Friday, 3 April 2009


Today's entry is about the future.

Firstly, because I need to warn you that the blog might be a little quiet over the next few weeks as I move to a new flat with the very special feature of Uncertain Internets. Got a few ideas in the pipeline, though, so hopefully I'll be able to get online enough to keep this blog up and running.

Secondly, it strikes me that this is an ideal time to introduce a new regular feature here, tying into my status as a pagan atheist. You may or may not know that the Northern European mythologies, with which I most closely relate, contain a system of auguries involving runes. These work in much the same way as the more popular tarot cards, with a number of symbols standing for various ideas.

What I thought I'd do is something of an experiment, in no way scientific, into the practice of using these runes to read my "fortune". After setting up the rules (the method of taking a reading, the meanings of each rune, and any restrictions on interpretation), I'll try to take regular-ish readings and then see how true they turn out to be. So, on with it.

Right from the outset, let me make this clear: this is not a test of the ability of rune-casting to predict the future or disclose facts about the past. The sole purpose of this little exercise is basically to just get an insight into how these readings can be interpreted to fit a normal life with normal events, without the intervention of a cold reader or medium.

My method will be simple: when making a cast, I will shake all the runes in my cupped hands, and carefully let three fall at random, without seeing which they are. Those will be my reading, and the rest put aside for the time being. If a rune lands facing up, its standard meaning will hold sway; if it is face down, I will interpret that as a reversed meaning - for instance, if Eihwaz lands facing up, it means safety; if facing down, it means danger or vulnerability.

Here's a basic list of the runes and their primary meanings. Fehu: wealth. Uraz: strength. Thurisaz: chaos. Ansuz: wisdom. Raido: journey. Kaunaz: fire. Gebo: gift. Wunjo: joy. Hagalaz: disruption. Nauthiz: need. Isa: standstill. Jera: success. Eihwaz: safety. Pertho: future. Algiz: sanctuary. Sowulo: sun. Teiwaz: victory. Berkana: life. Ehwaz: horse. Mannaz: man. Laguz: water. Inguz: fertility. Othila: inheritance. Dagaz: day. Blank: destiny.

So right away we see that runes are representative of some very vague and open-to-interpretation notions. Virtually any reading could probably be twisted to fit the complexities of a normal life. But let's not allow that to dissuade us! This should be fun. So here's the first cast:

Raido. Algiz. A reversed Dagaz.

So a journey, sanctuary, and something that probably represents night. I'd call that a pretty great hit for a first cast - we're moving (or "journeying") to a new flat (or "sanctuary") after all. Not sure what the night part represents, though. I'm led to understand that "day" carries along with it implications of certainty and optimism - as in, daylight is the time to get things done. Is it telling me that this is not the right time for a journey to our new sanctuary? Or is it reflecting our feelings of insecurity about the enterprise? Or perhaps it's referring the the lack of security in my partner's job right now. Hmmmm.

Well this might turn into a regular feature, it might not. Either way, it's always interesting to think about why these methods of prediction and fate-reading are so popular, and why they seem to work so well a lot of the time. As I said, I'm not going to change my mind on this - I don't believe that the rocks I drop with scratches in can tell me what's going to happen next week. It's just something I'm using to gain and share some insight into the interpretation process. I hope you enjoy and value it as much as I do.