Runes and Whispers: THURISAZ

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Proto- Germanic Reconstructed Name: THURISAZ 
Meaning: “thorn” or “giant”

 

Original Text in Poems:

Anglo-Saxon Poem
Ðorn byþ ðearle scearp;
ðegna gehwylcum anfeng ys yfyl,
ungemetum reþe manna gehwelcum,
ðe him mid resteð.

Norwegian Poem
Þurs vældr kvinna kvillu,
kátr værðr fár af illu.

Icelandic Poem
Þurs er kvenna kvöl
ok kletta búi
ok varðrúnar verr.
Saturnus þengill.

Translation:

Anglo-Saxon  Poem
The thorn is exceedingly sharp,
an evil thing for any knight to touch,
uncommonly severe on all who sit among them.

Norwegian Poem
Thurs (“Giant”) causes anguish to women,
misfortune makes few men cheerful.

Icelandic Poem
Thurs (“Giant”) is torture of women
and cliff-dweller
and husband of a giantess
Saturn’s thegn.

Musings:

Thurisaz is the third rune of the Elder Futhark and represents the d sound in the alphabet. This is a powerful rune, an aggressive ally, and a violent force if not given proper attentions. All three of the runic poems mention Thurisaz with warnings of giants and thorns; they speak of “exceedingly sharp evil things” and the “anguish of women.”

The Anglo-Saxon Poem names this rune the thorn (Ðorn), calling it “uncommonly severe” and “sharp.” According to the poem, Thurisaz is an “evil thing for any knight to touch.” Thorns are instruments of protection, grown by plants to ward away animals, and though the poem regards the thorn as evil, what is good for the plant is not always good for the beast. A thorn is also a visible, if not a somewhat passive form protection: if you cut your hand on a thorn, well then you should’ve heeded the plant’s warning.

The Icelandic Poem and the Norwegian Poem both refer to Thurizas as a giant (Þurs). The Icelandic poem specifically seems to be referencing one particular giant, calling Thurizas the “torture of women and cliff-dweller and husband of a giantess” and “Saturn’s theign” (a theign being Old Norse for an attendant to the king). The Norwegian poem warns that “misfortune makes few men cheerful.” The Jötunn, the giants of Norse mythology, are proud and fierce and as mighty as the Aesir and Vanir with whom the Jötunn have a very complex relationship.

One can also not discount the similarity the word Thurizas bears to the son of Odin and wielder of Mjölnir, Thor. Though he is not mentioned specifically in any of the poems, Thurizas is often called “Thor’s Rune.”

When Thurizas appears, it is a warning and an ally, a call to arms.  One must be able to protect one’s self with all the sharpness of a thorn and the ruthlessness of a giant when it is time to pick up the hammer.

Cursing a Rapist

I have a good friend and years before we met, she was attacked and sexually assaulted in her home.

Now, thirteen years later (the irony of this doesn’t escape me), her rapist has been caught and will tried for his crimes against her and against the other women he has violated. In a few hours she will take the stand and give her testimony against this cretin and last night she asked for strength and power.

Filled with righteousness on her behalf and on the behalf of all women who have suffered at the hands of men, I sent her power.

I drew a picture of his true self, his disgusting self, his decayed inner self. I sewed his eyes and nailed his tongue down with my pencil. I split his penis and stuck pins into it.

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I beat my red drum and my chest, I called to me the spirits of blood, bone and shadow. I banged my fist on my counters and doors, waking up the house wights, I yelled to them to attend me. Around my kitchen I sharpened my mother’s pocket knife, whispering of the power and viciousness of the bitch.

I invoked Hekate, Durga, and Sehkmet. I let me voice reverberate through my house.

