Avoid Old Patterns
STAR = STOP, THINK, ASSESS, REDIRECT
This is a tool I have found useful through my process of learning and personal growth. Whenever I feel I may be crossing over into one of my old patterns of behavior I use this simple process:
- Stop Stop the unhealthy behavior or process may be; take a few deep breaths
- Think Think about what is going on
- Assess Assess the situation and its alternatives
- Redirect Redirect your actions or behavior to the HEALTHIEST alternative
That’s the “STAR” technique received from a very good therapist more than ten years ago. She added this “tool” to my “tool belt” because I needed something to slow me down a bit. Slow me down when feeling like I’m beginning to react. I can be a very sarcastic person and have emotionally wounded many. The “STAR” technique helps me to be healthier in my interactions with others. This technique helps when I’m facing, or considering anything that may be unhealthy for me, or any behavior that I’m trying to correct.
At the time I first learned this technique, I had some tools available to me. They were added to my tool belt year’s earlier, maybe even during childhood. They worked well for me as a child, but as I grew into adulthood, I found that many of my old tools weren’t working anymore. They weren’t in the adult world. I loved my old tools and hung on to them. They were hard to give up! But to grow, I had to say goodbye to my outdated old standby’s, thanking them for protecting the little boy – me, and for keeping me safe when I so desperately needed them. I had to make room for new tools that would help me along my path of personal growth.
Declare your independence of all fear based limits. — Alan Cohen
I have found fear to be one of my most worst and ineffective tools for making decisions. By “tools”, I mean the emotional coping mechanisms our mind creates during our life time and from our own set of unique and personal experiences. These tools may be useful during a certain time period in our life because they protect us. As humans we change, and some of our tools must change as well. As a child, fear may have been an important tool, because it kept us out of harm’s way from something. For example, I have a friend who has a two-year old, and to keep the child away from certain things around the house tells the child, “It’s hot.” So now, when the child wants to touch something, he asks, “Hot?” My friend has been effective at keeping his child away from certain harmful elements, but obviously, as the child matures, this tool must change. As adults, I find that our tools don’t change often enough. Fear based tools are common for us to carry with us into adult hood. Fear based tools may distort reality, giving one an unrealistic platform for certain functions, such as decision-making.
Fear is the absence of love. Fear is where our higher power (God or the Universe) is not. Making choices out of fear keeps us from looking at the true cause of our pain or anguish. Pain, misery, aggravation are just a few of our negative emotions. Our mind, our Ego, tells us that something out there in our world is causing us fear. We then believe we must resolve an issue or problem to get rid of the fear. This process tends to distort reality, blinding us from the true source of our fear, the Ego. It is our Ego, our mind, causing the fear. Our mind hides this fact from us. If we knew the true cause of our fear, we might feel we were wrong and put ourselves to blame, which then creates guilt.
Our Ego shelters us in this same way from guilt with all of our emotions. Anger, frustration, embarrassment and sadness are not ours to own responsibility for; it is the outside world to blame. Something or someone “out there” is the cause of the emotion. The problem with this tool used by the mind is that it leaves us feeling powerless. It leaves us feeling unable to change our feelings. Our power is surrendered to something outside of our own self and at the mercy of this “thing”. Many of us have learned by now that we can’t change another person. So we believe we cannot change “it” nor can we change our own emotions or feelings. We believe that this “thing” in the outside world must change for us to feel better. The same holds true for every one of our emotions. If the outside world or something or someone in it is the cause of our emotion, then we are not to blame. Clearly, it is that “thing” “out there” that is responsible for our emotions. This way of thinking makes us feel we are not to blame and not at fault. The only way to truly heal the problem is to heal the fear.
Through our awareness that it is our reaction to an event and those stories we have fabricated in our mind creating what we believe to be the truth, our power is restored. We have the power to create change and happiness. We begin realistically and authentically to heal the fear. No longer is there a dependency on the outside world for our own true joy.
