Rune Incense – Runic Kyphi

I mentioned in my post about making an Anglo Saxon Rune Set that I am also making incense. I did look up to see what Rune Incense was available to purchase online and found very little. So, as usual, when I can’t find a tool I need, I make it instead.

When I set out on connecting with the Rune spirits, there was an emphasis on giving offerings to open that channel of communication and in exchange for information. Offerings range from person to person – blood, alcohol, deeds, etc. For Berkana, I gave some of my own breastmilk, just to give you an idea of how varied they can get.

I knew that when making this set I’d want to give an offering to each rune. I also knew I wanted an incense offering for when I do rune readings. This all led to the decision to make an incense blend that contained an herb for each rune. Somewhere from the dusty corners of the back of my mind, a memory bubbled up of a video I watched years ago of a witch making Kyphi. All this formed into a plan.

Runes Incense and Kyphi

Kyphi is a Greek work for Kapet, an Egyptian word meaning incense or, perhaps, specifically ritual or temple incense. What we have from history is a variety of recipes likely inspired by the Kapet used in the temple of Ra. From what I understand about the history of Kyphi, is the priests that made this incense didn’t write down the recipe. Instead, it was part of their training.

Today, Kyphi is a term generally referring to pellet incense that has a base of fruit and honey and is heavy on the resins. Some recipes use only resins while others use herbs. Some use raisins, dates, or figs in the base while others rely mostly on honey.

Kyphi was an offertory incense to the Gods as well as a fumigation formula for healing and a luxury buried with Pharaohs. The resins and herbs used were the most luxurious that could be obtained, usually through importations – frankincense, myrrh, cedar, etc.

Now, some Norse lore hounds will be rolling their eyes and asking what does this have to do with Heathenry, Runes, Northern Tradition, etc. Well, mostly nothing.
MAJOR UPG DISCLAIMER for the most part.

That being said, our ancestors did trade with Egypt and, being human, were fond of nice things. Luxury items like beads, silk, gold, etc were all valued. Being one of the most luxurious items shared among the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, one could say that if the Northern European ancestors ever did come into contact with Kyphi, they’d be into it.

Also, the ancient north people did use fumigation for spiritual, healing, and mundane use. We have bundles of herbs in tombs, neighboring peoples using herbs in ritual, etc. Incense would not have been too foreign a concept to them.

Lastly, we are modern peoples with access to the trade of ideas as part of our living religion and spiritual traditions. Many rune readers and Northern tradition spirit workers use incense and fumigation in their practice, making their own blends with what they have.

Making Kyphi is a long process full of intention and uses luxurious items. I think this sounds like a great offering to the Rune spirits.

Making Runic Kyphi

The base of this pellet incense is made of 3 ingredients – fruit, honey, and wine. For mine I am using local honey, mead that I made and dedicated to Odin (with permission from Him), and I chose to use a blend of cherries, cranberries, and prunes rather than raisins.

Chop or mince the fruit, mix with honey, and cover with wine. The amount varies depending on how much dry ingredient you have or plan to have. This will be a large batch so I’m making about 3 cups of fruit, mixing a cup of honey, and eyeballing the amount of wine. Have some honey for the end process as well just in case the batch is too dry as you can always add honey to make it stickier.

Let the wet mix set at cool room temp or in the fridge while you process your dry ingredients (this could be a few weeks so I will be making my wet blend when I get to the run Mannaz). Check it periodically and if it starts getting dry from the fruit soaking up with wine, top it off.

For the dry ingredients – process one herb a night into a fine powder. If you have the time and ability, do this in a mortar and pestle while galdring or singing the rune poem associated with that rune herb. I neither have the time nor the hand strength for some of these herbs. So, I will be breaking some down in a herb grinder and then processing in my mortar and pestle while galdring/singing.

That’s one rune/herb a night. Once the herb is a fine powder, give a pinch or so as an offering to that rune – burning it on some charcoal and galdr or sing again as well as requesting that rune bless your working and give you insight as to its nature in your work/readings. Sit with it and let that rune teach you with visions, omens, dreams, etc. Add the powdered herb into a jar and mix them together.

Repeat for each rune. Once all the 33 ingredients are processed and blended, on the last night you will blend the dry and wet ingredients, galdring the runes in a row. Also galdr and praise Odin for His trials upon the Hanga-Tree to snatch up the runes and share them with the worlds He created all with blood and passion.

Form the mix into pellets no bigger than the tip of your thumb – there will be many. If you are doing outdoors readings and rituals you can make some larger pellets about the size of a walnut. Heads up this is a rich, fragrant, and smokey incense so a little goes a long way.

