Monday, 21 June 2010

A Midsummer Night's Scheme

Ok, we have decided that today, being Midsummers Day would symbolically be a great day to get the website online and working. So our web design department (i.e. me) is going to be working flat out to get all the shopping cart links working for each item we currently sell.
It's quite a time consuming task so it may turn out to be a vain attempt, but if we can possibly do it, then the website will be up and running tonight.

Then the business of marketing and advertising really takes centre stage.

So in the absence of any meaningful blogging today, instead we post some examples of the type of items we will be selling....

Happy Midsummers

The Silver Bough

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Saturday night's alright for flyting...

Flyting and Loki

The Lokasenna

Another foray from our own developments into the land of the Gods and their ways. An amusing distraction.
Flyting was a sport of the gods, also a means of non physically violent combat. A battle of wits and insults. Odin has his moment with Thor (one must wonder what kind of a father he was!) at the ferry crossing but the Flyting champion must be Loki.

Now half of our team finds Loki the far superior and most interesting and misunderstood of the gods. Although he is a trickster and wildfire and chaos by nature of birth, he is used and abused by the other gods, blamed for their own indiscretions and mistakes. They turned to him in times when their lesser wits left them trapped and only Loki's cunning and guile could remove their obstacles and foes. When it went wrong, guess who got the blame? Ask for advice and take it, then blame yourself not your advisor.

Here we enter the delightful and often rude, Lokasenna. Whereby having been rebuked and denied access to a feast, he appears, after killing one of the serving men for having received praise. He meets up with the other serving man and demands access. Upon entering he is finally allowed to sit due to his 'blood brothership' with Odin. From then on...


'Do you remember, Odin, when in bygone days
we mixed our blood gether?
You said you would never drink ale
unless it were brought to both of us.'

'Get up then, Vidar, and let the wolf's father
sit at the feast
lest Loki speak words of blame to us
in Aegir's hall.'

This gains Loki acceptance to the table.
Loki's insults run from calling Braggi (the god of poetry) a bench ornament and a coward, to accusing Braggi's innocent and kind wife of 'being man crazy', to accusing Freya of sleeping with her brother, being caught by the gods and farting in bed.

These insults are amusing and wicked. The retorts often awkward and embarrassed, covering Loki's insults with excuses and aiming vitriol at Loki's own past 'evil' deeds. Does Loki back down? No, he embraces their comebacks with elegance and wit, denying nothing.

The end result: Thor, who does not seem to acknowledge the sacred tradition of not shedding blood or of physical violence in a place where food and drink are taken, threatens Loki with Mjolnir, his hammer, and thus Loki, being no fool, quits the hall. Unfortunately with soon to be dire consequences for himself.

Excellent reading and puts the gods in the light of fallibility and shows them as the wayward beings that they were... Almost human, we'd say.

(Source - The Poetic Edda).

Rune of the day


Modern letter - W

Wunjo signifies Joy, A rune associated with Freyja, the goddess of love. It can mean positive change.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Sayings of Odin

In the absence of any interesting activity to do with the business, we thought we'd share some of Odin's sayings from the Poetic Edda. For an old Norse dude, he made some pretty relevant observations on human behaviour.

The foolish man thinks he will live for ever,
if he keeps away from fighting;
but old age won't grant him a truce
even if the spears do.

A man shouldn't hold onto the cup but drink mead in moderation,
it's necessary to speak or be silent;
no man will blame you for impoliteness
if you go early to bed.

He's a wretched man, of an evil disposition,
the one who makes fun of everything;
he doesn't know the one thing he ought to know:
that he himself is not devoid of faults.

It's a great detour to a bad friend's house,
even though he lives on the route;
but to a good friend's the ways lie straight,
even though he lives far off.

To his friend a man should be a friend
and repay gifts with gifts;
laughter a man should give for laughter
and repay treachery with lies.