Making choices or decisions out of fear are actions not from God or the Universe. When an individual has even a remote feeling that a choice or decision is being made from a fear based emotion, I recommend one to stop and take time to do the necessary inventory of one’s own feelings. Do not make a decision based on fear. Some of my personal friends and acquaintances go so far as to even do the opposite that a fear based decision may suggest. I recommend that if one becomes aware that a decision is being made with fear as a driving force, to stop. Breathe deeply in and out and go inside one’s inner Self for direction. I often suggest the use of a simple technique I refer to as “STAR”. STAR is an acronym for: Stop, Think, Assess and Redirect to a healthy alternative. Even the simple exercise of breathing deeply in and out will help to release the fear. Susan Jeffers, a life coach and spiritual guide suggests, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”
Dagaz is the last Rune belonging to the Cycle of Initiation. Drawing Dagaz often signals a major shift or breakthrough in the process of self-change, a complete transformation in attitude, a 180-degree turn. For some, the transition is so radical that they are no longer able to live the ordinary life in the ordinary way.
Because the timing is right, the outcome is assured although not, from the present vantage point, predictable. In each life there comes at least one moment which, if recognized and seized, transforms the course of that life forever. Rely, therefore on radical trust, even though the moment may call for one’s self to leap empty-handed into the void. With this Rune the Warrior Nature reveals itself.
If Dagaz is followed by the Blank Rune, the magnitude of the transformation might be so great as to portend a death, the successful conclusion of one’s passage.
The keynote here is receiving: messages, signals, gifts. Even a most timely warning may be seen as a gift. The message may be that of a new life unfolding. New lives begin with new connections, surprising linkages that direct you to new pathways. Take care now to be especially aware during meetings, visits, chance encounters, particularly with persons wiser than yourself. When the Messenger Rune brings sacred knowledge, you are truly blessed.
Loki is that ancient trickster from the pantheon of the Norse Gods. He is theheyeohkah of the Native Americans, a mocking shadow of the creator god, as well as the bringer of benefits to humankind. He is a reminder that even scoundrels and arch-thieves can be the bearers of wisdom. When this Rune is drawn, expect the unexpected; the message is always a call, a call to a new life.
Ansuz is the first of the thirteen Runes that make up the Cycle of Initiation -Runes that focus directly upon the mechanism of self-change – and as such, addresses our need to integrate unconscious motive with conscious intent.
Drawing Ansuz indicates that a connection with the Divine is at hand. It is a signal to explore the depths, the foundations of life, and to experience the inexhaustible wellspring of the Divine in one’s own nature.
At the same time, Ansuz reminds that one must first draw from the well to nourish and give to oneself. Then, there will be more than enough to nourish others. A new sense of family solidarity invests this Rune.
Ansuz also presents a different message when drawn in a reversed position: One may be concerned over what appears to be failed communication, lack of clarity or awareness either in one’s past history or in a present situation. One may feel inhibited from accepting what is offered. A sense of futility, of wasted motion, may overwhelm one’s self. However, that is what is happening and is timely to one’s own process. If the well is clogged, this is the moment for cleaning out the old. Reversed, Ansuz is saying, “Consider the uses of adversity.”
When consulting the Runes, situations will occasionally arise when one’s “need-to-know” goes beyond the authority of a single stone or the Three Rune Spread. The Five Rune Spread can help to identify the distinctive components of a situation that might otherwise overwhelm with its complexity.
Begin by clearly formulating the issue. Draw five Runes from the bag, one at a time, and place them one below the other. In descending order, the Runes stand for:
- Overview of the Situation
- Course of Action Called for
- New Situation Evolving
The Five Rune Spread is absolutely personal and specific. If five Runes are drawn from the bag and placed down on the field, the odds against drawing this particular spread are 607,614 to 1. If however, a Rune is drawn, written down, returned to the bag making the next selection from a full bag of Runes, the odds against drawing this particular spread are now 312,500,500 to 1.
The fourth position, “Sacrifice” is intended as recognition that life offers choices and options that are often mutually exclusive. The concept of sacrifice has, over time, come to be associated with pain and loss. The application of sacrifice in the Five Rune Spread refers to that which has peeled away, shed or discarded, as is called for in the Rune Othila. Othila portends the emergence of new wholeness. Originally a boding of two Latin words, sacrificium and facere, one of the core meanings of sacrifice is “surrender to God.”
