I was sitting in a candlelit room, trying not to cough through a haze of incense. On the table in front of me were strewn a handful of stones all carved with sharp angled symbols. I had never seen Rune Stones before, and being the more nerdy, scientific sort, I never thought to seek them out. So it was a surprise to me when one of the psychoanalysts that helped me with my first novella I’m a Nightmare, introduced them to me via a woman’s group.
It was a right brain exercise dusted with a bit of old world magic. The theory is that our left and right brains service us differently. The left brain is your dewy decimal library, supplying you with organized bits and bytes of information. The right brain is more like a hoarder’s closet, a cluttered mess of randomness. The hypothesis suggests: if you’ve seen it, you know it, or at least your right brain does. But the only way to access your right brain is by shutting down your left brain. Like a stodgy know-it-all uncle, your left brain is always trying to do all the talking. Confusion is the key. You need to shut down your left brain by paralyzing it with a question or a game it can’t possibly understand.
So why would anyone care about the jumbled mess in their right brain? Because our right brain holds the sum of all our experiences and one key element: intuition. That singular ‘gut feeling’ that makes us pause and perhaps even change direction. Our right brain already knows where our attention should be to achieve our goals or avoid danger even when our left brain logically suggests otherwise.
But where did these Runes come from and what do they mean? During my research for my latest novel about Vikings, I came across a wondrous array of information on Rune Stones. They used these in place of an alphabet. Each Rune held a certain meaning or phrase, and were connected into a series to impart a blessing—or a curse. They can be found littered upon headstones and standing stones across Scandinavia and Europe.
The meaning of the Runes goes back to Odin, the leader of the Norse gods, who, seeking wisdom, gouged out his own eye, stabbed himself with a spear, and hung himself from Yggdrasil, the tree that holds up the world. A harsh price to pay for wisdom, but below the tree is a natural well that possesses all knowledge. The keepers of the well are three women known as the Norns, kind of like the three fates from Greek Mythology. These women would carve Runes into the trunk of the tree, shaping the fate of all mankind. It is said Odin coveted the secret of the Runes, and if you’ve read my previous blogs you know the Viking culture really prized bloody offerings. So after nine days swinging by his neck, the Norns figured Odin’s suffering was payment enough and granted him the ability to interpret the Runes.
So how do these runes give us access to our right brain?
First, you need a book and the one I prefer is called The Book of Runes by Ralph H. Blum. The best part of this exercise is you don’t even have to read the book; you just need to crack the front cover. Remember, your right brain takes snapshots. Like a rabid paparazzi, your eyes are taking in 400 billion bites of information every second and squirreling it away for later use. After you open the front cover of the book, stare for a few seconds, and then close it, you’re done. Your right brain has now grabbed the Runes and their meaning and stored it away, even if your left brain hasn’t had a chance to crack the code.
The next step requires a tabletop where you can spread out the stones, face side up, where you can see them all. No need to concentrate, just a glance. Keeping your eyes on the stones, flip them over so all you can see is the blank underside.
Now shift the stones around the table in any motion you want, it doesn’t matter, your right brain is paying attention, even if you are not. Once the stones have been shuffled a bit, flip one over. The rune you choose is a DSL line into your right brain.
You already have all the answers you need trapped in your own head. Because your right brain took a snapshot of the meaning of the Runes, you are able to locate the Rune that has the most meaning for your current situation. Essentially, you were able to access your right brain because your left brain was muddled in confusion.
Now why use Viking Runes for such an exercise? You don’t have to; you can do it with just about any symbolic game. But isn’t science much more fun when you add a splash of magic?
Now it is time for me to crack open my right brain and see what’s inside. I just drew the rune of protection…what do you think that means?