The Runes of Rold Forest (free Ebook)
The Runes of Rold Forest
The Runes of Rold Forest is a combination of Nordic Runes and the Celtic Ogam Tree Alphabet (click the image to get a larger view).
Order of the runes: read from left to right, beginning with the top row.
The left top corner of each image starts with a rune. Below the rune you see a wood stave from each of the twenty-five trees represented by the Ogam alphabet. Each stave is carved with the appropriate Ogam letter.
Next to the rune and the wood stave is an image of the corresponding tree.
It is difficult to see on the photo, but each tree image seems to have a "face" - just like the Green Man, or variants on the theme, such as Tom Bombadil and the Ents in The Lord of the Rings.
This Ebook is a revised version of an earlier article, called Paranormal Phenomena Seen in Connection with Mystical Experiences. You can find the original article in my free Ebook: The Matrix Conspiracy - Part 1.
The Ebook is a back-up to my philosophical counseling practice in Rold Forest, Denmark, as well as my article, Nordic Shamanism and Forest Therapy.
In my philosophical counseling practice I offer five counseling forms: 1) Healing, 2) Divination, 3) Guindance Through Spiritual Crises, 4) Shamanic Counseling and 5) The Godgame. Healing and Divination are especially based on The Runes of Rold Forest, though the runes also will be implicated in the other counseling forms
Rold Forest was an ancient place of Freyja worship, and healing and divination with The Runes of Rold Forest is based on what I call Freyja´s Healing Cosmology and, Freyja´s Oracle, both of which I will present in this booklet. Finally, I will present a section about Freyja´s Moon Runes, which is about how The Runes of Rold Forest works in dreams.
The Runes of Rold Forest belongs to what I call "base magic". In my Healing and Divination practice, I combine this base magic with what I call "higher magic". Higher magic is Meditation as an Art of Life, but in Healing and Divination there is a focus on icon mysticism.
This Ebook is a presentation of the philosophy behind The Runes of Rold Forest. It is a personal account, but it will also be able to shred light on a more broad account of Nordic Shamanism.
Table of contents:
2) The Artist as Shaman
3) The Runes of Rold Forest
A) Introduction: Rold Forest was a place of
B) Freyja´s Healing Cosmology
C) Freyja´s Oracle
D) Philosophcal Counseling with The Runes of Rold Forest
4) Base Magic and Higher Magic
5) The World of Spirits
6) Energy and Consciousness
A) A Religious/Mythological Description of Metaphysics
B) A Non-religious Description of Metaphysics
7) The Kundalini Power and the World Tree
8) Karma: The Web of the Norns
9) Dreams: Freyja´s Moon Runes
A) Tolkien´s Use of Runes
B) Freyja´s Moon Runes
To begin a spiritual practice is to engage in a process of awakening (see my article Paranormal Phenomena seen in Connection With Spiritual Practice). In Zen, for example, it is said about the process of awakening: ”In the beginning mountains are mountains, and woods are woods. Then mountains no longer are mountains and woods are no longer woods. Finally, mountains are again mountains, woods are again woods.”
This refers to the three states the Wholeness can be in: sleep, dream, awake. When the Wholeness is sleeping, mountains are mountains and woods are woods. This is the reality of the ordinary consciousness (the Ego-consciousness). The ordinary consciousness can sleep in three ways: 1) the dark sleep, which is the Ego´s deep nightly sleep; 2) the grey sleep, which is the Ego´s nightly dreams and other dreams; 3) the light sleep, where the Ego is awake.
The three states in which the Wholeness can be in are also described as personal, collective and universal time. Furthermore, it can be referred to as personal, collective and universal history. Time and history constitute the structure under one’s thinking.
This structure is also called the astral plane, or the astral world. It is a plane of existence postulated both by classical (in particular neo-Platonic), medieval, oriental and esoteric philosophies and mystery religions. It is the world of the planetary spheres, crossed by the soul in its astral body, either through the dream state, on the way to being born or after death. This world is generally said to be populated by angels, demons, spirits or other immaterial beings.
The astral plane is connected with the so-called Akashic records. The Akashic records represent a compendium of mystical knowledge encoded in a non-physical plane of existence. These records are described as containing all knowledge of human experience and the history of the cosmos. They are holding a record of all events, actions, thoughts and feelings that have ever occurred or will ever occur.
The Akasha is an “astral light” containing occult records, which spiritual beings can perceive by their “astral senses” and “astral bodies”. Clairvoyance, spiritual insight, prophecy and many other metaphysical and religious notions are made possible by tapping into the Akashic records. They are metaphorically described as a library. They can be accessed through astral projection, meditation, near-death experience, lucid dreaming, or other means.
A shaman is a person who is able to, either tapping into the Akasha, or travelling into the astral worlds
The Akashic records are synonymous with the Wholeness, and as mentioned: the Wholeness can be in three states of spiritual awakening - sleep, dream, awake – which again can be described as personal, collective and universal time (or history). These states are intimately connected to the states of awakening in any single human being.
The collective history of the astral plane is, as a matter of fact, creating a subject-field and an object-field. But this is not reality since it is based on self-image and world-image, therefore an illusion, a poetic work of mankind, as pointed out both in Buddhist and Indian philosophy. The collective images appear as fragmented sequences in past and future. They are also characterized by complementary polarities and dualities. They move in cycles. In shamanism you could call it, The Great Cycle, Urd´s Web, or, The Web of the Norns.
The universal history of the astral plane is, contrary to the collective history, an expression of reality itself and it is the Akashic records when not influenced by human thought distortions (see my book A Dictionary of Thought Distortions). As such, it is not human made. In Yogacara Buddhism, they use the term Alaya-Vijnana, the common universal storeroom of consciousness, which doesn't consist of anything else than forms, the carrier of all latent possibilities and the store place for all accumulated tendencies. It is the foundation for the activity of the mind, and because it always is changeable, dynamic, and, at the same time, continuous, homogeneous (oneness), it can´t be understood by the thinking.
Nonetheless, the universal history is of linguistic kind, where language is no longer verbal, but expressed as superior, visionary syntheses and Wholeness, that work more in synchronism with the Now than in sequences in past and future. In shamanism you could call it: The Great Vision, The Great Mystery, The Dreamtime, or The Otherworld. In Christianity you could call it: The Thoughts of God.
Both the collective, and universal history, are images in time.
We can now talk about symbols and symbolizing. There exist two types of symbols, dependent on whether it is the collective images, or the universal images, which are lying as foundation for the symbol.
A mystical experience is happening when astral energies and content arrive to the consciousness, either from the collective images, or from the universal images.
When energy and content arrive to the consciousness from the collective images, then this energy, and this content, will symbolize itself. This is because the collective images are in a condition of vague, diffuse, astral oneness. Therefore, what is coming from the collective images contains a much greater width and depth than the limited, relatively narrow and clear concepts and classes of the ordinary consciousness. The vague, wide contents and energies from the collective images are therefore growing narrower in the meeting with the consciousness. Here, the symbol is the quintessence, this shortened, condensed form of expression of the vague, wide collective material.
The other types of symbols are coming from the universal images, and therewith from reality and truth itself. All reality, which shall mirror itself in the superficial mind, will automatically symbolize itself. Again the symbol is a telescoping, a representation of the information quantities, and the greater clarity, which are connected with reality.
Symbols originating from the collective images reproduce a more vague, more imprecise, but richer organic astral oneness. Symbols from the universal images reproduce a clearer, more precise and superior astral oneness. The more vague astral oneness, or the more precise astral oneness, shows itself in symbolic form in the dividing, separating structure of consciousness.
Symbols from the collective images (The Great Cycle, Urd´s Web) are known from the archetypes and primordial images of the dreams, as well as from fantasies, fairy-tales, myths etc.
Symbols from the universal images (The Great Vision/Mystery, Dreamtime, the Otherworld, God´s Thoughts) are formed in the transition from the Wholeness of the observer and the observed, to the separation of the observer and the observed (in my book A Portrait of a Lifeartist the relation between the observer and the observed is a central issue).
What reality in itself contains, is real in this dimension, neither symbolic, nor linguistic; however, when reality becomes unreality in the separation of the observer and the observed, it narrows, looses clarity and light, is being muted to the split consciousness, and that – which in reality was truth – will transmute itself to symbols. That which is truth in reality and presence, is symbolic in unreality and absence. It is therefore very difficult for the universal images to communicate themselves to an ordinary absent consciousness. It requires, that you yourself do your part of the spiritual work.
In summary, there exist symbols both from the collective and universal images of time and they are manifestations of these images.
Symbols from the collective images are, as already mentioned, shortened, condensed modes of expression from a subordinate, vague, diffuse and imprecise astral time unit, which moves in fragmented sequences in past and future and in complementary polarities; or said differently: in cycles (see my article What is Karma?). This is however not the same as directly experiencing the collective time´s astral images and worlds without the intermediate state of the symbols. Here the consciousness has to be in an astral state.
Symbols (and energies) from the collective images are, if you, for example, have created an unbalanced opening of the upper chakras, the cause of spiritual crises such as kundalini, para-psychic opening, Hero´s journey, shamanic initiation, channeling, close encounters with UFOs, breakthrough of memories from past lives, near-death experiences, possession states, oneness-consciousness/peak experiences, and many phenomena in relation to alcohol and drug abuse (see my articles Spiritual Crises as the Cause of Paranormal Phenomena, Paranormal Phenomena seen in Connection with Clairvoyance, and Paranormal Phenomena seen in Connection with Channeling).
Symbols from the universal images are of a completely different character. They reproduce a much clearer, more precise and superior astral Wholeness. It is from these symbols you can receive direct teachings about your spiritual development process.
When you have trained meditation and dream yoga for many years, a so-called divine being can visit you through a symbol from the universal images: Christ, Buddha, masters, teachers, angels. Note that these of course also can come from the collective images – the difference is explained below.
Such a symbol is a quintessence of the information quantities contained in the Wholeness of a universal image. The divine being will in that way convey information to you from the universal image, which, together with the whole of the universal vision, constitutes the dreaming tracks and songlines in the artwork of your life. The divine being (or other symbols from the universal images) will in that way help you to compose, to synthesize and interlock, what your inner thinker in the waking state has divided. But it is very important to understand that this has nothing do with the channeling phenomenon, which belongs to the collective images. In order to receive help from a divine being you must be very close to enlightenment yourself.
Our suffering, our painbody is connected, through the inner evaluating ego which the painbody is constructed around, with the more dangerous depths of the astral plane´s collective history. This represents a kind of dark, ancient inertia, which opposes any change of the ego (see my article The Emotional Painbody and why Psychotherapy Can´t Heal It).
That is also the reason why you, through therapy, can´t heal Man from the ground. In order to heal Man from the ground you need to go into a spiritual practice. It is only within the religions and their spiritual traditions that they have knowledge and names for the more dark sides of the astral plane´s collective history. The West has very precisely called this factor the original sin. The East has called it negative karma. The concepts indicate, that the inertia projects beyond the personal history (growing up conditions, traumatic bindings, painful experiences etc.) and far down into the collective inherited backgrounds of history (genes, environment, society-ideals, the archetypes and the primordial images of the dreams, fantasies, fairy-tales, myths, and finally: instincts inherited from the animals). It is a factor, which lies in the evolution itself, in the genes, in the collective subconscious, in the collective history.
Therefore, when therapy requires a change, then the instinctive survival-preparedness in us reacts and protests. Man has survived on willfulness and a consciousness-structure, of which mental and psychic sign is Egocentredness. The bigger the Ego, the bigger survival chance.
Seen from a spiritual perspective, this instinctive survival strategy (the Ego) appears as a resistance, an invincible inertia: original sin, negative karma. You can´t, by therapeutic strategies, free the consciousness from its attachment to this inertia. Therefore you cannot dissolve or convert the original sin through therapy. Only the intervention of the Source (God, Christ, the enlightened consciousness, the Great Mystery) can basically help Man with a transcendence of the negative karma of the original sin. But in order for a human being to be able to receive this help from the Source (gift of grace), this requires an eminently precise and profound preparation. Subsequently, the true spiritual practice within the religions serves as part of this preparation (see my article The Value of Having a Religion in a Spiritual Practice).
So, when you in this way do your part of the work, then you will discover that the enlightened consciousness (God, Christ, Buddha), already have cleansed the negative karma and taken on, and forgiven, the original sin. All enlightened teachers of this Earth (Rumi, Krishna, Francis of Assisi, Rabia, Meera, Yeshe Tsogyel, Teresa of Avila) are doing the same: they take on the original sin and are purifying it for us.
2) The Artist as Shaman
We know that shamans are intermediaries between the spirits/nature and the human world. Also artists speak to and for the spirits.
In my article The Connection Between Shamanic Healing and Creative Unfoldment, I quote Mary Silvester, who writes that one theme in Terri Windling´s novel The Wood Wife is that the spirit beings wear shapes given to them; in the novel it is the artists, the painters and poets, who create those shapes. This idea is echoed in other literature. That the artists give the spirits shapes to wear becomes more and more evident as the novel progresses. Silvester writes that it is when the artist becomes a shaman, whether they are aware of it or not, that they gain the power to shape the fairies or spirits, and to shape the perception of others who see the beings.
The collective images should in other words not be understood as Jungian archetypes, but as something in between Plato´s archetypes (objective universal images in the external world), and the personal images. They can have consciousness, and they work bidirectional. They are being given shapes by the personal images, but are also external forces.
In the American spiritual teacher, Mary Shutan´s book, The Shamanic Workbook I, she writes, that if you want to work with spirits you need to start with the spirits closest to your conditioned layers of reality, which means family, ancestors, and cultural roots. At the same time, she constantly understates the importance of discernment, which basically means critical thinking.
This is what I try to do in my Philosophical Counseling pratice. I have written about the importance of having a religion in a spiritual practice, a frame of reference which can create direction in your mind, power lines where energy can travel. All religions must have a shamanic root in nature and own culture. From there you can move on to the universal images.
In relation to finding your roots and ancestors, I personally subscribe to Nordic Shamanism. The Nordic shamanic tradition is part of the vast phenomenon called circumpolar shamanism made up primarily of different brands of Siberian, Inuit and Saami shamanism. The Saami spiritual tradition arose in the northern areas of Scandinavia and survives to this day as a living tradition in the northernmost areas of Norway, Sweden and Finland. Nordic shamanism arose further south in Scandinavia among peoples of Indo-European origin.
During long periods of time these traditions met and intermingled and today you can find many similarities between Saami shamanism and Nordic shamanism although both have very specific traits that differ. The last traces of the Nordic shamanic tradition faded away with the old men and women practicing popular medicine in the countryside towards the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. My great grand-father was one of those.
Since the early 1980’s however there is an ongoing effort to recreate and renew the Nordic shamanic tradition with the help of core shamanic methods and with inspiration from the Saami tradition. One essential element of this effort is rune magic based on the original uthark system consisting of 24 runes.
In my Ebook, Philosophical Counseling with Tolkien, in Chapter 1, Metaphysics, Part B 2: Ontological Pluralism, I explain how reality is made up of many different kinds of things, and that we must admit this. We may be stuck saying that the world is pluralistic, and, what´s more, we may have to appeal to many different explanations in order to make sense of our very real and everyday complex world. It is necessary to create heart felt symbols (links, dream keys), in which the lines are created where higher energy can travel. The deity needs a form (or many) to communicate. Manifestation is possible in a multitude of ways.
For example: around ethical highly placed spiritual teachers, there seem to be formed existential mandala-structures, which, as great energy-whirls, canalize highly growth-advancing energy and consciousness-waves from the Source (the Now, life itself). These mandala-structures necessarily have to arrange themselves after the collective images´ polarization-patterns in past and future, whereby the lines are formed, which the energy and the transmissions can follow into the personal images, which after all also only work in past and future.
These energy-mandalas are in religious art archetypical portrayed in for example the classic configurations around Christ (the four evangelists and their symbolical power) and Buddha (the Dyani-Buddhas with their esoterical figures). We give them the symbols through which they can express themselves. In the same way with the Gods. The Celts, for example, had many gods as their concept of the divine had many faces. This is another hidden quality in Celtic art and magic: multiple points of views. Let´s remember Joseph Campbell´s masterpiece: The Hero With a Thousand Faces.
I consider the energy aspect of the world to be a sea of images, and the gods express themselves in the symbols we give them. Ontological pluralism is therefore not relativism, since it admits a bidirectional movement (we are only partly creating the world). We live in a challenge and reaction relationship with the external world, or, as the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber said: An I-Thou relationship.
3) The Runes of Rold Forest
As mentioned: two of my philosophical counseling forms are Healing and Divination. They are especially based on The Runes of Rold Forest.
Rold Forest is an ancient place of Freyja worship, and healing and divination with The Runes of Rold Forest are based on Freyja´s Healing Cosmology and, Freyja´s Oracle. This is what I call "base magic". This base magic is combined with what I call "higher magic". Higher magic is Meditation as an Art of Life, but in healing and divination there is a focus on icon mysticism. But, as mentioned: all counseling forms are interconnected: read more about base magic and higher magic in the following chapters.
This chapter is divided into four parts:
A) Introduction: Rold Forest was a place of Freyja worship
B) Freyja´s Healing Cosmology
C) Freyja´s Oracle
D) Philosophical Counseling with The Runes of Rold Forest
A) Introduction: Rold Forest was a Place of Freyja Worship
In the Danish nobel prize winner, Johannes V. Jensen´s novel, The Long Journey, the main character is a shaman-scald, Norna-Gest. He lives much longer than 300 years. He is a main figure through the whole of the novel. He seems to be in some kind of inner tantra process. Women, both Norns and other goddesses, as well as mothers, mistresses, etc., are central in his fate, in his decision of when to light his candle. Norna-Gest is a scald and seem to sing the whole story. The story tells the background story about the Cimbri, the ancient Celtic/Germanic tribe that came from the areas of Rold Forest, and which is my ancestors.
So, Rold Forest both has a Germanic past and a Celtic past. A special inspiration is the so-called "Gundestrup Cauldron", a Celtic masterpiece, which was found in a bog near Rold Forest, by my uncle´s grandfather, Jens Sørensen, in 1891 (read more in my article: Nordic Shamanism and Forest Therapy).
In order to ensure that the stories of this Celtic past will be a part of the counseling, I will be using oracles and tarots from Hallowquest, the official website of the British shamans, Caitlín and John Matthews. Together they, with a high degree of both scholarship and wisdom, explore the myths and traditions of Britain and Ireland, uncovering the Celtic and Arthurian mysteries, exploring shamanic wisdom, and creating rituals that honour the ancestral ways, to tell the ancient stories that our descendants will remember.
The oracles and tarots from Hallowquest are decorated with amazing art, often depicting images from the Gundestrup Cauldron. One of their oracles, The Ancestral Oracle of the Celts, are directly based on the Gundestrup Cauldron.
I therefore combine Hallowquest tools with Nordic runes, hereunder Nordic/Danish folklore and storytelling. More about that below,
When I had my kundalini awakening during a dream, Norna-Gest was featured. And, when I accepted my kundalini awakening, and my life in Rold Forest, I began to dream about the Nordic goddesses, The Disir. I have written about all that in my article: Seiðr Shamanism and the Art of Song Healing. I will also write more about it in the last chapter.
It is in this connection I feel very attracted to witchcraft. The main goddess of the Disir, is Freyja.
But there are more to this: In my booklet, The Nine Gates of Middle-earth, I shortly tell about the "coincidences" (synchronicities/progressive karma) that led me back to my mother´s and grandmother´s forest. But lately there is beginning to happen more strange things. I have namely discovered, that Rold Forest originally was a natural place of worship of the Nordic Goddess, Freyja. The still living storyteller of Rold Forest, Helge Qvistorff, has in his books on Rold Forest, investigated names in Rold Forest, and traced them back to Old Norse. The name Freyja occurs in several names. In a small bog in Rold Forest, there was also found a wooden figure of a goddess. The archaeologist, Peter Riismøller, called the figure: Frøya from Rebild. He writes:
These discoveries are clearly those of gods and goddesses lying besides their altars. But is it possible for us to give their names? We know from the sagas that in the Viking Period the Scandinavians worshipped, in addition to the warrior Asa-gods, the more peaceful Vana-gods, the spirits of the weather, of land and sea, of the family of Njord. And Tacitus gives us a picture of this Njord, or Nerthus, as a goddess of fertility. Concerning Njord's children, Frøy and Frøya, who were also man and wife, many scandalous verses have survived telling of their sexual adventures, and countless more, now lost, were said by Adam of Bremen to have been sung before the phallic statue of Frøy at Upsala. Clearly a god and a goddess of fertility were worshipped throughout the Iron Age, and until valid counter-arguments are found it may be permitted to call these simple representations by the names of Frøy and Frøya.
In her article, Songs of Enchantment - The Legacy of the Seiðr Tradition, the Danish shamanic teacher, Annette Høst, uncovers the early northern European shamanic tradition of Seiðr and magic chanting and looks at what it has to offer us for empowerment and healing. Høst writes that our only written sources are bits and pieces in Norse myths and sagas from late Viking age, but the tradition probably has much earlier origins, with roots in Germanic fertility cult and early shamanism.
The above-mentioned Disir belongs to a group of gods called The Vanir. In ancient Celtic religion they are called The Sidhe, or more popular: the Faery. They are the Divine Ancestors. They are closely associated with poetry and music. In her book, Jorden Synger – Naturens Kraft of Nordiske Rødder, Annette Høst describes ”alferne” (basically meaning ”elves” – see Wikipedia: Alfar) as spirits of nature. However, she also claims that in the old Nordic spiritual tradition they didn´t discriminate much between gods and spirits. In Old Nordic tradition, and in several sagas, “alferne” are closely connected to the fertility god Frey. Frey´s mythical home is called Alfheim, and he is celebrated at the festival called Alfablot. Both Frey and his sister Freyja are of the family of gods called Vanir, which area of work is peace, fertility and magic. In old Nordic scripts, the whole of that family is sometimes called “alfer” (elves) instead of Vanir. So, in the old Nordic tradition, the fertility gods were very close connected to the spirits of nature.
Again Annette Høst is talking about something I clearly recognize. In an article, Keep it Close to Nature, Karen Kelly interviews Høst on Seiðr:
KK: Does This Mean That In Order to Practise Seiðr We Need to Follow the Religion of the Vikings?
AH: I am glad that you bring this up because I think that this question lingers maybe unconsciously in many people’s minds. I’ll put it this way: A lot of the research connects the tradition of seiðr with the Viking Age, with the Aesir deities and especially with Odin. This is without considering the fact that seiðr is much older than the Vikings, much older than the Aesir gods. I would rather go behind the filter and structure of any religion in my seiðr working to the source of the spirits and powers of Nature. That is the same for us as for the old ones - it is timeless. I don’t see seiðr as being necessarily part of any religion. I really want to emphasise connecting it to the power and spirit of Nature rather than any religion.
