Runebraiding for Protesters

Yeah, it’s been over a year since I posted. And? 😛 Let’s just focus on the issue: there are huge protests happening all over the country, and the police and national administrative response have been…well. Such that it’s a good time for people to break out their protective spells.

So I wanted to share a technique I’ve had great success with in the past, that you can put to use very quickly with a minimum of materials. “Runebraiding” is the term I coined for charging lengths of string with runes and then braiding them together, making a different sort of bindrune. I have no evidence of it being traditional, but it uses two very traditional ancient powers–threadcraft and runecraft–and is effective, so that’s good enough for me.

And no, really, here’s all you need: some string, something to cut string with, one piece of tape, and either a pen or a bit of magical ink, or your blood.



I’m using a silk and wool blend I got in a “yarn of the month” club and can’t wear because wool itches. Natural fibers in symbolically relevant colors are awesome, but really, any string will do.



The first step is to cut some lengths of string. I prefer to measure for this with the body: the tip of your middle finger to the tip of your elbow is a good length if you’re only going to tie knots in the ends. If you’re going to throw in a nine knot spell you’ll want more length, especially if you still want any chance at all of also wearing it–double the lengths if you want to do that. You need at least three, but you can have more if you have fancy braid knowledge and want to add more than three runes.

2-cut some

For the purposes of being safe at protests, I’m going to suggest the following three runes. (We’ll talk about how to change this up, if you want to, in a bit.) First will be URUZ, for strength and endurance.

First, you lay it out in the shape of the rune, like so (left)

and then use your pen or a drop of ink or blood to mark each bend you need to make the rune shape (right). Uruz is easy to make with string, and it takes two marks.

3-uruz shape4-marking uruz






Once you have the rune marked, finish charging it into the string by slowly intoning its name over it three times. “Uruz. Uruz. Uruz.” Focus on the strength and endurance it’s there to give you. When you’re done intoning the rune, you can put the first string aside.

The second, NAUTHIZ, represents need–the need for systemic change, in our case. Because it’s not normally drawn with one continual line, it’s a little trickier, but here’s how I do it.

5.5-marking nauthiz

Here you’re going to mark the middle of the top loop, the middle of the bottom loop, and the two places where the ends cross the middle (each on both pieces, the crossing end and the place where it crosses the body). Six marks in all.


6-holding nauthizI suggest stretching out the loops like this (right) as you intone “Nauthiz.” It makes the real shape of the rune clearer to see.

Focus on the things that need changed, and how fervently we need and want those changes. This rune is “a warning, if heeded.” Imagine that warning going out to the people who need to be paying better attention.





The third rune has two popular names, ALGIZ or ELHAZ. Intone whichever one you like. Here it is laid out.

7-elhazThis is another tricky one. At the top end are two loops and the short end. Mark the tops of the two loops, the points at which they cross the body, and the place on the body where they cross. (They both cross at the same point, so this makes five points in all.)

This is a protective rune: its purpose is to make it hard to grab hold of you, and uncomfortable for anyone who tries. If you’re worried about arrest or police brutality, this rune is a must-have no matter what else you do to personalize this charm, IMHO.



Intone it three times, like the other two. Here it is held out into its proper shape.8-holding elhaz

Before we move on to braiding, a few words about other rune options. You might consider adding any of these, or swapping out one of the main three for something else if your primary concern isn’t protest safety. For example:

*try Ansuz to speak or write more eloquently about the issues, to be heard better, etc

*Othala to protect your home and property, or to create sanctuary space for people in trouble or distress

*Berkana to sustain yourself and others and to promote healing

*Sowilo to sustain hope and prevent burnout

*and/or Tiwaz to invoke justice.

Once all your strings are marked and charged, you’re ready to make the braid. Tape down the ends (left) and make whatever kind of braid strikes your fancy, keeping your focus on your intent as you work. A spell chant or a protest song would go nicely here: I went with a nice, simple “Hey hey, ho ho, this Nazi shit has got to go.” Go until you’re about to run out of the shortest string (right).

9-taped up10-braid it


If you’re stopping at a braid, all that’s left to do is to tie off the ends (left). I’ve shown my braid at this point draped over my wrist (right) to show that, if you did one fingertip-to-elbow length, this should be about right to wear as a bracelet. You can also carry it or whatever.

11-one knot12-two knots bracelet length







OR… as you tie the first end, you can say,

“By knot of one, the spell’s begun.”

And then when you tie the other end, say,

“By knot of two, it cometh true.”

And then proceed through the rest of the Nine Knots Charm:

“By knot of three, so mote it be.

By knot of four, the spell I store.

By knot of five, the spell’s alive.

By knot of six, the spell I fix.

By knot of seven, the stars of heaven.

By knot of eight, the hand of Fate.

By knot of nine, the thing is mine!”


…But before you do that, know that knots eat up length MUCH more than braiding does, so if you do this at the one fingertip-to-elbow length, you will end up around here:

13-nine knots

…at which point wearing is about out as an option, but you can carry it in your purse or pocket. If you want any hope of wearing it, I really recommend the two fingertip-to-elbow length to start.


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