Finding My Wunjo

I’m always coming up with new things to learn, new ideas to explore, new hobbies to pursue. Some time ago I began reading and studying Norse mythologies, found it fascinating, and went on to purchase a set of black obsidian runes. Now I’m learning the runic alphabet, as well as the sounds, symbols and interpretations for each of the 24 runes of the Elder Futhark. It’s an interesting subject.

On one particular day recently, I was studying the rune known as wunjo. Here’s how it is drawn:

Some rune authorities claim that this represents a weather vane, and among the resulting interpretations is the idea of a favorable wind blowing. In other words, this is a pleasant rune. According to some it foretells the arrival of good news. Other meanings associated with wunjo include: strong relationships, fellowship, cooperation, family ties, and essentially all things joyful. This rune is usually referred to as joy and happiness.

I was, however, finding neither joy nor happiness as I sat at my drawing table that morning. Since getting those lovely acrylic inks recently, I’ve been eager to try out a lot of different methods for using them. Now, don’t laugh when I say this — those who have read this blog for a long time will understand what I’m saying here — but I decided to try dip pens.

Yes. You read that right. Now, newcomers to the blog might want to skip back to September 2019 to read about my catastrophic attempt in using dip pens back then. I tried, and I failed miserably. Or you can check out another of my miserable ink-dipping failures here. Again, I tried, but dip pens and I didn’t do well together. Of course, I chalked it all up to a good learning experience. What did I learn? Simple. I learned not to try using dip pens!

But then, along came those acrylic inks, and maybe… well, yeah, right. It was a crazy idea, but I convinced myself that maybe using dip pens with acrylic inks would be a lot of fun. At this point, though, I had no idea where to find that Speedball set I’d bought two years ago. I made a cursory search, didn’t find pen-holders or nibs, shrugged, and placed a new order with Amazon.

When the new set arrived a few days later, I picked it up, put it with my inks, and already I was feeling a little apprehensive. I probably wouldn’t have much better luck with a dip pen now than I did two years ago.

I was right. For some reason I just don’t seem capable of using a dip pen for art. In frustration, I came to the computer and looked up a video. It looks so easy here, right?

Well, it wasn’t easy for me. I fussed around a bit, finally wondered if maybe the problem was the acrylic ink — it wasn’t, by the way — then went to the studio to grab a bottle of black India ink. I tried a couple different nibs, and I finally managed to get a few lines written.

“Why am I torturing myself with a dip pen?”

“Why am I torturing myself with a dip pen?”

“Why am I torturing myself with a dip pen?”

Yep. I asked myself that question over and over as I continued writing it out, over and over. And gradually my words became a little more legible, my lines a little more fluid. Now, don’t misunderstand! I’m still not good with a dip pen, but at least I was making marks on the page. That was an improvement in itself.

So, next, feeling a bit of wunjo, I drew the rune symbol at the top of another page. Beside it, I slowly wrote out its name. W U N J O. Then, feeling pleased with myself, I moved the pen nib down on the page and started doodling, scribbling in a tree and truly having fun making lots of fine lines going this way and that. It was a joyous moment, indeed, especially when I started scribbling lots of leaves. It was a bit childish… well, it was a lot childish. Just scribbles. But fun scribbles. With a dip pen!

I kept right on scribbling until I’d scribbled all the way to the top of the page. Then I grabbed a sea sponge, poured out a bit of green acrylic ink, and added leaves to the tree. I added a touch of yellow acrylic ink, too. Just dabbing here and there and having a lot of fun.

I laughed a bit at the thought of covering up my rune study, but realized that if I looked, I could still find my wunjo there among the branches. For me, that became somewhat symbolic. If we’re willing to look, we can find joy, even in the most unexpected places.

Yes, it’s really just a lot of scribbles, but it was also a lot of fun. This childish drawing made me happy, and sometimes that’s all a piece of art needs to do. And along with giving me a chance to play with a dip pen and inks, it reminded me, too, that joy is everywhere around us. May you find your wunjo today and every day!




