Written by Galina Krasskova in Gangleri's Grove
For me, wunjo is such an intensely personal and experiential rune, that I find it difficult to translate those feelings and experiences into concrete language. I can work this rune and communicate with this rune but when it comes to making it known through the fabric of my words to someone else, it’s as if there is something ephemeral about its presence, as though it does not want to be pinned down by the concrete cage of words. So with that caveat, I’m going to try to present as clear a picture as possible of this rune’s nature.
Wunjo is usually defined as a wish rune, or a rune of joy. It can certainly be both of those things. This is a rune of enchantment, of magic, of ecstatic inspiration. I agree with Kenaz Filan when he writes that: “One of Wunjo's highest and holiest manifestations is the mystic's ecstatic union with the Divine.” (1) In fact, this was the way that wunjo first revealed itself to me. This is wunjo in its best, brightest, most sacred. It whirls around those moments of pure communion. Just as Filan associates wunjo with that which is contained within the Holy Grail, so I associate it with Odhroerir, the mead of inspiration. It is the bliss of that perfect moment when one is ridden and being ridden by the daemon of creativity, where one is almost possessed by it, and where it all comes together and beauty flows from heart and hands and spirit into active, joyous manifestation. Wunjo dances around the God-spouse who stands taut in the indescribable ecstasy that is the presence of his or her Deity. It is the religious ecstasy that crosses all religious boundaries. It is the spiritual fire that devours, consumes, envelops and brings both the most joyous and most painful of bliss-filled ecstatic moments. It is holy radiance.
Wunjo has a darker side though that no one ever discusses. It is obsession, madness, and addiction. Wunjo is held forth in those stereotypical stories of the brilliant genius, or artist who is then consumed by madness (or the magician who is devoured by obsession with his art). It’s that fine line between mysticism and madness, artistry and obsession. The Alfar know this rune well. It is one of the primary darts in their most devastating arsenal. Wunjo is the poison that you beg to drink, longing for more of its sweetness with your last, gasping breath. It can twist the mind, creating weird reflections that make things seem as they are not. It is, at its heart, a rune of glamour. It creates addiction and obsession, twisting the joy and pleasure that it can bring, tainting the creativity, turning that which is holy and pure into something that it was never meant to be. It will do this also where self-discipline is lacking because the undisciplined soul, the undisciplined heart, the undisciplined intellect cannot help but take this rune to that place. It counsels against loss of self- control and balance. One can dive fully into the ecstasy this rune brings, swim in it willingly, but one must know how to come back to the stolidity of Midgard’s shores again. It demands that fluidity of skill and focus. (This rune appreciates focus and works very, very well with the futhorc rune Yr as a rune of focused inspiration. It is excellent in this combination for artisans, artists, and craftsmen to work with, people who’s vocation involves taking inspiration and making it manifest through the conduit of their skill, creativity, focus, and disciplined technique).
The aforementioned connection to the Alfar is particularly important. Elves do not have ethics. They have aesthetics, protocol, and intricate courtesies. They have a web of obligation and debt that defines their existence within their culture. As with any non-human being, it is equally important with wunjo not to project one’s own sense of human ethics and expectations onto this rune. There is nothing human about it and it does not partake of these very human constructions.
In its more positive aspects, Wunjo can be used to connect us to the sacred, to that which is greater than ourselves. It whispers and glimmers with echoes of the numinous and can teach us to ready ourselves for direct experience of the Holy Powers. Wunjo is the joy of the holy fool who has feasted with Gods and whose humanity is too small a thing to contain the joy of the experience. Wunjo simply laughs delightedly and says “grow” or maybe “dance.” It is the whirling dervish, the magus standing in rapture wielding with perfect, hard-won mastery, the raw energies of his art. Wunjo is order, perfect structure, the golden mean, a perfectly balanced stanza of poetry, or mathematical equation, or intricate measure of music. It is that which arouses the eye and breaks the heart with its beauty. Wunjo is that beauty and the transformation that it can bring. It is the power, the magnetism of creative brilliance both to ensnare craftsmen, artisans, and genius and to move those who view or hear it.
It is also a rune of hope, and can be that foxfire glimmer of something true which gives one the ability to drag oneself up through the worst of one’s spiritual darkness. It is that which one seeks while in the midst of the dark night of the soul. It is inspiration on all levels. There is a sexual element to Wunjo: it is enticing and promises an almost orgasmic fulfillment. It drives itself beneath the skin, crackling and shimmering and is at once both immensely kinetic and immensely cerebral in its manifestation. It is easy to get drunk on wunjo and its gifts; the challenge to the rune worker is to experience the fullness of this rune but instead of being swept away by its intensity, to take it and *do* something with it. This rune rejoices in ecstatic manifestation, particularly in the creative arena.
As you might have guessed by now, Wunjo is about beauty. It is a rune with a keen aesthetic sense. It is about the recognition and manifestation of beauty in all things. This is also a rune of graciousness. Attention to small details and courtesies will go far with this particular rune spirit because these things are another manifestation of the perfect structure of things that this rune so values. Wunjo glitters with an indefinable glamour and one surrounded by wunjo will have a subtle but inexplicable charisma. This rune, however, is not about surface beauty. It is about the inherent truth, the integrity and balance within each person and thing. It is about the beauty found in secure knowledge of the self, in open connection to one’s own unique truth. It is what Keats meant when he wrote “beauty is truth, truth beauty. That is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know.”(2)
Kenaz Filan points out that “both Wunjo and Thurisaz represent an irresistible penetrating power that breaks down boundaries. Wunjo burns through all the dross that separates the soul from the Divine. The uplifting feeling of transcendence we experience in the presence of beauty is the recognition that we are in the presence of the Gods, the presence before which all else is absent.”(3) Yes. That is wunjo in a nutshell. Wunjo finds the cracks in the citadel of one’s emotions, or the matrix of one’s mind, or the labyrinth of one’s soul and winds its way in, like Odin as Bolverk taking the serpents shape and winding His way into Gunnlod’s secret chamber. There is a certain viscous quality to it, like melted gold. It is sneaky and will find a way in when it wants to.
I associate Odin, Odin’s Vali, and the Alfar with this rune.
I'd like to write a little personal note here. I had wanted to write something giving a definition or background on the Wunjo the Rune, but it evaded me. I know how it feels, but not how to explain it. The above article is a blog entry written by Galina Krasskova which is more eloquent, and more well thought out than what I could have expressed at this point.
And as Wunjo Weekend has been coming to life, my experience of wunjo has been changing. It has become quite evident to me that wunjo is indeed a living spirit that is bring us all together in the commonality of joy and the love of the Divine. Everyone who is stepping up to participate, be it presenting, vending, performing, or volunteering has thus far been doing so with love and excitement, enthusiasm, and a positive attitude. I feel very honored to be able to facilitate the gathering for such a group, and for the open-heartedness that we all share. And I also feel honored to have the author of this article offer to give so many wonderful classes during Wunjo Weekend. Thank you. ~Maryalyce