The Northern European Runes form the basis of the earliest forms of writing in the northern lands, but for me they are much more than this. Before they were used to represent letters, they were powerful symbols in their own right. Each Runic symbol containing within it multiple layers and hidden meanings. Yet, so much of the academic delving and amateur investigations surrounding these enigmatic symbols focus much of their attention on them as simple letters. Before we delve deeper into Rune “theory” we must first understand what is lost when a Rune is reduced to a simple letter.
So what is a letter? Letters simply represent sounds, that form the basis of words, which in turn are used to construct sentences. Each collection of letters (words) has a given definition, which itself can vary related to the context it is used. Via this method we can construct thousands of words, in which to write about and define our existence. This precise method of communication leaves little to the imagination, making it ideal for clear and well defined communication. It is itself a form of reductionism, letters being the smallest part from which you can create multiple bigger things, such as words, sentences ect. It is no wonder that when this form of communication firmly took hold, that reductionist science and philosophy was born. Reductionism is the idea that all things are the sum of all their parts and by the study of each part, you can determine the “thing”. Reductionist ideas form the basis of modern science and to a large extent modern thinking and without the humble letter none of this would of been possible.
All this, at first glance may seem great and reductionist ideas are without doubt a magnificent analytical tool. The concept though of reducing everything to its various parts does have its own unique drawbacks. This way of thinking for me is rather mechanical, each part is seen as simply a cog in the machine. By observing the cog outside of the machine we gain knowledge of the cog, as it is in isolation, which will help us better understand the machine. The main drawback being, nothing exists in a vacuum, in nature all things are connected.
For example, you can de-construct a car, learn all there is to know of it, but if you have never drove the car how much do you really know? By adding one extra object (you) to the car we create a multitude of variables, that can never be known via analysing the car alone. This of course is not the only variable when driving, you have infinite number of variables that will in their own way affect the car. The only way then you can ever fully know the car is by breaking down everything the car interacts with to its smallest part and observing each minute aspect. This is easy with a man made mechanical object like a car, but when it comes to nature it is a completely different story. And when I say everything I mean everything, each object that interacts with the car is itself connected to an infinite number of other variables. Lets not forget either, that to truly follow reductionist ideas we must also de-construct materials used to make each component of the car . Which in turn divide in to even smaller particles. Right now somewhere in Switzerland the ultimate attempt at reductionism is going on. Scientists in the never ending quest for reductionist principles have built a huge particle accelerator, in which to smash particles together in the hope of breaking it down into an even smaller part. Yes, the height of modern science is smashing things together hoping they break, modern science for all its aloof demeanour is at its base rather crude.
In short, Reductionism has its limits, even if we had infinite scientists all breaking everything down to its smallest component, who could put it back together again? Who would have the ability to see the whole? Now you may be thinking “hold on, what the hell has this got to do with letters and symbols?”. And you would be forgiven for thinking I have gone slightly off topic, but while letters form the foundation of reductionist ideas, symbols are a little more holistic in their outlook. Our whole modern world is built on reductionist philosophies, from modern medicine to high tech computer technology. This gives us the impression our forebears were a little dumb, hence terms like “caveman” are used in a derogatory manner. But, what if far from being dumb, they just followed a different path of understanding, one that may even be superior to our own?
Unlike letters, which represent the ultimate reduction of an idea, symbols represent already formed ideas found in nature. Symbols came out of natural observations, like for example that of an animal symbol. The animal contains within it an already set group of ideas, that are all connected within the symbolic animal. Sadly many people when explaining the meanings behind symbols cannot help, but apply reductionist ideas and thus the symbol is reduced. For example, the powerful Boar symbol is reduced to a simple trinket of war. The more holistic view of the Boar is lost and only one observation is acknowledged as the root and sum total of its meaning. A symbol is not a reduced view of the world, but a more holistic one. Symbols are the intuitive observational understanding of the world around you. Symbols have power over the psyche, because unlike letters and words, they dwell in the unconscious, not the conscious. The unconscious mind is the key to the truth of self, not what you think you are, but what you actually are. It is the unforgiving truth, it is a true reflection of who you are and dictates how you react to the world around you.
It is also important to remember here, that you yourself are part of the symbol. weather it be a Boar or Celtic cross, you as the observer cannot be removed from the observation. much like the age old question if a tree falls in a forest, does it make a sound? The observer is the affirmation, the observer confirms by its reaction the initial act. In this way every single observation is unique and intimately linked to the observer. Observation and observer affirm each other, the observer not only learns about what he is observing, but he also learns truths about himself.
Before Runes were letters, they were symbols and I believe should be viewed as such. They contain within them thousands of years of observational refinement of the ancestral soul and the world around them, which of course is your soul and your world. You may think you are just an individual, but you are also the end result of all ancestral effort. From one to another, from birth to birth, you came into this world, from your mother. You exist not only as singular life form, but also as a continuation of life, that stretches back to the beginning of time. The Runes are not just crude markings, but the foundational elements of your soul.
An important note to make here is although the Runes are more holistic in nature than simply letters or words, they are a blending of both holistic and reductionist views. They are born out of natural observation, so recognise the importance of both the individual object and its relationship to everything around them. Extreme holistic understandings are just the inverted form of extreme reductionist understandings. Where the reductionist aims to infinitely divide everything into smaller and smaller parts, the absolute holistic viewpoint seeks to infinitely converge all things, till there is just one. These unnatural viewpoints will only every result in severe imbalance, both spiritually and physically. These extremes are representative of the two hemispheres of the human brain. For the Human brain to function at its highest level, it must bring these two opposites together in harmony. This analogy can be applied to most things in this world and where opposites cannot find harmony, one must destroy the other, for harmony to be re established.
The Runes posses knowledge of both the observer and the observed, the concious and the unconscious, the individual and the world around them. For the Runes, this knowledge is set within the Northern European soul. If you are of Northern European Blood, then the amount of knowledge you attain from the Runes is only limited by your investment in them. If you are not of Northern European Blood, then fear not, for every group has its symbols, which contain within them the ultimate truths of the soul that born them. The Runes are knowledge of all that has been, through there study they can reveal the secrets of all that will be and when mastered hold the power to change it.