The runes of the witches, according to P. Crowther


The runes of the witches or modern runes is the name given to runes supposedly developed by a Coven and presented by Patricia Crowther in her book Lid off the Cauldron (1981). It is very likely that this Coven was to which the author herself belonged, after having been initiated into Wicca by Gerald Gardner himself. These are eight runes, later expanded to thirteen, which initially represented the eight annual sabbats commonly celebrated by Wiccans, four of them corresponding to the equinoxes - Yule or Christmas, around December 21; Ostara or Eostra, on March 21,; Midsummer or Litha, around June 21 and Mabon, on September 21, - and four other fixed dates by tradition - Imbolc or Candlemas, on February 2; Beltane or Belotenia, on April 30; Luganastada or Lunghnasah, on August 1; and Samhain or Samoin, on October 31. Many have wanted to identify the symbols used with Romani divination, of which the author knew much.

Although Wiccan chants are also collected under the name of Runes of the Witches, in this article we will focus only on physical runes as mantic. It is a very close divination system, and at first glance simple. The runes are shaken with the dominant hand and are laid out on a not very large rug or cloth, which delimits the space. If the consultant is a person other than the interpreter of the runes, the consultant must throw them but let the person who exercises the fortune teller read the message. Those that fall outside this cloth are invalid, as well as those that fall upside down. If, when thrown, none land face up or inside the cloth, a second reading should not be performed: it is understood that the person in question is not ready for reading or divination, and some time should be allowed to elapse before trying to consult them again.

Their meanings are visible and identifiable by the archetype, so the difficulty lies in relating them to the overall spread. According to Crowther, the rune furthest away from the seeker is the guide rune, the one that leads the response and defines the condition of the rest when it comes to being interpreted, while among practitioners, mostly Wiccans or solitary witches, it seems to be preferred. identify the closest one as the main rune: in any case, it must be a rune with a prominent position with respect to the others, which it diminishes in importance proportionally to its distance. Runes that are paired or very close together will alter their meanings to each other.

The symbols and meanings of these runes, for the most part, are intended to be dualistic, that is, they represent one of the two parts of a relationship of opposites. This can be seen with a simple glance at the mentioned symbols, where we find the sun and the moon, the rune of the harvest and the black rune, the linked rings and the crossed spears; only the runes of the birds and the waves do not manifest such a great duality. In the later runes we find the woman and the man, but the rest no longer show that contrast sought, since they are the eye, the romance and the star.

The Sun rune is a positive rune, which announces resounding success if it falls near the seeker and becomes the guide rune. It is a masculine rune, so in the spread it can also indicate the presence of a man. The Moon rune is not necessarily negative, but it does indicate changes in the next lunar cycle, that is, 28 days, -sometimes, not always, represented in the same rune by four little stars, dots or asterisks that indicate the four phases of the night "lamp". These changes do not necessarily have to be negative if the rest of the runes do not indicate so, but they will always be drastic and important. It also announces visits. It is a feminine symbol that manifests a feminine presence in the answer or query.

The Alliances or Rings rune usually indicates a loving commitment, a contract, a friendship, a bond... This union can be new or a reaffirmation. It is a positive response to questions about friendship or love, however, it can also indicate emotional dependence. The Crossed Spears rune, for their part, symbolize disputes, clashes, confrontations. The rest of the runes will indicate the reasons and/or their resolution: the rune of the spears together with positive runes symbolizes the end of that fight. Only in cases in which the consultant actively participates in some type of confrontation -if he is a military man, a lawyer or an athlete, etc. - will be positively identifiable if it falls as a guide rune.

The Waves rune, represented by waves or a curved line, are usually related to family environments or friendships, since they evoke a complex but unison whole. It is taken as an announcement of trips or journeys with these people, the rest of the runes that appear in the run being those that specifically indicate who, when and how it will be. For example, following Crowther's interpretation, next to a sun they will indicate a long journey, and next to the moon, a trip with or for the family.

