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Runic Reflections on Writing

Young adult novel writer Liz deBeer describes how she uses Runes and Tarot cards to guide and inspire her writing journey, helping her to combat self-doubt and find courage in her creative process.

By Liz deBeer

November 09, 2023

It began with “Beowulf.” Back when I taught high school English, I bought a blue velvet sack of Anglo Saxon Runes — stones with Runic alphabet carvings — at a local spirit shop to demonstrate during the Anglo Saxons unit. I offered students readings, where they would share an issue and pull out a white stone, each one branded with an archaic letter. Using the guidebook packaged with the Runes, we would interpret the markings, pondering the wisdom of letting go or accepting a gift or returning to self.

Now, I use the Runes, as well as Tarot, to inspire my writing. The main characters in my current Young Adult manuscript even consult Runes as part of the plot development.

When defining my goals as a writer, I turn to Tarot or Runes. I recently conducted a mini Tarot reading to motivate me to set more ambitious goals. I pulled four cards, one representing the past, one the present, one the future, and one for extra information. After arranging the cards on a cotton cloth, I consulted a booklet to assist in the interpretation. The latter two cards were Strength and the Five of Wands.

The Strength card suggests reminding ourselves that our mind is our power and our courage. It encourages us to listen to our instincts to find our inner strength. The Five of Wands suggests that there will be struggles and even gossip. But the image shows most of the wands upright – we can overcome these struggles.

My interpretation: Block out the negativity and go for it!

The positive vibe dissipates, though, when I get a rejection or feel blocked. Instead of wallowing, I’ll close my eyes, rummage through the cool Runic stones and select one. Seeking inspiration for this essay, I asked the Runes to offer advice for writers.

The Oracle responded with the Warrior, or the Spiritual Warrior, depicted by a single arrow pointing up. The Book of Runes by Ralph Blum notes that “The battle of the Spiritual Warrior is with the self … remaining mindful that all [we] can really do is stay out of [our] own way.” The arrow advocates a willingness “to cut away the old, the dead, the extraneous,” which should resonate for any writer in the editing stage.

This Rune requires reflection, but it must be accompanied by patience and perseverance, clearly active work. As writing warriors, we are reminded to fight our inner doubts, seeking the courage to trust that our desired outcome is developing through the process.

My interpretation: Have faith and courage to stick with it. Our biggest enemy may be ourselves.

 

Liz deBeer

Liz deBeer, a language arts teacher, has published in newspapers, teaching journals, and magazines, including The New Jersey English Journal, InsiderNJ, Editor & Publisher, and Lilith Magazine. She currently resides in New Jersey where she is writing young adult novels and flash fiction.

Liz deBeer, a language arts teacher, has published in newspapers, teaching journals, and magazines, including The New Jersey English Journal, InsiderNJ, Editor & Publisher, and Lilith Magazine. She currently resides in New Jersey where she is writing young adult novels and flash fiction.