Lost Teachings of the Runes: Northern Mysteries and the Wheel of Life

Lost Teachings of the Runes: Northern Mysteries and the Wheel of Life

by Ingrid Kincaid


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Lost Teachings of the Runes is an unexpected adventure into the hidden meanings and profound lessons held in these simple markings that are the signatures of ancient beings.

Lost Teachings of the Runes invites the reader to journey to the realms of past and future that exist hidden beyond the horizon and beneath our feet. Using an engaging blend of stories, meditations, and ancestral knowing, author Ingrid Kincaid explores Northern Mysteries from the center of the Wheel of Life. Kincaid demonstrates ways the Wheel can be used to connect ancient wisdom with modern life, and offers tools and teachings that may be used on a daily basis to enable readers to reclaim their personal power. Lost Teachings of the Runes presents a life-affirming, death-honoring approach that returns the runes to a place of balance, to light and dark, to order and chaos, and to the roots and branches of the world tree.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781578636761
Publisher: Red Wheel/Weiser
Publication date: 10/01/2019
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 732,346
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Known as the Rune Woman, Ingrid Kincaid is an author, educator and workshop facilitator with over 45 years of experience. She is a staff-carrying wise woman in the Old Norse tradition and her connection with the runes is ancestral. Ingrid teaches throughout the United States and Europe. Visit her at www.ingridkincaid.com.

Read an Excerpt




The stories we have been told are not the only stories, nor are they the right stories.

There are other stories.

The ones that have not been told.

The ones that have been forgotten.

The ones we carry in our bones, not in our minds.

The ones our ancestors wish to tell.

It is my desire that these new stories that are actually old stories will awaken in us something ancient.

remembering more than blood my ancestors were etched inside Kenaz split me open I penetrated the darkness I saw what was destroyed spun and woven frayed and worn the strands of Wyrd retied

The earth is in upheaval, again.

Great change is upon us.

Something new is being brought into form, something that is older than time.

Rune wisdom is reappearing for us out of the melting ice.

It is the same wisdom that fed, guided and protected our indigenous Northern European ancestors.

It is neither female nor male.

It is neither bad nor good, dark nor light, immoral nor moral.

Rune wisdom is the wisdom of life in constant motion and perfect balance, sourced from the darkness of the great void, chaos coming into form and returning again to the darkness.

Sadly there are those among us who attempt to corrupt runic wisdom with patriarchal, misogynistic, aggressive energies.

Myopic, All-Father Odinism Neo-Nazi white supremacy Exclusionary Asatru Glorified Viking violence

It is time we reclaim the lost teachings of the runes, time to remember who we are, and find our way back to our roots.

This book is about our roots.

This book is about the Center.

This book is about standing in the Center, in the present moment, remembering who we are by connecting the future with the past.

It speaks of ways to discover and explore what exists above, below, beyond and inside.

It is dedicated to our bones, to our ancestors, to our stories, told and untold, and to the questions.

It is dedicated to our journey home.

The runes have given me the strength and courage to walk away from a monotheistic, patriarchal, desert religion, the religion of the conquerors.

They have shown me the way home, back to the Motherland of Northern Europe, and my ancestral roots.

May you find your way home as well.


The drum maker dreams a dream.

In his dream he is lost in the whiteout of an Arctic blizzard.

There is no direction, no horizon, no protection.

He crouches, wrapped in skins and furs.

He knows he must do something but he is afraid.

Out of the chaos of the storm, a white reindeer appears.

A snowy owl is perched on her back.

He looks away. He turns back.

The owl is an old woman.

She is playing a large drum.

The drum is marked with strange symbols.

He is certain he has never seen these symbols, yet he remembers them.

The old woman is singing a song.

He is certain he has never heard the song, yet he knows it.

The reindeer comes so close he can feel her breath.

The old woman stops singing.

She speaks in the voice of the North Wind and the silence of the dark and cold.

"Do not fear the powerful one. Make her the drum."

He returns from his dream. He makes the drum.

The powerful one uses her drum to remember.

She uses her drum to hear the stories that have been forgotten.

She uses her drum to listen to the ancestors.

They speak to her of the wheel.

They speak to her of the runes.

They speak to her of the lost teachings of the North.

They remind her that the past lives.

Beneath the surface of the ground on which she stands.

In the place the sun goes at the end of each day.

In the place where the dead go when they return to the earth and the dark.

In the place where the ancestors dwell.

The drum shows her how to stand in the Center of her own life and find the horizon. The future exists beyond the horizon no matter which direction she turns.

The future rises up out of the past.

The runes speak to her through the drum.

They tell her that the still point in the Center is the ending and the beginning.

The place where the World Tree grows, its roots deep, its branches wide.

The place where we all must stand to claim our sovereignty.

She sees the runes circling around the horizon.

The horizon is the circle of sight that remembers the future.

When she drums, the ancestors come and stand with her in the Center.

They speak to her of the realm of the dead.

The place where the sun disappears taking with it all the shadows.

They remind her that things are hidden in the light.

They remind her that the stars can only be seen in the dark.

They teach her how to face the direction where the dark rises up out of the earth.

