For many years I have been practising Rune Yoga or Rune Gymnastics, the term used by the early 20th century German Rune Magicians. I have mainly focused on the Elder Futhark, the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc and the Armanen Futhork. However in recent weeks I have been experimenting with the Younger Futhark, combining sometimes with my Tai Chi routines. By practising the shapes and sounds of the Runes it helps to crystallise their form, name, meaning, sound and qualities in our minds. It also helps us to more easily remember their sequence. Also the Younger Futhark is relevant to me at the moment because I am studying Old Norse.
In my case I am finding the Younger Futhark very useful as it is the shortest of the Rune rows and thus one can progress through the whole row much more quickly than say using the Anglo-Saxon, or to give it is proper name, the Northumbrian Futhork. I started on day 1 practising the Fe Rune, day 2 the Fe and Ur Runes, day 3 the Fe, Ur and Thurs Runes, etc. By day 16 one has worked through all 16 Runes, adding a new one each day, always in their correct sequence as they appear in the Futhark. It is important to that you do not rush these activities.
It is important that one establishes a proper method of breath control. The method that I have used for years now is to inhale to the mental count of five, then I hold my breath to the count of three, exhale to the count of seven and whilst doing this I intone the name of the Rune on the out breath, concluding with the holding of my breath for the count of three. It is important that you choose a system which suits you and then stick to it. Applying my 5-3-7-3 system should take approximately 43 minutes to complete the full 16 Rune Futhark. By contrast the Northumbrian Futhorc would take approximately 89 minutes, the Elder Futhark 65 minutes and the Armanen Futhork 49 minutes. It is important that you devote sufficient time to this activity and not rush it. The skill of Rune Yoga involves not allowing oneself to be distracted by external or internal stimuli and to focus on the task at hand, keeping track of your breathing cycle and how many cycles of the Rune that you have gone through. It is very easy to lose your concentration. The wearing of ear plugs may help.
Rune Yoga has as I have said before, has five elements:
. Regular breathing, inhaling through the nose, exhaling on the outbreath whilst chanting the Rune name or associated mantra.
. Forming the shape of the Rune stave with your body.
. Chanting the Rune name or mantra.
. Visualisation of the Rune stave. This is best achieved with one's eyes closed or in the darkness.
. Concentrating on the meaning or the essence of the Rune.
Once these individual techniques have been mastered, both as single elements and together then the practitioner will have mastered the basics of Rune magic. The benefits to the Rune magician are manifold. One will achieve a greater degree of physical fitness as some of the Rune stave shapes are quite demanding, most especially Ur, Sol, Bjarkan, Madhr and Yr. In addition to physical fitness the practitioner's health should gradually improve through both the exercise and the harnessing of the cosmic and telluric powers. The German Rune magicians knew that the human body can operate effectively as an antennae to attract and manipulate the forces present in the cosmos and in the earth. If anyone should doubt that these forces exist one should take up dowsing with a pendulum and see for yourself the reality of what I say.
I have found that the practice of Rune Yoga is more effective in the early morning. It helps to revitalise you after a night's sleep. Of course this is not always possible for many people who work. However in my case because I am retired I now have the time at the beginning of the day to do this. Rune magic itself, apart from Rune Yoga is better performed in my opinion, during the night time. When performing these exercises it is advisable that you do not consume any food or drink as this will hamper your ability to successfully breath and chant the Rune name or mantra. After completing the routine one should rest and have a cup of tea or coffee. But any kind of stimulants must be avoided prior to the exercise.
An alternative is to practise just one Rune a day, perhaps by blindly selecting a Rune stave from a bag, setting it aside and allowing the Nornir to select the Rune for the day for you: their judgement is always best. One could spend the rest of the day dedicating one's thoughts to the Rune shape and meaning etc. In this way one can work through the entire Futhark in 16 days but it is not as time consuming as the routine I am following.
It is my considered opinion that the forms of the Runes used in both the Younger Futhark and the Armanen Futhork are more conducive to Rune Yoga, having much simpler forms. Books which are appropriate to the Younger Futhark are Northern Magic. Rune Mysteries and Shamanism by Edred Thorsson, Stav. The Fighting System of Northern Europe by G.D. Butcher, Daily Stav by David Stone and Long Branches. Runes of the Younger Futhark by Ann Groa Sheffield, the latter book and Edred's are two of the very finest I have read on this Rune row and I unhesitatingly recommend them to all of my readers.
The usual explanation for the shortening of the Futhark from 24 to 16 Runes is linguistic but if anything it made the use of the Runes as an alphabetical writing system even more difficult as Edred Thorsson points out in his Northern Magic:
"This system shows the overridingly magical nature of the runes in that, from a purely linguistic standpoint, it made the system more obscure."It is clear to me that List certainly based his 18 Rune row on these Runes, adding a further two, Eh and Gibor, the latter being a modern construction.
Younger Futhark Rune staves are harder to buy than the Elder Futhark but one can find cheaply priced wooden sets on Etsy and Ebay. Etsy is a very useful site if you are looking for anything unusual and handmade. Of course those with the necessary skills and time can make their own Rune sets. It is often better this way as the Rune magician can infuse his or her own Megin into the staves at the very beginning when creating them. They then become THE creation and vehicle of power to the magician.