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Egil’s Whalebone Layout

This a layout taken from the Icelandic Saga titled, “Egils saga Skallagrímssonar” (Egil’s Saga). In this story Egil Skallagrimsson is a master poet, warrior and rune master who accomplishes much in his lifetime. While this story does offer a lot of insight into the uses of the runes we are especially interested in his rune work in chapter seventy-three. It is in this chapter where we see Egil cure Thorfinn’s daughter, Helga, who had become sick because of some runes wrongfully carved on whalebone. The runes were originally carved on whalebone and placed in Helga’s bed. But because the person who carved those runes was not a master of the runes, Helga became sick and lay dying in her bed until Egil came, scrapped off the old runes, and cured her by placing healing runes onto the whalebone.

Egil's Whalebone Layout

Egil's Whalebone Layout

For this reading we do something a little different than most other rune readings you may be familiar with or even come across in other books. Instead of each rune having it’s own unique meaning we break this twelve rune layout into four “group of three” positions. For each group we take all three runes and read them as it they were “speaking” to us as a whole. Basically it’s like doing a typical three-rune reading and at the end of that reading you look at what all three runes are trying to say to us as a whole.

The four groups derive their names and meanings from the saga, the characters, and their purpose in the story. It’s not necessary to read and understand Egil’s Saga in order to use this layout but it can help, especially if you ever do a spur of the moment rune cast for someone and would like to use this layout. Then knowing the story can help you to remember what each group stands for more easily.

Group 1 – Runes 1, 2 and 3 – Carver’s Intentions
In the story we see that the original rune carver had specific intentions for what he wanted the runes to do. This first group acts the same for us during a cast. We consult the runes because we have certain situations, goals or intentions. Before you do this cast figure out what it is that you want to know from the runes. Keep this in mind through the entire cast, even as you pick up your runes and place them in the layout positions. These first three runes will tell you what the runes think about your intentions. It is important to keep what they say in mind as you work towards your goal.

Group 2 – Runes 4, 5 and 6 – Helga’s Results
Helga is the woman in the story who gets harmed due to the result of wrongfully carved runes. For our purposes this group of runes lets us see the possible “wrong” results that may come about if our intentions are not pure or we are not willing to put forth effort to move towards our goal.

Group 3 – Runes 7, 8 and 9 – Thorfinn’s Concerns
Thorfinn is the father of Helga and, in the story, we see him worry about his daughter, as she lay sick in her bed. This group of runes represents any outside concerns or obstacles that may come into play as we move towards our goal. Outside influences can do one of two things for us. First, they may support us and help us on our way to achieving the results we are looking for. This can come in any number of ways. If our goal is to be financially secure in our later years support may come from family and friends who help us out in troubled times, or even help us to find a different job that pays more and helps to secure our financial goal. Secondly, outside forces can be negative and can try to hinder us as we strive towards our objective. Again if our goal was to be financially secure in our later years a negative influence may be shown to us in the runes. We may see that our spending habits or generosity with our friends is not letting us put away the money we may need at a later time. The runes will show us what we should keep an eye on.

Group 4 – Runes 10, 11 and 12 – Egil’s Results
Egil is the master of the runes. Despite the wrongly carved runes, their results and even the concerns of Thorfinn, Egil manages to make things right again. It is only through his masterful rune skills that this is possible. He can shave the runes off the whalebone, carve new runes, and make things right for us once again. While we aren’t dealing with carved whalebone we are dealing with a rune layout. We shouldn’t have to cast the runes again to make sure we get the desired results we are looking for, we should only have to look at this group of runes to help guide us. Despite the previous groups and what they have been telling us, this last set of three runes lets us know how we can overcome all that we have been told and still achieve our goal. This does not mean that we can disregard the previous groups and just follow this last group and have everything work out fine. This last group just lets us know how we are able to reach our goal while keeping in mind the possible difficulties of the first three groups.

Things to be aware of for this cast

Since this rune layout isn’t a typical layout it may be a little difficult to do the first few times. You may become a bit confused as to what the runes are saying to you. In other layouts reading each rune individually isn’t a difficult thing to master. However, with this layout you need to read a group of three runes as if they were one. Until you become familiar with your rune set you may find that you’re not seeing the “whole picture” and that this reading isn’t always as exact as other layouts may be. If this is the case don’t give up. With practice you’ll soon see that this is a powerful layout that can give you great insight into just about any topic you ask the runes.

Recording Sheet

If you wish to record your rune casts I’ve created a a printable recording sheet for the Egil’s Whalebone Layout rune cast.

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