While many modern sets of runes have the additional twenty-fifth rune, the blank rune, it is important to note that this is an invention of modern commentators and is not a part of the authentic runic tradition. The 'P' rune, Perthro or Peord performs the function given by modern commentators to the blank rune. It represents the unknowable, the journey into the unknown and the risk that must be taken. Thus, Perthro holds the key to a mystery at the heart of runic lore, the runecast itself. Perthro is both the act of casting the runes and the Well of Consciousness to which we go as a seeker.
When we cast the runes, we come to draw the waters of knowledge and inspiration from this sacred place. This is the Well of the three Sisters, the Fates or Nornir who spin the webs of past, present and future that bind all life together and who cut the threads when the time is come to end a pattern. In Teutonic myth it is known as the Well of Wyrd.
The Well of Wyrd
When we draw from the Well, we are not simply predicting the linear development of our future that grows directly from where we are now. Rather, we are looking at how our current situation has grown from roots in the past and what we must do in order to either fulfil what we have begun or to change direction completely. Sometimes we must change the way the past has affected us before we can earn a new future. When we sit with our runes, preparing to cast them or lay them for a reading, we keep alive a tradition thousands of years old. We are poised on the edge of the known, preparing to commune with the hidden forces of this world, ready to entrust ourselves to the unknown. In this way, each of us becomes a seeker, ready for initiation, preparing to give what the journey asks of us.
The Norns or Weaving Women of Teutonic spirituality play an important role in the mythology of the runes. These three women bind and unbind the fabric of existence. Odin himself, the giver of the runes is subject to the power of the three Sisters, Urd, Verdandi and Skuld, the triple Goddess of ancient times. Urd is the oldest and rules the past. Verdandi is the middle sister and rules the present. Skuld is the youngest and rules the future. Their work, the tapestry of fate, can be read in the runes.
The Tapestry of Fate
Remember that for the ancient peoples, the word fate was used differently from the way we are accustomed to using it. What we have done or not done in the past creates our present conditions - that is the runic concept of fate. In the present, we experience the energy of our own past choices. This comes about through what is known as 'orlog' or layers. It is a central theme in runic spirituality and crucial to our understanding of work with the runes. We are radiant beings, pouring energy into the world around us, drawing energy from our environment.
So, action taken (or not taken) literally creates layers of energy that adhere to us and influence present conditions. Our fate is this energy field layered in around us through our decisions and actions, thus bound into the aura of our being. It is not a force outside us that takes control while we look on. It is our wyrd, a living and vibrant web of force that fills us, surrounds us and links us to the web of life. To know ourselves we must know the forces within our own wyrd.
If We Fight Ourselves... Who Wins?
Without such knowledge, we have no power for if we don't recognize our wyrd or fate then we haven't taken responsibility for our lives. In our present choices, we meet our own past selves. If we own them, we can change our lives through self-mastery. If we disown or deny these past selves then fate becomes a force outside us that we struggle against. But if we fight ourselves, who wins?
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