Sunday, November 9, 2014

Casting the Armanen Runes - why the diversity of positions?

Now we come to the fundamental nuts-and-bolts of modern Armanen Rune-casting. As mentioned before, the interpretation of the positions of these runes may vary depending on the rune in question. Those which are asymmetric and can be reversed also have a horizontal-negative and a horizontal-positive position, though which is a left (counterclockwise) rotation and which is a right (clockwise) rotation will differ depending on the individual rune.

This is of course the so-called Spiesberger method, which is used by all modern Armanen Rune masters (and even others who use other Rune systems besides Armanen - we must remember, modern rune-casting techniques as a whole were derived from those of the Armanists in the early 20th century). It carries over extremely well to the similar Younger Futhark, though with the Elder Futhark one cannot really achieve a horizontal-negative position with Ingwaz, and the same applies to some forms of Gar in the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc.

Karl Spiesberger is credited with publishing the comprehensive positive and negative Armanen rune positions in his book Runenmagie ('Rune Magick'), published in 1955. However it is believed by many rune practitioners that these positions were already in use by Gorsleben and even Guido von List, far earlier in the 20th century. Since a few of the "murkstave" or negative-horizontal positions published by Spiesberger are not possible exactly as published with a rune symbol carved on an opaque material like wood, I have had to adjust them from Spiesberger's diagrams, for use with traditional wood casting tiles (or stones). Nevertheless, the esoteric meaning and symbolism of the negative positions is unchanged. And the inner laws governing the orientations of these positions too, like the Armanen Rune-row itself, are based on an ancient archetypal heritage.

To avoid biasing a Rune-reading against horizontal murk-staves, the Runes should be carved on square tiles (rather than rectangular ones) so that each side is equal length, and it is impossible to second-guess, while drawing the Runes with closed eyes, which way they will face.

NOTE: all images and interpretations on this post are my own work. ASK before using.

So look below:


You will notice that some of the runes are negative if you turn them 90 degrees left, but others are positive in that same orientation. And the same discrepancy or diversity of meaning happens when you look at how the runes are to be interpreted when turned 90 degrees right. For example, if you look at Fa and Os, they are negative when turned left. But to make Thorn negative, you have to turn it right!

Why is this?

Looking at the structure and shape of the runes provides a critical clue. There is a hidden pattern here.

You will notice that the open "cup" runes that have two parallel branches (Fa, Ur, Os) are negative if rotated left. (Fa and Os are 180-degree reversals of each other, and hence each only have one positive and one negative position - rotate them right and they become the negative form of the other rune).

However, enclosing "spike" runes which contain closed triangles (Thorn, Rit, Bar) and "fork" runes with triangle-corners or incomplete triangle-forms and no parallel branches (Ka, Ar, Tyr, Laf, Man, Yr) are negative when rotated right. (Ka and Ar are 180-degree reversals of each other, and hence each only have one positive and one negative position - rotate them left and they become the negative form of the other rune).

And finally, "hedge" runes with radial or diagonal symmetry, which are "non-reversible" - i.e. they look no different if reversed (Hagal, Not, Is, Sig, Eh, Gibor) - are always positive when vertical and always negative when horizontal, no matter which direction you rotate them.

But why these patterns? Why this apparently strange system of the horizontal readings, differing based on the shape of the runes, on cups, forks, triangular spikes and symmetric hedges?

To understand the reasons behind that, we have to look at the runes in a decidedly un-modern way. Although List, Spiesberger and other Armanen rune masters did have to invent a great deal of modern rune-reading practice (as no historical accounts of rune-casting among Germanic peoples - other than than the extremely vague story of Tacitus - survive today), they nevertheless tried to base as much of their method on ancient wisdom and old Norse understandings of the runes as possible. In fact, despite the depredations of organized Christianity against occult and native folk wisdom in the Nordic and Teutonic nations, a great deal of information on runic mysticism did survive in the form of Icelandic grimoires such as the Galdrabók, which cover the uses of many different galdrastafir, para-runic charms and talismans. Other documents such as the Huld Manuscript (which details the symbolic meanings of the various parts of the Vegvísir or 'runic compass') give further clues. While none of these manuscripts date back to the time of the pre-Viking Norse, it is universally agreed that they are copies and compilations of far older works - they draw on far older oral and possibly written traditions of rune-carving and casting handed down by the masters for centuries and even millennia. Some of the Viking sagas, such as Egil's Saga, appear to support the most primitive (and angular) parts of the Icelandic magick-stave tradition.

Based on the knowledge preserved in the Icelandic magickal texts, it becomes clear why some runes are negative when rotated left and others are positive.

