Deity Bindrunes

I received a question on how I made my Nehalennia bindrune, so I figured I’d make a quick post about my process.

Nehalennia Candle Shrine side view with Nehalennia bindrune

First really quick: a bindrune is a symbol which combines different runes, in this case using the elder futhark. They can be used for magical purposes, combining their different properties towards a certain outcome. In this case, I use them as a symbol for a specific deity, combining their different areas of rule into one powerful symbol.

So step one is brainstorming. I usually sit with a crappy notebook and just jot down all the things I want to incorporate into the bindrune, or the domains of the deity I wish to make this bindrune for. This is a messy process and can take several days or weeks, depending on how smoothly this goes. Cernunnos’ bindrune came together super quick, only a few days, for example, while Baduhenna was a lot more nebulous, taking several weeks to get right.

Burnable Spellboxes with deity bindrunes. Left: Baduhenna. Middle: Nehalennia. Right: Cernunnos.

For the Nehalennia I settled on four runes of the elder futhark. Raidho: for travel, in this case across the North Sea. Laguz: for water, since Nehalennia is the Goddess of the North Sea. Fehu: for material wealth, most of her followers were hardworking merchants, and Nehalennia is a Goddess of prosperity as well, so I associate Her with reaping the fruits of your (hard) labour. Gebo: for gifts, relationships, and exchange. She is the Goddess of the harvest, and keeps the ships safe on their travels, but it comes with a price – and exchange – in the shape of an altar stone commissioned for Her. She gives, so much, but she does expect things in return. A relationship of equals.

After I made my choice it’s as simple, and as complicated, of trying out different combinations until one feels and looks right. For some runes this is very quick and can happen in one doodling session, like the Cernunnos rune or the Nehalennia rune. For others it takes multiple sessions to figure out something that works, like with Baduhenna.

Deity Bindrune concept page in my bullet journal. The top two-thirds are for Baduhenna, which eventually became something different entirely. The bottom one-third is for Nehalennia, the circled bindrune being the final one.

A parting note: for some it is important to not include the reverse or mirrored versions of the rune, since their meaning is different and often opposite of the upright one. For bindrunes, I do not have this belief, because I am using the meaning of the upright runes to built something new, while still holding the original meanings. They lose their individuality (a bit) to join into a conjoined and new symbol, with new meaning. But, this is for every individual practitioner to decide.

Baduhenna: Valkyrie, or Dutch Morrigan?

Photo by Martin Lopez via Pexels

Baduhenna, the Dutch Goddess of battle and the forest. I already knew of a possible connection with Badb, one of the Morrígna, due to the etymology of both their names. The root badw- or badv-, meaning battle, that they both share.

Donahue, in his article “the Valkyries and the Irish War-Goddesses”[1] exposes perhaps a deeper link. He states that it is likely that the Scandinavian and Germanic Valkyrie and the Irish Wargoddesses evolved together. That is to say that because of the close relations between the Celts, the Gauls and the Germanic people it is likely that these cultures intermingled, and through that their mythology and beliefs were influenced. The Valkyrie for example, went from demons, “those who bring fear”, to beautiful, almost Goddess-like, women who chose the slain and poured mead in the Halls of Valhalla.

De Vries, in his article “studiën over Germaanse mythologie”[2] also speaks of the links between Valkyrie, the matronae (triads of Goddesses commonly worshipped by the Germanic tribes), the Norns, the dísir, and the Goddess triad that is the Morrigan.

Next to Badb and the Valkyries, there is another Goddess to consider. The Gaulic Goddess Cathubodua, whose name means “battle-crow”. Perhaps Her link with Badh is even a stronger one, with the crow aspect being right there in the name. All we have of Cathubodua is the inscription of the name upon a shield, unfortunately not a lot to go on.

