Friday, July 27, 2018

Runes, Shamanism, and 5 Stages of Ego Death

(Artist: Charles Frizzell)

The 5 Stages of Ego Death and how Runes cause it

Hello Beloved Readers, I wanted to share some beautiful wisdom that I have learned in the last 5 years. In Shamanic circles we often talk about ego-death like a badge of honor, but I wanted to unpack what ego-death may look like and feel like as it happens in us. We may think that us Shamans and Seidrworkers are special, but we are people, just like everyone else. We bleed, we have heartbreaks, and we lose our sense of self just like everyone else. I would say our only difference is that we have very powerful tools to use and the powerful knowledge that the Runes teach us about God being not just an external concept, but an internal one. Once you fully start to grasp that the Gods are inside you just as much as they are in others, you begin to see the beauty of human interaction in brave new ways. You begin to realize that every being on this planet channels incredible divine energies and understanding those energies may take lifetimes to even touch the surface and understand.

We all have egos. The having of an ego is a beautiful and necessary thing. We need our egos to process and talk to other people. Our ego quantifies and makes sense out of our experience and that ego often filters out things that don’t make sense or add up. I remember the first time I came across magic and for weeks afterwards I started noticing people who I saw every day in a completely different light. The ego, while an incredible processing machine, can also trap us in the way we see the world. After trauma or any kind of experience that breaks our ego, we may find those we thought were are enemies are not our enemies, we may find the things that we thought were a comfort to us and strengthening us, are actually keeping us in denial. It’s hard to walk the world with such openness and ego death is messy work. I have found that those who go through ego-death mimic the very stages of grief after tragedy….for after all, what is tragedy, but a circumstance that breaks our concept of what we think the world is. Horror and tragedy come in many different disguises: it could be illness, loss of a loved one, divorce, loss of career, imprisonment, facing addiction to substances, going to war, child abuse, being attacked...the list goes on. There are so many ways that the reality of life can come crashing down on us and we realize that we aren’t the invincible beings we thought we were. We realize that we are just like everyone else trying to make sense of this world.

In my recent journey through grief, a good friend pointed out the Five Stages of Grief by Ross and Kessler. Looking at the chart, I was inspired to use Runes as markers to help in these stages. As someone who’s been studying Runes for a while, I have noticed that Runes do indeed cause Ego-Death. There is something about the energies of the Runes that brings a person to face their true self. In the Havamal, it says that Odin sacrificed himself fully to his greater Self. He faced who he was in full Truth and honesty and screaming he fell and grabbed the Runes. So it would appear that the Runes come from a place of ultimate self-truth. This truth lives beyond the veil of the ego and is possibly the one thing many of us run from our whole lives. The belief in self, this belief in what we think we are,  will always act as a barrier to what reality shows us. Allowing ourselves to accept the pain and the reality that we don’t know everything, that we don’t know the ultimate Right-Way is the only way to face the ego and enter into it’s dance of death and rebirth. This is the greatest treasure of the Shamanic path, I believe: the willingness to not only face the death of the ego, but to consciously seek it out. For in that space, when the ego crumbles, we fall screaming into the void. It is there that the Runes sing back to us. It is there that we touch upon the greatest mysteries of the Universe. It is dying to our lesser selves so we can eventually live in greater truth with ourselves.

As Ross & Kessler state, these 5 stages are not a linear progression. As we go through the ego-death process, we begin to delve into all of these ways to cope with the fact that reality as we know it is not really what reality is. Below is a list of the 5 Stages and Runes I think represent those stages. For those of you who want to take your meditation a little further, I have listed Runes that may aid in getting out of those stages based on my own meditations of the Runes. If you feel like I can add more or have different ideas, please let me know. I fully understand that I only know a fraction of Runic knowledge out there….and the more we share and engage in Runic wisdom with one another, the more this world benefits from people having access to more paths towards Self-Illumination.