The runes (and this can be applied to other systems as well as Armanen) need to be understood, among other ways, as visual representations of catchers and deflectors of the primal energies - both positive/orderly and negative/chaotic - of the universe. (If you are unclear on the reasoning of why a rune is a catcher or a deflector, read the Hávamál verses associated with each of the 18 Armanen runes.) This is exactly the same way the Icelanders and their Norwegian ancestors saw runes and galdrstafir - as devices for gathering, deflecting, converting or storing spiritual energy.

Out of the various galdrastafir stave-modifiers, only the oldest two types (which avoid all curved lines) are primitive enough to be authentically runic in an Odinic sense, rather than later medieval interpolations:



Hence, the runes can also be understood in this way.


The "cup" runes are receivers of energy for the practitioner, i.e. in simplified terms, Fa receives wealth, Ur receives health, Os receives esteem, status and social confidence. Traditionally in ancient Indo-European culture and cosmology, the fortunate one receives with the right hand, the unfortunate with the left, hence when turned left these receiver-runes are negative.


The enclosing "spike" runes and the "fork" runes are deflectors of energy for the practitioner. Thorn, Rit and Bar cancel out the energy of enemies, errors and calamities respectively, while Ka, Ar, Tyr, Laf, Man, and Yr essentially convert negative energies into positive ones and/or redirect them back at their source in some way. Traditionally the warrior deflects attacks with the left hand (the shield hand) hence if turned right these deflectors or shield-runes are vulnerable or negative.


The radial and diagonal symmetric "hedge-runes" (Hagal, Not, Is, Sig, Eh, Gibor) essentially are double-sided clusters of fork-branches. The fact that they are double-sided acts as a substitute for parallel branches, hence these runes can be though of as a combination of the tendencies of both "cup" and "fork" runes, and thus can be either receivers or deflectors of energy, as their Hávamál meanings indicate. These are the only "simultaneous dual-use" runes. Thus, in positive position, Not both attracts cooperation with karma and deflects one's futile discord and resistance to it, as Sig attracts victory and banishes weakness simultaneously. When upright (even if turned upside-down 180 degrees, they remain upright due to their symmetry) the hedge-runes are receivers and refiners of positive energy (as plants receive light and water and perform photosynthesis) - and they also deflect the negative like sharp thorny hedges. But when horizontal (either tilted left or right, again it makes no difference, due to symmetry) they are impotent to catch positive energy or deflect the negative with their shape, and may actually lose or repel good energies and attract bad ones - much as a bush or hedge stunted sideways must fight the wind or fall uprooted, gets less sunlight, is more vulnerable to diseases and parasites, and loses flowers and thus forfeits reproductive potential as a result - no matter if it leans left or right. The ancient symbolism of Hagal, as the Hag-all, the All-Hedge, the all-symmetric defensive hedge-rune and Mother Rune, is particularly telling in this regard. Like the boughs of an overarching hedge, if it is knocked down either left or right, there is no protection from hail or fire.

Also you may notice that there are only three purely "peaceful" runes (the "cup" runes) in the entire sequence. Such is also true of the "Elder" and "Younger" futharks. By contrast there are three times as many "warrior" runes (the "fork" and "spike" runes) and twice as many "protection" runes (the symmetrical hedge types). That should make the message loud and clear - runes and Northern paths are not for cowards or weaklings. I am sure this would send a chill up the spine of so many hippie-like "new-age" and "wiccatru" folks who casually use "rune stones" for divination without really knowing their deeper meanings.

So for those of you who want to delve beyond the "what" of the historical reasons for the Armanen divination method being as "odd" as it is, and into the "why" of it all, hopefully this goes a long way towards answering your questions.

17 comments:

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    1. Please see above, the hedge runes are explained, yes there is action-reaction as they can both receive and deflect. You could attempt to rework it to your whims, but then it would be your own invention, not Armanen, not historically based, and definitely not Spiesberger notation, and I won't even begin to guess at the sort of negative wyrd you may unlock, as heeding Egil's words warns us.

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    1. These are very good questions, NM. In fact "unusually good".

      The Armanen tradition is not very strict on the precise means for "healing at a distance" as you describe it because usually any sort of Rune-healing would either be done in person on the person's Raden/chakras and pressure points (Kraftpunkten) - or carved on wood or stone (or in Egil's case, bone) and placed under their bed.

      However if you are going to do it remotely, there are a few methods.

      Kummer states in "Runen-Magie":

      "The conscious and noble Runer will never reject laws or utilize powers whose effect he does not understand and has not sufficiently tested. Let no one misuse unknown magical formulas on his blood-brothers and sisters - he could not escape the avenging might of the Runes. Whosoever carves Runes, let him carve them in wood; whoever writes them, let him write them on paper, so they can be burned at any time."

