Thursday, April 1, 2010

More on Laguz: a conversation with Galina Krasskova

Recently Galina Krasskova and I began a conversation about my runework articles on the Yahoo group Spiritual Occultist. She said she had been enjoying my postings immensely. Since it was her Runes: Theory & Practice that inspired me to begin working more seriously with the runes, that was high praise indeed. I've provided a slightly edited (for form, not content) version of that conversation below.
I think we have a tendency to simplify the elements, to look only to their most domesticated aspects. Laguz will let you get away with that to some degree, but only to some small degree. When you least expect it, this rune can show its true and potentially devastating power. Last year, I remember standing on the Beach in Carmel, CA honoring the Sea Goddess Ran. She wanted me to sing-They like music-but I had no songs save my rune galdr. So, naturally enough I began to galdr laguz. My mother who was watching from a distance said it was one of the most terrifying things she'd ever seen: as I galdred, the waves got much stronger and higher, so much so, my mother feared I would be pulled under. My experience was of linking directly into the power of the ebb and flow, of seeing how laguz was the force of the waves to drag a body under, how it had an unseen power, completely invisible on the surface. I'd known for a long time that Laguz could be used to work powerful glamours, to move a mind to one's own agenda, to coerce rather deviously, but I hadn't until that moment gotten an inkling of how potentially devastating this rune could be. Basically, in the right hands, or if its own will is roused and unleased, you'll never see it coming. I started looking at laguz with MUCH more respect that day!
As I've begun studying the runes, I've come to appreciate their connection to Odin. I can tell that I'm really starting to "get" a rune when I'm seized with awe and terror. Many people today have forgotten the concept of "holy terror:" historically encounters with the Other World were greeted with timor et tremor, fear and trembling.  Even the most benevolent rune has a great depth and mystery before which we can only stand silent.  I find this lacking in much modern spiritual practice, not just Heathenry and Neopaganism. The Divine is greater than we and to enter its presence is to be reminded of our frailty and our insignificance.  Anyone who doubts this can call on Odin: after He leaves, you'll have no doubt of it. :)
 I've always felt that as much as it was water laguz had an element of fire to it as well. When I first started working with this rune years and years ago, I would see rushing rivers of fire..I'm still not sure what that means, or where that might in time take me, but laguz can get everywhere because flow is everywhere. Everything is always in a state of flux, whether we realize it or not: the only constant is that change. That's all the opening laguz needs.

It rides emotions well too: if one is feeling particularly strongly about something, laguz can latch onto that (all the runes can do that to a degree, but it's a special competency of laguz, I think) too.
The Platonic ideal of "water" is not just H2O but the characteristics which are classically associated with water and with liquids. There is water of fire, water of air, even water of earth -- think lava, the jet stream and mudslides and avalanches.  Laguz can be found in all those: it's about flow and movement.  If one wishes to treat it as the "lake rune," or the "water rune" and limit it to water it will happily behave that way: after all, Laguz shapes itself to fit its container. But it's also happy to hide its secrets in the depths.  And I can definitely see the way it rides strong emotions: water always finds the nearest available pathway.
When anger makes you unable to concentrate, Laguz can "put out those fires" and help you achieve a state of calm.
 Or conversely, it can help you hone that anger, stripping it of its impulsivity. It can help you hone that anger into a powerful, vicious, razor sharp weapon. That too is laguz. In many ways, I find this rune far more threatening in its potentialities than Thurisaz (which I actually work pretty well with).
If you can channel Laguz you can use it like a stream of high-pressure water to knock away detritus. Your example above shows that perfectly.  And of course it can be a nasty weapon: anyone who thinks water is placid, peaceful and harmless has never encountered an undertow or been swept away by white water. 
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.
Yes, this is beautiful the way you state it Kenaz. Laguz can be a powerful healing rune. I know I was talking about its darker nature above, but it is also a rune of healing and emotional release. I'm so glad you pointed this out!
Laguz is a particularly difficult rune to "pin down" -- whatever you say about it, you could just as easily say the opposite. If you call it a healing-rune you'll get numerous examples of its baneful power: if you call it a water-rune you'll see how it can be reflected in fire.  That's not surprising given its nature: trying to grasp Laguz is like trying to hold water in your fist.  
Because it takes the shape of its container, Laguz can be a powerful and versatile tool in bind-runes.

Laguz is good in bind runes because it can seep through people's guard. It finds the unexpected ways of gaining entry and it is good at concealing its power until it has already crossed the line of one's defenses (in healing too, this can hold true.laguz is good if you are dealing with a particularly stubborn issue, or deep emotional scars, or are trying to open up and's very good for teaching healthy receptivity).
I could imagine a particularly nasty bind rune that combined Chalc  and Thurisaz. It would be a cup of poison that ripped your opponent's Wyrd into shreds... and he would drink it and ask for seconds.  Or I could see Laguz being used to mellow Thurisaz for a less baneful, focused attack on a disease - the equivalent of spiritual chemotherapy rather than impromptu surgery.
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.
In many ways, that holds true for all the runes, but perhaps most especially with Laguz.
Galina's book makes a very important point: the runes are not just wise teachers waiting around to enlighten us. They have their own consciousness and their own agendas. Laguz will as happily drown you as work for you. This is not because it is "evil" - that's just the nature of water.  It can be an oasis in the desert or a flood sweeping away your house and your life's work. Instead of putting a "good/bad" moral sticker on it, you'll do better to keep an eye on it and decide when it's time to plant crops and when it's time to man the lifeboats.