Sowilo – Initial Rune Study

Six months ago I started a thorough initial study of the Elder Futhark. Each week I would focus on a new rune, reading the rune poems and a number of published interpretations. While these posts are old (originally posted to my Tumblr), I want to move them over here for easy reference.

Week 16: Sowilo

Basic meaning: Sun

Further meanings: Goals achieved, honor.  Victory.  Life-force, health.  Contact between higher self and unconscious.  Wholeness, power, elemental force, sword of flame, cleansing fire.  Clarity, the clear light of day.  Invigoration, dedication, optimism, healing.  Confidence, magic will.

Divinatory meanings: Success.  A time when power will be available to you for positive changes in your life.  A victory.  Points to a connection between your higher self and your unconscious.  A time of clarity, during which something may be destroyed for the better.

Merkstave meanings: False goals, bad counsel, false success, gullibility, loss of goals.  Destruction, retribution, justice, casting down of vanity.  Wrath of god.  Impulsiveness, burnout.

Magical uses:  Can empower individual to persist in endeavors.  Brings out highest values and potential in those who work with it.  Can also help gain a victory in times of crisis.  Strengthens psychic centers, or hvel.  Increases in spiritual and magical will.  Guides through the pathways towards a kind of enlightenment.  Victory and success through individual will.

Personal thoughts on and associations with Sowilo

This is kind of a long story, and chances are good you won’t find it that interesting, but I’m going to write it anyway, because it has Sowilo all over it.

During the study of this aett, I went through quite a difficult time spiritually.  Most weeks it was all I could do to make myself come back to this rune study and continue doing it.

The study itself wasn’t the problem, but associated with a (kind of) source of the problem, which really wasn’t even the problem in and of itself.

Brief background:  I’ve only considered myself pagan for a couple of years.  I came to that after about a ten-year spiritual & religious search.  I’m turning 30 this year, so, unlike a lot of people on Tumblr who came to paganism as a teenager and often earlier, it wasn’t anywhere in the realm of possibility for me until college, and even then it took years for me to come around to it seriously.

This means that I’m going through what a lot of new pagans go through where they start on an extremely broad path and then start trying to focus it.

About six months ago, I was ready to start finding that focus, and heathenry connected the most to me for various reasons.  I had an interest in learning the runes and already had at least a working knowledge of the deities involved in it, so it seemed like a logical place to start.

At first I loved it.  I studied diligently, I did close-to-daily devotions, I worked with my runes, I got as active as a shy clueless newbie can in the online heathen community, and more or less just let myself be immersed in it.  Of course, as with any community, I started running into things that made me uncomfortable:  ideas I disagreed with, people who rubbed me the wrong way, etc.  There were also cultural aspects I was uncomfortable with (I’m just not a warrior!).  This was fine and manageable until I also had a spiritual burnout at the same time because I felt extremely inferior to others due to my inability to hear the gods, my earthbound spirit, and a very deep doubt in my magical, divinatory, or even scholarly abilities.

Cue that moment when you almost – almost – make a break with all of it and run away.  But I didn’t.  I had some heart to heart meditation time with the main three that I work with (Heimdall, Thor, and Freyja).  I let them know that I needed a break.  That it might be temporary, but it might not be.  I still felt compelled to work on my rune study as I’d already put so much time into it (and I’d promised Heimdall to see it through to the end, and I just can’t break off something like that to someone who is extremely duty-bound), so I knew at least for the time being we’d still be touching base.

So then I started looking into other things, particularly Kemeticism (due to my childhood obsession with all things Egyptian) and Canaanite polytheism (due to its ties with my actual religion growing up – Christianity).  While I’m still searching, I have also felt undeniable pulls back to heathenry.  But there are concepts in others paths I like as well, along with deities I really admire.  I know my path is branching out in ways I can’t predict or control anymore.

So what the hell does all this have to do with the Sun rune?

Sowilo is all about the life-giving sun.  Be successful, be healthy, be true to yourself, be victorious, be whole.  These many branches are, hopefully, reaching for wholeness as I find out more and more about myself.

Sources for meanings:

  • Runelore by Edred Thorsson
  • Futhark: A Handbook of Rune Magic by Edred Thorsson
  • Principles of Runes by Freya Aswynn
  • Northern Mysteries and Magick by Freya Aswynn

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