Sunday, May 9, 2010


Divination attempts to find order through chaos. It works on the idea that the patterns formed by yarrow stalks, cards, or other tools reflect the shapes within which past, present and future take form. By seeing the forms which randomness takes on a small scale, we can get some idea of its manifestations in the larger world.  This can allow us to take advantage of opportunities we would otherwise miss, and avoid or minimize catastrophes which might have caught us unawares.

It is easy for diviners (and their clients!) to start believing that they are seeing not that which Might Be but that which Must Be.  The idea of implacable, inescapable Destiny can be a comforting one: it frees us from taking responsibility for our own actions.  To counter this misconception, one can meditate upon one of the most difficult yet most important of the Runes - Perthro, the Dice-Cup and Rune of Possibilities.

Gar, the final rune in the Futhorc (the 33 Anglo-Saxon runes) represents a foregone event which is yet to be revealed.  Perthro symbolizes a future which has not yet been created: it is not a hidden inevitability but rather a multitude of possibilities, any of which might manifest.  It is like the Magic 8 Ball's "Ask Again Later" - perhaps then the answer will be available as a number of variables are defined by forces within and outside your control.  The runes which appear around Perthro can give you some clue as to what other factors may come into play and some things you might do to make things work out in your favor. But wherever Perthro appears there will always be some uncertainty: you are asking about Wyrd which has not yet been woven.

What is unknown and unmanifest is also a tabula rasa. Perthro reflects the dizzying freedom of Existentialist philosophy: instead of Being, we are faced with Becoming.  It reminds us that we are not just passengers on our life's journey: we also help to create our future. There are things which we cannot avoid and issues which we must address, but we also have a great deal of leeway in the way we handle our situation. And yet along with our freedom Perthro reminds us of our limitations. We are not fated to follow some script, but neither are we shielded from the vagaries of fortune. In the theology of pre-Christian northern Europe, even the Gods had to throw the dice and take their chances with fate. 

Perthro can also come up in situations where you need to let go and take a chance.  It symbolizes a real chance for both gain and loss: you will not know which will occur until you have placed your bet.  But it is important that you accept that risk. If you have been playing it safe, Perthro encourages you to go beyond your comfort zones. The forces of chaos and uncertainty keep the universe from falling into stagnation: the same fate will befall you if you do not give them their proper place. 

Galina Krasskova has compared Perthro to Mimir's Well: for a draught of the waters contained therein, Odin sacrificed an eye. Those who will drink from Perthro must sacrifice possibilities in exchange for actuality.  In choosing to follow a path, they choose to turn away from another.  Each Will Be ends a multitude of Might Have Beens. Wisdom comes in understanding that loss, and in making the best of what you have chosen in the face of that which you have not.