What Constitutes ‘Advanced’ Learning in the Pagan and Heathen Sphere?

Something that has been at the forefront of my mind is the idea of ‘advanced’ practices in the Pagan and Heathen community, specifically what exactly constitutes ‘advanced’. Now obviously my own experiences thus far can hardly be classified as ‘mastering the basics’ however as far as my own studies and practices are concerned I do think that my current knowledge is sufficient to at least speculate and hypothesise on what exactly might be classified as ‘advanced’.

One of the first things that I would like to get out of the way is the idea that one thing can be more advanced than another, particularly when it comes to dealing with things that do not come from an academically inclined, hierarchy based, western thought process. As far as I am concerned, and for the purposes of this particular discourse, the idea of advanced is going to be considered based around the following expression of what ‘not-advanced’ is: non advanced or basic is counted as being something that a person with no knowledge of or experience with the subject can be reasonably expected to be able to understand and, where appropriate, do without much difficulty.

Based on that understanding of what non-advanced is, the next step is to take a specific subject to be learning, in this case I’m going to take the Elder Futhark Runes.

Runes have a clear first step for making something about them ‘advanced’ and that is simply to have the text or knowledge being learnt from be written entirely in runes. A person capable of studying the runes at a more advanced level should easily have memorised all of the Elder Futhark and be able to read a text written in runes, even taking into account the possible variety of ways to spell certain words or groups of words. The next most logical step for an advanced rune study would be to look at each of the runes in a far greater depth than previously done, which isn’t as straight forward as it sounds. To look deeper at an individual rune means tapping into more than just its representations or correspondences, its means going past the the symbol and touching the raw essence of the rune – for example with Kenaz, going past the safe representations that are put forward for your use in a basic book of runes and going straight to the source of Kenaz, to the source of the fire and heat that it draws upon.

Another way in which runes could be studied at an advanced level is by taking the idea of bind-runes and rune-wards and making the methodology more complex, making bind-runes of an extremely specific nature out of even greater numbers of runes. Making rune-wards not just with a single sentence or phrase but with a block of text or complete poem.

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