Welcome back to the Heathen’s Journey Podcast!
In today’s episode of the podcast, I’m going to take you on a deep dive into another rune: Raidho. I’ll be quite honest, I was experiencing quite a bit of writer’s block around this episode. I’ve been working hard behind the scenes on some new offerings, as well as gearing up to teach several classes.
Summer is going to be a very busy season for me, and so I’ve been working a lot with Solar energy lately. I have probably mentioned this on the podcast before, but in the Old Norse calendar, there were typically only two seasons: Summer and Winter. April 14th marks the beginning of the “summer” season, and it also marks a shift in the energy of my work. I’m doing many more events, teaching more classes.
All of that has also created an interesting sort of creative block around this episode. I think Raidho itself was getting me to focus on different things. I was also working on some activist projects outside of work, and navigating some health issues. Those needed to be focused on, and so that’s where my attention was drawn.
In our capitalist notion of productivity, if it’s not making you money, it’s not “productive.” But keeping track of my health symptoms so I can show them to my doctor is necessary work. Making food to eat, or heating up leftovers – this is also productive. Just because someone doesn’t see it, doesn’t mean that the action is not worthy of doing.
If I’ve learned one thing in the last year, it is that my work as a creative ebbs and flows in balance with the other things that need tending in my life. It’s no secret that I’m a small business owner, and I’m so grateful that I have created a tarot and rune reading business, as well as plenty of teaching, that sustains me financially. It allows for creativity to come when it needs to.
I’ve got a lot of things that I’m excited to share with you over the course of the next three months, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise. At the end of the episode, I’ll highlight one program that I am particularly excited to host: Creating in Wyrd Times with Cassandra Snow.
But first: A brief word from our sponsors and then we’ll dive into the world of Raidho.
Raidho is a rune of forward momentum.
Raidho has moved us well into the Futhark at this point, midway through the first Aett. When we plunge into the next aett, there is a new kind of darkness we will see. But Raidho is like the calm, forward momentum that gets us to where we need to go. Raidho is both wild, and sturdy. It shakes you, and the less tapped into your intuition you are, the more difficult this rune is to work with.
Basic meanings for Raidho: Change, travel, moving in the right direction, spirit journey.
That’s important – this isn’t a rune merely of change, but it’s a rune of accepting the direction you’re supposed to be moving and how to get there. “Right direction” – moving towards justice, collectively and personally.
Runes don’t typically remind me of specific tarot cards. They are completely separate divination tools, with different symbols, and they are used differently. But whenever I think of Raidho, I often think of the Chariot.
For those of you who are not familiar with tarot, the Chariot symbolizes breaking through barriers and forward momentum. This card in the Waite-Smith deck shows the charioteer in full control of the sphinxes who drive the chariot, with no need to hold them in order to control them. The Chariot is victory in the physical realm, of our careers and the work we need to do in our daily lives.
Raidho is also about moving forward in the areas of career, vocation, and spiritual calling. There is a connection between Raidho and the image of a chariot, but a primary difference is that Raidho is connected to horses and to the road itself.
There is no one way to read the rune, and no one area in your life that it can show up. Personal gnosis is really important when studying the runes: we don’t have a clear guidebook, but the mysteries open ever so slowly for us. I often read Raidho as a bit of an amplifying rune: it highlights where in your life you’re ready to expand, move forward, and explore. When this rune shows up in an area of your rune cast, it means it’s time for you to extend yourself into action. Stop thinking about it, and start doing it. There’s something very hopeful about this rune – it truly is exploratory.
Raidho can also help us initiate change. Change is not always linear in Nordic culture, but I am coming at the runes from my 21st century perspective, and so I think of change and I think of forward motion.
This is a rune of change, yes, but it is also a rune of accepting the change that is necessary.
Raidho represents a victory, but even more than that it represents movement. With this rune, career and luck are well aspected, but it’s far more likely that you’re at the beginning of a certain path. Whether that path means you’re starting out on something totally new or deepening your own expertise, you can bet that this is a rune that will carry you forward. It almost demands action, rather than waiting for the action and inspiration to come to you. It’s a rune in motion.
Raidho represents the act of riding – whether on a horse or in a chariot, this rune shows that you are going places. This is the first “constructed” rune of the elder futhark. It’s not another living creature, or a concept, it can quite literally mean the wagon, the wheel, the cart. This feels important to note, because there are so many things that might have showed up first (house, clothing, books, etc.). The fact that the first human-constructed thing in the Elder Futhark is the cart/chariot/wagon shows the importance that the Norse and Germanic peoples placed on travel. What’s more, many contemporary rune workers view this rune as a representation of the act of journeying. So it is both the thing you need to journey, and the act of charging after what you want.