Cure the pellets until dry. I plan to do this in the dehydrator. Others leave them out for 2 weeks or so. Roll in benzoin or remaining powder OR roll individually in parchment paper to prevent sticking. Store in an air tight container for future use.

Kyphi can mold – there’s a lot of honey and wine and plant material in there. So keep in a cool, dry place OR refrigerate/freeze OR put in a vacuum seal bag.

Runes and Herbs

The following list of Runes and Herbal associations was developed using intuition and some research regarding the energetics of each rune and the plants. If you feel a plant doesn’t relate to a rune listed and prefer a different plant, go for it. Follow what the Gods, Spirits, and Your Intuition tells you.

Fehu – Frankincense

Ur – Red Clover
Alternative: Maple

Thurisaz – Thistle
Alternative: Thorned plants like Blackthorn/Sloe tree, Honey Locust, etc.

Aesc/Ansuz – Ash

Raidho – Plantain

Kenaz – Tobacco

Gebo – Holly

Wunjo – Lavender

Hagal – Hellebore
Alternative: Henbane

Nauthiz – Pine Pitch

Isa – Reindeer Lichen

Jera – Straw
Alternative: Sweet Grass

Eoh – Sumbul aka Musk Root

Peorth – Mugwort

Algiz – Rosemary

Sowilu – Copal
Alternative: Daffodils, Saffron

Tiewaz – Cloves
Alternative: Wood Avens, Solomons Seal

Berkana – Oats
Alternative: Yeast

Ehwaz – Nettles

Mannaz – Rose and Hathorn

Laguz – Catnip

Ing – Patchouli

Daeg – Bay

Othala – Cedar

Ear – St Johns Wort

Ac – Oak

Ior – Water Vine
Alternative: Snake skin, Willow

Os – Mint

Yr – Sage
Alternative: Arnica

Cweorth – Marigold/Calendula

Chalc – Peony Root
Alternative: Lily, Lotus

Stan – Comfrey

Gar – Garlic

Anglo Saxon Rune Set Creation

I recently shared on Twitter that I was in the midst of a Younger Futhorc or Anglo Saxon Rune Set Creation. The responses I got were surprising and inspiring so I decided to share my experience with the creation process here.

I began my rune journey years ago, but I didn’t come by them with any natural talent. I struggled with the runes despite other forms of divination, like tarot and scrying, coming so easily to me.
I’d been reading tarot professionally for years when I took a course in divination with Galina Krasskova in 2015. I mentioned there that I struggled with the runes – something just wasn’t clicking with me. She told me I was going about it wrong – instead of trying to memorize the runes as symbols with key word meanings, I needed to see them as Spirits and honor them in that way. Once I did that, I would be in a better position to learn who They are and Their messages.
This clicked and I’ve been loving runes ever since.

Why Anglo Saxon Runes?

I began my rune journey, like many others, with the Elder Futhark Runes. They felt good and I could eventually read for myself and others. However, when I met the Younger Futhorc runes in Raven Kaldera’s books, The Pathwalker’s Guide to the Nine Worlds, I knew immediately that I needed to work with these “extra” runes as well. They just felt right in my gut.

Why Make My Own?

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the Anglo Saxon runes in my rune set. I looked for a set but none of the ones I saw online resonated with me. I was also feeling a push to go deeper – Odin’s hand on my shoulder, adding weight, and reminding me of His own difficult and harrowing rune journey. Thankfully He hasn’t asked me to suspend or hang for the runes but I needed to put more work into them.

Do you know how to carve? Do you know how to stain?
The questions from the rune poem kept repeating in my head. So I knew what I had to do – I had to make my own set.

Anglo Saxon Rune Set Creation – Materials

Initially, I thought I would make the runes from some fallen trees from our back yard – I have my pick of storm-fallen pecan, pine, beech, peach, and cedar. Nothing felt right and every time I tried to push ahead with them, something happened. Branches I’d planned to cut from went missing, chunks were accidentally acquired for firewood, I’d cut and the inside would be hallow and bug-eaten, etc. You get the point, and so did I.

Next I thought bone would work. I traded an old oracle deck and book for a goat hide and some coyote bones. The bones didn’t arrive with hide because there was a mix up, the bones we initially thought would work turned out not to yield only 31, and the coyote toe bones were too small to carve comfortable (these will be repurposed for a headdress).

Getting a little upset and annoyed by the road blocks, I thought about giving up and trying to buy a set again. I looked at Raven’s set on Mengloth’s Market and inspiration struck – or rather, Odin laughed and I got my shit together. Raven’s set is gorgeous, btw, and I would have bought if it wasn’t for this itching need to carve my own – I highly recommend this set if you are open to buying.

