In today’s Metaphysical Mondays I’m interviewing Tyriel; creator of the website Rune Secrets and someone who I’ve had a couple of chats with about the runes, music and business over the past few months. Our paths crossed by coincidence over Facebook, followed by a lot of “oh, it’s you!” on my half, and I find his approach to the runes - so much different to mine - to be absolutely fascinating. Hopefully, you will too.
And as an extra treat, he also introduced me to an album that I think may fast become one of my favourites! If you’d like to listen along while you read, you can sync up with us by clicking here.
Hi Tyriel, thanks so much for agreeing to talk with me today! To get things going, would you mind introducing yourself?
I am Tyriel, host of the Rune Secrets website, author of the Book of Rune Secrets, and composer of Rune Songs for the 21st Century. I learned the runes from my mother, and have a long tradition of using them in my life. It's been about 25 years. Rune Secrets as a website has existed since early 2008.
I'm developing an online course with my mother and wife's help. It will focus on many aspects of the runes, but in particular a 21st century way of looking at the whole system of usage. I also have a newsletter, which you can sign up to here, and offer online coaching. I am using Teachable and trying to combine the school system with the coaching.
So you first started learning the runes when you were a child? What was that like?
They were interesting but I was interested in everything when I was growing up. An avid reader and conversationalist. It was only after a very serious hospitalization in 2002 that I began to try to figure out what was going on with reality, with the universe, with my life and turned within. The runes gave me the structure I needed to unify many of the world's religions and traditions as I explored parallels between what the ancients said and what I had been through.
I hope you recovered from whatever put you out!
I'm interested in your 21st century approach to the runes. What kind of parallels have you noticed between ancient methods and your own experiences?
The importance of divination as central to rune study has not diminished, but unlike tarot, divination with the runes confuses many people because it is not an end in and of itself. The runes are a way to contemplate, to look through lenses, to frame problems, and represent (together) the totality of the cosmos. The earliest documented use of them may be Tacitus in Germania where he describes what people were using them for and how they made them. It is similar to what people do today. It is MAINLY what people do today, and why, and to what end that I am concerned with. My method is only interested in impacts and results rather than ritual or superstitions, so I have maybe been improperly labeled as a secular humanist or agnostic. But that doesn't worry me.
How would you label yourself as a practitioner, if at all?
Zen taught me that labels and names are like walls we raise up to guard ourselves from the tactile knowledge of reality. But I accept the label of teacher, as that seems to be a responsibility the powers that be in the universe have decided to shove upon me repeatedly! Through guilt sometimes, if it's not out of love and service.
I know that for some people, labels are useful while others feel the way you do. Funny old world!
Could you talk more about what you mean by "impacts and results"? How do you use the runes in your life, or what sort of methods does your business teach?
I'm actually quite pragmatic. If I do something with the runes, I should understand what I'm doing, and like a science experiment, measure or document the results of that attempt to divine or contemplate or whatever it is I'm doing. It should be repeatable and explainable clearly to others.
A lot of new people come to Rune Secrets and I want to help them get into the runes through the Hero's Journey approach. It is not unique but combining the hero's journey with the ordering of the elder futhark became something I was focusing on while writing a second book named Questioning the Runes. That book became central to a course outline, because I think these days online teaching can reach more people than books, and besides, I have a book.
What we don't have is an in depth online course into the runes, explaining things like merkstaves, bindrunes (their importance or unimportance), how to memorize, the meanings, and how to use them in our daily spiritual life. The business only comes into play because I think that after all this time of being 'free' online, I could expand the reach and teaching in a far more useful way if there was a paid part of it.
Fascinating! Is this going to be covered in the course you’re working?
I changed directions. A book only reaches readers. What has evolved are students. They want to listen, watch, engage, have conversations, a community. So I cancelled work on the book and instead focused its topics toward the course I am now in the process of developing. I hope to have it done by the year's end but any number of things seem to happen to us these days, like COVID, or depression, or financial concerns, that delay stuff.
That makes a lot of sense, really.
So, the man behind the business. How do you study the runes? What helps you focus?