Personally, I have found this stage to be the hardest to get out of. It’s the trickiest because when we are in denial, we actually believe we are doing the right thing. I’ve done this myself, so many times. I’ve burned myself out trying to justify how right I was. I’ve done this so much that I have a mantra I try to say every day, “If you have to brag about it, you don’t really believe it.” I know we all get caught up in “wanting” certain things to be true. I have done this so many times myself. I look back on my journals often and cringe because I see where I was in denial of myself. I was so desperately trying to prove to everyone and myself that I was doing the right things that I would busy myself in bragging about my achievements and experiences that I didn’t stop to actually face the fact that I wasn’t fulfilled in that experience. If you have to prove it to the world, then there’s most likely a part of you that is struggling with some untruth..  For me, this is the Realm of ISA. It can be a powerful Rune to calm and strengthen….but is can also be a trap. The key is understanding that Denial is a part of grief. Sometimes we need to have our fantasies so that we can get to a place in order to cope with the trauma of reality. I try very much not to judge myself when I catch myself in denial, that way, I can open myself to healing and regrowth. I have found that the Runes of fire and the Sun which act as illumination and warming Runes can help melt that ice, so to speak!


“Ice is very cold and immeasurably slippery;
it glistens as clear as glass and most like to gems;
it is a floor wrought by the frost, fair to look upon.”

bark of rivers
and roof of the wave
and destruction of the doomed.”

“Ice we call the broad bridge;
the blind man must be led.”




This is a painful stage for almost everyone involved. When I was in my early 20’s I had a tragedy happen in my family….really an accumulation of abuse and struggle and after getting my father arrested, I was disowned. I was barely able to take care of myself and had no support network for a while. I lived in a lot of denial at that time and as I rose out of denial, I channeled a lot of my anger and rage into environmental activism. I would rage with a bullhorn at rallys, I was a fervent little fanatic. I became a vegetarian and I judged and talked down to those who did not have my lifestyle. I hurt a lot of people. I perceived that most people were my enemies. I was righteous and I knew the right way to live. I was a Pagan and worshipped the earth and felt like I was a better human that the rest of the planet. Then I met incredible brave people who didn’t take my bullshit. I found compassion in the eyes of a hunter. I found friendship in those who had conservative political leanings. I realized that I was compensating for my hurt at the loss of my family by hating those who weren’t like me. It wasn’t until I faced my anger that I learned to forgive and listen. I learned to try and understand people before making judgements. I learned that even I could make mistakes...that the word “enemy” is so subjective and most people were very much like me; just trying to make sense of a world they didn’t understand.

The runes that helped me at this time was Wunjo and Ingwaz. I learned to give myself more joy and bliss so that I stopped obsessing about what others did wrong. I, instead, focused on what was right for me. I also learned Ingwaz magic (seed magic) from a very wise trucker Shaman who told me to give all my wisdom away. “Don’t hoard information and give the seeds of magic freely as you walk through the world”. This type of magic really helped me to rise out of fanaticism and become a kinder and more humble person.


"The thorn is exceedingly sharp,
an evil thing for any knight to touch,
uncommonly severe on all who sit among them"

torture of women
and cliff-dweller
and husband of a giantess."

"Giant causes anguish to women;
misfortune makes few men cheerful."




This is the stage that I always felt the most uncomfortable in and was incredibly painful to face. If you feel the need to help or change others to your way of thinking, then it’s most likely because some part of you needs reassurance from that person being “on your side”. This is Nauthiz, that constraint or friction that comes from being a slave to something, even if it’s propping up your own dying ego. It’s when we make the last ditch efforts to try and help others and change everyone we know. We feel like Mother fucking Joan of Arc on a crusade to change the world, when in reality, it is us that needs to change. The world will just go on being the world….we chose this path with the Runes, we chose this discomfort and the humiliation that comes with facing how we’ve lied to ourselves all these years. It hurts to face such deep wounds, that maybe we aren’t all that great and powerful. Maybe we are just like everybody else. Maybe all the wisdom we do have, we got from kind ancestors who passed wisdom freely down through lore and deeds and we have convinced ourselves that we own that wisdom. The only shit we own is our actions and in this phase...I often cringe to remember it...I became a white knight mother fucking Saint Theresa, trying to fix the whole world. I was perplexed when everyone I loved ran from me like the plague. I felt incredible rejection and abandonment at this stage. I felt like I was holy and the whole world just didn’t understand me. I was both in denial and bargaining to keep the truth at bay.

The thing that got me out of this was Ansuz and Laguz. Oddly enough, Laguz leads to the next stage...Coming out of this stage, I would often feel like I was drowning in the ocean, that I was no longer a person, but just a mere drop of water in the vast seas. I lost my sense of identity and the only thing that got me through was my connection to the Gods and the words of Wotan. Ansuz became a mantra for me at that time and helped me to hear Wotan and his wisdom through the loss of everything that I held dear in this life.