Hekate
Three Faced One! Guardian of the Crossroads! Keeper of the Keys!
I call on thee, attend my rite!
Lend [my friend] your power of justice, look upon this evil she faces with your dark gaze, 
feast upon him with your three mouths! Hail, Hekate! 
Durga 
Creator and Destroyer! Three Eyed Lady! Fearless one!
I call on thee, attend my triangle! 
Lend [my friend] your power of strength, turn this evil from her,
Bind him with your many arms! Hail, Durga!
Sehkmet 
Mighty One! Great Lionness! Destroyer of Men!
I call on thee, attend my triangle!
Lend [my friend] your power of destruction, consume this evil she faces with your savage teeth,
Maim him with your bloody claws! Hail, Sehkmet!
I rubbed garlic into his eyes and salt into his wounds. I drowned him in my beer and spit and blood. I cursed him.
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I spit on your grave. I piss on your doorstep.
I cursed him.
I folded the paper, I bound him tightly. I laid Tiwaz, Thurisaz, and Ansuz upon him. A binding. A curse. The spirits hold him down.
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To Tisiphone I give your penis, may she split it in half. To Megaera I give your hands, may she chop them off. To Alecto I give your tongue, may she pull it out. 
I cursed him.
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I took him outside and I dug into the dirt my bare hands and I buried him. I laid rocks to seal his grave.
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I curse you. I bind you. The justice of the wronged will destroy you, the righteousness in her words will castrate you, the truth in her testimony will render you impotent under the fierceness of her gaze.
I curse you. I bind you. 

Full Moon Offering

On the evening of the full moon, my mother-in-law came to visit. To put it gently, this is not a fun time for me. My husband’s mother is a narcissistic, manipulative, dishonorable bitch and that’s about the nicest thing I could probably say about her.

I sat on my couch and listened to her turn what should have been a brief encounter to pick something up, into an hour long diatribe on why no one loves her or cares about her, all the time consciously willing my eyes not to roll into the back of my head. I take special cautions to avoid her and normally this works just fine, we usually see her about twice a month and rarely at our home. But sometimes it cannot be avoided.

I could feel my house, my wights, my spirits recoil away from her, I could feel her energy polluting my home. I wanted to scream.

When she finally left, I could see the mental exhaustion painted across my husband’s face, and so I suggested we dye eggs. Something fun and whimsical and childlike to erase her foul aura from our house.

I forgot it was the full moon. 

So we dyed our eggs and I offered them to my house and my own spirits and when I went to bed I dreamed of my father smiling at me.

The next day, besides my herb garden, I found a rabbit. A creature broken and mangled and half-eaten: prey.

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I have lived in my house for two years now and have never found a dead animal anywhere on our little property and when I saw her lying there I knew the wheel was turning.

I spoke to my witch sister and she said offering, this is an offering.

Offering. 

Yes. An offering, a sacrifice.

The carcass was properly disposed of, in the way one must do in the city, and as the sun set and twilight descended, I made my own offering. I cut a sprig of oregano from my garden and boiled it. I poured the water and oregano onto the spot where the rabbit had been left and I sprinkled salt upon the ground. All this, an offering to the door this death had created, a piercing of the veil, and I breathed in that power.

For you see, what is good for the wolf is not necessarily good for the rabbit and trust me when I tell you, my little darklings, I am a wolf. 

When Spirits Speak

Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 8.10.27 AMMy home is a guarded space. My wights and I, we have an understanding, we have a working relationship, a partnership. They will own these bricks and beams, this wood and stone, this dirt and land, long after my family and I have left. It’s really more their’s than it is mine.

Yesterday, I arrived home from my muggle life and I had a feeling: an urge to offer. So I poured salt in my hand, coarse and purified, and I sprinkled it along the boundary of my fence and house. I sang to the wights and spirits, I called on them with the salt, both an offering and a warding.

This place is ours. Let nothing in that would do ill. This place is ours. Accept this offering, heed my will. 

The wights are listening, the wights are always listening even when you think maybe they’re not. They live in everything.

Your home is made of wood that was once a tree. Does the tree not have a spirit? Your home is made of brick that was once clay and shale. Does the rock not have a spirit? Your home sits atop the ancient land. Does the land not have a spirit? Maybe neglected spirits, maybe forgotten spirits, but spirits nonetheless.

