Archive for runes


Posted in Art, Folklore, History, Projects with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 24, 2016 by manxwytch

My personal rune set is also the first one I ever made: small tiles of green granite, cut, polished and carved over thirty years ago. I’ve carved many sets since then, in different materials; my favourites have been on slates gathered from a beach at the Calf of Mann, and quartz pebbles from the seam of that white stone that stretches the length of the Isle from the Calf to the Point of Ayre.

All the runes I’ve carved since that first set have been gifted to others.

In recent years I’ve had the urge to carve a new set for myself, in bone. Specifically rib bones, the rib cage being that vault protecting and containing the beating heart, and making possible each life-sustaining breath.
A few years ago I obtained some rib bones, and in recent months I began their transformation into a set of rune staves.
Once cut to length, I began working on caps for the cut ends. These I carved from ash wood, to link these runes physically to the World Tree, as the ribs themselves are joined to the spinal column of the body. This may become more significant in the future, as we lose the ash trees in Europe and now in North America, due to a combination of disease and foreign insect depredation. We may live to see a time when Yggdrasil as ash tree will exist in memory and historical record alone and future generations may not know it as a living presence in the world.
Bone will connect with the otherworldly powers of one who has passed through the gates of Death, crossed the bridge to the Other Side, and will function as eidolon to bring insight and information from that realm to back into this world.
It was the Gallows God who brought the runes out of the darkness through self-sacrifice, and these runes are intended to invoke that power and wisdom.

The inscribed runes that survive on the Isle of Mann show elements of both the Elder and Younger Futharks, in both ‘Long Twig’ and ‘Short Twig’ forms, though none remains extant as a complete set. At the time of Kermode’s writing in 1907, 15 runes were clearly identifiable, though he believed that others were also used on the Isle, and that the 15 we have today are merely what remain physically of all the rune carved stones on the Isle.


The runic sigils I have used reflect those found on Mann – some of the Younger Futhark and some of the Elder; as my intention is to use this set primarily for divinatory, in addition to specific magickal workings. What is of significance in divination are the ideas and influences represented by the runes, more than each physical shape, so I am comfortable with taking some artistic license in the style and shape of the runes in my personal set.
The dense bone of the ribs is too thin to allow carving of the rune symbols into their surface, so I have burned them into the bone, invoking fire as power to charge the runes as well as to define them, and referencing fire as the catalyst between different phases of being, facilitating the transformation of the material basis into its spiritual potential.

Once marked by fire, I rubrified the runes with heme iron in a protein based colloid suspension. Then sealed them with a blend of oils, beeswax  and resin.


Mindful of the divinatory aspect of these runes, the energies, purposes and associations therewith; and taking a page from Richard Gavin’s, Benighted Path, these runes, carved and consecrated shall never be profaned by exposure to the rude light of day. Their work will be dedicated to and accomplished in darkness, their illumination sidereal: the light of moon, dream, baalfire and candle glow. The sacred Void will be their womb, the darkness wherein all things become undifferentiated and returned to their unified source, to speak directly to the Night mind that precedes and subsumes again the diurnal conscious awareness.

To this end, I fashioned a bi-layered pouch in which a liner extends beyond the top of a deerskin sack, to ensure that even when open the runes would be protected from exposure, and that the rune reader must, as Glapsviðr did,  reach deep into Ginnungagap to extract the runes. This bag I bound with antique silk and metallic thread ribbon, and a working cord, both inherited from my Initiator into the Manx Tradition.

Once made, I assembled the runes into their cycle and found that again this time, as with the last set I carved, one rune had hidden itself through the process. It demanded to be completed on its own, with my focus solely on it. There are many steps involved in making and finishing the rune set, and many opportunities to discover a miscount or omission. Inasmuch as these omissions occur unasked for, and unintentionally, and elude discovery at multiple steps in the process, I consider them to be significant, an indicator of the guiding Spirit of the rune set as a whole. In this case, I also chose to make it of different materials than the others – antler rather than bone, with an end cap of yew wood, as befits this rune.


Hag Stone Necklace

Posted in Art, Folklore, Projects with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 14, 2012 by manxwytch

I’ve collected Hag Stones for many years and have always wanted to make a necklace.  However, not just a necklace with a single stone, but a  magical necklace that would mark some kind of passage of time and vision.  Waiting for the right Holed Stones has taken years of collecting and though I’ve had plenty of stones for many years, none were the right feel and fit until now.

I’m recently vision impaired so tying a knot alone can be a real challenge for me.  Stringing a thread onto a wee beading needle is a lesson in patience for even those with 20×20 vision.  My ability to create now takes an incredible amount of time, but I’m still an artist and craftsperson and I won’t let that part of me go as it helps to feed my soul.

As I said, I wanted to make a Hag Stone necklace for many years and I’ve wanted it to mark a point in my life.  This is the first piece I’ve made since the loss of my vision and a great challenge for me.  It truly marks a pivitol point of my life, a rite of passage in my way of being and seeing in the world.

