Review by Bonnie Cehovet
I came across Bob Oswald’s work several years ago, and have followed it ever since. He has a way with Runes – and with life – that speaks to the highest that any individual can aspire to attain. He is wise, humble, and respectful of all, while at the same time demanding respect for his craft, and for the process that is the Runes.
In “Discovering Runes”, Oswald covers Rune history, the definitions for each of the Runes (note: Oswald references Runes form the Elder Futhark and the Anglo-Friesian Futhark (forerunner of the Anglo-Saxon Runes), using Runes for divination, using Runes in Pendulum work, working with Bindrunes, and Rune transcription.
The presentation on each Rune includes name, title, meanings, characteristics, personal interpretation (upright, reversed, and converse (face down)), associations (Runic Number, Colour, Genstone, Tree, Herb or Plant, Element, Polarity, Associated gods, and Astrological Correspondence), and Runic Poem.
I appreciate the sense of honor and respect that Oswald gave the section on divination. Oswald notes that the Runes are not meant to be used for general prediction. They are meant to be used to help an individual focus their energy so that they can better understand their present situation, what actions need to be taken to achieve a desired outcome. In this manner, an individual influences their future. Oswald talks about how to word a question, in order to open it up for a more in-depth response from the Runes. There is a discussion on how to cast the Runes, and several sample spreads presented.
It is an interesting thought to combine the Runes with pendulum work. Oswald has created a Runic pendulum, available from his site, that makes use of the energy of eight Runes – four to empower sending energy, and four to empower receiving energy. Those Runes used for sending are Ansuz, Ingwaz, Ihwaz, and Ehwaz, while those Runes used for receiving are Raido, Berkanan, Dagaz, and Sowilo. He presents a system for dowsing, including how to phrase questions, what questions are appropriate, how to determine yes and no responses, and how to deal with an uncertain response. He concludes by addressing the mindset of the person doing the dowsing. A genuine desire to obtain answers to import questions must be present, as well as having he courtesy to thank the Runes when finished.
Bindrunes have always fascinated me, so I was very happy to see a chapter on them included. Oswald divides them into two separate categories – personal and practical. Personal Bindrunes are often seen on amulets or worn as tattoo’s, and are used to reinforce an individual’s personality and to reinforce the positive qualities of the individual’s psyche. Practical Bindrunes are used as talismans with an eye to achieving a specific result – such as increased health, financial success, or harmony in a relationship. The construction of both types of Bindrunes is discussed, and several examples are given. A ritual of purification, as well as words of empowerment bring home the serious nature of Bindrune work.
In Gandr Magic, the gandr (a short length of wood used to perform runic magic) represents the power of the mind, according to Oswald. It may be used to move energy from one place to another, to create a spiritual state of consciousness, and to set up a sacred Rune work area. Oswald goes into empowering the gandr through ritual, and discusses its magical functions, including the power of the four directions, the eight divisions of the year, the cycles of the moon, and the five elements.
Rune transcription uses the Runes in the manner of an alternative alphabet, according to Oswald (each Rune being associated with a specific letter). There is a chart in this section that shows the name of each Rune, its associated letter, and pronunciation (sound). There is a specific manner that Oswald uses for transcribing Runes, beginning with writing the word down in normal English. From there a specific set of steps will bring an individual to the correct Rune. An unexpected bonus in this section is that Oswald directs the reader to his site, where Rune fonts can be downloaded (some free, some for a nominal fee).
At the end of the book there is a bibliography, an index, and blank pages for notes.
This is such a high quality book – glossy pages, full color photographs on each page, easy to understand writing style – that I recommend it to anyone and everyone who has even a small interest in the Runes (and especially for those that wish to work with the Runes). Incorporated into the photos are candles of all types, pouches and bags for the Runes, as well as beautiful wood boxes. Within the pages of this book is a whole other world.
Bonnie Cehovet is Certified Tarot Grand Master, a professional Tarot reader with over ten years experience, a Reiki Master/Teacher and a writer. Bonnie has served in various capacities with the American Tarot Association, is co-founder of the World Tarot Network, and Vice President (as well as Director of Certification) for the American Board For Tarot Certification. She has had articles appear in the 2004 and 2005 Llewellyn Tarot Reader.