Uncle Thor's Lessons, Anecdotes and Humor


The Empowerment of the Eh Rune

The Eh Rune is the Rune of horses. It is symbolized by the horse. Sometimes we miss their significance. In this age of motors and engines, horses have become a pastime. Only a hundred and fifty years ago, they were the major form of transportation on land . Even as recently as a century ago, horses were the main type of personal transportation. At that time, horse breeding was an industry much like the auto industry that supplanted it.

Horses gave mankind greater mobility. However, they were not always the large, powerful animals of the last 2,000 years. The original horses were small. In very ancient times, jackasses were the beasts of burden. The Sumerians mated jackasses with horses, and thus produced mules. Larger horses were bred and used for Egyptian chariots. Further north, the wild tribes of the steppes bred horses larger and larger until they could be ridden.

The horse was a step forward in mankind’s progress. Horses provided mobility, speed and power. Riding a horse, a person could go faster and farther than on foot. Horses could pull chariots, carts and wagons faster than jackasses or oxen. The horse greatly improved travel and commerce.

Horses are a popular theme. I am reminded of the little wooden Swedish horses called a Dala Hest. These are colorful, ornate renderings of the horse in rosemaling paint. From horse motifs in ancient Pagan cultures to the little pink-haired toy ponies cherished by little girls, this animal is more than just a pet.

Just as the horse empowered mankind, so the Eh Rune has within it an empowering aspect. Here one finds the thing that gives him the power to do something that may have been beyond his means. At the very least, it helps him do something better. The empowerment can be anything from tools to ideas. What is important is that they provide a way where before there was no way.

When we covered the Ken Rune in this latest series of Rune articles, the title included The Power of an Idea. Many a stroke of genius came by way of an idea. Of course, getting results required more than the idea itself. Someone had to take that idea and formulate it so that it could be implemented. He may have had to work at it earnestly. Very few ideas do the work themselves.

Ideas can do many things. With the Eh Rune, we are considering ideas that empower. These ideas partake both of the Ken and Eh Runes. They inform and they give the power do something that was not previously possible.

An interesting example of empowerment involved Albert Einstein. in 1915, Einstein presented his Special Theory of Relativity. It has limitations. Einstein wanted to develop a more inclusive General Theory of Relativity. He was unable to do this, but had an idea of how it might be done. Einstein had to empower himself by learning non-Euclidian geometry. Only when he mastered this obscure subject was he able to develop the General Theory of Relativity.

Learning can be a form of empowerment. The difference between inability and capability if often a matter of what we call “know-how.” This is why education is essential in modern societies. Educations empowers people to function successfully in society. Just as rites of manhood were part of maturing in earlier times, so the high school diploma has become a token of adulthood in ours. Knowledge empowers. The ability to use arithmetic and communicate both in writing and verbally are learned skills. Those who can use them function well. Those who cannot do so will suffer the consequences, as they lack skills considered essential in this day and age.

Eh Rune empowerment is not so much the information itself, but the acquisition of the information. In effect, the Rune embodies the process that empowers. The process is but a means of empowerment.

A good example of empowerment and its lack came about in the1980s. The people who owned Lionel trains at that time had moved most of their production to Mexico. The result was a disaster. Products came north that were mis-assembled, partially assembled or downright inoperable. Mexican workers obviously lacked the skill and knowledge to handle basic assembly of model trains. As a result, Mexican manufacture ended. Many model train companies had greater results taking production to Korea and China. The Mexicans did not even have the basic skills that would have allowed them to learn to make Lionel trains. On the other hand, the Chinese and Korean workers were so empowered and so those countries attracted foreign companies and thereby prospered.

(I live in a town that has a large number of illegal immigrants from Mexico and its southern neighbors. They need people to do things for them which folks like us normally do for ourselves. It is pathetic to see people so incapable of handling even minor things such as mailing a letter at the post office. Then again, an empowered people are an independent people. I wonder if keeping people dependent is not in the best interest of their governments and their churches.)

Dependency is a way to keep people under control. An empowered people are independent because they have the strength and ability to see to their own needs. If you can do for yourself, you can figure things out for yourself

.Things can also be empowering, provided you are able to use them. The right equipment at the right time can make all the difference between an impossible task and an easy one. There was a television comedy about a tool salesman who ran a small cable show. When it came time to doing a job, his motto was “More Power.” More often than not, “more power” ended up causing a disaster. His company’s founder had a more appropriate slogan about having the right tool for the job. Indeed, it is not the amount of force that empowers so much as having the right kind of force.

A 10,000 kilowatt searchlight is not going to help when you only need a 12 volt flashlight to find something in the attic.

Being empowered means having the ability. Back when the martial arts were gaining popularity, there were many advertisements in pulp magazines offering “black belt by mail” courses. Some self-defense schools also offered an easy way to a black belt. However, having the title is not empowerment unless one has the skill. You can be sure that those with the cheap black belt would not feel empowered if they actually had to use their skills. On the other hand, those who empower themselves by developing skill do not need a title to validate their ability.

The same happens in religious and esoteric activities. There are people who are more interested in getting titles and degrees than having filled the requirements. I had mentioned in the discussion of the Jer Rune the problem of “rushing through the grades.” This is a case where individuals inwardly think that having recognition equals empowerment. Those who seek and attain empowerment for its own sake find that they do not need to be recognized for it.

There are many examples throughout history of empowerment that accords with the Eh Rune. Resistance fighters have little effectiveness when they work off their own resources. Weapons, radios, training and coordination provided by an ally are needed to empower them to act successfully. Steam engines empowered man to move faster and transport more cargo than natural means such as manpower, animal power, wind and water. Longships and better sailing technology empowered Vikings to extend their range all the way to North America, North Africa and Byzantium. Though the examples are many and often complex, the principle underlying empowerment is simple and easy to grasp.

The old Chinese saying is an axiom of empowerment: ‘Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him every day.”

A person who has the skills, knowledge and ability to earn is empowered and more independent than one who does not. We see this today in our own society. Those who live on handouts such as welfare are dependent on the entities who provide for them. These people can only get as much as that entity is willing to give. They are dependent on that entity, be it an agency or program. Those with a skill earn more and enjoy greater independence.

Where there is independence, there is empowerment.

Education can be empowering. A good teacher seeks to empower his students. The lesser kind of teacher seeks to have a gaggle of followers dependent on him for knowledge. That is the antithesis to empowerment. The Japanese believe that it is an honor to a teacher when a student surpasses him. Indeed, a teacher has succeeded when he has shared his knowledge so well that the student can work on his own.

Just as the domesticated horse helped man surpass his own physical limitations, so the Eh Rune empowers and enables an individual to do things that were impossible to him previously. The independence of the horseman is also the independence of the empowered person. He is free of past limitations because of it.


We miss part of the horse’s significance by living in the mechanized age. Into the early 20th Century CE, horses were a necessity. They provided the motive power: pulling wagons, carts and stagecoaches. Indeed, in the 19th Century, the first railroads relied on horse power. Here in New Jersey, one of the campuses of a community college was once a breeding farm for horses. In its heyday, that farm was the equivalent of a modern automotive plant. Large numbers of horses were bred for everyday use. There was a time when the livery stable was as common as the gas stations of today. The farrier, the saddler and the cartwright were the auto mechanics of their day. Now, these skills are considered archaic and are the province of a relatively few specialists.


One of the reasons I do not have a group nor offer titles is that they fly in the face of my goal. I write and teach in order to empower people. The idea is to give them the tools and knowhow to do it themselves. One thing I dislike is when people want to latch on to me as if I am their leader and guru. I am neither. People do not need a leader or guru. They need the knowledge and insight to do it themselves.

I prefer having friends to having followers.


Science Fiction and Empowerment

Audrey and I have been watching an Amazon series called Man in the High Castle. It is based on a book by Philip K. Dick. Basically, it is an alternate history where the Nazis and Japanese won World War II. The Nazis control most of the US, the Japanese control the Pacific part, and there is a narrow “neutral zone” between them. Very well done movie. Ridley Scott is involved in it. Very interesting visuals. We saw the first season. There is supposed to be more. The story looks to be a mix of alternate history and parallel time.

Good science fiction makes you think. It encourages you to examine other possibilities. Good science fiction gets you out of the mental rut and helps you explore things from angles you never considered. Two writers who wrote these kinds of stories where Philip Dick and Robert Heinlein. Ironically, though they were good friends, their stories came from very different angles. Other good sources include the Twilight Zone, which asked a lot of very intriguing questions. The original Star Trek series did some of that, too, though it was also very enwrapped in catering to a popular audience. And you won’t get that kind of intellectual stimulation from Star Wars or the common run of Space Operas. Writers like Dick, Heinlein, Serling and Roddenberry are not for those who need to have things figured out for them.