Thirteen holy Hag Stones, one for each of the full moons.  I will begin the consecrations of each stone on the full moon closest to the new year, in the dark half, Samhain.  So each full moon will be marked and the necklace will be fully charged in a full year’s cycle.

Twelve round pieces of Amber stone to mark the solar cycles of time and light.  The passage of the Twelve Houses of the Sun.  Amber is a stone symbolic of life, light and energy.  Amber, like Quartz, can hold an electric charge and be seen to glow as if from an internal light.  It also smells heavenly when warmed, heated or drilled.  It has been used in ancient medicines for many years and is said to hold healing properties, bearing the lamp of the sun.  Many priestesses wear Amber and Jet necklaces to symbolize the eternal cycles of life and death.

Rather than use Jet, I decided to go right to the source and I’ve used carved bone as the third bead.  There are Forty Bone Beads.  Bone is our mortality.  The stone of our bodies.  Our inner strength and our support.  It’s what holds up this bag of skin, sinew and cell.  It is white to remind us of the Light where we originated.

The circle of Hags, Amber and Bone is held together with silk thread and copper wire.  Copper for the Green Venusian Current, and Silk for its opulence and  strength.  Fine materials for a precious piece that I hope I will one day hand down to a Priestess of my lineage.

During the year’s cycle, I will make a pouch or box to hold the necklace.  Right now, I don’t know how it will look.  The dream hasn’t manifested and neither have the materials, but I’m sure that Providence will bring the right tools at the right time.  She always does.

The centrepiece stone was chosen because of the natural Runes, yods and crescents carved by Fortuna’s hands. It was also the latest of the Holy Stones to come in to my possession, being found just a few months ago.


Posted in History, Projects with tags , , , , , on March 22, 2012 by manxwytch

The early Manx culture was a blend of Celtic and Viking in roughly equal proportions.

The Isle of Mann was never conquered by the Romans so the Christianity that came to the Isle was a blend of the Celtic version which was brought over from Ireland, and a very odd Norse Pagan-Christian fusion that arrived with the last of the Vikings. There were several false starts at introducing the New Faith and the pre-Christian pagan influence was far stronger on the Isle, and lasted much longer than on the mainland. The majority of the Manx these days are terribly proud of their Christian heritage and tend to exaggerate the extent to which and date it became dominant on the Isle. Sometime between 800 and 1200, making it among the last of the western European countries to convert. As a result, many examples of Viking Runic inscriptions and Celtic Ogham are found throughout the Isle, dating from the pre-Christian and the early Christian eras.

With the strong Viking influence on Mann, carving runes seems natural. Up until now I have always carved my runes on stones, my first set done decades ago on green granite. I’ve carved quartz pebbles collected from the northernmost point of the Isle of Mann, the Point of Ayre and silven slates from the mermaid coves at the Sound, near where the god Manannan first stepped foot on the Isle.

This is a set of apple wood staves, a gift for an organic apple orchardist; made from pruned wood of the heritage variety trees that she planted and that are still in her care.

Instead of carving the symbols the way I have done on stones, these are pierced, so one is able to see through the rune shape.

Sigils such as the runes function as templates to shape energy, much like the play-dough molds from childhood – energy gets pushed through one side and comes out the other, rune-shaped. I wanted to make this image literal with these runes. When I make something magickal, I typically have a rough idea of what I want, I may begin a project, gather materials, but momentum doesn’t build until after I’ve dreamed the work.

This sometimes takes weeks, sometimes months or years. Needless to say, I don’t always finish a project quickly, especially if it’s an important project. While I was awaiting the dream, I sewed a moose hide bag for the staves.

In this case, I dreamed the final product and in the dream I was doing the work with hand tools, whereas I normally carve runes with a motor tool because of their diminutive size. The motor tool would have been much faster and less awkward, but in the end, carving and filing by hand I only had to redo one rune due to my own clumsiness.

Carving a set of runes is a meditation, completing each of the runes of the cycle and focusing one-at-a-time on the universal forces which they embody. The act of making the shape connects the carver with the energy of the rune itself, and forms a bond with all those carvers in the past whose hands made those same shapes on stones and staves.

With this set and the technique which I had not done before, I began with the simplest rune and worked in sets of 8, based on the complexity of the design. The constraints imposed by piercing meant that I had to find a way to suggest the shape of some of the runes without physically cutting them.

Once cut and filed, I laid out the rune cycle. To my chagrin I counted twenty-three runes! Apparently one of the rune blanks walked away from the work bench, and insisted on being carved start-to-finish on the Vernal Equinox. I’ll leave you to guess which one it was.

I coloured the symbols with ochre which I found in a stream and ground by hand, to vivify the runes. Ochre is the colour of the blood of the land, and the blood of the land gives life. Depending on who I’m making the runes for, I may rubrify them with other materials. Lastly, I finished the staves with a natural sealant made from linseed oil and resin.
From here they will make their way to the hands of their recipient, who will do what she will with them. My work has moved them from tree to stave, through dream to work, and from symbol to physical form. Now my work with them is done.