it is noticeable that by referring to them as a "separate category" there is an implication that by 1999 he has given up his earlier idea from 1992 (Secrets of the Runes was originally published under the title of Rune Magic in 1992) of conceiving them as a Fifth Aett with the Gar Rune. Despite this I believe that as Runic practitioners we should at least consider this possibility of a Fifth Aett as an extension to the Northumbrian Futhorc.

I have already illustrated and commented on these Runes in detail on this blog in November to December 2008 so I do not intend to go over old ground.
4 of these 8 Runes are directly associated with Gods:

Erda-Erda, the personification of the earth as Mother Earth or Mutter Erda. 

Ul-The Frisian God Waldh, a forest dwelling God with healing powers.

Ziu-The Old High German variant of Tiw/Tyr.

Sol-The Goddess of the sun, Sol.

The Fifth Aett, following the order given by Mr Pennick is thus: Wolfsangel, Erda, Ul, Ziu, Sol, Wendhorn, Fyrudal and Wan.

It is my intention to create a set of Runes using these 8 additional ones as the Fifth Aett and experiment with them. Just as the 33 Rune row enhances our experience to a greater degree than the 24, 18 or 16 Rune rows I believe that a 41 Rune row would increase our understanding and ability to communicate with the Gods even further. This may be a break with tradition but the Northumbrian/Anglo-Saxon Futhorc did exactly that with the creation of a Fourth Aett. The addition of a Fifth Aett in my view continues this work. I will feedback the results of my findings in due course on this blog.