I originally wrote this article for publication in Rune Kevels, the official organ of the Rune Gild when still a member of that organization, and then updated it for publication within the official organ of the Wolfbund while still a member of that organization. The presense of **** indicates where the names of these respective organizations once fit into the article. I continue to retain the copyright on this article. -Hildolf Von Eisenwald
The carving of Taufar is an intrinsic part of the Great Tradition as illustrated throughout the many spokes of evidence at our disposal, from archaeological finds to documentation found in the Eddas and Sagas. At a practical level, it is the process of creating a physical (objective) form into which the Runer loads Runic forces towards a Willed end. The process of carving the shape of the Taufr itself has many subtle lessons to teach the Runer, as well as being a concrete expression of many of the teachings of the ****; I will go so far as to say that these are some of the “Runes” of carving.
After climbing the tree (the symbolism here also speaks) and claiming the desired branch from which the Taufr will be shaped, the Runer is confronted with the raw substance of the wood which must be consciously shaped with the Sax into the final form that he/she has determined for the Tine (this is easier said than done at times.) We can see this concept reflected in the myth of Odhinn slaying Ymir and shaping the Nine Worlds from the body of the etin, as well as the myth of Odhinn shaping Askr and Embla from trees. In the process of shaping the raw wood into the desired form of the Taufr, we are reenacting the godly processes spoken of above at a personal level.
For the beginner, carving Taufr has much to offer as far as putting many of the essential basic skills into action that are necessary in the long run for successful Bünde-Work, as well as being a tangible example of taking basic knowledge, placing it into action, and gaining understanding in Runework. In the process of determining the shape of the Taufr, the Runer must place their imagination into action and visualize how their Taufr is going to look; the more developed the imagination and powers of visualization, the more aesthetically pleasing the Taufr will be (beauty is important here…the Taufr is a creation of the Runer’s Will, and should reflect the beauty of that Will.) The Runer then must take up the Sax and actually carve; as I’ve already said, this is easier said than done: I could tell you all of the tricks that I’ve learned for carving, but until you take that Knowledge and place it into Action, you really aren’t going to Understand it beyond a purely intellectual level . Understanding is the child of Experience.
In carving, the Runer is forced to discipline their mind and body and keep themselves concentrated in the matter at hand: lapses in focus are rewarded with bleeding hands and ill-carved tines; maintenance of focus is rewarded with the desired tine shape. The Sax is a harsh but fair schoolmaster. Wood can be a tricky substance to work with at times: depending on what kind of wood you’re working with, it could be very soft, very hard, or riddled with knots here and there; dealing with these and other factors can be very frustrating at first, but through perseverance and ingenuity, the Runer will eventually develop the skills necessary to shape beautiful and intricate tines ( the more you put into the Taufr, the more you’re going to get out of it.) One final matter: if you’re just learning to carve, it’s more likely than not that you’re going to make some mistakes; This is where you can learn the benefits of self forgiveness…you can’t walk the Road while you’re standing in one place kicking yourself in the rear end. There are mighty Staves hidden in the wood; take up thy Sax and carve.
Fœðisk úlfr í skógi!