Believe me, we really need writers today who can get people back to thinking for themselves. We have whole generations of people who would rather let someone else do the thinking for them. Good science fiction empowers people by stimulating their intellect rather than drawing conclusions for them.


The Embrace of the Bjork Rune

The Bjork Rune, also know as Bjarkan and Birken, is associated with such things as mothers, children, protection of the young and healing. The tree for which it is named is among the first to sprout leaves in Spring. Its wood was used for making furniture for children. There are references in ancient times to birch bark being used for leggings.

One of the attributes of the Birch Rune is love. All things considered, love seems to be a very complicated thing. Love is so powerful that it can get reasonable people to do irrational things. People have gone great lengths to get love and have done the most extreme things because of it. Love can cause joy and sorrow. History is replete with tales of love that have wild ramifications. The story of Marc Antony and Cleopatra is one of them. Another is a bizarre story of Nicholas and Alexandra, the last Czars and Czarina of Russia. In the middle of their story is the strange mendicant monk Rasputin. Closer to home and to our time is the on-again-off-again romance of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Let us not forget Bonnie and Clyde, and Etta Place and Harry Longabaugh (the Sundance Kid). Love does indeed make strange bedfellows.

Then there is the steamy side of love, exemplified in a popular and humorous “love poem”:

Roses are red, nuts are brown.
Skirts go up, panties down
Belly to belly, skin to skin
When it’s stiff just stick it in

The love aspect of the Bjork Rune is much more subtle and much less bizarre than the excesses of classic love stories. It is simple and close. Other things we associate with love belong to other Runes. Ardent passion is of the Thurs Rune. The physical act of sex is Gyfu. We jokingly refer to “the horny Ing Rune”, and there is also a sexual component to the Tyr rune. There are other Runes connected to other aspects of love that you can discover. Bjork, our elegant Birch Tree, is our focus today.

Perhaps the most basic examples of Bjork love are mothers. We can appreciate this by stepping outside human boundaries and looking at other species. The cat with her kittens is not just following instinct. Cats feel love…and hurt. I remember when a kitten was killed accidentally. The mother cat stayed with it for a while as her two other kittens played alongside her. One could see that the animal was upset. We know that cats and dogs and other animals are capable of love, not only toward their own, but to others as well. Many a household have a cat and dog who are inseparable friends. There are cats and dogs who love those who keep them as pets. Some even get jealous if another pet comes seeking attention from their human caretakers.

Perhaps some of our fellow humans can learn a lesson from our pets.

Freya is the Goddess associated with the Birch Tree Rune. She is both a Goddess of Love and of War. A Paradox? Not at all. The same cat that will tenderly nurture her kittens will defend them ferociously. She can turn from Mother to Warrior in a split second. Look at a more dangerous mother as an example. The black bear prefer to go about its business. That changes if the bear has cubs. The mother bear will attack anything she perceives as a threat to her offspring.

Are human mothers any difference? In Japan, women learned the use of a glaive called a Naginata so they could defend the home when the men were not around. From the time of the first settlements in the Northeast, American women learned to use muskets and help in the defense of the household.

In mammalian species where the males stick around when the offspring are born, the defensive urge of the Bjork Rune also is evident. Their willingness to defend the family is an extension of the Rune. Indeed, we humans defend that which we love, be it family, home, tribe, community or nation. That instinct is very close to the Bjork Rune. It also is a connection between the Bjork and Tyr Runes. Tyr protects, Bjork nurtures. In another light, Tyr protects what Bjork nurtures. You can investigate this further for yourself.

Another contrast with the Tyr Rune is that Tyr uses man-made means. Bjork follows nature. Tyr moves quickly, directly and with a purpose. It has a spirit of haste to it when it is in action. Bjork moves patiently and slowly, like the growth of a branch

An interesting thing is that you can sense Freya somewhere between a cat’s hiss and the strike of its paw. That goes for anything from kitty cats to lions and tigers.

The kind of love most closely connected to Bjork is itself natural. It is caring and kind. An image that comes to mind is a bunch of kittens or puppies all snuggled up to their mother. This is not “love at a distance” but love that touches.

It is very human to want to touch that which we love. There are hugs for friends and cuddles for lovers. The cat can sit in one’s lap. A hand on the shoulder of a friend and the warm handshake show genuine caring. We want to reach out and touch the object we love, as well. This is how we connect with it. The love within the Bjork Rune is not a philosophical concept, but a very tactile thing.

Indeed, it is that very touch that separates real love from a sham. Be it friendship, affection or romance, love connects with heart and hand. A simple touch is enough. One need not be what we call “touchy-feely” about it. The gesture of affection is sublime in its simplicity. On the other hand, one who shuns the touch of a friend or relative betrays the fact that there might be no love there at all.

Love is the multitude of small kindnesses. These are the little things that are done without thought of recompense. They are small acts of affection between friends and family. Such are so common that we often pay them little notice. Often we do not realize how one small, kind act can make a great difference for someone There are times when a small kindness is enough to remind a beleaguered person that he is still human and worthy of caring.

Many years ago, I heard a clergywoman from a monotheistic denomination say that it was wrong to love things. That would offend “God”. How foolish and narrow was her view of Divinity. Love recognizes good., and good is “of the Gods.” To love is to connect with the Gods via their works. To love a thing is to appreciate it as good and thereby honor the Gods. Even beloved works of the human hand partake to some degree of that divine quality, as mankind is the greatest expression of the Divine. Where one sees good, one harmonizes with the Gods. When one so appreciates the good that he loves it, so he connects with the Gods.

When a person is surrounded by unlovely people, all he can find to love may be the things he enjoys.

We can love a thing, a place, a home, an object of art or a memento. The works of the great master artists have been loved for centuries. The little boy loves his train set; the little girl loves her dolls. The man loves his sports car and the woman loves her garden. Love is what propels the craftsman to make his finest work. It impels the baker to make the best pies that she can. Sometimes it is love of the thing; sometimes, love of the person to whom it will be given. Often, it is a matter of both.

The Bjork Rune type of love is also a comforting love. It is the mother holding her startled infant, so as to quell the little one’s fear. It is the mother cat coming to the frightened kittens. The spouse having a nightmare can be calmed just by touching her with a hand on her side. Comfort has a healing power. It replaces fear with peace and the assurance that one is not alone.

You do not need to be loved in this life, but you need to love . Those who are unloved are more frequent than you think. It is those who cannot love who suffer the consequences. They become cold, severe and cranky. People need to love someone or something. That is all it takes to keep the love flowing, because love must go from within outward. If it is unable to flow, it stagnates and turns to something else. Love a person, lover a pet, love a thing, cherish your art: all keep love and life flowing.

We tend to take joy in that which we love. Though love and joy are different, they are not distant from each other. Here the Wunjo Rune has a connection to the Bjork Rune. Where there is joy, love is not far behind. And where there is love, joy is but a step away.

Love is honest. We only have to know how to hear it. That which a person loves more will reveal itself. I remember the case of a man who was repeat offender of a disgusting crime. It was a misdemeanor. He claimed he hated jail. However, he kept doing his nasty little thing and getting arrested and jailed for it. The man spent more time in jail than he did out of it. Obviously, he loved his little crime more than he loved his freedom.

Actions speak louder than words, and this is evident than in matters of love. A person will always gravitate to that which he loves most, regardless of what he claims to love. See what he does and compare it to what he says. True love is revealed in his actions. An oft-repeated tale is of the philanderer who tells his lover than he will leave his wife for her some day. He always has an excuse not to leave. Who does he love more? Maybe he does not love his wife enough to stop philandering, but he certainly loves her more than his mistress.

The Bjork Rune has within it affection, caring and comfort. It is love in its simplest and most generous form. While others may try to categorize love as Platonic, familial, sexual, and such, the basic element is always the same. The difference is in the object of affection and the relationship to it.


In any art or specialty, love is the element that separates excellence from mediocrity. The artist must love his work and the object he or she is creating. Be it a miniature, a painting, a work of photography or a cake, love makes the difference. This also leads to taking joy in the work. Art, be it a simple craft or a more elegant piece, is infused with feeling. Anything less is not art.


The Honor of the Tyr Rune

The Tyr Rune is a Rune of competition, victory and success. It works as a unifying force to pull everything together for completion of a single goal. A very physical example of this unifying force can be experienced. The thrust of a bayonet and lunge of a fencer are physical actions that exemplify the Tyr Rune’s unity. In each, the whole body works together: arms, legs, torso, hands and head. All are focused on putting the point, be it the tip of a combat knife or sword, into its target with speed and force. This is what it means to “strike with authority.”

As with the small, so with the large. The best tactics and strategy all work similarly. All elements, all units, all troops and all weapons are coordinated to complete the mission. Great generals master the ability to coordinate their forces successfully. Generals like Rommel, Patton., Hannibal and Sherman made their forces move as one. In fact, it was Sherman who said

“An Army is a collection of armed men obliged to obey one man. Every change in the rules which impairs the principle weakens the army.”