Not very much need a man give,
often you get praise for a little;
with half a loaf and a tilted cup
I've got myself a companion.
-Sayings of The High One (Poetic Edda)

Thursday, 17 June 2010

A hard day at the office

In expectation of orders, we needed to stock up on pebbles for rune sets. Where to go? We can't continue to only pillage The Hollow Ponds in Epping Forest and therefore decided: Where is a good source of beautiful smooth pebbles?
Of course, the seaside. Therefore a day trip (despite aches and pains, and we know you all sympathise) to Winchelsea Beach in Sussex.

A trove of pebble fantasties! Though very windy and with a rough Channel a wonderful search for the most interesting and perfect pebbles we could find, including some for new ideas.
We believe we brought back half the beach. Good ballast for the car driving home in the winds.

Not only have we found pebbles which hopefully will make wonderful and beautiful rune sets, we found pebbles with actual natural 'runemarks'. And, yes a few we just liked for ourselves including a beautiful geode. And for our own amusement built towers of pebbles, four of which were still standing when we left.

The rune pebbles are of types we are accustomed to, although as worn by the waves, these pebbles have a unique smoothness to them and shape which fits so well in the hand. Very tactile. Having the beach primarily to ourselves made the experience more amazing. Though we feel like pebble poachers!

Expectations are rising as the launch date looms.
We've found a bag supplier for the rune sets who very generously sent us a sample and so far we are very happy with this. As tactile as the pebbles and easily carried with the runes fitting generously for easy access.
These rune pebbles will be made from the pebbles of the southeastern coast of England. They are infused with the sea and the feeling of of the island and Europe across the Channel. We look forward to sorting them and working on them. We hope you will be pleased.

Rune of the day


Modern letter - G

Gebo signifies a Gift, referring to both giving of oneself and receiving. A blessing on relationships.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010


Joanne Harris’ Runemarks is a marvel. Melding her amazing imagination with references to The Prose Edda and Poetic Edda, she has captured the personification of the Norse ‘Gods’ along with the importance of Rune Lore. Her depiction of the Aesir and Vanir as fallible with virtues and faults, with humour and remarkable style has adhered to the original prose while adding her own take on their futures after Ragnarok.
The influence of Runes in Runemarks brings an individuality and true authenticity to the use of Runes as more than an alphabet but as an ancient mystic tool. Dismiss most previous stereotypes of the ‘Gods’ through modern culture and modern ‘belief systems’ and meet them as they were: flawed, true and a strange and very special ‘dysfunctional’ family who will take you in.
Rune of the day


Modern letter = C/K

Kenaz signifies a torch, light after a period of darkness. Order from chaos, creative fire.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

The Icelandic Rune Poem

The Icelandic Runic Poem, which is supposed to date from the fifteenth century, consists of sixteen short stanzas dealing in succession with the letter names of the Scandinavian Runic alphabet.
Each of these stanzas contain three Kennings (The descriptive phrases used instead of nouns in old Scandinavian poetry, e.g. "Sea-Steed" to mean "ship").

Here are the first three stanzas as a "taster"...

Fé er frænda róg.........Wealth
ok flæðar viti................source of discord among kinsmen
ok grafseiðs gata.........and fire of the sea
aurum fylkir................and path of the serpent.

Úr er skýja grátr........Shower
ok skára þverrir..........lamentation of the clouds
ok hirðis hatr...............and ruin of the hay-harvest
umbre vísi....................and abomination of the shepherd.

Þurs er kvenna kvöl......Giant
ok kletta búi....................torture of women
ok varðrúnar verr..........and cliff-dweller
Saturnus þengill..............and husband of a giantess.

Rune of the day


Modern letter - R

Raidho signifies a Journey, implying not just physical travel, but a quest for spiritual enlightenment.

Monday, 14 June 2010

The Runes

Today we would like to give a short description explaining the three main runic systems that we have drawn inspiration from when creating our jewellery and rune sets.

