Weal and Woe

A while ago I picked a book about Afro-cuban divination, a system called the diloggun. A neighbor of mine is a practitioner of Santeria and after having witnessed him conduct a reading, and spending time with him I became curious about the whole process and methods. It is a wonderfully simple and yet complex system. Simple because the actual physical process is not that complicated, complex because of the depth with which the diloggun can read, Unlike the average tarot card reading and methods that seem to be based upon that, where the card and the layout is the beginning and the end, the diloggun start with determining a number, and then a number that follows that, and then determining whether that number comes with ire (blessings) or osogbo (misfortune). Following that determination is then where the blessings or misfortune comes from, and how it can be further strengthened (ire) or how it can be lessened or avoided (osogbo). It was the concepts of ire and osogbo that appealed to me strongly, as something that seems to be missing or forgotten in most contemporary divination. Even a lot of contemporary books on modern divination usually tend to put a helpful or positive spin on things that are unpleasant, undesirable or just plain bad or harmful. This seems like a grave disservice to me, but it often seems hard to determine whether the reading being given is really coming with good or with evil. Often times it seems like the default way of doing this with Tarot and systems like it is to interpret all reversed cards as being in some way negative. I have found through personal experience, that this is not the case in the majority of situations..

In working with the runes, I began to ask if the reading or individual runes within the reading are coming with weal (blessings, fortune, benevolence) or woe ( hexes, misfortune, malevolence). The basic method I use for this is to pull another rune and see if that come out upright or reversed, without considering the meaning of the rune itself, at least in most cases. This was fairly accurate, giving an indication of when the action of influence of a rune or reading. The only difficult part was in dealing with runes which do not reverse. There are 13 runes in the Anglo-Saxon/Northumbrian Futhorc that appear the same when you turn them 180 degrees. I found the answer in understanding the nature of these runes, their essence is one that is fixed. Some of these runes will always indicate weal, others will always indicate woe, and a few are also variable, requiring further opening up, but indicating the workings of fate are sealing this and that it may not necessarily be easily changed or come about in a familiar way.

One of things that I have come to understand better from using this process is that just because a rune is reversed, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a bad or unfortunate thing. While often in books on runes the reversed form is called the myrkstave, and giving indications of negative or unwanted influences. I don’t necessarily agree with that any more. A reversed rune in a reading with weal is that influence is more in their absence. In a reading with woe, the things indicated may not come (if they are desired) or is better avoided. Tiewaz reversed with woe gives a good indication of avoiding any kind of legal problems, government or law enforcement, so buckle your seat belt, don’t forget any documents you might need and don’t sass the bureaucrat behind the desk. Feoh reversed with weal often seems to be an indication when other people are spending their wealth on you, without you spending any money, and just enjoying the pleasure of their company. The normal upright meanings become better applied through this process as well. Thurisaz with weal might be an indicator that some direct and unpleasant action is called for fortune to smile upon. Berkana with woe is an indicator that you should not expect any healing or nurturing during that time period, and possibly to be suspicious of people who do seem over eager to be that way. You might also want to be careful in all dealings with women, and possibly avoid their company as well. The interplay of weal and woe within the meanings offered by the runes opens up greatly and can help the reading deliver it’s message more certainty.

It seems appropriate in using the runes to see how the changes of weal and woe, the fluctuations of luck, a concept that was important to the Northern European cosmology and it’s interaction with fated occurrence, but the fortune or misfortune that may occur inbetween. It seems to be a concept that carries to this day, in showing how an unfortune situation can be the journey to great fortune, while seeming fortune can bring only loss and bad luck in the end.

1 thought on “Weal and Woe

  1. Mister M

    This reminds me of the older ways of reading the Lenormand cards, If the clover is far away in the layout from the card that represents the querent, then its means bad luck, since the card that represent being lucky is not near the persona, same thing with the cards that represent illness, its always better to find them at a distance from the card of the person. Of course this particular layout demands that all 36 cards are placed on the table, there for you need to make sense out of the good and bad at the same time.


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