They teach her how to face the direction where the light rises up as well.

They are the same direction.

The place from which new life appears.

The place that foretells the past.

The ancestors show her the direction of the cold.

They show her the direction of the warmth.

They show her how the heavens turn above us as we watch the stars circle in the night sky.

The ancestors speak to her through the voice of the drum reminding her that all life is a circle, that all things continue, that birth and growth cannot exist without death and decay and that all things breathe, even the stones.

They remind her that the past and the future exist in the present moment, in the Center, in the earth beneath our feet and the horizon we can never reach.

They show her that there is no top or bottom to the earth.

It hangs in the darkness of the great void.

It too is the Center, for all space extends outward from it, no ending, no beginning.

And the sun is the Center, and each star is the Center and each person and each moment.

All this and more has come to pass through the drum in the voices of the ancestors.


Savage, barbaric, ignorant, uncivilized.

Primitive, crude and bloodthirsty.

These are words commonly used to describe the indigenous, tribal people of Northern Europe.

These words are not neutral.

These words are not benign.

They are charged words, sourced from the language of the conquerors.

Such words imply the lack of moral standards, law and order and suggest that illiteracy is a sign of ignorance or inferiority. For us to think of our ancestors in such a way is harmful, disrespectful and destructive.

The Roman legions did not bring progress, nor did Christianity.

They brought change.

They brought change that was accompanied by violence, violation and death.

Their invasions fostered disconnection from and destruction of cultures that were deeply rooted in nature, the land, and worship of the ancestors.

The tribal people of the Motherland of Northern Europe were not inferior to the marching hordes of Roman soldiers.

They were different.

They had laws and standards.

They had music, art and history.

They danced and sang songs.

They were clans and tribes made up of families with children and old ones, wise and powerful women and men.

These were a people of the spoken word.

Theirs was an oral tradition.

They were storytellers who communicated in many different languages.

They knew how to speak with nature and all the unseen ones.

They were travelers, explorers, and navigators who built amazing structures that still exist, some of them older than the pyramids of Egypt.

Life was harsh for our Northern European ancestors. Many of them lived near the Arctic Circle. The winters were long and cold. The climate inspired music and poetry that reflected the deep, dark intensity of their lives.

Their spiritual culture was different from cultures in other parts of the earth.

They were not people of the desert or the Mediterranean.

They did not know the jungle or the savanna.

They were not monotheists.

They worshiped and communed with countless gods and goddesses, as well as seen and unseen beings that inhabited their land.

They did not experience these beings as mere thought-forms created by humans, nor did they call them archetypes. These beings were real and alive, present and named. They were sought for the wisdom to survive.

The indigenous Northern Europeans knew intimately the language of glaciers, the ways of the reindeer, and the glorious dance of the Northern lights in the night sky.

My ancestors come from the great Motherland of Northern Europe. My maternal grandfather was an immigrant who fled Sweden as a young man, forced by famine and disease to leave his home. Such a story is familiar to many of us with ancestors from Europe.

When I speak about the tribes of the Motherland of Old Europe I speak about my own family. They are my people. Perhaps they are your family as well. There are many of us scattered around the globe who are the progeny of these strong, courageous, resilient people of the North. Our ancestors migrated to lands all over the world. And even though we are not currently living in our ancestral homelands and perhaps have never traveled there, we still carry in our bodies, in our blood and bones, in our DNA, the memory of who we are and where we come from. It is evident in our physical appearance, our body type, our food preferences, weather preferences, our longings, and our knowing. Such memories do not disappear in just a few generations. It has only been a short time since our ancestors left their homelands.

We cannot live separate from nature. We are part of it, all of it. Our ancestors knew we could never be simply observers. Nature is in us and around us just as we are in it and around it. It speaks to us and we do well to listen. We must remember who we are and who we were before the conquerors came.

Human nature is nature.

The old stories and teachings sprang up from nature, from the geography, the terrain, the climate, the flora and fauna.

These stories are still relevant, even in this modern, digital age.

There are many who live quite disconnected and removed.

There are some who believe we do not need nature or that it is possible to go beyond it.

It is true that times have changed, in some parts of the world quite drastically, but we still need the same things to live, survive and continue. The past is important. We learn from the past. We are rooted in the past. We are rooted in our ancestors. These roots are what connect us to the present moment and to the future.

There is a global rekindling of interest in the runes. They are calling out to people in all parts of the earth, not just to those of us with Northern European ancestry. The runes carry wisdom that is significant and vital to human existence. They are sentient beings connected to and part of nature and the gigantic, primal forces of creation and destruction. The myths and stories woven together with the runes carry images and information that bring us back to nature and to the land, to the awe and mystery of life and death. The runes reconnect us with the lost teachings of the Northern Traditions and the indigenous, tribal folk soul of Old Europe. They are the matrix of a spiritual heritage that has been neglected and forgotten for a long time. I grieve for it. We grieve for it.

The runes are beings, older and more powerful than the gods and the giants. They are older than our human ancestors. They were there at the beginning, which is the middle of the cycle that never ends. We cannot force them or bind them nor do we need to sacrifice to them. They are indifferent to our human condition. We must listen and allow. The runes speak to us, often through vibration and resonance. They tell us when we are out of tune, out of balance, or out of harmony with nature. They did this for our ancestors as well.

