We are currently in the Runic Month of Othila (until June 13th). Othila is one of those Runes that can be a little tricky to decipher. Of course, like most Runes, it has many meanings, but here I’d like to focus on the aspect(s) that spoke to me the most.
PART 1: Defining Othila
Othila is both a very earthy and mystical Rune, it’s derived from the old Norwegian word ‘od’ that means “extasy, inspiration”, and as such there is an obvious connection with the god Odin. Othila is often linked to fertility and fecundity. It is also connected with property, heritage of land & of material belongings. But those 2 aspects don’t interest me today, I didn’t connect with them.
What interests me is the metaphysical aspects of Othila: heritage (through the genes & DNA) of people’s values, inherited/innate qualities, and people’s gifts (healing, divination, art,…etc). There are all aspects that are passed down to use, whether we are aware of not. Of course, there are also less pleasant, less glorious and even dark things that can be passed down to us as well. Some of these things might date back to several generations, and often disturbing things and events were kept in the utmost secrecy almost in a desperate attempt to erase them not only from memory but from History as well. We tend to think that what one doesn’t know will not hurt. Well sometimes it’s just not the case, because what was not told was however encoded in the genes and is either being replayed again and again at each generation or is being awaken many generations later (this were Family Constellations can be very helpful, it’s a powerful tool to set oneself free from unknown circumstances). These darker traits can take many forms ranging from genetic diseases or mutations to irrational behaviors, and addictions (to name a few). Know that History doesn’t have to repeat itself, I’ll talk some more about that shortly.
Another aspect of Othila that we need to consider is the Karmic heritage, which is stemming either from our immediate past (you know these little or big mistakes that we make along the way) and/or what you’ve done in your past lives. I want you that while “Karma is a Bitch” and cannot be suppressed, it can, however, be acknowledged (which is the first step towards healing), modified, alchemically transmuted (yes your inner lead, that heavy compost pile of yours, can be transformed into gold if you decide to work on it), and even (re)negotiated. Remember that at each incarnation you are being given an opportunity to improve your self and refine your soul, and it’s never too late to start.
PART 2: Connecting with AND using Othila Energetically
In this short video, I will show you how to use the Runic posture of Othila, connect with its energy, and overlay breathing as well as Galdr (the chanting of the Rune).
Be aware that body postures, hand gestures and Galdr can be used for healing (as in therapy/medicine) as well, but this is not our purpose here today.
PART 3: The Medicine of Othila
A/The Inner Alchemy of Othila
Over the past few years, I’ve done a lot of inner work in order to transform myself and the world around me. My main tool, besides my deep faith that things would get better, was the Runes. I used them energetically (in pathworking and for manifestation) as Galdr, Stádhagaldr (Runic yoga postures), and Runic mudras. I also did some extensive divination work to help me make the right choices, and figure what was coming my way. I also used & studied Glennie Kindred’s book on Inner Alchemy, which is based on the Celtic Wheel of the Year, and that made a lot of sense to me.
We are now in the month of June, in less than 2 weeks the Summer Solstice will be upon us (it’ll be the Runic month of Dagaz, the topic of a future blog post). Alchemically speaking, we are talking about the phase of Calcination. It’s an important phase, and you’re about to understand why. To quote Glennie Kindred:
“Calcination is the alchemist’s choice to activate the inner journey, and in this choice the ego and the will power become integrated with the desire for inner understanding and spiritual growth. Essentially through this choice the ego begins a journey to transform itself, to transcend the limitations, attachments and boundaries, and to expand upon the Limitless, the Infinite, Eternal Spirit.
The experience of Calcination, the alchemy of spiritual transformation, is symbolized by the Salamander, a mythical creature that lives in Fire. It thrives in it and revels in the transformation and change it creates. Other mythical Fire creatures are the Fire Dragon and the Phoenix, both symbols of transformation and rebirth. The Fire Dragon hatches from a golden egg and the Phoenix rises from the ashes of the old.
Although the Calcination experience can be consciously chosen, it can also be thrust upon us through all the life’s trials and tribulations, known as ‘Trial by Fire’. Also not easy at the time, these are out life lessons, the growth experiences through which we learn and develop our spiritual awareness and inner wisdom. The ego is humbled in the process and this helps us to develop integrity.”