The Birds rune, often three, are considered messengers, and for this reason the appearance of this rune announces important news for the seeker, unless it is closely linked to runes such as the sun and the moon, which would indicate the recipient or sender. In the event that it is a guide rune, they announce a major change in personal life. These news are usually unexpected, but to see if they are positive or negative it is necessary to contrast their meanings with the others that have appeared in the toss.

The Harvest rune, represented by an ear of wheat or a tares or scythe, announces material abundance, so it is usually a positive response, even if the goal is not morally correct. It is considered a lucky rune in other uses. All the runes that are nearby are empowered by it, referring to success in any of the vicissitudes. Once again, Crowther gives his examples: next to the sun, success at work or studies; next to the moon, success in the distance or abroad; next to the alliances, in the relationship.

The so-called black rune is the one represented by a stroke with two perpendicular cuts, like a slightly elongated H. This rune, despite being one of the main ones in Crowther, seems to be replaced often by other symbols, although they have relatively similar meanings. It is a negative rune that stalks those around it and for this reason it is the only rune that, even being the only one that has fallen on the table with the visible symbol, allows the consultation of the external runes or the reverse, or a second roll. It speaks of pain, obstacles, bad moments, but if it falls as the main rune, that is, near the seeker, and it has positive runes nearby, it usually indicates that something positive can be drawn from that situation. Otherwise it is the black rune that negatively modifies the messages of the others. Once again, if the moon rune is nearby, the change would take place in the next twenty-eight days.

The runes introduce are the eight main ones, linked to the sabbats. This link offers a guarantee of use at the right times for divination with them. In addition, its symbols can be represented in any object, ritual or not, on these dates to enhance their energies, since they are related to sacred time. The simplicity of the symbols gives a lot of freedom.

Five more runes were added later. The origin of this addition is unknown, it can be thought that in the practice of witchcraft there is much freedom for modification. although its popularity may be due to its sale in stores dedicated to esotericism.

The Man's rune and the Woman's rune are not comparable to those of the sun and the moon. In this case, their meanings are associated with the virtues and defects considered typically masculine and feminine, as an archetype, so one should not, at first, look for offense. The man's rune, in addition to indicating a masculine presence in the question consulted, symbolizes energy, and the use of force, for better or for worse. However, it is considered a rune of positive response. The feminine rune, for its part, also indicates the presence of a woman in the response, and is associated with tranquility, patience and resistance, with events flowing, so it also has a positive meaning. Both runes tend to be represented with simple strokes that refer to the sexual organs, but as additions, they have freedom of representation.

The Star rune is very similar to that of the sun, perhaps it could be said that it is a prelude to it, since it does not announce resounding success, but rather a good predisposition for it, a warning that it is time to act and obtain good results.

The Eye rune is the only rune that addresses the seeker directly and not the situation. Perhaps that is why its addition seemed necessary. The eye refers to the inner vision of the consultant, his vision of things and his internal knowledge.

The Romance rune is indicative of erotic and/or sexual love. For some it indicates a predominance of low passions, while for others it is simply an addition to a common and human situation. This rune is shocking in relation to the two alliances, with a much purer message, but the romance one has been well received perhaps because of the need to distinguish between the two sentiments. Its symbol is confusing since it can take the shape of a heart, a lasso, or any other arcane symbol.

As it can be seen, the ritual as a whole is simple, but the runes must be ritualized, either by means of a moon bath or sprinkling, incense, etc. and for this reason they cannot be provided except for cases in which one is going to act as an interpreter. Following the author's instructions, it is advisable to keep them in a bag or cloth in which a magical symbol has been inscribed or the owner's name has been written to keep its energy safe. Despite its temporal inaccuracy, the author insists on the fact that lithomancy or divination by stones is an ancestral system and that therefore the runes presented by her have the same power as any other, becoming a simple oracle, of quick answers, but with an archetypal background backed by age-old usage.

Pietro Viktor Carracedo Ahumada -

-Crowther, P. Lid off the cauldron. Frederick Muller Limited. London, 1981
-Howard, M. Modern Wicca. A History from Gerald Gardner to the Present. Llewellyn Publications. Minessota, 2009
-Wilborn, B.K. Witches' craft: a multidenominal Wicca Bible. Skyhorse Publishing, NY. 2005

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