Wild Soul Runes: Reawakening the Ancestral Feminine, by Lara Veleda Vesta
Weiser Books, 9781578637393, 208 pages, May 2021
Lara Veleda Vesta’s book Wild Soul Runes: Reawakening the Feminine is not just another book that lists the various runes and provides meanings for them. Well, it does, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that this is “just another book” about runes, because it isn’t. This, my friends, is a 33-week course disguised as a book and is almost impossible to put down.
Vesta is an artist, author, storyteller and educator transforming chronic illness into a path of healing and reclaiming. The author and illustrator of The Moon Divas Guidebook and The Moon Divas Oracle, Vesta is currently working toward her PhD in Philosophy and Religion while exploring ancestral connection and disability as initiation. Wild Soul Runes is a journey towards a deeper understanding of runes and their magic, as well as an opportunity to reconnect with ancestral energy while exploring personal sovereignty within the framework of spirituality.
Personally, runes have always both fascinated and bewildered me. I want very much to connect with them but have found it difficult, as there are so many books and courses that provide conflicting information on how to interpret, when to read, and even how to choose a set. Vesta’s book doesn’t provide a set series of steps to follow; instead, she offers “a scaffold, information, recommendations, and a theory based in my own ritual relationship with the runes.”1 How refreshing!
What I love about this book is the sense of inclusion: Vesta believes that all people should have access to runes and their teachings:
“The basis for this practice is the belief that we can all receive direct, divine information. It is not just for a few special people – it is the birthright of all humans. We are so inured to the idea that information must come through specific authorities, we have forgotten how to cultivate our own inner knowing, activate our ancestral magic, and believe in this direct communication.”2
The first section of the book is simply titled “Beginning the Work” and sets out the framework for the teachings. Set over the course of 33 weeks, Vesta recommends working with one rune per week and describes the practice as something that “consists of building a rune altar each week, examining the ancient rune poems, investigating personal translation, employing meditation and sacred art practice, and toning the runes in a rhythm.”3
Vesta also speaks to the importance of a daily ritual and recommends starting with ten minutes a day. She says that this amount of time can expand as needed but starting with a non-negotiable time frame of ten minutes is necessary for consistency. She also acknowledges that working with the runes requires a certain amount of personal alignment and clarifies:
“If you have things in your life that are out of integrity, places where you are not being honest; are resisting change; or are not letting go based on fear, guilt, shame, or another patterned emotion, the runes will seek to clarify your path before deepening into relationship.”4
That gave me pause. When I looked back at the times I tried working with runes, I realized that those were the times in my life where I was struggling to bring an aspect of my life back into balance. In one case, I was working a job that paid well but didn’t fulfill me. I felt heavy each day going into work, and while I was good at my job, I felt empty. Looking back now, it makes sense that the runes would want a safe foundation upon which to build, something I didn’t have at that time.
In writing this book, Vesta felt called to look up certain words to get a sense of what the runes were trying to say. This is partly where some of the confusion comes from across multiple sources of information, as there is no dictionary and the language most of the reference materials are written in does not exist anymore. Vesta explains:
“There is no definitive source that spells it out clearly. We are missing the historical context of the runes, the culture and society from which they came. Our source materials have been mostly rewritten and translated. Those translators – even those with a deep understanding of ancient grammar and culture – still rely on inference and, like so much in translation, judgment. In translation a word may have many meanings, so a translator makes a judgment based sometimes on deep knowledge but other times for poetic purpose or personal interpretation. When we read a translation, especially of an ancient primary source in a language no longer spoken – like Old Anglo-Saxon – we are reading such an interpretation.”5
This book has done a lot to dispel some of the confusion I’ve had around runes and why I’ve felt that they don’t like me. While I haven’t had a chance as yet to go through the 33-week course, I do plan on doing that, as I feel a pull to access some of my deeper ancestral knowledge and recognize this path might be a good way to establish a connection.
Written in a comfortable, easy to read voice, Vesta has done a great job in making the sometimes confusing and temperamental divination system known as runes more accessible. For me, Wild Soul Runes has opened my eyes to a gentler way to access my personal gnosis and to not take it personally when the runes decide that today isn’t the day to solve every single one of my problems. This book is perfect for someone who seeks to connect to the runes and wants to explore that possibility using a slow-paced, buildable process that empowers as well as educates.
Sarrah October Young is a writer and practising witch who wished she could do stand-up comedy. When she isn’t writing or witching, she can be found posting about her cats on IG @therealoctober.