A child’s mind is not the easiest thing to comprehend. Her frames of reference, her sense of logic and reason, it is something else.
Before I knew the runes, one came to me. To me and my cousin, who was of the same age. It was before we had begun at school, before we had learned the proper ways of modern living.
I don’t know where it came from. I didn’t know then either. We just knew that this, this was important. And powerful. It meant protection. It meant hope. It meant a way out for he who is trapped, and a way in for he who is locked out. We could not put to words why, but this we knew.
We called it Norrombergen. A name that made sense to a child’s mind, though to you it may seem strange. Norrombergen, we knew, consisted of one vertical line, splitting into three at the top. It wasn’t until many, many years later that I learned it had another name – Algiz.
No one taught us. This was secret knowledge that we had stumbled on, and we told no one. For years and years, we told no one. Norrombergen was a secret, and it was ours.
I wrote a poem for Rán today. It will be read as I offer Her drops of snaps and a little package of Fisherman’s Friend. And I will plead with Her to soften the blow for all those who suffer due to the recent storm related flooding. Because as a voice called out, imploring his fellow Heathens to ask Rán for help, people would say: No. Ask Thor!
And yes, ask Thor, the master of storms. But let it not be said I would deny Rán, when honestly asked.
May She keep a calm sea even as storm rages above!
May Her daughters safely carry those lost back to land!
May those unescapably caught in Her nets fare well in Her halls!
Our house lies in between two big old rowan trees. You can see one of them in the picture above, in bloom as they are in the earlier days of summer. Today there are no flowers, but plenty of bright red berries.
The rowan, in Swedish is called rönn, may not be the grandest of trees – often it grows to be no more than a shrub. Nonetheless it has a mighty powerful place in folklore, ancient mythology, and yes, magic. Protective as well as runic magic, most of all. According to an old myth a rowan tree once even saved the life of Thor himself, which is no small feat.
The young leaves can be used for tea, and the berries are edible. Not particularly tasty, but edible. They are completely packed full of vitamin C, so much that three a day will cover what you need. Luckily you don’t have to eat them raw, they can be made into jelly or jam, or even wine. Or you can dry them and add a bit in bread baking, or use in your müsli or whatnot. The birds love them too, and for good reason – rowan berries, or rönnbär, makes up their most important food source in wintertime, at least up here.
One day the two mighty rowan trees by our house will wither and die. It’s alright, there are already young shoots coming up to take their place. We will take care of them, and perhaps they will take care of us.
This is something I’ve been working on for quite a while. I would say it’s an image of Nótt, but that would be wrong. It is an image for Her more than it is of Her.
The thread is wool, the fabric it’s embroidered on is linen, and then the whole thing is sewn onto another piece of wool fabric. The technique is mainly split stitch. The wooden stick holding it up I made from a juniper branch, and the detail of the button is an old button originating from gods know where. Oh and the design is all my own.
For all its flaws, I am fond of the result. I just wish my drawing skills were better, and that I had thought to use a hoop to keep the fabric straight. But never mind that now, in this case the meaning within is more important than the execution. For Nótt!