"Trouble is oppressive to the heart;
yet often it proves a source of help and salvation
to the children of men, to everyone who heeds it betimes."

grief of the bond-maid
and state of oppression
and toilsome work."

"Constraint gives scant choice;
a naked man is chilled by the frost."




This is one that I go back to a lot lately. That feeling like one is adrift on an unknown sea and not knowing where I was. In that feeling of being lost and alone, I finally had time to take stock in what I found important. I remember sitting at my kitchen table confiding in a kind friend and telling her I had no idea what to do after my divorce and she said, “Why do you need to do anything?”. I thought about it for a while and realized I could just sit in this place and accept what is. I slowed down enough that I realized that I had been so rough on my body all these years. I had tried for so long to change and alter myself for others, I never stopped to think about just accepting who and where I was. The compassion that comes with Berkano helped lead me into more healing ways to approach my mind and my body. I started meditating again and doing yoga, I sought to ask myself every day what was right for me. I started to change little things like the way I talked to myself and what I ate and when I ate. I started to write more, picking up poetry and reading books I’ve always wanted to read and study languages I always wanted to learn. I started with adding one thing to my life that made me feel strong and blissful. Sometimes I would realize that new thing was not right for me and I dropped it and switched to something new. I was compassionate to myself and allowed myself to change my mind. I was figuring out my new self, I had no idea what I was doing. If I have to be honest, while I think I know what acceptance looks like, I don’t even think I’m there yet. I still struggle with depression and the grief that has come from changing my life so drastically. In fact, I wonder if any of us fully go to that ultimate place of Acceptance of Ego Death until the very day our physical body dies. I think I’ve had moments of bright clarity and insight, but I also am still humbled and feel great sadness. I cannot change the past, but I know now that I can change how I face my future.


"The ocean seems interminable to men,
if they venture on the rolling bark
and the waves of the sea terrify them
and the courser of the deep heed not its bridle."

eddying stream
and broad geysir
and land of the fish."

"A waterfall is a River which falls from a mountain-side;
but ornaments are of gold."




As I said before, I think true Acceptance of the Death of Ego is a very fleeting and momentary experience. I would be surprised if I could meet someone who could live mostly in that state. From my own experience, I will have flashes of complete acceptance of my spirit, then reality will soon set in. Usually it happens by helping someone or doing something that I don’t get any credit for but it needs to be done. Usually, it’s coming to peace with myself and the world around me. Usually is involves a tremendous amount of self-forgiveness which helps me to a place to forgive others. This is the realm of the Gods and one I get to touch on when I do my devotions and blots for them. I feel like the Gods live here, in this place of absolute acceptance and when I talk to Wotan and Frijo, I feel how they accept me for exactly as I am. I have learned to ask for insights rather than gifts because their insight often comes illuminated with true acceptance. This acceptance opens up my own mind and heart to new realities of not only myself, but of the worlds around me.


The sun is ever a joy in the hopes of seafarers
when they journey away over the fishes' bath,
until the courser of the deep bears them to land.

shield of the clouds
and shining ray
and destroyer of ice."

"Sun is the light of the world;
I bow to the divine decree."

So if you find yourself or those you love going through the stages of Ego-Death, please remember to be compassionate and that all things change. The Wheel turns and we all find ways in order to grow and evolve. The life inside us wants to evolve and change….I think the Runes just bring us to that place of accepting it.

What I have listed here is only my story. All of you out there have your own story and the beautiful thing is that while you are still alive and experiencing this world, you get to write that it. I wish you all many fantastic and illuminating adventures!

Thursday, July 26, 2018



Some days I wish you were sweet.
That we could settle down and have a quiet life
In the country with babies and a garden.
We would sit and watch sunsets and argue over tomatoes.
I sometimes wish that you would come to me
In the easiest of forms
Forms that would comfort me
And soothe the heartaches I’ve seen in my life.

And as I sit at the Hallows and talk to you
As I wont to do, I also often cry and yell.
But I soon soften and melt
Because you have never yelled back.
You have only stared at me lovingly from the shadows.
You tell me that you love me every time.

I see you in so many men.
Men who have faced the horrors of this world
And survived somehow by miracles.
Men who are scarred and full of madness.
Men who are misunderstood and wise.
With each pair of eyes I stare into
I find another part of you to love

And you stare back at me from the darkness
Only saying “I love you” and showing me your full self.
And with each horror I witness
I soften like molten gold
In the crucible of your embrace.