Baduhenna might not have the crow in Her name, but she does have something else. Her “mythology”. I’m putting “mythology” in quotation marks here, because it is not myth, it is history. However the history only tells us that there was a battle, that the Frisians against all odds attempted to overthrow the tyrannical Roman leader, that they won that battle and killed 900 Romans, and that the retreating Romans were so paranoid, that they slayed 400 of their own men. Those are the facts. But if we look at it in another way, a different story can perhaps be told: a small group of people won a battle against a far greater and better trained army. This battle was fought in a sacred forest, dedicated to their Goddess; a Goddess of war. Divine intervention perhaps, the Goddess choosing which side of the conflict will be the victor, and which will be slain. Much like both the Valkyrie and the Morrigan. The remaining soldiers fleeing, but being so overcome with confusion and madness that they turn on their own battle-brothers. Just like the madness that Badb spreads when she flies over the battlefields in her form as a crow. Which is why Braakman is his article “Baduhenna. Godin van het Slagveld.”[3] states that Baduhenna and Badb are one and the same, and says: “Baduhenna had struck again.”

So we have a Gaulish Battlegoddess, the Valkyries, and the Morrigan. So where does Baduhenna fit into this? Perhaps nowhere, for as far as we know She is not part of a triad or group, like the Morrigan and the Valkyrie. But to me, they do have a connection. To me, the theory that the Valkyrie and the Irish-, Gaulic-, and Germanic Goddesses of War and Battle influenced each other, and therefore, grew together, seems very logical. I tend to see them as sisters, or cousins. Not the same, but part of the same family.

For me personally, the link with the Morrigan is stronger, simply because of Baduhenna’s “mythology”. This is also the reason I relate crows with Baduhenna, without there being evidence for it. And perhaps also because Morrigan was already a known Goddess to me, through my partner who considered Her his patron for a while. I always felt drawn to the Morrigan as well, but it never felt right, not completely. And who knows, perhaps this was because She was trying to point me towards Her Dutch sister all along.

[1] Donahue, C. (1941). The Valkyries and the Irish War-Goddesses. PMLA,56(1), 1-12. doi:10.2307/458935
[2] de Vries, Jan P.M.L. (1931). Studiën over Germaanse mythologie. Tijdschrift voor Nederlandse Taal en Letterkunde, 50, 85-125. Link.
[3] Braakman, W.A. (2001). Baduhenna. Godin van het Slagveld. Westerheem. Tijdschrift voor de Nederlandse Archeologie, 50(1), 2-12.

Poetry: Find me, sister

A poem inspired by the Goddess Baduhenna.

Find me, sister
In marsh-filled forest
In sacred grove
The places which are wild and raw and free
Filled with magic and power

Find me, sister
Through ties of blood
Through bonds of spirit
See me in the faces of your kindred,
Connected and rooted to all life

Find me, sister
In spring’s green delight
In summer’s bright splendour
For, like you, nature grows and blooms
It perseveres through all adversity

Find me, sister
In the call of the crow
In the howl of the wolf
Join the frenzied roar of thousands,
And fight for those who are oppressed

Find me, sister
With fangs bared
With claws curled
Head held high and strength in your spine
Never giving in nor giving ground

Find me, sister
Crowned in iron
Crowned in madness
With shadows twisting behind my rooted throne
Whispering of all your deepest fears

Find me, sister
In darkened forest
In the depth of night
When you are wounded and bleeding
Open and vulnerable for all to see

Find me, sister
Through your tears
Through your rage
Bruised but never weak nor defeated
Bending but never, ever broken

Find me, sister
Within your heart
Within yourself
You, who are mettle-tested and battle-worn
Wear your scars with dignity

Find me, sister
Within your eyes
Within your bearing
Stand in your power without reservation
With pride in all that you are

Offering bowl restoration

Many years ago, at a fantasy fair, I picked up a small black offering bowl with a small silver pentacle in it. I used it for a while, then put it away, then burned a candle in it which I couldn’t get out of it anymore, and so on. This bowl I have both loved and felt completely indifferent over in the years that I’ve had it. However, I wanted to make an offering bowl for Baduhenna, since I had none on my altar. So, time for some restoring and re-loving this small bowl!

Before! No longer black, stained and faded. I picked up my matte black and metallic silver paint and went to work.

Back to what it was when I bought it! Gorgeous matte black. I wasn’t done however, now it was time to link it to Baduhenna.

Baduhenna had a sacred forest somewhere in ancient Frisia. Because of that I wanted to add some greenery to Her bowl in the form of ferns. I have no idea why, but I associate ferns with Her. I also added the bindrune I made for Her a few years ago in silver paint. The bowl now sits proudly on my altar, filled with labradorite, garnet, moss, fern and a metal raven skull charm. I love it! And I actually feel much more connected to it than even when I first got it.