Rune Ritual

By J.S.Pereira

When people start exploring the esoteric aspects of the runes, I suspect it is probably most common to study the rune's meanings for divinatory purposes. However, there are many other ways of studying and "getting to know" the runes. Among other methods, one can chant the sound of a rune in order to invoke its might, and to meditate on the rune. This chanting or use of sound is known as galdr.

The following ritual is intended to give a group of people a chance to experiment with galdr. It should not be expected to replace private exploration and study, but rather to supplement it, and give people who might not have experimented on their own a chance to experience a different way of understanding the runes.

Needs: An evergreen twig, a horn (or cup), a set of runes, drink (ideally wine), bowl, and a copy of the rune poems.

Note: The term "Gythia" is the Asatru word for a female priestess. In the context of this ritual, it simply means the person presiding over the ritual.

Preparation for the ritual:There should be at the very least some discussion about the various runes beforehand, and a brief overview of how to breathe correctly for galdr (i.e., slowly and from the bottom of the lungs.)

Beginning of ritual:Begin by chanting slowly, three times, "Odin, Vili, Ve". This is a practice we picked up from Alice Karlsdottir and is typically how all Raven Kindred blots begin. We symbolically acknowledge the Gods who were at the beginning of all things at the beginning of our ritual. For a ritual dealing with the runes and with Odin, naturally, chanting "Odin, Vili, Ve" is doubly appropriate.

Hammer-rite:The Hammer is associated with the God Thor, and his Hammer hallows or makes holy an area. Thor is also viewed as a defender, and in the mythology, his Hammer is often used to defend against hostile outsiders. So the Hammer is not only a symbol of holiness, but also of protection.

There are different versions of the Hammer-rite, but typically, what we do is make the sign of the Hammer (an upside-down "T") with one hand, while saying something appropriate like "Hammer of Thor, Hallow and Hold This Holy Stead".

General Prayer to The Aesir and Vanir:Asatru rituals generally involve honoring just one Deity during the course of the ritual. We wanted to take the time to acknowledge (however briefly) our other Gods and Goddesses during our rituals. Often this is no more than simply saying, "Gods and Goddesses, Aesir and Vanir, we know that you are within us in all that we do, and we acknowledge the blessings and the joy that you bring us. Hail the Aesir and Vanir!"

Invocation:It would appropriate to invoke Odin in his aspect of the God who discovers the runes, the God of inspiration and wisdom, the God of magic and knowledge, and to ask his guidance on knowing and better understanding the runes.

The Blot: A horn of wine (it is said that Odin drinks wine) should be poured, and the Gythia should hold it above her head. Odin should be asked to share in the horn, and all assembled should visualize the horn being offered to Odin, then Odin drinking from the horn. The person holding the horn should ask Odin for his guidance in the rite, and to share his wisdom with those assembled.

After the horn has been blessed, all assembled should drink from the horn in turn, and say something specific to the rite, for example, "May Odin guide me in better understanding the runes", "May Odin's wisdom guide me in the coming school year", etc.. It is important that this rite be undertaken with an active, participatory spirit, and those assembled are consciously open to the idea of a better understanding of the runes and the might and inspiration of Odin.

If it is inappropriate for anyone present to imbibe wine, they should kiss the horn and in that way, they are symbolically sharing with the rest of the group.

Blessing the runes: The wine remaining in the horn should be poured into the bowl. Then, the evergreen twig should be dipped into the bowl, and the liquid asperged onto the runes.

The Rite: Then, the Gythia should take up the runes and present them to each person present. As each person picks a rune, they should then present it to the Gythia. As the Gythia takes the rune, she should say something about the rune, and then intone the sound of the rune. All assembled (including the person who picked the rune) should then intone the sound of the rune three times. An example would be:

Person picks the rune fehu, and hands it to the Gythia:

Gythia: "Gold, the kinsman's strife, serpent-path and flood-tide flame, the wolf grows up in the woods."

Gythia: "Fay-hu"

All assembled: "Fay-hu" (repeat three times).

There are many sayings that have come down to us about the runes. The above sentence about the rune fehu is in fact a compilation of such sayings, put together by Kveldulf Gundarsson. I'm assuming that no one is going to memorize the entire collection of rune sayings, so "cheat sheets" would probably be in order. Try to make them look as non-offensive as possible, i.e., no ratty sheets torn from a spiral notebook.

Ideally, the gythia would be assisted by someone in this rite so that she can hold her "cheat sheet" and the other person can hold the runes without too much shuffling about.

After everyone else has been through the rite, the Gythia should have her assistant pick a rune, etc.. Then, her assistant should take the Gythia's role, and have the Gythia take the rune, etc.

Closing: After all present have gone through the process of picking a rune, etc., the ritual should be ended. The Gythia should thank Odin for his presence and wisdom, and his guidance in better understanding the runes.

The Gythia should then take the remaining wine in the bowl, and walk outside. All should accompany her. When all are assembled outside, the Gythia should pour the wine onto the Earth, saying:

"From the Gods, to the Earth, to us,

From us, to the Earth, to the Gods,

A gift for a gift. The rite is ended. Hail."

This is the official ending of the ritual. All should go back inside, and generally feast and socialize.

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