As I sit here in weary, dreary, bleary cold Michigan eating warmed pineapple and drinking my *second* cup of coffee, I'm given pause to think about something I read last night. Before I get into it, let me say again that everybody has the right to their own opinion. For example, I'm not convinced that "digital art" is really "art", even though I know that many digital artists would disagree with me and I *do* know that it is far more involved than tweaking the perfect Sim... and frankly, I own a couple of Robin Wood's digitally created pieces; I have never doubted her art was art no matter how she created it. Am I biased? Maybe. The point I'm trying to make is that everybody has a right to their opinions and I know that some of mine may (do) go against the mainstream... and maybe the truth is that I'm still on the fence about digital art and maybe that's mostly because I've never tried it myself, being the less than technical savvy sort. (Digital art has been a recent topic of conversation on one of the elists I'm on; I've stayed out of it, because contrary to popular belief, I'm really not a pot-stirrer by nature.) That said, I expect to raise at least a little dander with the real subject of today's blog: Runes. Or more to the point, whether or not one's ethnicity plays into one's ability to understand the Runes.
Let me begin by quickly reminding you that I am 100% with Edward James Olmos on the subject of "race": There is only ONE race, the Human Race. Can I say that *any* more emphatically? (Without yelling?) Ok, now that we have that established....
My coven is going to start working with Runes, soon; to that end, I've been doing a bunch of reading/research and you've all seen the lovely set of Runes I made (blisters are almost healed!!) from deer antlers. One of the books that I purchased recently--or rather, re-purchased--is Freya Aswynn's Northern Mysteries and Magic; Runes, Gods and Feminine Powers (Revised Edition of the Classic 'Leaves of the Yggdrasil'.) Many years ago I owned Leaves of the Yggdrasil, although I confess, I don't remember much about it, just that I liked it. I was 20 years younger, so probably the fair amount of "Christian bashing" Ms. Answynn does didn't bother me back then. It bothers me now. A great deal, in fact. But that isn't really the subject of this post.
In her book, Ms. Aswynn says, on p. 97: "Who can acuire the ability to work with runes? Anyone with a genuine psychic gift can learn to divine up to a certain point, but to penetrate the deeper levels of rune knowledge, one has to be born into the Northern 'group-soul.' The ability to work with the runes is passed on through the psychic equivalent of genetic memory..."
First off, we all have genuine psychic gifts; that is plain and simply part of being human. Some people are better at tapping into that potential than others, certainly--and certainly some people seem to have a greater wellspring into which to tap, but we all have something to tap into. Remember: everyone who derives pleasure from painting will not become the next Da Vinci, but many people who derive pleasure from painting, and put in the effort to become the best artists they can be, will make a decent living at it and enrich the lives of those around them, as well. Likewise with psychic gifts and abilities. You only have to nurture it to realize its--your--greatest potential.
Secondly, and of far greater concern, is the statement that "to penetrate the deeper levels of rune knowledge, one has to be born into the Northern 'group soul.'" That one must be of Northern Germanic/Norse descent, because the ability to understand the runes, according to Ms. Aswynn, is passed on through genetic memory. And this is where I disagree. Vehemently. Let me explain why.
Reincarnation, as I understand it, knows no boundaries of culture or ethnicity. In this life, I'm a Russian Celt (Celtic Russian?) In my next life, I may be African. The life after that, perhaps I'll be Latino or Middle Eastern. Maybe I'll be male. Maybe I'll be gay. Maybe I'll be straight. Those things are hardwired into our bodies and our physical brains; we don't get to choose our skin color or sexual orientation. We don't get to choose the gender of our bodies, although thankfully the medical field can assist those who truly don't 'fit' their own skin, we can alter a person's gender so that their body fits better. Hopefully in the future, it will be an easier, less painful process... but I digress. That's a soapbox for a different day. Today's soapbox has to do with the fact that I do not believe that so-called genetic memory is in anyway connected to what we can and cannot do on a psychic or soul level because my understanding of reincarnation (and your millage may vary) is that some part of us lives on from one life to the next. Some part of us remembers one life to the next. This, I believe, is what some people call the Higher Self (different cultures have different names for this part of the soul.)
Our Higher Selves have access to memories and abilities from past lives, regardless of what the bodies those lives happened to be clothed in looked like. In other words, if I was a Norsewoman or man six or seven lifetimes ago and I just happened to be a Rune reader of great skill and acclaim (hey, if you're going to make up a past life, might as well go for the gusto, right?) why would anyone think that in this life, because this body has no genetic connection to the peoples of Northern Europe, that my Higher Self would no longer be able to access that knowledge? The Higher Self transcends the body. The soul is eternal. And, frankly, if you want to get scientific about it, we're all of the same race. The Human Race. We all partake of the same "group soul."
Now, for clarity's sake, I will say that believe wholeheartedly our current incarnation's ancestors are very, very important.
There are without a doubt tribal and cultural "souls", guardians and guides, allies, spirit helpers, what have you. These are most wisely approached by those who have a genetic connection to those tribes and cultures... but the thing is, it's hard to know in this day and age exactly where our ancestors came from, at least here in the United States, the great "melting pot" of the world. The same is true of many (most? all?) European countries as well. The point is that each life gives us a chance to connect to some part of this planet, to a tribe, a culture; we should learn from those ancestors because they can teach us incredible things! But we should not limit ourselves solely to the magic of this life's heritage and we must not ever buy into "racist" hype that only a person of this or that ethnicity can do this or that thing! If that were true, my spirit allies wouldn't keep dumping my hiney in South America during journey work, because surely the lessons I have to learn, I could learn just as well in Siberia or somewhere more connected to this life's incarnation.
Along the same lines, many years ago, Aset (Isis) claimed first dibs on my head. I'm as Egyptian as I am South American (which is to say: not at all). The connection is no less valid, no less real, no less there. I am not the only person this has happened to. The Gods choose whom They choose. Our allies and guides take us where they want to take us. I take it on faith that they usually know better than we do where we belong.
I believe that anyone who is meant to, who is called to, and who applies themselves, can and will tap into the deeper mysteries of the Runes because frankly, if the Gods deem it so, it shall be so and as far as I have ever been able to discern, the Gods don't give a rodent's rotund behind what kind of body the soul happens to be clothed in this time around. The Gods only care about what's inside.
There is only one race, people. The Human Race. We all partake of the same group soul, we are all of the Gods, by whatever name we choose to call Them. We are all a part of the Great Divine, we are all made of Star Stuff, we all belong to the same Great Cosmic Family. All life is connected. All life is sacred.
"Our lives improve only when we take chances
and the first and most difficult risk we can take
is to be honest with ourselves."
and the first and most difficult risk we can take
is to be honest with ourselves."