The Body Awake - Resilience and Reimagining Relationship
Body-by-the-minute, a rune a day.
A conversation with the body through runes.
Somewhere around 3am I thought of how we are in constant collisions of agency--stuff of the second aett. Relationships in motion. In my weary state that rang more ominous than it has to. Application of our agency can be really wonderful, and should be, for that matter. I was thinking specifically in terms of Body, and wasn’t feeling the wonder of it at the time, only the bruises.
Now, Dagaz. Third aett. June Solstice rune. It means day in the traditional translation, though when I hold it in an active, animistic stance, it’s a distillation of Jera, year, which when active means to assess the year. With Dagaz, we assess the day, but by comparison we only have a trace amount of time to do it before the next begins. That means we have to be really on point with what’s important in our day, in what we find meaning, where we put our agency. Where do we find the bright spots of our day with chronic illness?
I have been told by many medical and psychological health professionals through the years that bright spots are all about plasticity: the ability to train the brain away from what causes it distress. Plasticity is a very different thing in the context of chronic illness, rather than of an isolated injury. Knowing something has a calculable end makes for more proficient plasticity. Observable improvement along a continuum supports flexibility. When something has no end, the resources for plasticity are already sparse, and transitioning those resources to foster bright spots is its own exhaustion.
To be more specific, in chronic illness, bright spots are made, rather than just happening, regarding everything--pain, fatigue, tinnitus, anxiety. And they are made alongside all the other collisions of agency, not instead of. For me this response smacks of resilience speak (usually from people who aren’t chronically ill), which is a double-edged sword. It’s wonderful to be resilient; it’s despicable to have to be, over and over. When we emphasize the individual’s coping skills over the collective origins of harm and lack of sustaining support, when we see the impact on the individual as unrelated to the actions of the collective, we’ve missed an opportunity to animism well. So many missed opportunities for wonderful collisions of agency in the projection of plasticity and urging of resilience.
Dagaz in season is about that eensy spot between extremes. Northern June Solstice blaring, bright, stillness, to be specific. Collision of light and shadow. That space where things are not what they were but aren’t what they will be. That gap is the home of chronic illness. It’s where plasticity lives, where agency originates, and the option to reimagine relationship lingers. It’s where meaning rules. I can’t reimagine relationship without first ascribing meaning to that relationship. I can’t exercise plasticity without first finding meaning in the collision that’s making it necessary.
That loop is Body’s deepest trigger of exhaustion. It’s all Body negotiates, every day, all day. I want credit for all the versions of me I’ve had to be to stay in this body. I want acknowledgement that doing so has already been a life’s work. Nothing about this is aging process, and I’m not getting younger. And I want to be comfortable screaming those bratty needs, while wanting them to give way to something deeper. I want them to have meaning.
And the Dagaz of that is, Body is inherently interstitial. It can’t not be in the collisions of agency. Today I’m spending time with the elements of my space, seeking their support to ease the bruises.
S. Kelley Harrell, M. Div.
I’m an animist, author, deathwalker and death doula. For the last 25 years, through Soul Intent Arts I’ve helped others to ethically build thriving spiritual paths as fit, embodied elders, who upon death become wise, capable Ancestors. My work is Nature-based, and focuses soul tending through the Elder Futhark runes, animism, ancestral healing, and deathwork. I’m author of Runic Book of Days, and I host the podcast, What in the Wyrd. I also write The Weekly Rune as a celebration of the Elder Futhark in season. Full bio.
elder well, die well, ancestor well
Originally published on Soul Intent Arts.