A word about the use of Runes in my Pyrography and Artwork

People quite often ask about my use of runes in designs, particularly in pyrography pieces, and there is a very good reason why I include them - for me pyrography and the runes belong together..
   There are some good books and online articles giving the history, meanings and uses of runes, so my intention here is only to give a brief account of the way in which runes have played a part in my creative processes in recent years.

'Whispers of Leaves' watercolour
 Although I had been vaguely aware of 'the runes' for many years ( ever since reading 'The Lord of the Rings' when I was in my teens) it wasn't until 2012, when I became interested in Norse Mythology, that I began to study them and realize their magical qualities.. I found myself especially drawn to Odin, and having read about his shamanic discovery of the runes whilst hanging on the World Tree, I felt curious to know more. I learned a little of the history and usage of the Elder Futhark and general meaning of each Rune, but it was their shapes and sounds which particularly intrigued me, so I concentrated my efforts on learning the pronounciation and inscribing of each rune by chanting their names and sounds whilst painting and writing their shapes. It was like learning the alphabet all over again..and I found it both enjoyable and intriguing as each rune gradually took on its own character through the constant repetition of its sound and shape. But  I began to find that painting or writing the runes on paper didn't feel quite right - they were designed to be carved .. and I wanted to find a way to inscribe them on wood. At this same period of time I had been looking for a new direction to take my artwork, as my prints were not selling sufficiently for me to support myself. So it was that these two seemingly separate 'needs' coincided at a particular moment in a sudden idea - perhaps I should give 'pyrography' a go...again, pyrography was something I had been dimly aware of years, but had never looked into.
Applewood design from 2015
    With just a little research, I soon settled on the 'Peter Childs Artists Pyrography Machine' and ordered it online. I had no knowledge of which types of wood to use, and began with a few 'Birch Blanks' which were supplied with the machine for making keyrings, and some wood scraps given by friends. The first pyrography I did was 'writing' the runes..practising over and over, trying out different styles, different woods, and varying the temperature, and gradually learning through experience. Whilst experimenting and getting the hang of pyrography, I was still learning and reading about the runes and Norse mythology, with the result that these two disciplines became inextricably linked in my mind. Of course I gradually began to create designs other than just rows of runes..I began to draw animals and trees, and to learn more about the best kinds of wood to use, and to develop my skills with detail and design..nevertheless, it remains the case that I still like to begin a design with the rune row - for doing this seems to help me to access a particular 'creative consciousness'. It is as though the runes open a particular channel..a particular 'door' through which I can access fine details about the piece of wood I am handling and using..tune in to it. and receive the design. I sometimes think that the runes also act in a similar way to 'seed syllables' in Eastern Traditions such as Buddhism.  And since 2012 I have also applied the same technique with some of my paintings and drawings -again beginning with a rune row..and allowing the design to be born from them.
Runes painted on paper slips
An early Applewood design

Rune Pendant from 2012
Runerow on watercolour paper
Runes on Hazel
Runes on Apple

Apple slice

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