My Runic Vacation, or How I Made Peace with the Ocean

I’ve never liked the ocean.

I freely admit that I’m not one of those people whose soul “longs” to be near the ocean, or that the ocean “completes” me. It doesn’t and it never has.

For what seems like most of my life, I’ve been okay with being a landlubber. I like my mountains, lakes, and rivers and I like them far in-land. I’ve never liked the ocean - what lives in it, what comes out of it, what it can do to the land it borders. I’ve never liked the black depths of the ocean, the seemingly never-ending expanse of it, or the power it holds. I don’t like the idea of tsunamis, floods, lobster, shrimp, clams, or sharks.

No way, no how, none of it.

A couple years ago I went through a past-life regression and I discovered where most of my dislike of the ocean stems from. I found that I was a little red-haired Irish girl, about 7 or 8, who was on a ship that was sailing for the Americas. My father was the Captain of the ship and my sole parent and I was making the journey to the new land. As I came out into the life during my regression, I came upon a dark sky over an even darker ocean. My father, the captain of the ship, was trying to save the ship from some sort of calamity - either some structural mishap or something external to the ship, I couldn’t tell you. I was lost in the shuffle of the emergency and was worried about the ship’s cat, whom I had adopted as my own. I went below decks to search for the cat to make sure it was safe when the ship imploded on itself as I was down there.

Past life regressions are some of the most traumatic spiritual experiences that one can undergo - mine was traumatic, for sure, but also freeing. I found out why I 1) hate the oceans and 2) love cats.

So yes, I’ve always been the sort that could live without the ocean...but I’ve come to a point in my life where I need to embrace that which causes fear or apprehension in me. Instead of running from the ocean, that enormous natural force that makes up over 70% of our planet, I’ve decided to run towards it and make a peace of sorts. I decided to make that peace over the trip to Acadia National Park in Maine that my family and I had planned with some friends for this August. I set out with an intention to make peace with the ocean...if not become friends with it, I would at least come to terms with it.

Another portion of the trip was going to be made up of me dropping handmade runes over the island. Leading up to the trip I was called to leave runes throughout the island over our vacation; I was to leave 24 different runes over different spots on the island, bringing the magic of the runes to the island where it was most necessary.

The first day we set out for Maine we decided to hike up a mountain in Randolph, New Hampshire, at the top of which was an old crystal mine from World War II. We hiked to the top of the Crystal Mine Trail, spent a good hour mining for quartz crystals, and back. Over through Bangor and we stopped at Stephen King’s house, an author that I’ve followed for the past 30 years.

The rune of the day was Laguz, the rune of water...and while the runes all have many, varied meanings, the water rune was sending me a pretty clear message.

I was headed to the water.

The next day, Sunday, my rune was Jera. Jera is the rune of the year, and cycles, and reaping the rewards of hard work. Over the course of the day, we visited a freshwater pond on the island so Sequoia, our son, and his friend could fish. While he was fishing, Isaac and I made our way down the shoreside trail. This was at Ikes Point on Echo Lake, one of the large freshwater lakes on Mount Desert Island.

The first rune I pulled to gift the island was Ehwaz, the rune of the horse...or partnership and loyalty and working in tandem with someone - or something - else. Ehwaz helped me to think about our relationship with waterways and how we as humans should be better stewards. This was especially fitting as I had a reminder about how awful humans can be, as we were visiting that freshwater lake, a mother was encouraging her crying toddler of a daughter to get into the lake to pee. The daughter had told her mom that she had to go pee and wanted to go in the woods, but the mother forced her child into the lake to pee. “Look, mommy’s peeing too!” was her encouragement as her daughter finally succumbed to her mother’s urging.

My next rune was pulled in a clump of old cedars, elders of the lake and island. It was a magical clump of trees that showed their roots, where Isaac was called to rattle. The rune I pulled there was Isa, the rune of ice, stillness, and patience. Hearing the trees, I could tell they were ready for the follies of man to be a thing of the past...they remembered a time when man didn’t hurt the island as they are currently doing, and they wait for that day to return.

