bindrunes: healing & purging

©2022 Michael Raven

As I dig further into my rune studies, I’m starting to explore combining the symbolically-interpreted meanings of various runes into a single sigil, known as a bindrune. Some of the better known (and more complex) bindrunes include the Icelandic staves known as Vegvísir (protection against getting lost; probably post-Viking) and Ægishjálmur (“The Helm of Awe”, for defense and instilling overpowering fear in an enemy; possibly Viking, mentioned in the Poetic Edda), but more simple rune combinations were used on various markers or, in the more recent case of ‘bluetooth’ which combines the latter version of the H rune (ᚼ, hagalaz) and B rune (ᛒ, berkana) to form the bluetooth symbol:

The letters were merely initials representing Harald Bluetooth, a king of Norway, not meant to have any mystical or symbolic rune meanings. But it worked.

As time goes on, I’m playing around with some of these combinations — sometimes in my head, sometimes on paper, and I stumble onto an interesting combination by mixing two or three runes into a single sigil. There are multiple ways of creating bindrunes, but the minimalist in me tries to conserve as much visual real-estate as possible to combine several runes into a bindrune (not-so-big-secret: I’m trying to develop a bindrune as part of a future tattoo, which is my primary purpose behind playing with these combinations).

I was playing around tonight with the idea of symbolically capturing a healing/purification/protection combo, inspired by my goal of becoming a person with better mental health over the upcoming months. Some of that concept involves purging my soul of poisonous thinking — that self-loathing, self-deprecating, self-defeating person on the brink of a bottomless pit of depression.

For that, I wanted to employ berkana (ᛒ), which is associated with: health, detoxification, purification, purging old to fill with new, rebirth after destruction, and regeneration. It seems to hit plenty of the “needs” I was trying to hit on.

To purge the “toxic” and “unhealthy” thoughts and spirits, someone might employ heat (such as a sweat lodge as the Plains tribes utilized; or sauna, as the Finns have employed as a preventative health measure). Then, once that unhelpful thinking is purged, one might cauterize the place from which it came to keep those things from returning. For that, I thought kenaz (ᚲ) might be a helpful rune to include. Kenaz is the rune of fire, purification, healing, cautery, unmaking, and it also lends power to the rune combination. It also has associations with ulcers which, in some respects, the unhealthy thinking I have been engaged with can be seen as being.

Finally, I wanted to make sure that the symbolism went beyond simple healing and detoxification/purification of the soul and added an element to protect against “reinfection” of those soul-sick ways of thinking. To that effect, I added algiz (ᛉ), a rune associated with safety from harm, defense, shields, and protection [Ægishjálmur is theorized to have eight instances of algiz for this very purpose].

My initial design got over complex, as I mirrored some of the symbolism, thereby creating new runes embedded within the design, so I scaled it back, thinking the initial was overkill for what I was getting at (and not satisfying the minimalist approach I was taking). The end result is this bindrune:

In this, I limited it to a single algiz, a single berkana, and one or two kenaz (depending on how you look at it). After it was drawn, I also noticed that nauthiz (ᚾ) had snuck in there as well, which is a “change rune”, as representative of a change in perspective, need, the norn Skuld (“What shall be”), and several other ideas associated with ørlǫg (fate, a subject of which, I am intimately interested in, if you haven’t noticed). This, too, seems appropriate, so its accidental addition doesn’t bother me.

So, there you have it. One of my new interests branching from my interest in runes. I hope my thought process was interesting, if nothing else.

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