Luckily, I knew some real Shamans who had cracked open their consciousness a couple times so that they didn’t take me personally at all. A real Shaman in your community is steady and not swayed by what others think of them. They will mostly be someone that no one notices, yet, when you get around them, you will feel incredibly grounded and free to be yourself.
I want you all to think what it would feel like to wake up one morning and not remember how to speak, think about how that would feel. Imagine waking up and not knowing what “human” is or who you are. Imagine walking along and slipping into another dimension and then popping back into current reality and trying to explain to friends that you’ve just been gone for years in some ice world where nothing made a sound. Imagine walking along a street and suddenly seeing yourself from on top of a skyscraper and realizing that you have no body. Imagine walking into a house and not only hearing everyone in the room but all the hungry dead that surround them. These moments are not always easy to navigate and when most people encounter true magic, their mind bends a little and the strangest shit comes out. Their shadows surface and all the negative feelings that keep them small rise to the surface. Therefore, I think it’s important to cultivate a positive attitude in all things. When you go mad. Laugh. When others hate you and misunderstand you. Laugh. When people start calling you all sorts of things. Laugh. All is temporary. It really is. Just keep calling the Runes and seeking people who ground you and make you feel strong and whole. You will have to start cultivating a community around you that supports your work, and even then, it may dissolve. That’s when you roll up your sleeves and try again. Each time, it will be a little better and you will grow faster and stronger. I’ve been consistently going mad for quite some time now and patching myself back together again and I can still manage to pay my bills and feed my cats and write this awesome post for you. It can be done. Runic transformation is a part of this path and the madness it brings is natural like getting a cramp while you swim. You just stop, work out the kinks, and keep going. So keep swimming, little Rune Guppies. Keep swimming.
When I started the Runes, I went straight to Odin and he came to me as a Shaman, so I trained in various Shamanic paths to learn how to be comfortable with madness and listening to spirits. It takes a lot of mental and emotional flexibility to not take anything that happens inside you and outside you too seriously. I was lucky in that I could sense in people this type of mental strength and flexibility so I observed them and learned from them and I kept seeking the Runes. I would go through a series of mental breakdown after breakdown, but each time, Berkano would rise up in my consciousness and my mind would regrow and reform. After about 24-48 hours, my sanity would resume. (An old friend mentioned to read Nausea by Sarte and this book really describes well what happens when we step outside our mind.) This practice is by no means safe. In fact, we learn that safety is just an illusion anyway. Life can throw some wicked curveballs, so each of us has the choice to cower in fear from what life brings us, or actually boldly go into the unknown with a joyful and curious mind.
So with that lovely introduction, let’s look at your mind:
What you are and what you think you are is bounded by what you think of your known world. Think of it like you have a big bubble around your consciousness, like a RING. Inside that bubble is everything that you know to be true and everything that everyone you know knows to be true. Most of us don’t actually think for ourselves, we think collectively and take on the ideas and feelings of everyone we closely associate with. This is why it is very important to cultivate good people around you and if you find someone bringing you down, there are ways in the Shamanic practice to distance yourself from the energetic signatures of others. We don’t actually have to get mad at people, we just need to make appropriate boundaries. I call it being “iced-out” (really it’s Elhaz, but when you push someone out of your enclosure – to them it burns but to you, it feels like icing a burning wound.). Some of my good friends have iced me out when I was going mad and then when I regained my wits, they let me back it. It’s no biggie. We need to be ok with people around us kicking us out of their mind homes when we get too rowdy and we need to be ready to do that to them. Giving a friend a good knuckle sandwich and a boot out the door can be a great way to show unconditional love. True friendships are about consistently working with others and making boundary choices every day.
Now, how do you know that someone around you needs to be “iced out”?
