Thursday, December 11, 2014

Magic 1 for Priests Part 4

4. Discuss the place of alphabetic symbolism as part of the symbolism of magical practice within one Indo-European culture. (minimum 150 words)

                The most iconic magical alphabet symbols in the Western world are that of the Norse Runes. They can be found everywhere from Northern Canada to parts of northern and western Europe. We even see them as a basic magic symbol even in our movies. Scholars believe that the Runic system started out as magical in nature first and then later became a form of communication within the Norse cultures and languages. The Runes might have been developed as early as 200 B.C.E. (Thorsson, Futhark - A Handbook of Rune Magic 5). Mythology tells us that Odin gifted the Runes to humankind after sacrificing one of his eyes to receive the knowledge of the Runes. Odin, who was always seeking wisdom and knowledge, went to the Norns at the Well of Urd to seek their knowledge and power. But the Runes would only reveal themselves to those which proved themselves worthy of their power. So Odin hung himself from a branch of the Yqqdrasil, pierced himself with his spear, and peered down into the Well of Urd. He suffered in this state for nine days and nights before the Runes revealed themselves (D. McCoy).

                Runes were not only used as a form of divination. They can be seen on talismans, horns, tools, weapons, and armor. They were there to empower these items with the magical properties of the combined Runes through what is known as Bind-Runes and incantations called runagaldrar (Thorsson, Futhark - A Handbook of Rune Magic 13). Thorsson gives us to examples of talismans in his book “Rune Lore.” The first is “… a round stake (beechwood, about 8 feet long)...” (Thorsson, Rune Lore: A Handbook of Esoteric Runology) which was found buried with ship Oseberg. The Rune inscription on this stake seems to be Litil(l)-viss m(adhr) which according to Thorsson means “the craft of little mist – the magical powers over life and death” (Thorsson, Rune Lore: A Handbook of Esoteric Runology 40). Since this was part of a burial tomb perhaps this was a magical stake to help the dead transverse to the Afterlife more smoothly. The second example that Thorsson gives us is a “… talismanic inscription on a utilitarian object is found on the weaving temple of Lund (Sweden), … This interesting runic text gives us a sample of the curious mixture of love and curse magic…” (Thorsson, Rune Lore: A Handbook of Esoteric Runology 40).

                In the Hávamál we find even more references to the use of Runes as a form of magic. These are said to be “The Words of Odin the High One” which are presented as a single poem within the Poetic Edda. The following are exerts from the Hávamál pertaining to the use of Runes (James Alan Chisholm):

All will prove true that thou askest of runes --
those that are come from the gods,
which the high Powers wrought, and which Odin painted:
then silence is surely best.
[In this example we see that the Runes can be used to divine the secrets and knowledge of the gods]

I give you rede Loddfafnir, heed it well!
You will use it, if you learn it,
and it will do you good if you understand it.
If you want a good woman, speak pleasure runes to her,
Pledge your troth and hold fast to it
if you want joy from her.
None loathes good if she gets it.
[In this example we see the use of Runes as a form an invocation to enchant one or to bring about a receptive state of mine.]

I give you rede Loddfafnir, heed it well!
You will use it, if you learn it,
it will get you good if you understand it.
When you drink ale, call on the main of the earth,
for earth is good against ale, but fire against diseases.
Oak is good against costiveness, grain against wizardry
bearded rye against feuds. They say the moon is good
against hate. Alum use for rabies and runes against evil.
The earth draws off floods.
[The example here is the  use of Runes as a charm or talisman against illness and evil that might be visited upon a person]
I know a twelfth: If I see a hanged man
swinging high in a tree,
I can carve and stain runes,
so that the man walks
and speaks with me.
[And in this final example, I see this as the use of Runes to perform a type of necromancy in which the caster would be able to question the dead.]
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