One of the ironies of unity occurred at a little place on the Mongolian border with Manchuria in Summer of 1939. Nomonhan was a disputed point on the border. Japan and its Manchurian puppet army faced the Mongolians and their Russian allies. At the time, Japanese military doctrine about the Russians claimed they were dull and good only in the defense. The doctrine stated that the Russians were incapable of a coordinated attack.

The battle seemed to rage back and forth for a month. Actually, the Russians were gathering their forces. When they unleashed them, they managed to pin down Japanese forces and do an end-run that encircled and smashed them. For every four men who went into Nomonhan from the Japanese side, only one walked out under his own power. A meticulously coordinated attack had utterly defeated a division and a half of Japanese and Manchurian troops. The Russians did what Japanese doctrine considered impossible.

That is another example of the Tyr Rune principle.

Let us use an allegory to understand another side of the Tyr Rune. Think of a Rune as having three steps: Start, Middle and Last. The Tyr Rune principle of unifying happens in the Start phase and expends itself in the Middle. It is in the Last phase that we find another aspect which is rarely discussed. Honor is connected to the Tyr Rune.

In its dictionary definition, honor is recognition, respect, esteem, glory, prestige. It can also be privilege and pride, as in “It is my honor to …”

As a verb, to honor means to respect and hold in esteem. It can also mean to fulfill or keep, as to honor an agreement or honor a commitment.

Once again, our everyday language gives us clues to the Runes. That brings us up to a facet of Tyr that has all the impact of a sledgehammer on the bridge of your nose. Simple, hard truth is an aspect of the Tyr Rune. This is unembellished reality. Tyr Rune truth is as blunt as a battering ram and has all the tact of a buffalo stampede.

Take a moment and consider the three aspects of the Tyr Rune already mentioned. These are Unity / Unified action, Honor and bold Truth. Within each is a similar element.

As Runes go, Tyr is as simple and unvarnished as it gets. Like the God for which it is named, the Rune is direct and clear in its purpose. Though a strategy may use deception and guile, the intent is still clear: victory. So it is with the Tyr Rune. Everything is there. Confusion comes not from the Rune, but from those trying to deal with it. The Human insistence on complexity obscures one from comprehending blunt simplicity. Tyr is as simple as it gets. At its heart, it is a singularity. What seems like many is only one thing with many facets. Like an army, it is one force composed of many units for one purpose.

If the Tyr Rune has three stages, these might be described as Planning, Action and Finishing. Planning would include preparing a strategy, training and what the military refers to as Intelligence. The latter is the gathering of information, especially on the disposition and location of the enemy. The gathering of this information and its assessment is part of the Planning phase. (We might also refer to the Planning phase as Preparation.) In military terms, that would include reconnaissance and other forms of gathering information. All of this would be used in making plans.

Non-military examples of the Tyr Rune kind of planning include investors researching markets and sports scouts watching opposing teams play. Engineers scouting a route for a new railroad, explorers planning an expedition and coaches devising a game plan are further examples of the Planning / Preparation phase.

Training is part of this phase, too. Be it football practice, shooting at the rifle range or taking courses to improve one’s abilities, training is an active type of planning. It prepares people to take action, according to their various occupations. In this, the soldier, sailor, first baseman and salesman are all made ready for the action required of their various professions.

The next phase is Action. Here, plans and preparations are implemented. The execution of a plan depends on the other preparations, from training to intelligence. A saying from the sport of boxing applies: “Every man has a plan until he gets hit.” The field of action is a place of quick change. Plans have to adapt to the changes. People have to be able to handle unexpected circumstances as the Action phase progresses. Here is where training and leadership come in.

The last phase is that of Finishing, Honor, Results and Outcomes. Here the successful investor reaps profits while the victorious sportsman and soldier receive their honors. Trophies, medals and other regalia are among the personal rewards for victory. Those honored as heroes gain a special status. Especially esteemed heroes, individual or group, may even have a monument erected. Public displays of honor are common, from bronze plaques honoring fallen soldiers to grand statues commemorating victorious generals. The Finishing phase also includes “mopping up” operations, pursuit of a defeated enemy and consolidating one’s gains.

While a “follow through” is obvious, what about honor?

Honor is not a reward in the usual sense. Honor is intertwined with dignity. We give respect and honor because that is the kind of people we are. We honor those who deserve it, and in so doing also honor our Gods and bring honor to ourselves. Honor is a two-way street.

If one is given an honor, such as a trust, then it is his obligation to uphold that honor. Trust is important because it means that someone values the individual’s integrity. Honoring that trust is the act of an honorable individual. So it is with honoring any commitment or obligation.

Not all brave people are honorable. There are fearless persons whose brave actions are done for dishonorable gains. There are brave men and women who are of a disgraceful character. Indeed, there have been individuals who did great things who are despicable persons. There are many criminals who exhibited bravery in the commission of their most dastardly deeds. Honor requires more than courage. One must have a dignity of spirit and live by a higher standard. This is a matter of character.

We honor those who have served the greater good. This is the concept behind events such as Memorial Day and Veterans Day. We honor those who have made significant achievements in many fields, as well. There are kudos and honors for excellence in sports, academics, scientific discoveries, exploration and rescue. We honor the great minds who have led the way in the areas of politics, culture, society, technology, religion and philosophy. What does that say of us? How could we recognize that which is honorable if we did not have honor in ourselves?

Using the bazooka (antitank rocket launcher) as an allegory, honor has a back blast. You cannot give honor unless you have at least a spark of it in yourself. You cannot honor a promise or honor a commitment without having a sense of honor in yourself. The degree of it does not matter so much as the fact that it is present. Honor is not a static thing. It can grow in a person. Honor is as much an action as it is an idea. It is seen in the doing. Sometimes it takes a lot of effort. Sometimes all it takes is showing up.

Respect is inexorably connected with honor. We used to be a more respectful society. Young people were taught to address older people as Mister and Missus, respectively. They were never to call an adult by their first name. There was respect for elders and respect for the common good. Somehow, we lost some of that. Even within Heathenism, we have young people who have little respect for elders and those who have been doing this a long time. We also have a few whose dishonorable actions in the world at large have reflected badly on all of Heathenism.

Part of honor is how we respect circumstances. When visiting another’s place, be it anything from home or office to an online forum, it does us well to be good guests. We respect our hosts and do not do anything to cause them problems. In a courtroom, we need to respect the formalities and the process. (Those who are too disrespectful might find themselves charged with contempt of court.) Another part of respect is to dress and act appropriately for the occasion. There is a proper way to dress and behave at weddings, funerals, graduations and other events. What goes for the ballpark does not go for the funeral parlor. Even then, there was a time when men wore a jacket and tie to go to the ballgame. By being appropriate in our appearance and demeanor, we are acting as honorable individuals.

This is not always easy. Many have had to restrain themselves because of the bad behavior of others at special events. Maintaining the dignity of the event was more important than confronting an ill-mannered jackass. Keeping the integrity of the event in spite of provocation is the act of an honorable person.

There are small honors that happen so often, we barely notice them. There are the people who go out on Memorial Day weekend to place flags on the graves of veterans. Many a family visits the graves of their departed loved ones. For some, a trip to the cemetery connects them with family history going back scores or even hundreds of years. We honor our past. The little devotions of life are common acts of honor and respect.

Honor is an aspect of the Tyr Rune and it is also one of the things attributed to the God Tyr.

We react strongly to broken trusts and breaches of honor. Those who insist on acting dishonorably earn the scorn of the people. They are regarded as disgraceful. Such people have a hard time overcoming the stigma attached to their dishonorable deeds. They are pariahs: outcasts. Just as wrongdoers were outlawed in the old days, so those who betray the trust are considered beyond the pale of decent society. The ranks of the disgraced are swelled by fallen politicians, deceitful businessmen and corrupt persons of all types. Our revulsion at such people is indicative of the value we place on honor.

And so we come to the unavoidable fact. We as people cannot function without honor. Respect and trust, even in small things, keep families and societies running. On some level, we expect it. We expect people to respect the customs and sensibilities that guide everyday life. Most do. Only when situations arise whence they are not respected do we react.

There are great honors and small honors. The great honors are reserved for those who do great works to the benefit of the community, state or nation. Small honors are commonplace and are shared in everyday transactions. Big or small, they are part of that which is covered by the Tyr Rune.


Under some circumstances, we might divide each of the three aforementioned phases of Tyr into three phases. In Planning, the first phase is setting the ground work: objective, purpose, etc. The Action phase is gathering information, research, and putting the plan together. The Finishing phase is getting the plan passed to those who will enact it. Depending on their role, they may get all or part of the plan. In common parlance the Final phase is where those who will perform the action get their marching orders.

