Teiwaz – Warrior Self

The rune is a simple arrow pointing up.  It signals the spiritual warrior, the energy of such a warrior.  Thus did it become, in my mind, the warrior self.  In this sense, we are all spiritual warriors.  We all do battle with the self.

The hardest fight is with the self.  Overcoming your impulses and your own doubt is the only challenge that really matters.  Wrestling with God is easy by comparison.  There is nothing anyone can do to you, not even God, that can be more hurtful than what you can do to yourself.  You know your biggest fears, your deepest doubts, more thoroughly than anyone else does.  You know them from the inside and can use them against yourself in ways others cannot even fathom.

It is a solitary struggle.  Try as hard as you might, you cannot escape yourself.  And all the help others offer can do nothing about the nagging worry your inner self can bring to bear in opposition to you.  At 3 AM you have no one else to help you fight for yourself.

Even if you win, the challenge is always waiting in the wings to be rejoined.  Every setback risks an “I told you so.”  And yet, without the fight, without the willingness to wrestle with the self, what is left?  What else would we have?

Life is about pushing forward, about bringing something from nothing.  We begin as nothing and struggle to make something.  It is against the self that we must work.  Though we fail, it may be enough to know that at least we did not give up.

Initiation, Reversed

Disruption.  Again.  The meaning was still obvious.  The world was in turmoil.  His life was in turmoil.  There was nothing new here.  He knew it was still relevant counsel, still important to listen to what the rune was telling him.  He needed to leave behind old ways.  But his patience had worn thin, and he wanted something more than this same message.

He cast the runes once more.  Perth.  Initiation.  Reversed.  It seemed the runes were not going to let him off the hook.  He faced obstacles and needed to approach them as opportunities for growth.  The world was testing him, and his focus on the past and future meant failing in the now.  Now, the only time that really matters.

Too often, he viewed his challenges as external.  He needed to see that his life was his, the challenges were his.  Quit thinking about harms already suffered.  Quit worrying about what the next day might bring.  The question was what he would do right now.

Right now, there were needs to be met, problems to be solved, things that could not wait for some other time.  Those issues that could wait needed to be left alone for now.  Their time would come.

The present is the only time there is.  The only time he had.  Making good use of it, focusing on it, was the only way forward.  But the past and future were always lurking at the edge of consciousness, threatening his concentration.  If he was to grow, if he was to find his way out of disruption’s grip, he needed to resist their pull.  Whatever lay before him demanded this growth.  The only question left was whether he could meet this demand.

The Self, Reversed

Mannaz.  The Self.  Reversed.

Of course it would be reversed.  The world had been upended; how could he remain unaffected?  The rune indicated that the enemy he had identified without was merely a pale reflection of the enemy inside.  Change was required to move forward.  To grow.

But to grow what?  Mannaz was just a reminder of a question for which he had never found an answer: Who was he?  How to even respond?  A name, even one he chose, only identified him.  His skills?  Many others had similar abilities, at least until recently.  His actions?  Were those what he wanted to define who he was?  If so, he would be unable to like himself.

What else was there, however?  His ideals?  If his actions did not reflect those principles, then how could they truly be his ideals?  And yet, he wanted to believe – needed to believe – that he was more than what he had done.

Were those actions, and whatever principles they reflected, the enemy within?  If so, what was left that was him, that was not the enemy?  There must be something more.  But what could it be?

Maybe it was enough for now to recognize the enemy he had let in.  Changing that – opposing it – was a tremendous task.  There would be time after to determine who he was.  At least, he hoped there would be time.  For now, there was work to be done, both inside and out.  The question of who he was would have to wait.  But not forever.

Movement, Reversed

Impatience was not a virtue, he knew, but it was part of his character.  The rune before him seemed aware of that, seemed to mock him.  Movement reversed.  Motion that is blocked.  It was counseling him to wait, that now was not the time to act.

How could he sit still?  A great wrong had been committed, and it must be set right.  To wait meant to invite even more wrong.  No, the rune’s counsel had to be set aside.  Even as he formed the thought, misgivings arose.  The runes were never wrong.  Open to interpretation, yes.  But not wrong.  And this casting was clearer than most.  What’s more, he had anticipated this reaction.  His anger, however, required something else.

The runes, he told himself, did not understand, could not fathom his need.  He knew it was not about setting things right; it was about revenge.  Blood demanded blood.  And at this moment, right and wrong held little meaning.  The runes could not account for his anger, so they could provide no useful advice.

Winter howled around him but could not reach inside.  He began to move.

