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RUNES, ROOTS, RECONCILIATION. Equal parts spiritual meditation, collaborative interpretation, and poetic exposition, A Prairie Rune explores the mysteries of the Old English / Anglo Saxon futhorc (rune poem) from a contemporary Christian Animist perspective. Blahut and Sanford Beck, after 30 years of friendship, write from their experiences of growing and living embedded within the beauty and sacredness of Treaty Six Territory, while wrestling with the painful inheritance of settler colonization. Together, they confront this unsettling history as settlers, and in the roots of their own mother tongue. The strange effect of their companion dialogue, side by side, means to leave readers at once poetically mystified and humbled before the land and the People of the Land. Through a reading of the runes, the text oscillates between prose and poetry—probing the deep realities of language, culture, and spirituality—and invites readers to delve along with them into a magical and grace-filled experience of life on the northern prairies, here on Turtle Island.

The Rev. Shawn Sanford Beck is an ecumenical priest living and working on Treaty Six Territory from St. Andrew's College, Saskatoon. He blogs occasionally on WordPress about his ecosophian practice. You may also find conversations over his green priestcraft posted to YouTube. He has previously published a short monograph, entitled Christian Animism, found here.

Christopher Sanford Beck (ed.) studied Creative Writing and Philosophy at the University of Victoria and now works on traditional, ancestral, and unceded Musqueam territory at the Vancouver School of Theology. You can find a taste of his literary writing in Over/Exposed and a full-course of his work on moral philosophy in The Artubus Review. Christopher was recently named a Rhodes Finalist. As is the indelible nature of all who study poetry and philosophy, he is knowingly amid that discovery of who he is and what he is doing.

Darcy Blahut lives and works as a public servant with the Saskatchewan Health Authority (on Treaty Six Territory) near the northern boreal forest. His literary CV spans forms of poetry, children’s story, long fiction, and dramaturgy. Several of his poems, grounded in a Catholic patristic tradition, have been taken up as libretti by a host of international composers. For Darcy, "the privilege of co-authoring A Prairie Rune extends beyond friendship ... as this gathering of three has ended with epistemological open-heartedness to a world in such need."

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This book is unlike anything I’ve ever read. If I’m honest, I originally thought, “What? How can something from the ancient Norse and Saxon ‘Pagan World’ have anything to do with the ‘New World’ of North America/Canada?” However, reading the wonderful introduction soon enlightened me to my preconceptions and biases.

It was, of course, the descendants of the original Anglo-Saxons who made the New World their home. Alongside this, weave in the fact that the Indigenous peoples of those lands had deeply nature-based spiritual practices and traditions that complemented and harmonised with those of Pagan Northern Europe far more than the imported faith of imperial Christianity. So why not take these mysterious divinatory (shamanic) pieces of marked wood or stone, and reinterpret them according to the treasures of the New World?

This is what the authors have done here, and they have done so with honesty, humility, and humanity. I think you will find what follows to be a treasure trove of ancient and modern wisdom, with a new and profound twist.

—Rev. Mark Townsend, author of Jesus Through Pagan Eyes (Priest outside the box, magician, druid, and all-round spiritual misfit!) Celebrant's Home


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What are the roots of settler toxicity? What allowed ‘Anglo’ settlers in particular to inflict such horrendous harm to Indigenous peoples and this land? A Prairie Rune is a sincere and loving attempt to go back to the ancient roots of Anglo culture, to understand and take back their connection to the land and their spiritual roots through meditations on the runes. Settlers and Indigenous peoples alike should read and meditate on what is offered herein. Maybe we can come just a little bit closer to true reconciliation.

—Beth Cuthand, author of Voices in the Waterfall (Storyteller, poet, and priest) Wiki Entry


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"It is to find a language that we set our course," the authors write in the second stanza of “Rad”. This search for root utterance, for a human response to place, pervades A Prairie Rune. These oracular lines and personal commentary, founded on deep listening to the images and worldview of the Old English Rune Poem, yield to the sweep of a northern landscape that shrinks the human to an appropriate scale. It is here, in our world of elemental experience, that the authors find “the promise of return / when first we set / into the dark."

—Dean Easton (Druid, blogger, and medievalist) A Druid Way Blog