A Sample Reading
From my Rune Journal I will again make reference to the successful business I owned with my ex-partner. I was the creative impulse of the idea, and the slogging hard work of getting the company on its feet. The company was “my baby.” When it came time to allow a competitor to acquire the company, the competitor wanted my participation, but not my partner’s. All my fears regarding loyalty, abandonment, the risk to the long-term relationship with my partner and his self-esteem were brought to the surface by this situation. I decided to do a Five Rune Spread which is the spread used above.
Perth, the Rune of Initiation as the overview of the situation, immediately shifted my focus away from both my relationship with my partner and the business. “Nothing external matters here, except as it shows you its inner reflection” – these words were key for me. I realized this was another crossroad on the path of self-change.
Uruz, the Rune of Strength Reversed, indicated the need to respond consciously to “the demands of such a creative time.” It was clear the correct decision would encourage my growth at all levels – corporate as well as personal.
Wunjo reversed speaks of the process of birth being long and arduous as well as the fears which arise for the safety of the child within. The Runes were reminding me that I was going through a test.
Nauthiz, the Rune of Constraint Reversed, in the Sacrifice position conveyed the great teacher in the guise of pain and limitation. I was able to more clearly see that it was time to take a new kind of responsibility for what I had created, to own and honor it and to do what was right for the company.
Dagaz, the Rune of Breakthrough addressed the New Situation Evolving. This Rune offers the assurance that, “because the timing is right, the outcome is assured, although not, from the present vantage point, predictable.” My partner went on to become a success with his considerable talent with a prescription drug company.
The Three Rune Spread does the job for all but the most demanding or challenging situations. With an issue clearly in mind, select three Runes, one at a time of course. Place them from right to left in the order each Rune was selected. So that one doesn’t make a conscious effort changing the direction of the stones, especially as one becomes familiar with the symbols, it is good practice to place each Rune blank side up, and the turn them over.
With the selection complete, the Runes will be before you as in the diagram above. Reading from the right, the first Rune reveals the Situation; the second or center Rune identifies the Action; and the third Rune (the one on the left) indicates the New Situation. The way in which one happens to turn the Runes may have some effect and alter the direction of the symbols to either an upright or reversed position, but remember, this too is all part of the process. Since only nine Runes read the same upright and reversed, the readings for the remaining Runes will be determined on how the Runes have been placed or turned.
When I was faced with the end of a long term relationship, experiencing emotional pain and grieving over the loss, I turned to the Runes and did a Three Rune Spread. My issue I felt at the time was, “What am I to be learning from this separation?”
From my journal I am able to recall the Runes I drew: Reading from the right, the first Rune was Algiz, the Rune of protection reversed addressed my sense of being totally vulnerable, and unprotected. This was the first time in my adult life I would really be on my own; without a partner. Only right action and correct conduct provide protection in a time such as I was facing. I would have to grow and learn from the loss of the relationship.
The second Rune drawn was Kano, the Rune of opening. I was encouraged to trust the process and consider what aspects of my old conditioning would be best if changed.
Third drawn was Nauthiz, the Rune of constraint and pain. The new growth would not free me from anguish over the situation. The end of that relationship caused me to begin on my path of personal growth. For the first time as an adult, I was working on me. I also came away from this reading knowing that I was being called upon to be mindful of the fact that rectification must come before progress.
Though I was feeling vulnerable and “exposed,” I was made aware that with pain comes the necessary clarity to get on my path of personal growth and change. As I began to move along that path, I was often reminded to consider the positive uses of adversity.
Uruz ~ Ur ~ Strength ~ Manhood ~ Womanhood ~ The Wild Ox
The Rune of terminations and new beginnings, drawing Uruz indicates that the life you have been living has outgrown its form. That form must die so that new energy can be released in a new form. This is a Rune of passage and, as such,part of the Cycle of Initiation.