In the Action Phase, the Preparation phase includes getting all the elements moving into place. This also includes using preparatory tactics, such as artillery barrages, probing attacks and other preliminary actions. The Action phase is the implementation of the plan: the battle, the conflict, the game, the competition. The Final phase is pressing the attack to defeat the enemy. This is the point where victory is unstoppable. In the defense, it is the point where the enemy is repelled. Should the situation be a losing one, the end of the Action phase is where defenders cover the retreat. In effect, this is where one “cuts his losses.”

The Final phase is the result of Action. The Beginning of the Finish is in giving final orders to consolidate the victory. Here the orders go from an Attack or Defense to a follow-up of the defeated enemy. For retreating troops, the route of march is determined and orders are given. In baseball, this is where teams try to get “insurance runs”. Businesses shift from competing to planning how to consolidate their gains.

The Action phase of the Finishing phase is where victory is followed by rendering the enemy incapable of further fighting. Pursuit and mopping up operations take place. In defense, it is the place where the defenses are repaired and improved to prevent further trouble. In the case of a retreat, here is where the retreating troops come to safety. In sport, this is where the teams head for the lockers. For business, the Action part of the Final phase is consolidating their gains.

The finish of the Final Phase is the end of action. Honors are given, be they medals or trophies. After-action reports are made and distributed. Assessments are made and discussed. The last of the follow-up work is done. It is over.

You can find sword and bayonet techniques here: http://www.thortrains.com/getright/


The Sunny Day Reality of the Sig Rune

One of the aspects of the Sig Rune is the Sun. There is a Solar side to it. Sig is also a Rune of Victory. That all sounds big and powerful. Yet if you think about it, the Sig Rune has a gentler side. It can also be called the Sunny Day Rune.

An old fable illustrates a side of the Sig Rune:

One day the Sun and the North Wind were arguing over who was most powerful. The North Wind spied a man in a coat walking down the road.

“Let us use him to test our power. Let us see who can get that coat off him easiest,” said the North Wind. “I will go first.”

The North Wind blew cool air toward the man with a moderate wind. The man responded by buttoning up his coat. The North Wind blew with greater intensity. He blew harder and colder. The man held his coat closer too him. Furious, the North Wind gave the man his worst blast. Rather than blow the coat away, the wind only made the man hold it tighter to himself. Even a blast as powerful as a hurricane could not get the man to drop his coat.

Finally, the Sun interrupted and said, “Let me have my turn.”

As the wind subsided, the man resumed walking along the road. The Sun gently beamed warmth to the man. He relaxed as the gentle heat warmed him. Within a few minutes, he stopped and removed his coat. The Sun won that contest.

This fable illustrates the gentle power that is embodied within the Sig Rune. Another fable tells of it a different way. This one is from Asia.

Two sword masters decided to see who was better. The contest was to tap a monkey on the head with a chopstick. It would be held in a china shop, with the added conditionthat he who broke the least china would be declared winner.

The first master went into the shop. He saw the monkey and moved quickly toward him, poised to strike. The animal ran and climbed and evaded. Every time the master got close, the monkey fled frantically. In the course of this battle, some china was knocked down and broken. The master was quick, but the little monkey managed to avoid him by running through the shelves and climbing away. After several minutes, the master left the shop.

“This is impossible.” he said, thinking his opponent was in for the same difficult time. The first sword master watched with glee as the second master entered the shop.

The second sword master looked for the monkey. When he saw the animal, he quietly sat on the floor. He held the small chopstick upright in his hand.

At first the monkey kept its distance. When the man did not move, the monkey came closer. The man still did not move. Curious, the small monkey came even closer. Still, the sword master did not move. The monkey inched even closer, ready to bolt at the slightest movement from the man. There was nothing. Soon, the little creature was close enough to touch the unmoving man. It was baffled. The monkey reached out its paw and touched the man. Still, the sword master remained unmoved. Finally, the monkey was almost in his lap. The moneky touched him again with is paw. At that instant, the master flicked his wrist and tapped the moneky on the head with the chopstick.

Both stories illustrate an outworking of the Sig Rune. They show the use of a gentler application of power as opposed to a show of force.

The Sun itself has a very different role in Northern culture than that of the Middle East. In the Biblical countries, the Sun can be merciless. Death from heat and lack of water is common in the desert regions. This is also why the Biblical “bad place’ is described as an inferno. In the North, the Sun is beneficial. It is the cold that is feared, hence the River Slid and Niflheim being frozen places. For the Northern world, the Sun releases everyone from the limitations imposed by the cold. It is a benefactor and creator of favorable conditions.

The Winter is a dangerous time in the Northern latitudes. Freezing is a danger from November to the end of March. A bad storm can unleash enough snow to crush the roof of a house. Food in nature is scarce. Roads are impassable and waterways became treacherous. To be caught out overnight in the cold is perilous and often leads to frostbite and possible death.

The sunny season meant freedom from the dangers of frost and snow. People needed little protection from the environment in warmer seasons. Travel was easy. Food in nature was more abundant. Life was many times easier than during the months when cold and darkness prevailed.

The adjective “sunny” has a positive and friendly connotation. “Sunny day” implies a pleasant day and favorable conditions. “Sunny disposition” describes an optimistic and pleasant personality. Bright can have the same meaning as Sunny. ‘A bright disposition” is one and the same with its sunny counterpart. Bright can also imply intelligence and being what we call “quick on the uptake.”, I remember an old insult thrown at dullards, dunces and folks who claimed brilliance but were in fact as dumb as a post: “You are so smart they should call you sunshine.”

Indeed, even an insult alludes to the relationship between the sun and something beneficial.

Brilliance is another word that can mean a very bright light and very intelligent. Brilliant colors are bright. Brilliant people and very smart. Any further discussion of this type of light symbolism is actually a matter of the Ken Rune, however.

As opposed to the happy conditions of a sunny day, the idea of a gloomy day is not just a matter of clouds and darkness. Gloomy is also a mood. It is the opposite of sunny.

One of the best allusions to favorable conditions comes form our Revolution. “Sunny Day Friends” referred to persons who were there when times were good but who were absent when things became difficult.

The Sig Rune has within it what I call “The Sig Factor.” This is an element or item which, when added to a situation, turns it entirely favorable. Take for example the Battle of Waterloo. The outcome was undecided until the arrival of Prussian cavalry on the field. Their presence turned a difficult battle into a total victory.

Pilots and armies have always felt it best to fight with the Sun behind them. It obscures the enemy’s vision. Many a victory has hinged on the place of the Sun during battle. Erwin, Rommel, the great German general, timed his attacks to the hours when the sun was behind his forces.

Another Sig Factor is seen in sports. Teams that are over-reliant on a star player are easily overcome if that player cannot take the field. These days, something as simple as jet lag can be a Sig Factor in who has the most favorable conditions in a sporting event.

All of the fancy, “scientifically engineered” sports products from shoes to gloves to bats are essentially ways to add a little Sig Factor to a player’s performance. Drugs are disdained for enhancing a player’s performance, but carefully-engineered clothing and sports gear is considered perfectly fine.

The Sig Victory is overwhelming and decisive. The Sig Factor tips everything to the favor of one side. That makes it an easy victory for one and an appalling defeat for the other. There are many examples in history of one-sided victories. Though several things contributed to a stunning victory, there is usually one factor that tipped the balance. For example, the decisive Japanese victory over the Russian fleet at the Battle of Tsushima Strait was a matter of the quality of Japanese leadership. The Russian officer corps was a vestige of the old Czarist system, where royalty outweighed quality when it came to giving rank and authority. Japan’s armed forces were a meritocracy, where authority had to be earned through competence. The capable Japanese commanders, backed by a navy with excellent leadership at all levels, easily outfought the plodding opponent with its poor leadership. The Japanese managed to sink 21 ships, capture 7 and disarm 6. The sunken vessels included 6 major battleships. Japan only lost 3 torpedo boats. That is a Sig Rune type victory.

By contrast, the Tyr victory is a harder fight. A Tyr Rune victory requires more effort on the part of the victor. The outcome is not lopsided. The Tyr Rune factor is a matter of outfighting and outsmarting the opposition. Its Sig Rune counterpart involves completely overwhelming the enemy so that he is totally outclassed and outfought from the start.

A nickname for a miracle cure is “the Silver Bullet.” It derives from either or both of two sources. Only a silver bullet was supposed to be able to kill a monster such as a werewolf or vampire. In the Lone Ranger stories, the Ranger used silver bullets. The Silver Bullet can refer to a medical cure that totally eradicates a seemingly unbeatable illness, restoring full health. It can also refer to an element introduced into a situation which makes an instant victory or success. When a situation becomes tough and approaches untenable, it is natural to look for the allegorical silver bullet that prevents imminent defeat. This is even better when it not only staves off defeat, but brings victory. Such things can happen. They are very rare. Their rarity is what makes them the stuff of legend.