They call you the Storm God
The fury and ecstacy of the winds that brings change
And your path is the path of
Brutal honesty, the darkness revealed,
And the madness that comes with loving you.

All of us women who love you go a little mad
Yet we also grow strong like mountains
And we birth future kings and wise leaders
Because we have the bravery to love you
And stare back into you.

To you, we are but a small drop of water
Tossed into the maelstrom of your love
Whipped into the high heavens and
Layer by layer, we are coated and formed.
Hale and Whole we become in the skies
Until we are ready to fall: Furious and Forceful
We descend from the skies like the rushing of wind.
Then, like a winged tide of Heavenly Retribution
We become that which breaks the brittle disease
In the hearts and minds of mankind.

- Christina Marvel

Tuesday, July 24, 2018



Akasha in Sanskrit is SKY
The vault of Heaven
Which stores all the deeds
And words of men.

Tiwaz is the Rune of Tiw
God of the Vault of Heaven
And he who sees all
Justice and Injustice in the world.

Óss is the mouth of man
And the Rune of the Gods
And the breath which utters
The Mysteries

All mystic practices point to
The breath and how it can
Be used to pull in
The Mysteries of Akasha.

Perthro is the Rune of chance
The well of Urđr
And the watery depths of
The dark birthing of all life.
All material life comes from the well
From the well our bodies are born
To the well our bodies dissolve.
All life travels from darkness
To light and back to darkness again.

Every moment is well and sky
Every moment is water blended with breath.
Every moment is Akasha
The Boundless Space which collects ALL.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Practice

Like Berkano, the Rune of Regrowth
The body grows like birch trees
After the swift fire of the spirit
Blazes down from the sky.

When the mind is broken
The body can take over.
When the illusion of self
Is lost in the cacophony
Of the Well of Urđ.
The body can heal
And redistribute the energy
From the mind
Back to the mind.

How does one remember
To practice when one cannot
Remember self?

One has foresight to
Create a sacred grove
Of practice which waits
To house the Holy.

The practice is the sacred space.
Each movement on each day
A brick is laid in the temple of the spirit.
As each foundation is laid down
The place for the Gods arises
Like Glađsheimer on the horizon.
Each movement,  a becoming.

- Christina Marvel

Monday, July 16, 2018



The only thing that stays with you from the moment you're born until the moment you die is your breath.

"Óss er algingautr
ok ásgarðs jöfurr,
ok valhallar vísi.
Jupiter oddviti.

aged Gautr
and prince of Ásgarðr
and lord of Vallhalla."

- Icelandic Rune Poem

Ansuz. Óss. God.

From the moment of birth until the moment of death the Óss of God...the breath of God... stays with you.
Ever is it a guide and a friend.

Thoughts fade. Feelings drift. Experience changes.
The world changes.
Man changes.
The breath of God is eternal to the life of man.

How can man kill God
While he lives?

He may lose all,
But while he breathes,
God walks with him.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Shamanic Travel

Shamanic Travel

Those of us who study Shamanism, seek to travel to the 9 worlds: Nifleheim, Helheim, Svartleheim, Jotunheim, Vanaheim, Midgard, Muspellheim, Ljosalfheim, and Asgarđr.

The worlds can be actual places as well as states of being. A Shaman first starts thier journey while in dreams and visions and if they are open to growing in New ways, they can learn to travel anytime at will.

Runes can facilitate this travel.  The sounds have a way of changing the states of one's soul.  It has been my experience that Galdr of the Futhark morning and night helps in greater control of this travel (one can be caught unawares, sometimes).

The side effect of such magic is that the Shaman is able to access magic and wisdom from all worlds, giving them a more balanced insight into themselves and others.

Travel is born out of connection. You learn travelling by opening your heart to a Shaman. Gebo is the Rune that facilitates this.

Helheim is the place where Gods die in the heart of man. In that world, the Gods are "covered" or "hidden" by man's disbelief. Many people walk our very streets and while thier body is in Midgard, thier soul is already in Helheim.

The journey out of Helheim begins with opening one's heart to a shaman...and if one does not know a Shaman in human form...

There is always ODINN.