Positive growth and change, however, may involve a descent into darkness as part of the cycle of perpetual renewal. As in nature, this progression consists of five aspects: death, decay, fertilization, gestation, and rebirth. Events occurring now may well prompt you to undergo a death within yourself. Since self-change is never coerced, we are always free to resist, remain mindful that the new life is always greater than the old.
Prepare then, for opportunity disguised as loss. It could involve the loss of someone of something to which you have an intense emotional bond, and through which you are living a part of your life, a part that must now be retrieved so you can live it out for yourself. In some way, that bond is being severed, a relationship radically changed, a way of life coming to an end. Seek among the ashes and discover a new perspective and new strength.
The ancient symbol for Uruz was the aurochs, a wild ox. When the wild ox was domesticated, an incredibly difficult task, it could transport heavy loads. Learn to adapt yourself to the demands of such a creative time. Firm principles attach to this Rune. At the same time humility is called for, since in order to rule you must learn how to serve. Uruz puts you on notice that your souls and the Universe support the new growth.
Without ears to hear and eyes to see, you may fail to take advantage of the moment. The result could well be an opportunity missed or the weakening of your position. I may seem that your own strength is being used against you.
For some, Uruz Reversed will serve to alert, offering clues in the form of minor failures and disappointments. For others, those more deeply unconscious or unaware, it may provide a hard jolt. Reversed, this Rune calls for serious thought about the quality of your relationship to your Self.
Take heart: Consider the constant cycling of death and rebirth, the endless going and return. Everything we experience has a beginning, middle and an end, and is followed by a new beginning. Therefore, do not draw back from the passage into darkness: When in deep water, become divers.
I am going to do my best to explain with as much detail as possible, the meaning of each of the Runes over a series of upcoming blogs. The interpretations I am sharing are not meant to be definitive in any way. Please consider the information as guidelines.
The first letter of the Germanic alphabet and is concerned with worldly wealth and possessions. In ancient times, the main measure of one’s worth was determined by the number of livestock one owned. Livestock was far more important in ancient times, as the Germanic peoples were nomadic.
Fehu is a Rune of fulfillment: ambition satisfied, love shared, rewards received. It promises nourishment from the most worldly to the sacred and the Divine. For if the ancient principle “As above so below” holds true, then we are also here to nourish God.
This Rune calls for a deep probing of the meaning of profit and gain in life. Look with care to know whether it is wealth and possessions you require for your well-being, or rather self-rule and the growth of a will.
Another concern of Fehu is to conserve what has already been gained. This Rune urges vigilance and continual mindfulness, especially in times of good fortune, for it is then that one will likely collapse oneself into success on the one hand, or behave recklessly on the other. Enjoy good fortune and remember to share it, for the mark of the well-nourished self is the ability and willingness to nourish others.
Reversed: There may be considerable frustration in your life if you draw Fehu Reversed, a wide range of dispossessions ranging from trivial to severe. You fall short in your efforts, you reach out and miss; you are compelled to stand by and watch helplessly while what you’ve gained dwindles away. Observe what is happening. Examine these events from an open perspective and ask, “What do I need to learn from this in my life?”
Even if there is occasion for joy, do not be seduced into mindless joyousness. Reversed, the Rune indicates that doubtful situations are abundant and come in many forms and guises. Here you are being put in touch with the shadow side of possessions. Yet all this is part of coming to e and passing away, and not that which abides. In dealing with the shadow side of Fehu, you have an opportunity to recognize where your true nourishment lies.
Understanding the Runes
Above all, the runes are steeped in nature and symbolize the power exhibited by different elements of nature—the wind, the sun, ice and rain for example. Therefore it is impossible to understand the runes by adopting an intellectual approach. The peoples of northern Europe led lives that were extremely close to nature and dominated by these elemental forces. As in many other ancient cultures, nature and the gods were considered to be one and the same thing. Each god symbolized a different element of the natural world and was believed to be responsible for the creation and continuation of his or her natural phenomenon. For example, to the Germanic peoples, thunder was believed to be an action of the god Thor.
