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21 Apr 2007

Days of the Week

By Ensio Kataja

I have been thinking about the days of the week. In Western cultures, the week commonly consists of five weekdays and two days of weekend. The Germanic gods, runes, and myths have left their traces in the very names of the days. This tells something of their enduring, Hidden power. In the Christian era, most of the older heathen day names were replaced with numbered day names (for example, Þórsdagr, Thor’s day, became Fimmtudagur, ‘fifth day,’ in Modern Icelandic). I will concentrate here on some relevant traditional knowledge related to original day names, mixed with my own subjective speculation.

Monday
‘Moon’s Day,’ Mánidagr, gets its name from Mani (Old Norse máni, Old English Mona), the Germanic Moon god (in the Germanic tradition, the moon is always masculine), and son of Mundilfari and Glaur. The Germanic myth tells how Mani pulls the moon through the sky and is chased by the wolf Hati. Lunar eclipses are the result, when Hati, Mánagarmr (’devourer of Mani’), comes close to succeeding. At the time of Ragnarok, Hati catches his prey, breaking it in his jaws. Monday is thus the appropriate day to pay attention to the moon cycles, the tides, and emotions, which have their own flow, rising and descending. Concentrate on the Mystery of laguz: see its effect and meaning in the context of your own inner cycles and changing life conditions. Delve deep into the world of your subconscious waters, feelings and intuition. Dive deeper and explore also the terrifying, darker and Hidden areas. Think about water and its relationship with the moon; read the rune poem of laguz.

Tuesday
Týsdagr in Old Norse, receives its name from Týr (in Old English, Tiw, Tew, or Tiu). Týr is a god associated with battle and war, but also with order, justice and law. Tuesday is thus good for dealing with legal matters, and putting all kind of things in order. Concentrate on the Mystery of tiwaz. Remember how Týr placed his hand in Fenrir’s mouth, think deeply about the concepts of order and self-sacrifice—what they are and what they mean to you. Is your life generally ‘in order’? What areas in your life and in yourself you would like to reorganize? The T rune is also the lot of troth (faith, loyalty, kinship). It is said that a man who does not flinch and surpasses others is said to be “as brave as Týr.” Spend time with your friends and family. Although it is important to plan things and to work methodically, don’t forget to also take action, instead of just endlessly planning. Follow Týr and victory will be yours.

Wednesday
Óðensdagr in Old Norse, Wodnesdæg in Old English, is the day of the Germanic god Woden, more commonly known as Odin. Speech is the appropriate word for Woden’s Day. On Wednesday, dwell deeply in the Mystery of ansuz and see where that leads you. On some future Wednesday, I also recommend that you undertake the following Working—be intensely conscious of what you say, how you speak, and be aware of what others say and what they really mean as well. Try to say what you mean and mean what you say, but also learn to use words creatively, according to your Will and goals. Hone your skills in the use of language(s) but avoid the inane, unconscious, babble that only degrades your very being.

Thursday
Þórsdagr in Old Norse, Þunresdæg in Old English, is the day of Þunor, commonly known in Modern English as Thor, the Germanic god of thunder. Concentrate on the Mystery of thurisaz. Become aware of your temper and changes in mood. Learn to use this knowledge consciously. Learn to defend yourself physically, but make sure you don’t ever sink to the level of a mindless bully. Dedicate this day to the god Thor. Learn why he was very much the favorite deity of Scandinavians, but also think about his important role in the Aesir’s war against the thurses, the forces of unconsciousness and primordial nature.

Friday
Friádagr in Old Norse, frigedæg in Old English, from the Germanic compound frije-dagaz, is Freyja’s (and/or Frigga’s) Day. Friday is thus good for explorations of sexuality and workings of seidhr. Dedicate this day to Freya through all possible actions. Concentrate on the Mystery of fehu; this rune is feminine, and connected to Freya, who is a goddess of love, beauty, fertility, wealth, and war. The reconstructed Germanic word *frijaz means ‘beloved, belonging to the loved ones, not in bondage, free,’ from the Indo-European root *prei-, and Germanic *frijon, ‘to be fond of.’ It has been suggested that the original meaning of *frijaz was probably something like ‘from one’s own clan,’ from which the meaning ‘being a free man, not a serf’ developed. Consider also the word *frijj, ‘beloved, wife.’ Friday offers a complex Mystery—what does this tell you about Freyja’s nature as well as of the binding and freeing of things, objects, and even people? What about Frigga—Seeress, protectress, goddess of married women and of the home, who complements Freyja’s functions (perhaps a more appropriate rune for Frigga is perthro instead of fehu)? Think about what freedom really means. Don’t pursue its meaning only in the shallow contemporary sense, but rather as it relates to our tradition.

Saturday
‘Dies Saturni,’ or ‘Saturn’s Day’ is the only day of the week to retain its Roman origin in English. However, my personal opinion is that Saturday (laugardagur in Old Norse, the traditional day for washing and bathing in Scandinavia—pointing to the Mystery of laguz), could also be associated with Loki. Thus, it is a day suitable for pranks, and for changes in general. More specifically, Loki, the Lord of all Fools, rules over April’s Fool’s Day, and if you ask me, any day when you experience a maelstrom of not-so-happy events that in the end force you to laugh. Loki is a Trickster who can easily upset people with no sense of humour. During Saturday, then, meditate on the importance of not taking everything, including yourself, so seriously all the time. Meditate also on the role of conflict, strife, and change, and your personal capacity to handle such things. Instead of seeing Loki as some dualistic archvillain or a creature of monstrous evil, I suggest you entertain the thought that he is actually Odin’s shadow side, who helps to keep the multiverse in equilibrium. With enough Lokean conflict, strife, and change, life will at least never be too boring. Those brave and foolish enough may invoke Loki on Saturday. The runes I instinctively associate with him are kenaz, thurisaz, and ansuz. If there is any bit of a rebel and a trouble-maker in you, you will understand why. (I wanted to keep this text on Saturday short, but see how long it became; obviously, Loki made me do it…)

Sunday
Sunnundagr in Old Norse, gets its name from Sunna, or Sunne the Germanic sun goddess. In the poetic Edda, Alvíssmal says, “It is called Sól among men and Sunna among the Gods. On the Day of the Sun, embrace the higher being in yourself by meditating on the Mystery of Sowilo.” Understand why the S rune represents both a guide and a goal sought after by the runester. Make plans for the coming week and concentrate on your primary goals. If you feel you are stuck in a frozen situation, the light of the archetypal sun can melt even the thickest ice and set you free. The holy solar wheel spins and keeps things in dynamic motion. Follow the path of the serpent on Sunday and you will find many a Hidden thing.

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