Friday, July 6, 2018

The Lady

Hliðskjálf - Hlid "to stand beside one" + skjálf "bench or shelf" : a name for the seat of Odin, whence he looked out over all the worlds. (The Bench beside us)

Hildisvíni - Hlid "to stand beside one" + Svíni "swine" : The Boar that Freyja rides. (The Boar beside us)

The Lady

“All I want is for you to be a Lady!!”
My mother cried as I stood with mud drying
On my brand new Easter Dress.

My grandfather had sent me a book on ancient tribes
So I believed myself a Kalahari Bushman
And bathed myself in mud, found myself a spear
And jumped and hollered my war cry
To my mother on Easter morning.

I learned clicking songs and I tried to spear the dogs.
I sang songs to ancient savage war Gods
And declared that trees were my best friends.
I was wild and untamed and all my mother wanted
Was a little Lady she could show off at church.

Slowly, because I was a child, and
I wanted the love of my parents,
I abandoned my wild past.
I learned manners and how to listen to others
I learned that it’s better to lie and be nice
Than to tell the truth.

I learn to be demure and to manipulate
I learned to always tell a man how amazing he is.
I learned my place.

Yet, I always felt the wildness inside, like an ancient
Lioness pacing behind my eyes.
I craved to fight, to run, to climb trees
I would watch the boys at school,
Not because I like them, but
Because I wanted to fight them.
I fantasized about so many fights!

And no matter how civilized I tried to be
All the girls knew I was faking.
They knew I was not civilized.
They could tell I lusted for blood.
That I craved adventure and I didn’t care for their games.

My mother thought she had finally got a Lady,
But I knew that the moment I left home
I would be a Lady no more.

Yet, all those years of self-deception weighed on me
And my adult years has been long in
Peeling off those layers of unrest
And self-sabotaging neurotic habits.

Slowly, I allowed my wild side to rise
And link by link I began to
Break the fetters on the lioness inside.

And when Odin came and loved me
Telling me I was his Lady, I laughed.
There was no way Freyja would love me.
I was too ugly. Too wild. Too untamed.

I would pray to the bright Lady,
But I always felt like an ungainly wild girl,
Much like I do in front of my mother.
I apologized for being me.

And slowly, Odin brought women into my life
One loving heart at a time
And these priestesses of Freyja showed me
That Wild was beautiful
That savage was powerful
That I was lovable.

These women taught me that Odin stands
On the Bench that is beside us,
Where he watches the world.
And Freyja rides the boar that rides
Beside us, accompanying us through thick and through thin.

For she is a lady of the heart
And loves all those who love life itself.
She sees passion as virtue
And heart-strength as the greatest of shields

Her songs are sung with feeling
And bring us to empathize with the whole tribe
And when we gaze on her, she gazes back
And we are whole again.

It is said she loves the songs sung by a romantic
Even if those love songs are of battle
And she values every woman
Who has the courage to be her own self

And slowly she revealed herself to me
Her love filled me with fervor I’ve never known
And I now see her as she rides beside me
Even as I’m covered in mud.

So now, I take on her mantle
And become like those priestesses who loved me
Those brave Godly women who shouted
“Be who you are!”

And now I share the love of Freyja
With the wildness that is in me
And I can tell the young women,
Who may have forgotten themselves
“It’s ok, My Love, you’re perfect.
The Gods want you to go play in the mud. “

- Christina Marvel

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Death Moon

(The Raven by Gustave Dore)

Death Moon

When the surging of the light
Spins webs of solstice might
There swells the Death moon tide.

For as all things must have balance
Where the light becomes bright
The dead surge forward in the dark mass of the night.

For Death moon tide has solemn light
Where the Dead dance and sway
In the hearts and minds of men.

For twelve days the Solstice sun burns
Such height the light illuminates
As the depths of Helheim are penetrated.

As Mani grows and waxes bright
We can commune more clearly in that light
And the Death moon tide balances out the day.

For as Summer’s Height full of light and life
The Gods remind us of life’s conception
For something died to be reborn.

And lifetimes are merely reflections
On waters stilled in the Death moon’s light
That can be glanced within dreams and sought by firelight.

For as in the Ancient times
The solstice sun melts the ice of our minds
Opening up eyes to the mysteries beyond our limited sight.

And the Death moon’s tide waxes bright
While we revel in the darkness and the light
As the Gods on the Garth do dwell and play.

- Christina Marvel