Here is where a person can work against the Sig Rune and assure his own defeat. More than a few time, people have put all their hopes on finding a Silver Bullet. In doing so, they ignore other options. By the time they apply an alternate plan, it may be too late. For instance, there are many occasions in history where it would have been wiser to implement a Tyr Rune type strategy rather than hope for the Sig Rune victory. In others, the wise thing would have been to revise one’s strategy, withdraw until his forces could fight under better circumstances, or find a way to cut his losses.

Perhaps the best example is the Nazi regime. Hitler had become convinced that he could win if he had a weapon that would tip the balance. He had scientists and technicians working to develop these super weapons. Better tanks and better anti-tank guns looked promising, but they did not stem the Allied advance. V1 rockets and V2 missiles only served to strengthen the Allies’ resolve. Ironically, Germany’s greatest armored victories came prior to 1943. The super tanks such as the Tiger and Panther arrived when Germany had started losing. All of the new weapons failed to stop the Allied juggernaut. Hitler’s reliance on finding a Silver Bullet for his cause prevented him from taking other measures that may have saved Germany the last devastating months of Allied attacks.

Japan also had a Silver Bullet mentality as World War Two drew to a close. Rather than cut their losses, the Japanese hoped they could cause so many casualties that the Allies might offer negotiations for peace. This losing plan was their Silver Bullet, and it failed them miserably. One tactic in this strategy was the use of suicide planes, called kamikaze. The suicide attacks damaged ships, but it also cost the Japanese the loss of valuable aircraft. These tricks did not stop the Allied forces from pressing the attack. Japan’s hope for a silver bullet left their country devastated and they were still defeated ignominiously.

The Sig Rune has within it the power to provide favorable circumstances. Like all Runes, it has its up and down sides. How it affects us depends on how we approach it. When there are favorable conditions, we can take full advantage of them. When things are turning sour, we have to be careful that our hope for a Sig Factor “Silver Bullet” does not override our ability to make the best of a bad situation. Along with accepting the favorable assistance within the Sig Rune, we also have to discern when to change strategy, step back or cut our losses. Sig and the other Runes work best when we use our best judgement.


Purpose of Living

One year ago today, I was in the ICU, having undergone open heart surgery. It was the most physically excruciating thing I have ever endured. This was not the most mentally, emotionally or spiritually painful thing I have experienced.

I have faced death more than a few times over the years. I have looked down the barrel of a gun, the blade of a knife, and the windshield of a colliding car more than once. Those and other close calls with death were quick, brief and often sudden. My current heart situation is a longer-term thing. Death is a given. I learned long ago that it is one of the conditions of life. There are no guarantees.

Miyamoto Musashi, Japan’s greatest swordsman, spoke of a “resolute acceptance of Death.” Like many things, the actual meaning is much simpler than people make of it. Martial artists and Asian philosophy buffs make a big thing of it as if it is some great accomplishment. Instead, is it is easy. All one needs do is accept the fact that death is a part of life. We will all die some day. The how and when is not ours to know. What I believe Musashi meant is that between birth and death, we must live. Having accepted the eventuality of death, we can now get on with the business of living.

Our purpose is to concentrate our focus on living. Death will take care of itself when the time comes.

Life is unfair. We must embrace this fact. When we do, the unfairness is no longer a burden. At that point, “Life is unfair” is a liberating statement. The same goes for what Musashi called a “resolute acceptance of Death.” Once we make peace with the fact of Death, living is unburdened by fear of one’s demise.

I have recently mentioned the story from a hand-to-hand combat teacher. He spoke of people who were so afraid of “getting theirs” that they never ventured outside their apartments. They stayed in self-imposed confinement, locked in their homes because of their fear of death. Instead of saving their lives, they threw them away. Ours is to live and to be free. The price of personal freedom is the uncertainty of life itself.

Another fear that debilitates people is the fear of making a mistake, also known as the fear of being wrong. The price of progress from the individual to mass endeavors is that mistakes are inevitable. They happen. Success depends on the willingness and ability to recover from errors. Depending on the particular mistake, it may be as simple as a change in plans to recovering from financial or other damage. What is important is to never repeat that mistake. When mistakes happen early in any endeavor, it is better because the lesson is learned before there is serious damage. The fear of being wrong can be almost as stifling as fear of death.

Some people live this life as if it were a preparation for an afterlife. They cede the benefits of the present in hopes of a greater reward after death. It is foolish to put one’s life on hold because of a dream of some past-life benefits. The right way to approach life and death is to live this life now. If we are living right, the afterlife will take care of itself. We do not need to sacrifice to buy a place in some far-off heaven or nirvana or paradise. We can enjoy the things of this world and live this life on its own merits. What is to come after death will be dealt with at that time.

There is one element that is a necessity in life. Joy. Each of us is truly living when he has things in which he takes joy. Life itself can be an exercise in joy. Our happiness and satisfaction are clues that we are on the right path. There is so much in which to find joy. It is important that we are not be so serious that we are sadly solemn. A smile is better than a frown. A grin is better than a snarl. The bitterness of a joyless existence is not our way. A generous spirit comes from having joy in oneself and one’s life.

We are not going to get out of this life alive, so we may as well express joy as we get on the with happy business of living.


Last year, when things looked particularly bad, I bought myself an O gauge locomotive. It was similar to one I had when I was young. The train was bought with the intention of running it at Yule. When the train was acquired, it looked like I might not make it to mid-December. In a way, I was taking a bet on Life.

That train ran at Yule. Trains are among the things in which I take joy. For many years, the tradition in our house has been to run a train clockwise on Yule. Like the cart that was pushed in Thor’s temple to honor him, so the train is run for the same purpose at Yule. A simple devotion, but for us, an important one. What better honor than a thing of joy?

I will let you in on a secret. A nickname for a train station is Thor’s House. Think of it as a place where you can feel Thor’s power on Earth. Wheels, steel rails, sparks, electricity (diesel engines actually convert power to electricity, which in turn powers the electric traction motors). Riding a train can also be service to Thor.

There again is joy!


Runic Lessons and Ability

If you want to know the Runes, then you have to go beyond the more facile and common definitions. The pick-and-choose / one from Aett A and two from Aett B kind of Runecraft does not go very far. If you have to look up the meanings in a book or select them from a list, you are spinning your wheels. The Runes are more than lists or books. All the books can tell you is what someone else thought at the time of writing. The better ones can point the way in a general direction. A specific direction is something you have to discover for yourself.

This latest run of Runic articles is focused on aspects of the Runes that are often overlooked. Usually, they get very little attention. Many do not even know that these aspects exist. If they do, they are unaware of the extent of them. The reason is that very few people go beyond reading books. They take what they can get from books and people, and nothing more. Very few people spend much time researching for themselves.

This is not hard to do. I have explained it many times. Think about the Runes. Consider places where you have seen their outworking. Look at how they act in yourself and the world around you. Go to places where a Rune or Runes are more evident. If you are into divination, do a Rune reading when you need it. Do it no more than once a day, just to keep yourself from going overboard. If magick is your thing, try a Rune spell occasionally. You can keep a journal. See how your divination and your interpretations gibe with real-world outcomes. Keep notes of any results of Rune spells and any changes or nuances to the outcomes.

Learn to feel the Runes. Try to get the feel of Raido if you visit a transportation hub such as a train station or bus terminal. If you practice archery, consider the rebound of the Yew Tree Rune. When camping, consider Thurs if you have to chop wood with an axe. Those who go to a gym might want to think of Urus and the idea of “gathering strength.” Be innovative. There are many places where the Runes are more in evidence than others. They are a resource to help you understand the feel, essence and actions of the Runes.

The secret to gaining power is simple. Most folks do not do it because they make the old excuse, “I already knew that.” They think they know, but if they had done it, the results would show. These people are lazy. They only say, “I knew that,” to protect their ego.

The secret to power requires concerted, ongoing effort. Take the power signs of your particular path, in this case the Runes, and work with each one. Meditate. I do not mean some esoteric Zen thing. I mean relax and think deeply on a Rune. Think of how it acts. Ponder how its energy feels. Ask other questions. How might it smell? Would it be warm or cool? Is it soothing or harsh? Soft or hard? What colors would you associate with it? What sounds? If you like dancing, ask what kind of dance move might suit that Rune. How might a dance for that Rune go? If you make music, think of what notes and chords fit the Rune. How might a song for that Rune sound? Here is a hint – play Gustav Holst’s “Mars the Bringer of War” from his “The Planets” to experience Tyr, both the God and the Rune.

When you go to places where the Runes are strongest, ask yourself questions. Is there a smell or feeling you associate with them? For instance, is there a shared essence you detect in places attributed to the Raido or Ken Runes? What do you see, hear and feel that you do not encounter in other places?

