Making Your Own Runes and Working with Wunjo
Lately, I've been getting back into runes.
I read them all the time as a kid in the 80s. I had an early obsession with Odin, and the runes seemed like a magical, secret language to my young mind (and still do to my adult one).
As I grew older, I switched to Tarot, Ouija, pendulums, and so on until now, where I use only my intuition and channeling abilities to do readings for others.
But for myself, I still prefer to use tools of divination. Sometimes when we read for ourselves, we have biases, wish fulfillment, or anxiety that gets in the way and obfuscates our ability to intuit clearly. Tools help cut through the haze and reveal truths we may blind ourselves to sometimes.
Recently the runes have been calling to me. A return to my roots. Incidentally, I also discovered I have Scandinavian blood running through my veins. My mom always told me this, but I didn't believe it until I saw the DNA results. All of a sudden, my youthful penchant for Norse mythology made sense!
So, I signed up for a runes series with Wise Woman Witchery and have taken a deep dive. Our teacher, Jen Untalan, who is phenomenal, btw, has taken us on a journey to slowly and thoroughly know the runes before working with them. I love that approach! No overnight experts.
She suggested we choose one rune at a time and get to know it and experience it. Although many may start with the first rune in the Elder Futhark, I asked the runes which one to start with, and they told me Wunjo.
I opted to create my own runes and thought I'd share my process in case you wanted to do so as well.
Note: the intention here with creating my own is not to compete with commercially made runes to sell. If I were going to attempt that, I'd probably use a Dremel. Rather, I wanted to create them in a more hands-on, meditative state, focusing on bonding with each rune instead of seeking perfectionism.
First, I poured through a bowl of crystals to find ones I thought would work well. Smooth, flat ones seemed the best fit.
Next, I got a tool at Lowe's called a Magnetic Scriber ($4.98 5-in Magnetic Scriber).
It has a fine carbide tip to etch into the stone, glass, or whatever material you use. The act of carefully etching in the lines removes you from your language-based thoughts and daily worries, making it more conducive to fully experiencing the symbol.
After I felt the lines were deep enough, I used a silver paint pen to fill in the etching and make the runes pop against the obsidian black.
I'll carry it in my pocket or purse to feel its guidance and energy until I'm ready for my next runic mind meld.
As mentioned, I started with Wunjo, so I thought I'd share what some of my books say about it.
According to most runic sources, Wunjo means joy.
In the Book of Runes, Francis Melville writes, "Wunjo represents the times of joy and celebration that unite families, friends, and communities together."
In a Practical Guide to the Runes, Lisa Peschel writes, "Another of the positive runes, Wunjo means joy and when upright will always represent joy and happiness coming into your life."
When studying each rune, I try to think of something they look like or represent to remember better what they symbolize. With Wunjo, I found that answer in the classic Book of Runes by Ralph H. Blum, "This rune is a fruit-bearing branch."
And if you turn it sideways, it does look like a branch bearing fruit!
Thus, pulling Wunjo in a rune reading would be like walking through a forest and coming upon a tree with a shiny red apple for you to nosh, which would fill you with nourishment and joy.
In Northern Mysteries and Magick, Freya Aswynn writes, "The name of this rune is usually translated by other rune-workers as "joy" or "pasture." This association with joy is evidently derived from the rune-name's similarity to the modern German word Wonne, which may indeed be cognate with the Common Germanic word Wunjo. Although this interpretation is not altogether wrong, more light will be shed on our understanding of this rune if we first investigate the original meaning of Wunjo; in the oldest Germanic language known to us the word means "perfection," according to the philologist Jacob Grim."
Thus, Wunjo takes on an even deeper meaning. It is not merely joy, but also perfection. But what in our natural world is perfect? Nothing. Perfection is reserved for the divine.
Aswynn also writes, "The god primarily associated with this rune is Wodan [aka Odin]. Secondly, there is an obscure magical tradition from an Anglo-Saxon source connecting this rune with the god Uller or, to give him his Anglo-Saxon name, Wuldor."
"One of Odin's bynames is Oski, which means "fulfiller of wishes." This corresponds to the German tradition expressed by the word Wunsch, which has since taken on a narrower meaning and now means "wish." The German word Wunsch, English "wish," and Dutch wens all derive from the primitive Germanic word Wunjo, which meant "perfection." However, in a more esoteric sense this is to be understood as the wish to strive towards that perfection.
Although perfection is never achieved in reality, it is an ideal to be aimed at."
Aswynn goes on to explain that Odin, like us, has both good and bad traits, but of the good, in addition to being known as a "fulfiller of wishes," he is also a "bearer of gifts," which bears striking resemblance to our modern day Santa Clause, thus making Wunjo the perfect rune to reflect on this time of year.
"Vestiges of Wodan's role as a bearer of gifts and fulfiller of wishes have survived in Holland, Germany, and other countries on the continent in the Feast of St. Nicholas, celebrated on December 6. This festival was until recently the most popular one in Holland and elsewhere, especially for children. It is yet another example (like Yule and Easter) of the Christian Church borrowing its customs from heathenism and even transforming heathen gods into Christian saints."
Thus, when reflecting on the meaning of Wunjo, one could conjure up the childhood fantasy of old St. Nick and the joy he brings when delivering gifts.
"The name, Santa Claus, was stated to evolve from Nick's Dutch nickname, Sinter Klaas, a shortened form of Sint Nikolaas, which is translated as the Dutch name for St. Nicholas." (Source)
Melville also writes, "Wunjo's number is eight, which represents harmony, union, and the eternal cycles of nature. On a divinatory level, Wunjo can signify the arrival of good news and a period of happiness and well-being as a result of achieving balance in your life and harmony with others."
When working with Wunjo in spellcasting, one could use it to help pull joy, happiness, balance, and harmony into your life. You could carve it into a candle or draw it on a charm bag that you fill with corresponding herbs, oils, and crystals. Or you could simply meditate on the rune etched into stone, glass, wood, or clay, and carry it in your pocket to attract its positive values into your life.