If we should relate seiðr to a religion it would be much more relevant to link it to the older fertility religion and the Vanir. They are the earlier Nordic gods and spirits concerned with fertility, sexuality, magic, peace and abundance. We know the main deities of the Vanir: Frey, Freyja and Njord. But what is interesting is that they were inseparable from groups of spirits of the land and Nature. Frey is connected with the Elves (alfar), Freyja with the Disir and sometimes the whole group of Vanir is called Elves. So they are much closer to the Earth and shamanism than any later Nordic gods. I think most people don’t really know about the Vanir, so they have not yet been the object of romantic interest, but they are much more in harmony with some important aspects of seiðr, such as the ecstasy and ergi.
However now that we know how a seiðr works I prefer to let go of all that historical fringe and concentrate on the timeless aspect of seiðr. We are not recreating the past.
All this seems to fall completely into my own intuitions and dreams. In the Tibetan tantra traditions (for example Dream yoga), they have a sacred female spirit, called a Dakini. This spirit is very similar to the Celtic Sidhe, and the Scandinavian Vanir (the female Vanir is called Disir). More about later.
Helge Qvistorff writes in his book, that he believes that if archaeological work was allowed in Rold Forest, we would find several temples devoted to Freyja. He believes that one of them is located on the top of the hills of Rebild. Today there is a road from the top of Rebild Hills down to Gravlev Valley (also called Lindenborg Stream Valley). The actual name of the valley is Hørgdalen. And the word "hørg" or "harg" is old norse and means a place with many stones, mountain peaks, springs, sacrificial altars, sacrificial houses or shrines - especially for goddesses.
According to Qvistorff, it is therefore more than likely that "Hørgdalen" (Gravlev Valley) has been a holy valley, and that there has been a temple for Freyja on the "mountain peak" (the top of the hills). Probably some place in Rebild where there has been a view over the valley.
Look at the below photo from Gravlev Valley. It is taken from the church Gravlev Kirke, which, precisely like many other middle age churches in Denmark, is build upon an ancient temple to the Nordic Gods. On Gravlev church you´ll find the grave of sculptor Anders Bundgaard, who made "Gefion Fountain" in Copenhagen, and "Cimbrian Bull" in Aalborg (the actual sculpture of the Cimbrian Bull is located in the Mines of Thingbæk, which are situated near Gravlev Church). The sculpture of the girl is called "Hedepigen" ("The Heath Girl"). She is looking directly towards Ravnkilde (Ravenspring), a holy spring situated below the old beech wood on the other side of Gravlev Valley. In that connection, read my blog post: How Ravenspring Got It´s Name.
In Rold Forest you can experience Freyja in many forms. Try to go to Bjergeskoven. In Bjergeskoven (the Mountains forest), the terrain falls 85 meters from the highest point of the burial mounds Pigs High to Gravlev Valley´s base just 1 km away. Here, the forest varies from tall pines on the high parties, the younger hardwood forest to the ancient twisted and gnarled beech forest that one associates with the name Mountains forest.
Mountains forest gnarled and often many stemmed beeches tells of miserable upbringing and exploitation. When the state took over the forest for the tax debt in 1826, it could hardly be called a forest, total felling notch and impoverished as it was. The forest has licked the wounds and now stands as a picturesque memory and beautiful natural scenery for a rich ground flora with calcicoles plants.
When you wander among 2-300 years old beech, you might suddenly come to an encircling fence, which even are watched by video cameras. Within the fence you can experience the forest pearl orchid Lady's Slipper, not surprisingly also called Freyja´s Slipper by the locals. Europe's largest and rarest orkide survive in its bower, to shield against illegal opgarvning. Visit the site last week in May when everything is bright green and Lady cow beautiful flowers peaks. Freyja´s Slipper only bloom fourteen days each year.
Qvistorff also believes that the church “Fræer Kirke” might be build upon an old Freya temple. Fræer church is lying just north of where I live. My first trip to this church, was almost like a Grail quest.
It is no coincidence that I write that it was like a Grail quest. Because when I was in progress of discovering Rold Forest´s link to an ancient Freyja worship, I was also in progress of studying the Grail mystery. The quest that comes most readily to people´s minds is namely that of the Grail, which has become associated with the cup of The Last Supper - a relic that brought healing, divine gnosis and the heart´s desire. In this context the Grail was the cup used by Christ to celebrate the Last Supper and the first Eucharist.
In my booklet, The Nine Gates of Middle-earth, I wrote about synchronicities/progressive karma in connection with the above-mentioned Gravlev Church. The synchronicity/progressive karma feeling also came when I entered Fræer church, and walked down to the altarpiece. The central altarpiece was a painting of Jesus at the Home of Martha and Mary. On the two wings there was written this quotation:
And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me."
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you (Luke 22:19-20)
The Last Supper is the foundation for the Eucharist symbol. This event both has an exoteric and esoteric side. The bread is Christ´s body, the wine is Christ´s blood. Therefore, when you eat this bread and drink this wine, then you absorb Christ in you; you are getting one with the energy of Christ. The exoteric side is that you only do this in order to remember Christ. The esoteric side is the mystical practice, where you actually are being united with Christ in the heart and in the enlightened consciousness. Something similar is happening in the so-called Mary mysticism, which for example is practiced on Mount Athos in Greece.
As I described in my article, Nordic Shamanism and Forest Therapy, the Grail story begins in the Celtic past, as a cauldron [!] giving the food most desired, or healing, immortal life and wisdom.
In the book, The Lost Book of the Grail - The Sevenfold Path of the Grail and the Restoration of the Faery Accord, Caitlin and John Matthews write about two appearances of the Grail. They write:
[...] Within this book, we will term these two appearances of the Grail, "the Faery Grail" and "the Holy Grail." These are not two different vessels but rather two appearances of the same Grail. The Faery Grail represents the earlier, folk tradition of the cup, which is entirely to do with the relationship of humans with faeries and the earth: we will explore its context and antecedents in chapters 4 and 6. The Holy Grail represents the Arthurian cup, which has taken Christian coloration, and with which most people are more familiar (page 17).
The two appearances could be seen in relation to my booklet, The Nine Gates of Middle-earth, which is a depiction of the nine chakras. I call the first chakra, the Earth chakra (beneath the body), or Mother Earth (the Faery Grail). I call the last chakra, the Heaven chakra (over the body), or Father Heaven (the Holy Grail).
Furthermore: in my article: The Compass - The Forgotten Secret of Hara Healing, I refer to the depiction of Hara Healing, which you´ll find in Chinese philosophy (Taoism). Here the concept of Hara is known as the lower Tan Tien. The lower Tan Tien is also called the “medicine field” or “elixir field,” as it gathers and contains the healing power of Chi. Other names for it are the “ocean of Chi,” the “sea of energy,” the “cauldron,” and the “navel center.” The use of the expressions “ocean” and “sea” refer to the wavelike quality of Chi. The expression “cauldron” refers to the function of the lower Tan Tien as the center of internal alchemy that transforms energy (have a look at the images of "The Embryo of Buddhahood" and, "The Embryo of Virgin Mary").
B) Freyja´s Healing Cosmology
In philosophy, there are two aspect of metaphysics: cosmology and ontology.
Cosmology deals with the world as the totality of space, time and all phenomena. Historically, it has had quite a broad scope, and in many cases was founded in religion. The ancient Greeks did not draw a distinction between this use and their model for the cosmos. However, in modern use metaphysical cosmology addresses questions about the Universe which are beyond the scope of science. It is distinguished from religious cosmology in that it approaches these questions using philosophical methods like logic and reasoning.
To say it a bit simpler: cosmology is about the Wholeness. In shamanism this is very simply symbolized with the circle. And the word "healing" means to make whole. Wholeness and healing are interconnected.
Ways to communicate with the Thou (Dreamtime, The Thoughts of God, God, The Enlightened Consciousness), is, in my philosophical counseling practice, rune magic and icon mysticism. Rune Magic is a way of communicating with, and influencing the collective images in time (The Great Cycle, Urd´s Web). Icon Mysticism is a way of communicating with, and influencing the universal images in time (The Great Vision, Dreamtime, The Thought of God).
Rune Magic is based on a balancing ethics, and a way of dealing with compensatory karma (in my booklet, Mythology Seen in Relation to Dungeons and Dragons - I give, in the last part, a description of the alignment system of Dungeons and Dragons, which could be compared to the alignment systen of Runes: an ethics of balance).
Icon Mysticism is based on an ethics of love and grace, and a way of dealing with progressive karma. I won´t go further into icon mysticism in this article (read about icon mysticism in my articles: My Icons, and The Spiritual Practice of Icons. Read about grace in my article: The Value of Having a Religion in a Spiritual Practice).
I will return to the concept of karma.
Just a few more words about runes and cosmology. I will use the Swedish shaman, Jörgen I Eriksson´s theory of runes, simply because it matches the cosmology, I myself has developed. In his article, The Runes – A Shamanic Tool from Dreamtime, Eriksson writes about the runes:
I regard the runes as one of six sacred rites that were given as a gift from the holy beings in Dreamtime, in “distant times”. Unfortunately there is no living oral tradition about these rites but you can find references to them in different songs in The Poetic Edda. I must state that this book is a book of poems and not a religious document or shamanic handbook, but it contains fragments of very old stories and myths holding lots of shamanic knowledge. The sacred rites are utiseta (vision quest), blot (ceremony), seidr (soul journeying), galder (magic singing), ordskifte (wisdom competition) and rune magic which is the mother of all the other rites.
The runes have been used as a system of magic for at least 2000 years when skilled people made runic inscriptions on knives, spears, bracelets and cups for protection, victory and wellbeing. Many other ways of using them are described in the Edda songs. The original use of the runes was undoubtedly magic, purely magic. This use is much different and should not be mixed up with the use of runes on commemorative stones – a tradition that blossomed during the so called Viking age, 900-1100 C.E. especially in the central parts of Sweden. The rune stones represent an exoteric use of runes as an abstract alphabet. The esoteric, magical use of the runes was still performed as a more or less secret tradition among initiated rune magicians, rune masters.
Many scholars describe the runes as a rune row, but the runes should not be perceived as a linear system. The runes are cyclical, dynamic processes, living entities with will and personality. They can’t be portrayed as “a row”. Bear these things in mind if you read any books on rune magic.
Eriksson usually describes the runes as esoteric knowledge of Mother Earth, for Mother Earth. They are sacraments from Dreamtime, brought into this world as gifts from holy people like the norns, Odin and many others. This process is described in The Seeress’s Prophecy, the first song in The Poetic Edda:
I know an ash standing, her name is Yggdrasil,
a high tree, soaked with limpid water:
from there come the dews which fall in the valleys,
ever green it stands over Urd’s well.
From there come maidens, much knowing,
three from the hall, which stands under the tree;
Urd one is called, Verdandi another,
- they carved on wood - Skuld is the third:
they set down laws, they allot lives,
they pronounce the fates of the sons of men.
The three “maidens” are the three norns – Urd, Verdandi and Skuld – who weave the cosmic web, Urd’s web, that everything is embedded in. In the process of weaving they are carving on wooden slips, which means that they are weaving the cosmic web using runes. So, in the Nordic shamanic tradition the runes are very much connected to female powers (which also indicates their connection to meditation: passive listening presence). Therefore, it seems completely natural to me to associate The Runes of Rold Forest with Freyja.
But they are not exclusively brought into this world by female powers. Eriksson says that the runes do balance female and male energies and beside the norns the runes are much connected to Odin and his shamanic initiation, hanging in the world tree (Yggdrasill) for nine consecutive days and nights without food or drink and wounded by his own spear. This is described in Sayings of the High One:
I know that I hung on a wind-blown tree,
nine long nights,
with a spear wounded, and to Oden dedicated,
myself to myself.
Bread no one gave me, nor a horn of drink,
downward I peered,
I took up the runes, wailing I took them,
then fell down thence.
Then I began to quicken and be wise,
and to grow and to prosper;
one word found another word for me,
one deed found another deed for me.
Odin “took up” the runes, which means that he received them from Mother Earth and by saying that he took them “wailing”, he shows that the runes primarily are about sound – the holy wind, önd, vibrating through our vocal cords. Odin also describes the runes as stained by the mighty sage, made by the powerful gods, carved out by the runemaster of the gods:
Odin for the Aesir, and Dain, for the elves,
Dalin for the dwarfs,
Asvid for the giants,
I myself carved some.
This secret knowledge is spread out in many dimensions of the non-ordinary reality, in Dreamtime. There is a very beautiful description of where you can find the runes in the Edda song The Lay of Sigrdrifa, where the valkyrie (warrior woman) Sigrdrifa teaches a young man, Sigurd, about the runes:
They are, it said, on the shield carved,
which stands before the shining god,
or Arvaker’s ear and on Alsvinn’s hoof,
on the wheel which rolls under Rögne’s chariot,
on Sleipner’s teeth and on the sledge’s strap-bands,
on the bear’s paw and on Brage’s tongue,
on the wolf’s claw and the eagle’s beak,
on bloody wings and on the bridge’s end,
on hands which deliver and on the healer’s track,
on glass and on gold and on amulets of men,
in wine and in wort, and on the seat of rest,
on the point of Gungner and the breast of Grane,
on the nail of the Norn and the beak of the owl.
All were shaved off that were carved in,
and mingled with the sacred mead,
and sent on wide ways:
they are with the Asar, they are with the elves,
some with the wise Vaner,
some with humankind.
Eriksson says that Sigrdrifa mentions 24 places where the runes have been carved – one for each rune. They are all sorts of places: from the shield before the sun and the horses Arvaker and Alsvinn who pulls the sun across the sky to the claws, paws and beaks of wild (and shamanic) animals like the wolf, the bear, the eagle and the owl. And the runes have been sent wide ways among several different kinds of sacred beings. They are everywhere all the time.
According to Eriksson, the runes contain knowledge from all dimensions in Dreamtime and from all sorts of creatures in ordinary reality. Each of the 24 runes represents a separate power that is essential to the world as we know it. The uthark has its name after the “first” five runes: Ur, the creative primordial force, Thurs, the destructive primordial force, Ass, the holy wind, life-giving power, Reid, the power creating order, Ken, the power of fire and heat.
So, Eriksson uses the so-called Uthark theory. Here is Eriksson´s description (in a short version):
There are runes representing the four directions (or the six directions if you prefer), the seasons, day and night, Mother Earth, Father Heaven, the sun, minerals, plants, animals, water, rain, snow, ice, sexuality, fertility, planting, harvesting, harmony, love, joy, happiness, sacrifice, death, the shaman, transformation etc.
By using the runes you can tap into the knowledge and power of Mother Earth and of non-ordinary reality. The runes are doorways to Dreamtime. By sounding them, by singing them, you enter into an altered state of consciousness where you are accessible to the knowledge and power of Mother Earth and Dreamtime. Several traditional shamanic ways can be used to gain insight into the wisdom of the runes, e. g. spirit journeying to the realms in non-ordinary reality where runic knowledge is to be found (I guess most shamans would call this the upper world), vision quests together with runes, sleeping on runes, dreaming on runes or just contemplating runes, breathing runes or carrying runes (you carry wooden runes with you for a certain time).
When you have become skilled in using the runes you can contemplate them and depict them at the same time as you sing them, thereby reinforcing their power. Every rune has a specific sound and is connected to a specific cosmic vibration so by singing a rune you get access to the power connected to that specific rune. By singing e. g. gifu, the harmony rune, you bring your whole being into interplay with a strong harmonizing energy. By singing lagu, you connect to water and the powers of water, the night and the moon. By singing the whole uthark, all the 24 runes, you bring your being in harmony with all that is.
How do you sing the runes? Is that the same thing as reciting so called rune poems, that can be found in Icelandic as well as Anglo-Saxon traditions? Eriksson says no:
[...] this is not about reciting rune poems, which often have lost much of the original magic essence of the runes. This is about sounding the runes in a way that resonates with your body, with the environment, with “your” landscape, with Mother Earth and with Dreamtime. You just let the runes stream through your vocal cords and when doing that the runes will decide how to sound – low or high, shrill or somber, loud or soft. When singing the whole uthark you start with the first rune and continue through the system to the last rune with one following the other in an organic way, with one hooking into the next one. The most common way to sing the whole uthark is to do it three, four, six or nine rounds. All this means that the runes will be sung in different ways on different occasions.
How do you pronounce the runes? Eriksson says:
In Cosmology of the Uthark you can see their names and their pronunciations (which are identical) right after each rune sign. I pronounce them in Swedish. Danes, Norwegians and Icelanders will pronounce them somewhat different. How should an English speaking person pronounce them? My suggestion is: by trying to sound them with their Nordic names and letting the runes decide what works. I don’t think that it is possible to construct a workable phonetic system for the runes, but knowledge in German or Dutch ways of pronouncing might be of help. If you want to know how to sound and sing the runes you can listen here.
What about the meanings of the different runes? Eriksson says:
Where have I picked them up? The short explanations in Cosmology of the Uthark are very much based on traditional knowledge that has been expressed in the Edda songs and older literature on the runes. But what I write about the meaning of runes is to a great extent the result of many years of work with the runes, some of it done with core shamanic methods, i e by shamanic journeying. For a long period of time I was a member of a very ambitious and energetic group of shamans working close together to revive the Nordic shamanic tradition. Finding out about the runes, discussing the runes, using the runes was one of the main efforts of this group. What I write here is accordingly part of a collective body of knowledge. And remember: the word runa is about secret knowledge. There are things about the runes that are not to be disclosed even today.
How come that sound is so essential in Nordic shamanism? Part of the explanation can be found in the first song in The Poetic Edda when the seeress, who is a shaman, tells about the creation of the world out of emptiness:
Young were the years when Ymir made his settlement,
there was no sand nor sea nor cool waves;
earth was nowhere nor the sky above,
chaos yawned, grass was there nowhere.
Ymir is the first creature to be created out of the vast emptiness called Ginnungagap in the primal embrace between heat and frost. Ymir was a giant and he was later slain by Odin and his two brothers who built the earth of the giant’s body parts. Ymir was The First One and his name means “the clamoring one”. First there was just emptiness and then there was heat and frost creating sound, so sound is really a constituting power in Nordic cosmic myth. This doesn’t mean that Ymir created the world. It means that sound is a basic power constructing the world. When the norns were weaving the runes into the cosmic web we can assume that they were simultaneously singing the runes into the web. This is essential in the whole of my own shamanic philosophy - see for example, my article: Seiðr Shamanism and the Art of Song Healing. I will return to this, just mention Finland’s great magic song cycle “Kalevala” where we are told where the new magic songs (runes) live, where the source of power is:
Many runes the cold has told me,
Many lays the rain has brought me,
Other songs the winds have sung me;
Many birds from many forests,
Oft have sung me lays n concord
Waves of sea, and ocean billows,
Music from the many waters,
Music from the whole creation,
Oft have been my guide and master.
This process still continues and by singing the runes you connect to the primordial forces of the cosmos, you vibrate in resonance with everything else. In that way you can say that the runes are sound. And because sound is created by the primordial wind, the holy wind, önd, the runes are also wind, spirit.
By singing the runes you attune yourself to the cosmic web, to Urd’s web, thereby receiving the knowledge and power of the runes and thereby also transforming yourself and the world. Another way to say this is that you connect to the intelligence field of Mother Earth, you let Mother Earth’s power embrace you. This is a way of healing. By singing the runes you overcome the gap between yourself and the sacred, tuning into the sacred and, in fact, becoming sacred, whole, healed. You sing Mother Earth’s song as a creative co-actor in The Great Cosmic Cycle, in The Great Vision.
The runes contain esoteric knowledge about the world and they are a philosophical tool that helps us to understand the world and its workings. But the runes are not only for understanding how everything works but also for doing magic, trying to influence the world, helping and healing people, animals, plants and Mother Earth. The runes are tools that enable us to intervene in the cosmic web. By using them in this respect they may function as an act of healing and an agent of change. Songs in The Poetic Edda give several hints about situations where the magic use of the runes might help, common to all shamanic traditions; healing physical and psychical ailments, reviving dead people, weather working, finding lost persons or objects, protecting from black magic, putting out fires, restraining hatred and bringing harmony, finding out the future etc. In this way the runes are a shamanic tool expressing knowledge and power that are common to and can be found in shamanic traditions worldwide.
There are strong ethic rules associated with the runes, what we can call a proper protocol. Oden himself states in Sayings of the High One:
Better not to pray, than to sacrifice too much,
a gift always calls for a gift in return.
Better not to give, than too much wasted.
And in Sigrdrifa’s words:
Those are book-runes, those are protection-runes,
and all the ale-runes,
and precious runes of power,
for those who can,
without confusing them, without destroying them,
possess them for prosperity;
they give luck if you learn them
until the powers perish.
When using the runes for good, not asking too much or too often, i. e. using the runes in a humble and respectful way, then they will help bringing harmony and balance, which in itself is an ongoing, dynamic process. As mentioned: runes helps balancing compensatory karma; they are based on a balancing ethic. In my first book: Meditation as an art of Life - a Basic Reader, I described some laws in the energy aspect of the cosmos, or the collective images of times (The Great Cycle, Urd´s Web). Under the Philosophical Question, Why Do I Exist?, I wrote:
The movement of time consists of two universal movements, the outgoing movement (the Big Bang), which in the light of a mighty vision creates the future - and the backmovement towards the shattered memories of the origin, the Great Vision, which now is the past. These two movements lie behind an ancient, universal energylaw known in all wisdomtraditions: Tao, the Dharmalaw, Destiny, Hybris-nemesis, Logos, the Will of God, and so on. It says as follows: energy returns to it´s starting point. You may therefore say, that energy moves as a wheel. Thus it is this law, which controls all the different life-cycles.
The energylaw can therefore be described in many ways, according to the viewpoint you are using. You can say, that it in particular contains four universal sublaws:
1) The first sublaw says: energy works as wave-movements. A build-up in a wavecrest will always be followed by a trough of the waves.
2) The second sublaw says: energy works as pendulum-movements. A build-up in an extreme will always be followed by a swing over in the opposite extreme.
3) The third sublaw says: when energy is build up in a situation, this energy will work as a challenge, that causes reactions.
4) The fourth sublaw says: energy works as circulation-movements. A build-up of energy works as a pulse which moves outwards, circulates, for thereafter to return to its starting point.
Meditation as an Art of Life is to be aware, when your thoughts move too far out. In the situation you can therefore try to remember the opposite extreme and seek to bring it in. This makes the situation much more true.
The awareness itself is in the Now, in the oneness of the opposites, and therefore in the fulcrum, which is the unmoved being in the centre of the circular movement of time. Also when something else fluctuates and dances between the swings of the extremes. Therefore the training of the awareness in itself will gradually prevent, that there is given impulse to the swings. It's the Golden Mean, which Aristotle and Buddha talked about, and which Lao Tse describes in his book Tao Te King.
The Golden Mean can generally be formulated as the art of balancing between the extremes too much and too little.
To strike the Golden Mean is an art of life, and to strike this path is a necessary suggestion for, why you exist.
This is basically the balancing ethics whereupon the runes work. It is closely connected to Inner Tantra, which you can read about in my article: My Friend in the Woods. As described in the above-mentioned article on Seidr, I practice Inner Tantra with the Nordic female spirits, the Disir, as well as the main Disir goddess, Freyja. I also practice Inner Tantra with Virgin Mary, a practice which is inspired by the so-called Mary Mysticism, which is one of three spiritual practices on Mount Athos in Greece. The two others are Heart Prayer and Transfiguration Mysticism. All this is combined with rune magic, which again in combined with Dream Yoga.