We are living at a wondrous time in history.

The earth is in upheaval.

It has happened in the past, countless times, and it will continue to happen.

Endless cycles of destruction and creation.

We are in the middle of one now.

We see it all around us.

We can be afraid. We can be in awe. We cannot stop it. The unseen ones, the giant beings of nature, are at work in ways we do not understand.

At this time when ancient wisdom, long held frozen in the ice, is being released, the ancestors are coming forward, asking and demanding to be remembered and the gods and other unseen ones and the rune beings are making their presences felt, often in very dramatic ways that cannot be ignored or pushed aside, or controlled.

Endings never happen in isolation. When something ends, something always begins.

Nothing that we face can only be about the beginning.

When something begins it has already ended.

We are birthed into death. This is what the runes teach us.

The endless cycles.

The turning of the wheel.

Circles moving within circles.

I must do this work. My ancestors and the runes called me. Perhaps an even stronger statement is, they chose me to do it. I can only speak about my own ancestors, no one else's and I cannot assume to know why someone is called by the runes or the gods or the beings of the far North. It is not for me to decide or to judge.

What I do know is that throughout my many years of sharing rune wisdom, the majority of people who come to me have strong ancestral lines that reach back to the Motherland of Old Europe, and more often than not, these lines wind their way up into circumpolar regions.

Often the people who find their way to me know little or nothing about the runes or their own ancestral, spiritual heritage. Yet they tell me they feel that the runes are somehow calling them.

They come seeking guidance, information and connection.

They want to go home, to sit again at their own sacred fires.

They are tired of wandering in the desert with the monotheistic Middle Eastern god.

Their throats are dry from chanting praises to Hindu deities such as Shiva, Shakti, Durga and Kali Ma.

They are like orphans who long to hear their Mother Tongue, who wish to raise the drinking horn and partake of the sacred mead of their homeland.

Where are you in this story?


The ancestors often visit me when it is quiet.

They show me things. I pay attention.

They tell me things. I listen.

Then I write them down.

This book grew out of such an experience.

Before it was a book, it was a class.

About ten years ago, in the middle of the night, I began to see patterns on my bedroom ceiling. It looked as if the starry heavens were rotating overhead. As I watched I saw Gebo moving toward Ingwaz, the two runes coming together to form the rune Gar. Because of the way the patterns were rotating, I imagined a circle around Gar. The circle gave me a way to visualize, locate and explain what I was being shown. I called it the Circle of Life.

I was shown the World Tree growing in the center of Ingwaz which forms part of Gar, at the point where the arms of Gebo cross each other. The tree roots grow down below the surface. Its branches reach up toward the sky. Its trunk connects them both.

I was shown the Eihwaz rune placed in the Center, piercing through the circle, half above and half below. The Tree embodies the Eihwaz rune and the rune vibrates with the Tree. It is a rune of life and death.

Placing the encircled Gar flat you can see it as a map and a calendar. The four points of Ingwaz align with the four compass directions, North, East, South and West.

They also mark or indicate the seasonal events of Winter Solstice, Spring Equinox, Summer Solstice and Autumn Equinox.

The arms of Gebo provide the beginning and ending divisions for the seasons, the halfway points between the Solstices and the Equinoxes. They correspond approximately with the dates February 1, May 1, August 1 and November 1.

The year's cycle can also be divided into two parts, the dark half and the light half.

The divisions created by the arms of Gebo can represent progression through life experiences.

East: Anticipate — Emerge

South: Allow — Unfold

West: Accept — Harvest

North: Sacrifice — Transform

I gathered together the wisdom and the images I had been given and I created a class. Each time I taught the class I gained more insights.

I was being drawn deeper and deeper into the Center.

The single point formed by the crossed arms of Gebo.

The place where the Tree was growing.

Something shifted and intensified once I began to write the book.

The ancestors knew I was ready.

They gave me another message,

Focus on the Center.

Teach it from the Center.

Connect with the Tree that grows in the Center.

Roots deep below the surface, beneath your feet.

Branches reaching up into the sky.

Align yourself with the trunk.

You are the Sovereign ruler of the limited sphere of influence that is your present life.

Teach it from the Center.

The message was quite clear.

I needed to remember.

The wisdom of the runes and the lost teachings are rooted in the Center and exist beyond the horizon and beneath our feet. All of this could be spoken of as the Circle of Life and yet it was so much more than a circle.

The ancestors knew I had to return to Gar and teach from the Center.

I needed to be reminded as well that Gar was the tip of the spear and the point of the distaff. It held the Center around which the runes circled.

And the Center was Sovereignty, the sovereignty of each of us as individuals.

The present stands between the past and the future and they exist beyond the horizon. They cannot be limited because the horizon is fluid. It creates an edge but we are never bound by it because the horizon moves with us as we move.


Excerpted from "Lost Teachings of the Runes"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Ingrid Kincaid.
Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

1 The Stories,
2 Directions of the Wheel,
3 Using the Wheel,
4 The Rune Beings,
5 Guided Meditations,

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