The Elder Futhark

The Elder Futhark is the oldest form of the runic alphabet, used by Germanic tribes of the 2nd to 8th centuries for inscriptions on artifacts such as jewellery, amulets, tools, weapons and runestones.
Unlike the Younger Futhark, which remained in use until modern times, the knowledge of how to read the Elder Futhark was forgotten, and it was not until 1865 that the Norwegian scholar Sophus Bugge managed to decipher it.

The Younger Futhark

The Younger Futhark came into use in Scandinavia around the eighth century, when changes in the Old Norse language required corresponding changes to the runic alphabet. The number of runes was reduced from 24 to 16 and several runes came to represent multiple sounds.
'th' was used for þ and ð; 'u' for u and o; 'k' for k, g, and ng; 'i' for i and e; 't' for t and d; and 'b' for b and p. The new letter, 'r', was originally used for an 'er-like' sound in Old Nordic but became y in later Scandinavian languages.


For her novel Runemarks, best selling author Joanne Harris uses a slightly altered version of the Younger Futhark, while incorporating some elements of the Elder Runes.

Rune of the day


Modern Letter - A

Ansuz signifies Ash, Yggdrasil, The World Tree. The Asa-Gods, The Aesir. Divine inspiration.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Taliesan and The Silver Bough

The poets (fili) were part of the caste of the druid class (scholars, priests, judges, etc). These fili were closely in touch with the Otherworld. The chief symbol or regalia of their office was the musical bough which they carried in their possession. The highest order of this class, the Ollamh, was entitled to a golden bough, an Anruth (second highest) a silver bough and finally the lower classes, a bronze bough. These branches were hung with bells which rang when they rode or entered a hall, disposing listeners to attend to their songs, stories and mystical revelations.
The most famous of the Anruth was Taliesan. Although according to legend he was made the Chief Olamh and head of the Council by his foster grandfather/father Gwynudd, he did not carry the golden bough but preferred the silver bough.
Thus through the symbolism of the Silver Bough, it's attending cycles of song, poetry, story and mysticism our company The Silver Bough adopts it's name.
And it is pronounced Bough not boff! :D

The Silver Bough today is brought to you by the letter... th
and the number...9

Rune of the day


Modern Letter - th

Thurisaz signifies the thorn, a symbol linked to Thor and his hammer. A defence against enemies, security, protection.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

The power of stone

It was said by Jan Fries, author of Helrunar, that people should make their own rune sets. We agree, and yet we don't. We decided as a unique idea to make our pebble rune sets. To date, all pebbles have been hand picked from Epping Forest. The size, shape and type of stone are important. The carving technique is not in and of itself difficult, although we go through two bits per set.

The pebble sets are tactile. The weight feels right in one's hand. The natural variations in the individual pebbles add beauty and a natural 'power' to the sets. We choose each pebble as we feel is appropriate to the various runes.

Although gathering pebbles and carving the runes is time consuming, we feel that these sets are worth the effort as they truly are things of beauty. Whether your interest is casting runes, or simply putting them on display in a bowl they are things of wonder.

Most other rune sets have been created according to modern guidelines. Often these sets contain a 'blank' rune which was never used in the ancient runic systems. The descriptions of the meanings are often loosely based on authentic runic lore, however are also often infused with a more 'new agey' twist.

Our pebbles are based on the Elder and Younger Futhark and we also do a set based on Joanne Harris' own interpretation from her best selling novel Runemarks (which in itself is based on the ancient systems).

The carving, as opposed to painting, in a hard natural material adds to the authenticity of these rune sets.

Rune of the day


Modern letter - U

Uruz signifies the wild ox, which is usually seen as a symbol for strength, power and primal force. It can also mean a renewal, as in out with the old and in with the new.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Runes - Jewellery, symbols, or both?

Contemplating Orders and filling them. Also contemplating our perfection factor.