The runes are a Nordic mandala; the runes are intertwined; one follows the other and one is transformed into another and they do exist as a totality. In old High German, the word "rune" means secret or hidden wisdom. In modern German "zu raunen" means to hiss or whisper secrets. In old English, "runian" means whisper, and "leodrunan" means song-runes. In old Scaldic Icelandic, the word "runnr" means woodland. And, with these designations, we have something which is central for my own use of runes, which is intimately connected to the landscape and weather in Rold Forest.
Among the Saxons, whose culture influenced the native British traditions, the word for tree (treow) also meant "truth" and "trust". People swore vows of fealty or marriage and made pledges under the trees because they believed that they would bear witness at the deepest possible level. To be in the presence of trees was to be in the presence of the gods, and forests were places of witness and vision. In 1215 the Magna Carta was signed at a place called Runnymede, in the shade of a yew that was old even then and which still stands to this day. The actual name of the site was Rune Mede, meaning "a place where the runes were read to foretell the future". Divination was almost certainly practiced here, made either by Seers in the emplyoment of the royal houses or even, in some instances, by the kings themselves.
In the light of such beliefs, it is scarcely surprising that two different methods of divination arose independently from the lore and mystery of trees. These two systems are based on the Celtic Ogam alphabet and the Norse runes, which many people assume are the same thing. In fact, they developed along parallel lines, though in different parts of the world, though they may well have influenced each other during the early Middle ages, when the two cultures were in close contact (see my account of the Cimbri in my article: Nordic Shamanism and Forest Therapy). Both the Celtic and the Norse cultures concern themselves with arcane knowledge and are under patronage of the gods of word-wisdom.
In connection with The Runes of Rold Forest, and the presence of a Celtic past in the forest, It is important to say a bit about the Ogam Tree Alphabet.
The Ogam alphabet is divided into five sets of five letters, called aicme (meaning "tribe" or "family"). each set bears a name derived from the first or "chief" letter, and the letters themselves all have names, the most frequently applied being those of various trees (indeed, it is this association that has led to Ogam being referred to as a "Tree alphabet").
Ogam has also been called "the secret language of the poets" and its mastery formed an important part of the teachings of the Druids, Seers and bards in both Wales and Ireland. This is interesting in connection with the Scandinavian bard, or scald, Norna-Gest.
It is said that the Ogam alphabet was invented by Ogma, whose pedigree is given a prince and a descendant of men. However, references to the same figure are also found elsewhere, and it is clear from these that he was not a man at all, but the son of the Irish god known as Dagda, the Father of Wisdom. Ogma himself is most frequently described in early Celtic texts as a god of literature and eloquence, and in Gaul he was known as Ogmios and worshipped as a god of light and learning. In one inscription he is even depicted with rays of light coming from around his head and holding the whip of Sol invictus, the Unconquered Sun, which shows that he was also identified as a god of light and vision. This makes him a wholly suitable figure to be credited with the invention of an alphabet that is associated with divination, the transmission of secret knowledge, and with the writing of poetry. Ogma opens for us the path of spirit-letters, and the voice of the sacred woods.
Though we know nothing more of Ogma´s creation of the Celtic alphabet other than that he is described as giving birth to the letters through his knife (which he presumeable used to carve the letters), the common element in both the Celtic and Norse traditions is the discovery of the letters and making them available to humankind.
Much of this is paralled by the history of runes, which are also found carved on stones throughout the Scandinavian world and were (like Ogam) used for magical purposes such as the writing of spells. As already described: we hear the Norse tradition speak of the Norns weaving Urd´s Web, and carving it on wooden slips, meaning that they are weaving the cosmic web using runes. We hear about Odin, the god of wisdom and word-lore, discovering the runes by submitting himself to the ordeal of hanging from a tree for nine days and nights.
The original runes consist of 24 signs and sounds that describe all the constituting powers of cosmos. They move in a circle or rather a spiral with no beginning and no end. They are a tool to understand the essence of everything and connect to Mother Earth since the runes originate in her. The runes are a map of cosmos, a story of how cosmos is constructed and a description of the spiritual essence of everything. They are held together in a balanced system that is in constant motion and process. In the runic system you will find the four directions, the four elements, the four seasons, the four parts of the day, chaos and order, life and death, male and female; yes knowledge of everything if you treat them with respect.
There are several ways to use the runes as magic tools. The main method is singing them, just like singing them is a way to receive their knowledge. You can sing the runes over a person that needs healing. You can sing them and at the same time draw the runes with your fingertips on or over the body of your client. Such a ceremony can also be performed as distance healing. Then you still sing the runes out loud, simultaneously sketching them with your fingertips in front of you and visualizing how they travel to the client. Runes can also be sent to the intended recipient through the elements water, earth and fire. You just draw them with your fingertips in water or in the earth as you sing them. If you want to use fire you could sketch the runes on paper and burn the paper as you sing the runes.
My personal runic protocol is very simple: 1) I create a sacred space/circle by greeting the six directions and asking the spirits of the place for permission to perform the ceremony, 2) I sing the whole uthark one or three or four rounds to root myself in the earth and attune myself to the cosmic web, 3) I send the runes to those I want to help (persons, animals, plants, places or Mother Earth) by singing them and sketching them in the air in front of me, 4) I complete the ceremony by singing the uthark as a kind of blessing-way, 5) I thank the place, Mother Earth, the runes and all spirits that have helped me and leave a small gift.
The difference between Eriksson and me is that he works with base magic. I combine base magic with higher magic. More about that below. So, when asked about whether you can use the drum together with runes, Eriksson answers:
Absolutely! It can be an earthshaking experience to drum and simultaneously sing the runes. In fact the runes can be combined with all possible shamanic methods. How do I know which runes to use in a magic ceremony? By intuition, by making a spirit journey or just by asking the runes.
When asked: Do the runes always help?, Eriksson answers:
That is a very complex question to answer. I guess that one answer is that they are just as helpful as any other shamanic method and that the main thing in all shamanic work is to create or recreate harmony and balance. Sometimes the runes help, sometimes they don’t – and you can’t always tell why. The runes are living entities, they do have a mind and a will of their own and they decide if and when they want to help. We can pray and we can ask, but we can’t command the runes. However I have seen them heal and protect. Once I visited a Saami shaman in Kautokeino in northern Norway. He had promised to take me to a magic spot just below a sacred mountain the next day. When I arrived he had caught a severe cold and didn’t feel like coming along but was willing to change his mind if I could help him get well. He sat down in front of me, I closed my eyes and breathed deeply to let some runes come into my mind. Then I wrote two or three of them on his forehead at the same time as I sang them out loud. Next morning he was extremely energetic and took me to the sacred mountain where I had a very shocking experience which is quite another story. Did I cure him? I would say: no, the runes did, Mother Earth did.
I have also, alone as well as together with friends, been able to use runes to protect areas and places that have faced exploitation of some kind, e. g. clearcutting or peat cutting, or to heal places that have been exploited or desecrated, e. g. ancestral places of worship. When healing a place it is important to sing strong runes of harmony and balance and I always prefer to sing the whole uthark, three or four times.
I could mention more instances of how the runes do help but the runes really don’t want to talk about these things in public and I prefer not to violate their proper protocol.
C) Freyja´s Oracle
Many people think of divination as mere fortune-telling. It is true that oracles can be very revealing with regard to future events. Their symbols are like the legends on a map, and we can use them to look forward to the forking pathways of "that which is to come". Yet in the final analysis, future-reading is less crucial to the process of consulting Runes than is the full holistic reflection of our lives a reading provides for us. In a Rune reading, we see mirrored in symbolic form the drives, forces, and tendencies at work within ourselves and the unique set of circumstances surrounding us. It is as much about understanding the past and being fully in the reality of the present as it is about keening the future.
Nor is divination merely a passive process of reflection. It may be likened to a diagnosis, yet it is by the same token a form of medicine in its own right. Divining is, in its highest form, a healing art that assists us in identifying and jettisoning the constricting elements of life so that we can invite in the more desirable qualities: health, happiness, success, and abundance. That´s why Freyja´s Healing Cosmology is combined with Freyja´s Oracle.
Divination with the runes is perhaps the most famous aspect of rune magic. Yes, they are a powerful divinatory tool. But a very complex tool, according to Eriksson:
The runes never answer yes or no to a question. You have to put your question in such a way that the runes start telling you things. You can simply ask for guidance or you can word your question as how, why, what? Any wording that inspires the runes to answer and talk and tell. The runes will show the essence of your relation to the world, your connection to the cosmic web and the potential of your present situation. Of course you can ask the runes on behalf of other persons.
On my page on Philosophical Counseling I wrote about asking so-called "Grail Questions". In the Arthurian legends, various Round Table knights attempt to find the grail. In some texts Peredur or Percival is the Grail winner and mediates between the otherworld and the physical world. In others it is Galahad who appears to die after looking into the Grail. But central to the mythos is the asking of the Grail question: "Whom does the Grail serve?" This relates to the art of asking philosophical questions: "Who am I?", "What does my life mean?", "What is the nature of reality?"
However, in a situation of divination you can´t ask questions like that. Philosophical questions form the passion behind a concrete question. In my article, Nordic Shamanism and Forest Therapy, you can, in part 11: List of godgame Resources; A) The Hallowquest Cards (related to the Gundestrup Cauldron), find a description of how to ask such a concrete question.
There are three main draws or castings of runes:
1) Odin’s draw, 2) the draw of the norns and 3) the draw of the nine worlds. If you have your runes in a medicine bag you draw one, three or nine runes, depending on how complex an answer you want. Another way of doing divination is by casting the runes on a cloth and then pick up one, three or nine runes.
In Odin’s draw or casting only one rune is picked so the wording of your question is very important. In the draw of the norns you pick three runes that will tell you a) what has brought about the present situation, b) what choices of action you have and c) what kind of outcome is probable if you act like suggested in b). The draw of the nine worlds is a variation of this draw. You simply pick three runes to answer each of the three aspects above (“past-present-future").
In Freyja´s Oracle, I use the draw of the norns.
Some people working with rune divination claim that it doesn’t matter which runes you draw, because all runes have something important to tell when asked.
My opinion is that the runes have a life of their own, they have will and personality, i. e. spirit, and therefore the runes you receive are not a matter of chance. You receive exactly the runes that you need. The problem is that the message can be hard to decode and difficult to face.
When divining with runes I do use 25 and not 24 runes. The 25th rune is a non-rune, without sound and form, a rune of paradox. It is called The Empty One or The Unknowable. The Empty One is not mentioned anywhere in the old texts. It is a new creation of the 20th century, although it suits extremely well into the archaic system. You could say that The Empty One is the rune of Ginnungagap (Emptiness) or that it is the emptiness that brings forth the uthark. It is not a part of the uthark – it precedes the uthark. Why use it divination? In a way The Empty One means nothing, but at the same time it means everything. When drawing this non-rune the uthark tells you that you are facing something that could be quite shocking – a jump into the void. Or the uthark simply tells you that it won’t or can’t answer your question.
The uthark is a map of the cosmos. How do you depict a map that is a process in ever-changing movement? Eriksson writes:
What comes closest to this dynamic stream or flow of energy is an open-ended spiral – although also this depiction is very approximate.
For 30 years now I have been trying to incorporate the runes in my shamanic work and in my life. This has been an adventure, and it still is. The runes have a life of their own and they do continuously surprise me. Still.
As mentioned: my use of runes is closely connected to Rold Forest, to the landscape and weather here.
D) Philosophical Counseling with The Runes of Rold Forest
Now, finally, let me describe a concrete philosophical counseling program, and how The Runes of Rold Forest are used in combination with the above-mentioned.
You can choose 1-day, 2-day or 3-day programs. Normally, people travel to Rold Forest. Therefore they usually choose a 3-day program. So, let me describe a philosophical counseling process based on a 3-day program (if you choose a 1-day or 2-day program, the same process will be compressed to fit). A 3-day program will fit into the above-mentioned three walks in Rold Forest, which follow the shamanic concepts of the Middle World, the Underworld and the Upper World:
Day 1 (the Middle World)
We meet in my apartment and you present your issue and Grail question. Hereafter I ask you to draw one card from the major arcana in the Grail Tarot. In addition to to the normal background information and divinatory meanings for each Major Arcana cards there is a one-line "Grail Question." This is asked of the reader by the archetypal being of the card and is designed to reveal the deeper wisdom within each image. That there is asked an additional Grail question, to you, will in my context be related to the central idea of Meditation as an Art of Life: the art of asking philosophical questions in a meditative-existential way. We will now look into my book Meditation as an Art of Life - a Basic Reader, and study the "Four Philosophical Openings and Hindrances", the "Socratic Inquire Technique", and, eventually, the philosophical questions. Hereafter we will use the Celtic Shaman´s Pack, and, by drawing a card, select a focus for forest therapy. The latter will happen all three days.
Day 2 (the Underworld)
Day 2 will focus on the Gundestrup Cauldron. We will investigate your Grail question by using The Ancestral Oracle of the Celts. This card desk is directly based on the Gundestrup Cauldron. Like the Grail Tarot, there is a questioning element that can lead to a combination with Meditation as an Art of Life. Good for family issues/lower chakras. Can be used both as an oracle and a healing device, just like the runes (more below). Can be used in connection with a visit to The Mines of Thingbæk. It is also related to the Wheel of the Year. I will use the Danish Kalendarium.
Day 3 (the Upper World)
Day 3 will focus on the Golden Horns at Gallehus. Here, The Runes of Rold Forest will be used: Freyja´s Healing Cosmology and, Freyja´s Oracle. Freyja´s oracle will be combined with The Spirit of Nature Oracle. This is about the above-mentioned Ogam tree alphabet, which therefore also is related to the runes. That the Ogam tree alphabet can be related to a Goddess (Freyja) is not based on a coincidential choice. In his book, The White Goddess, Robert Graves precisely describes the Ogam alphabet in combination with goddess worship. The Spirit of Nature Oracle depicts the Ogam alphabet by using wonderful images of trees, or rather Ents, since each tree-image reveals a face looking out at you. I simply combine the whole Rune line (the Uthark) to the trees in the Ogam tree alphabet. Together this form The Runes of Rold Forest: rune signs and Ogam images.
Depending on which counseling form you have chosen, the healing aspect (Freyja´s Healing Cosmology) can be focused or defocused, but it will be included in all counseling forms. If you have chosen the Healing and Divination counseling, I will form a healing rune-mandala. This will be combined with the Spirit of Nature Oracle. A complete "Ent-moot", can therewith be formed. This can furthermore be combined with the Ancestral Oracle of the Celts. Like the runes, the Ancestral Oracle of the Celts is not only a device for divination. It is also a device for healing. In fact, the oracle functions in connection to the healing function, just like the runes. It can be used for healing family issues, both individual persons and groups.
Freyja´s Oracle will be based on the Draw of the Norns. This will be combined with The Three Worlds Spread in the Spirit of Nature Oracle. The tree spirits will function as empowerers of the teachings of the norns. Ths will furthermore be combined wth three draws from The Celtic Shaman´s Pack (if you are a returner more complex spreads can be used).
It all fits together! The Three Worlds Spread will be placed on an image of the Worldtree: The Roots of the Underworld, The Trunk of the Middleworld, and The Branches of the Upperworld. This corresponds to the three Norns: Urd, Verdande and Skuld. Urd (the past) is related to the Roots of the Underworld. Verdande (the presence) is related to the Trunk of the Middleworld, and Skuld (the future) is related to the Branches of the Upperworld.
The worldtree is also associated with kundalini, and in my view, the imagery of the Golden Horns at Gallehus shows the inner tantric, alchemical and shamanic transformation processes, which is happening during a process of kundalini awakening. Kundalini is the same as shamanic power. Kundalini is also a feminine power, asscociated with serpents.
Finally: In the Ogam tree alphabet there are 25 "letters" or signs. In the Uthark (magical runic alphabet), there are 24 "letters" or signs. In the Uthark this is supplied with a 25th sign, which is called "The Empty Rune". I have no problem in relating the Empty Rune with the 25th sign in the Ogam alphabet, which is called "Phagos". This is namely related to the Beech. The divinitary meaning of Phagos has to do with the concept of "crossing over" and questions such as "What lies beyond the threshold?" That is: the unknown, the indescribable, etc. Moreover: The Beech is the most widespread tree in Rold Forest. The beauty and femininity of the beech is obvious - traditionally, it is called the "Queen of the Woods", sharing place and honur with the knightly oak. Local British traditions associate the beech with serpents, probably because of its serpentine root systems, which are revealed by soil erosion when they are planted on hills and slopes, precisely what Rold Forest is characterized by.
The Hallowquest cards will be used as back-ups to these central stories, cosmologies and oracles. I choose the desks I find relevant in relation to your Grail question and the draws from the Celtic Shaman´s Pack. I only draw one card from each desk. I´m therefore not engaging in any traditional card spreads/divinations. I use the cards for aesthetic meditation and storytelling. They will be used as trailmarkers, pathfinders and helpers. And, again: the answers will hereafter be put into the complete context of philosophical counseling. And, they are all connected to forest therapy and the main base magical tool: The Runes of Rold Forest.
4) Base Magic and Higher Magic
I consider my book, A Dictionary of Thought Distortions, to be a kind of philosophical diary on how I, during my spiritual crisis, used critical thinking (elenchos, refutation, logic) to distinguish base magic (occultism/shamanism), which leaves everything to chance, and may lead its practitioners to consort with falsity and evil daemons, and higher magic or theurgy. The latter is a guarantor of truth and happiness, combined as it is with the source itself: the Good, the True and the Beautiful. Critical thinking simply rescued me from madness. As a result I came to believe that Socrates represented an ancient path of wisdom, where philosophy in a similar way was used as a navigator through the Spiritual Twilight Zone (the collective images).
A central inspirator for my meditation mentoring practice is Pierre Hadot. Hadot's recurring theme is that philosophy in Antiquity was characterized by a series of spiritual exercises intended to transform the perception, and therefore the being, of those who practice it; that philosophy is best pursued in real conversation and not through written texts and lectures; and that philosophy, as it is taught in universities today, is for the most part a distortion of its original, therapeutic impulse.
So, despite my own many written texts, this is in reality the core of my teaching. It is presented in my first book Meditation as an Art of Life - a Basic reader.
The therapeutic impulse is likely to be rooted in traditions going back to immemorial times. The prehistory of spiritual exercises in Greco-Roman philosophy is first of all in Pythagoreanism, and then, beyond Pythagoras, in magico-religious/shamanistic traditions of respiratory techniques and mnemonic exercises. Greco-Roman philosophy was intimately connected to the mystery schools, and their healing practices. My article, Philosophy as a Rite of Rebirth (A Shamanic Ritual), describes the relation between philosophy and shamanism.
As far as I can see, then the spiritual exercises developed in, for example Platonism and neo-Platonism, are refinements of those leading to cataleptic trances and other paranormal experiences (psychic abilities, kundalini, shamanic journey, channeling, possession of gods or demons, ecstasy, etc). They respond to a rigorous demand for rational discrimination, a demand which, as far as I´m concerned, emerges with the figure of Socrates. In this you can see precisely the same as what happened in, for example Tibetan Buddhism and Taoism: a refinement of shamanism into a path of enlightenment (Unio Mystica).
In the Upanishads you can find the oldest accounts of philosophy as a spiritual practice. It is very likely that Plato, or maybe Pythagoras, had knowledge about this tradition.
I also believe that we in Plato saw a warning against ending up in (or stopping at) spiritual crises (see my article Spiritual Crises as the Cause of Paranormal Phenomena), and a warning against false teachers, whose teachings (unknowingly) aim at creating spiritual crises.
Today you can find a fall back into practices which exclusively deals with techniques inducing cataleptic trances and other paranormal experiences. In this way philosophical counseling is a reaction to this.
5) The World of Spirits
Central tools in shamanism, or base magic, is the trance and the journey. The Journey can either take place by using imagination, or it can be a so-called astral journey, which means an out-of-the-body journey. The aim is to take contact with the World of Spirits. The spirits are claimed to be our helpers.
Who are these spirits? In New Age they talk about discarnate entities, non-physical beings, ghosts, angels, imaginary friends. Typically for New Age is the removal of evil spirits and demons (see my booklet: The Difference Between Plastic Shamanism and the Traditional Shamanic Awakening). New Age shamanism, as for example Michael Harner´s Core Shamanism, consider spirits to be Jungian archetypes, or in other ways a product of the unconsciousness. This also means that the journey only is considered to be happening in the imagination. The external existence of spirits is, often, not always, removed. But common is the denial of dark and evil spirits. However, this is not the case in occultism. But both New Age and occultism are all into subjective idealism.
In nordic mythology and shamanism you could look at spirits in this way:
There are also spirits of deceased humans, and there are elementals. Some of these overlap with both the above and the below:
The Nordic shaman is traditionally taught how to achieve a deeper change of consciousness and leave the body and making a soul journey (an astral travel) into the non-ordinary reality (the astral worlds). In this dimension of the world it is possible to meet beings that in the shamanic world view are known as vætter (Danish), or rådare (Swedish) (approximately = rulers), guardian spirits, helping spirits, ancestral spirits and spiritual teachers, but also as procreator of sickness and destroyers. Finally, there are the dark forces. The shaman must be skilled enough to be able to handle these beings without pain.
If the reader has problems using concepts such as spirits, try instead of thinking in concepts such as energies or power if that feels better.
1) Guardian Spirits
No shaman can do without guardian spirits or power animals as they are called in core shamanism. In the Nordic tradition the guardian spirits were called fylgjor, followers, and they could also appear in a human shape. In other shamanic traditions even trees, plants, mountains, lakes and the like could serve as guardian spirits.
As the name implies, the task of a guardian spirit is to protect "its" human being from sickness and other negative effects and give her power and knowledge to manage the ups and downs of life.
Besides protecting "its" human being, the guardian spirits can assist with advice and answers to problems arising in everyday life. they can also accompany "their" human being in soul journeys.
Many grownups, especially in Western cultures, have lost their guardian spirits. A guardian spirit wants to be maintained in order to stay with "its" human being. It is all about exchange of energy (that there is created an energy cord to where the energy is running both ways). The humans simply "feed" the guardian spirits with energy. that can be done in quitness by meditating on the power animal, or by singing the song of the guardian spirit or by dancing the animal. this is a freely choreographed dance where you welcome the power animal into your body and start moving around quite intuitively. the guardian spirit then becomes body and the human being simultaneous moves into the invisible, into the non-ordinary reality.
2) Helping Spirits
Helping spirits are another category of the invisible often taking the shape of birds and insects. Their task is to help the shaman, e.g. when healing or doing weather magic. but the helping spirits can also accompany the shaman on sould journeys and the boundaries between guardian spirits and helping spirits are fluid. In the Saami shamanic tradition it is said that the noaidi have different helping spirits for different journeys: a fish for journeying into the lower worlds, a reindeer for journeys in the middle world and a bird for journeying into the upper worlds.