After my offering of salt and song, I came inside and found crawling about on my hand a wee spider. The spirits are always listening. I took the little guardian outside and I thanked her for her weavings. There is power and craft in a spider’s web. Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 8.09.54 AM

In my backyard are frogs and rabbits, spiders and cardinals, mushrooms and weeds. They own this place.

When Silent Anger isn’t Enough

Today I’m angry.

I am so goddamn angry.

I am so goddamn motherfucking angry. 

You may have noticed I’m a little upset.

Why, you may ask? Because apparently I’ve found myself in a goddamn motherfucking B-rate post-apocalyptic horror movie, where a fascist congealed pile of orange pond algae someone glued googly eyes to has managed to be elected as president of the goddamn USA.

I’m angry and you should be angry too, even if you don’t live in the USA. Even if you did vote for this piece of tangerine shit because of emails or something? Everyone should be pissed.

Unless you are a Nazi, in which case, this all probably seems awesome to you, in which case, fuck off.

This has been a wake up call, like the worst sort of wake up call. Like someone threw a bucket of freezing cold urine on me sort of wake up call.

I have been too quiet. I live my life secretly. I don’t speak up, I don’t talk out of line, because it’s really too much of a hassle. I hold my beliefs close to my chest and silently hate and judge and curse and banish and derisively laugh. But mostly I keep to myself.

No more, fuckers. No more.

It is about to get real up in this motherfucking bitch- oh my gods, will it get real.

I am going to be calling all of you. I am going to be writing to all of you. I am going to be cursing and hexing and binding all you pieces of shit.

I will be marching and protesting and speaking and quite possibly punching, because it’s just an alternative kiss. Amirite?!

Get ready for the worst four years of your lives you Evangelical, misogynistic, racist, xenophobic, taint lickers.

Keeping Wights and Home

If you are familiar with the old Russian hag Baba Yaga, then you are no doubt familiar with the story of her encounter with a pair of orphaned children whose cruel stepmother sent them to work for the ancient witch. While Baba Yaga was away, the kind-hearted children managed to escape from her chicken legged house with help from the witch’s neglected household. When Baba Yaga returned home to find the children gone, she demanded answers from the disobedient trees, animals, and gates that allowed the children to escape. The household replied:

“We were always ready to obey thee, but thou didst neglect us.” 

 

So, it was not that the children were good and needed to be saved, though I can understand why some might interpret the story thusly, but rather it’s simply that the children respected the needs of the household. They fed the mice, dogs and black cat, placed ribbon on the birch trees, and oiled the old gates and were rewarded for their appreciation. The household doesn’t complain that Baba Yaga was cruel to the children or that she herself is “evil” (in fact no indication they have any thoughts regarding the morality of the situation) they merely wanted acknowledgement and respect.

Your home is alive. From the cabinet doors in your kitchen to the wooden beams behind your walls, your dwelling is absolutely infested with spirits. Maybe they followed you there, attaching themselves to your person or your ancestral lineage, maybe you invited them with craft or will-working, but most likely they were there before you arrived and will be there long after you’re gone. It has been my experience that very few things in life belong solely to one being. You have to learn to share.

So here is my three point list of recommendations on how to keep your house wights happy.

1. Cleanliness


As my oma would say, it’s important to have a little Putzfimmel: a cleaning obsession. People don’t like to live in filth and neither do wights. I recommend a weekly cleaning schedule to keep your house or apartment in good condition and a monthly schedule for deeper cleaning. I know that might feel overwhelming when you work full time and/or have children to take care of, but trust me it’s worth it. Even if keeping wights happy isn’t your main goal, everyone deserves to live in a clean home. Many folks I know also have maid services, which is fine, but I would suggest maybe once a month or so doing at least some of the cleaning yourself to help establish a connection with your wights. They’ll appreciate the effort. 
Have you ever walked into a house and thought “Holy fuck, get me the fuck out of here.”? Have you ever walked into a house and just known the people living inside were unhappy? We leave those emotions around us, like a pollutant, and the wights can feel it as well. Your wights and spirits live with you, they’re around you as much as members of your family, so just as their happiness affects you, your happiness affects them. Remember to emotionally clean up and take care of yourself as well.

