Runes and Northern European Spirituality
Art is my spiritual practice. These illustrations are part of an ongoing exploration into the myths and symbols of the Norse and Germanic spiritual cosmologies, and a growing personal gnosis relationship with these traditions.
The word Rune in Old English is rūn, ‘a secret, mystery’; in Old Norse rúnir, rúnar means "magic signs, hidden lore." The Runes are not an alphabet: they are beings. The Runes we commonly know, the Elder Futhark, and the lesser known Anglo-Northumbrian Runes, are only a fraction of documented sigils and signs in the archaeological record. Most of runic history survives thanks to the potency of sacred art, dating to the Paleolithic.
In mythic terms, Runes are fragments of the Web of Wyrd, the weaving of the cosmos tended by the triple female power, the Nornir, Giantesses from the beginning of time. The Sacrificial God reached into the feminine well, Ur∂arbrunner, the Well of Fate bearing the name of the Eldest Norn, Ur∂. He ripped a fragment of the wyrd, receiving the wisdom of the feminine source, living pieces of the living web.
Each Rune whispers (another of their names) differently, and working with them is an exercise in simulteneity, cloaking and uncloaking at once. The Runes have transformed my life and my perspective, their stories have enriched my living and shaped my spirituality. For those to whom they call, the voice is a recollection, the shape a coming home.
There is much fear and suspicion around the ancient pagan-heathen roots of our ancestors, and many of the portrayals of deities or cosmologies past are removed from the origin and intention of the stories. But by claiming our stories, the lineage tales and earth-based relationship of all peoples, we may begin to envision a spirituality that connects us to the earth and each other. We may begin to re-member our place in the web.
These illustrations were created for The Runes Revealed: An UnFamiliar Journey by author Ingrid Kincaid. Once Runes are placed on the axis, you can begin to see the shape of the web start to form. Scroll over each rune to see its name, and at the end of the page you will find my illustration of all 33 Runes together.