A little ways up the path, I pulled another rune. Nauthiz was an indication that the particular space was feeling a bit constrained, and in a state of need. As I buried the rune, I hoped for the need of the space to be met. I hoped that whatever spirit of the island resided there found it’s solace in whatever it was looking for. There’s a powerful energy in Nauthiz…necessity is the mother of all invention and nothing says it better than Nauthiz. I left wondering what the spirit of the place would be inventing, and doing so out of need…

Our next visit that day was to the lighthouse on Southwest Harbor, currently owned by the Coast Guard. My first rune was Tiwaz, the warrior appropriate, right? A little ways away from the lighthouse itself, I pulled another rune on the rugged coast, with a sailboat in the background. Raidho was this second rune, and I was keenly aware - as I am over and over again - as to how the runes speak to the energy of a place. Raidho is the rune of blessed journey, and combined with Tiwaz, you can see how the runes were calling forth - and paying homage to - the spirit of the lighthouse.

The last part of my day was relaxing on Sand Beach, on the other side of the island. A beautiful part of the island devoted to sand and those folks who love a good beach. After doing some exploring on the rocks and peering inside sea caves, I pulled Wunjo...the rune of joy and bliss. After swimming in the 55 degree ocean water, I spent the next couple hours on my back, enjoying the sounds of the waves hitting the ocean over and over. I decided it was there that I could love the ocean, and that all along it was my relationship with the humans on the ocean that soured my opinion of the ocean.

I’d had too many experiences on awful beaches - from Fort Lauderdale, FL to Old Orchard Beach in Maine, that I may not have given the ocean a chance to stand on its own merit.

The next day I pulled Ansuz, the rune of Odin...wisdom, sight, breath, and communication. I looked forward to the wisdom of that day, of any communication I’d receive. I was called that morning to leave three runes at my campsite - Thurisaz, Fehu, and Perthro. The campground we stayed in was full of people, some of them conscientious of the space, some not. I took the formula of Thurisaz, Fehu, and Perthro to help provide the island with the defenses and resources to help secure its place as a space that lends solace to those who seek it. Over at my friend’s campsite I pulled a single rune, being Mannaz. Another great rune to place in the campground, along with being a great runic energy to share with my friends. Our relationship with ourselves is as important to those around us, our fellow humans.

The second part of our day was to head to Thunder Hole, a tourist trap on this island if there ever was one. When high tide happens it fills this hole in the beach with water and as it does, it sounds like thunder. This attraction was mobbed with people, elbow room only. At the hole itself, I pulled Kenaz, the rune of enlightenment and fire, the power of transformation, the creation of something from nothing...I left this rune between cracks in the rocks, understanding Thunder Hole as a place that helps people transform. While I might not be a fan of crowds or large groups of people, I understand I’ve been lucky to grow up around majestic natural wonders...the folks who visit Thunder Hole might not be so lucky, so I understand a place with that much power has the ability to transform those who visit it.

While getting back in the car after Thunder Hole, we were getting situated on the side of the road. There, I pulled Gebo and buried it in the roots that were hugging the top of a boulder. A gift for a gift, I left this rune hoping that people would feel the need to give the island a gift of their stewardship, especially after receiving so much from the island and the ocean around it.

From there, onto Bar Harbor, the busiest town on the island. During low time people can walk out to Bar Island, just off the coast. While waiting for low tide to come, I pulled Sowilo at a crosswalk and buried it in a stone wall that ran alongside it. The rune of solar power, of victory and success, felt right to put in the crossroads. I hoped that all who travel the roads around the rune feel the energy of the sun, and found victory and success within their personal lives. From another standpoint, Bar Harbor seems to be the nexus around the rest of the island rotates...much like the sun in our very own universe.