One must realise that runes are not high street bling. They are representative of the myths and history of ancient cultures. They are not meant to be perfect but individual pieces with individual feeling behind each rune pendant or rune set. These are items to be worn or used in daily life, although as they are quite elegant in their way (for men or women) they are at home with nothing on at all or with evening dress.

We don't infuse the pieces or sets with anything more than the dedication and belief in our work and that which we replicate in the symbols. The actual infusion or 'activation' (if you must get a bit, say, technical) is up to the owner... or not, as the case may be.
A rune is as much a mystical or sacred symbol as it is a thing of beauty. As they represent letters, they can simply reflect the owner's name. Though we hope our 'friends' look at the rune charts and reflect on a rune's meaning, which resonates.

We will sell the pendants on adjustable cords as we feel these complement the rune to its best advantage. Having worn my 'Kaen' on a chain for weeks, I have found the cord to be more 'comfortable' and appropriate, however this is our taste, it is not everyones. We can source chains for our customers if they so wish, although the best source we have found so far is in the USA, so there might be a slight delay in at least the shipping of the chains.

Runes and the stone rune sets are not just jewellery, or even symbols. They are hopefully our own art and things of beauty to be displayed proudly.

Rune of the day


Modern letter - F

Fehu signifies 'cattle', which is a strong symbol for wealth and prosperity. A source of food, stability, security and growth.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

With a little help from our friends

We are discovering that by simple enquiries we have developed excellent contacts (including friends) and cooperation from various suppliers.
The Silver Bough will include a prominent link to our friend Joanne's magnificent book, Runemarks (a great inspiration to us) and the sequel which fingers crossed shall be out very very soon! Joanne has offered to link The Silver Bough site to her website.

The publisher of Helrunar (by Jan Fries), a comprehensive reference book to the history, mythology, meaning and use of runes from prehistory to present has also said he will post a link to The Silver Bough on the Mandrake Publishing website along with the very kind offer of an online discount to our 'visitors'.

When enquiring about sundries (bags, cords, etc) we have found the cooperation of suppliers very enheartening. It proves that there is pride in quality and in customer service. The last offer of a sample of a velvet bag has been gratefully received. As our goal is top quality and prime customer service, we are sourcing only the best packaging and findings/cords we can.
Still waiting for a sample of goat suede which is currently out of stock. This is a very fine and soft suede which we hope will be ideal for the adjustable cords which we are including with our rune pendants. Unfortunately it seems that goats are extinct as weeks later they have not been able to restock. Maybe men have been staring at them too much.

We press on...

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Planes, trains and shopping cart pains

So today is all about getting the shipping options right for deliveries.

We have decided to use PayPal shopping cart for our shop, but that has thrown up a small problem.
Because we are selling items that cost various amounts and have various weights, we obviously need different postage amounts as well...
Which is fine, until you get to the fact that we will need different postage rates for the UK, Europe and the USA (Yes, we are going to be international ;o) ).
Rather bizarrely in my view, PayPal doesn't give you an option with its shopping cart to charge different shipping rates depending on the location of the customer. Sigh...
I found this hard to believe, so I e-mailed them and sure enough, they confirmed this sorry state of affairs.

Still, all is not yet lost. I think I have found a way around this problem by utilising a third party piece of shopping cart software as a go between.
So today's task is simply to try this out and input the necessary shipping options we want and see if I can generate the magical html code needed for our "add to cart" buttons...
Then it's just a small matter of doing this individually for every item we currently sell. Gulp...
Where's that coffee?

The Silver Bough

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

A tough job

It's proving to be a longer process than we thought (starting a business). The majority of the setting up is done, but the fine tuning takes an age.
Still, we are getting closer to getting the site launched. We just need to set up the correct shipping options, then it's just a case of ordering in some velvet bags of high quality, and some leather cord to hang the pendants from. (We are thinking "goat").
Other than that, a few more photographs need to be taken and then we'll be ready to roll.

More soon!

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