Cedric's Pagan Thoughts

The spiritual meanderings of a NeoPagan shaman, an eclectic Wiccan, a Celtic musician, a world traveler, a bard, and an uncompromising cat-loving Bast-worshipper

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Elder Futhark and the Daily Grind

During recent exploration of the runes, I came across several systems that assign the runes to various periods of time. Because there are conveniently 24 runes in the Elder Futhark, it’s fairly easy to associate the runes with hours of the day. When I looked at these hourly associations, I was struck by how well the runes describe a day in the life of a modern worker.

1 A.M. Eihwaz (Yew): The yew is the tree of death, and at this point most modern workers are dead to the world.

2 A.M. Peorth (Dice-Cup): Only gamblers are still awake at this hour.

3. A.M. Algiz (Elk): This is the rune of guardians, and only security guards are still awake at this hour.

4 A.M. Sowelu (Sun): This is the time when the pre-dawn sunlight first begins to shine, not that the typical worker is aware of that. Anglo-Saxon runemasters called this time before dawn uhtna, not that the typical modern worker cares about that. Of course, Anglo-Saxon fishermen, laundry-workers, beekeepers, and gong farmers also called it uhtna, but it sounds much cooler to talk about Anglo-Saxon runemasters, don’t you think?

5 A.M. Tiwaz (Tyr): This rune is named for the Norse god of war, who lost his hand during a traumatic moment at pet obedience school. At this point in the morning, the typical modern worker would rather gnaw off his own hand than hear the alarm ring. But just as Tyr had to face up to his responsibility to rein in the psychopathic wolf he’d raised, so the typical office worker must face the grim reality of the impending alarm clock.

6 A. M. Berkana (Birch): This rune is associated with beginnings, and let’s face it, the typical office worker begins the day at this point. Birch wood was often used for cradles, which contain and protect the tiny spark of life, much like the coffee cup the modern office worker clutches at this hour.

7 A.M. Ehwaz (Horse): Taken literally, this rune represents one’s mode of transportation, so is it any surprise that Ehwaz governs the morning rush hour? Of course, this rune also has to do with loyalty, bravery, and reciprocal trust, qualities not typically exhibited by rush-hour drivers. Hey, nobody said this system of correspondence was perfect. I mean, heck, couldn’t you tell I was reaching when I wrote about Algiz?

8 A.M. Mannaz (Humanity): This is the hour in which the office worker enters the social sphere of the workplace and must actually attempt to be civil to other human beings, hence its association with Mannaz.

9 A.M. Laguz (Water): By nine in the morning, the typical office worker has made it to the water cooler.

10 A.M. Inguz (Ing): Ing is the Norse god of farmers, laborers, and fertility through hard work. Don’t you think it’s about time to actually knuckle down and do some hard work? For Goddess-sake, you’ve been at work for two hours!

11 A.M. Othila (Homeland/Property): This is the rune that governs one’s home and estates, and that’s exactly what the typical office worker is thinking about at this time: home, and how much he’d rather be at home than at work.

Noon. Dagaz (Day): This is the rune of all things coming together and working out well, a rune of deep contentment. So of course it rules lunch-time, the high point of any office worker’s day.

1 P.M. Fehuz (Cattle/Wealth): In its literal interpretation, this rune refers to herd animals doing what they’re told while waiting to be slaughtered for their master’s benefit; and that’s exactly how a typical office worker feels when filing back into the building after lunch. The rune’s more symbolic meaning, cash, explains the worker’s motivation for coming back to the office at all.

2 P.M. Uruz (Wild Ox): This is the rune of unbridled strength and energy. In some cases, the office worker actually feels this sense of momentum and capability while charging into an assignment at two in the afternoon; but more often than not, you’re stuck in a meeting with a superior who tells you to take the bull by the horns while presenting you with copious quantities of something from the bull’s other end.

