By Steven Speers

Why I Don’t Incorporate Merkstave

One of the things I do not bother with in my divination practices is Merkstave positions of the Runes. For those unfamiliar with the term, Merkstave indicates that a rune is upside down or reversed. This indicates an inverse meaning to the forces in question. Strength becomes Weakness, Contentment becomes Resentment, Success becomes Failure, Insight becomes Confusion, and so on.

I am not saying that Runes being in Merkstave are insignificant, far from it. When a Rune or other esoteric symbol is inverted or an attempt to alter it is made, this is indeed significant. But for the purpose of this discussion, I am speaking solely of divination readings and not the carving, placing, charging, or activating Runes, sigils, wards, or charms.

Divination involves interpreting the ebb and flow of the manifestation of potentialities. Considering this, with each Rune, all potentialities are to be acknowledged, the “good and bad”, the “light and dark”, the “positive and negative”, and so forth.

Whether the forces a Rune represents manifests “as it should” or in Merkstave is determined by you and the choices you make. Focusing on negative potentialities increases the chance of manifesting negative potentialities, so putting too much emphasis on Merkstave casts is often a self-fulfilling prophecy that could easily have been avoided. And if that negative potentiality is what is to come to pass, then it was not negative or Merkstave, but simply what is.

When a Rune comes up in a pull, consider ALL of its aspects, both desirable and not. With foreknowledge of all aspects of a given Rune you can more effectively capitalize on any situation you face. There’s no reason to squander an opportunity to turn adverse circumstances to your advantage.

Another point to include in this would be to consider the Runes normally seen in a negative light. The foremost being Hagalaz, but Thurisaz, and Tiwaz are also seen in a negative connotation, or dealt with hesitantly because of fear based thought focused on negative potentialities. With Hagalaz representing Sustained Hardship, what would the “negative” version of that be? Do we simply chalk it up to “opposites”? In which case, Hagalaz in Merkstave would represent the END of Sustained Hardship, or would it be the indicative of an easily overcome struggle? See how quickly and thoroughly Merkstave can muddy the waters?

Staying with the example of Hagalaz, but discarding any thoughts of Merkstave, let us focus on Sustained Hardship and what that means. Those hard times can last as long as you let them drag on. However long it takes for you to figure it out or get sick and tired of being sick and tired. Hagalaz is a catalyst Rune, it is rattling you out of your cage of complacency. Sometimes what you need most is what you want least, but how many of us actually admit that beyond spouting platitudes as vapid as we want them to seem insightful?

Merkstave interpretations lead to compartmentalizing the forces that are intertwined and inseparable. I’m not saying Merkstave readings are invalid, inaccurate, or anything of that Nature. But they can hinder far more than they help on a multitude of levels, from intimidating those just beginning to practice divination, to amplifying the manifestation of negative potentialities. Neither of those are outcomes I find satisfactory.

Hail the Folk!

1 Comment

  1. Blaine Qualls

    Well said sir. I have always questioned the idea of murkstaves……the runar already contain all potentiality within them…..they are neither positive or negative, they just are.


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