First you gotta know why people piss you off…
So we are calling Runes, right? We use them in spells, we meditate on them, we draw them, we sing them, we obsess over them. Every time we bring up the idea of a Rune in our mind, we call on their counsel. They always come. They are much bigger than us, bigger than even the Gods. We are also drawn to them in others. Have you noticed that when you study Thurisaz, you seem to gravitate towards people really good at conflict? It’s because the Rune is enticing you to get out of your current enclosure to grow. The Runeseeker always wants to move forwards, always into more curiosity and new learning. This is why, sometimes, when we meet strangers that have such different ways of thinking, that in order to understand them, we actually have to expand our enclosure of consciousness. The more people you seek to understand, the more your consciousness grows and the bigger that enclosure gets. This process will feel blissful. It will feel exciting and you will gain a lot of joy and your health and mind will grow strong and improve. This is the process of Growing. It’s beautiful and feels refreshing and wonderful. You will happily munch on your beautiful green pasture of Runic fields for a while and then something will eventually happen.
Fimbulwinter and Ragnarok
So, what do we do when we pretty much get to the end of the enclosure of OUR known world? What happens when we eat all that is inside our enclosure? Easy answer. We fucking starve. Ever study the emotional and mental effects of starvation? Look it up and then examine your life. Take a real hard look.
Maybe we have been around the same people for a while and no one is changing or growing. No one is doing anything new around us. Hel, we aren’t doing anything new. It’s the same old shit, just new clothes, cycle after cycle. We start to get hungry for mental expansiveness. We start to mentally starve and we might actually start eating parts of our minds in order to sustain some kind of bliss. This may gain a temporary bliss from the same old shit, but it won’t sustain you. This is where shit gets annoying. This is where people start mentally feeding off one another in some viscous vampire melodrama. Ever thought about why there’s so many vampire and zombie movies? Well look no further. Most people you meet are in various stages of Fimbulwinter. The sad thing is, that sometimes after they die, their soul is so used to feeding off humans in the living world, that they stick around in the oorlog of their poor kids to gnaw on the living who are receptive to such energies. Those poor little kids grow up with tons of hungry ghosts feeding off them and if they have no Shamans to help, they turn out to be big energetic blood parasites themselves, seeking out kind empaths that have few boundaries and a penchant for nursing a hungry soul. It’s a vicious process but not one that can’t be solved. The solution is out there and Odin mentions it in the Runatal.
The only thing that can help you break out of your current enclosure to get fresh food is to do something and be something that you’ve never done before. If you do not break out of your enclosure, you will die. All Shamans know this. They call it Shaman sickness. It’s a point when a powerful person, who was born as a medicine man for their people grows beyond everyone they know. They have incredible spiritual appetites and they find that the life they are in is so confining, that the mind will actually begin to consume the body. This will manifest in sicknesses that cannot be treated. The young shaman must go through a very scary process of healing themselves by self-death to themselves. They must die, completely, and become a new person. Everything about them must die inside. They must surrender to their spirits (the Runes) to guide them into a new life. The spirits (Runes) will lead them into a series of events that will challenge them to trust the spirits (Runes) and to keep going (Those events will come in the form of People. Don’t let the movies fool you. It aint all pretty on a mountaintop snowstorm. Your girlfriend or your mama might be your Initiation). The Shaman must shed all self-doubt, worry, or anger. The Shaman must only look for bliss and mental expansiveness. The Shaman may not die once, they may die many times in a human lifetime. This death is the Ragnarok of the mind. Every opposing force will slam into one another and everything the person knows to be true will come crashing in around them. It is only the Runes and their own Soul (fylgja) that will guide them through the process. If they survive physically, their mind will crash and they will become mad. They must be willing to surrender everything they are for the spirits (Runes). They must trust that the Runes they cultivated will rebuild them after they surrender their mind to the process
We do rebuild afterwards. The dawn always comes….just like the First One-eyed Shaman I met on the backroads of the Catskills mountains who once told me, “Christina, Ragnarok ‘aint the end of the world, even if you think it is. The next day, you will have to wake up and take out the garbage and go to work. No biggie. Easy peasy.” The more we walk away from fear, anger, and doubt, the more we will break and remake ourselves time and time again. We will allow circumstance to break us and crack us open and we will choose to love our Guides and thus ourselves…and thus the whole world each and every time. How do you know a Shaman? Well you know a Shaman because they understand unconditional love for every creature on this planet. They know what exists on the other side of life, they have travelled through death, while their bodies are still living, and surrendered to the infinite universe and were reborn and remade from it. Each ego death brings out unique things in us, but it always brings out love. That’s how you know a true Shaman, because they will always teach you about Love.
