The Wind Blows

Once I had placed the runes into the matrix of my World Tree cards, I realized that they were a guide to a spiritual birth as well as physical. One of the big differences between dreams and visions is our ability to bring the vision to fruition, to manifest its full form in the material world. I had come full circle, back to the visionary experiences where I first encountered them. I was curious to know if there were any historical records of visionary practices that might be associated with the Runes.

I was able to find some information on pre-Christian visionary practices in old Irish texts recording certain pagan practices that were forbidden in the name of St Patrick. St Patrick became the patron saint of Ireland in the 7th century, although he is thought to be based on the historical lives of at least two different men who lived in the 5th century. He is credited with casting the serpents of the old religion out of Ireland. One of the goals of St. Patrick’s church was to transform the pagan practice of personal visionary experiences expressed through original compositions of sacred song into the singing of hymns approved by the Church.
Although the names of the practices are Latinized, the definitions arise out of the pre-Christian world-view, and in spite of their being forbidden by the church, they were still in common use as late as the 10th century. Imbas forosnai is defined as ‘knowledge that illuminates’; tenm laida, as ‘song that illuminates’; and dichetal do chennaib, as ‘a song or chant that illuminates others’. In an effort to establish church control over the Irish visionaries, dichetal do chennaib was permitted as long as it was defined as an aspect of the monkish practice of chanting hymnals.
The writers of the texts insist that the practices being discussed came from outside of Ireland. Being as Ireland is an island on the seaward side of the British Isles we have to look to the English for our sources. There the story is that the Anglo-Saxons Horsa and Haga brought the runes from Northern Germany in the fifth century. However there were centuries of interaction between the peoples of the British Isles and the mainland before then, particularly between the Saxons and the Scots.

A powerful indication that I had understood my own experience of imbas forosnai and the runes correctly came my way when I visited the Externsteine. Paraphrasing the English version of the guide-book, I can describe them as a 70 million year old chain of sandstone rocks located in the glacial morraines of Westphalia in Northern Germany. They are the hardened remnants that have survived erosion by wind and water and were spared by the glaciers during the Ice Age. Reputed to be one of the sites where the Irminsul or World Tree of the Saxons was present in the material world. Many different groups still gather here to celebrate their understanding of this sacred site at various times of the year.


This is the site where  Charlemagne broke the back of the resistance by the Saxon tribes at the Externsteine in seventh century.  His army destroyed most of the pagan carvings in the name of the Holy Roman Empire and the Catholic Church. For more details click here. I was introduced the site on a rainy October day driving between workshops. We only had a few minutes to visit, and so skipped the main entrance and went for a short walk along the ridge top.  When I saw the rune inscription on the stone near the path along the top of the stone formation, I saw a universal message in the rune inscription on the rock. I felt it was a confirmation that I was on the right path in my work with the Runes. and I was privileged to be able to share my understanding with others.


The first column reads:

Be silent

within the rain

is the spark

The second column :

of the melody

of the rhythm

of your prayers

The third column :

out of infinite possibilities

your inmost needs

manifest into form

The fourth column :


your inspiration

like thunder

The fifth column :

the birth

of your prayers

in the heavens

and the sixth:

takes root on earth

where your destiny

is fulfilled

Eventually I was informed that there was a huge amount of turmoil, distress, and controversy around my interpretation of the rune inscription. The site had  been of great interest and activity for the German Nazi party in the 1930’s and 40’s.  I discovered that while the German government strictly forbids the use of rune forms in any political context, it legislates in favor of research, education and most admirably, enlightenment.. It quickly became apparent that I was not a Nazi myself nor was I promulgating Nazi propaganda.

But  I was soon to find out that the Nazi controversy was the least of my troubles.

(click here for chapter four)


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