Like all the runes, Berkana symbolizes many things. When you pick a rune, never use reason to figure out what it means. Reason will get you nowhere. Reason, in fact, is not the highest state of human development. As Ken Wilber notes, the transrational is the next stage of development after reason. BUT: this doesn’t mean reason is tossed aside; to the contrary. It becomes a subset of the transrational. Reason is a very fine tool for many things. But not for understanding what a rune means in the moment you choose it.
Using reason to try to “figure out” the meaning of a rune or which quality of a rune to contemplate doesn’t work. Not only is reason too slow, but it doesn’t have a clue about how to do this. If you haven’t already, read the steps in HOW TO. You must learn how to be ready for the immediate intuitive response that comes as soon as you see which rune you picked.
Berkana, again like all the runes, covers a great deal of territory. It is the rune of beauty, naturalness, being yourself, being open and curious, being innocent, without guile or cunning; it is the rune of natural growth over time, of increase, gentleness, kindness, and so on and on. So, what came to me when I picked Berkana?
A song I’d heard on NPR’s Celtic Connection the day before. I don’t remember the exact title or name of the singer, but it was about wild flowers. The lyrics were about how she, the singer, loved wildflowers. “You can keep your roses and your lilies” she sang, “But I love the flowers that grow by the way, in ditches and fields …” Wild flowers, unshaped by the hand of man, unforced to be different from their natural selves. I listened to the song while I washed the dishes and thought to myself, “That’s me, too. I love the wildflowers, the natural things left alone to be themselves.” I also thought of Berkana while listening to the song because Berkana is the rune of being natural, of being what one is, not what one is “supposed” to be to meet others’ expectations. Being a wildflower, a natural free human being, not imprisoned in an unnatural lifestyle eating unnatural food wearing unnatural apparel in an unnatural environment with unnatural anxieties over unnatural things.
I love wildness, naturalness; I have been thinking of letting my yard go wild, too. The song made me feel good, like there’s still room to be more of who I am, really. Perhaps, when I die, I will be fully unconditioned. Uncivilized with regard to the bad ways of being “civilized,” which are not civil at all. I doubt I need to explain myself to you. You probably have a streak of wild naturalness within you, too, or you wouldn’t be reading this.
So, all day today, as I interacted with people, I had the Mona Lisa smile of the cat that ate the canary, just thinking about being a wildflower. Yes, yes, yes! I would be me even more, without apology or holding back, from now on. It's OK to be who and what I really am! And if I am a weed in the culture into which I was born, I will be the best weed I can be.
A "Common Weed"
Cerule once thought to me: There is no such thing as a weed. There is no such thing as a pest. Along with these thoughts came the meaning. Every plant has its medicine and its purpose. Note how man confronts the dandelion with his killer herbicides in TV ads—but dandelion root is a medicine for digestion and the liver, and the bloom and leaves offer many nutrients. Intrinsically, There is no such thing as a weed! It is the dominant culture that has labeled some plants weeds because it has forgotten their beauty and medicine. Weeds, perhaps, like wildflowers, cannot be tamed. The singer said they would still be here long after man was gone from the planet. Nature does not need man; man, however, direly needs nature. (Of course, he is a part of it, but this he has forgotten in his urge to conquer rather than to understand and work with nature---and the latter is actually all he can do. The only conquering worthwhile or even ultimately possible is mastery of oneself.)
There is no such thing as a pest. Not basically. Every creature has its function. Or had, until habitats were destroyed or humans introduced garbage and overcrowding into the world. Mice fed hawk and eagle, the dog and cat didn’t overbreed in a natural environment where they naturally maintained their numbers in accordance with the food supply. Mosquito and other insects fed birds and other animals. Human culture created pests. Studying Native Literature in Alaska and the Southwest, I don’t remember any reference to something called a “pest.”
I am a weed, a wildflower, a pest! Always, what I have valued, my culture did not; how I wished to grow, my culture wanted me to grow differently, to “be like other girls”; and as a pest, I ask inconvenient questions. And it is OK. It has to be because I am what I am.