2. Offerings

These don’t have to be grand gestures and actually, I’ve found that wights rarely appreciate a large effort and find it to be insincere. Maybe my wights are too Germanic for their own good, but some smoke from my pipe and a good beer usually does the trick. You might try asking your wights what they prefer and how often they’d prefer it. Walk about your house, property, or apartment and feel for your wights, establish a connection. Which brings me to my next point-

3. Communication

This is simple- talk to your wights. Going out of town? Let them know. Is someone coming over to take care of your fur-babies? Let the wights know. If you establish an open line of communication, your wights are more likely to listen and talk back. Don’t expect them to speak in words and phrases, they’re not people, they’re not even corporeal beings. They’re the very inhuman consciousness of your dwelling. Like I said earlier, you have to feel them and the more you talk to them, the more likely they are to respond.

I hope this has been helpful! Just remember happy wights, happy life.

A Samhain Ritual

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The dead are always listening, but now the Veil has thinned it is time that we listen.

Last night I took my silver tray, a portable alter of sorts, to bathe in the darkness of a moonless sky. I lit candles and sage and called upon my three disir to form the boundary of a triangle for my sacred tasks. I called on each corner as an aspect of my womanhood.

Bloodied Warrior of vicious protection.

Dark Mother of unknowable depths.

Dreaded Enchantress of infinite wisdom.

I called on the the wights that live within my home.

Wights of Place, of Hearth and Home,

of Brick and Beam, of Wood and Stone.

Heed my Triangle, drawn with power,

I summon your strength in this sacred hour. 

I called on the spirits of blood and bone and shadow.

Spirits of Blood, Spirits of Bone,

Spirits of Shadow I call you Home.

Beyond the Veil and through the dark,

Come and heed the witch’s hark.

And finally I called upon the beloved and mighty dead of my ancestral tree. I called them by first name and surname and I sang to them through our bound of kinship and as I chanted the wind blew out my candles leaving me shrouded in darkness. I whispered.

I know you.

I see you.

I hear you.

I will speak your names.

And the dead spoke.

Of Spooks and Hallowe’en

The veil is thinning, my little darklings. Can’t you feel it? Samhain, Hallowe’en, All Hallows Eve is one of my most favorite times of the year. I love darkness and pumpkins and nights that are growing increasingly colder and longer as we begin our trek towards the solstice. I love when the haunts and ghouls and spooks and spirits come out of their hiding to join in our revels because- despite attempts by the Abrahamic faiths to destroy our pagan celebrations- Samhain has stood the test of time.

She has evolved, to be sure, she has changed and adapted, but her essence, her core is a revelry of the dark and the weird. This is the only time our society deems it acceptable for children and adults to don their costumes and celebrate with the dead. Admittedly the good Christian folk of Texas don’t know that’s what they’re doing, but we know better, don’t we?

I see children dressed as ghouls and adults decorating their houses and dwellings and I smile, I smile wickedly. Carve your pumpkins, your jack-o-lanterns and place them on your doorstep, a warding you don’t even understand. Let your children out at night, dressed in disguises so they can dance with the dead on this most sacred night. Celebrate with us, even though you don’t understand the celebration.

Look how desperately they’re starving for their roots, how the remnants of our deepest pagan values couldn’t be destroyed even after hundreds of years. Embrace it, good folks, if only for one night. scary-vintage-halloween-creepy-costumes-130-57fcaebc54a9b__605

 

Impromptu Binding or Why You Don’t Fuck With Me

Yesterday as I sat at home by myself, sipping a glass of wine and listening to the steady breathing of the cat asleep next to me I began to think. I began to think about a few people who are in my life who I really wish weren’t and I began to think about how they have manipulated and harmed someone close to me and then, I began to grow angry.

Quite angry, in fact. I was pretty fucking pissed.

I stood up and looked around. I put down my wine glass and clenched my fist and I thought to myself, “Fuck them.”

And then I thought, “I don’t have to put up with this shit.”

