Category Archives: The Future

Stanza 12: Year

byþ gumena hiht         ðon god læteþ
halig heofones cyning         hrusan syllan
beorhte bleda         beornum and ðearfum

It is the hope of humanity when God lets sprout,
The holy king of heaven gives to the earth
Bright fruits for the rich and for the needy.


Stanza 18: Birch

byþ bleda leas.         bereþ efne swa ðeah
tanas butan tudder.         biþ on telgum wlitig.
heah on helme         hrysted fægere.
geloden leafum         lyfte getenge

It is without bloom, though even so it bears
Twigs for divination without offspring. It is beautiful on its boughs
High on top, fairly ornamented
Its leaves might spring up to press upon the sky.

Translating Beorc

This stanza’s riddle is about a tree. There lives a whole forest of important trees in the Rune Poem; this one is hrysted fægere, beautifully adorned, fair and decorative with leaves lyfte getenge, pressing against the sky.

Why is this tree important? You can tell the future with this tree, that’s why. It has tanas, twigs for divination. There are lots of words for a twig including twig, also gerd, croh, hris, læl, spranca, sprota, spæc, sumorloda, telga. This particular word for twig, tanas, tan, is the only one that specifies they are used for divining the future. Tanas are special twigs, prophetic twigs. Which trees produces twigs so special you could carve a rune into them and find out what’s coming? Who would know that? You know who knows that, Tacitus knows that, that’s who. He visited the people who lived north of Rome, all the … More

Translating Ger

This stanza is about time. Some see it as a specific time, like harvest when the bright bleda (fruits) mentioned are ready for eating. Others translate this as springtime, when bleda, which also means blossoms and green shoots, appear on plants. Which bleda do we want? In Old English poetry, multiple meanings apply. What kind of temporality were the people of the Rune Poem working with? We can look closely anywhere in Old English and see it, but we ought to pay attention here in the Ger stanza to find out how they managed their solar time reckoning at least. The moon is another matter.

The name of this rune is ger, year. What is a year? A cycling of the seasons. There is a time when the sun is with us a lot, and then another time after that when it is not, and then when it is again. Time is … More

How to Eat a Birch Tree

You don’t choose to eat a birch tree, this is not food, but it is food adjacent. A birch tree is close enough to being food that at the end of winter when you are out of everything and nothing’s fresh, you’ll see greens for your meal in the birch tree first: a gift from the sun to the earth and thereby you, an early edible tribute you badly need.

The shoots and the sap, go for them first. They happen first. The shoots, the tips of the branches, the new green leaves, they’re all nice in a stew and you can eat them fresh right off the tree. It’s a little bitter, but tender and will clear your bronchial passages which you might enjoy after a winter by smoky firelight.

For the sap, stab the birch with something sharp, just into the inner bark. Pull a little bark outward under the wound … More

Y is for Year’s Mind

Is it that time? When did they die, has it been a year? If it’s their geárgemynd, their year’s mind, remember them. Put them in your mind. This kenning, geárgemynd, means it’s their day now, like a birthday but at the opposite end of the spectrum. Mynd means mind like it sounds, and also memory, gear means year and ge is a prefix to mynd, but never mind that. Your person who died had wyrþmynd (worth mind, worthy of remembering) and left you behind to commemorate their geargemynde. I know you don’t save up your grief for this day, like they aren’t always and forever walking around with you in your head year’s mind or no. Push them back (invite them back) they won’t go. There they are, laughing at you when you are being stupid, makes you laugh too. Unable (but kind of maybe not?) to hug you when you cry. You … More

Ge is for Prefix

Old English is an inflected language, meaning that its words are amended as needed to change meaning and grammatical category such as tense or case. We’ve talked about suffixes before. Ge (sounds like yee) is a prefix, one we no longer use. You can’t escape it in Old English though, it’s everywhere and the reasons for it were already dim by the time the language was first written down. Most of the time it gently sits there doing nothing, getting in the way, a grotesque extravagance gumming up the works when you need to search alphabetically for the meanings of a word. Students of Old English are often told to ignore the ge prefix as superfluous, but it does do a job from time to time. When ge is busy at the start of a noun, It generally flavors the meaning with a sense of something being together with something else, but you … More

X≠Y≠Z: Divination

Wretched in exile, three individuals divided by mutual suspicion yet maintaining the syzygy of codependent enemies, seek access to the future. They are addicted to divination by omens and lots.

X shuffles and shuffles cards, lays them out, this one is it, this one crosses it, the past the future, There’s a star and a hanged man: a traitor, loss and isolation, yet the traitor is smiling. There is much to be gained from X’s sacrifice. X picks up cards, puts them down, shuffles. The fool, we know who that is delusional bastard, the tower, a crumbling of old ways, a protective fortress in ruin. A chariot with no wheels, bound in place. Shuffling.