Raidho then feels really active. After we’ve firmly established our home base, our strength, our boundaries, and connected with Spirit, we can take those ideas and move forward. We can set out and explore, learn more, and adapt where we need to. In the Flateyjarbok (an important Icelandic medieval manuscript), we learn that once a year, Freyr was carried around in a wagon through Sweden. This was a herald of the changing of the year, of bounty, and of the necessity of traveling between communities. The Chariot in Norse culture is also associated with the goddess Sunna, who drives the sun across the sky in a chariot. There is victory, brightness, and triumph here. The winter is long, and harsh, and dark, and so most imagery related to the sun and light becomes triumphant. When Raidho shows up, it often signifies that you are indeed on the right path and that you are able to move forward quickly.
Travel was of course extremely important in both pre-Viking and Viking culture. There’s even a verse in the Havamal that states that you are supposed to go and travel widely, to learn the wisdom of other lands and learn from the culture of other people. I think often of the idea of a “quest,” something that you would undertake to gain specific knowledge. It’s the Hero’s Journey all over again. But Raidho also reminds us that our quests can be internal. We can work to expand our mind and soul beyond its current existence, beyond the parameters that our own lives have set. Cultural exchange is one extremely important aspect of this.
Raidho recognizes the power that our allies have on our movements. The Icelandic rune poem reads: “Riding is in the joy of the rider, and a speedy journey, and the labor of the horse.”
In fact, the labor of the horse is often honored in the rune poems. The Norwegian rune poem states that “Riding is said to be worst for the horses.” There’s an empathy here, a connection between the rider and the horse, the driver and the vehicle.
This also shows a certain cognition on the part of the vehicle, an understanding that the rider must be grateful to the horse for their willingness to carry us forward on the journey. Where the Chariot card implies a sort of victory, a sort of control over the vehicle, Raidho recognizes the wild qualities of the journey itself. There is a sense that Raidho takes you deeper, but only when you’re ready. Raidho is not the comfortable temptation to stay in your tidy, beautiful chariot: Raidho is the vehicle you go to when you’re ready to accept your own path of destiny.
I am not one for destiny; I am a firm believer in self determination.
But I DO believe that there are times when we are ready to accept the honor of our higher paths. Raidho is about the right order of your own personal journey through the nine realms of Yggdrasil. It is about finding the right time to move forward on your spiritual path.
However, I do think there are lessons that we are meant to engage with in our lives. They come in many forms, and Raidho can sometimes lead the way. It can act as a bit of a compass.
Sometimes, of course, Raidho signifies not just movement in external parts of your life, but internal, spiritual exploration. Trollreid and Gandreid are two words in Old Norse that mean traveling in the spirit world, and seem to have Raidho as a root. Because of this, many esoteric runeworkers use Raidho as a rune to begin journeying in the spirit realm. We will definitely talk more about this later, but I think especially using the progression of Ansuz-Raidho-Kenaz can help get you there.
It is also about seeking help from your spirit guides to know the right time. Which brings us to: The Fylgja.
The Chariot Driven by your Fylgja
The relationship between you and the horse is sacred in Norse workings – this isn’t just a western image of the chariot being driven, but rather a representation of you, the Guide, and the Road itself. Raidho contains the vehicle or guide, the road it takes, and the path.
So let’s talk more specifically about this guide.
The Norse didn’t necessarily believe in a soul in the way that we understand a soul – the word for soul was created after the conversion to Christianity during the Viking era. An interesting feature in Norse mythology is the concept that the different pieces that make up our being – the hamr (“shape/form/appearance”), the hugr (“thought”), the mun (“memory”), the fylgja (“follower”), and the hamingja (“luck”) – can all be working at odds with one another. This actually makes a lot of sense: Sometimes cognitive dissonance is one of our greatest teachers.
And of all these parts of the body, Raidho is most closely related to the Fylgja.
Fylgja, or the plural Fylgur, is a personal guiding spirit, connected to you and the meaning you make in the world. Oftentimes, the Fylgja is a new form that an ancestor can take on. They are personally interested and invested in you, and your growth, and are here to guide you. We inherit our Fylgja from our ancestors.
Each person has their own Fylgja, and the form the follower takes is connected to that person’s character. A noble person might have a horse or a bear, a cunning or intuitive person might have a raven, a trickster might have a fox or coyote.
“Follower” is a misleading translation – the Fylgja leads the way in the spirit realm. They show you where you need to go and protect you on your way. If you work with and communicate with your Fylgja, you can even develop a relationship with them.
When you have a relationship with this spirit, it is able to help you in ways that straddle the spirit and physical realm. They can act as a sort of familiar, navigating your dreams, delivering messages on the astral plane. There are tales of a spiritual person being able to send their Fylgja to appear in a friend’s dreams, to deliver messages. Sometimes, when you are about to meet someone new, your Fylgja will appear in their dreams the night before, to ensure that this will be a good working relationship. We see this in the myths – kings’ Fylgja meeting in the spirit realm before the kings meet in the physical realm.
