I love Stan. It’s solid and closed and reminds me of large rocks and boulders and standing stones. Stan feels like family. I'm related in part to a long, ancestral line of imps who often made their homes in the windswept, rocky landscape of Northern Scotland.
Stan carries me back thousands of years to chambered rock cairns, to Stone Age tombs, to places such as Isbister, Tomb of the Eagles in the Orkneys. In these barren, isolated hills in the north of Scotland human bones and artifacts have been found, secreted away in tombs, piled together with the bones of white-tailed sea eagles, the eagle with the sunlit eye. Stan causes me to wonder what part these giant birds of prey played in the lives of my people? Were they sacred totems or powerful protectors who were interred with the ancestors to guard them in the afterlife? Were they connected somehow to the excarnation process, the tearing away of the flesh from the laid-out bodies?
The bones and rocks remember. If we learn up against them, lay our bodies on them, they will open to us and speak.
I had an amazing experience in Ireland in the spring of 2014 at Kernanstown Cromlech also known as the Brownshill Dolmen, County Carlow. This burial chamber that dates back almost 6000 years has a capstone still in place that's estimated to weigh 100 metric tons. It's believed to be the heaviest capstone in Europe. The chamber has never been excavated so it still holds all its secrets. I was asked by these enormous stones, pitted with age, covered in lichen and dripping with damp, to lay my body onto them so I could listen and hear.
Earlier in the day my friend Ken Edwards and I had spoken about the size of the megaliths we’d already seen on the island and wondered how ancient people had managed to move them over long distances and put them into place.
What the stones told me that day was this, ‘you trouble over much and miss the obvious. We are the living offspring of Ymir, who was killed and dismembered by his grandsons. We moved ourselves here to this place as did all the large stones in all the other places. We were sacred to your people. They communed with us and used our energy and power to support their lives. We have chosen to stay here in these forms, as keepers of the memories of all that has happened on this land and to its people. Some of us have grown weary and have fallen away. Some of us have been split apart and damaged and desecrated. We are family to the mountain giant Mimir. He has stood so long guarding his Sacred Well of Memory he has grown as living stone into the mountain just as we have grown into the landscape. We will open to you when you are ready.'
What could you learn from Stan by being willing to lay yourself, your body, up against it and listen? Is it a barrier or a guardian? Is it a megalith unmovable or a portal? What relationship do you have with the Jotnar, the elemental beings from the beginning of time?
The runes don’t belong to Odin. They’re not his, nor are they his to give. They existed shimmering and vibrating in the great universal matrix, the mother womb, long before he grabbed a handful of them from the web.
It’s time to take back, from Odin, that handful of runes and return them to the whole. Rather than looking at Odin’s actions as something favorable, why not shift perspective? What if his actions were about entitlement?
‘I’m going to do this great sacrificial thing and then I have the right to take some of the runes and claim them for myself. ‘
Rather than believing Odin did us a favor, why not consider the possibility that the scream came because he tore a hole in the gap when he wrenched the runes from the web?
If rune wisdom is universal wisdom that has existed from the beginning isn’t it available to all of us? Why would we need a god to make a sacrifice? Isn’t this just another ‘we should be so grateful-we need to be saved’ story?
Always working with the runes in reference to Odin dishonors them and in fact limits our ability to form and develop relationship with them ourselves.
The commonly accepted belief is that the Gar rune represents Odin’s spear, the one he used in his sacrificial ordeal. What was the wisdom of Gar before Odin?
One of the ways I see Gar is as the beautiful pattern that’s formed when the two runes Gebo and Ingwaz are bound together. I call it the gift of Ing. It’s very sexual in nature, the shape of the Ingwaz rune being the vaginal portal or opening with the Gebo rune laid on top. The slightest pressure on the center causes the four lines of Gebo to fold up toward each other making it possible to pass through to the other side. The offering, the gift, the sacrifice passed through the opening of fertility.
Gar is one of the most complex of rune shapes. For some it’s the ending rune, for others the beginning. For the runes, it’s both.
All the runes are tattooed on my arms with the exception of Gar. It’s tattooed on the back of my left hand right next to the dragon. Gar asked me one night to be silent and still so it could show me something. What I saw was how the god Ingvi Freyr was brought, long ago, to the British Isles by the Germanic tribes and how they worshiped and honored him each year by pulling him in a wagon around the countryside in a circuit that was formed by the shape of Gar. The rune pattern was superimposed over the entire island in such a way that it mirrored a star pattern that was present in the night sky at a certain time of year. As the wagon and the people followed the circuit they’d stop and perform a ritual at each point where the lines of the Gar rune intersected. These intersections were marked by standing stones that could be likened to needles inserted into acupuncture points. The rituals activated and insured the fertility of the land.
What can you see in the silence when the handful of runes are returned to the whole and the tear is mended?