This can be quite a hard concept for the modern mind that is trained in logical, empirical thing to grasp, but it is essential for understanding and using the runes effectively. In ancient times, the runes, by symbolizing these elemental forces, allowed the user to make direct contact with the forces of nature, and thus perhaps to gain some insight into how the patterns of life were unfolding, so that they could take the necessary steps to ensure survival. Life at that time was an extremely tenuous affair, and natural forces could cause death and disaster to those who were unprepared. To a certain extent, this still holds true today, witness the large scale destruction caused by hurricane Katrina, but we have such a sophisticated social system that, to a great extent we are protected from the real chaos that nature can cause. Early peasant cultures were not; they were at nature’s mercy.
One of the most important things to remember about the runes is that the wisdom which the tradition contained was handed down from one generation to another orally – largely in the form of poetry to make it easier to remember. In ancient times, this sort of knowledge was not considered to be for everyone’s eyes so it was never committed to writing.
The shaman, who had been initiated into the knowledge of the runes, played a hugely important role in those times. He or she was the spiritual member of the community who gave each rune character its symbolic meaning and thereby it’s mystical power. The shaman was the most powerful figure in the tribal community as it was he, or she, who could determine and cure illness, foster fertility, ensure a good harvest, and solve many other concerns that were essential to everyday life, perhaps and most notably protecting the tribe from its enemies – both the human and the animal kind.
For many cultures and many thousands of years, the shaman was the person who could bridge the gap between the world of the gods and that of ordinary humans and use their psychic ability to communicate with the sprit world. In that sense, they were conduits for nature itself, considering the gods and the elemental forces of nature as one and the same thing. In many parts of the world, shamans made a connection with the other world when they were in a trancelike state induced by drugs – especially those with hallucinogenic powers – or by dancing, fasting or conducting rituals.
Shamans were an integral part of the culture of the runes, yet they were especially selected, trained, and set apart from other people in the community. Both physical and mental powers had to be well above average in order to perform many of the rites and ceremonies involved. Although revered for their knowledge, shamans also inspired considerable awe through their apparently supernatural powers. In many parts of the world shamanism still exists, and shamans still live in self-imposed isolation living on a separate plane, wrapped in their magical universe.
It was not uncommon for shamans to be in some way physically impaired at a time when it was almost impossible for anyone else to be crippled or survive. For ordinary people, disability was socially unacceptable. On a practical level, it was almost certain to lead to an early death and there was no form of social welfare in existence to make life more manageable. If you could not hunt or gather crops for the community, you were an outcast. The only possible existence for a disabled person was to become a shaman – if he or she had the strength for such a demanding position. Even so, they would never be accepted into the day-to-day affairs of the community, regardless of their hugely influential role in community life.
The role of shaman was kept in the family, passed down from generation to generation – from mother to daughter and from father to son.
The runes are derived from natural forces, which the observant can see everywhere they look: in the shape of a stream as it flows through a field, at the point where the branch of a tree forks, or the random shape of stones on a beach. It is as if nature talks to us directly in the shapes of the runes. The knowledge they impart is also all around us, as long as we have the eyes to see and the mind to understand.
The runes have no history of being used in fantastic or magical enterprises; their powers are grounded firmly in the natural world. They do not give political dominance or unearthly powers on the battlefield. Like nature itself, they are pragmatic and down to earth.
To this day, our language has a number of little sayings that express the underlying philosophy of the runes – such as “nothing comes for free” and “what goes around comes around”. If a king wished to win a battle and gain more territory, this desire would bring greatly increased responsibilities; if a peasant wished for more cattle he would know that this would create considerably more work for him. The people who used runes realized that there is always a price to pay for any gain in life. Because of this they took a less demanding approach to life than many people do in today’s world.
Meditating on the Runes
The main source of information on the Runes is the Anglo-Saxon poem which was translated by the monks from Old English into Latin. It would appear that this translation was not completely unbiased and that many Christian-style references found their way into the translation. However, the core essence of the message is still quite clear. The poem included in this blog was translated by Thomas Howard.