  1. Do you truly believe it’s a childish drawing? Or is it a beautiful tree made with free and graceful marks? Rejoice in the accidental beauty as much as you feel rewarded by a painting you struggle to produce! Wunjo—joyful–did I get that right?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes 🙂 Wunjo is anything joyful, and you’re right, I should rejoice in all that I draw. For me, the idea of looking through these leaves and seeing “wunjo” — barely visible — is very symbolic. We can find happiness if we’re willing to look.


  2. So, I followed that link to your first try at dip pens ( I’ve never used such things; admittedly had to look up what they were…pretty out-of-touch with Art, here 😳) and I don’t think it was a failure. I think it looked kinda cool!

    Also, Norse mythology is fascinating. I feel quite connected to it. And I LOVE runes! I hope you enjoy yours 🙂 I still have a set that I made myself out of clay many years ago. I love how you can write secret messages with runes, too. (I still do that occasionally!)

    Lastly, your ” scribble” tree is great. It doesn’t even look childish to me. But it does look joyful! I love how the “wunjo” is partially hidden within the branches. It makes me feel that the tree is infused with a type of magic. It actually looks to me like it would be at home in a deck of oracle cards, perhaps. Love it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Norse mythology is interesting, indeed! I had a lot of problems connecting with the runes at first, and then I bought a different set. The first set was Tiger’s Eye, and I just didn’t “feel” any connections. Now I have a black obsidian set, and from the moment I first held them, I was feeling their power and hearing their voice.

      I did buy a set of rune oracle cards, and I’ve thought about making a set of my own. If I do, this “wunjo tree” will be included.

      As for dip pens, I have problems getting the right amount of ink and getting it to flow smoothly. Instead of a “dip” pen, for me it’s more of a “drip” pen. I’ll keep at it though. I do enjoy drawing with ink and then using my Japanese gansai to add color, plus all those acrylic inks I now have are a lot of fun, too. There’s so much I want to do!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ooh, Obsidian runes. Nice. Sometimes i think it’s got a lot to do with who made them/ how they’re made, too. Glad you found some that feel right 🙂

        I think creating an oracle deck would be a really great idea. Go for it, I say! I am in the process of designing my own Tarot deck ( or..was…I’ve been having a little break from it). It’s a huge undertaking, but a satisfying one. The beauty of an oracle deck is that YOU get to choose the themes- as well as how many cards you want in the deck! ( I kinda wish I’d done that first… oh well..)

        Glad to hear that you’ll be doing more ink stuff. I love the look of ink, but find it fairly intimidating to approach( it can be expensive, too), so at this point I’m happy to live vicariously through other people’s inky experiments 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m excited about your Tarot deck! Are you doing all 78 cards or only the Major Arcana? Many years ago (long before I started learning to draw) I created my own “Rainbow” Tarot for the Major Arcana, just making childish stick figure drawings with lots of colors — hence the name “Rainbow”. Tell me more about your deck, please!

        As for ink, yeah, it can be intimidating, and doing large-scale ink drawings requres much more patience than I have. I’ve fallen in love, though, with quick “scribbled ink sketches” with a bit of gansai. That’s what I’ve been doing in my nature journal — like the sunflower plant before it bloomed. It’s quick, it’s easy, and again, no worries about how it turns out. Adding gansai always makes drawings look interesting, I think.

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      3. The “Rainbow Tarot” sounds fantastic. I really love to see people’s personal interpretations of the symbols. As for my own ongoing project, thanks so much! I’m doing all 78! I’ve only done 21 so far….O.o . (and of those, there are about 5 I want to fix up, or maybe even redo altogether. So….I’m resigned to this being a several years long kinda thing! Sigh. I’ll get there eventually!) I posted the “death” one on my blog a while ago, but removed it- along with all my other drawings/ artwork, as I wanted it to just be a place for writing. Who knows? Maybe I’ll let Art back in some day…

        I love the idea of “scribbled ink sketches”. I also love that you’re having so much fun with it. I feel that this comes across in the drawings that you share with us. And the various interesting mediums being explored make me a bit curious about drawing again.

