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Taking Up the Runes: A Complete Guide to Using Runes in Spells, Rituals, Divination, and Magic Paperback – 1 Apr 2005
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Here is a complete guidebook for use of the runes in spells, rituals, divination, and magic. In a series of chapters dealing with rune pairs, readers will learn the historical meaning of each individual rune and their use and meaning now, in contemporary culture. At the end of each chapter there are rituals and spells for all levels of ability which help internalise the attributions, meanings, symbolism, and use of the runes.
About the Author
Diana L. Paxson has been teaching classes and leading rituals on trance work for more than twenty years. She is the coauthor, along with Marion Zimmer Bradley, of Priestess of Avalon and has continued the immensely popular Mists of Avalon series on her own.
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Seen in this light, the book is a useful reference of current popular rune usage. It will not appeal to the more re-creationist or academic rune students, but offers an abundance of examples of New-Age and ecclectic adaptations of the runes. Although it does go beyond the New-Age manuals by seeking to present these ideas in a "Northern Tradition" context, I would have liked to see more distinction made between modern and historical information.
Although this book is firmly in the "speculative" category, it does present some historical background, and is a cut above the New-Age fluff that dominates the majority of esoteric rune manuals.
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I’ve come across a few lists that state, Taking up the Runes is the best beginner’s book on Runes. I do not agree with that. While Paxson’s book covers most everything a person needs to know to begin working with the Runes, the information is spread out throughout her book which makes it difficult to see the bigger picture when starting off. I suggest Nordic Runes: Understanding, Casting, and Interpreting the Ancient Viking Oracle by Mountfort to be the best beginner’s book, not only because he gives the bigger picture but also because he helps the reader understand the differences between the traditional and modern perspectives.
As for beginner/intermediate books on Rune magic, I would definitely say this is one of the best. Every Rune has one or more rituals/meditations that the reader can work with in order to help them tap into the Runic energies and experience their power. The second half of her book is filled with rituals, which, while a little bit too ritualistic for my taste, were still beautiful and amazing.
What both Mountfort and Paxson have in common is their integration of myths and stories of the gods as they relate to each Rune. In this regard I would say Paxson’s stories had more impact on me and were more relevant than Mountfort’s. Although, they did share different myths which makes both of them valuable in that regards.
To give an example, Mountfort mentions Audumla as a relevant myth to relate with Fehu while Paxson give us the story of Sigfried and verses 78-79 from the Havamal. Because Fehu deals with cattle, and one could say, cows in general, Audumla fits, but Paxton gives us the story of Sigfried and how that is a lesson on money’s corrupting power and then backs it up with a quote from the Havamal. Paxson’s two quotes helped expound upon the three Runic poems in a way that brought the message home.
While there are many things that stand out in Paxson’s book, it was her amazing suggestions on how the Runes work together and for what purpose they could be applied to that was really inspiring and practical to me. Practical in the sense that it not only helps us understand different facets of each Rune, but also gives us a means to invite the Runic energies into our lives. That alone makes the book worth reading.
One thing to consider with Paxson’s book is that it is set up as a yearlong group study course. Paxson has many suggestions on how to go about each study group, what to include, rituals to undertake, discussions to have, and a host of other great ideas. All of which were beautiful and powerful. I will definitely utilize some of her suggestions when I host a study group of my own.
All and all this is a book I suggest every Rune student should have. It’s definitely worth the price in my opinion.
This is the sixth book on my suggested Rune Reading List:
1. The Complete Illustrated Guide to Runes by Nigel Pennick
2. Way of the Runes by Bernard King
3. Runes: Reading the Past by R.I Page
4. Runelore: A Handbook of Esoteric Runology by Edred Thorsson
5. Nordic Runes by Paul Rhys Mountfort
6. Taking up the Runes Diana L Paxson
7. Runecaster’s Handbook Edred Thorsson
8. Poetic Edda by either Hollander, Crawford, or Larrington
9. Prose Edda by Jesse L. Byock
10. Hávamál Meditations: Embodying Oðinn’s Teachings by Frodi Ingsson (forthcoming)
11. Runes of Transformation by Kaedrich Olsen
12. Helrunar by Jan Fries
13. Runes and Magic by Stephen E. Flowers
14. Rune Yoga: Embodying the Runic Energies by Frodi Ingsson (forthcoming)
15. Rune Workings: Meditations and Rituals by Frodi Ingsson (forthcoming)
What Paxson does here is present a well-rounded overview of each rune, delving into the historical and literary meanings of each as well as the interpretations made by esteemed runic scholars and occult practitioners. Highlighting both the similar and conflicting interpretations is really helpful. Afterward, she gleans all of the most useful information of about each rune and tries to guide one into understanding what drawing that rune might mean in a reading. She presents what is known about using these runes magically, offers meditative and contemplative afterthoughts on each rune, and links the mythology and beliefs of the Norse with ease and clarity.
Very easy to read. Heaps of useful information. This book will give a greater understanding of the runes. Guaranteed. No fluff. No wasted reading time. Paxson gets down to business and leads the reader along like a talented scholar.