3) Vætterne (The Rulers)
Another category of invisible beings that shamans cooperate with is vætterne (Danish) or rådarna (Swedish), the rulers. you can meet them anywhere in the landscape. most of the phenomena in the landscape have rulers, e.g. mountains, brooks, springs, lakes. Vætterne is the spiritual essence, the spiritual quality of the mountain or the brook, being responsible for its existence and appearance. Vætterne can materialize in stones or in other tangible forms in the landscape - objects that are called seitar in the Saami tradition. Human beings can communicate with vætterne when entering an altered state of consciousness; as is the case with all spritual beings.
Vætterne can also be responsible for a wider geographical area and humans have given them different sorts of "offerings", trying to obtain good luck in hunting and fishing. The notion of "offering" might take the thoughts in a wrong direction. Eriksson prefers to use the words conversation or dialogue to define what really takes place during ceremonies for vætterne. The ceremonies are not about making offerings in order to appease vætten of a lake or a forest. Instead it is a mutual conversation and exchange of energy where the fisher/hunter tries to achieve harmony and balance with vætten and the place. What is important, Eriksson claims, is to let go of self-importance and to treat vætten with respect and humbleness.
Vætten can also be the ruler or master of an entire species of animals or insects. A hunter who wants to be successful e.g. when hunting moose must of course first talk to the master of the moose. Natural phenomena like the wind, the rain, the thunder, the cold, the heat can also have their own vætter. A shaman must learn how to talk to them in order to be allowed to share their inherent knowledge and power and possible to influence them.
4) Spiritual Teachers
Spiritual teachers are being in non-ordinary reality with important knowledge and the ability to appear in human or animal guise. If you make contact with such a teacher it is important to preserve this relation in order to have continous access to knowledge that would otherwise be very difficult to attain. In both nordic and Saami traditions, teachers of this kind usually reside in sacred hills and mountains, and they are considered to be the spirits of deceased shamans or other knowledgeable people. Vision quests or ceremonies on such sacred hills could be the best way to make contact with spiritual teachers.
5) Dark/evil forces
The vision of life as a spiritual warfare between good and evil is the vision of life presupposed in every great story. For any great story must take both good and evil very seriously in order to generate great drama; and the fundamental theme of every great story is always this spiritual warfare between some particular good and some particular evil. The conflict between good and evil is the source of all conflict between character – it is the internal conflict between good and evil within each character.
But Tolkien is not a Manichee: this war is not between equally powerful powers. It is not even between equally real powers. It requires a little philosophical clarification to make this point clear. In his book, the Philosophy of Tolkien, the philosopher Peter Kreeft writes:
Good and evil are not equally powerful, because they are not equally real – even though evil appears not only equal to good but even stronger than good (“I am Gandalf, Gandalf the White, but Black is mightier still”). But appearance and reality do not coincide here, and in the end evil will always reveal its inevitable self-destruction (although often after a terrible price is paid: e.g., Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin). The self-destruction of evil is not just something to believe in and hope for, but to be certain of. It is metaphysically necessary, necessary because of the very kind of being evil has by its unchangeable essence. For evil can only be a parasite on good. It depends on a good host for it to pervert. “Nothing is evil in the beginning” or by nature: Morgoth was one of the Ainur, Sauron was a Maia, Saruman was the head of Gandalf´s order of Wizards, the Orcs were Elves, the Ringwraiths were great Men, and Gollum was a Hobbit. And whenever a parasite succeeds in killing its host, it also kills itself. So if evil succeeds, it fails; it commits suicide.
The philosophical argument for evil being a parasite on good is simple: evil can exist only in some being, and all being is ontologically good, good for something, desirable somehow. Evil is the perversion of some version, the unnatural twisting of some nature; and all nature is good. Logically evil is thought distortions, it is falsiable and unvalid. Existentially evil is becoming, which is non-being. Evil is suffering.
What is this parasite on the good? In my book, Philosophical Counseling with Tolkien, I have described it in chapter 10, Ethics; section 2: The Nature of Evil, and section 3: The Ring and the Devil. However, the whole book is about this warfare between good and evil.
Evil is the One Ring, the Ring of Power. Sauron´s One Ring has two demonical movements which are seen in our culture of today, but which always have existed: the movement into the ego (the will to power), and the movement out towards the others in ideology. Hereby the Truth, Beauty and Goodness of the Wholeness is reduced to power and ideology.
That is: The giants, for example, is in Nordic mythology described as evil, but in my philosophy they are not in themselves evil (as we shall see, they are wise and they are central, both in the primordial creation, and in healing ceremonies). However they can be corrupted by power and ideology, and so can both men, elves and divinities. Demons are probably corrupted giants.
There are also many other kinds of energies and powers (I will describe some of them later), and there are spirits which are characterized by other landscapes and cultures than the Nordic. First a bit more about the Nordic culture.
In many shamanic cultures the world is divided into three dimensions - the lower world (which also contains the realm of death), the middle world (the spiritual aspect of ordinary world) and the upper world (heaven). Each world can have subdivisions (most often three) so that the total number of worlds is seven or none or even more. In nordic myths we find nine worlds and they are from below upwards: Nifelheim (the abode of coldness and the horrifying but wise frost giants), Helheim (the kingdom of the dead), Jotunheim (the world of the "ordinary" giants), Svartalvheim (with the fertility beings of the earth), Mannheim (the world of human beings), Ljusalvheim (witht the fertility beings of the light and the air), Vanaheim (the world of water and the Vanir gods), Asgård (the abode of the prevailing powers, the Aesir gods), and Muspelheim (the abode of heat and fire guarded by the terrific fire giant Surt).
The subdivisions look like this:
The upper world = Asgård
The middle world = Mannheim
The lower world = Helheim
Below is Eriksson´s depiction of the Nine Worlds on a Wheel of Runes:
The shaman can seek out different levels of non-ordinary reality depending on which knowledge that he or she needs at the time. With growing experience the shaman will have a rather clear picture of the landscapes in the other worlds, but he or she can never know exactly what kind of beings that will show up or what will happen. This is a part of the shamanic adventure.
The shaman can use many different means to go into an altered state of consciousness, the shamanic trance that in base magic is believed to be a prerequisite of soul journeying: drums, rattles bullroarers, power songs, runes, dancing, fasting, vision quest, sauna, sweat lodge, shamanic attire, visualization, drugs.
The power that the shamans learn to control and work with is not good or evil. The power just is. The shamans however choose to use the power for the best of their community, mankind and the earth. The knowledge and power is from Mother Earth and for Mother Earth. Those who choose to use the power against others or to enrich themselves will become black magicians and run the risk of having to pay a high price for this choice. Those who send evil will get evil back . often sevenfold stronger, as it is said in shamanic traditions.
You should discriminate between shamanism and sorcery. In her book, Singing the Soul Back Home, The English shaman, Caitlin Matthews, writes this on sorcery:
[…] Most societies make distinction between between shamans and sorcerers. A shaman co-operates with the spiritual worlds and their inhabitants, beseeching their appropriate help; a sorcerer manipulates the spiritual worlds and seeks to command their inhabitants without their advice…(page 27).
Especially dangerous is the teaching of shamanic techniques without a firm grounding in any ethical or personal spiritual practice (page 29).
In other words: base magic must be combined with higher magic.
It is though provoking that the most popular spiritual movement today, The New Thought movement, and its teaching about The Law of Attraction, directly is based on black magic (see my articles: The Law of Attraction and Its Roots in Black Magic, and, as a grotesque example of how it is practiced: "Shaman Durek": Yet Another American New Thought Missionary (A Critique).
The interesting about the New Thought version of black magic, is its focus on positive thinking, love and light, followed by the typical New Age denial of the existence of dark powers in the world.
Mary Shutan has, and that´s very unsual today, included dark forces in her shamanic work. In her Shamanic Workbook she is creating a “library” of spirits (page 235-238). Now, if you take my above claims about that the Wholeness can be in three states: sleeping, dreaming and awake, and combine this with the concept of the personal, collective and universal images in time, then you could further combine this with a model of three groups of flower petals around a human being. The inner group is the personal history, the middle group is the collective history, and the outer group is the universal history.
Now, let´s look at Shutan´s library of spirits (you can add these to the already explained). The following is a short description: Imprints, Base Emotions, Earth Energies, Etheric Energies and Etheric Layer, Dark Energies, Demons, Certain Energy Fields, Collective Loops, Astral Energies, Thought Forms and Thoughts (Mental Layer of Reality), Collective Energies, ETs, Lower Cosmic Energies, Higher Cosmic Energies. It is only the Higher Cosmic Energies which belongs to the third and outer group of flower petals: the universal images, Dreamtime, or God´s Thoughts.
If you, for example, take The Celtic Shaman´s Pack, you can, on page 123, find a brilliant iconographical image of the Shaman´s cosmos:
The structure of the pack is designed to reflect the cosmology that underpins the shaman´s world view, and is founded upon a threefold division into the First Circle, the Second Circle and the Third circle (cards 14-16). These are connected and interpenetrated by The Tree of Vision and Tradition (card1) that depicts the axis mundi that connectes all three and is ascended by the shaman whilts in a trance state (base magic) or meditation state (higher magic). He is thus enabled to journey through the spiritual dimension of each realm in search of wisdom and knowledge.
The shaman himself is represented by one of the Movers: The Vision Singer (card 2), The Walker Between Worlds (card 3) or The Wildman (card 4). Any, or even all three, of these could represent a guest in a philosophical counseling and forest therapy session (a Grail seeker and forest wanderer) - but, for the guest´s early journeys, he or she will probably find it more effective to choose one that you feel best represents you.
On the image you can see there are four "group of flower petals" (my expression) around the shaman. The shaman is strengthened by nine beings, the Empowerers, which move at will between the worlds and may accompany the shaman on his or her journey. These are The Ferryman (card 5), The Woodward (card 6), The Lady of the Ways (card 7), The Bride of the Waters (card 8), The Druid (card 9), The Keeper fo the Wheel (card 10), The Seeress (card 11), The woman Made of Flowers (card 12), and The Keeper of Letters (card 13). The Elements (cards 17-20) further deepen and qualify the nature of the journey, adding the powers of Earth, Air, water and Fire.
Once within the inner worlds, the shaman meets and is further assisted by the Totem Beasts (cards 21-31), who aid the Empowerer, jointly becoming his guides and helpers through each of the worlds. finally, he is led to the Shapers (cards 32-40), each of whom governs a different aspect or dimension of the inner worlds. The presence of one or more of these great figures in a single spread makes all the difference as to where and how the shaman´s vision is shaped.
The Shapers belong to the outer group of flower petals. They correspond to the symbols which are coming from the universal images in time (dream masters, angels, enlightened masters, etc.). They help with progressive karma (love, grace). The others (empowerers, elements, totem beasts) belong to the middle group of flower petals: the collective images in time. They help with compensatory karma (balancing ethics).
Let me explain this in combination with philosophical counseling. Before a philosophical counseling session, I ask the guest to describe an issue which he or she want to at the centre of the counseling, and formulate a so-called "Grail Question" about this topic. This is related to "The Grail Tarot". In the counseling, I use it (and the other Hallowquest cards) as a way of using storytelling to get two central ideas of the counseling clarified:
a) The spiritual quest.
b) The art of asking philosophical questions in a meditative-existential way.
I believe that images/stories can become real vehicles of divine energy. Therefore you can, in my view, both use the Gundestrup Cauldron, from the area of Rold Forest in Denmark, and the Holy Grail, as links to the divine. Even Plato talked about the Cauldron of the Gods in his dialogue Timaeus.
John Matthews writes:
The quest that comes most readily to people´s minds is that of the Grail, which begins in the Celtic past, as a cauldron giving the food most desired, or healing, immortal life and wisdom. By the thirteenth century the Grail, which began life as a wonderworking Celtic cauldron, had become associated with the cup of the Last Supper - a relic that brought healing, divine gnosis and the heart´s desire.
The Gundestrup Cauldron is the most famous Celtic cauldron existing. But, as I have suggested in my article, Nordic Shamanism and Forest Therapy: The Gundestrup Cauldron not only points back towards a British oriented Celtic past (which Matthews focuses on), but also towards a broad Indo-European past: an ontological pluralism. In that way, the Grail ripples backward, into an ever-widening hinterland of epic and deep myth (storytelling), and then, into the Platonic world of ideas (philosophy).
This depicts very precisely how a spiritual path develops: the Wholeness is opening up from sleep, to dream, into awakeness; more and more flower petals are opening. On the relation between storytelling and philosophy, see my article: Counseling in the Mythic Forest of Rold. And it corresponds to the above-mentioned description of the shaman´s journeys, which move more and more in the direction of the Shapers.
It is interesting that Caitlin Matthews, in her book, Singing the Soul Back Home, describes her experience of the Shapers, precisely by referring to Plato. In the introduction, where she tells about her childhood encounters with spirits, she writes:
What were these beings like? Some were animals, some were people and others were not likely anything I then had a name for. These abstract and sometimes geometrical shapes burned behind my eyes in dancing colour. I called them "the Shapers". Platonists would recognize them as intelligences of the Platonic realms, perhaps; kabbalists would recognize them as the "flashing colours" of kabbalistic vision (page 8).
However, you´ll need to add the above-mentioned theory of evil, and remember that almost all spirits (except the Shapers, the outer group of flower petals), can be corrupted by the One Ring. Therrefore it is necessary to combine the above described Celtic cosmos with higher magic (Meditation as an Art of Life), which supplies the shaman with the ability of discrimination.
Base Magic hasn´t any tools to discriminate between all this. But that´s precisely what Higher Magic has (higher magic is basically the tools I have described on my page: Meditation as an Art of Life).
Higher Magic is aiming at enlightenment. Shamanism, for example, is not an enlightenment path. It is only working with base magic (however, in his book on Shamanism, Mircea Eliade talks about a decline of shamanism, and the stories of an golden age, where shamanism was characterized by higher magic).
Now, let´s take the concepts of demons. In my article, The Conspiracy of the Third Eye, I claim that the New Thought movement is a demon-controlled movement. This sounds completely paradoxical, since the movement is all about positive thinking and light. Yes, but it also denies the existence of darkness and evil. And that´s precisely what a demon wants.
Note that demons, in my view, very rarely posseses a single human being (this is in my view a myth in popular culture). Possession states has to do with other kinds of evil spirits (there are many). Demons work collectively. It is no surprise that demons also are called Titans, similar to, for example the Nordic Gods or Greek gods. Most of all they are probably corrupted giants. They possess an intelligence that goes far beyond the ordinary human being. Instead of possessing a single individual, they are feeding on collective energies.
As Timothy Conway say:
It's well known to the true sages that powerful but ultimately confused, constricted discarnate entities regarded as "demons" or "titans" (Skt.: asura, rakshasa, etc.) can create such electric energies through human beings as a way of then "feeding" on the aroused emotions and psychic states of the hordes of people who surround the human channel. That's why many Zen masters often warned their students to simply regard all unusual states and energies as makyo, distracting "diabolical phenomena," and instead wake up to the Open, Infinite Awareness, the formless "Big Self" or pristine "Buddha-Nature."
In all briefness, you can say, that higher magic tries to guide people, who wish to learn, to go around the states, which have to do with the collective time, or at least, to shorten the passage through these areas. And if they are lost in them, to lead them back on the right track. Higher magic is about directing your consciousness towards the outer group of flower petals, which, paradoxically enough, means the form of consciousness, and not its content. More about that in the next section.
6) Energy and Consciousness
In my ebook, Philosophical Counseling with Tolkien, you can find my metaphysics described in the first chapter. This has a religious and mythological scent. In connection with consciousness, you can find it described in a non-religious way in my Ebook: Richard Dawkins and the Rise of Atheist Scientism (Scientism Critique: Part 1).
In the following, I will shortly describe both the religious/mytological, and the non-religious version:
A) A Religious/Mythological Description of Metaphysics.
The Indian philosophy claims, that the movement of time in itself is a negation-power (Asat, Avidya, or Shabda-Brahman, the self-sacrifice). This would correspond to the Thurs rune. According to Eriksson, the Thurs rune is associated with a destructive primordial power, chaos, dusk, darkness, wisdom.
This must, in my metaphysics, be combined with other properties. In Christian terms this would be called Logos or the Christ principle. Time is one great negation (self-sacrifice) of the Now´s unmoved being (Atman), which is the unmanifested, the actual source: the Good, the True and the Beautiful. Or said in Indian terms: a sacrifice of pure being (Sat) pure consciousness (chit) and pure joy (ananda).
In Western theology the Good, the True and the Beautiful is God. In Indian philosophy God is called Brahman. God is the nondual reality or Wholeness. The only thing that can be said to be nondual is the Wholeness. According to the Taoistic teaching of Yin and Yang there isn´t anything beyond the world. You can´t see the world from outside. You are in the world and you can only describe something from its opposition. What is the good? This you understand if you know what the evil is. You can´t say anything about the world as a whole, because you can´t put the Wholeness in opposition to anything. The Wholeness is therefore the indescribable (Tao). It is an absolute Otherness in relation to the known. This is represented by the Empty rune.
The negation-power (the Thurs rune) is in that way the power behind the world´s manifestation. Logically speaking, then the concept of negation probably is the best concept to describe why the ultimate, absolute truth can´t be reduced to something particular. The negation principle (the Christ principle) is an impossible logical principle to escape from, especially when speaking about reductionism. But when moving from the negation-principle towards the manifestation of the world we need to use other concepts.
Indian philosophy claims that the manifestation of the universe thus has arised on the background of a mighty universal vision (Mahat or Mahat Atman – a vision of beauty), which originates from past universes. This is the Ur rune. According to Eriksson, the Ur rune is associated with the creative primordial power, origin, beginning, dawn.
It is compared with the experience of objectivity when you awake from a deep sleep an early summer morning with singing birds. All religions have concepts of this great vision: it is the Dreamtime of the Aboriginals, God´s words in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the Pythagoreans´ Music of the Spheres, Plato´s world of Forms, The Bardoworlds of the Books of the Dead, The Anabasis of the Mystery Cults, The Image Galleries of the Alchemists, the Akashic Records of the Occultists. In Indian philosophy it is also called the causal body (karanadeha), or, as in Christianity, the spirit in the symbolism of body, soul and spirit.
Hereafter follows other runes: the Ass rune, which is associated with Önd/holy wind, air, thought, inspiration, the Great Mystery; the Reid rune, which is associated with lightning, thunder, Thor, Illumination, movement, order, the four directions (spaciousness); and the Ken rune, which is associated with fire, heat, spirit, transformation (Kundalini), and so on with the whole rune row.
The first nine runes are associated with the primordial creation. The next nine runes are associated with earth and soul processes. The last six runes has to with the human world, the body and the culture.
With the first nine runes, the future arises, and an outgoing creative movement; a movement, which can be compared with what they within science call The Big Bang (but it is not the same). In the outgoing movement (Ur), the great vision becomes, because of the negation-power (Thurs), shattered in many images, which now become a kind of memories about the great vision; signs from Eternity (the runes). In this way, the past arises, and a longing back towards the origin, the unmanifested. And then a destructive backmovement is created. This longing and backmovement are the background for life seen as a Quest, or a Pilgrimage.
In that way, the movement of time consists of two universal movements, which we could call the outgoing movement and the backmovement; future and past, creation and destruction, Ur and Thurs. These two movements are reflected throughout the universe in a multiplicity of different lifecycles; they are Samsara´s wheel (Urd´s Web) of up-cycles which are followed by down-cycles and vice versa (for example life and death, success and fiasco, joy and sorrow) – all this which lie behind the law of karma and rebirth (the activity of the Norns, symbolized by the Naud rune, the last of the first nine runes associated with the primordial creation). In Western theology: original sin.
This universe is for example considered to be a reincarnation of a past universe, the same way as a human being is considered to be a reincarnation of a past existence.
So the images in the movement of time are shattered reflections of the Great Vision of the universe (Dreamtime, God´s Thoughts), and are the background for the manifestation of the holy scriptures of India, the Vedas, which are claimed to have been ”heard” by wise men (the so-called Seers) in the dawn of time, and by word of mouth delivered over oceans of time (the seers could also be described as the first shamans, which were bards and scalds, or, our divine ancestors: the Shapers).
The images are shadows, dreams, masks, mirrors, fables, fairy-tales, fictions: signs from Eternity (among these are also the runes). The Vedas (as well as the runes) therefore both include the most sublime and difficult available philosophy, as for example in the Upanishads, and good folktales as Ramayana and Mahabharata (with the famous Bhagavadgita), which with its clear ethical messages is told in village temples, to the children as bedtime stories, and which is inspiration for great poets as Rabindranath Tagore (on the relation between philosophy and storytelling, see my article: Counseling in the Mythic Forest of Rold).
This is a description from Indian philosophy which I philosophical seen find very satisfying. In Western theology the Great Vision would be the same as God´s thoughts/words, in shamanism it would be the Dreamtime, or said with the Pythagoreans: the Music of the Spheres.
Musica universalis (literally universal music), also called Music of the Spheres or Harmony of the Spheres, is an ancient philosophical concept that regards proportions in the movements of celestial bodies—the Sun, Moon, and planets—as a form of music. This "music" is not usually thought to be literally audible, but a harmonic, mathematical or religious concept. The idea continued to appeal to thinkers about music until the end of the Renaissance, influencing scholars of many kinds, including humanists. Further scientific exploration has determined specific proportions in some orbital motion, described as orbital resonance.
The Pythagoreans were primarily mathematicians and astronomers. Their discovery of the mathematical relations of music made them assume, that the tones were the audible expression of the structure of the whole of the universe. They meant they had found consistency between for instance the movement of the planets and the individual tones, between the mutual location of the heavenly bodies and the intervals between the strings of the lyre. From this they concluded, that the movements of the planets in space had to bring forth tones, ”the music of the spheres”.
Since music in that way is an expression of divine or cosmic powers, it is also able to form the human Soul in compliance with the divine relations of numbers. A thought, which came to characterize both Plato, Aristotle, Aristoxenes and Plotinus. The Christian mystic Hildegard Von Bingen wrote a series of songs in the Gregorian tradition; songs, which she received in divine visions, because she in that degree was able to be completely existentially present in the Now. And a similarly philosophy of music you also find in Indian philosophy.
This musical metaphysics is quite central in Tolkien´s philosophy, as well as in the theory of the runes.
In Tolkien´s Middle-earth, the elves of Rivendell are famous for their singing. In the Christian story of creation, the New Testament tells us that in the beginning, there was the Word. In Tolkien´s spin, we are told that in the beginning, there was the Song. Before writing The Hobbit, Tolkien laid out the origins of Middle-earth and how the happy elves found a home there. Though The Silmarillion was first published in 1977, four years after Tolkien´s death, it contains the history behind Middle-earth that Tolkien had been working on for much of his adult life. As it begins, the creator of the world, Ilúvatar, made the Ainur, or Holy Ones, and gave them the power of song. The voices of the Ainur, like innumerable choirs and musical instruments,
began to fashion the theme of Ilúvatar to a great music; and a sound arose of endless interchanging melodies woven in harmony that passed beyond hearing into the depths and into the heights, and the places of the dwelling of Ilúvatar were filled to overflowing, and the music and the echo of the music went into the Void, and it was not void.