The trick is not in having all the answers but in asking all the right questions.

Let the Runes show you rather than you try to fit them into some preconceived form. Do not try to force them. Force only pushes them away. Ease into them. Ease draws them to you. The door to insight – including the Runes – opens inward.

While you are at it, learn a few techniques of projecting magick. You need learn only nine or ten. Most you will rarely use. For most of the instances when you may need them, you will find that you use one or two, or maybe three, for 99% of such occasions. The trick is to get good with them. That means practice and more practice. Getting good at one or two will do more than learning a hundred. Learn them so well that you can adapt them to any situation. I recommend learning a few spoken spell techniques. They can be used almost anywhere with little or no preparation and with no tools. Learn to adapt them to various situations. When you develop skill with spoken spells, you can even use them silently and get good results. Two spells that you know well will do you more than a hundred spells in a spellbook for all occasions.

In a short time, you will get some results. In two to five years, you will have more than 99.99% of others who claim to study these things. All they will know is what books tell them. You will be able to do them and make them work for you. Granted that you will not get titles or recognition, but you will have the power and ability. Isn’t that the point? To have it rather than to be recognized for something you do not have?

Learn deep, not wide. Do not go prancing about from one book to another and one teacher to another. Focus on what you have and make it work for you. It is not a matter of how many or how much. This is all about quality.

Of course, the most important thing is doing. Knowing about it is not doing it. Those who say, “I knew that,” are duds, plain and simple. Those who do it make the accomplishments and enjoy the results.


What of us old timers? Do we still do all this?

In time, this becomes second nature. You do not have to go somewhere special to see the Runes because you can recognize them wherever you are. You do not have to specifically meditate because they are part of your habitual thinking. Meditation is done for its own benefits and enjoyment. That includes an occasional but not infrequent foray into the Runes.

And yes, in times when I need them, most things are handled with one or two favorite spells. Sometimes I need a third. Rarely do I need the others.


What is a spell? A spell, by my definition, is a vehicle to access, control and direct spiritual power. There are many names and many types. It may be called an invocation, a prayer, a charm, a rhyme, a ceremony, a ritual. a treatment, an evocation, a working or many other such terms. Though some religions try to claim that their spells are not spells but a religious act, in fact they are one and the same. Pay attention to what they do, not what they say. What, essentially, is the difference between a religious medal and an amulet? How is a Catholic priest blessing a St. Christopher medal any different from a Wiccan consecrating a protective talisman from a Heathen charging a Thor’s Hammer pendant?

If you want to know more, you can go to my Videos page here: http://www.thortrains.net/trollwisepress/videothor.html Scroll down to Lessons in Various Things. The first column on the left begins with several of my videos explaining spell work. While on the page, you might check out some of the Rune videos, too. And yes, I will be completing the Rune video series soon.


The Homebound Elk Rune

The Elk is a fitting symbol of this Rune. The Scandinavian Elk is actually one and the same as the American Moose. The animal is large, regal and territorial. I remember a few years ago where a moose and its calf had wandered onto a college campus. A man who was trying to enter a building was attacked by the mother moose. She obviously felt he was a threat to her calf. That territorial urge is portable. The unsuspecting man had entered the mother moose’s version of a “no-fly” zone.

Elk is a Rune of protection and defense. It also has a hallowing potential. The Elk Rune is a protector of people, things and places. The power acts like a barrier: a fence to keep trouble at bay. Like the animal for which it is aimed, it prevents adversaries from entering that which it defends. Combined with the Yew Tree Rune, it is a powerful force protecting on all levels. These are defensive. Thurs as a protecting Rune is a repellant which acts aggressively. Thurs is like a pre-emptive strike whereas Elk holds its ground. The intriguing thought is that the aurochs which symbolizes Urus has many traits like the Elk embodied in the Elk Rune. Both are resistant. Urus resists attempts to change or alter it. Elk resists before anything gets close enough to touch it.
The territorial concept is found in the Elk Rune. However, it is not limited to a

psychological proclivity to hold a specific place. The concept of territory is much more complex, though at its heart is it is very simple. In effect, our territory is what we consider ours. Granted, the idea of our territory or place figures heavily in the Odal Rune. There is a subtle difference where the Elk Rune is involved. Under Elk, the focus is on the security we feel in our territory and our need to protect it. Here we encounter a basic outworking of our human instincts.

There was a time when all territory was pretty much physical. A person’s house and land was his home, source of food and his living. Be it a hovel with a field or a mansion with stables and acres of farmland, it was his territory. He would defend it with all he had, regardless of its size. As recently as the frontier days in the United States and Canada, men defended their homesteads against dangerous animals and dangerous men. Be it a log cabin or sod hut, it was as important to its owner as any great hall was to its lord. There are many examples of people defending their home and land during the French & Indian War and our Revolution. Raids by enemy irregulars and Indians were common. People fought to the death to protect home and family.

The concept of territory is not limited to a piece of land.

You may have run across people in the workplace who regard their little cog in the company wheel as more of a fiefdom than a job. They regard any intrusion into their petty domain as an offense and act accordingly. It can happen in almost any setting: an office, a large auto garage, a warehouse, a manufacturing facility, a railyard, etc. If the person is very competent at his or her job, this attitude is usually tolerated to a point. If not, it is the source of friction and encounters that range from aggravating to hilarious. In the latter case, such persons are often berated by the boss and becomes the target of the company prankster. There are also occasional spats or what are colloquially known as “pissing matches” when two such individuals conflict.

Do they appear extreme? Indeed. We have to understand that it is the same urge to protect what we hold dear. In lieu of hearth and home, other aspects of our interactions with others can become territorial in their own right. Those who show it in the workplace are but one example. Many a feud between people in the same field is a territorial dispute, with all sides thinking the other is encroaching on their domain. Colloquial expressions such as “butting heads” and “locking horns” are a subconscious recognition of the similarity between them and a bull moose repelling a challenger to his territory. Unlike the moose and other antlered and horned combatants, these fights are not limited to the annual mating season. Granted that in some, mating may add to the fire if a member of the opposite sex is on the sidelines. Many a territorial dispute at work is job-related on the surface, but may indeed be driven by a mutual interest in a desirable co-worker. All too often, what we see is not the whole story.

The territorial imperative is not the same as competition, which is of the Tyr Rune. The Elk Rune defense is more in the order of keeping an intruder at bay than a full-on battle. The relationship between defender and invader is not that of two people competing, but of one or both trying to maintain their position in spite of the other. Competition, as per the Tyr Rune, is a matter of becoming better than one’s opponent. The Elk Rune phenomenon is one of repelling and driving off the other in order to maintain the status quo. There is no concept of becoming better.

One place where the attitude is often seen is in matters of romance. One person considers the object of affection his. If another fellow comes around and seems interested in her, the first seeks to drive him away. This is not competition for the heart of the beloved .It is a defense to repel someone intruding on romantic territory. The worst cases are those who see everyone as a potential intruder into his or her relationship. These jealous folks are full of suspicions to the point that even an innocent greeting is taken as a possible affront.

We often see a defensive posture in those who have an established position in an enterprise. They see their position and, by extension, the company as their fiefdom. In the case of a very capable individual, there are few problems as a result. In those less able, a bullheaded defense of their fiefdom means that many a bad idea and faulty plan is put in motion. They have not learned that being the boss is not like being a ruler. Being the boss means following and implementing the rules that make the enterprise work well.

The real problem with territorial-minded leaders is that they run their office their own way and let no one else in. Their place is theirs alone. The upshot is that nobody is prepared to assist them or take their place should they fall ill or leave the company. Many a great enterprise has come to a screeching halt when an autocratic leader’s place was taken by an unprepared successor. Those who cannot share territory for the greater good can negate all their good accomplishments by neglecting to empower others to continue their work.

On the other hand, having a bit of territory gives us a sense of comfort and worth. There is comfort in being in a place one considers home. In times of trouble, it is a natural instinct to head for the safety of home. Whether it is a child who got in trouble at school or ancient Greeks taking refuge from invaders in their fortified cities, home is a refuge. When on the road, it is human nature to regard one’s lodging as a temporary home, be it a camp, cabin, motel room or pup tent. The place becomes one’s territory for the time being. Here again, the idea of territory can be permanent or temporary.

Have you ever noticed how you feel when you acquire something good and make all haste to get it home. Be it the fruits of shopping, hunting or other means, the acquisition does not feel complete until it is brought into one’s domicile. The destination can be a house or a hunting camp. Once there, the feeling of ownership is complete and the thing can be taken out, enjoyed and put to use. The idea of home as a place to secure one’s goods is also an aspect of the Elk Rune.
Temporary or permanent, a home is also a place for defense and safety. “Run for cover” is a military term that has become a colloquial expression for seeking a place of safety. Another is “going to ground.” Animals and people., when ill or injured, are known to go to a safe place and hide while healing. The sick and injured can also become defensive to the point of hostility. Another example is when a person is in danger and decides to make a stand. A historical example is the Alamo, where surrounded defenders held their piece of territory against assault by wicked enemy forces. We hear of incidents where criminals hole up in their homes or other places they consider safe. Many a stand-off with police involves the home or other comfortable place of the criminal. Why do they bring the danger of a gunfight to family or friends instead of doing it somewhere else? Theirs is not a rational decision but an instinctual urge. It is the idea of finding friendly territory where they feel they belong.