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      4. One thing I learned right away when I began this art journey is that there’s always — ALWAYS — something new to try. It’s fun to experiment with new media. Discovering alcohol inks was fun, and now I’ve got acrylic inks. I tried cold wax medium and I love it. Then when I started exploring mixed media projects, I found out about all kinds of things I didn’t know even existed! And drawing with twigs and leaves… oh, now, that was really fun. All of it has helped me broaden my concept of “art” and “being an artist”.

        Does your Tarot deck has a specific theme? Is it centered around personal experiences? I’ve toyed with a lot of different ideas, and at some point I might put together a collage deck based on memories… or maybe just using some of my oil paintings in different ways. There are so many ways to approach Tarot and art, and one of the reasons why I was drawn to Tarot originally was because of the creative possibilities it holds.

        I do want to hear more about your deck!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Trying new media IS very exciting! Maybe that’s what I need to do to revive my interest in visual art. Sometimes that’s all it takes to light that spark. I remember being gifted some watercolour pencils, and being a bit iffy about them at first, as watercolour never really drew me in. But once I started with them I couldn’t stop! Your ink work actually reminded me that I have a few ( literally 3, as they were 5 dollars apiece) “inktense” pencils that I should play with.

        Oh wow, drawing with twigs and leaves? Fantastic! I’d never have thought of doing such things.

        Re: Tarot, it’s done using very simple pen drawings which I then colour digitally. As much as I adore decks that have utilised more “hands on” methods, I know that there’d be no way I’d have the patience to do 78 of those myself. Basically, I’m going for a bit of an Art Nouveau / 1960’s Psychedelic era band posters type aesthetic, I suppose. I want it to have a fun, slightly whimsical feel, but with a hint of darkness; a hint of pagan witchiness. I’m sure it’ll change and evolve as it goes, though!

        I love the idea of a collage deck! I love independent oracle and tarot decks, full stop, so do keep us posted if you decide to create one!

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Check out that Harry Clarke Tarot link… as soon as I saw his work I thought “Tarot!”. There are a few other decks I saw that are based on his style, but apparently this one uses his drawings as illustrations… not always successfully from what I’ve read.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Yes, I just checked it out 🙂 I do have to agree there; the concept is fantastic, but it seems that the works aren’t very clearly reproduced. That’s a shame, as I think his artwork really lends itself to tarot! That being said, I’m wondering if someone else somewhere has tried to do the same thing but with more satisfying results?

        On this subject, I’m sure I recall seeing- and wanting- a tarot deck using Arthur Rackhams’s work. I might have to go searching!

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Now those are lovely! And they are actually Clarke’s works; I recognise them. But Eleanor has compiled them into a deck- and a good job she’s done, too. I want it!

        Liked by 1 person

      9. My Rackham deck will be here tomorrow. I’m very happy to add it to my collection. I might have to look for more “Artist” decks. I do have the Salvador Dali deck. It’s quite interesting.

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      10. Enjoy! I’ll have to get it at some stage…..definitely on my list. So many decks, so little time (, lol). I’ve seen the Dali one. I’m not sure it really grabbed me, but I kinda still want it purely for the sake of it being interesting.

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      11. That’s my feeling about the Dali deck, too. I have rarely used it in the 20+ years I’ve had it. It’s one of those that’s more of a “collectible” for me rather than I deck I use for insight and awareness. I should probably get it out again now that I’ve become an artist and especially since I’ve been reading a bit about surrealism.

        I’m surprised I had never come across the Rackham deck before. I have a lot of Lo Scarabeo decks, but I don’t recall ever seeing that one. I’m going to do a bit of searching to see if there are any other “art-themed” decks I might want. I do have the “Art Nouveau”, and I have a Japanese deck (Ukioye) inspired by woodcuts. If you know of any other art-related decks, please let me know, although, in a sense, every deck is “art-related”, but specifically ones linked to a particular artist or art movement.

        I can’t wait to get my Rackham deck today! I will be sure to share my impressions.

