Wednesday 4 June 2014

Havamal Snippets 144: Knowing the Runes

This is another verse that deals with the Runes that Odin garnered after hanging himself on the World Tree (Yggdrassil) for nine windy nights.

The verse asks the reader is he 'knows' how to interact with the runes.  (Knowing is of course different to merely having information, it means having a deeper connection with something, on emotional, and abstract terms).

The lines themselves are arranged in pairs, opposites that exist within a given context.  We'll use the first two lines as an example. These two lines deal with writing (cutting/scribing) the runes, and the reading the runes.  One part (writing) is balanced out by it's opposite (reading).  The first part is male, or masculine, and tends towards the more masculine traits (being active, doing physical things), while the second part tends towards the more feminine traits (being passive, doing mental things).   The male comes first, and the female comes second, just like explorers into any new territory.  Christopher Colombus and his sailors went first, then the wives moved in afterwards.  This male/female dichotomy is demonstrated in the first two lines as follows:
* The 1st line is writing - active (moving the hands), creative (making something out of nothing), physical (cutting into wood).
* The 2nd line is reading - passive (sitting down), analytical (analysing something that exists), mental (thinking about the meaning of the cuts).

The rest of the lines are also pairs of opposites that deal with other aspects of the Runes.

Veiztu hvé rísta skal?
Veiztu hvé ráða skal?
Veiztu hvé fá skal?
Veiztu hvé freista skal?
Veiztu hvé biðja skal?
Veiztu hvé blóta skal?
Veiztu hvé senda skal?
Veiztu hvé sóa skal?
Do you know how you must cut [them]?
Do you know how you must interpret?
Do you know how you must colour?
Do you know how you must try?
Do you know how you must invoke?
Do you know how you must sacrifice?
Do you know how you must send?
Do you know how you must kill?