Both elves and men (Quendi and Atani) were created as important players of the world´s symphony. But though the race of men will do great things, Ilúvatar proclaims, it is the elves who “shall be the fairests of all earthly creatures, and they shall have and conceive and bring forth more beauty than all my Children; and they shall have the greater bliss in this world.”
The highest of the “guardian angels” in The Lord of the Rings is Elbereth. At the most critical juncture in the Quest, Sam is inspired to invoke her by name, “speaking in tongues” (language is always the clearest indicator of importance in Tolkien):
A Elbereth Gilthoniel
O menel palan-diriel,
Le nallon sí di-nguruthos!
A tiro nin, Fanuilos (LOTR, p. 712)
This translates as: “O, Elbereth Starkindler from heaven gazing-afar, to thee I cry now in the shadow of death. O look towards me, Everwhite.”
Words were to Tolkien the most beautiful things in the world. The most beautiful thing human eyes have ever seen is called “the Word of God”.
Tolkien loved words precisely in that pre-modern sense. He loved words (especially proper names) so much that he gave all his favorite things many names, not just one, and lingered long and lovingly over the art of naming:
Taniquetil the Elves name that holy mountain, and Oiolossë Everlasting Whiteness, and Elerrina Crowned with stars, and many names beside; but the Sindar spoke of it in their later tongue as Amon Uilos…Telperion the one was called in Valinor, and Silpio, and Ninquelórë, and many other names; but Laurelin the other was, and Malinalda, and Culúrien, and many names in song beside (Silmarillion, pp. 37-38).
Words were important to Tolkien, not just instrumentally, through their power and effect on life, but metaphysically, through their source and basis and foundation. For “in the beginning was the Word” (Jn 1:1). A Word – the Word of God – was the origin of the world (Gen 1:3). And a word was the origin of The Hobbit, and thus its sequel The Lord of the Rings:
All I remember about the start of The Hobbit is sitting correcting School Certificate papers in the everlasting weariness of that annual task forced on impecunions academics with children. On a blank leaf I scrawled: “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” I did not and do not know why…I did nothing about it, for a long time…But it became The Hobbit in the early 1930s…Since The Hobbit was a success, a sequel was called for (Letters, no. 163, p. 215).
Earlier, Tolkien´s whole mythology of The Silmarillion and its offspring The Lord of the Rings began with words. Tolkien first invented the Elvish language. Then he needed a race to speak it: Elves. Then they needed a history. It was the language that suggested the world and its history to Tolkien, not vice versa.
The same is true of Ents as of Hobbits and Elves: “As usually with me they grew rather out of their name, than the other way about” (Letters, no. 157, p. 208).
Tolkien discovered that “’Legends’ depend on the language to which they belong…Greek mythology depends far more on the marvellous aesthetic of its language and so of its nomenclature of persons and places and less on its content than people realize” (Letters, no. 180, p. 231).
Many readers dislike the plethora of names in The Lord of the Rings and, even more, in The Silmarillion. One reviewer complained that The Silmarillion sounded like “a Swedish railway conductor with a head cold announcing stations”. (the philosopher Peter Kreeft calls that a fascinating aural experience!)
The words of much of The Lord of the Rings and all of The Silmarillion are vertical, and heavy, as Max Picard says of Hebrew:
The architecture of the language was vertical. Each word sank down vertically, column-wise, into the sentence. In language today we have lost the static quality of the ancient tongues. The sentence has become dynamic; every word and every sentence speed on to the next…each word comes more from the preceding word than from the silence and moves on more to the next word in front than to the silence.
A quiver full of steel arrows, a firmly secured anchor rope, a brazen trumpet splitting the air with its few piercing tones: that is the Hebrew language – it can say little, but what it says is like the beating of hammers on the anvil. (Max Picard, The World of Silence, pp. 44-45).
Peter Kreeft says that each word in The Silmarillion seems like a thunderbolt from Heaven, a miracle. There are many capital letters, in contrast with the fashion of our levelling, reductionistic age to trim, to decapitalize, to decapitate. And there are many nouns, both common and proper. It is the Anglo-Saxon style. The words are solid, like mountains, heavy and slow, like a glacier. The sense of height and weight, a verticality, a supernaturalism. The reader is lifted up out of himself into immense polar skies, into the realm where “great syllables of words that sounded like castles came out of his mouth” (That Hideous Strength, p. 228).
But there is more: strange as it sounds, things are in words for Tolkien. The language of The Lord of the Rings, and even more of The Silmarillion, is not merely a device for communicating thoughts and feelings. The words are nor mere a label for concepts. Rather, it is in the words that the things live and move and have their being; and in the words they come to us. As Martin Heidegger puts it, language is “’the House of Being’. For words and language are not wrappings in which things first come into being and are. For this reason the misuse of language, in idle talk, in slogans and phrases, destroys our authentic relation to things.” (Martin Heidegger, An Introduction to Metaphysics, p. 11).
The naming does not consist merely in something already known being supplied with a name; it is rather that when a poet speaks the essential word, the existent is by this name nominated as what it is. So it becomes known as existent [real]. Poetry is the establishing of being by means of the word. (Martin Heidegger, Holderlin and the Essence of Poetry, in Existence and Being, p. 304.
Thus poetry is making, as its name says (poisis). Poetry is not ornament but fundamental speech; prose is fallen poetry. And fundamental speech is an act of creating. And unspeaking is uncreating. “Last of all is set the name of Melkor, He Who Arises in Might. But that name he has forfeited, and the Noldor, who among the Elves suffered most from his malice, will not utter it (Silmarillion, p. 31). And Gandalf will not utter the words on the Ring in the Black Speech of Mordor in the Shire, but only at the Council of Elrond in Rivendell, and even in that safe and holy place the words summon something of the presence of their Hellish source:
“Ash nazg durbatuluk, ash nazg gimbatul, ash nazg thrakatuluk agh burzun-ishi krimpatul.”
The change in the wizard´s voice was astounding. Suddenly it became menacing, powerful, harsh as stone. A shadow seemed to pass over over the high sun, and the porch for a moment drew dark. All trembled, and the Elves stopped their ears.
“Never before has any voice dared to utter words of that tongue in Imladris, Gandalf the Grey,” said Elrond, as the shadow passed and the company breathed once more (LOTR, pp. 247-48).
The power of words is based on the fact that real things are found in words. Words are not merely things among a world of things, things with one additional feature, the ability to point to other things. No, words are the encompassing frame of the world of things. Things constitute a “world” only by the creative word of the author, who names them.
And therefore, since the things are encompassed by words, our wonder at the things is encompassed by our wonder over the words.
Kreeft says that the genealogies are the dullest part of the Bible for modern readers, but they were some of the most wonderful for the ancients.
The Black Speech is one of the more fragmentary languages in the novels. Unlike Elvish, Tolkien did not write songs or poems in the Black Speech, apart from the One Ring inscription. Tolkien stated:
The Black Speech was not intentionally modelled on any style, but was meant to be self consistent, very different from Elvish, yet organized and expressive, as would be expected of a device of Sauron before his complete corruption. It was evidently an agglutinative language. [...] I have tried to play fair linguistically, and it is meant to have a meaning not be a mere casual group of nasty noises, though an accurate transcription would even nowadays only be printable in the higher and artistically more advanced form of literature. According to my taste such things are best left to Orcs, ancient and modern. ("Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings", Parma Eldalemberon 17, p. 11-12).
Language is in its original form divine, but it usually develops into The Black Speech of Mordor, especially in the reductionist language of modernity and postmodernity: the speech of absence and noise, and of power and ideology. In order to, that our usage of language can be precise, logical and clear, there must be a non-linguistical sensation, which carries it. It must be made transparent in presence and reality. When language is made transparent in presence it works from the universal images, and therefore synthesizing and healing. This is precisely how the Elvish languages function.
Tolkien constructed many Elvish languages. These were the languages spoken by the tribes of his Elves. Tolkien was a philologist by profession, and spent much time on his constructed languages. The Elvish languages were the first thing he imagined for his secondary world. Tolkien said that his stories grew out of his languages. Tolkien also created scripts for his Elvish languages, runes, of which the best known are the Sarati, the Tengwar, and the Cirth. More about this in the last chapter: Dreams: Freyja´s Moon Runes.
Tolkien drew inspiration from Anglo-Saxon England in his ‘The Lord of the Rings’. Below is a photo of a mysterious ring with a runic inscription. It was made between the 8th and 10th centuries, and was found in Cumbria in the north west of England (Read more):
If things come to us in their names, if language is the “house of being”, then the power of things comes to us in the power of their names. Words have power, not only to communicate, intellectually, and not only to suggest, emotionally, but also a magical power that can produce physical effects.
There are many examples of this in The Lord of the Rings. Bombadil is the clearest one. His words save Merry from Old Man Willow and Frodo from the Barrow-wight, for “None has ever caught him yet, for Tom, he is the master: His songs are stronger songs, and his feet are faster” (LOTR, p. 139).
Frodo too uses the “magical” power of words: when he calls Tom´s name, two miracles happen, one spiritual and one physical. The name conjures up both Frodo´s courage and Tom, who actually comes. Kreeft says that if we find this unconvincing, it shows how little we have taken God at His word when He repeatedly promises the same thing Bombadil did. To put the promise in contemporary words, “You just call out My Name, and you know, wherever I am, I´ll come running to see you again…”
We know there are words that sacramentally effect what they signify, there are operative words, there are magic words. Two of the most familiar “magic words” are “I love you” and “I hate you.” These are not labels for communication; they are spiritual weapons, arrows that pierce through flesh and into hearts. The whole of The Lord of the Rings is an armor-piercing rocket that can get even into our underground bunkers.
The most powerful words are proper names, names of persons or places. When the Black Rider bangs on Fatty Bulger´s door in Buckland saying, “Open in the name of Mordor”, all the authority and power and terror of Mordor are really present there. When Frodo, on Weathertop, faces the Black Rider, “he heard himself crying aloud, ‘O Elbereth! Gilthoniel!’” (LOTR, p. 191), as he struck the Rider with his sword. Afterward, Aragorn says, “All blades perish that pierce that dreadful King. More deadly to him was the name of Elbereth” (LOTR, p. 193).
In Shelob´s lair Frodo speaks in tongues again: “’Aiya Earendil Elenion Ancalimal!’ he cried, and knew not what he had spoken; for it seemed that another voice spoke through his” (LOTR, p. 704). And when the tiny Hobbit with the tiny sword advanced on the most hideous creature in Middle-earth with the phial of Galadriel and the name of Galadriel, Shelob cowered.
Language is most condensed in the spoken, communicated language: words, sentences, opinions, conversation. The thoughts can be as speech, only without sound. But the thoughts can also be abstract, faster, dispositions to words and sentences. And here language nuances itself: polar structures, emotional, creative, intuitive, symbolic and metaphorical language games, musical and mathematical language games. All this is lying in the collective images. The collective images are lying on an astral plan, and work in sequences in past and future/cyclic structures (Urd´s Web).
Even deeper are the universal images lying, what Sri Aurobindo called vision-logic: language which no longer is verbal, but which is superior, visionary syntheses and wholes, that work more in synchronism with the Now, than in sequences in past and future. From this plane originates the world-images, the superior universal systems and paradigms: philosophical, scientifical, religious-spiritual and cosmic world-images and mappings. These are linguistical refined, highly abstract, stratospherical or ionospherical levels of language and systems of reference, but however still linguistic structures and interpretations. However, they are in their original form not human made, and there is in Indian philosophy many discussions about whether they are expressions of the actual divine unmanifested source, or whether they lie somewhere between the unmanifested and the manifested. They probably correspond to what the Western philosophers have called unmoved matter. To Christians, Muslims and Jews, they are the thoughts of God. To the Shamans they are the Dreamtime. They are what the Elvish languages are based on. The Elvish languages are open to these thoughts.
There is an old myth of an original language. It is in Plato (the “Cratylus”) and the Bible (the story of the Tower of Babel, answered by Pentecost). If this is true, it explains why every proper name of Tolkien´s seems exactly right. (This is a power even many of his critics marvel at.) When we read them we are remembering (Plato´s anamnesis); our cognition is a recognition. Our “word detector” buzzes when we meet the Right Word, the Platonic Idea.
The most powerful and magical language is music. The reason for this is that music is the original language. Music is the language of creation. As mentioned: In The Silmarillion, God and His angels sings the world into being: “In the beginning, Eru, the One, who in Elvish tongue is named Iluvatar, made the Ainur of his thought; and they made a great music before him. In this music the World was begun” (Silmarillion, p. 25).
It is not that the music was in the world but that the world was in the music. Many Indigenous Australians refer to the Creation time as "The Dreaming". The Dreamtime laid down the patterns of life for the Aboriginal people. Creation is believed to be the work of culture heroes who traveled across a formless land, creating sacred sites and significant places of interest through their singing. By singing the world into existence, the Ancestors had been poets in the original sense of poesis, meaning 'creation'. In this way, "songlines" were established, some of which could travel right across Australia, through as many as six to ten different language groupings. A songline, also called dreaming track, is one of the paths across the land (or sometimes the sky) which mark the route followed by localised "creator-beings" during the Dreaming. The paths of the songlines are recorded in traditional songs, stories, dance, and painting.
A knowledgeable person is able to navigate across the land by repeating the words of the song, which describe the location of landmarks, waterholes, and other natural phenomena. In some cases, the paths of the creator-beings are said to be evident from their marks, or petrosomatoglyphs, on the land, such as large depressions in the land which are said to be their footprints.
By singing the songs in the appropriate sequence, indigenous people could navigate vast distances, often travelling through the deserts of Australia's interior. The continent of Australia contains an extensive system of songlines, some of which are of a few kilometres, whilst others traverse hundreds of kilometres through lands of many different indigenous peoples — peoples who may speak markedly different languages and have different cultural traditions.
Since a songline can span the lands of several different language groups, different parts of the song are said to be in those different languages. Languages are not a barrier because the melodic contour of the song describes the nature of the land over which the song passes. The rhythm is what is crucial to understanding the song. Listening to the song of the land is the same as walking on this songline and observing the land.
In some cases, a songline has a particular direction, and walking the wrong way along a songline may be a sacrilegious act (e.g. climbing up Uluru where the correct direction is down). Traditional Aboriginal people regard all land as sacred, and the songs must be continually sung to keep the land "alive".
This mythology reminds in an astonishing way about “the music of the spheres,” in which everything is, the “Song of Songs” that includes all songs. All matter, space, time, and history are in this primal language.
Plato knew the power of music. In the Republic it is the first step in education in the good society and the first step in corruption in the bad one. Nothing is more powerful to the good society, to education, to human happiness in this world.
Music is not ornamented poetry, and poetry is not ornamented prose. Poetry is fallen music, and prose is fallen poetry. Prose is not the original language, it is poetry made practical. Even poetry is not the original language; it is music made speakable, it is the words of music separated from their music. In the beginning was music.
The Lord of the Rings is full of singing. One of its indices lists fifty-six songs or poems. The Hobbits sing high hymns to Elbereth and homespun Walking Songs and Bath Songs. Tolkien, like Bombadil, is a writer of prose who is bursting with poetry and music. Peter Beagle calls him “a writer whose own prose is itself taut with poetry”.
Music is an essential part of Elvish enchantment. When the Fellowship enters Lothlorien, Sam says, “I feel as if I was inside a song, if you take my meaning” (LOTR, p. 342). And we say the same when we enter The Lord of the Rings.
Kreeft says that the last division of philosophy that will ever be understood clearly and adequately by reason is aesthetics, and within aesthetics, music.
B) A Non-religious Description of Metaphysics
Philosophy points towards the Wholeness. In philosophy, the Wholeness is the first principle (the Empty rune). Reductionism points towards the parts, and claims that the parts are the first principle (s). Reductionism claims that the parts are the building stones forming the Wholeness. The Wholeness should be explained from the parts (matter, psyche, society, etc); the Wholeness is a result of the parts. But since the Wholeness is everything, and therefore also Negation and Infinity, it should be clear that the parts can´t be the first principle(s), since you can´t build Negation and Infinity. It is logically impossible. It would never end. The Wholeness is therefore the first principle. The parts are a result of the Wholeness. You could, for example, claim, that a flower is the result of a lot of small building stones. But this is not the Wholeness of the flower. The Wholeness of the flower is also the Negation of the flower. It is here the aesthetical aspect comes in. And, aesthetics (beauty) is connected to Consciousness, to subjective experience. We experience in Wholenesses, despite how narrow and absent-minded this might be. We don´t experience in parts. The mind, or the thoughts, divide in parts, but not the consciousness itself, which is lying behind every subjective experience.
None of the reductionisms can accept a non-reductionist theory of Consciousness. I will therefore shortly describe a non-reductionist theory of mind.
It is a version of dualism combined with the double aspect theory (inspired by pre-modern views such as Platonism and Vedanta). It takes into account the concept of the Enlightened Consciousness. The following is a completely non-religious description of this theory. I give it in order to show where the Western theories fail.
The first principle is simply the concept of The Wholeness (the Empty rune). The Great Vision, Dreamtime, or the Ur rune, is somewhere in between the first principle and the second principle (because it is not completely indescribable). The second principle is the concept of the Negation Principle (the Thurs rune). The third principle is Spaciousness (and the following six runes in the primordial creation). Altogether: The True, The Good and the Beautiful.
Note the paradox connected with the Thurs Rune. According to Eriksson, the Thurs-rune (pronounced with th or t), represents Ymer and all the giant species, also such demonic offspring as Fenrir the Wolf and the Midgård serpent. Thurs is the complementary opposite to Ur and is thus the destructive primordial power, a power that represents and brings disorder and chaos. But just like Ur it is indispensable for creation. Thurs means dusk, darkness and fright, but also wisdom since the giants are the oldest creatures in the cosmos. The Thurs-rune represents a lethal magic power that sometimes also is needed in white magic, e.g. in preparing rebirth or when trying to break down what´s harmful. It is the rune of jotunheim and it calls for attention and vigilance against menacing powers. It also points to destructive tendencies wihtin ourselves that we should abondon. The paradoxical in the Thurs-rune can be seen in the above, religious/mythological description of metaphysics, where it is related to the Christ-principle, that the whole of creation is God sacrificing himself. It is also related to Logos. It is quite central in logic, for example. Order can only arise if you understand it´s complementary relation to chaos. You can also see it in my concept of Lucifer Morningstar.
And now to the concept of Consciousness, or rather: enlightened Consciousness. I have suggested, that a human being seems to have two aspects: an energy-aspect and a consciousness-aspect.
Seen from the Consciousness-aspect, then a human being seems to be akin to the Wholeness. The Wholeness is one and the same as Reality. So, in my view, Consciousness (Enlightened Consciousness!), Wholeness and Reality are one and the same. They are connected through the principles of Negation and Spaciousness. If you are aware in the Now, the Now, and therefore life itself, expands.
Spaciousness is also the principle behind objectivity. It is therefore a fundamental mistake to confuse subjective idealism with Enlightened Consciousness.
Both Wholeness and spaciousness are central concepts in shamanism (which is one of the reasons I believe shamanism once was a path of enlightenment). We see it in shamanic symbols (wheels, circles, etc.), and in the worship of nature (the Wheel of the Year, the Cosmic Tree, the Holy directions, the life cycles, etc). For example, have a look at this depiction of the shaman´s cosmos (taken from the book: The Celtic Shaman - A Practical Guide, by John Matthews):
Also see the below depiction of the Shaman Yogi´s universe, taken from the splendid book: Singing the Soul Back Home, by Caitlin Matthews:
If you take the first image, which shows the three worlds, and combine this with the above-mentioned Freyja´s Oracle, where the Underworld is the past (Urd), the Middleworld is the presence (Verdande) and the Upperworld is the future (Skuld) - then you can see why Freyja´s Healing Cosmology must be explained before Freyja´s Oracle. The divinatory understanding of the past, presence and future is namely completely determined by the whole cosmology which this picture depicts.
So, a human being has two aspects: an energy aspect and a consciousness aspect. The two inner group of flower petals in the above-mentioned cosmic model of a human being (personal and collective images, or, The Great Cycle, Urd´s Web) have to do with the energy aspect. The third and outer group of flower petals, has to do with consciousness (universal images, or, the Great Vision, Dreamtime, the Thoughts of God). Compensatory karma belongs to the energy aspect (two inner groups). Progressive karma belongs to the consciousness aspect (outer group). Progressive karma is one and the same as divine providence, and in higher magic this is the help you ought to seek. In my ebook, Philosophical Counseling with Tolkien, I have described progressive karma and divine providence in Chapter 2, Philosophical Theology, Part 2: Divine Providence and Free Will.
Seen from the energy-aspect lawfulness rules: your body is subject to the physical laws of nature (both classical laws and quantum laws); your psychic system is subject to the lawfulness of the energy fields and of the energy transformations: compensatory karma. The psychic system is what I refer to when I talk about thoughts and mind.
Seen from the consciousness-aspect, then a human being, as mentioned, seems to be akin to the Wholeness, to be transcendent in relation to these lawfulnesses (also the quantum laws). The Wholeness is one and the same as reality.
7) The Kundalini Power and the World Tree
So, in my view, consciousness, Wholeness and reality is one and the same. Consciousness and mind are therefore two completely different things. Mind is a psychological concept. Consciousness is a metaphysical, cosmological and ontological concept. You could also call it God or the enlightened consciousness, Christ or Buddha. It is complete objectivity and spaciousness; the Empty rune. The mind is therefore an altogether different concept.
Energy (represented by the 24 runes) and consciousness (the 25th rune: the empty rune) could also be called Shakti and Shiva. Shakti is the divine force flowing through the Universe as a whole. It is considered the feminine force (Mother Earth) of the Universe along with its mate, Shiva (Father Heaven), which is the male counterpart.
Shakti becomes Kundalini within the human form (Kundalini is represented by the Ken-rune). When Kundalini awakens (meaning a rise of consciousness) we are now a part of Shiva and Shakti, and the power that is not only Kundalini energy that has individual formed us but the pure form of energy that infiltrates the Universe and cosmos. When we are able to fully recognize Kundalini and Shakti as no longer being separate forces we can feel the connection and oneness to the divine as well as having the direct realization (rise of consciousness, the awakened Wholeness) of our basic energetic formation. It is a tantric process (see my article: My Friend in the Woods).
But in New Age you see a confusion of mind and consciousness, which is resulting in solipsism, a narcissism of unseen dimensions. I have explained this confusion in my Ebook: The Tragic New Age Confusion of Eastern Enlightenment and Western Subjective Idealism. Also see my booklet: Philosophy of Mind.
The shamanic traditions talk about shamanic power. It is necessary to have an awakened power in order to perform shamanic work. In my view this power is kundalini. Let me shortly explain how kundalini can be seen in the light of the cosmology I have depicted in this article.
The Wholeness can, as already explained, either be sleeping, dreaming and awake.
