Tag Archives: Oak

Stanza 25: Oak

byþ on eorþan.         elda bearnum.
flæsces fodor         fereþ gelome
ofer ganotes bæþ         garsecg fandaþ.
hwæþer ac hæbbe         æþele treowe

It is on earth for the children of elders
Fodder of the flesh. It ferries frequently
Over the gannets bath. T
he violent sea finds
Whether the noble oak holds true.


Translating Ac

The Ac stanza is a bad riddle because the answer to the riddle is right there in the wording. Since when does an Old English riddle include its answer? I’ll tell you when. Never. That’s when.

The Ac stanza is a good riddle because if it’s not Ac, then what is it? Hwæt? And if it does mean oak why does this riddle get to be so transparent? Let’s see if we can shine a light on it.

Clue: A line of Old English poetry starts with three alliterating stresses, three words that start with the same letter, and ends with a fourth stress that does not alliterate. The answer to the Rune Poem’s riddles is always the missing first word, so the first clue is always to be found in the beginnings of the next two stressed words: eorþan (earth) and elda (age). The answer to this riddle must be a word … More

How to Make Ink

Ingredients (alphabetical order):

Cloth (warp + weft): strains.
Ferrus Sulfate (iron + sulfuric acid): darkens.
Gum Arabic (acacia tree + patience): thickens, adheres.
Hammer (metal + wood): pulverizes.
Jar (sand + soda ash + limestone): contains.
Oak Galls (wasp + oak tree + time) colors.
Rain Water (hydrogen + oxygen + gravity): soaks, extracts.
Sun (hydrogen + helium): transforms, perfects.

Smash O into bits with H. Put into J, cover with R and leave in S for three days, strain through C and return liquid to J. Dissolve G in R. Add G and F to J.

Crann Bethadh

Crann Bethadh means tree of life in Old Irish. It’s an oak tree. The Celts used to plant them in the centers of their villages where they could be the axis mundi, the pillar holding everything up, the pivot around which it all turns. It’s a sacred world tree, and an older one than the one in the Old English Rune Poem, which stand right there next to it in order. In the Rune Poem, oak is the letter A, which comes right after D. In the Ogam alphabet written down in Old Irish, D is an oak. When they needed new runes for new sounds and invented the oak rune, they kept it close to its roots.

The Ogam alphabet uses bríatharogam to describe each letter name. These are two word descriptions that act as riddles or metaphors and work in a similar way to Old English kennings, which are either compound … More

How to Bathe a Gannet

So your gannet colony stinks of ammonia, guano, and a bit like fish, well what did you expect, they are gannets. Thousands crowding together. Eliminating. If your gannets are befouling the place and you wish to change their objectionable odor, your best route to success is via a good luxurious scented bath, into which a new fragrance might be introduced. Your task may feel a Herculean one for they do enjoy their own smell, it’s their signature scent, and if you know anybody who has a signature scent, you know they can be quite resistant to change. Ascertain if your gannets are determined to smell like a birdy pile of pee soaked herring or if they are amenable to a modernizing update. Inform the gannets one must not become too attached to a signature scent at risk of becoming predictable or seeming out of date when the fashion moves on. Woody, spicy, or musky notes … More

By Land and By Sea

The medieval world was on the move. They traveled, all over the place and farther than you think. The Romans did it prior, they set up the whole show. They covered the lands around the entire Mediterranean with roads and sea routes, west and east of Rome, down the length of the Middle East, up the Nile, back down the Nile, all across North Africa and into Spain, all of Spain, France, across the channel and right up into Britain. This whole massive area is filled with people of infinite variety, their languages, their gods, their customs, their food, their everything, their all of it. And what are they doing? What are the people doing? They’re circulating. It’s all in motion, the whole place. Commerce and trade requires movement and the roads were busy, there’s a silk road to the east linking up to another massive trade structure, there’s ships sailing in all directions, traveling … More

Rune Casting: Ac

Provision yourself, because Ac says you are going on a journey and it won’t be smooth sailing. You’re already gone, you know that? Warning: these choppy waters might shatter you into matchwood. You’re about to find out what you’re made of. What were you made for? This. You were made for this so hold true.

In the Old English Rune Poem the letter A means oak. This was the most sacred tree in most Celtic societies and to the Baltic cultures living east of the Rune Poem’s people, where Ing went. In the Ogam alphabet, the earliest form of writing in Ireland, Oak is the letter D. D comes right before A in the Rune Poem alphabetic sequence, it’s adjacent, and the next letter after that is the another one of the sacred world trees, the Ash, Æ. The Old English Rune Poem plants the oak next to family and its own sacred tree.

A is an older sound in Old English than Æ or O. A became both of these letters, vowels are slippery like that. They pass through your mouth unrestricted by teeth or tongue or closed lips, so with all that out of the way, it’s only mouth shape and air flow that makes the … More

The ᚩ rune (O, Os) and the ᚪ (A, Ac) both started the same way, as new shapes of the ᚫ rune (Æ, Æsc) which once made the sound of the letter A, stood in the fourth position of the alphabet, and meant God. The A sound changed very early in the lifetime of Old English, vowels are shifty, and this one changed into O and Æ, so new runes were made with new meanings to represent the new sounds, and appropriate places were found for them in the alphabetic line up. Æ, sounds like the A in ash tree, which is its meaning, this is one of a whole grove of trees in the Rune Poem. It kept the original rune shape ᚫ while the others are derived from it, and was moved opposite it’s original 4th position to the 26th place. They put it there so it can … More

Vowels are slippery things. They shift around and we have to learn which sound differences to ignore as another person’s accent and which ones change meaning. In the earliest times of Old English history the sound of the letter A changed so much it became three letters, A (ᚪ), O (ᚩ), and Æ (ᚫ). The ᚫ rune was the original rune shape for the A sound and stands in the 4th position in the Norwegian and Icelandic runic alphabets where it makes the sound for the letter A and means God. In the Old English runic alphabet, ᚩ (Os) holds the 4th position where it still means God, but here it makes the sound O. Smote. Lot. That God that smote you is a lot. The O sound was once made by the ᛟ rune, Eþel, but by the time they wrote down the Rune Poem, Eþel was already slipping … More