Wednesday, March 31, 2010


On his deathbed a despairing John Keats said "here lies one whose name was writ in water." But two centuries after his untimely demise we still remember Keats and his poems like "Ode to a Nightingale" and "Eve of St. Agnes." It's a message we should consider when we meditate on Laguz, the water-rune.

Water seems impermanent, transient, ever flowing from one place to another.  But water can carve canyons out of granite and wear boulders into pebbles. It can seep through the tiniest cracks and fill great chambers. Many cities are just one good rainfall away from devastation, as the people of New Orleans learned in 2005 and the people of Cranston, Rhode Island are discovering today. Wherever water flows it leaves its mark - and the only thing which washes that away is more water.

Like the Cups of Tarot, Laguz is associated with the subconscious mind and with the emotions.  It is an excellent rune for dream work and meditation. Galdring (chanting) the rune's name in a manner evocative of the waves of the ocean or the flow of a stream can bring you into a state conducive to lucid dreaming: soft slow repetitions while concentrating on the glassy surface of a still and limpid pool can put you in an appropriately reflective state for contemplation.

Those who do shamanic journeying can call on Laguz both to enter the proper mental state and to move between realms. Water can be found in most of the Other Worlds: even fiery realms like Muspelheim have free-flowing lava which embodies Laguz. With practice a shaman can learn to dive into water in one world and come out in the water of another. Remember that the Nordic merchants and warriors connected water with travel, be it long voyages across the sea or trips up and down the river to various towns and markets.

When anger makes you unable to concentrate, Laguz can "put out those fires" and help you achieve a state of calm. You can pour your sorrow and your anguish into Laguz and let it be carried away into the Primal Ocean: this rune can be very useful for those who seek emotional healing or those recovering from abuse or trauma. And Laguz can also be a powerful defensive rune. Whatever an enemy throws at you can be dissolved, absorbed or just washed away.

Water which does not move becomes stagnant: if Laguz comes up blocked or inverted in a reading, it could mean that you have allowed your gifts to become trapped or dammed up. It will behoove you to deal with this situation as quickly as possible lest the purifying flow of running water be replaced by the putrefying force of the swamp.  Removing this blockage in a controlled fashion will be far less painful than letting things build up until Laguz knocks down the barrier which holds it back.

Because it takes the shape of its container, Laguz can be a powerful and versatile tool in bind-runes. It can be used to absorb unwanted energies, or to add the inexorable power of the tides and waterfalls to a spell. It can be used to bring a spell past barriers (very few walls are so well-constructed as to be completely waterproof) or to send it into the deepest part of a target's consciousness. It can be used to heal or to poison: it can wear away obstacles or become an impassible stream that separates you from dangers. But because of this malleability, it is up to the runeworker to mold it carefully. When calling on the forces of Laguz it is best to know exactly what you want and where you are going. The currents which can lead you to new lands can also send you careening toward the rocks.