In his article, The World Tree, the Cosmic Web and Mother Earth in Nordic Tradition, Jörgen I. Eriksson writes:
I have been working for more than 30 years trying to revive or reawaken the Nordic spiritual/shamanic tradition – a tradition that has been waning for more than 1000 years and in fact was extinct. How do you revive an extinct tradition? That question I asked the Lakota wise man Archie Fire Lame Deer whom I met in Rotterdam in 1980 at the Russell Tribunal on the situation of the Indians of the Americas. Archie Fire was there as spiritual advisor to the representatives of the American Indian Movement. He said that he wouldn’t give me such an advice since the White man always had told the Indians what to do, but – he added – if you go back to the time before the Christian missionaries came to you then you will probably find a lot of inspiration. This is what I have been working on since that meeting.
I have used three main sources in my work to reconstruct the Nordic shamanic tradition:
Mother Earth is the main source of knowledge of the old spiritual tradition since the knowledge; the old stories from Dreamtime are still present in the landscape – if you just learn to listen in a humble way. This is a central theme in Eriksson´s shamanic philosophy. He believes that many of the old sacred sites have gone asleep since no one talks to them anymore, so they have to be reawakened. So, also here we see a theory about that the Wholeness can be sleeping. Add to this that it can be dreaming, and completely awake. This corresponds with the Kundalini Power.
The main characteristics of this traditional paradigm are:
As already described: In the first song in the Poetic Edda the cosmology is presented by the first shaman – a female shaman called vølven in Danish. She knows how it all started and she knows the essence of cosmos. She tells about the creation of everything out of the great void, the great emptiness called Ginnungagap. Nothing existed except that great void, but in that great void heat and cold met and from that meeting an enormous two-gendered giant was created – called Ymer. At the same time a primordial cow was created that nurtured Ymer with her milk. Probably this was a female moose – a motive we can find in many of the ancient rock carvings in Norway, Sweden and Siberia. This cow was called Audhumbla. Ymer procreated several giants and sacred beings with him/herself. Three of these sacred beings – Oden, Vile and Ve – slayed Ymer and built the earth from his/her body, from his/her blood they created the oceans, lakes and rivers, from the body hair they made the forests and the skull was transformed into the sky.
In Nordic tradition the number three is a sacred number, as well as four, so there is no coincidence that they were three sacred beings building the world and ordering cosmos, dividing day and night, summer and winter and so on. One day when walking on the beach they found two tree trunks – Ask and Embla (Ash and Elm) – that they transformed into the first humans.
The first shaman also tells about the world tree, Yggdrasil. This is a giant ash and its name means Odin’s horse since the male master shaman Odin gained his knowledge of the runes after hanging in the world tree for nine nights. Yggdrasil is a description of cosmos as an organic, living being. Nothing exists outside the world tree which is said to contain nine different worlds.
In my booklet, The Nine Gates of Middle-earth, I have described the chakra system as "The Nine Gates of Middle-earth". These gates don´t correspond entirely to the nine worlds, but I suggest that the world tree in Nordic tradition, Yggdrasil, in a surprising way, seems to symbolize the Kundalini Power.
The world tree has three roots; one comes from Mimer’s well, where a wise giants sits watching the sacred water. By drinking from Mimer’s well you will get wise but you have to sacrifice something to get that drink. Odin sacrificed one of his eyes. Another root comes from Hvergelme, the well from which all waters stem, and the third root comes from Urd’s well.
The three lower worlds quite precisely describes the three principle nadis in yoga philosophy: ida, pingala and sushumna.
By Urd’s well we find three female sacred beings weaving the cosmic web. They are called Urd, Verdandi and Skuld, names that have been translated as the past, the present and the future, but Eriksson thinks that this is more of a depiction of time as something that can’t be divided – an eternal now, an all-time. Weaving the cosmic web that encompasses everything the norns carve the runes into that web – they are the first creators of the runes. The story about Urd’s web is a way of describing that we are all related and connected and what you do a one “spot” in that web will affect things all over the web. This is the collective images in time.
The primal state of the cosmic web is balance; there is balance between chaos and order, between destructive and constructive powers, between life and death, between humans and animals, between humans and plants, between humans and the spirit world/non-ordinary reality, between Father Heaven and Mother Earth, between male and female powers.
If this original dynamic balance is disturbed we were given sacraments by the sacred beings; ways to restore harmony and balance – such as the sacred sites of Mother Earth, ceremonies, prayer, the specific Nordic shamanic trance method called sejd and the runes, which are a very specific feature of the Nordic spiritual tradition.
Let´s explain this in another way: the Now´s lawfulness around the function of a universal negation-power, is due to, that energy works as streams and dividings within a superior Wholeness. And because the Wholeness is a reality, each part will always fit into a correspondent part. This means, that each part only can be understood in relation to its negation; that is: what the part not is. Firstly this implies, that each part comes to appear as part of a polarization-pair, or a pair of opposites – like in the teaching of Yin and Yang. Secondly it implies, that each part only can be understood in relation to everything else; that is: in relation to the Wholeness.
So the more you, through the Ego´s evaluations, isolate these parts from each other, the more the abandoned parts will work stronger and stronger on their polar partners. Therefore these polar partners in their extremes will finally switch over in the opposite extreme. Another aspect of this lawfulness, or another way to describe this lawfulness is: energy returns to its starting point. This is also called compensatory karma, and the lawfulness works as wave movements and pendulum movements. This is how The Great Cycle (Urd´s Web) works. And this is the area which rune magic seek to influence.
Seen from the consciousness aspect, however, then a human being seems to be akin to the Wholeness, to be transcendent in relation to these lawfulnesses. The consciousness is the area of progressive karma, spiritual development; it is the area of realization (rise of consciousness), the area of the universal images of time, which work in synchronism with the Now. This is the area which icon mysticism seek to influence.
The Now seems to be a quality of awareness, and therefore also of consciousness and Wholeness. Realization (rise of consciousness) has to do with the three states the Wholeness can be in: sleep, dream, awake. So it is only here you can talk about the spiritual insights of the great mystics. It is only here you can talk about genuine mystical experiences; that is: experiences, which are followed by realization (rise of consciousness). This is basically what higher magic is all about.
When you reduce everything to the energy aspect, there can´t happen any realization (rise of consciousness). Whatever you do within this area, which is the area of base magic - therapy, exercises, use of drugs, stimulation of brain cells, Holotropic breathwork, etc., etc, - then it only will result in experiences without realization. It will also result in absense of awareness, because the consciousness will be distracted by the personal and collective images of time, which work in sequences in past and future, as well as in fragmentation. For example, in her splendid book, Working with Kundalini – An Experiential Guide to the Process of Awakening, Mary Shutan talks about pre-kundalini and Neuro-kundalini, where you experience rise of energy but no rise of consciousness. When Shutan talks of Kundalini awakening, she means a rise of consciousness, which is the same as my talk of a rise of realization. It is only the latter which is a genuine Kundalini awakening
Experiences (rise of energy) without realization (rise of consciousness) will therefore be characterized by existential categories such as unreality, division, anxiety, stagnation and meaninglessness, no matter how “divine” or “demonical” they occur to the experiencer. And that is actually in direct opposition to the genuine mystical experience, which are followed by realization (rise of consciousness). The mystical experience is namely characterized by the opposite existential categories, such as reality, co-operation, safety, movement and meaning.
So, in a spiritual practice it is the form of the consciousness it is about (realization, rise of consciousness), not its content (experiences, rise of energy).
8) Karma: The Web of the Norns
On the plane of the universal images (The Great Mystery, Dreamtime, God´s thoughts), and therefore on the Now´s plane, the central is the form of the consciousness - the actual consciousness and its clarity and openness. Not the content of the consciousness. In spiritual practice the spiritual, and spiritual active, is the consciousness´ course towards its source (the Now, the Wholeness, God, the Enligtened Consciousness). What the consciousness and the mind and the senses are filled by, is of less crucial importance.
So the Ego´s partial consciousness is part of a greater Wholeness, which is the Now, life itself. And life itself is the life in the Now, where you are present and active using the pure awareness, the innermost in you, and using the heartfullness, which is the whole of yourself; what we could call your spiritual essence, because the lifefulfilment, which life itself contains is so absolute, so complete, that there herein is something eternal and endless.
The concept of karma has therefore primarily to do with the development process of your spiritual essence (your soul) - and only secondary and indirectly with the Ego´s process; that is: with your personal time and lifesituation, or with the collective time and lifesituation. Admittedly it is the Ego´s actions out on the scene, which leaves karmic tracks. Karma (compensatory karma, negative karma, or Urd´s Web) is the subconscious consequences of the Ego´s actions. Each time the Ego acts - and thereby changes the balance in the Wholeness – then the structures and power lines in your spiritual essence changes, in the subconcious.
When your spiritual essence (your soul) is sleeping, karma is automatically. The Ego´s pendulum swings in one life out in an extreme. Hereby gathers in the Wholeness, in your spiritual essence, momentum to, that the pendulum in a future life will swing out in the opposite compensatory extreme. This is the automatic compensatory karma (the wrath of the Norns). In one life ascetic, in the next libertine, then inhibited and expelled, thereupon sybarite etc. with no end, because the Ego has freedom continual to give new momentum and new course - within the karmic possible; that is to say: heredity and environment - to the Ego´s pendulum (the same is happening in numerous other ways within one life). That is one reason for that nobody can tell you about your karma.
However, when the Ego decides to use its free energy, its existential option to begin to awake, then the karma structures changes (Urd´s Web changes). This is what is happening in Meditation as an Art of Life. Then you begin to use and work with your spiritual dimension. This dimension is not subject to the karmic structure, it is it, or it is over it. The Wholeness is over, is transcendent, in relation to the laws and mechanisms, which regulate the infrastructures of the Wholeness. The Wholeness is not subject to the laws and energy transformations, which rule between the constitutive parts of the Wholeness.
When your spiritual essence (your soul) begins to dream, when the Ego-consciousness begins to bloom, to open itself, to rise, you discover the karmic lawfulnesses and can therefore relate to them. When your consciousness in extended state begins to sense the karmic structures, or Urd´s Web, which after all not only rule between the many life´s of your spiritual essence (your soul), but all the same are known psychological mirrored from the Ego´s dreams and the Ego´s life - then you can change attitude.
Instead of swinging with the laws you can choose to observe. Instead of identifying yourself with impulses and incentives, emotions and thought tendencies, you can separate yourself, become a witness, become alert. And hereby you can break the karmic automatism. You can break out of the necessity of Urd´s Web.
Again, be aware, that your thoughts (the mind) belong to the energy aspect, and not the consciousness aspect. I say this because they in the very popular movement of New Thought, Law of attraction and positive psychology, have confused the consciousness with the mind and therefore the thoughts. They here think that you can produce progressive karma (what they call the law of attraction), with your thoughts. You can´t, because that is not an awakening proces. Actually it would just produce more compensatory (negative) karma. It is only the spiritual awakening (rise) of your consciousness, and its direction in towards the source, the form of consciousness, that will produce progressive karma.
Human beings are in that way, seen from the point of view of the ordinary ego-consciousness, inserted in two dimensions: a continuum, which streams are subject to laws; a discontinuum, for which leaps laws not seem to be effective. Note though, that this must not be confused with any quantum mystical theories about quantum jumping, quantum healing, time travel, etc., etc. As I have shown in my articles Quantum mysticism and its Web of Lies, and Quantum Mechanics and the Philosophy of Niels Bohr, then laws are still effective within quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics, no matter how weird it is, belongs to the energy aspect of human beings.
The Wholeness, your spiritual essence, your soul, is normally the discontinuous aspect; normally, because this is of course seen from the point of view of the ego-continuum. Seen from the point of view of your spiritual essence, then the ego-continuum, with its sleep and awake, life and death, is the discontinous aspect, and the spiritual essence the continuous aspect. But the parts, the Ego and its evaluations, is normally the continuous aspect.
When your spiritual essence (your soul) begins to dream and the continuum of the ego-consciousness breaks and expands in a discontinuum (into the superior continuum of the Wholeness – or your spiritual essence), then the cosmic structure-pattern changes. Instead of mere compensatory karma, a progressive karma will now be effective (direct help from the Great Mystery, from Dreamtime, from God, or the Enlightened Consciousness). That, which you through existential achievement have reached of spiritual contact in one life, will form a progressive karma.
9) Dreams: Freyja´s Moon Runes
In this chapter, I will describe what I mean by "Freyja´s Moon Runes". I will do this with inspiration from Tolkien´s depiction of runes. First I will describe Tolkien´s use of runes, hereafter I will go into Freyja´s Moon Runes.
A) Tolkien´s Use of Runes
As mentioned: Tolkien said that his stories grew out of his languages. Tolkien also created scripts for his Elvish languages, runes, of which the best known are the Sarati, the Tengwar, and the Cirth.
In his book, Nordic Runes – Understanding, Casting, & Interpreting the Ancient Viking Oracle, Paul Rhys Mountfort gives a fascinating insight into Tolkien´s use of runes. He writes:
As a lover, along with fellow “inklings” C.S. Lewis and W.H. Auden, of everything “Northern”, Tolkien had a special interest in runes. The very roots of his fictional mythology, subsequently published in 1977 as The Silmarillion, and the many volumes of the Book of Lost Tales, were profoundly influenced by Norse myth, with the idea of Middle-earth itself derived from Midgard of the Norse nine-world model.
When The Hobbit was published in 1937, its cover was ringed by Anglo-Saxon runes. Readers of The Hobbit will recognize these lines from the opening monograph of that work: “Runes were old letters originally used for cutting or scratching on wood, stone, or metal, and so were thin and angular. At the time of this tale only the Dwarves made regular use of them, especially for private or secret records. Their runes are in this book represented by English runes, which are known now to few people.” (page 209).
In other words, Mountfort says:
“Tolkien ‘translates’ his Dwarf runes by using the twenty-nine- to thirty-one-stave version of Anglo-Saxon Futhark, which evolved in England around the beginning of the ninth century and whose first twenty-four letters are none other than ‘our’ runes – The Elder Futhark script.”
Like the Futharks, the “Dwarf runes”, more properly known as Moon Runes, or the Runes of Erebor, are treated as magical sigils of power and mystery that Gandalf, as a wizard, retained the skill of interpret. How they gained this title is explained to Bilbo by Elrond (himself a rune master), when the adventuring hobbit visit the Last Homely House East of the Sea (I quote from Mountfort):
“Moon-letters are rune-letters, but you cannot see them,” said Elrond, “not when you look straight at them. They can only be seen when the moon shines behind them, and what is more, with the more cunning sort it must be a moon of the same shape and season as the day when they were written. The dwarves invented them and wrote them with silver pens, as your friends could tell you. These must have been written on a midsummer´s eve in a crescent moon, a long while ago.” (Ibid., page 51).
When The Hobbit achieved great popularity and the publisher requested a sequel, Tolkien began the saga that would come to be known as The Lord of the Rings. For this, more than a row of Moon Runes would be required, and Tolkien furnished his trilogy – actually a sextet – with several magical alphabets, including the fifty-eight-stave Angerthas rune script. Many of these staves are based on genuine runes, including the Elder Futhark.
In The Return of the King, we read that Lady Eowyn gifts Merry with an ancient horn on which “there were set runes of great virtue,” and, according to Mountfort, there is ample evidence to support the claim that Tolkien drew on elements of the magical as well as epigraphical traditions. The wizard Gandalf, for example, signs himself with a rune which reminds about Odin´s rune, Ass, in the Elder Futhark (in Eriksson´s Uthark, Odin´s rune is Eh, but Ass is also related). Mountfort says that the comparison seems justified in light of the similarities between the characters. Odin is, in Norse myth, a magician who sits upon his shaman´s throne in Asgard. When he walks abroad, he is disguised in a blue robe, with a felt hat pulled low over his missing eye, and is armed with a magic spear or staff. Gandalf is described in nearly identical terms in the following poem from The Fellowship of the Ring:
A lord of wisdom throned he sat,
Swift in anger, quick to laugh;
An old man in a battered hat
Who leaned upon a thorny staff.
Let us consider Gandalf a little more closely. Tolkien portraits him using many different angles: as Christ (the Resurrection as the reappearance of Gandalf the White), a guardian angel, but also with a pagan angle: “a bearded stranger seeming in long cloak larger than life,” “an old wanderer glancing up from under a shadowy hood or floppy-brimmed hat…with a gleam of recognition out his one piercing eye,” whose his chief skill was “as a wizard or sorcerer or vates,” in his “usual disguise of wide-brimmed hat, blue cloak, and tall staff.” He usually appeared as “a tall, vigorous man, about fifty years of age…clad in a suit of grey, with a blue hood, and…a wide blue mantle flecked with grey…on his finger or arm he wore [a] a marvelous ring…”
To anyone who knows the books, the description is unmistakable, says the philosopher Patrick Curry. Yet these are not Tolkien´s words, and they were used to describe not Gandalf but Wodan (Odin in Norse), the chief god of the Old English pantheon. The same god sometimes competed with giants in tests of esoteric knowledge, incapsulated in riddles, and triumphed in the end by keeping his opponents “so engrossed in the game of question and answer that they were caught by the rays of the rising sun and turned to stone” – exactly the trick Gandalf used on the trolls in The Hobbit.
His transformation into Gandalf the White notwithstanding, “ the Odinic wanderer,” as Tolkien once called him, is a profoundly pagan character, a mage and shaman, with parallels in every culturel memory: the Celtic Merlin and the classical Hermes Trismegistus, to name but two well-known ones. (The portrait of the latter on a paving-stone in Siena Cathedral could be of Gandalf himself.) And while Gandalf is neither The Hobbit´s nor The Lord of the Ring´s central character, equally they are unimaginable without him.
God and angels are not present in The Lord of the Rings, but they are present in The Silmarillion, which is a description of the metaphysic/theology behind. The angels are the main protagonists of the first two parts of The Silmarillion, and Hobbits are the main protagonists of The Lord of the Rings. The Wizards, including Gandalf and Saruman, are angels, of the lower order of Maiar; Sauron and also the Balrogs are fallen, evil Maiar (Silmarillion, p. 31); and Tom Bombadil and Goldberry are quite possible the Valar Aulë and Yavanna (ibid., pp. 27-28, 39).
This is in compliance with Odin, both as a god, and a shamanic wanderer. And this ontological pluralism is a central part of my own philosophy of Nordic Shamanism.
To adopt Odin´s own rune for Gandalf would have been a dead giveaway, but, says Mountfort, the similarity suggests that Tolkien had contemplated the morphology of meaningful names attached to the Futharks. Indeed, the Old English, Norwegian, and Icelandic Rune poems were squarely within his sphere of interest.
According to Mountfort, then there is another possible, though cryptic, reference along similar lines, that may be divined in the scene where the Lady Galadriel presents gifts to the Company of the Ring in the forest of Lothlorien. We read that the gray wooden box given to Sam-the-gardener has a silver rune set into the lid. Galadriel says: “Here is set G for Galadriel.” In the original Elder Futhark script the Gifu rune represents the sound g, and its meaning is “gift”. According to Mountfort, it seems that Tolkien was making a kind of educated joke here. Also see the last chapter in my book Philosophical Counseling with Tolkien, Chapter 10: Ethics; part 5): Friendship, Gift Economy and Self-sacrifice. This section is also depicting Galadriel giving gifts.
The likelihood that Tolkien contemplated the traditional runic meanings, and therefore the wider system of reference of which they form a part, becomes, according to Mountfort, a certainty when we note that he composed lists of meaningful names for his own “invented” runestaves. Thus, we read of Quenyan, a flowing script that can also be represented by the Angerthas runes, in Appendix E of The Return of the King (I quote from Mountfort, page 211 – the runes in bold form is my own choice):
In all modes [of Quenyan] each letter and sign had a name; but these names were devised to fit or describe the phonetic uses in each particular mode. It was, however, often felt desirable, especially in describing the uses of the letters in other modes, to have a name for each letter in itself a shape. For this purpose the Quenyan “full names” were commonly employed, even when they referred to uses peculiar to Quenya. Each “full name” was an actual word in Quenya that contained the letter in question. Where possible it was the first sound of the word; but where the sound or the combination expressed did not occur initially it followed immediately after the initial vowel. The names of the letters in the table were (1) tinco metal, parma book, calma lamp, quesse feather: (2) ando gate, umbar fate, anga iron, ungwe spider´s web; (3) thule spirit, formen north, harma treasure (or aha rage), hwesta breeze; (4) anto mouth, ampa hook, unque a hollow; (5) numen west, malta gold, noldo (older ngoldo) one of the kindred of the Nordor, nwalme (older hgwalma) torment; (6) ore heart (inner mind), vala angelic power, anna gift, vilya air, sky (older wilya); romen east, arda region, lambe tongue, alda tree; silme light, silme nuquerna (s reversed) are sunlight (or esse name), are nuquerna; hyarmen south, hwesta sindarinwa, yanta bridge, ure heat (Return of the King, appendix E).
According to Mountfort, we here find a miscellany of terms that remind us irrestible of the enigmatic Futhark: there is a division into sets, recalling the role of the Aettir; apparently mundane objects sit alongside natural forces, heavenly bodies, and abstract concepts. Some runes refer to beings or races, others are symbolic: there are even lacunae (lost meanings) in the list.
Of course, Mountfort says - and here he mentions a thing, which is quite central in my own book, Philosophical Counseling with Tolkien, and which points towards my own icon mysticism - Tolkien was a conservative and devoutly Catholic by upbringing and conviction; he certainly was no occultist or runecaster. However, pagan themes did fire his imagination, and most of the elements present in his mythology can be traced to Norse and Celtic literature. This is also why I believe he fits so perfectly into my own philosophical counseling practice in Rold Forest, where both Norse and Celtic elements can be found. After all, the central piece of The Lord of the Rings, the story of a magically potent ring and its destructive effects, is an old Norse theme, found in the Völsunga saga, where Loki´s conniving unleashes the curse of the Ring of Andvari. Wagner, of course, adapted it for his famous opera (though Tolkien “held in contempt” his treatment of the Ring Cycle). In my article, Nordic Shamanism and Forest Therapy, I told about the Nordic scald, Norna-Gest. In his saga it is told that he somehow is involved in the Ring Cycle. This is due to his relation to the Völsunga saga. Norna-Gest is carrying a piece of gold (a ring?), and when he is at King Olaf´s court, King Olaf asks him to tell how he got the gold. Gest tells this in chapter 8 of his saga: How Gest Got the Gold:
A short time later we heard that Starkad had committed foul murder, and that he had killed King Ali in the bath. One day Sigurd Fafnisbani rode to some gathering or other, and rode into a puddle, and his horse Grani leaped up so vigorously that the saddle-girth broke apart and the ring fell down. When I saw where it was shining in the mud, I took it up and brought it to Sigurd, but he gave it to me. You saw that same gold piece a short time ago. Then Sigurd dismounted, and I stroked his horse and washed the mud off of it, and took a lock of hair from its tail to show its size. Gest then showed the lock, and it was seven ells high. King Olaf said: "I find much pleasure in your stories." They all praised his stories and honor (read Norna-Gest´s saga here).
