Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Crafting the Runes: Peordh

From Ralph Blum's Rune Deck

Peordh is a source of recreation
and amusement to the great,
where warriors sit blithely together
in a banqueting-hall.

Peordh is the most confusing rune in the Anglo-Saxon rune poem that I've encountered so far.  It appears to have no precise pronunciation, with many sources giving many different suggestions.  The wikipedia article on the rune cites a German book published in 2006, Das fuþark und seine einzelsprachlichen Weiterentwicklungen by A. Bammesberger and G. Waxenberger, which gives a etymological link between peordh and a Common Germanic word for pear-tree.  The article then goes on to link this to a woodwind instrument, or a game made out of the wood.  Alaric Albertsson in his book Wyrd Working: the Path of a Saxon Sorcerer, mentions and disputes a possible interpretation of a chess piece, stating that it can most likely be interpreted as related to some game of chance (and using the usual interpretation of the shape of the rune resembling a dice cup).  The rune is not mentioned in either of the other extant rune poems we have available.

Unable to find any more references or explanations for the translation, I suppose the traditional explanation of a game of chance is as good as any.  It certainly fits in with the poem - it is a game often played when people gather together, and is seen, even into our modern times, as a "source of amusement to the great".  Many will associate this rune with fate or chance; and given that I am learning these runes partly in order to practice a casting sort of divination with them, it doesn't seem entirely out of place.  But what the rune poem seems to suggest is more about camaraderie - warriors sitting together in a hall, feasting and drinking and playing games.  This reminds me more of family game nights or get togethers with friends than the mighty forces of fate and chance.  While I think either is a valid interpretation, in my own divination and magic, I think I will primarily interpret it as good times with friends and companions.

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