An outworking of this territorial imperative can be seen in every barracks and dormitory and even jail cells. As austere as the quarters may be, there are always things done to personalize and “humanize” them. Posters, photographs and a few comforts brought from their permanent homes make these Spartan quarters feel like more of a home for the duration. Small trinkets and odd items add to the feeling that the place is not just somewhere to sleep and get out of the weather. It is the territory of those who abide there. Bringing personal touches takes it from “the place where I sleep” to “this is our place.” Cats spray and dogs urinate to mark their territory. The personal items displayed in a room are one of the ways people mark territory.

Of course, territory is also marked in more formal ways. Signs and fences are very physical manifestations of the Elk Rune defense. Barriers are meant to deliniate territory and to deter trespassing. They range from old stone fences in rustic areas to walls and fortified battlements. Barriers protect and mark everything from farm fields and urban back yards to international borders.

The idea of territory also extends to behavior within the home. We can be comfortable and even careless in the walls of our own domicile. By the same token, we do not appreciate when guests do the same in our home, unless they are very close friends or family. There is a certain degree of decorum that is expected of guests. Visitors, even temporary house guests, are expected to respect the unwritten rules of behavior. The idea is that they respect being allowed to enter our most cherished territory. In effect, it is a privilege to be admitted into one’s domicile.

The territorial impulse embodied within the Elk Rune is also a token of identity. Unlike “This is who I am,” of the Mannar Rune, Elk states ‘This is the place that is mine.” That aspect of the Elk Rune is at work every time a homeowner fixes a fence, a soldier digs a foxhole, a college student erects a poster in her dorm room and a hiker pitches a tent. Whether we paint a line on the pavement or place a string of land mines, we are defending places we call our own. That is the Elk Rune in our world, our spirit and our minds.

As an aside, I can tell you of my own recent experience with the Elk Rune. After open heart surgery, I spent a week recuperating in the hospital. There were medical people there to watch over me and make sure I was healing properly. Nonetheless, I wanted very much to be in my own home. Despite the fact there was no medical support at home, on an inner level I felt much safer being in my own house. Common sense made it evident at every turn that I needed a few days in the hospital, but feeling and instinct still wanted to be home. For me, it is further evidence of the Elk Rune at work in me. The desire for my own territory was strong in spite of the necessity to be in the hospital. When I got home after a week, though still having a hard time getting around, I felt relieved. More likely than not, you have experienced a similar feeling of relief when getting home after a trying day. Be it coming home from a hospital stay, a difficult commute or an exasperating day at work, that feeling is one and the same. That is where you have felt the Elk Rune in you.

(The Rune Names I use are those that I have used long before I even heard of Asatru. I will not use the proto-Germanic names. Below I include the Runes and brief interpretations. The actual Rune staves shown are from an artistic Rune font; the only Rune font available to us at the time I wrote this list. That was about 1991 or 1992. A link to download the font was posted a couple weeks ago on this blog.)


The Hollow Fullness of the Perdra Rune

Earlier, I mentioned the void as an aspect of Naud. Perdra also has an aspect connected to Void. The most physical manifestation is in one literal interpretation of Perdra (Peord). That is “the dice cup.” A cup is a vessel made of walls surrounding an empty space. Without that void at its center, the cup would be a solid cylinder. It is by virtue of the void is that the cup exists. This is not some mystical statement, but an observable fact. The cup is a cup because of the emptiness it surrounds.

If we look at the motions of Naud and Perdra, we see that both are a downward motion. Naud pushes and presses down and inward. It compresses. Perdra is like gravity. One falls into it. The pull is like falling into a pit. On the other hand, the Lagu Run pulls down and in, much as Naud pushes down and in. These are subtle things but they make a great difference.

Perdra includes within it the symbolism of wells, caves, cauldrons and other vessels. It is also a Rune of pregnancy. That which happens in Perdra is hidden, much as the gestation of a fetus is hidden within the womb of the mother and the initial growth of seeds happens under the surface of the soil. Thus it is that within Perdra things are prepared to come into being. It is no wonder that one aspect of Perdra is the cave, into which one travels to see the processes whose products will one day reach the light of day. (These processes differ from the process described in the Eh (Horse) Rune, which is a process of events from start to finish.) Perdra’s process transforms the raw and undifferentiated into that which is refined and distinct. The gestation of a living being, the making of an auto from raw metal, and going from idea to its realization are examples of Perdra action. So, too, is the winding of Wyrd. The input of today is woven into the experience of tomorrow.

It is through Perdra that we may get a glimpse of the process ands thereby predict what it will become. Perdra is a Rune of divination. The dice cup is also a method of divination.
All of this happens in the void. At least, that is how it appears to us. The hidden processes are unseen and may as well be a void. Through these secret efforts hidden from our gaze, one simple thing is turned into something complex and useful.

The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg is as fitting for Perdra as it is for Jer. The process of Perdra must be complete before the thing is brought into the light. That which is hurried and premature will be flawed, at best. Most often, it will be useless. Only the complete process / cycle can produce the complete thing. Through Perdra, we may get a glimpse of the thing to come as it is being made. However, we can only look and nothing more. A hastened delivery means that if it does emerge alive or relatively intact, it still needs extra work to make it useful. Think of a premature infant as a good example.

Jer is a Rune of maturity and Perdra is one of a complete process. They are similar in one way, but different in others. That which Perdra completes may still have to mature, as with planted crops or a human infant. So it is that there are instances where what Perdra finishes, Jer completes. Another example is fermented beverages like wine or ale. The process part is Perdra. Aging after the fermentation is a Jer Rune thing.

Perdra is the Rune by which things are brought into existence. It is the maker, builder, assembler and composer. Pregnancy is a very apt aspect of this Rune, from the beginning of the fetus to its growth and eventual birth as a living baby. From there, Perdra’s role as a cornucopia becomes obvious. This is the giver with no end, so long as its work is not interrupted. To interfere is to cause an end of production and a bad result. Like the mythical Golden Goose, it must be allowed to work according to its nature and timetable. We adjust to it rather than trying to make it adjust to us.

There is a way that things work. If we adjust to how they work, we can make them work for us. Nowhere is this more evident than with the Perdra Rune. We have already seen that Perdra can give us a hint of what is to come. By the same token, we cannot interfere with its workings lest we damage or negate the intended outcome. The way to work with Perdra is to put the right ingredients into it. This is how we can assure the best result. The quality of what we put in is the major factor determining what finally comes out, be it physical, mental, emotional, social or otherwise.

Perdra governs divination. Reading the Runes, Tarot and other forms of divination work by a type of extrapolation between present conditions and the forces acting upon them. From there, a likely outcome is presented. It is as if we are looking at what is happening now in Wyrd and getting and idea of what will come from it in the future. Though it can be surprisingly accurate, divination’s outcomes are not written in stone. They are prone to vary because unseen conditions may affect an unexpected change. Divination is not an irrefutable prognosis. It is more like a weather forecast as it presents likelihoods and probabilities. Divination lets us see Wyrd in progress and it makes its forecast based on that.

The Rune shape and several of is interpretations hint at an empty space within a container. There is that emptiness, or void, from which things somehow emerge into being. In a religious context, sects such as the Yezidi have creation stories which begin with an unknowable Cause. From the unknowable emanates a knowable deity and the knowable universe. Stated another way, the realm of experience emanates from a void which cannot be experienced.

Under the Naud Rune, I discussed the void as empty space, or no-thing. It was darkness as opposed to light and “white space” as the blank area used by typesetters. In Perdra, the void is the unseen from which things come forth. Musashi wrote that “..in the Void is all good, and no evil…” It would seem to be an unknowable thing from which knowable things come forth.

There are many things whose existence relies on their embodiment of emptiness. The vacuum tube for old televisions and radios is one such thing. The basketball, football and balloon owe their very existence to the void between their walls. For things that exist because of their emptiness, nothing is something. The void defines them and makes them what they are. Without it, there can be no cauldron, no cup and no basket.

The total emptiness of a vacuum is what makes a thermos bottle.

