Monday, September 6, 2010

Making Runes

A recent storm brought down a large branch from the cedar tree next to our house. On further examination we realized that one of the large, trunklike branches was growing into the roof. We called a tree guy to take it down. This is the tree that was next to the bedroom in which I grew up. In my youth, I would sometimes imagine it to be my guardian, protecting me from tornados and thieves.

Yesterday, I was mowing the lawn and returned to the tree when I finished. I thought of the recently removed trunk and wished I'd grabbed a branch from it to make runes. I got off the mower and asked the tree if I could have a living branch so that I could make a set of runes. It's best to use living wood because a piece of the tree's spirit remains in the runes. I don't know if I believe that, but it still seemed polite to ask. I was hoping for a sign.

To my surprise the answer was clearer than I could've imagined. The stump that was left from the trunk removal was a perfectly shaped heart. The tree – my guardian tree – showed that it loved me. I sawed off a branch that looked like just the right size for runes.

I had to borrow a neighbor's electric saw because ours was too small (a kid's jigsaw). I made a quick trip to the hardware store for sandpaper, safety goggles and a pair of leather workgloves (my pair is missing one glove. Wish I could find it). Then I put the branch in the vice down in the basement and started sawing. I made 35 rounds (I needed 25, but I wanted extra blanks in case of errors).

I then sanded each of the rounds with coarse (60) sandpaper and then with finer (120) sandpaper until they were smooth. I have to admit that I love the smell of cedar and this beautiful, fresh wood was so aromatic my nose was in heaven all night.

Next, I took the sanded blanks and drew the runes on them, using a pencil. When I had everything to my satisfaction, I took the wood burner and burned in the runes. I was a little sloppy on some, but that's why I had the extra blanks. In the end, I had my full set of runes, made by my own hand from a tree that had grown up with me, sharing a wall of my room. I can't wait to use them. Runes are never stronger than when made by your hand from wood that holds personal meaning.

This is going to be fun!