Sunday, March 28, 2010

Chalc

Chalc is one of the Northumbrian runes, a 9th century extension of the Anglo-Saxon runes. It represents a guttural "ch" sound (the Scots loch or the Hebrew chai). There is little lore associated with Chalc and it is often neglected by modern runesters who favor the Elder Futhark. But those who seek its mysteries find it to hold considerable beauty and power: indeed, some call it the rune of the Holy Grail.

Raven Kaldera, who works extensively with the Anglo-Saxon runes, has said of Chalc:
Chalc is another of the Rune-Spirits who can show themselves as male or female depending on the circumstance and the summoner. Chalc is a dreamy adolescent with a high-flown imagination who speaks in poetry and vivid images. Sometimes Chalc is a young girl with faeries in her eyes, sometimes a young boy set on future adventure. Beauty and glory are very important to Chalc, as is the idea of love, but it is not wise to depend on Chalc to carry things through difficult and grubby times. However, Chalc's greatest gift is a deep well of faith in the future, and in one's ability to pursue joy, that many folks would do well to learn to tap into. Chalc's greatest love is the world of Ljossalfheim, for that world contains thousands of dreams and images, and is the most beautiful of all the worlds.
There is an aspect of Chalc which dissipates upon contact with reality. It can be a cup of illusions, filled with laudanum that numbs your pain and steals your soul. Like all the runes, Chalc gives you what you deserve. If you are seeking the chalice which will heal the king, Chalc will send you on a quest. If you are seeking a pretty dream that will help you avoid unpleasant realities, Chalc will give you the oblivion you crave. When working with the Runes, you are dealing with Odin's gift, and anything you get from the Old Man can turn on you if you're not careful.  (This is doubly true because of Chalc's connection to the Elves: there are many stories about people who came to rue Faery-gifts).

If you are worthy to seek the Grail, Chalc can be a bright, shining beacon that lights your way through the darkness. It can be the dream that keeps you going when common sense and reason tell you that it's time to quit, that this is hopeless, that you're just wasting your time. Galina Krasskova has identified Chalc with the bowl which Sigyn holds over Loki to keep the venom from dripping in his face: it is her hope in the face of despair which allows her to stand by her bound husband and ease his suffering.

The higher aspects of Chalc are not grasped lightly. It is the pearl of great price: to gain it you may need to sacrifice everything you hold dear. If you have chosen the wrong dream, if you have taken the wrong path, you may gain nothing to replace what you have lost. There are many perils and pitfalls on the path to the Castle: many knights lose their lives and fortunes searching for it.  And that is yet another lesson which Chalc offers us: perhaps it is better to die in our quest for a dream than to live without dreams. Chalc reminds us that those who seek the Grail are blessed: even if they never achieve their goal, they did not battle in vain.