Recently, I have been reading Secrets of the Magical Grimoires by Aaron Leitch. It was a book I acquired a while ago, and read it through once cover to cover. It’s fairly dense, and the author covers a lot of ground. This re-read had me thinking about Runes, and about the galdrbok, which shows how Northern European magic style became infused with Southern European magic style, as exemplified by the grimoires, and the medieval Christianity cosmology and philosophy. The main point of interest for me is that in relation to theurgy, which is divine magic based upon the working relationship of the sorcerer with the Angels. From this book, the author indicates and argues strongly for his case that it was through the relationship of the Angels, whose aid is gained by mankind’s relationship to God, that other lesser spirits are controlled, compelled and made obedient to the practitioner. The Angels themselves are never compelled, but are more of worked with, and have deals made, and in some cases (like the Abramelin procedure) a special angel is connected with, and in the process these angels instruct you in the procedures and methods and tools of communicating with other angels, and commanding the earthbound and infernal spirits.
This led me to wondering, as the Runes as spirits, represent fairly powerful spiritual entities. Powerful enough that they cannot be compelled or controlled, but not so powerful that they can demand service, like a deity can. In a certain sense, the Rune Wights and the Angels of the grimoires have a lot in common. While their natures are radically different, they could be worked with to the same ends, namely calling up the rune wights, after working with them and entering into a relationship with them, so that they can aid you in mastering lesser spirits and wights. It is, after all, the lesser spirits that can be commanded to fulfill the desires of the practitioner, and put to work.
It is part of Aaron Leitch’s work that explores the “shamanic” nature of the grimoires, with some of their ‘un-Christian” actions (some suggest animal sacrifice). From a spirit-worker stand point, offerings and sacrifices is what is needed to feed the spirits, to draw them, gain their aid, or end their hostilities, such as the kind brought by spirits of disease. In the grimoires, that is often what is sought from the earthbound spirits, gaining their aid, or possibly ending their hostilities (as most of the grimoires were probably penned by lay clergy, who were most likely exorcists, and so it became common practice for them to command spirits, not only to help people, but also to help themselves). The spirit-worker, who works with the runes, would also be able to get their aid in controlling lesser spirits, and also gaining the knowledge needed to draw spirits, gain other spirits aids, and also end hostility brought on by other spirits. It encourages me to search for means of how to do that. From the saga lore, there is already the implication of methods, or that such knowledge was gained. A clear example of the indication of runes being used to control land spirits, is of course the nyth-stav, used to curse a king and queen out of Denmark.
Possible images that could work, in terms of further symbolic pattern, is the Aegishjalmur, mentioned in the galdrbok. Other continental books of magic show increasing complex symbols, while other symbols seem to be more inspired, derived from ecstatic states of mind from a practitioner that have been handed down, or created whole cloth by the writer of the text. You could also adopt more southern methods, including geometrical shapes derived from Pythagorean traditions, like the triangle, or circle, although circles are fairly ubiquitous in most common western pagan practice. In another book a description of a necromantic rite is given, where the practitioner lit a fire, which he surrounded with a square, with the corners of the square pointing in the four directions. On each side of the square, he drew 9 smaller squares on the edges of the large square, and then sat in the larger square before the fire. After a while, the dead appeared, mainly to reveal the cause of death through their appearance, which proved the sole survivors deception (who had killed the other two survivors, to keep the rest of the spoils they had rescued from the floundering ship).
From lore surrounded practitioners of seidh, there is the 9-square platform. From one example I read, a platform would be built on the top of the seidh practitioner’s house. This platform would be made of nine squares, arranged in a square. The practitioners would sit up there, often in the center, practice their art from there. Already there seems to be two examples of nine squares being used, although in two fairly different layouts, but with fairly similar goals (as seidh was often a way of communicating with spiritual entities). As most northern European spiritual types know, nine is one of the more common numbers that are often figured in the sagas, and the cosmology, and is seen as one of the spiritually significant numbers.