Wholeness

Perhaps survival is my punishment.  When I set out to destroy Cepheus and his Terrgat, I expected to die as well.  Somehow, I was spared.  And now I must live with the fact that I devastated an entire city, an entire corner of the world.

The rune Sowelu, wholeness, stares up at me from my casting.  I had to face what I had done.  Own it as part of myself.  Only then could I be reconciled with myself.  Only then could I be whole.  But how to do that?

Everyone seemed to know that a mage – or, on some tellings, dozens of mages – had wreaked such terrible destruction.  I even heard my name whispered now and again.  Rather than save my comrades, I have confirmed all the suspicions planted by the king and his soldiers.  Mages were hated, and the Terrgat had the support of the people, more than ever.  They should have been finished, but those away from the capital now had the people’s sympathies.

All of this because of me.  And that accounting does not include the loss of life that I brought about with the ritual.  Was it grief that drove me?  Or vengeance?  Or maybe merely an overconfidence in my own ability to control and predict the forces I unleashed?

The temptation to wallow in my failure, even to swear off using magic ever again is great.  Though it would undo nothing, my conscience might be eased by such an empty gesture.  Sowelu warns against that course, however.

I am a mage.  Denying magic would mean denying part of myself.  Preventing wholeness.  Magic is but a tool, and one I have used carelessly.  But giving up the tool solves nothing.  Being more thoughtful on how the tool is used is what is called for here.

I cannot save this world from itself.  I know that now.  But I am not helpless, and my survival has made it clear that I am not done here.  I may need to learn how to live with myself, but I gain nothing from denying who I am.  I am a mage.  Now I need to find out what that might mean in this new situation I have brought about.

Sunrise

The wind blew along the frozen river driving every living thing away from the banks.  Except for one man.  Wrapped in a heavy brown cloak against the cold, he leaned on a fallen tree trunk to avoid sitting on the ice and snow.  He stayed there, waiting, facing the east.

The sky behind the far bank had just begun to brighten.  A golden reddish hue crept upward and bounced off the few clouds high overhead.  The moon having already set, there was no other light to compete.  As the light in the sky grew, he could feel the moment approaching.

Every magic was at its strongest at particular times of day.  The rhythms of that unseen power mirrored the rhythms of the sun and moon as they chased one another through the sky.  Seasons, too, mattered, as the the day echoed the ebb and flow of the year.  Dawn in the late winter was thus ideal for reading the signs.

He pulled a small pouch from under his cloak and, just as the first sliver of the sun appeared, cast the rune stones onto the snow.  Three runes told the tale.  Where he had been was signified by the rune of initiation.  Secret beginnings were all too clear in his tale.  No judgment was offered, merely an acknowledgment that those beginnings held clues for him now.

Next, where he was.  Disruption.  This seemed obvious as well, but the runes were not known for speaking so clearly.  Disruption in the world was a given.  But like the previous rune, this was a rune signifying the cycle of self-change.  Disruption within, as well as without.  He was still uncertain of his own role, his own path, and that must be resolved, perhaps by considering the source, the beginnings, of all of the disruption: his initiation.

Finally, where he was headed.  Movement.  Another rune of self-change.  Ultimately, his answers lie ahead of him, not behind.  There was no going back.  Whatever trials lay ahead, he must push through them and find some new future, not recreate the past.

As the sun broke free from the horizon, he realized he had tarried here long enough.  He trusted his reading, but the surface meaning of the final rune was also relevant.  It was time to be moving on.  Nodding his respect to the sun, he turned left and followed the river north.

Disruption

With his eyes closed, he passed his hand over the stones.  Bits of spark jumped from them back to his fingertips.  None of them felt quite right, however. It was a luxury to have the time to consult the runes.  A luxury he didn’t often have anymore.  Thus, he relished the charges of energy. Finally, one spark did not fade right away, drawing his finger to one stone in particular.  He picked it up and briefly caressed the piece, worn smooth from many years of use.  Then he flipped it over.

Disruption.  Upheaval.  Change.

That is what the rune spoke of, and yet it need not mean something terrible.  A big change was coming.  The rune did not reveal when, or what shape it would take. Whether he should resist or go along with it, the rune had given him the warning; the rest was up to him.  The temptation to draw again, to gain some clarity, was great, but he resisted it.  Another rune would merely reveal what he wanted to believe.  That would not help this time.  The runes were clear.  The murkiness was his own.

He swept up all the stones and replaced them in their pouch.  Change?  He would be ready, whatever it meant.