What Is Rune Meditation?
by: Donald Tyson
Before the runes can be effective for works of magic or divination , they must be understood on the intuitive level and made to come alive in the unconscious. This will occur over time simply by using them, but the process can be encouraged through regular meditation upon the individual rune symbols. Meditation gives the runes reality in the astral world, where magical forces and actions manifest themselves most clearly to the awareness.
When you carve a rune materially for a magical purpose, you must also be able to cut it into the astral with your will so that it glows and shimmers on the material where you made the physical rune. When you draw a rune in the air with your right index finger or magic wand, you must be able to see it sustaining itself with the eye of your imagination. This does not mean that you pretend to yourself that the rune exists on the astral level, or picture it there in the way you would imagine the face of your cat. Magical visualization is more intense and real than regular images in the imagination. The magical image persists and can be so real that it appears material.
Meditation on the runes serves the dual purpose of expanding an understanding of their meanings, both conscious and unconscious (this is needed in divination) and allowing the clear formation of the runes on the astral level (this is necessary in ritual magic).
There are many ways to actively meditate upon the runes. One is to contemplate the forms of the runes visually. Rune cards are an excellent way of keeping images of the runes before the sight during meditation, where they impress themselves through the eye upon the mind, when the mind reaches a receptive state. Here I will describe a second technique that I find effective in bringing the meanings and forms of the runes alive.
In preparation you must be familiar with the shapes of the runes, their names and short meanings, their order, the place of each rune in its aett, and its pair rune. This can be done by playing with a set of rune wands, or ideally with the rune cards, which are excellent for this purpose. Once you have a general knowledge of the futhark, you are ready to begin considering the runes individually.
To be most effective, meditations should be done in a series at regular times, one per day. It is possible to do two meditations a day if they are separated in timeófor example, one at noon and one at midnight. If this is done, a pair of runes should be considered each day. However, until you have had some experience in meditating upon the individual runes, you should not attempt to consider two or more runes in combination at the same time.
Wear loose clothing and take off your shoes, belt, watch, jewelry, and anything that irritates the skin or restricts the circulation. Even if your watch and earrings do not irritate you during your daily routine, they may be a distraction during meditation. When the mind is stilled and focused, small sounds will seem like thunder and the slightest itch will become a torment as your mind, like a restless child, seeks any escape from the task you have imposed upon it.
Do not meditate where there is noise or bustle, or where you are likely to be disturbed. Do not meditate until at least two hours after eating a meal. Do not meditate just before sleep when you are very tired, and do not meditate when you are physically ill, or when your mind is filled with worry, anger, or frustration.
Find a tranquil place and sit comfortably with your back relaxed but straight. It does not really matter how you sit. I usually sit Japanese style upon my heels, but some people find this posture hard on the knees. The important thing is that you forget about how you are sitting and concentrate on the meditation. Face a blank wall or featureless surface. If there is no flat unbroken surface, turn out the lights and the darkness will serve. If you are outside, face a wall, a distant forested hill, the ocean horizon, or lie on your back and look at the sky – but it is better not to lie down during meditation. The important thing is that you not be distracted by something in your field of view. Distractions are not necessarily fatal to meditations, but they disrupt them and delay your progress. There are bound to be distractions in any case – you want to minimize them.
Take half a dozen slow, deep breaths to clear your lungs and relax your body. When you are ready, extend your right index finger and draw the rune you have chosen for your meditation in the air at a comfortable armís length, making it a size that will fit easily into the center of your field of vision – about 18 inches tall is a good height.
Now try to actually see the rune in the air where you have drawn it. Hold the form of the rune in your imagination, and mentally retrace over and over the rune you have drawn whenever its strokes become indistinct or slip from your mind. It is not necessary to use your finger to retrace the rune. Pretend you have a blackboard in your imagination, and an imaginary piece of chalk that you use to continually redefine the rune as it fades.
Runes should always be drawn, both in the world and in the mind, with strokes that move downward and to the right. A little practice will make this second nature.
During the meditation do not actively try to consider a predetermined list of associations with the runes. These will rise in their own time and order into the stillness of your consciousness. Hold your attention upon the shape of the rune and your task of keeping it visually before your inner sight. You must not be thinking of your grocery list while you are doing this. It is inevitable that your mind will wander to other things, but when it does, gently and firmly guide it back to the purpose of the meditationóan active contemplation of the rune you have drawn in the air. When an idea about the rune itself, its nature, or its relationship with other runes comes into your mind, consider it, but do not try to force these ideas. Let them rise by themselves.
This meditation should be stopped before it begins to become physically tiring. There is no point in forcing the work. A period of 15 minutes to half an hour will be about right for most people. Take care that you remain relaxed, your breathing regular, and your eyes focused normally without strain. Strain of any kind is counterproductive. Only sustained attention is required, and you will find that this is effort enough.
Success is not marked by how many new ideas you have about the rune, not even by how clearly you are able to visualize its form in space, but rather by how sustained and effortless your awareness of the rune has been during the period set aside for the exercise.
It is a good idea to do these meditations in the same place and at the same time of day. Several meditations, even half a dozen, should be done on each rune, but these can be mixed up with other runes. You do not have to meditate upon the same rune for six days running – unless you want to, of course. It can be useful to consider the runes in groups, doing them in pairs, or in families, or even doing the complete futhark on 24 consecutive days, then repeating it several times. If the sequence of the meditations becomes tedious, mix it up. Boredom should be minimized, because your mind will seize on any excuse to stop these exercises.
You will soon discover that your mind is without disciplineónot that its discipline is low, but that it does not have any discipline at all. If you try to force it too hard, it will turn around and bite you. You will accomplish nothing. Firmness, patience, persistence, and an understanding of how your mind functions are needed to achieve the best results. Be wary of little tricks. You may suddenly find that your bowels are tumbling every time you sit down to meditate, that your ears itch, that people are constantly interrupting you, that you feel very tired and sleepy, or that the entire exercise seems pointless and stupid. These are all ways your mind will use in trying to squirm out of doing the work you have set for it.