There is a magickal quality to the Perdra Rune. It is the Horn of Plenty, the Cornucopia that provides an endless stream of goods from seemingly nowhere. It is the Well of Wyrd, ever creating the future from the input of Past and Present. Perdra is the cauldron that turns raw materials in a meal. It is the dice cup that can expose the future. Perdra is the womb and the place where unrefined materials are turned into good things. Perdra is also the vessel containing the void. It holds within it the empty space; the void where the unknowable becomes known. This may seem complex and difficult to understand, but the principles and forces symbolized by Perdra are actually simple. Think of these things and you will come to appreciate the Perdra rune and its unique place in our world, our Universe, our spirits and our minds.


The Springy Energy of the Yew Tree Rune

Though our technical name for this Rune is YR, I still refer to it as the Yew Tree Rune. This is a Rune that scares many people. They associate it with death and darkness and eerie things. They forget, or maybe were never told that it is also a Rune of life beyond death, of resiliency and of meditation.

The Yew Tree symbolizes something within all of us. Granted that in some it is stronger than in others. It is that part that can bend and sway, but always returns to itself. There are folks among us who can hide and bend for a while, but their true nature reasserts itself despite all of that. The Yew shares this with bamboo: bend it all you want, but it always snaps back. I have written before of the “Inner Yggdrasil” and that the Yew is the “Dark Yggdrasil.” In this context, dark does not mean evil or gloomy. The Yew Rune is that within us that is resilient and returns us to our true selves. Of course, in some it is stronger than others.

There are circumstances where people may bend to accommodate people, situations or the popular opinion. There are people who will do whatever is needed to fit in. Then there are those who may be able to do it for a while, but eventually drop the charade. One may say that their inner Yew Tree is stronger. They are true to themselves even when it may be advantageous to follow the crowd. People of this type can bend for a while, but they always snap back.

By knowing how to bend the Yew, we can use its spring-back reaction to our advantage. A good example is archery. Yew wood was a favorite for bows because of its springy resilience. Whatever material was used, the action of the bow itself is an example of applied Yew Rune energy. A bow is bent out of shape. Its power comes when the bent bow rapidly returns to its shape. Just as water seeks its own level (Lagu) and atoms seek greater stability through ionic and covalent bonding (Gyfu), so the Yew Rune always seeks its own shape. In plastics, this is part of what is meant by “memory.” Bend as one will, the Yew cannot help but reassert its true form. This is the Rune who knows exactly who you are and will not let you be otherwise.

One might say that within the Yew Rune is that thing we call “backbone.” Those who waver are considered spineless. By contrast, those who stand firm are said to have “backbone.” The analogy to spinal integrity refers to a trait indicative of the Yew Rune. However, the Rune is always flexible and never brittle. We might say it knows when to bend and exactly when to reassert itself.

I had an experience of this over 30 years ago. At the time, I had been trying to find my way in a more civil setting. Two years previously, I gave up the wild ways that characterized my existence through most of the 1970s. This was the transition from savage to civil. Keep in mind that I had been the person women blamed for getting their sons and husbands drunk, among other things. The things that were necessary for wildness were different for those in a more civil setting. Learning the new rules took time.

I met a woman who seemed nice. She worked at the place I got coffee on the way to the train. We ended up going out a few times. The woman was not like the ones with whom I usually associated previously. Anyone who has ever woken up next to a big, loud Irish harp-ette or noisy, awkward Polish chick knows what I mean. The woman was quiet, family-oriented and a bit naive. After a while, she had me come with her when she spent a Sunday afternoon with her family. I went out of my way to accommodate her. One of the things she liked to do was do favors for her friends. She got me to go along. The woman thought she was being nice. I thought she was being a doormat. As you can guess, the relationship was headed for the rocks. We argued, we discussed, but nothing changed. I had bent as far as I could to accommodate her and it was time to stop.

The springback was fast and hard. There was an ultimatum and then a split. “Nice” did not work for me, just as wild no longer worked for me. Some folks can deal with “nice” and “cute.” But for people like me, whose idea of “nice and cute” lies somewhere between a komodo dragon and an 81mm mortar, it just does not work. That Yew tendency will reassert itself eventually.

Another term for the springback is backlash.

We expect flexibility in saplings, which are young trees. They grow firmer and less flexible as they get older. The Yew stays flexible from start to finish. Pliability is a symbol of a living thing, whereas that which is firm, stiff or brittle implies less life. Once again, the Yew Tree is a fit symbol of this Rune. This is the Life beneath and beyond Life. It has an eternal quality which never grows stale. The Yew force is vibrant and energizing. We can tap it at will, even if we are within the midst of the worst physical, emotional or spiritual travail. The Yew is the Life that lives past the grave and certainly abides past all injury and defeat. This is not some faraway, obtuse spiritual principle. It is a resilient reality which we can experience here and now. In a way, it is reminiscent of Idun’s apples.

There is energy in the Yew Tree Rune. Make no doubt about it. The rebounding resilience is not just a mechanical thing. There is a force with which to reckon. That rebounding tendency needs force to reassert itself. Usually, it must overcome resistance. Just as the bamboo throws off its burden and the snow-bent yew limb turns snow into powder, so it is with the Yew Rune force. Life and truth reassert themselves forcefully. That is the way of the world.

Many things require one to pull back before releasing. The act of withdrawing is what turns potential force into real energy. This is expended when the power is released. We see this in the archer’s bow and the baseball pitcher’s wind-up. In these situations, one must first draw back before it can be released forward. The wind-up increases the power which is released as speed and force. The potential energy is always there, but it takes an act of moving back to activate it. The further and longer it is held back, the more the force grows for the release.

In terms of projected force, the Yew’s windup and spring back contrast with the abrupt projection of force via the Thurs Rune. Yew is like a bow; Thurs is like a gun, needing no “wind-up.” That I think of it, Hagal explodes like a grenade and needs no wind-up either.

The same principle is at work when a person bounces back. The force is increased and he is all the more firm in his resolve to assert himself.

Mannar is the Rune of identity. The Yew Tree Rune protects the integrity of one’s identity.

Of course, the wind-up of the Yew Tree is not the same as the clockwork wind-up of the Jer Rune. Jer expends its energy over time. When it finally springs back, the Yew Rune applies its force abruptly.

When the Apollo 13 space mission ran into trouble and had to return, it used a Yew type of trick to increase velocity. The craft flew around the moon, out and away and then back. It used Lunar gravity to add power to the “springback” to Earth

I remember many years ago when a cable snapped while it was being used to pull a truck. The cable whipped speedily to the side. Had anyone been there, it had enough force to cut him in two. Here again is a matter of energy being invoked by the pulling force exerted on the cable. This is another example of the rebound / recoil of the Yew Rune.

Speaking of recoil, an application of the Yew Rune principle is the use of recoil to reload an automatic weapon. The recoil becomes a wind-up that pushes another round into the chamber. Those familiar with the .50 caliber machine gun will understand this.

Another type of rebounding is recovering from a loss or illness. There is the feeling of springing back to life after a setback that figuratively or literally knocks one down. The resilience to rise again is crucial to one’s health and sanity. The Japanese had a paper doll called Daruma that was weighted. The doll always pops upright when it is rolled. A saying goes with it: “Fall down seven times, rise eight.” Indeed, it is said that success comes from rebounding from setbacks. By the same token, those who stay down after being knocked down are embracing failure.

To ignore that innate sense of springing back can lead to futility. One of the most powerful examples of this for me is a man I had known since kindergarten. In his late twenties, he got hit with a setback that shook him. Figuratively, it knocked him flat. He made the choice to stay down rather than try to rebound form it. Friends tried to help him and encourage him, but he would have none of it. Over the next several years, people encouraged him and offered to help. The man refused. He became a park bum. The last I saw him, he was lying on the park wall waiting for the gin mill across the street to open. I was on my way to work. I asked if he would like to come with me, since I worked in an alcohol and drug rehab at the time. The man shook his head. That was over a quarter century ago. Two years ago, I learned that he was still on the bum.

My old schoolmate is an example of what happens when someone chooses to stay down after a setback. By staying down, he became a lifelong failure. It was all of his own making. The only way to handle a setback is to rise from it. You may not have as much or be in as good shape as before it happened, but at least you are up. Once you arise, all the potential is there for you to access. If you stay down, potential is unrealized and you make yourself a failure. The Yew Rune has within in that power to rise after a fall. It is part of its springback that works within the human spirit.

On another level, springback can be a response to being pushed too far. Our own American Revolution was triggered when Britain pushed too far with taxes and unjust laws. As it happens in the physical world and the psyche of the individual, so it is in social and political matters. Many a disturbance, from riots to revolutions, have been the response from being pushed too far. Seeing no other options, the people see pushing back as the only response available to them.
The Yew Tree Rune has its dark and dire aspects. It also has its life-giving attributes. The springback energy of the Yew Rune reasserts life in its many facets. It is the power to rebound from physical ills and financial setbacks. It is the force to reassert oneself and protect one’s true identity. The spring-back, recoiling principle of this Rune operates on all levels of existence. We can access its power physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and socially.

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