Empathy and what the Fuck is Love with a capital L
Love is a very funny thing. It’s not always what you think it is. We often stumble upon love and trample it under the calloused bootsoles of our expectations. We think Love has to look a certain way or act a certain way. We are so full of our own shit. Love will come at you honestly. It will be someone who shares with you the true intention of their heart. They might desire you. They might come to learn from you. They might come to just help you. They might come because you remind them of something they need. Generally, people are not very good at Love with a capital L, but everyone can love at least a little. For the Shaman and Runeseeker, It’s important to learn how to spot the love in someone’s heart and not trample that when setting boundaries. You will have to be like a surgeon and cut away all the things that are not love. Never scoff at love, it will do you much damage. It will cause your runes to turn dark and you may become confused as to which way you’re heading in life. You want to be able to empathize with them, but still protect yourself and this takes much practice. People are going to come at you mostly because they love you in some way. Sometimes that love is buried so far under the hungry ghosts in their Oorlog, that they may seem like an enemy. They really aren’t, it’s just the shit that’s attached in their minds. The more you grow as a Runeseeker and Shaman, the more you will spot love under the mountain of troll-blight covering a person. You learn to focus on that little sliver of light inside them and you learn to not take anything else as a personal attack. These will be spiritual trolls coming at you which you slaughter wholesale with your mind and with your Runes. I won’t have to tell you why this is important to do, but once you face your own ego-death and you see what and who you are, you will know that this work is the holiest and greatest of callings. This work in helping people uncover their soul is what keeps humanity alive. It the root of all heroism. It is why Gods exist. We remind people that all life is born from Love - the Love that the Infinite spirit world has for Finite life. Without Love with a capital L, you would not even be here reading this essay. You would be a stone blasted by the sun’s rays. Inert and lifeless. Your heart and your mind works because part of you loves your body and your life. The moment you give up on Love, is the moment your whole world conspires to crumble you down into bones.
Don’t give up on Love. You need her. Never give up on Love.
How this applies to Runes
When someone is very proficient in a Rune and you have an empathetic exchange with them, your mind must adapt and pattern itself to the other person’s runes. If that person is stronger at a particular Rune than you, your mind will exit outside the enclosure of your current Rune Ring limits of your mind (Literally, their Love gives you and out of body experience). This is what causes temporary madness and the Runemaster must build all supporting Runes to create a new enclosure. As Odinists, we seek to ever expand our minds by learning from the Runes of each other. If the Runemaster is committed towards building the entire Futhark in their minds each and every time he/she exits their mental enclosure, there is no limit as to the mental expansiveness that one can achieve. There is also no limit as to the capacity of our Love. I will tell you this, nothing you care for actually matters more than Love. Not your car, your career, your house, your fancy titles. None of that would be here without Love. Love made that come into being. Love is passed to each other by frith and good deeds.
And here we have it, everyone:
Christina’s Big Rune Hypothesis
***ALL RUNES ARE SPIRITUAL ENITITIES AND THEY ARE MADE OF LOVE***
Thus, we grow the Runes in us by learning to Love others unconditionally. The more we learn about Love, the more the Runes rush in to teach us and the more our mind pasture grows. We pass Runes to one another by loving them unconditionally and seeking to empathize and understand their true heart. We hold the treasure of each encounter with utmost respect. Every soul that comes to us is a soul that wants to Love (and, thus Live). We treat them as our children. Precious as our own hearts. We hold them accountable to unconditional Love. We set boundaries and we seek to always communicate and understand. We allow people their personal freedom to explore Love and Life. We even allow people to give up on Love and choose Death. We enjoy life, for it is very much a powerful lesson for our soul. We laugh because the Gods live in our hearts. We Love because that is what spirit is made of. It is made of Love. The Gods are Love. The Runes are Love.