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The purpose of the ritual in ritual magic is to insure that all parts of the magical process are included every time the magic is used. Without this built-in quality control, the results would be haphazard at best.

The Norse god Odin revealed the ritual steps needed for rune magic. In a list of rune charms he laid out the process for evoking the elemental powers.

    Paraphrased, these steps are:

  • Know how to cut them.
  • Know how to read them.
  • Know how to stain them.
  • Know how to evoke them.
  • Know how to send them.

Cutting them is the physical making of the runes, either etching them or drawing them with your imagination. This helps to focus your energies on one elemental force rather than scattering your thoughts in all directions.

Reading a rune is creating the force on the astral level where all magic is generated. This is done with imaging. As clearly as possible, you will get better with practice, picture the rune symbol glowing with all of its characteristics. Naturally, this requires that you be familiar with that rune. The section on knowing the runes will help in understanding this step.

An alternative to picturing the rune glowing, is to simply start your imagery with the rune. Use the symbol as a focus on a particular force, then picture that force coming alive around you. The rune Isa represents the unmoving ice of winter. When reading Isa, imagine the bone chilling grip of the arctic tundra, only with no wind. Not even a breeze is changing the image. Nothing is moving; nothing has ever moved.

Staining a rune is sacrificing to the rune, traditionally by shedding blood. However, shedding blood is not necessary. You are linking yourself to the elemental forces of that rune. You can do this by consciously giving a ceremonial sacrifice of energy coming from your heart center. This energy comes from emotion. The shedding of blood instinctually induces strong emotion, so it is a very effective way of linking with the forces. It is also a very destructive way. The emotions come from a fear of personal harm. Fear, rather than you, controls the magic.

Willingly giving away this energy is enough. At first, the emotions may not be there, but if you focus on the anticipated results, the emotions will eventually develop and you will remain in control.

Evoking a rune is to call that rune's elemental forces into this physical world. The previous steps have linked you with the power. Now you need to imagine drawing the power to yourself. Gather that force in your hands to command.

If this is hard to imagine, try opening a gate releasing the power into the physical world. Just remember that you are in command. Don't allow the power to run amuck; gather it up and use it.

Now that the energy is within your grasp, mentally send it to do what you called on it to do. Be as specific as you can be. Imagine yourself manipulating the energy to your wishes. You cannot change the force into something new, but you can guide it towards a specific task. You can send the mind numbing cold of Isa into a heated argument to cool things down.

There are many different ways of performing these magical steps. This is only my preferred way. Feel free to alter the ritual until it feels correct for you. As you learn about a rune's character, you will develop images that fit both the rune and the way you feel about the rune.

Click on the rune symbols in the table of runes, then the ritual guidance link to find the rituals I use. Remember, the more emotion you can put into the ritual, the stronger the magic will be.

Since most of the original rituals have been forgotten, experimenting is the only way we can discover what is right for each of us.

However, remember that rune magic is potentially very powerful. I say potentially because the results of ritual magic depends on your dedication, seriousness and the intensity of your imagery. Ritual rune magic is not something to play with. Don't approach this as a game with no consequences. You are manipulating powerful forces that do exist. Even if you cannot see them in the physical world, with practice, you will see the results of their presence.

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Lee Cain
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