So stone it is. Damon has a dremel and taught me how to use it on rocks. I collected a different stone or crystal for each rune based on intuition and research. Most I had in my collection from when I was learning crystal healing (if this is something you are into, I highly recommend the work of Katrina Raphaell).

Anglo Saxon Rune Set Creation

Stones and Crystals for Each Rune

The following list is based on UPG. I connected the stones according to intuition mostly and many, I was happily surprised, had some connections with mutual key words and vibes. If you disagree or have a different stone association, go with it.

Fehu – Citrine
I had a gem quality citrine piece from back when I made jewelry. It had amazing clarity and would look beautiful in a gold necklace. It felt perfect that Fehu, the spirit of trade who loves luxury, would get one of my finest stones. Once craved and stained, I intend to paint the carved rune with gold.

Ur – Onyx
When I was learning about the runes. Ur was one that resonated strongly with me. A spirit of determination, hard labor, and primal. I loved the dark strength of onyx for this rune and when going through my collection I found a piece I could already see shaped a little like this rune.

Thurisaz – Dragons Blood Jasper
Thor is strong in this rune as well as the Thurses. This is the Berserker, the chaotic warrior that is more animal than man in action. I chose Dragons Blood Jasper, a nature green splashed with bloody red.

Aesc – Sodalite
This is one of the runes that I had a hard time finding a stone for. I went to a local shope and stood in a rune of crystals and stones. Thankfully, I was alone, and could softly galdr the rune until something jumped at me. Sodalite – specifically a piece that was part sodalite, part pyrite. I grabbed it. Later I learned that Aesc is a rune of deep rooted determination, the shielded warrior facing the oncoming hoard, a volatile spirit, the height of the World Tree with its Eagle. Sodalite grounded with Pyrite is perfect for me.

Raidho – Jade
Luck and wisdom and cleverness are needed when you are a wanderer, going wherever your feet take you. Jade lends this.

Kenaz – Golden Tiger Eye
To me this rune speaks of Illumination – a torch shining light into the dark recesses, the lamp of the psychopomp, the Duergar blacksmith that discerns what lies within the metal and with flame can bring it forward. There is nowhere to hide when this light filled eye shines upon you or your darkness. It is bright and keen.

Gebo – Emerald
I initially thought of using Chiastolite but my piece went missing and I couldn’t find another at the nearby rock shop. I chose instead an emerald that was gifted to me and felt that it being a gift and a stone of the heart and relationships and trade for many centuries made it the best choice.

Wunjo – Lepidolite
I struggled with this stone as Wunjo is not a rune I have a strong connection with. I looked at Galina’s book, Living the Runes, and saw she associates it with Lepidolite. Intrigued, I looked at my lepidolite stones and galdred the rune. It rang true – this rune of joy and ecstasy resonating with the lithium rich, mica filled stone.

Hagal – Black Labradorite Skull
When I gathered all the stones I had that could fit in my hands (not my larger pieces that would have been to big for runes) one of them was a black labradorite skull. I initially got this for my husband and it sat in a collection beneath our altar to Odin. In the charcoal colors rainbows glint. The storms of Hagal clearing the path, down to the foundations, with the blessing of What does not kill you will make you strong. Her affinity with Helheim and the stormy rainbows of labradorite were perfect even if it means I’m a little nervous about carving this one.

Nauthiz – Flint
This rune is Need-Fire. It is the bow drill bringing forth the sparks when alone in the wilderness. It is survival and what our ancestors did to ensure the species would continue. Do what you have to do, she says. Flint is much easier to add to a rune set than a bow drill.

Isa – Clear Quartz
Quartz is the ice and snow of the gemstone world. I chose a piece that looks more like it came from the arctic than any other.

Jera – Topaz
I wanted something bright for this rune that feels at home among the Lossalfheim, yet something that speaks to its cyclical nature and connection to the earth and harvest, but without the darkness of Ing. My clear-yellow topaz felt perfect.

Eoh – Amethyst
While amethyst in general didn’t feel particularly right with Eoh, this particular stone did. My husband bought it from a witch at an event we attended years ago. It was blessed and meant to be part of a power-drawing talisman, like a reservoir or battery to be used at a later date. We never did find the right piece of jewelry or altar tool to add it to. When I went over my crystals and galdred Eoh, this one jumped out loudly.

Peorth – Dumortierite
The lot cup, the connection with the Nornir, and the association with mysteries makes this one of my favorite runes to meditate on. Dumoritierite boosts psychic abilities, increases patience, aids in self mastery, and, perhaps most importantly,helps you to listen to the voices of the Divine.

