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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in runes



Did the Runes Originate With an Act of Gay Sex?


James Kirkup's scurrilous, and surprisingly tender, poem “The Love That Dares to Speak Its Name,” in which a Roman centurion makes love to (and with) the dead body of the crucified Jesus, has been twisting the nuts of pious Christians since 1977.

Behold, the heathen iteration.


If you've been pagan for more than 16 minutes, you will no doubt be familiar with the famous Rúnatál (“Song of the Runes”) from Hávamál, in which Óðinn discovers the runes in a heroic act of literal self-sacrifice, cited here in Carolyne Larrington's 1999 translation:


139 I know that I hung

on a windy tree

nine long nights,

wounded with a spear,

dedicated to Óðinn,

myself to myself,

on that tree of which no man knows

from where its roots run.


140 No bread they gave me,

or a drink from a horn,

downwards I peered;

I took up the runes,

screaming I took them,

then I fell back from there.


In the standard reading, Allfather hangs himself from World Ash Yggdrasil (“Steed of the Terrible [One]” presumably Óðinn himself), and runs himself through with a spear: the standard manner of human sacrifices offered to Óðinn. It is this terrible sacrifice which enables him to discover, and seize, the Runes, those mystic building-blocks from which what is, is made.

But how if what the Rúnatál describes is no literal hanging, with branch, rope, and swinging corpse?

What if Rúnatál is actually describing (in a very graphic sense) an act of impalement?

What if the destructive-creative act that gave us the Runes was also an act of ergi?


In the surviving literature, ergi (noun) and argr (adjective) are terms of abuse, in a semantic field encompassing translations like “shameful”, "unmanly", “effeminate”, and “cowardly.”

As any web-search will show, in our day the terms are not infrequently associated with receptive male-male intercourse, the assumption being that, to those über-butch vikings—as in machismo cultures to this day—it would have been shameful to be (willingly) penetrated.

Whether the Norse-speaking ancestors saw it this way or not has yet to be proven. Still, for the sake of argument, let us grant the premise.

What, then, are the implications that—as anyone conversant in Norse literature knows—Óðinn is himself not infrequently accused of ergi?

Might it be for this that he became known—surely one of his more enigmatic heiti, or by-names—as Jálkr, "eunuch"?


Certainly we can say that the Norse found the practice of seiðr by males to be argr: presumably because opening oneself to be a “passive” receptacle is analogous to permitting sexual penetration.

Óðinn, of course, is also said to have (transgressively) practiced seiðr.


That the act of receptive intercourse can be an initiatory experience, generating profound, transformative insights, I would be the last to deny.

Did it also—possibly even historically—give us the runes as well?


The remaining question here can only be: granted the rest, on whose “tree of life” is Óðinn “hanged”?

To anyone conversant in the lore, there can really be only one answer: whose else but that of his ettinish oath-brother, whose argr credentials—as himself the mother of Sleipnir—are surely ungainsayable? thus rendering their joint act doubly transgressive.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Rune Stones

Moonstone is reputed to be the most powerful crystal for use in rune stones, the tools used for a specialized form of divination. Runes, or letters from a language used by early Nordic peoples, are carved into the stones and are said to hone and intensify the intuition of the reader divining the future from them. You, too, can use a bag of lustrous and mysterious moonstones to get in touch with your powers of perception.  

While others throw the I Ching or read their horoscopes with their morning coffee, you can pull a rune and contemplate its meaning for your day.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Remember the silly Blank Rune? At least one person on the net does, since someone was recently ranting about Ralph Blum's rune book in my forum. His new way of beating that dead horse was to insist the problem was "cultural appropriation" rather than that the whole idea of a Blank Rune is poppycock.

For those who don't remember those days: Once upon a time, there was hardly anyone on the net and it was not a place to buy books. The only readily publicly available information on modern day Heathenry / Norse / Germanic paganism was in rune magic books in general bookstores. Rune sets were not easily available for purchase. Along came Ralph Blum with a book on rune magic packaged with a rune set. Of course the market gobbled it up. The trouble was, Blum's rune system was mostly bunkum, and the rune sets included the 24 Elder Futhark runes plus an extra Blank Rune.

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  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Yep! Well the 70s and 80s are in fashion right now. Even some electric car makers are jumping on that bandwagon, lol.
  • Victoria
    Victoria says #
    Haha, I remember the days of the blank rune, what a blast from the past.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Magic of the Alphabet

Do you remember learning your letters as a child? When my kids were little we had an alphabet puzzle, very simple, where the letter shapes fit easily into their spaces. Playing with them as an adult I fell back into a sensory reverie—I loved the feel of them. They were fun to manipulate as objects, and the satisfaction of clicking them into place remained with me, bringing me back to a space of childhood sensitivity to the physical world. 

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Archer, It's so cool that you're writing about this. Sometimes I also find myself staring at the letters in a word, just fascinat
  • Archer
    Archer says #
    That's really cool! I'll have to check that book out.

Is the new Sith symbol supposed to look like the Nazi version of Othala with the feet? Because a fellow geek who isn't even a heathen saw it and alerted me to it, so it's not like I'm just seeing Nazis behind every tree. Even a non-specialist noticed it.

If it is a conscious Nazi reference, why the Sith? I mean obviously the Empire is Nazis, that's why their shock troops are called Stormtroopers. But the Sith had a long history before the Empire existed.