What is the connection with Othila? The Phoenix holds the key. He first sets himself on Fire to burn away the old and strip away was is no longer needed (the wrong or false beliefs, the stories that we tell ourselves and others, the masks that we put on, the things we pretend…). In order to purify himself and retain only the true, the pure & deep essence of who/what he is at his core, the Phoenix needs to burn it all to ashes (that’s the Othila phase) before being reborn once more bigger, better & brighter than before (that’s the Dagaz phase, associated with the Summer Solstice). The ashes connect us with the ground, with our roots, with our values, with our heritage, with our Ancestors. The ashes are full of promises for what is to come in the next phase. Ashes feed to the soil, makes it fertile again. A healthy, fertile ground will allow you to grow, thrive and bloom into a better person and a better version of your current self. So take a moment to meditate and visualize what you no longer want in your life, what doesn’t suit you anymore, how you no longer want to be perceived…And turn it all to ashes!
B/Othila & the Elder Tree
One of the first plant I connected to as a budding herbalist was the Elder tree. There was one growing in my backyard, probably due to the proximity of the woods. Such a fascinating plant. It’s been used medicinally for more than a thousand years and was called “the medicine chest of the country people”, and will surely continue to bless us & heal us for a thousand more! While there’s a lot I could say about the ‘physical’ medicine of the Elder (that, itself, would require a blog post on its own), here I will focus on the metaphysical and esoteric properties of this plant.
In Celtic lore, the Elder was considered as the tree of regeneration (once again death & rebirth, very Phoenix-like), and associated with the Otherworld (the Sidhe). In Germanic and Northern lore, the tree is associated with Frau Holle (the German name of the Elder is Holunder) and Hel/Hela, Goddess of the Underworld (Realm of the Dead & the Ancestors).
In the Summer the tree is covered with creamy-white lacy flowers, then later towards the Fall, either black berries or blue berries (depending on where you live). If you wish to harvest your own medicine, just make sure you’re able to correctly identify your Elder, as any mistake could have consequences. If you’re not 100% sure then refrain from harvesting it. Dried Elder blossoms & berries are pretty easy to acquire these days.
However know that the Elder Crone demands to be treated with the utmost respect, as she can bestow both blessings and curses. I recommend that you connect with the Spirit of your local tree and its energy before even thinking about harvesting its medicine. The Lady will let you know if and when you are allowed to pick some.
C/How to Prepare the Medicine
Now that we are energetically connected with Othila, let’s connect spiritually with the Rune.
In my view the oldest form of medicine on Earth, and the easiest one to prepare is tea. So we’re going to prepare an Elder blossom infusion as a little ritual to prepare us for the journey that will follow.
O’teala for One:
Boil one cup of water, then infused 1 teaspoon of dried Elder blossoms with the still hot water for about 10 minutes. Strain and enjoy (add a little bit of honey if necessary).
Sip your tea slowly, it will help you relax and prepare you mentally & spiritually for what follows.
D/How to Use the Medicine
This little exercise if for you to meet up with your Ancestors. It can be adapted to whatever spiritual medium works best for you: guided meditation, shamanic journey, lucid dreaming, automatic writing or even oracle cards.
Set your intention(s) before you start: you may have a specific question to ask them or maybe just want to ask for their blessings on your journey. There is always a chance for the unexpected to happen during journeys like the warning of an imminent danger, or the legacy of a gift for example. Whatever happens, the information is yours and you can choose what to do (or not do) with it. It is also possible that the given information will not make sense currently but in the following weeks or months to come.
For guided meditations, start in an Elder Grove in the midst of which you will meet your Ancestors. For shamanic journeys, go down to the Underworld below the roots of the Elder tree. Whatever the method you are using, know that the Elder tree is a tree of protection so you should be safe. Don’t forget to thank your Ancestors before returning to the Middle World, and to keep a record of your findings for the future.
“Les Runes – Ecriture Sacrée en Terre du Milieu” by Julie Conton
“The Northern Shamanic Herbal” by Raven Kaldera
“Earth Alchemy – A Dynamic Fusion Between Alchemy and the Eight Celtic Festivals” by Glennie Kindred
“Herbal Rituals” by Judith Berger
Featured image with the tree from Love Has Won
Elder blossom tea picture from Livestrong