To understand the runes, all one needs to do is look at each rune in turn and read the correct verse of the poem. Then, meditate on the symbol and words. In time the meaning will come to you. This may sound too simplistic to you, but understanding the symbols and words is a process of meditation which requires deep concentration, considerable effort and consistent practice.
Included with the translated poem is the symbol along any associated translation of the symbols’ name and meaning.
Feoh ~ Fehu ~ Cattle
Wealth is a comfort to everyone,
Yet each must give freely,
If he will glory in Heaven.
The wild ox is fierce,
With horns above,
A bold fighter who steps the moor,
A mighty creature.
Th ~ Thurisaz ~ Thorn
Thorn is very sharp to everyone,
Bad to take hold of;
Severe to those who rest among them.
Ansur ~ Ansuz ~ Mouth
Mouth is the origin or speech,
The support of wisdom;
And for everyone a blessing.
Rad ~ Raidho ~ Raido ~ Cartwheel
Riding in the hall is very pleasant,
It is more strenuous.
Sitting on a strong horse covering
The mile paths.
Ken ~ Kenaz ~Torch
Torch to all living is pale and bright.
It burns brightest
Where noble folk rest.
Gift is for everyone;
Glory and exaltation, and for the needy;
A help and sustenance.
Joy is needed not
By those that hath
Little want and sorrow
And hath increase and bliss.
Hagall ~ Hagalaz ~ Hail
Hail is the whitest of grains,
It sweeps from the sky,
Is whirled by the wind,
and turns to water.
Need is narrow in the breast,
But can often be a help,
If attended to early.
Is ~ Isa ~ Ice
Ice is cold and slippery,
It glistens like glass,
Is as bright as gems,
The field wrought with frost,
is fair to the sight.
Jara ~ Jera ~ Harvest
Year of fruitfulness,
Is the hope of everyone,
When the Gods allow the earth,
To give her bright increase
to rich and poor.
Yew is outwardly
A smooth tree,
Hard and fast in the earth,
The Shepherd of fire,
twisted beneath with roots,
a pleasure on the land.
Peorth ~ Pertho ~ Perth
Chess is ever play and laughter
To the proud,
Where the warriors sit
In the beer hall,
Eolh ~ Algiz ~ Protection
Sedge grows in the fen,
Flourishing in water,
Burning the blood
Of anyone who touches it.
Sigel ~ Sowilo ~ Sowhelu~ Sun
Sun to the seafarer,
Is always confidence of nobles,
It is ever-moving
And in the darkness
Of night never rests.
Tir ~ Tiwaz ~ Creator
Tir is a token
Which has a confidence
It is ever-moving
And in the darkness
of night never rests.
Birch is fruitless
But bears twigs without increase,
It is beautiful in its branches,
Is laden with leaves,
Heavy in the air.
Eoh ~ Ehwasz ~ Horse
Horse is the joy of nobles,
Where heroes wealthy on
Their horses exchange words,
To be restless is a comfort.
Mann ~ Manaz ~ Man
Folk in their happiness
And dear to their kindred,
Yet all must depart
From each other,
Because the gods commit
The body to the earth.
Water to the landfolk,
If they venture forth in an unsteady boat,
The sea waves will foam,
And the seahorse heeds
Not the bridle.
Ing ~ Ingwaz ~ Fertility
Ing was first seen among
The eastern Danes,
Departing over the waves,
His wagon ran behind,
Thus the warriors named him.
Day is the gods’ messenger,
The light of the gods,
Is happiness and consolidation
To rich and poor.
Othel ~ Othala ~ Othello ~ Home
Home is beloved of everyone,
If they can enjoy their
Rights and labor
And prosper in peace.
- Interpreting the Runes XV ~ Algiz ~ Elk ~ Protection (christophersmark.wordpress.com)
- Interpreting the Runes XIV ~ Perth~ Question Mark ? (christophersmark.wordpress.com)
- Interpreting the Runes XIII ~ Eihwaz ~ Yew (christophersmark.wordpress.com)