When I say the footed Othala is a Nazi symbol, I mean it was used by the German government during World War II. It's also used today by those who admire the Nazis.

Despite the Sith being villains in the Star Wars universe, many fans identify with the Sith, wear their costumes, use their symbols, etc. The Sith are cool. Some fans even see them as the real heroes, since their nemesis the Jedi were revealed in the prequels as a child-stealing cult that props up a massively corrupt government / corporate alliance in the late Republic, which was verging on fascism and setting the stage for the rise of the Empire. Even the fans who recognize the Sith are supposed to be the bad guys still like them and costume as them. Fans are going to wear this symbol. So what does it do, magically?

It's basically the footed Othala, or what heathens call "the wrong Othala," with a circle around it. A circle around a rune doesn't really change the symbol, as the long history of the Peace Sign shows. The Peace Sign is Elhaz-reversed, or an upside-down war rune, with a circle around it.

The regular Othala rune without the feet is a historical letter O in the related alphabets known as futharks. Its magical and religious symbolism is all about the enclosure, the innangarth or "inner yard," meaning one's home or one's village or city. The symbol resembles the wall around a walled city. People are on the inside and wolves are on the outside. Magically, it represents inheritance, either literally, in the form of real estate, the actual physical house, or metaphorically, in the form of talents with which one is born.

The Nazi version of Othala with the feet is a perversion of the Othala symbol, turning the concept of inheritance into a racial symbol of white Aryan heritage. It's disgusting. It's magically and spiritually unclean. Just thinking about it makes me want to flick negative energy away from me. Which I just did, while writing this. That's without even looking at it.

I suggest those who find themselves around this symbol, say at a convention, reinforce their personal psychic shields. They can also cleanse and do whatever they usually do to get rid of bad energy at the end of the day.

You can view the new Sith symbol and learn more on this link:

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  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Anthony, in many fandoms, a lot of fans don't like change, and Star Wars is no exception. So, maybe I'll be seeing this symbol on
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Aren't there reactionary elements among the fandom that cling to the old Sith symbol and reject the new one as not being authentic
How I'm Making a Decision About a Convention part 2

I'm deciding a moral dilemma. I have an opportunity to make money while bringing my message to a new and possibly broader audience. On the other hand, there is a risk that instead of bringing my message to more people, association with the convention's sponsor could damage my reputation and thus diminish the reach of my message.

As I mentioned in part 1, my next step was to seek divination from 3 different diviners. I'm not looking for a 2/3 majority on the yes or no question of whether to go any further with the pursuit of this opportunity; divination isn't democracy. I'm looking for what all 3 agree about. The first person I asked is not doing divination at this time, but I know many diviners. I have not seriously sought any other diviner's advice before, so this is new for me. I already know that I can't read for myself, though. Every time I do that, what I see is my own death.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
The Nazi Symbol That Is the CPAC Stage

There are photos circulating on social media of the stage of CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Caucus. One is included in this blog post. The stage is an odd and awkward looking design that could not have arisen purely from functionality, it looks like "the Odal Rune," and it appears that the speakers at CPAC will be standing on a Nazi platform.

Let's talk about Othala as distinct from "The Odal Rune." The symbol you see in the photo is "The Odal Rune" which is 100% a Nazi symbol. The upturned feet on the ends of the legs appear only on the Nazi version, Odal, not on any version of Othala, the historical rune used in historical heathen alphabets.

A curious thing, though. Modern rune magic has adopted the "symbol upside down = opposite" thing that is common to Tarot cards, aka regular or reversed, and of course the dichotomy between the regular cross and the upside down cross. From the perspective of speakers backstage, the symbol is right side up in this photo, but from the perspective of the audience it's upside down. Regular Othala in rune readings basically means real estate or psychic inheritance, but the "Odal Rune" is usually said to mean "heritage." So, whose "heritage" is being protected and encouraged in this photo? Not the audience's. If whoever designed this stage actually understands magic, the intent is to concentrate power in the hands of the speakers, away from the general public. Magically, it would take heritage energy from the audience and allow the people standing on the platform to vampirize that energy for their own use.

If the intent behind the choice of the shape was not magical, though, it's probably meant to be a dog-whistle to neonazis. Experts on neonazis are mostly being more cautious about calling this out. American Iron Front tweeted the picture and called it "probably a coincidence." I'm glad that the anti-fascist community is being careful not to stomp on heathens and pagans when they aren't sure what symbol they're looking at. But I'm an expert on heathen symbols and I know this isn't one. There is no possible way an actual Asatruar drew the footed or winged version on a design program thinking it was a nice historical heathen rune. It's unlikely the stage designer is heathen, anyway. That is not Othala, the heathen rune, it's Odal, the Nazi symbol.

You can read about more symbols in my article Heathen Vs. Hate in the latest issue of Witches & Pagans Magazine.

Photo: news photo composite copied for news editorializing purposes, consisting of a photo of the CPAC stage and two historical photos of SS insignia

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  • Meredith Everwhite
    Meredith Everwhite says #
    Had my immediate doubts and skepticism and accidentally stumbled on this, makes some excellent points that I think are worth consi
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Thank you for the tip off. I'm pretty sure that someone on set design is fully aware of the magical implications you mention.

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