Category Archives: reversals

Runes and reversals 2

In my work with bindrunes, using runecasting as the means for selecting runes to use in creating a bindrune, in some of my work I have been given the reversed forms to incorporate. The first time this happened, my initial inclination was to turn the rune right side up. After a several minutes contemplating this, I changed my mind and turn the rune back the way it had come up in the reading, and proceeded with creating the bindrune into the aesthetically pleasing sigil I wanted. Since then, many of my bindrunes have incorporated reversed runes in thier makeup. At first I wasn’t sure what it may indicate, but as time and experience progressed, I slowly came to realization. It has to do with the action of the rune and where it is being activated. This is different from in a reading, although understanding it might help make some things more clear in a reading.

This first became clear to me when I was creating a bindrune to find hidden treasure. Finding hidden treasure is of great interest in much European and American folklore. Long before banks were common and established as mostly trustworthy institutions… People protected their money and valuables through concealment, often through burying them where only they would find it, so long as their secret was not revealed. The problem is that sometimes before they could recover their valuables, the person might die from various circumstances, or without documentation they also forgot where they concealed their wealth. It seemed interesting to me that something like this exists, and yet there is no real modern day interest in this action, except for various treasure hunters who seek out a multitude of technological toys to assist them. Of course, in this day and age, hidden treasure might take on a different meaning. From family bank accounts that were forgotten or lost because of bank foreclosures, to finding out that grandpa’s old clock is a $5,000 art piece to the right collector, to the right bit of information that suddenly puts laws and regulations in your favor, hidden treasure can take many forms.

I thought I would try this out, so I created a bindrune to work with in finding “hidden treasure.” In the process of casting the runes for this, one of the runes that came up was Feoh reversed, the rune of wealth upside down. That is when it dawned on me, “Duh, of course, Hidden Wealth, would be Feoh reversed.” From that insight, the rest of the pieces fell into place for other reversed runes in the bindrunes. They can point to an interior aspect, of the magic of changing the energies within you or a situation. It can also point to powers that are acting discretely, cause sometimes charging in head first, guns blazing is quick way to get your request denied, whereas choosing to grease the palm of the bouncer to get in the back can be more successful. It is something that I have happily embraced with my rune magic, but it has also been a great boon in readings to, as sometimes the layout of runes in the reading indicates that hidden aspect of a reversed rune, instead of a misfortunate meaning.

Runes and Reversals

As you might notice through my rune of the day posts, there are runes that come up expressed as reversed. This is a common technique among contemporary systems of sortilege, especially tarot. The reader themselves will often have a ready understanding of reversed meanings about their tool, which can range from the complex to the simple. In most cases that I have heard of, the reversed meaning is a negative indicator or expression of the meaning contained within that symbol.

While historically we don’t know how the runes were used for divination (or if they were used directly) in contemporary practice they are. Many books will give reversed meanings for some or all the runes. This is usually for the practice of Divination. However, if you look at any Futhark, there are runes that are not “reversible.” That is, if you turn them 180 degrees on a vertical axis, it is the same symbol. Some symbols like this are invertible (that is if you turn them on a horizontal axis, they will become mirrored to the original inscription) but I have yet to find a rune set that includes inverse runes, as they would require a separate inscription.

What is of interest to many, are the non-reversible runes. A simple example would be Sowelo/Sigil/Sol the rune of the Sun. It’s various forms in the futharks are all non reversible images. In essence, it’s meaning in a reading never changes. That is an excellent graphical metaphor for the sun. In a certain sense, the power of the sun never changes. It may leave our ability to perceive the sun, but where ever it is, it always shines, bringing warmth, hope, and joy. It never changes or varies in that power.

This is one of the striking differences of the runes vs the tarot. Every tarot card can be reversed. Not every rune can be reversed. Some things are unchangeable, enduring, and lasting within the cosmology of the runes.
In Thorsson’s work, the non-reversible runes are often interpreted as being the runes of the Nine Worlds. As he only uses the Elder Futhark, there are only 9 immutable runes. They are Gebo, Hagalaz, Nauthiz, Isa, Jera, Iehwaz, Sowilo, Inguz, and Dagaz. (if you want to know the Nine World equivalents, I suggest you acquire one of his books). The remaining runes are connected to paths connecting those worlds, much in the sense of the magical cabala associations with the tarot, with the major arcane forming paths between the sephira, which are associated with all the number units of the minor arcana. By adding in the Anglo-Saxon and Northumbrian runes though, his cosmological map falls apart, as more non reversible runes are added. Ior, Qweorth, Shtan and Gar, bring the total count from nine to thirteen, and introduce additional concepts or repeated ones. However, they are suggestive of powers that are immutable as well, and maybe they are not symbolic of the nine worlds, but instead of powers manifested in all the worlds, powers that are constantly being expressed and at work in the deepest metaphysical levels.