        Liked by 1 person

      12. Yeah, that’s the way i see it; as an interesting collectible. Having said that, it probably is a good idea to get it out and see how it feels now that you’re further along in your arting. You might look at it in a whole new light 🙂

        The Rackham deck does seem to be one of those slightly “underground” ones. I only discovered its existence a year or so back- entirely by chance- when I was searching for books of his work.

        Yes, i definitely will let you know if i think of ( or discover) any more! Please don’t hesitate to tell me if you discover anything exciting, too!

        Yay! That’ll be great. I know I won’t be able to resist buying it for much longer!

        Liked by 2 people

      13. Ah, yes- that’s the one! isn’t it gorgeous?

        I collect them too! I’m a bit of an enthusiast. Not many people know, as I don’t talk about it much. But I love them! There are so many on my wishlist still.

        One deck that you might like ( if you don’t have it already….you may do) is “The Enchanted Tarot” by Amy Zerner & Monte Farber. My only criticism of it is that the cards are HUGE. Very hard to shuffle! But it does look amazing.

        Liked by 1 person

      14. Yes, I have the Enchanted Tarot, and while the cards are beautiful, I have to admit it’s not one of my favorite decks. And yes, the cards are a bit too big. You’ve seen the Voyager Tarot, I suppose? It’s another collage deck. Again, the cards are a bit large. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      15. Oh, those look interesting! Hadn’t seen that deck, admittedly.

        Yeah, I’ve noticed a bit of a trend in HUUUUGE cards. It makes the artwork look great, but they’re just so hard to use. Enchanted tarot isn’t one that I use very often , either. But the images are gorgeous; so much work has been put into them.

        Liked by 1 person

      16. Yes, her fabric collages are drool-worthy! FWIW, my favorite deck is the Hanson-Roberts. Do you have it? The cards are smaller than most decks, yet it’s very expressive IMHO. And it’s easy to work with. 🙂

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      17. Aren’t they?! How I’d love even a large print of one of her works my wall! Makes me wanna dust off the sewing machine and try some fabric/collage art of my own.

        I don’t have that deck, but I love the way it looks ( to me, anyway) like illustrations from an old Grimm’s fairy tales book or something. I’m not sure what my favourite is, tbh. I’m quite fond of my Morgan Greer deck, tbh. Love the 70’s feel 🙂 but I’m also quite partial to my Crow Tarot by MJ Cullinane. I adore Crows and Ravens. ( again though, the cards are a little on the too-large side!). I really want the “after” tarot. I think it’s such a great twist on the Rider Waite 🙂

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      18. Morgan Greer is a good deck. And yes, crows and ravens! I’ve been trying to entice a few to our yard. I’m intrigued by the “After” Tarot too. The idea of “what comes next” is something I incorporate into my Tarot interpretations, so that’s on my “will buy sometime” list.

        Liked by 1 person

      19. Good luck with the crow/ raven charming! I’d love to befriend some of the local ones in my area. Hilarious, adorable creatures.

        My “will buy sometime” list grows longer by the day! But the “after” tarot is definitely near the top of that list 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      20. Now that we have a cat, I’ve started putting out a bit of dry cat food. Someone told me that crows like it. Of course, we have so many other cats and critters in the neighborhood, I doubt there will be any left for crows! Oh, well. I also try putting shiny things out and little glass beads. We had a pair of crows flying around, but they didn’t stay.

        Liked by 2 people

      21. Ah, that’s a good idea. I think crows will try pretty much anything! Back when I was living in the city I saw one trying to fly off with an abandoned pizza slice, lol! I’m not sure pizza is good for them, but it sure made me laugh. I see crows hanging around my local bakery….maybe I should start carrying a bag of nuts around with me or something. I do love the corvids so much 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      22. I haven’t seen any around lately, but I keep watching. I really want to develop a friendship with them. BTW… got my Rackham Tarot and I LOVE it! Very insightful, and needless to say, the illustrations are beautiful. To me, it speaks with a very straight-forward, “no nonsense” voice which lays out good points and bad points, and helps us open our eyes to see what’s there. I’m quite impressed by it.

        Liked by 1 person

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