Y dangles a rock tied to a string, trying to hold still. Y isn’t sure if the rock is moving in answer or if Y is doing it without meaning to. Show me which way for yes. Show me … More

The Future

You can’t have a society without a collective understanding of time. You can’t. Show me one. Time is the basis of everything: our idea of shared reality, what we think happens after we die, every question of faith, every approach to proof, everything. There are great similarities from culture to culture about the big mathematical details. For example, some have noticed that the sun moves the distance of its own radius every minute, it’s why we have a minute. It’s in the stuff we can’t prove and quantify where we can really see the personality of a people.

This pairing of runes, Beorc and Ger, Birch and Year, reveals what happens to a culture’s sense of time when their abundance waxes and wanes rather drastically with their living conditions. These were coastal people whose challenging waters range from confronting to inhospitable. Their cold inland weather has its own difficulties and everything depends … More

Twigs for Divination

 Hexagram 61

Name: Zhong Fu. Innermost Sincerity, Inner Truth, Inward Confidence

Image: An arrow hits the target dead center, passes right through. The target doesn’t wobble. A hen hatching chicks, they trust her. A broody hen on an egg, small, holds life within, anticipating.

Structure: Wind above, Lake below. Wind blowing over water. Energy, invisible. Sincerity is felt but not seen.

Decision: When you lie to yourself, you are not in possession of inner sincerity. Inward trustworthiness will enable you to develop your true nature. Do that, and you influence the inner natures of the people near you, then near them, radiating outward with force and influence, a mirror within a mirror hey presto.

Changing lines:

Line 3: The drum beats: charge! The drum stops. Stop. It beats! It stops. Confusion. You cry, you sing, you cry again. Phenomenal flux: energy and exhaustion. You have been taken prisoner. You hold enemy captives.


Changes … More

Bright Fruits



B is for Beginning

How to begin? Where is the start and which way do we trend?
Is the kickoff a bang? It’s a big thing to pretend,
That there is a launch and a line to the end.
Like a candle burning down with marks for each when.

But say there’s a start,
Then a moving apart.
To a place off the chart?
Come on have a heart!

If we can expand surely there’s a contract.
The past need not reach for a point so compact.
If the path must be straight, perhaps it’s switchbacked?
Like string feeling quarky is sometimes unslacked.


How to Calculate a New Year

To calculate a new year or any other kind of newness, you must have some idea of oldness too. New is not new unless there’s an old. This truth requires a sense of a trajectory between one and the other, as well as a direction, so you must have some idea of a beginning in your new year reckoning. Calculations, like language, happen via a linear trajectory no matter how many forking paths it might take to get from A to B. A line is a line. This will be your main problem when determining a beginning: that temporality does not exist in the way your tools of calculation and language assume it to exist. There’s nothing linear about it. There are no beginnings. However, by wanting to calculate a new year I assume you imagine some sort of temporal line upon which you might locate your new year. Good. You will have to think … More

Rune Casting: Beorc

Your effort won’t bear the fruit you want. It will feed you well, though, and you will see the beauty that comes from your patience. Hold yourself upright (flexibly, remain bendable) press yourself to the sky and see your future, here already.


Rune Casting: Ger

You are coming out of it. It’s been a long time coming. What you’ve been missing, if you have been missing out, will return soon enough. This will be a rebirth of new life. The signs are already here that you will benefit from a rich kingdom awakening to plenitude. Fruits will dangle off of vines replete with abundance, but they won’t fall into your mouth just like that chickadee, you will have to take steps and get busy.


Voiced bilabial stop. Send air into your mouth. Now stop it with your lips and release. Put a little sound into it, vibrate those vocal cords.

Carve a line down, straight as a tree. Now carve two bumps on the right, budding out one side.

Ger is a little small. Look at it so teeny: ᛄ. You might not be able to see. It’s bigger now, it grew over time, but the poor thing was only half sized once. Sometimes Ger is carved to look like the rune for Beaver, Ior, ᛡ, making for redundancy and a real identity crisis for sweet little ᛄ, though ᛄ did stand up a little taller to claim a space in manuscripts at least. ᛄ’s got other problems too. It once made a J sound before shifting into a softer palatal G and then ultimately a Y sound represented by Ge, where it seems to have landed, unfortunately sharing the same initial sound of the ᛡ rune as well as its look sometimes. This does lend to a bit of an identity crisis. ᛄ was here first, I’ll have you know, and it’s hard for a small rune like ᛄ to … More