by Paul W.
For a deeper exploration of the runes and their uses, consider my video course Vital Elements – a five hour series in which you will discover the mythical origins of the Elder Futhark and their potential uses and value in your life today.
No matter the man, no matter his aims, his life will be worthless without the first tool on this list, to be called on at need, and to drive him through the darkness of life: fire.
The cultivation of this internal power, this force that animates and fills us with the heat that we exchange in order to perform great deeds, and replenish with austerities, with sacrifices, with the primal rituals of our peoples and tribes – this is where one must begin who would set foot on the hero’s journey.
Fire is cultivated through acts of discipline. That which is difficult, and requires consistency and devotion. These come in the form of a personal code of conduct that is adhered to religiously – indeed, it is one’s religion, his true praxis. That which transcends word and becomes simply what one is. It is his daily regimen of strength and ordeal – the training of his physical body is an outward expression of his growing inner flame.
This fire will take many forms: it is our combined power, leverage, energy, and vital force. Our Northern European ancestors called this “Fe,” which was their word for cattle – at that time a symbol of man’s mobile wealth; the riches he had obtained through strength of arm and force of will, and with which he could get yet more.
They referred to gold as fire, also, in their poetic kennings, and did not scorn the attainment of wealth, as they knew battles are seldom won with an empty chest.
The true gold, however, is this fire within. The alchemical process of burning the challenges and trials and obstacles of this world in the furnace of our spirit, and utilizing each of them as more fuel – the more we overcome, the more powerful our discipline, the hotter our fire, the more we can undertake…and win.
These flames, however, must be married to a powerful will, lest they be uncontrollable and fickle – a wildfire that burns itself out in all directions, rather than a roaring fire that powers an unstoppable engine on its way to glory.
This will is our tenacity, our ability to remain consistent, our stubborn drive to simply continue as others fall away or lose heart, or their taste for blood.
The power of the bull, called “Ur,” a creature of sheer force and raw power.
When heat is married to this iron, it creates steel, and the dross is driven out to forge a human that is indomitable. We gain this tool through testing ourselves, through examining ourselves and seeking out the dross, to be beaten out by the hammer of overcoming. We wield the hammer on our own materials, and it is up to us what will be smithed.
“I shape my own life,” are the watchwords of the man who has found these two tools for himself.
Third, we must focus this combination of flame and steel. We must attain drive – that transformative power that stabs like a thorn in our side, knowing we cannot stop until we have attained our ideal self, and have become capable of attaining our ideal world.
This thorn is called “Thurs,” and is the third stave because it is the man who is formed from the combination of these other two things: flame and force given focus. We become a spearpoint of pure energy, and have fashioned ourselves into something that can now be thrust outwards, into the world, to transform it as well.
It is also the tool of understanding that the world is conflict, and only this: it is the giant, and the hammer that crushes his skull in a river of gore.
We must not fear this concept. It must drive us, and give us heart, knowing that our lives will never become “easy” until we die – it is the conflict, the struggle, that we are given over to, that drives us onward to greater acts of being and purpose.
Fourth, the hero must be initiated.
He must undergo the ecstatic ritual of his fathers, and his father’s fathers, and become the wolf-masked and war-ready member of the eternal Mannerbund – that which has forever stood on the edges of the empire and roared for its blood.
He must sacrifice himself unto himSelf: the giving of the lower, the pride and ego of the boy must be bled out, and become the dedication to the higher – the service of an ideal, of a tribe, of a people.
He becomes a speaker for the dead – his words are lightning, and strike to the heart of things.
Many will hear him, and take notice, and be won over to the cause that he lives in service of.
This is “As,” or “Ansuz,” the rune of the divine, of the ancestors, and of mastery over death.
The hero is now completely set on his path, and with these first four tools at his disposal, he moves into the world as a weapon – a smokeless fire given form and fury.
Next comes the wheel, the turning principle of Right Action and cosmic law. Hero understands the cyclical nature of time, and of the rune :T: as it sits in the words Tiwaz and Tradition. He is a servant of the righteous order of this world, and sits in terrible judgement and total war with the forces of chaos and entropy who seek to poison the world and everything in it.
The poison of the serpent, nor the jaws of the terrible wolf hold any fear for him – he fights because it is his purpose to fight them, whether this cycle will be one of victory or defeat; he knows there is a victory simply in continuing the fight.
The torch of “Kenaz” illuminates his thoughts and emanate from the center of his being: an enlightened mind and a shining spirit that radiates outward and is a blessing to those around him…hero approaches a turning point, where he becomes a leader.
This illumination is gained through experience and age, as well as a discerning eye that is ever watchful. It sears through the illusions of the age, and burns away all that is unworthy and filthy.
This fire is different from that of :F:, as it is not simply tapas, or vitality, but the clear and undying flame of exalted knowledge, vidhya – a combination of all his accumulated understanding and skill over the years of his life.
It is what has been revealed to him staring into the fire on long nights, and what he saw in his son’s eye as he was born, and knew that that eye was his own eye, and the eye of his father before.
It is the knowing of what words Herjan, the old wolf, spoke into his own son’s ear on his funeral ship.
It is one half of :JERA: the knowledge of time and space.
Having gained this, all that is left for the hero is to make his choice on the crossroads: will he leave this way of life behind, succumbing to the slowness of age, the softening of his edge, the questioning of his own life’s work and will? Will he walk down into the hills of his fathers, only able to say, “perhaps my son will do what I could not?”
Or will he take the other path on that X, called “Gebo,” and grasp the reddened flag of his purpose, and raise it high, caught up in the ecstatic dance of creation and destruction, and see his work through as a star that has come to fruition and ignites, lighting up the world and driving away all shadows, if only for a short while?
The path of the hero is not the path of the common man.
It is reserved only for those willing to burn.