      Thus, carving them in a crystal isn't exactly traditional Armanen practice (though new-age spinoffs like Karl Hans Welz don't have a problem with it). So there isn't a clear method to send that sort of carving in Armanen tradition. But in that case if you are healing, I would prefer sending it in whichever means will suit the need. If you bury it in the earth, it will stay there indefinitely. In a river or the sea, it will sink to the bottom and get moved around. Do you want this healing to be long-term or short-term? For short-term you can go with water. But again, wood is preferred as it floats and is organic matter. Using stone or crystal, it's best to attach it to a plank or stick of wood so it floats forward where you need it to go. Also where that person lives will be a factor in your choice. Do they live inland or near the sea? Are they near a river? Which way will the stone get closest to them?

      I don't know how you intend to arrange the Fa-Ur-Tyr bind-Rune. But since Tyr is the rune of sacrifice and resurrection, I would avoid using it on a person who is not absolutely dying. Fa going before Ur makes sense, as it encapsulates the Will and also amplifies Ur. You would probably be better off replacing Tyr with Ar (drives away maladies and foul energies), Ka (drives away curses back to their sender), or Bar (rune of renewal and rebirth). You can also make a radial Bind-Rune using Hagal (one of whose protective meanings is health and wholeness; 'Heilung', 'Heilsam', etc.) as the central element, and Fa, Ur, and one of the other Runes I mentioned, as trigonal branches growing off of Hagal. And always research the full meanings of the Runes before carving them. It's good to read and re-read "Das Geheimnis", or "Runen-Magie", and also the meanings in my original Armanen Futharkh post which are condensed from the main Armanist authors.

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    1. If the person is in Eastern Europe and you are in the Americas, then the Ocean is the obvious choice as it will travel closer to them. Make your intent of healing strong, Wyrd is about doing your best, but once you do, it's letting your Orlog handle the rest.

      For the triskelion format, it's simple. Take the Hagal rune and use three equidistant lines to merge with the other three runes. The remaining three lines in between them, leave unchanged. I have a page with some examples of similar bind-runes: https://realrunemagick.blogspot.com/2017/11/the-esoteric-praxis-of-bind-runes.html

      Hagal as the center is good because it is the glue that binds the healing runes together and preserves the health from future dangers (as the "all-hedge" or protective mother-rune).

      Your way may also work, though you may want to meditate and do the Galdr for each of these runes as well as the Handstadha for each, on yourself, to see the effect. Not knowing exactly what your version would look like, I can't really guess as to its effectiveness.

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    1. That image looks a bit over-complicated. Just have one of the branches attached to Fa, another with Ur, and the third with Bar. The "every other branch" pattern is right, though. You just don't need to repeat all three runes on each attached branch.

      Where are you sending the wood plank that it would need an image of a Christian saint? If you send it by sea, you send out the spell and the energy. It is unlikely anyone in eastern Europe who it was not meant for, would actually see the object. And even if they did, why would you need to cover up a Rune with a Christian image? That simply seems unnecessary.

      Runes are both powerful and mysterious. They act even if a hostile person discovers them and tries to burn them, because that takes them some time, and the action has already been done. Like with the spell Egil found on the whale bone, but in a positive way instead. The way that Christianity tried to wipe out Runic knowledge was not just by burning rune-inscriptions, but by killing or dispersing the actual people who knew how to make them.

      And if the runic send-off has only a short, temporary effect, and you think it may have been destroyed somewhere in Europe, send another one.

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    4. The link didn't work. But in any case, this is an unusual situation. Here are possibilities in order of priority:

      1. If sending it through a relative is possible, then this is the best way, do what you must. However I would probably see if there's some other carving I can use as the "disguise" besides an icon of a saint. Like a carving of trees, or a nature scene, etc. The advantage that Runers have is we see the holiness in all of nature, whereas with devout Christians it has to be something confined or made in a church, or an image of a saint from their religion, etc. They do not realize what what is mundane to them, carries spiritual significance to us.

      2. If sending it through a relative were not possible, sending it by sea would at least bring it closer to them, it's unlikely it would wash up on the right shore, but again, it's intent that matters.

      3. On the other hand if slower results are acceptable you can bury it in a forest near a place that resembles the person's homeland, or is significant in other ways (i.e. has Birch or Poplar trees which mean rebirth or revival, or Ash and Oak which signify strength and longevity). If you do not mean to send it by river, burying it in a forest near a stream or river is still good. I would generally avoid putting it in crowded areas or anywhere with wires, towers or high radiation.

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