Interestingly, the first rune in both the Elder Futhark and the Anglo-Saxon rune scripts – the source of Tolkien´s Moon runes – is Feh (the last rune in the Uthark). As Mountfort´s comments on this rune reveals (part 2 of his book): in the medieval Scandinavian Rune poems, Feh refers to the gold ring of Andvari that Loki gave as wergild (blood money) for the slaying of Otter. Otter himself is a creature from Norse myth somewhat reminiscent of Gollum (whose name is derived from golem, a Hebrew word denoting the homunculus created for evil purposes by sorcerers in kabbalistic rituals). Both characters are shapeshifters who are equally at home in water and on land and whose fates revolve around a cursed ring. Thus the rune meanings we find in “Runestaves” are more than incidental to Tolkien´s fictions, and many other parallels can be drawn between his fictional universe and themes from the well of runelore.
B) Freyja´s Moon Runes
"Now we see as in a mirror, in an allegory, but then face-to-face. Now I know partially, but then I shall know as I am known"
Let´s continue with the Tolkien theme. We all, like Frodo, carry a Quest, a Task: our daily duties. They come to us, not from us. We are free only to accept or refuse our task – and, implicitly, our Taskmaster. None of us is a free creator or designer of his own life. “None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself” (Rom 14:7). Either God or fate or meaningless chance has laid upon each of us a Task, a Quest, which we would not have chosen for ourselves. We are all Hobbits who love our Shire, our security, our creature comforts, whether these are pipeweed, mushrooms, five meals a day, and local gossip, or Starbucks coffees, recreational sex, and politics. But something, some authority not named in The Lord of the Rings (but named in The Silmarillion), has decreed that a Quest should interrupt this delightful Epicurean garden and send us on an odyssey. We are plucked out of our Hobbit holes and plunked down onto a Road. That gives us our fundamental choice between obedience and disobedience. And if life is war, obedience is essential. It is the first virtue for a soldier.
Let´s look at the view of life as a pilgrimage, by looking at our dreams. Dreams namely expose the fundamental metaphysics we have discussed above: that Life is a pilgrimage, both through the Outer Side and through the Inner Side. There are spirits all around us, all of the time. The spiritual practitioner realizes this on some level and can see, feel, or sense spirits in most places. A fairly skilled spiritual practitioner will also naturally draw spirits to him due to his practice, which has awoken him from sleep to dream. Simply put, he notices them, and so they notice him.
To understand this we must use the image of the Inner Side (or the Otherworld). Let´s imagine a nightlight. We have our normal everyday reality (the Outer Side), which most of us can perceive. We will think of this as daylight. But in reality we have many worlds, many layers compressed on top of one another that would be considered the spiritual realms: the Inner Side. We can liken the Inner Side to nighttime. As a spiritual practitioner, you are a nightlight in this spiritual dark, a physical being who operate not only in the everyday reality, but to some level on the Inner Side.
How bright, or awake, of a nightlight we are depends on the depths of our spiritual practice. If we are mildly skilled, we may be a very small nightlight. If we are moderately or highly skilled, we are a bigger and brighter nightlight, meaning that we both perceive more in terms of spiritual abilities and spirits and the spiritual realms notice us more – in general, the brighter nightlight we are, the more open and able we are to perceive and the more other perceive us.
Along with moderate skilled spiritual practitioners come deep spiritual understandings. This can be like the mildly skilled, in which there is a heightened noticing or looking for messages or synchonicities (progressive karma, divine providence, spirit help) that have special meaning. The moderate skilled may also notice some of the patterns and symbols that shape our world. This can also be understandings about the nature of the universe, the human condition, healing, plants, animals, artwork, or many other topics. Whereas mildly skilled individuals seek out material and recite books, teachers, and the messages of others, the realization (awakenness) of the moderate skilled stem from self – from meditations and direct experience of being someone in the world with spiritual abilities.
One of the major indicators of being a moderately skilled spiritual practitioner is the number of dreams people in this category experience, and their intensity. Although intense dreams can certainly be an indicator of too much intake of food, drink, drugs, or physical/psychological issues in anyone, in the moderately skilled practitioner, the dream quality and sensations associated with the dreams are quite different.
The practitioner may find themselves having dreams about lands, times, or events that have no connection to their inner psyche. They be like a filmstrip or flashes of images, sounds, and memories that do not stem from their experiences. It is also likely, to link to the above-mentioned quest theme in The Lord of the Rings, that there will be quest dreams, meaning that there is a specific goal in mind for the dream. The inhabitants of quest dreams may or may not be you or concern you at all.
Dreams are also likely to involve spiritual teachers, healing sessions either given or received, or interactions with energy, spirits, beings, or creatures of all types. This is, of course, generally predicated on how spiritual the individual is: the more intense the dreams, the more open or advanced the practitioner typically is. Once the practitioner is skilled, they will be able to work with their dreams, protect themselves if necessary while they are dreaming, or simply call for a night off from having intense dreams.
Dreams are a primary indicator of moderately skilled spiritual practitioners because they represent the night aspect, the Inner Side, of our waking world. We are more open to freely interacting in dreams, and it is more rare that we would block ourselves, or know how to block ourselves, from receiving input, symbols, or other meanings during dreamtime. We are free from our physical bodies and are our true essence; this means that we do not have to concern ourselves with the physical restraints of our physical bodies, and what we think to be true about them. We also do not have the rigid ideas of what is commonly referred to and can be seen as the “real” or agreed-upon world and can be ourselves without wearing a mask.
Dreams are also a meeting ground. It is a space where worlds meet, and it is easier for spirits and other energies to get through. As spiritual practitioners, we not only gain access to our subconscious in dreams but also to other energies, dimensions, and worlds. It is here you most obviously can experience help from spirit guides. It is typical for the moderately skilled practitioner to have a great deal of difficulty with their dreams in an unskilled state, either feeling as if they want to constantly sleep and never feeling rested due to “traveling” or being unable to sleep due to disruptive dreams or energies in or around them.
Dreams are the gates between the Outer Side and the Inner Side, and both traditional Shamanism and Tibetan Dream Yoga, are practices that aim at training the individual in navigating in dreams. The fascinating perspective is that we all seem to be in the same kind of enchanting quest as in The Lord of the Rings.
Before we proceed with Freyja´s Moon Runes, let me repeat the two most important aspects of Dream Yoga, which is the practice that eventually will open your dream towards the great Mystery.
The two aspects of Dream Yoga are:
1) Chakras and Dreams
2) Dreams as Gateways to the Otherworld
1) Chakras and Dreams
We have looked at symbols, cosmology and karma. All this reflects itself in chakras and in dreams.
The Hatha Yoga texts describe, how the thoughts reflect themselves in the human body in form of energy-spots, or reflection-spots, which distribute over the body´s 6 head zones: 1: the eyebrow-area, 2: the mouth-throat-neck zone, 3: the breast-heart-shoulder zone, whereto often the arms belong 4: the diaphragm and solar plexus, 5: the abdominal middle, 6: the pelvic floor, the sexual organs, thighs, as well as the legs as a wholeness.
The chakra concept is part of a very worked out and profound system of description, which is developed on the background of thousands of years of work with, and experiences of inner and higher states in Man.
The chakras function firstly with the purpose of bodily and energetical balancing and regulation of the energetical swings of the thoughts. This aspect corresponds to the balancing and regulative function of the dreams, which also reflect themselves in the body´s reflection-spots and their equal distribution across the body´s six head zones (compensatory karma, the great cycle, or Urd´s Web).
Secondly the chakras have a development function, which also reflects itself in the symbol function of the dreams (progressive karma, direct help from the Great Mystery, Dreamtime, the Otherworld, or God´s Thoughts).
The chakras therefore both have a balancing and a development-specific function. And, it is the same basic phenomenon, which reflects itself in the dreams and in the chakras.
In so far as the chakras are related to specific body-areas as an expression of the life energy which functions in and regulates these areas, in so far the chakras are defined as centres in the energyfield of Man, as the focus-spots of the aura, or as energy-whirls in the so-called energy-body of Man. Experientally they appear in the form of feelings.
When the chakras are related to the development-level of Man (the level of realization work and ethical practice), they are described as reflection-spots of The Great Mystery, Dreamtime, the Otherworld, or God´s Thought. Symbolically this is in India illustrated in the form of Mandalas.
Since the thoughts reflects themselves in the body in form of energy, the chakras are also connected to the painbody. Chakras are the storehouses of all our material, and all the conditioned layers of reality. All of the trauma of Ego, family, ancestors, and even all the grids to our outer edges of conditioned reality are contained within the physical form and the chakra system (read more in my booklet: The Nine Gates of Middle-earth).
So, since it is the same phenomenon which reflects itself in the chakras and in the dreams, we can say about dreams (remembering the energy-laws):
Dreams balance the energetic swings of the thoughts. And dreams seek to finish unfinished situations. If you follow your dreams you will see, that wherever and whenever the Ego´s awakened life - on the background of evaluations using opposites - has slipped out in one extreme, then the dreamprocess seeks to balance this imbalance by insisting on the opposite extreme. If you awake were too gentle, the dreams depict the more stubborn and unfriendly sides in your personality. If you were too negative, the dreams seek to bring the positive aspect into light. And each and every time the Ego in the awaken life reacts to the challenges of the various situations, by using the past, an unfinished situation is left behind. The dreams seek to finish this as good as possible. As you know you can have the same type of dreams again and again – until you begin to examine yourself, and change and restructure your thoughtpatterns, so that you can let go of the situations. This is your compensatory karma.
So, firstly the dreams have a development function through their symbolfunction (progressive karma, or direct help from the Great Mystery, Dreamtime, the Otherworld, or God´s Thoughts). Secondly the dreams function with reference to bodical and energetical balancing and regulation of the swings of the thoughts (compensatory karma, or the effect of the Great cycle, Urd´s Web, or, the Web of the Norns).
This, the self-regulating system of the dreamprocess, is a Sisyphean task though, as long as you in the awaken life don't help.
These two functions correspond to the function of the chakras.
In order to make changes in your dreams, or nightmares, it is necessary, that you in your awaken life support the work of the energy-laws in the dreams. This is a part of what is called Dream yoga.
If you therefore begin to practice being in the Now, and flexible (critical) thinking, you can exempt the dreams from having to contra-balance imbalances and finish unfinished situations, what will give an ever-increasing feeling of freedom.
But first after many years of spiritual practice, will the continuous supporting exercises, by themselves, begin to penetrate, first the dream life, and later the deep, dreamless sleep.
The important in spiritual practice is the dream-consciousness´ form, not its content.
2) Dreams as Gateways to the Otherworld
On the plane of the universal images (the Great Mystery, Dreamtime, the Otherworld, God´s Thoughts,), and therefore on the Now´s plane, the central is the consciousness´ form, the consciousness itself and its clarity and openness. Not the consciousness´ content. In spiritual practice the spiritual and spiritual active, is the consciousness´ direction towards its source (the Now, the Otherworld, the Great Mystery, etc.). What the consciousness and the mind and the senses are filled of, is of lesser crucial importance.
The development concerning the Now and the universal images shows itself in the dreams´ consciousness in three ways:
1) In the dreams you begin to practise the continuous supporting exercises the same way as in the awaken daily life (about the supporting exercises, see my book Meditation as an Art of Life – a basic reader).
2) Dreams, which become lucid and the, to this responding, most suitable practice.
3) The dreams´ consciousness becomes astral and the, in relation to this, most suitable practice.
1): That your spiritual practice at all reflects itself in the dream life, is a beneficial sign in your total effort. In the moment of falling asleep you simply begin to train relaxation and Hara practice. Moreover you remember to write the dreams down when you wake up. Later you can experience, that you in a dream suddenly begin to practise.
2): Lucid dreams are dreams, in which you know, that you are dreaming. There are many different causes to, that there can arise lucidity in dreams, for example stress conditions or illogical circumstances, or that you watch yourself in a mirror, or so-called flying dreams. You discover that you can alter in the dream as you like. To use lucidity to different experiments is therefore an understandable temptation, but basically without spiritual content.
When you know that you are dreaming, while you are dreaming, the dream is called lucid. The word lucid means luminous, and the name is referring to the unusual clarity, which is in such dreams.
The lucid dream is a little more awake, a degree more awake, than an ordinary dream. Such dreams can therefore be said to be a state between dream and awake, however still more akin to dream.
Normally the Dream Self is not distanced from the dream scenario. To know that you are dreaming is due to, that a part of the Dream Consciousness separates you from the immediate identity with the scenario and content of the dream. The phenomenon is analogous with meditation, or neutral observation. In neutral observation there are two functions. The one is the observer, who separates himself from the stream of thoughts. The second is the neutrality that neither says yes or no, considers or comments.
When dreams become lucid, then it is analogous with the activating of the first function: the segregation of a Dream Witness, an instance, which knows that this is a dream. As a rule the mind in this situation then gets catched by the new, creative possibilities, which are lying in the lucidity. You can transform dreams as you want and have fantasy to. You can fly through walls, walk on water and wish yourself to other planets etc., etc.
Dream Yoga is about, that if a dream becomes lucid, you add – from the habit with meditation in the waking practice – the second function, namely the neutrality, that just – in dreams – to observe and not control, intervene or in other way interfere in the dream´s own stream. If both factors are active in dreams, there is no functional difference between awake neutral observation and dreaming neutral lucidity.
According to experience there are a couple of dream situations, or elements, which favour the rise of lucidity, for example stress, illogical situations, etc. Furthermore it is possible to train lucidity in dreams; there both exists ancient Tibetan ways, Shamanistic ways and new American ways.
In spiritual practice however, you neither ought to train or worship lucidity. What on the other hand is appropriate is to use lucidity for Hara practice; that is, that you in the lucid dream focus your awareness in Hara, and therewith looks into your self, at the same time as your are observing the dream. In this way the dreaming awareness changes accent from the dream production, from the content of the dream to the dreaming awareness itself.
The most suitable training in lucid dreams is therefore to begin to practice the continuous supporting exercises. Second best, but however still excellent, is to seek towards light, which brings you closer the lucidity and thereby the Source. Alternatively to seek towards a spiritual teacher, or in lack of a such, to seek towards a person of wisdom, archetypical understood. But best is to begin to practice the supporting exercises.
3): The astral ”dream state” can evolve spontaneous, or evolve out of the lucid dream. In an astral ”dream state” you know, that you are lying in the bed in this chamber and are sleeping, alternatively dreaming. In the lucid state you know, that you are dreaming, while you are dreaming. But you dont know, that this happens, while you in fact are lying sleeping in your bed. However in the astral state you also know, that you are lying in your bed sleeping. The sleeping body, the bed and the room is included in the astral ”dream state”. The consciousness is often located outside the body, observing the sleeping body from outside.
The temptation to here, either to become afraid, or experiment with various possibilities (astral projection, clairvoyance, telepathy etc. etc.) is huge. You are suddenly Peter Pan. It is a very forceful state. The creativity and the reality creating ability are much more free than in the lucid dream state. However you are still on the collective history of the astral plane, which work fragmented in sequences in past and future, and there is danger for, either that you remain here, in the fascination and the enthusiasm, whereby your spiritual development stops, or that you directly end up in a spiritual crisis.
In spiritual practice the most appropriate is again to use the astral state to begin to practice the continuous supporting exercises. For example you can centre the astral consciousness in the Hara centre of the sleeping body, or in the heart centre.
If you as a sleeper remember to use such an opening spiritual seen correct, this can give your total development a considerably lift forward.
Back to Freyja´s Moon Runes. Tolkien´s Middle-earth, you could say, is in the same way as quest dreams filled with many dangers, and after the newly-formed Fellowship leaves the comforts of Rivendell, the participants are beset by snowstorms high atop Caradhras, and orcs within the Mines of Moria. Before they escape the Mines, the members of the Fellowship suffer their greatest loss, as their guardian wizard and mentor Gandalf falls into darkness at the bridge of Khazad-dûm. But just when all seems lost for the weary band of travellers, they reach Lórien, a magical forest where elves live and sing in the treetops. Like Rivendell, Lórien is a place for spirits to rise. It is the safe haven of the Now. The highly skilled spiritual practioner knows that such places also exist in the world of dreams, which also is the worlds we meet after death. Also places like Pandora in the movie Avatar, reminds about the enchanting places you can meet in lucid dreaming and astral travels.
Tolkien believes that meaningful happiness does not come from ignoring the dangers but from facing the pain and still affirming life. As we read Tolkien´s famous essay on the author of “Beowulf,” we get the distinct impression that Tolkien might be speaking of himself. He discusses the artistic impulse, “looking back into the pit, by a man learned in old tales who was struggling as it were, to get a general view of them all, perceiving their common tragedy of inevitable ruin, and yet feeling this more poetically because he himself removed from the direct pressure of its despair.”
Living through two world wars, Tolkien himself had seen his share of despair and ruin. The Lord of the Rings was written during the years 1936-1949, among the darkest years in England´s history.
Galadriel has a darker side to her as well. Galadriel had tried to make Lórien “a refuge and an island of peace and beauty, a memorial of ancient days,” but she was now “filled with regret and misgiving, knowing that the golden dream was hastening to a grey awakening.” What has so filled the strong and seemingly ageless Lady of the Wood so with regret?
Perhaps the cause of Galadriel´s growing unhappiness is that she remembers too much. She never really forgets the curse hanging over her from ages long gone. Though Frodo and Sam see only settled bliss, Galadriel feels the burden of being a stranger in a strange land. She can never be fully happy in Lórien, because she can never entirely let go of the past. Tolkien judges this clinging to the past to be an “error,” a futile attempt to “embalm time.” Holding on to perfection in an imperfect world is an ultimately tragic attempt by the elves to “have their cake without eating it.” As long as Galadriel harbors an irrational desire to turn back the clock, her songs are mournful and slow. Her curse reminds about Karen Blixen´s fate.
In my booklet, The Art of Pilgrimage, I looked at the mythologist Joseph Campbell´s theory of the monomyth (The Hero´s Journey). And as we have seen, Campbell is in the same way exceedingly conservative and founded on a deep nostalgia: for him, the cure for modern problems is found by returning to earlier notions of spirituality and moral virtue. In promoting a “living mythology,” Campbell harkens back to a lost “golden age” from which we have fallen, but to which we can return with effort and guidance of a “sage.” This might have to do with the inspiration from Jung. It is a reductionism, a psychologism. And herewith there is the danger of ending in idealism, and the same psychologizing, emotionalizing and therapeutizing ideology of our society, which New Age and Self-help stand for.
The process of your spiritual essence (your soul), your process of awakening, will leave progressive karma along through the various incarnations. What you spiritual have reached to realize in one life, will in the spiritual energy be there in the next life, or in the dimension of your spiritual essence.
If your spiritual essence (your soul) is sleeping, the spiritual energy is quiet. Without traceable activity. A human being can live a whole life, yes, life after life, in absolute sleep.
If you however existentially begin to seek, to seek the spiritual, the divine, to seek love, if you choose to use your energy and your life in that way, then the spiritual energy will begin to vibrate, to become active. Only the images, which have achieved to imprint themselves in the spiritual energy, will be transferred as progressive karma. Your spiritual essence (your soul) will remember its dreams from life to life. And your spiritual essence will remember and accumulate the glimpses of being awake, it might have experienced. These, the dreams and awake moments of your spiritual essence, of your soul, are the progressive karma.
This is what is meant with, that people are born with different levels of spiritual development.
There is no doubt about, that Karen Blixen, though not fully conscious, had a sense of this map. All her books are about destiny seen in this way; they are about people who either live in accordance with this map, or in discordance with it. This map, this universal image was, what she referred to as the ”ancient”, the ”original”, and which she always was seeking as authenticity, autonomy, possibility, freedom and adventure. And a universal image is of a holographic nature, therefore it contains all other images, personal, collective and universal, and therefore it contains the dreaming tracks and songlines in the artwork of your life. It is the universal history of the astral plane; the Akashic records, or the Wholeness, which is awake.
Alaya-vijnana is a term used within Yogacara Buddhism to indicate the store-house consciousness, or the great vision, which consists of universal images. It is also called the Akashic records. These universal images are a kind of energetical mandala-structures or yantra-fields. They have a linguistic nature, but it is of a visionary kind. These images are composite by sound and color, symbol and structure. You could also say, that they are what the philosophers call unmoved matter, a world-aspect of sound-colours and symbol-structures, an ocean of vibrant, sound-filled energy-fields, which shimmer in symbols and colours. Altogether filled with information about life. Together the great vision, an information-ocean of holographic nature.
We have historical records about this vision. For example there within Tibetan Buddhism exists a peculiar doctrine about the so-called Tertöns (tib. Gter-bston - the unearthers of the hidden books), people who are born with a special karmic connection to a long ago deceased master, and who, because of the connection to this master´s oneness-consciousness with the universal vision, now can collect treasures of information in from the vision, or the universal images, which after all work in synchronism with the Now, and which therefore lie in the Wholeness, in the Continuum of Eternity. The master was hiding and storing holy “texts” various places in the universal images with that purpose, that a future "Tertön" would be able to find this knowledge again, decipher and publish it.
The Tibetan Book of the Dead (Bardo Thödol) is in that way one of the Tibetan texts, which is considered for having been hidden in the universal vision by the founder of Tibetan Buddhism, Padma Sambhava, and which was found again by a Tertön with the name Rigzin Karma Ling-pa. Padma Sambhava is considered for having hidden many holy texts, whereafter he gave some of his disciples the yoga ability to become reincarnated in the right time - which were determinated astrologically - for here to find the scriptures again. The concept of Freyja´s Moon Runes are connected with this.
(Side remark: I believe concrete archaeological findings (at the right time in history) serves the same function, as for example the Nag Hammadi Library. I also consider the finding of the Gundestrup Cauldron near Rold Forest, as a finding having a specific function for the revival of Celtic Neopaganism, as well as Nordic Neopaganism. Furthermore: the Gundestrup Cauldron has a special place in my own heart since it was my uncle´s grandfather, Jens Sørensen, who found it (read more on my page: Nordic Shamanism and Forest Therapy). Rold Forest in itself contains a wealth of secrets, since most of the 268 grave mounds haven´t been archaeological investigated).
After an estimated judgment, the spiritual texts, which already have been taken out by Tertöns in the run of the centuries, would form a cyclopedia on around sixtyfive volumes with average around four hundred pages in each volume.
I can see no reason to deny the doctrin of the Tertöns. You can´t just deny people´s experiences (followed by realization) written down through centuries. This would in itself be unscientific, irrational, and besides, deeply arrogant. It is important though, to remember the philosophical aspects of the spiritual journey; that is: the use of rationality and critical thinking, which actually also is a central part of the training of the Tibetan monks. The problem with the alternative environment within the New Age movement, is namely, that precisely because the above mentioned, normal inaccessible, areas, in principle lie outside the area of the Ego-consciousness, yes, then they are open for all sorts of fantasies.
Within the New Age movement there are countless people today, who work egoistic with karmic experiences – that is to say: they earn money as clairvoyants, regression therapists etc. Some of them live on pure make believe, others are direct frauds, but some of them have actually the ability to see into the collective time and its images, and tell about a past and a future which lies outside the area of the personality. But usually they have no philosophical training, no realization training and ethical practice. Therefore they basically do not know what they are doing. They are lost in the area of time where mountains no longer are mountains, and woods no longer are woods. There is in this area of the collective time and its images, with all its “experts” and clients, the possibility for a lot of waffle, a lot of imprecisely guesses and imagination, fiction and speculation.