3 P.M. Thurisaz (Giant): To Norse runemasters, this rune represented the giants, those annoying and moronic adversaries of the gods. In the modern business world, this rune represents your company’s clients. At this point in the day, a client will inevitably call demanding that you fix a problem that (a) the client caused, (b) the client could have avoided by taking your advice, (c) the client knew about three days ago, and (d) the client believes must be remedied before five o’clock today to avert impending disaster and the collapse of all markets in the Western Hemisphere. Alternatively, this rune is called Thorn and represents self-discipline, which is exactly what you’ll need to get through that call from the client, who is, after all, a thorn in your side.

4 P.M. Ansuz (Deity): This rune represents an authority figure, in this case a supervisor or boss who descends on you at a crucial moment in your client-induced disaster management to ask you if you’ve filled out your timesheet yet. In some systems, this rune is named “Ass.”

5 P.M. Raidho (Journey): This rune is etymologically related to our word road, and that’s what it’s time to hit! Just as Ehwaz (Horse) rules the first rush hour, so the rune of the road rules the second. This is also the rune of seeing the big picture and making plans. At this hour, you’re most likely getting the big picture from a helicopter traffic report on the radio, and you’re making plans for what you will do if you ever meet your clients in a dark alley.

6 P.M. Kenaz (Torch): Literally, this rune refers to the light that allows travelers to navigate at night, so appropriately this rune rules the time when drivers turn on their headlights and bars turns on their flashing neon for happy hour. Figuratively, the rune has to do with wit, cleverness, and intelligence. Of course, at the happy hour, you engage in witty repartee and acquire vital intelligence concerning office politics (known to Anglo-Saxon runemasters as gossip) while getting toasty with your coworkers.

7 P.M. Gebo (Gift): This rune refers not only to gifts but also the obligations implied in accepting a gift, an act often used ritually by Anglo-Saxon runemasters to strengthen social bonds. During this hour, you will join those with whom you share a social bond for a ritual meal, at which someone will feel obligated to ask you about your day and you will feel obligated to respond. Children, who may not yet understand the give-and-take embodied in this rune, might resist hearing about a day at the office that even you thought was boring; however, their resistance will elicit a quick lesson in reciprocity: “You have to hear about my work, because it’s how I put food on this table!” Alternatively, this rune can mean “gallows,” which may be a more accurate description of the experience.

8 P.M. Wunjo (Joy): This is the rune of celebration, a temporary relief from the stress of life. Is it any mistake that all the best television shows air at this time?

9 P.M. Hagalaz (Hailstorm): Here we have the rune of sudden upset and disaster, which perfectly describes the situation when you inform your children that it’s their bedtime. Nevermind that they’ve had the same bedtime for as long as they could speak; because of the influence of this rune, the news is always a disastrous revelation that evokes protest. In the case of teenage children, questions about whether they’ve finished their homework and whether they plan to ever get off the phone will produce a similar result.

10 P.M. Nauthiz (Need): This rune’s literal meaning is “need,” and after the day you’ve had, you need a drink. Go ahead; the Norse gods drank all the time. Heck, it was a compliment to say that a Viking didn’t kill his friends when drunk. Oh, the editors say I can’t encourage drunkenness, so I have to write a new interpretation. Boy, I hope they remember to take the old one out.

10 P.M. Nauthiz (Need): This rune’s literal meaning is “need,” so at this hour you need to watch the evening news, since you didn’t catch the news at six, which was after all the hour of knowledge. At least you can take solace in seeing that so many people in the world are worse off than you.

11 P.M. Isa (Ice): The rune of stillness perfectly describes what the world is like at eleven o’clock at night. It is also the rune of stagnation, which pretty well describes the state of late night television.

Midnight. Jera (Year or Harvest): This is the rune of getting what’s coming to you. At this point, the day catches up with you, and you have to go to bed in hopes of getting some sleep before Sowelu rises again.



This article originally appeared in The Rising Wind magazine.

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1 Comments:

At 10:06 AM, Anonymous Amber said...

Very clever!

 

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