Honestly I have such a deep pool of insight and education into them by now that I don't remember much, if that makes sense... The best thing for me are questions about the runes. That is the magic that summons up answers and writings. I treat people as real, and that helps me focus, because I really would like to help if I can.
Without people to help I don't know. I go to them when I'm in trouble, which is more rarely in the past years. But I can also conjure them up in my mind rather than in a bag, and see their energies when they come into manifestation For instance wealth as liquid or as ancestral (privilege) would be Fehu or Othala, but there are distinctive differences between those, and say Gebo, a gift.
Music helps me focus when I am writing about the runes. I love Wardruna, Forndom and all those sounds. As a composer myself I'm jealous of not being able to reproduce that vibe. But I do electronic/orchestral hybrid, and am always practicing. This is where my own rune album from 2015 is hosted.
What is it about the runic music that you'd like to emulate?
I wrote first and learned music on my own, because I felt like music is a form of play and a form of worship. So definitely the sacred emotion of connecting with the deeper forces of the wild, the truth, to see past the veil our modern society throws over things. Emotion helps us sometimes get there, and shed light on something we didn't think about or hadn't felt. It is hard to talk about music. I just play it.
What kind of elements went into your own Rune Songs album?
I wrote the Rune Songs album when I was experiencing deep depression. I wanted to prove that I could complete a 24 song album (a huge undertaking under any circumstance) regardless of how I personally felt about it. My wife would call every day from work to see how I was doing. Some days I didn't get far. Others I produced something magical.
Each rune is supposed to have a sound/song that represents how it feels, to communicate its essence. That leads to very relaxing stuff sometimes, or other times thunderous or even slightly hectic sounds. I am intent on teaching more a system that would fit many angles of understanding the meanings in, so... I suppose ultimately, [the meanings] have to be my interpretation. It's my music. But I think others hear their own hearts and minds in it. That's good music: reflects like a mirror. Also there are 24 songs, so everyone can resonate with a few of them and like the album. That's why I miss the album format. Lots of people release singles these days.
That sounds really beautiful, and it's impressive that you did all of that while going through a rough patch.
How about you? What’s important to you and your core beliefs?
Wow uh. Me huh. I don't get asked that as much as you'd think.
At a fundamental level we are ALWAYS making stuff up, creating our own works. But we don't realize we're doing it. It's healthier to see the power and pitfalls of the process with rune work. Rather than believing we know something about this world. That is why rune/run/runir means mystery, hidden lore, magic signs and such.
A point I cannot emphasize enough to people is that imagination is very important but so is communication. Communication implies communion and community. So we do need standardized meanings, sort of, to discuss [the runes], but at the same time, they wouldn't be runes if they weren't literally mysteries, hidden lore, secrets, whispers and all the other etymology that goes along with it. So I tend to wag my finger at anyone too certain about the truth, and approach things from the angle of questioning their more strongly held beliefs, undermining their sense of certainty and trying to activate their imagination and flexibility.
That is why people call me an agnostic I suppose, because I am very centered and comfortable within the mystery. Within the unknown. Despite my search for clarity, the dichotomy is that I can be quite numinous and obscured. If I'm not careful. I'd generally rather say something people will understand than blurt out something in my own inner language or understanding. For we all have our own world and language. Runes let us communicate things we don't discuss often to one another. It might not come up over tea and coffee. But with a bag of runes present, or some such, perhaps there is hope!
I love your approach, honestly. It’s so fascinating. Remind me that if we’re ever in the same province, we should sit down and have that tea and coffee over a bag of runes!
Yes if coffee shops even exist after COVID we'll sit down at one.
That’s a mood. 😂 Thank you so much for talking with me today - always a delight.
You too! Thanks for helping me figure out what I am up to, sometimes I forget.
Absolutely! Sometimes just talking to another person does the trick.
To round this interview off, what is one piece of advice you would give somebody picking up the runes for the first time?
Make them yours. Don't look too much for 'am I doing this right?' That's what I did.
Tyriel is a rune reader, musician, composer and esoteric teacher from Canada, and the man behind Rune Secrets. You can find his work at his blog, patreon and bandcamp.