ᛏ biþ tacna sum healdeð trywa wel.
wiþ æþelingas a biþ on færylde.
ofer nihta genipu næfre swiceþ ᛬᛫
It is one of the signs, it holds trust well
With princes. Forever it is on a journey
Over the obscurity of night, it never deceives.
A tree does not show up in the Rune Poem unless it is important. You think they’ll let just any tree grow in these sacred woods? No. These are the god trees. Useful too. The oak grows here, you can eat the nuts, feed them to the pigs, make a drink from them, make boats from the wood, and the elders used to revere it as the world tree. The actual world tree is here too, the ash, also useful for making spears that won’t shatter on impact. Nice straight grained strong wood, that, holds it all up. The birch is a calendar tree, the first to green up in spring so you know the new year has come. You can eat the new shoots, tap it for the sap which makes a nice drink, and it provides twigs for divination. Everybody wants to know the future. And here we … More
The Rune Poem says Tiw is one of the signs, a tacn, a token. This is the first clue in the riddle. A sign is a clue to something as well; signs symbolize in shorthand something else. A letter in an alphabet is a sign that means a sound and sometimes a whole word. The color of a light hanging over a road is a sign standing as evidence of broader meanings, covenants of mutual trust, expectations of behavior. And signs can be signs for signs, like these: 💰, 🐮, 🌹🌵, 😉, 🛣, 🔦, 🎁, 🤑, ⛈, 💔🆘👂, ❄️, 🌱, 🌲🪦, 🎮, 🧬, 🌅, 🪧⭐⚖, 🌳🔮, 🐴, 🫂🪦, 🌊, 🛒👋, 🏠, ☀, 🌳🌰⛵, 🌳😇👊, 🏹, 🦫, 🪦. These are signs in nested levels of scale. … More
You’ve murdered before. Good. Now you’ll want to refine your technique and go for a killing more subtle, more elegant. Undoubtedly your next move should be poison. It is clean, classic, and with just a few basic ingredients and a bit of alchemy performed in even the most modest of kitchens, you can achieve a fine toxin useful for dropping into a drink or rubbing onto the shaft of an arrow. Wear gloves for that, this one can be absorbed through skin. You will need patience for your efforts as well, unlike a loud splashy war or a more intimate stabbing, a successful poisoning is not enhanced by anger. Let your rage go, for now. Holding onto anger is like poisoning yourself and expecting your enemy to die.
During the height of the Roman occupation of Britain, Britannia was as Roman as anywhere else in the empire: filled with flourishing walled market towns distributing goods to and from all the other parts of the Mediterranean world, the culture a mix of Roman and local, all gods welcome. This was the secret sauce in the Roman recipe for empire, everybody got to keep their deities. Delicious. Some gods were adopted by the soldiers and traveling sales teams who moved the most from place to place, others got yoked to a Roman deity, two gods pulling the weight for one: interpretatio Romana Tacitus called this practice whilst naming a pair of gods living in a sacred grove somewhere along the Oder River between Germany and Poland. According to the Roman interpretation these deities were Castor and Pollux but maybe they were some version of Nerþus who was maybe Ing who maybe became Freyr and … More
Y is in the garage, sharpening. Trying to figure out how to sharpen. Y is in the garage googling how to sharpen a blade, what angle and what to sharpen it on and is confused as to the metal content of the blade in question. Does it make a difference if Y doesn’t know? Y assumes yes. Y has no whetstone and had tried to use the concrete floor of the garage but has become too cold sitting on it. Why are garage floors so cold? Google says to sharpen a blade on the unfinished ceramic bottom of a coffee mug in a pinch. This is a pinch, Y has had it and heads to the kitchen.
The Rune poem names two gods: Tiw and Ing. Three if you count Os which means god and describes Odin. If we set aside all the sacred trees, and we shouldn’t, we still have one more god mention: the holy king of heaven in the Year stanza, who must be the Christian god, unnamed. This Christian incursion into a poem full of non Christian deities, two named right out loud in answer to their stanza riddles, sometimes poses a different kind of riddle for Christian readers and translators. Perhaps duty bound to exalt their own, they often determine this is a Christian poem written by a Christian poet who would never allow heaven’s king to share an equal stage with other gods. This was a preference undoubtedly popular amongst Christian poets writing in Old English back in the day, so I can see the impulse. But I am here to encourage the … More
The yew is absolutely massive compared to us, so much weight shooting up, lengthening, drooping back down to plunge into the earth, travel, shoot back up and do it again: swoop up into sky, fall back into earth, swim forward, break through waves into sky and flip back under again. This tree is a fish, moving so slowly through thousands of years in a single life span, we never see it happen. We think the yew stands still. We can trust it will always be there. God knows how the yew sees us. An irritant? An itchy parasite flaring up from time to time? We move so fast we must be itchy.
Maybe in our separate time scales we are nothing to the Yew? The Yew has been quite a lot to us though. We’ve met under it for important reasons for centuries, in the rooms it makes looping its branches into roots underground. The … More
Mars and Tiw share a day. They might also share a symbol: ♂︎ ᛏ. The earliest symbols for Mars the planet were of a pointed spear, or a spear with a shield drawn as a circle with a line running through it. We still use a shield and spear to mean Mars. He is a warrior like Tiw, both recognizable by their weapons, forever on a journey over the obscurity of night.
An eorl is an earl, a noble person, sometimes a relative of the king, who acts as a local governor within a king’s domain. Eorl is the same word as the Old Norse jarl, meaning a hereditary chieftain, then later a noble person holding a rank just under the king. The eorl and the jarl are in charge of vast lands and lots of people. In Britain, before there were earls or kings, the Romans ran the place and for a brief moment ran the entire Roman empire from Britain until they abandoned it around the year 410, leaving behind a population without a stable government and who still saw themselves as Roman. When a government packs up and leaves they don’t just shut off the lights. Within the next century and a half, the people organized themselves into a government that looked much like the old one, establishing kingdoms with laws governed regionally … More
The dark obscures everything and restricting one’s travel to only daylight hours can be limiting depending on latitude and season. To travel by night successfully you will need light, which you will not have much of. Endeavor to take your journey during the full moon or bring a torch.
Beware of torch blindness. You will see more clearly by it, but you will not be able to see as far. Beyond the light all else will appear far darker than it would have without it. Use a torch if you want to see the ground beneath your feet, do not use one if you want to see what is coming for you.
Things have been hard and rough going and could be the death of you if you don’t get your feet under you and stand firm. You’d best gather your people home and be joyful: you can depend on each other for support.
Things will go dark, obscuring your vision. It’s difficult to navigate when you can’t see your way forward, but chin up. You are being guided. There is somebody who will never deceive you. You’ll see the signs. You can trust this one well.
Alveolar dental: tongue along teeth, gums too. Stop and start the air flow. Let your voice stay out of it.
Carve an arrow. Point it to the stars.
Short E, mouth a little open: eh, no big deal. Let the E fall off past an O. Let it keep falling, we don’t use these sounds together anymore.
Carve a line up like a tree then bend the branches back down toward earth on one side. On the other side, send up a new trunk from the ground.