They can also serve as protectors, steering negative people away from you subtly on the astral plane.
The Fylgja will do this throughout your life no matter your relationship with them, but if you cultivate a relationship with them, you will become more aware of their workings in the world and you will be able to work with them in your magic.
Because the Runes help us find the language we need to understand these greater forces, Raidho is the perfect rune to connect to your Fylgja. Carry Raidho with you during a meditation, visualize Raidho as a bright light, guiding you further. If you are attempting to meet your Fylgja but there are many spirit forms, use Raidho to point you towards the correct being.
If you want to engage with the Fylgja, that is a very personal journey. Spend time at your altar, open yourself up in meditation to the spirit body. Once you have made contact, and you know the form your guide takes, you can leave them offerings on your altar. If my Fylgja is a raven, I would leave them nuts and seeds. If my Fylgja is a fox, I might leave them dried meats and fruit. They are a spirit that is a part of you – honor them as you honor the gods, and honor yourself.
Let’s talk more about spirit realm journeying.
Of course, journeying in the spirit realm is not for everyone. Merely understanding the runes does not mean that you will be ready for journeying in the spirit world. When students ask about the Otherworld, I am open with what I know, but I also know that the spirit world changes for each one of us based on our experiences. In general, if you don’t feel ready for this kind of work, that’s ok. Focus instead on meditation. This could be why Ansuz comes right before Raidho: it is through a clear meditation and connection with the breath that we are able to find the confidence to enter the spirit realm and be protected as we do so.
The Runes can help us to ground ourselves as we go on these spirit quests.
Contemporary Norse shamanic rites often feature Raidho and Ingwaz as gateway runes to the spirit realm. Chant Raidho, visualize the rune, as you enter your trance states to connect with the spirit realm and with your soul parts.
But Raidho is about more than travel in the spirit realm – it is about the transition between states of being in the physical realm. It is about the metaphoric journey to a greater understanding of your goals and dreams. Raidho can help you figure out what it is you want, and how to get there.
Use Raidho during times of transition, when you know you need to make big changes in your life and you need extra guidance. Carry the rune in your pocket through the day, meditate and visualize the rune when you are trying to make decisions about where to go next.
There are also some very obvious and practical uses for Raidho in spellcrafting. One of the most literal and obvious uses is to carry Raidho as a charm to protect you while traveling. Working with this rune will allow you to travel freely, it will clear blockages from the road. Create a travel talisman, or place a piece of paper with Raidho drawn on it in your travel bags.
In our times of deep transition, Raidho is a helpful rune ally. We are all working, on a higher level, to transition this world to better. May Raidho help you to understand your own journey, and the way you need to interact with the world to create justice.
May Raidho help you to manifest your sacred goals.
Thank you so much for listening today! I hope that you are inspired to learn more about different aspects of your self, and get to know the different soul parts.
Before I let you go, I wanted to talk a little bit about a program that I’m really excited to be teaching: Creating in Wyrd Times.
This is an offering from Cassandra Snow and myself that is all about how to harness the power of your creativity – even when things are as difficult as they have been lately. This podcast is mostly about my work with the runes, but I also adore tarot and have been studying tarot for a long time. In particular, I really love working with the Archetypes of tarot to support my creative life.
Creating In Wyrd Times is an eight week journey into our own potential for creative bliss and all of the beautiful creations that can come from that. We take this journey using Tarot Cards, exciting artistic inspiration & our own hands. We’ll forge rituals together. We’ll embrace the many, many lessons of the tarot together. We’ll brainstorm and yes, we’ll create. Together.
About Creating in Wyrd Times:
You’ll get a weekly email full of creative prompts from the tarot itself as interpreted by Cassandra & Siri. These are yours to do with as you wish. Do them all. Pick one. Throw them in a notebook and deal with it later. That end is completely your call. Then every other week we’ll meet as a group to journey through a different tarot suit’s points of inspiration. We will create unique flash writing and/or visual sketches (or play with both if you’re so inclined). Siri will lead us through ritual and meditation to stimulate our creative unconscious. Cassandra will talk about this suit’s role in our creative lives. Then you’ll be introduced to artwork inspired by the Ace of each suit (one suit per session) and use that as a jumping off point to create something all your own.
You can use this time together to work on one project for the eight weeks, a small project per group session or 100 very little projects that you work through as inspiration hits. It’s your call. This is your journey through the tarot, your journey through the creative recesses of your mind. We’re just here to help you unlock & shape it.
Included in the workshop is a pretty dense workbook to go work through at your own pace. This will help those of you who are tarot newbies feel comfortable turning to your decks throughout our eight weeks together. You do not have to be a tarot expert to thrive in this class, a base level of tarot knowledge will suffice. You don’t need to be an artist to thrive in this class either You simply need to be willing to engage and see what comes out of that.
Link to register here.
Let’s create this spring. Together.
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