Algiz – Rainbow Labradorite
Yes, I already used labradorite in another rune, one unrelated to this one sort of. Thing is Algiz is protection but also the stone I related to bridges, specifically Bifrost – the rainbow bridge, that I associate with Aurora Borealis…which I associate with Labradorite. Labradorite is a shamans stone that is protective for psychics, diviners, journeyers, and spirit workers.

Sowilu – Sunstone
I feel like this one might be a given…

Teiwaz – Tiger Iron
I have a tiger iron point in my collection that I was given in a beginner rock collection when I was a child. It looks like a large canine tooth or a bodkin arrow. It was my first pick for this rune.

Berkana – Chalcedony
I wanted something related to nurturing, nourishment, and breast health. Blue Chalcedony was the first stone to pop up in my research and it just felt perfect.

Ehwaz – Ametrine
Ametrine is the combination of Amethyst and Citrine – the piece I have looks like one dropping into the other. This rune is of the Horse – taking care of, long journeys with a destination in mind and well mapped, and more but one aspect of it is also Horsing – being ridden by a spirit or God. This combination of Horse and Rider with a stone that is 2 at once felt perfect.

Mannaz – Garnet
Initially I wanted Amegreen for this rune, but it was harder to come by a piece I resonated with.
This is the stone of mankind, relationships, two Wunjo runes kissing, mediation, marriages, and all those inter-human relationships. Garnet with its blood, passion, groundedness, and more felt perfect.

Laguz – Coral
Another one I think is a bit of a given.

Ing – Carnelion
I have piece of carnelian that just felt perfect – it is bitten all over with golden lines marking the deep red of it. It felt very strong of the Sacrifice, Blood, Offering, Sex, Seed, and Kingship related to this rune.

Daeg – Blue Goldstone
This one threw me off. When I pulled out my stones, this particular piece of dark blue flecked all over with glittery gold demanded inclusion. When I galdred Daeg, it spoke up. But it was so dark! I thought, surely I was wrong – shouldn’t Daeg be something yellow, sunny…no. this was the transformation from night to day – and, the stone said, those transformations usually include a dark night of the soul first. I’ll paint this rune with gold once I carve it so that it is better seen.

Othala – Hearth Stone
So, some of the runes demanded a bit more care in where they came from. I couldn’t just go buy a crystal and carve it. Othala was one of them. She wanted a stone that was from the home, preferably the heart. I had a piece already that would work – white granite from when the people who built this house created the exterior and parts of the interior. She was satisfied with my choice.

Ear – Gravestone
Another I couldn’t just buy. I ended up dealing with a pesky haunting because of collecting this rune – one that I sent packing with relative easy but unnerving all the same so here is your reminder to leave offerings and cleanse heavily before coming home after doing cemetery work. (Before you ask, I didn’t cleanse as early as I should have).

Ac – Petrified Wood
Ac is the Oak tree, the Forest Jotun, Angrboda is her friend. If petrified wood cannot be found – iron wood, oak, or other very strong wood should be used. A piece of a wooden weapon or a bo staff is also good.

Ior – Serpentine
This rune so closely related to the Midgard Serpent Jormangandr needed to be something snake related. I initially wanted snakeskin jasper but the piece of serpentine that I found was perfect.

Os – Laps Lazuli
I connect this rune with Odin, lips wet with the mead of poetry, as well as Bragi with his rune carved tongue dripping honeyed apple wine and blood. For such divine communication, I chose regal Lapis Lazuli.

Yr – Bog Iron
This is the rune of the craftsman and archer so I chose Iron. Initially I planned on perhaps a piece of blacksmithed iron from my husband’s workings or perhaps a bodkin arrow that’s been dulled down. Instead I got something closer to home – marsh iron from near where I live. The kind of iron our ancestors would have pulled from to make some of their weapons.

Cweorth – Basalt
Fiery lava rock that speaks of fire and ashes is perfect for the rune of the funeral pyre.

Chalc – Moonstone
The fae like chalice matched up with my milky-white moonstone well.

Stan – Keystone or Cornerstone
Another piece of pretty gray granite, this one taken from a foundation stone of the house we live in.

Gar – Arrowhead or Spearhead
A piece of napped stone too large to be an arrow head but too broken to confirm it was a spear. Speaks of handmade weapons, former sharpness, slicing through the membrane separating us from the Gods.

Where Do I Go From Here?

I’ve picked and gathered my stones. Now I will carve them while galdring and make an offering to each one. The offerings will include home brewed mead or mugwort ale (depending on how it turns out), blood, and an herb associated with each rune. The herbs will then be combined into a pellet incense (similar to and inspired by kyphi which is a pellet incense with a honey, fruit, and wine base). I will share my herb associations and incense recipe in a later post.

Have you made your own rune set? How did you choose the material?
What is your favorite Anglo Saxon Rune Set resource?
Please comment below!