From there, we went to Bar Island. What an experience! We waited until the tide sank below the sandbar and made our way to the island. Instead of taking the main path, we took the path less traveled and found ourselves winding around the island, with the island to ourselves. We were graced by deer who couldn’t care less about our presence, and the ground around the island and in the forest was littered with blue shells from the ocean. While wandering the island I found one of the biggest pine trees I’ve ever seen and being called to pull two runes for this mother pine, I pulled Othala and Uruz. Burying them at the roots of the tree, I asked for the universe to grant the pine tree, and all the other trees around it, for a strong, healthy family. May their saplings forever grow tall and strong.

Further on, almost on the side that we started from, I was called to pull three runes. Eihwaz, Jera, and Algiz - these three runes spoke to the land I was standing on, a land of in-between energies. I’d been on a spiritual journey this entire vacation and found these runes to be saying I’d been reaching out correctly, at least from a spiritual standpoint. I’d been working on making peace with my old home, the ocean. That’s what the ocean told me, that first night we were there and when I walked down to say hello in the darkness: “Welcome home, old friend.”

I was finally making peace.

We had one more day in Acadia, or at least half a day. That morning I pulled Fehu, the rune of resources and wealth, both monetary and of the heart. This trip gave me a new appreciation for Fehu, as not only is it the rune of cattle and wealth, but I’d gained a new understanding of was the rune of the heart, and how the heart can be uplifted by what resources can bring into our lives. I had the resources to take this camping trip with my family, so in this case, money really did buy happiness...or lead to it.

Before we left the island and after we packed up our campsite, we headed to the southernmost part of the island called Wonder Land. What a wonderland it was, too! As soon as I walked onto the trail, I pulled Berkana...and the other runes that were pulled along that trail to the ocean spoke volumes. Ingwaz was pulled on a large outcropping of granite that seemed like an island in the forest. Dagaz was pulled further up the trail while I was in a portion of the forest that felt very otherworldly. Berkana, Ingwaz, and Dagaz all speak to new beginnings...and I was on my way to a new beginning with the ocean. Before we left Acadia for good, I had to finish what I had set out to do on this trip.

Wonder Land was truly magical. The mists were thick and the rocky shore felt like another world. As I wandered along the rocks, I opened myself up to the ocean and I could finally feel the spirit of it. The ocean is a force of nature, like space itself, that seems to almost be more than natural...supernatural if you will. A place that gives us life, and takes it away equally. A place that demands respect. Raw power. Supreme force. One of the very few parts of nature that mankind will never tame, no matter how much we try.

The shore offered me up a gift, a piece of ocean quartz...a chunk of orange quartz riddled with white quartz in places. After lugging this rock with me down the shore a bit, I was ready to give the ocean what I had brought it: a chunk of the quartz I brought down off the mountain in Randolph, from the Crystal Mine Trail. I had also brought some of my own crystals to soak in the sea water, bringing some of the energy of the ocean home with me: I brought a hunk of turquoise, emerald, aquamarine, and blue calcite, all feeling very appropriate to this ocean sojourn.

Saying my thanks to the ocean and all that it gives us, I also had a conversation with it about my history with it: that one past life I could recall, my history with beach culture and all the awful people that come along with was an apology of sorts, and a new introduction of myself to it, and of it to me.

I spiritually shook hands with the ocean. I can’t say that I gave it a hug, but we were well met.

I threw my chunk of crystal into the ocean as far as I could, and then pulled the last three runes of my trip. Laguz...Hagalaz...and Ansuz. Laguz, the rune of water, waited until I was at the ocean to make peace before it showed up. Hagalaz speaks to disruption and a calmer place after the disruption, and Ansuz speaks to communication and wisdom. Through my trip, I was shedding my conceptions of the ocean, my old relationship with it, moving onto a better and brighter one...and it was all through my communication with it. Opening myself up to the ocean, I realized what I had come to hate all these years was never the ocean itself, but my history with it, in this life and previous ones, as well as my problems with beach culture.

After pulling Laguz, Hagalaz, and Ansuz, I threw them into the ocean as far as I could.

Then, I turned and walked away...a changed person.

A person who can’t wait to get to the ocean again.

Josh Simonds