I walked to my bedroom, where my altar sits, and while I was walking I began banging on the walls and doors to call my spirits. I sang to them, calling them to me, letting the pounding of my knuckles on the wood and drywall be like a drum leading them home.

Spirits of Blood, Spirits of Bone, Spirits of Shadow, I call you home.

From my altar I took my mother’s pocket knife, my grandmother’s silver thimble, the picture of my great-grandmother, my Freyja blessed cat statue, sage, and my megalodon tooth. I held these sacred things in my hands, still chanting to my spirits, and I took them to my kitchen.

I laid out my supplies on the counter and grabbed a cord and sheet of paper. I lit the sage and inhaled the smoke into my lungs. Filled with righteous fury at those who had wronged me and mine, I began to sing to myself.

Sacred is the bitch, for she is vicious in her power. Sacred is the bitch.

I tied the cord three times and began sharpening my mothers knife, calling on my ancestors for their help. I walked around the kitchen sharpening the knife, honing my intent.

On the paper I wrote the names of those I wanted out of my life and I chanted, demanding they leave my family alone. I sealed their names with a bind rune created from perth (who knows me best), algiz (who understands protection) and tiwaz (who understands violence).

I folded up the paper tightly, chanting to my ancestors, and when the paper was good and folded I took my mothers knife and stabbed it in the middle. Holding the paper down with the knife, I spun the paper counter-clockwise and chanted “Stay away.” until I had worn a hole through the paper. Then I took the thrice knotted cord and I tied the note up, whispering incantations and prayers to my spirits and my ancestors.

I need to bury it, I thought to myself. I need to bury their names so the dead can find them, so my ancestors can do the work. I put the bound paper inside my mouth and wiped my saliva onto it and then I took salt and rubbed it into the paper, then I dipped it all in my wine. An offering, an offering for the dirt of spit, wine, and salt.

I held the bound paper, the bound names, close to my mouth and I whispered, “Send my words to the dead, send my words to the ancestors.”

I went outside into my backyard and dug, continuing my whispered chants.

Send my words to the dead, send my words to the ancestors.

I dug a hole with my bare hands, huddled over the ground on my knees, dirt beneath my nails. I stuffed the paper into the ground and covered it. I saw an old rusty screw next to me and I smiled. I grabbed the screw and pushed it down into the dirt and I whispered.

You have no power here.

And I went inside and I finished my wine.

Where is our family’s home?

I’ve been doing a great deal of work on my family tree- tracing my ancestors and learning their names. They appreciate the recognition and I want to ensure my name and the names of my blood are repeated and acknowledged by my descendants.

I’ve spent a great deal of time imagining these descendants, these children I don’t have. Imagining what I’ll teach them and the stories I’ll whisper to them as they fall asleep about their grandparents and great-grandparents. The recipes and tricks I’ll pass down and the traditions I’ll forge new with help from their tiny hands.

I don’t have any children yet. I am young. I have time.

It’s a strange thing to have children, stranger still is to raise them in a foreign land. My family is a product of immigration. I am second generation born in the United States from Germany and third generation born in the United States from Italy- this is  not the land of my ancestors. Even my parents, raised in New York and southern California, come from a different land than I.

My mother’s home is the ocean, warm sandy beaches and cool surf.

My father’s home is the city with towering skyscrapers that obscure the sky.

I am from none of these places. I am a creature of mountains. A daughter of grey rains and dark skies. I am a child of the evergreen forests of the Pacific Northwest.

But my children will not share this with me, my children will be of yet another land. They will grow up knowing the mightiness of the sun and blue skies that are unending. They will be creatures of open plains and unyielding heat. When I talk of rain that never stops and a grey chill that permeates your skin and soaks into your bones, when I talk of the dense forests of my childhood they won’t understand.

I wonder, is this a taste of what my grandmother felt raising the first of her family not born born in Germany, not born in Berlin? Is this what my great-grandparents felt raising their children so far from their ancestral shores of southern Italy?

What is the price of this familial disconnection from the land? What is the benefit?