There are therefore some philosophical principles you ought to hold on to, on the whole of this enormous, and growing market. The so-called compensatory karma (the Necessity of Urd´s Web) will by these experts and clients normal be misunderstood and abused as a kind of legitimation of, that we are as we are or do, as we do. He or she becomes obliged to do this or that in order to equalize old karma, or because it is his “destiny”. He is being told that he is going to meet certain people, are being told about other people, etc., etc. All this is spiritual seen nonsense. Usually the whole thing is about escaping from reality or excuses. It all origin from the collective time, which work in sequences in past and future, and therefore, in deeper sense, not karmic and not in the least spiritual.
In the same way as existential philosophy, the spiritual traditions say that you in your opinion formation and identity formation must be yourself, live in compliance with your own essence, and thereby achieve authenticity, autonomy, decisiveness and power of action.
If you follow clairvoyants´ advices the direct opposite happens: In your opinion formation and identity formation you will strive after becoming something else than what you are, you will imitate (model) others, be a slave of others´ ideas and ideals, and your actions will be characterized by irresoluteness and doubt. Instead of equalizing old karma (compensatory karma is what normally is understood as karma, or negative karma) they will create new compensatory karma.
If a human being in genuine sense experiences (that is: realizes) compensatory karma, then this will precisely cause a separation, a break in relation to the automatic identification with tendencies and circumstances. A human being, who actual realizes its karmic conditions, will precisely, by force of realization, break the automatic process.
Another philosophical principle is to examine, whether the karmic talk and experiences of the “experts” and clients remove their energy-investments in the actual reality. If focus is displaced backwards or forwards in time, then the collective time has taken over and spiritual seen there therefore happens an escape. Such an escape is seen both in Freud, Rank, Grof, Janov, rebirthing, regression. None of these people and theories can therefore be said to work spiritual. If you namely use the karma idea in that way (the idea of a person´s spiritual destiny), it is no longer a spiritual help, it is a collective displacement of the focus backwards or forwards in time and therewith out of reality and into the unreality of the collective time.
The genuine karmic structures do not lie in the collective time, but in the universal time, which work in synchronism with the Now. If the karma idea (and therefore Urd´s Web) is used spiritual seen correctly, then the focus, instead of being projected out in something afar (past lives, a guru, birth, the future), will be present in something very near, namely only in the most intensive experiences of this actual life, and after that: in this actual Now with its possibility of realizing your innermost. It is your awareness in the now that will find the progressive karma (the help from Dreamtime, or God), and this awareness you can of course only practice yourself.
So the universal images lie as a kind of dreaming tracks and songlines in your actual life here and now. Only here and now they can be discovered. They can manifest themselves in symbols, in runes, which contain informations about the development process of your spiritual essence (your soul). Information from the universal images are, contrary to information from the collective images, not contradiction-filled and split, but healing and synthesizing. They are the map, which shows the path from the Ego to your spiritual essence. When they have been discovered, the Ego knows the way to the pure awareness and love of its spiritual essence – the home of the spiritual essence, your soul.
Only Man himself can find the progressive karma (his spiritual destiny; the dreaming tracks and songlines in his spiritual journey; the map that shows his way to enlightenment; in short: Freyja´s Moon Runes).
Consciousness has the key in its life. It helps nothing, what people through a system may be able to think about the collective time, or fantasize about karmic experiences and spiritual evolution. Nobody can tell you about your karmic structures, or your spiritual development (or the world´s spiritual development), or what will happen if you use their techniques. All people, models or techniques - clairvoyants, regression therapists, astrologers, shamans, channelers, Ken Wilber´s integral method, Holotropic Breathwork, Human Design system, Law of attraction etc., etc., etc. - who are claiming they can help you karmic – that is: with your spiritual growth - are cognitional and ethical delusional and deceptive.
Only your own realization (rise of consciousness) opens. Whether another person even was able to read the whole of the karmic course (a person´s life-history, destiny) and tell the seeker about it, it would not help. On the contrary it would harm. Only your own inner experience and realization can open the spiritual dimension. Karma in other ways is nonsense. And by the way, that´s the same with all spiritual.
It is for these reasons that base magic must be combined with higher magic.
Concerning the progressive karma it applies, that each new life, in a quintessence, repeats the crucial stations on the development path of the spiritual essence, the soul. The place, where you can find your own progressive karma, if such is available, is therefore in the life, you have lived, in the history of your present life. It lies as an invisible script underneath the history of your actual life. It is the dreaming tracks and songlines in the artwork of your life. This invisible script is Freyja´s Moon Runes.
In the inexplicable events in your life, in the rows of moments of spiritual longing, in the fateful incidents and actions - in them are contained the progressive karma. In your spiritual history there is a map. This map shows the dreaming tracks and the songlines in your spiritual work of art. This map is composed by the universal images (The Great Mystery, The Dreamtime, the Otherworld, God´s Thoughts). And these can come into expression through rune magic and icon mysticism.
You can live a whole life with this key lying in your own actual, spiritual biography. It requires work to find it. If you through development, through training, expand your consciousness to the spiritual dimension, then this invisible script will be made visible, the dreaming tracks and the songlines in the progressive karma will be found. This invisible script is Freyja´s Moon Runes.
On the page, Meditation as an Art of Life, I talk about the third level of critical thinking, which has to do with poetic imagination. This shamanic technique was used by the shaman-philosophers in Greco-Roman philosophy, but it is very close to the view of poetry as a shamanic technique which the Celtic bards and Scandinavian scalds used. Note that the bards and scalds actually were shamans. Moreover, I use a combination of dream yoga and Harameditation. I don´t engage in any kind of dream-interpretation (read my article: On The Nature of dreams), or astral travel. Astral travel has to do with an opening of the upper chakras, and this is hazardous without that the lower chakras have been opened in a balanced way first (read my booklet of the chakras: The Nine Gates of Middle-earth). However, at a certain point of development, when the lower chakras have been purified, the alternative technique will, as described above, develop into lucid and astral states. These states will focus on higher magic.
My experience is that when I have received a “Grail question” from a guest who is seeking counseling, and are contemplating the question in relation with rune magic and icon mysticism, the answer comes by themselves during the Harameditation (this is also happening in connection with all kinds of other questions/problems I might have).
The Harameditation is practiced in the morning, where the night´s dreams still are fresh. This means that the dreams also help. I can wake up from a dream and have an answer immediately, without interpreting the dream. Actually, any interpretation completely destroys this phenomena. My experience is, that when a tutelary spirit in a dream in this way gives an answer, the abstract structure of a dream has a "circle character", a "mandala character", or a "yantra character". However, the spirit will use the symbols and images you are familiar with. The concrete dream content can in other words both be familar scenes from every day life, and scenes from strange places. What´s common is that it is not the concrete dream content that gives me an answer (in advanced dream yoga, however, dreams can give direct teachings). It is the intuition I, either directly wake up with, or, which I later receive in meditation, that gives me an answer. Therefore it is important that you discriminate between image and spirit. The spirits come in the clothing we give them.
In order further to understand how the spirits will help you in this work, you must understand the difference between compensatory karma (where rune magic is used) and progressive karma (where icon mysticism is used).
In my article, Seiðr Shamanism and the Art of Song Healing, I wrote about how the second phase of the kundalini process began to show in my dreams. Lately they have attained a rather strange character. They have attained the color of icons. Something otherworldly is mixing in. I´m still experiencing life on the streets (from my life as a vagabond), and my engagement with other bums. But there is an extraordinary feeling of sacredness. Strange people are mixing in, people from traveling caravans, street entertainers, bohemians, gypsies, vagabonds, and some more strange creatures, half animal and half human creatures, so-called shapeshifters.
Lately, I´m also beginning to experience inner tantric phenomena. Some of the female street entertainers appear like dakinis. Tsultrim Allione describes the dakinis as “mystical female beings who may appear in dreams, visions, or human form.” They are primarily energy-beings, “the wisdom-energy of the five colors, which are the subtle luminous forms of the five elements.” In his book The Faerie Way, Hugh Mynne writes that there is a truly astounding point-to-point correspondence between British faerie beliefs and Tibetan teachings concerning dakinis (besides its New Age scent, Mynne´s book is quite good). In Scandinavia we have the Disir. These are the female spirits (goddesses) I´m interacting with in Rold Forest.
The Disir belongs to a group of gods called The Vanir. In ancient Celtic religion they are called The Sidhe. They are the Divine Ancestors. They are closely associated with poetry and music.
The Sidhe could be compared with Tolkien´s concept of elves and angels, and the relationship with them could be used in the same way as suggested throughout this book. See Philosophical Counseling with Tolkien, especially Chapter 3: Philosophical Angeology.
Dakinis, like the Sidhe (Scandinavia: Vanir/Disir), are particular associated with twilight; they frequently appear at twilight. They speak a mysterious non-rational “twilight language” (Sanscrit: sandhyabhasa) which can only be understood through the operation of another mode of knowing. Like the Sidhe, they are “between-creatures,” appearing and disappearing in the mysterious radiance of another world. This has all something to do with dream yoga. The Tibetan Dream Yoga practice (which origins in shamanism) became a great help for me, while interacting with the Disir in dreams.
Above, I told about the metaphysics of music. Many parents know how new lullabies have sprung out of their hearts, born in the moment from love and intent to help. However there are other time tested ways of finding new spells or healing chants. As already mentioned: in the beginning of Finland’s great magic song cycle “Kalevala” we are told where the new magic songs (runes) live, where the source of power is. Let me repeat the passage:
Many runes the cold has told me,
Many lays the rain has brought me,
Other songs the winds have sung me;
Many birds from many forests,
Oft have sung me lays n concord
Waves of sea, and ocean billows,
Music from the many waters,
Music from the whole creation,
Oft have been my guide and master.
In my article, Philosophy as a Rite of Rebirth (a Shamanic Ritual), I have told about my kundalini awakening, and its similarity with ancient incubation rituals. I will shortly retell it here:
My kundalini was awakened when I stayed in my childhood home in Aalborg, Denmark. One night I had a non-ordinary dream. I was standing at the top of a mountain in a row of sinners. Demons were surrounding the row, and were forcing the sinners to jump out from the mountain, down into Hell. When I was forced to jump, I was falling for a while down into the flaming hell. Normally, when you have a falling dream, you wake up. I didn´t woke up, but hit the ground without dying. I looked down and saw that my legs were broken, and that the bones stuck out. And all around me I saw mountains of skulls and bones. Besides me there was a rock where some runes were carved. They said: You are Norna Gest. An old woman dressed in black was approaching. I thought it was a witch, but it was Karen Blixen. She bend over me, and took both her hands down around my throat, and drilled a finger hard and long into the back of my neck, for finally to stroke me over both shoulders.
When I was straightening up, she broked the silence with the unexpected request:
”Now say a verse.”
The first, which felt into my thoughts, was Rainer Maria Rilke´s poem Autumn:
The leaves fall, fall as from far,
Like distant gardens withered in the heavens;
They fall with slow and lingering descent.
And in the nights the heavy Earth, too, falls
From out the stars into the Solitude.
Thus all doth fall.
This hand of mine must fall
And lo! the other one:—it is the law.
But there is One who holds this falling
Infinitely softly in His hands.
Then she said:
”You shall go now.”
I began to scream. But the only sound coming up through me was a wordless auummm. Enormous powers of energy were following this aum. I felt like I was sitting on a jet motor. The powers moved up through my body in violent spinning movements and spasms.
Then I woke up. But I had taken something with me out of the dream, and that was the energy. A new energy was now working in me, an energy which was not mine, or psychological constructed by me. It was Kundalini. It couldn´t be stopped by will, though I later learned how to steer it.
It is actually possible to take something with you from a dream. We have already looked at the Doctrine of the Tertöns. Let´s look at another, concrete, example. In his book, Dream Yoga - and the Practice of Natural Light, the Tibetan Dzogchen master, Namkhai Norbu, describes how he sleeps by the great cave of Gyawo Ritröd, and, in a dream, was in the cave, and met a Dakini. He writes:
[...] "suddenly a beautiful girl adorned with jewel ornaments entered through the cave door. I thought she might be the green dakini who abided on the right side of Pal Lhamo at the time when I saw the five dakinis in one of my previous dreams. She gave me a very small, yellow scroll and said with a subtle, sweet voice, 'Pal Lhamo gives this to you'" (page 103).
"As soon as I woke up, I very clearly remembered the dream, and noticed that my left hand was tightly held just like in my dream. I opened my left hand to look, and I could physically feel that the little scroll was there. But since it was not yet dawn, I again held it tightly in my left hand, and I stayed still like this waiting for dawn. After about a half an hour it was dawn, so I got up from my bed. When the light of dawn arrived at the entrance of the cave, I looked carefully at yellow scroll in my hand. It was transparent and the width of a finger. Its lenght was about four inches and the three letters a, hu, and ma were written in reddish vermilion" (page 104).
One could imagine that it was in a similar way Odin and Ogma received, respectively, the runes and the Ogam alphabet.
The existence of Elves, or something like Elves, is widespread in pre-modern cultures. (And over half of the world´s most literate nation, Iceland, still believes in them; that´s why their wilderness roads take sudden turns, to avoid disturbing them.) When the word is used today, most people snicker. But most pre-modern accounts are far more angelic, more transcendent, more wonderful, more formidable, than the silly Tinkerbells of modern literature. They were similar to the Dakinis.
Tolkien writes that “they represent really Men with greatly enhanced aesthetic and creative faculties, greater beauty and longer life, and nobility – the Elder Children, doomed to fade before the Followers” (Letters, no. 144, p. 176). Nobility, but not perfection. In The Simarillion, the Elves´ history, like ours, is mainly war, tragedy, and darkness. They envy us our mortality, as we envy them their immortality. (Kreeft believes that envy is one of the stupidiest of sins, the only one that never caused a single moment of even false joy.) Though Tolkien is both temperamentally and politically conservative, the Elves are bad conservatives: they want to embalm the present. Seeing the downward slant of the present, they try to preserve the past. They are not evil like Sauron, who always wants to sing “I Believe in Yesterday”. We too are foolishly Elvish when want to hold onto our youth, or the initial experience of falling in love, or when we seek the enoughness of eternity that we innately long for in places where it can never be, somewhere in time.
The progressive karma, our special providence, our inner Soul Map, is our inner light. And that is also the bright side of Galadriel, her rational and wise side. Tolkien teaches us to trust that inner light and be strong enough to leave old problems behind. That´s the anarchist side of Tolkien. When Frodo freely offers Galadriel the One Ring to rule them all, the very Ring that Galadriel has coveted throughout the ages, she refuses, knowing full well that with the refusal comes her own demise. Though the Lady of the Wood has stayed too long, she can still find happiness by remembering who she is, while walking away from the pronouncements of her past. “’I pass the test,’ she exclaims. ‘I will diminish, and go into the West, and remain Galadriel’”.
More than any other character in the tale, with the possible exception of Tom Bombadil, Lady Galadriel is imbued with the philosopher´s affirmation: Think for Yourself! As Frodo leaves the friendly borders of Lórien, she presents him with the symbolic light, a crystal phial, and says:
“Farewell Frodo Baggins, I give you the light of Earendil our most beloved star. May it be a light to you in dark places when all other lights go out.”
And perhaps that is all that is meant by Tolkien´s imaginary elves. The elves find happiness when they trust in themselves. This self-confidence helps them sing throughout the darkest night, and leave the shores when the music ends.
On September 2, 1972, Tolkien also went into the West, but he gave us Middle-earth. He will be remembered as we remember Homer, Dante and Shakespeare.
By penning The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien set a framework for fantasy literature that countless authors have attempted to recapture over the years. The creation of Middle-earth, from its languages to its poetry to its rich cultural history and varied peoples, was an astounding feat of imagination that no one had managed before with such detail and ardent care.
It denotes a particular status as a writer to have your name instantly associated with an entire genre, and indeed, it is impossible to call up the names of science fiction and fantasy authors and not include Tolkien. He intended with his works to create stories that entered our mythic consciousness, a feat that he accomplished in every sense. Though we may never glimpse Rivendell, Lorién, or the peaceful Shire for ourselves, it is enough that he left his world to us, and that we will always be able to journey there… and back again. May it be a light to us in our own dark places.
So, Meditation as an Art of Life is the means of opening you up to the Inner side. There are many forms of meditation, but generally, you can discriminate between concentration techniques, where the person sits with closed eyes and concentrates the awareness on one object (for example mantras or prayers), and awareness techniques, where the consciousness – as a witness that sees without judging – only follows the shifting stream of inner images, without that anything particular is retained.
Meditation as an Art of Life has elements of both. Harameditation, for example, is an awareness technique. Tonglen, for example, is a concentration technique. But the primary exercise is Harameditation.
Harameditation directs itself towards the form of consciousness. The form of consciousness can only be reached through awareness techniques (silence, vipassana, witness, thought accept, zazen, etc.). And if the practitioner has decided to awake, to become enlightened (which means that the practitioner is filled with passion, with love of wisdom), then this practice will result in that the progressive karma begin to vibrate, to awake. However, one of the difficult things about this is that the change happens in the outer group of flower petals (the universal images, the Great Mystery, Dreamtime, the Otherworld, God´s Thoughts). Urd´s Web is beginning to vibrate, order is beginning to show. This is higher magic. But these processes can happen without that they are fully conscious in the practitioner´s inner experience. You can sit in many years – 5 years or more – without knowing that there is happening a progression (that the outer petals are opening). This is due to that the training only is leaving tracks in the external world, in the outer group of flower petals (this is what is meant with that God, or the Shapers, immediately respond to your training and prayers). It will not even could be seen in the dreams. But the lines from the outer group will slowly move inwards towards the inner group. And you will begin to be conscious about the help you are receiving. The dreams, for example, will slowly begin to change character.
In this video you can see how it is happening:
In base magic, however, you are using techniques that influence the inner and the middle group of flower petals. Here you can quite quickly receive results. But these results imply great danger. Again, you should be using critical thinking. But here base magic really runs into trouble, since it often also is based on metaphysical theories such as relativism and subjectivism, which corrupt critical thinking.
Within base magic there are two forms of abuses of spiritual practice. One is the abuse of the karma idea, which we already have examined. The other is dreams.
There are numerous techniques which can cause changes in the compensatory karma (in Urd´s Web). Stanislav Grof, for example, seeks to open up for nonordinary experiences, without having been working with realization of the Ego´s nature. He intervenes disruptive in the Ego´s self-regulating structures, or, said differently: he intervenes in how peoples´ karma is working in thinking and time. Therewith he also intervenes in the balancing and development-specific function of karma. Unknowing he creates heavy energetic swings without understanding, that the karmic consequences are being equivalent heavy contrabalances and back-swings. Grof seems himself to be in a possession state, a possession of experiences, which is mirrored in the level of fierceness in his methods, which almost seem to be attempts to rape spirituality. His writings are for example characterized by endlessly using the word “experiences”. He is basically a sorcerer.
The other is the abuse of dreams, which is related to karma. You can easily create changes in your dreams, and interpret these as you want to. You can eat and drink too much, and you will experience a change in your dreams. Or you can use psychedelics, and have incredible experiences. But it is only changes in compensatory karma (changes in Urd´s Web that doesn´t come from Dreamtime), and you can use endless interpretations, which again are creating new dreams, etc. There is no realization, no rise of consciousness. And if you take Urd´s Web as a whole, you have no idea about what the consequences is on a larger karmic scale.
A bit about dream interpretation. You are, for example, analysing them in a Jungian way. Or you are fabulating in a Freudian way. And, in fact, in the start the dream interpretation will actually produce some changes. But at a certain point your psyche will discover the trick. All the liberated energy is being reinvested through the dream channel. Then begins an endless production of dreams. The analyst remembers more and more dreams, greater and greater dreams, shadows, anima and animus, wise men, archetypes. All the energy which gradually is being released through the development, is used for dreaming. Gradually the dreams become as important as life, well, they are even becoming more important. And then the dreams have suddenly turned into a blind road.
As Jeffrey Masson shows in his book, Against Therapy, Jung, in his interaction with his patients, lost any contact with reality in order to get his theory to fit the patients. It was utterly abusive. And yet this guy is a central figure in almost all New Age practice.
1) The Runes - a Shamanic Tool From Dreamtime, by Jörgen I. Eriksson.
2) The World Tree, the Cosmic Web and Mother Earth in Nordic Tradition, by Jörgen I. Eriksson
3) Rune Magic and Shamanism – Original Nordic Knowledge from Mother Earth, by Jörgen I. Eriksson (my primary source. Uses the so-called Uthark theory).
4) Seid 5.0 – A Guide to Nordic Shamanism, by Jörgen I. Eriksson (my primary source).
5) Helrunar – A Manual of Rune Magick, by Jan Fries (secondary source. This is a fascinating, unique book on runes. Fries is a kind of "wildman" who writes different on runes and shamanism than other writers (he focuses on the "Nightside"). I will therefore also recommend other books by Jan Fries, who, for example, also has written about Celtic Shamanism: The Cauldron of the Gods: a Manual of Celtic Magick. Also here The Gundestrup Cauldron is central, but not in the New Age version, which the below Hallowquest cards depicts. This is a much more realistic version, describing the violence and darkness of the Celts (he also mentions the Cimbri). He has also written a book about Seidr magic: Seidways: Shaking, Swaying and Serpent Mysteries).
6) Sound: Listen to the runes here, by Jörgen I. Eriksson
7) Sometimes Miracles Happen - On Saami Shamanism and Traditional Healing, by
Jörgen I Eriksson (as in South America, the Saami combine shamanism with Christianity)
Related articles by myself:
Seiðr Shamanism and the Art of Song Healing (an article about Scandinavian shamanism. Here I describe how my kundalini awakening happened in a dream and how Norna-Gest - besides Karen Blixen - was featured in the dream).
The Connection Between Shamanic Healing and creative Unfoldment (focuses on the concept of: The Artist as Shaman).
The Value of Having a Religion in a Spiritual Practice
Philosophy as a Rite of Rebirth (A Shamanic Ritual)
Spiritual Crises as the Cause of Paranormal Phenomena
The Conspiracy of the Third Eye
What is Karma?
What is Dream Yoga?
On The Nature of Dreams
Related booklets by myself:
The Nine Gates of Middle-earth (my description of the chakra-system. Framed in a story from The Long Journey, the booklet could be said to describe the inner journey of The Shaman Yogi, depicted in the beginning of this page. Furthermore, it leads towards Tolkien´s work, which is quite central in my ideas)
The Difference Between Plastic Shamanism and the Traditional Shamanic Awakening
Philosophy of Mind
Related Ebooks by myself:
Meditation as an Art of Life - a Basic reader
A Dictionary of Thought Distortions
The Tragic New Age Confusion of Eastern Enlightenment and Western Subjective Idealism.
Philosophical Counseling with Tolkien (the complete philosophy; quite literally, since this ebook is written as a course in philosophy. Tolkien works with a pluralism in style with The Gundestrup Cauldron. He mixes Celtic, Scandinavian, Finnish, Old European and Christian elements)
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