More on the Vanic Soul Map

Casting cloth & soul map

This week, I’m going to talk a bit more on my casting cloth/soul map. I use this both for regular rune (and hopefully soon ogham!) castings, as well as for a more detailed soul-map reading. When casting runes, I’ll usually take a handful and toss them on the cloth, then interpret them in relation to whichever elemental quarter they occupy. If a rune happens to land smack in the center of one of the tribal circles, then I’ll pay extra attention to it, and consider it to be advice either coming from that Tribe, or pertaining to an area of life “ruled over” by said Tribe. So for example, finding othala in the Bull circle would indicate that there needs to be a focus on the hearth and home, also perhaps establishing boundaries or paying attention to right action in relation to family and/or community.

For a more detailed reading, I use a modified version of Kaldera’s soul map system, focusing on how the Vanic Tribes can manifest their influences on the body-soul complex.*  I’ve expanded a couple of groupings since I use 19 tribes (whereas Kaldera has 17 positions), as well as rearranged some other associations. So far, though, it’s been working out nicely, and still serves as a good diagnostic tool despite the change in flavor.

The map can be divided into five regions, four elemental, and one central axis. The Core gives an overall look at the health of an individual; the Elemental regions provide details on four major areas of a person’s being. These are as follows:

Vertical Axis—The Core
Cat: the astral body
Bull: the physical body & well being, health.
Boar: the higher self, connection to the divine

Earth Tribes—Blood & Bone
Serpent: chi/energy flow; the unconscious, possible unhealed wounds which may affect the situation
Frog: vitality, ability to self-heal, adaptability
Goose: lineage, effects your ancestors may have upon the present situation
Hare: creativity, sexuality, lust for life

Water Tribes—The Dreaming Sea
Salmon: wyrd & fate, not limited to ancestral
Swan: ability to achieve mystical union
Seal: the emotions, empathic ability
Otter: balance

Air Tribes—The Wind-Honed Blade
Eagle: the intellect, mind
Crane: the will, discipline
Owl: woo, innate psychic ability
Raven: memory

Fire Tribes—Hearth & Embers
Deer: guiding spirits
Ram: honor, reputation
Horse: what sort of path you’ve made for yourself and how fast you’re riding down it
Bee: luck

As to the stones used to diagnose each aspect of the map, my numbers are basically the same, but I thought I would dowse for them independently just to check (since this was the method Kaldera originally used to determine how many he should use). The only changes are one more normal stone, and two more wyrd ones. That leaves us with 19 normal stones, 5 weak, 6 exceptional, 6 blocked, 7 wyrd,** and 1 missing or void.

The procedure for a reading is much the same: a person draws a stone for each Tribal position to diagnose the level of health in that area. If there are areas which are blocked or wyrd (or otherwise require further explanation), a rune or card is then drawn to try to clarify the situation.

I’ve only used the soul map a handful of times now, but I find it much more intuitive for my wiring than the original version (which is hardly surprising, I suppose). For other who have asked about running with this idea, I found Juniper’s writings on how she went about creating her casting collection to be most helpful when it comes to creating divination systems—it gave me the impetus to take a great idea that I loved but couldn’t quite mesh with, and make the changes necessary to let it work with my wiring, my worldview.

I hope other folks will be inspired to make their own systems, whether based on Kaldera’s, Juniper’s, or completely from their own bag. I love seeing what works for different people and I’m glad I’ve finally come to the point in my own studies where I’ve been able to branch out (sorry, druid pun!) and do the same.

—A.V.

*Disclaimer: it should be noted that this is not channeled material (i.e. not THE ONE TRUE PATH!), but a creative work in progress—take that for what you will.

**While I basically agree with Kaldera’s definitions for the stone categories, I am a big believer in wyrd not being a fixed and inevitable track—even if gods or wights are involved, there is always a choice. So I see the wyrd stones as being indicators of divine influence or proddings, rather than an inescapable fate.

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