Most of my readers know that my spirituality influences my writing deeply. It is something that’s an inherent part of me…something I can’t separate from my daily life. That being said, you’ll find quite a bit of my spiritual experiences and thoughts mixed posted here on my website. This is one of those blogs. So if you’re not into deep shit, turn back now.
As of late, I’ve been studying the Elder Futhark Runes. This is an ancient alphabet system from Northern Europe – mainly used by the Norse and Germanic peoples. Each rune has been given an alphabetic “letter”, if you will, and was used as an alphabetic system in some ways. However, the runes are sort of comparable to hieroglyphics in that they were thought to be used by pagan priests in a ritualistic, spiritual manner. They conveyed deep occult lessons and powers.
For many years, I avoided the runes like the plague. I don’t know why. When I think about it the only reason I can truly give is that I didn’t want to be on the pagan “cool train” and do what everyone else was doing…which seemed to be rune-casting. On Instagram, hundreds of pagans post their photos of rune tattoos and sketches. Rune necklaces and talismans of many kinds. I literally had an aversion to runes after a while. You know how when you’re pregnant you see a piece of chicken meat and want to hurl? Yeah, I felt like that whenever I saw a rune. Again, I’m not sure why.
A few months ago, Spirit began sending me signals that I needed to learn the runes. I pushed back. FUCK NO. I don’t want to learn them. It’s not my bag. I’m not Heathen nor do I follow a Norse pagan path. But Spirit kept at it. You need to learn the runes, Nicole. Get over your stupid aversion to this beautiful system and take up the runes. After bickering back and forth with Spirit for quite some time, I finally relented and bought Edred Thorssen’s book on the Elder Furthark. I’d heard it was one of the best and most accurate as far as the lore and significance behind each rune. I read another book on the magic of the runes and was not thrilled whatsoever. The author gave the runes a rather simplistic definition and I walked away from that book with my lip curled and my eyebrows raised.
The runes slowly started to make their presence known to me. Mostly on my nature walks in the mornings. The first rune I connected with was Algiz. I saw it in the trees. I saw it in fallen branches and pine needles. I saw Algiz as a pattern in my veins. Protection. The elk’s horns.
Next, I found the rune Othala in the condensation on a pot lid while cooking dinner one night. A reminder to focus on family. On inheritance. On appreciating what I already have and furthering my relationships with my family. Okay, got it.
Then the runes came in abundance. Algiz, again. In the clouds. On sidewalks. Sowilo. Eiwaz. Fehu. As I learn each of the runes, a new one would present itself to me. And with each rune came a very personal, unique message. Each rune came to teach me something about myself that I’d been denying or ignoring.
This morning, I laid in bed and a crash of thunder woke me up from my sleep…exactly at the moment I’d had an epiphany. An epiphany that brought another rune into focus – Berkano. The funny thing is, just yesterday I’d decided to dive deep into my ancestral roots. Many of my ancestors came from Switzerland, Southern Germany, and Northern France…the Alpine regions. So I’d searched the internet for Swiss and German folklore and found some rather intriguing gods and goddesses. One that stuck out to me was Berchta…a hideous hag “Christmas witch” that was once a beautiful, well-loved pagan goddess in the Alps. How does Berchta relate to Berkano? The first syllable is berc (k or ch), and as the thunder clapped I thought Berk-ano = Berch-ta. Upon waking, I looked up the etymology of berc and found that it meant Birch, as in the birch tree. What’s the spiritual significance of the Birth?
The Birch tree was also called the “white lady”…as was Berchta in her pre-demonized pagan state! The rune berkano brought me a message of a matron goddess who is indelibly ingrained in my ancestral heritage and most likely in my very own DNA. Berchta, the White Lady, the Shining One. The Great Mother. The Nurturing Earth Goddess. Berkano.
And so, I shall continue to take up the runes and let each one teach me a lesson in their own time. And Berchta and I? Let’s just say she has a new daughter.