In rainwater soak
Leaves of birch chopped fine
Into it coarse salt pour and
Mix with almond oil
Strip down bare
Even if cold
Leave not a thread
Even if cold
As thorough as ever then
Wash your limbs
Wash your body
Wash your hair
Rinse in running water
With salted birch and oil you then
Scrub your limbs
Scrub your body
Scrub your hair
Rinse in running water
Clean new clothes
Chamomile and honey tea
Sleep and be reborn
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.
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.
Magic. What a silly word. A silly word for silly people.
Still, I burn a bayleaf and watch the smoke rise. I mix coltsfoot with sage and breathe purpose into sacred soil. I am wordless with intent and steady as I stride.
I am a very silly person.
Me: Oh but come on!
Also Me: What?!
Me: Don’t you act all innocent now, you know what I mean. What the hell are you writing?
Also Me: Poetry.
Also Me: Prayers.
Also Me: There is magic in it as well.
Also Me: Yes.
Me: WHO WOULD READ THIS?! IT IS NONSENSICAL!
Also Me: IT IS NOT NONSENSICAL AND YOU KNOW IT!
Me: Well yeah but… but…
Also Me: Shut up.
I find myself writing odd poetry. Heathen poetry with a sprinkle of spell work, in a style I have not touched before. It feels right. It feels like I don’t care if people understand it or not, weird or not it is just as it should be.
It’s an interesting feeling. When being able to let go of what is normal and ‘correct’, and instead finally coming to express raw meaning.
Yes, I like this.