UR is symbolized by the uroch, a breed of now extinct buffalo which used to roam Europe. It is symbolic of the primal power of creation, a collective power. It is about vital stamina, perseverance, the potential for creativity. While I have already written six pages on this rune and they are posted on the website under ‘rune pages’, I just realized that I haven’t yet given a clear picture of how this fundamental principle is expressed in human terms. Our language is poetic but, many of us are unacquainted with the highly symbolic language of poetry. Others may relate more to a cat, wolf, horse or bird image, such as “Jonathan Livingston Seagull”
The images came to me after I recently finished reading the third of three books.[ref]All of our communication with others and with our selves is accomplished with symbols. All our knowledge is composed of observation, reflection, comparison, contrast and tentative opinion formation, which is ideally reworked and re-formed by the more we learn and the more we think. ‘Think’ is the application of proportional force TH- to a hint, an ‘inkle’, the A.S. word for a hint.[/ref]The third book was “The Druids” and the person I was reading about was Pelagius. He was a Celtic Catholic monk who was beset by St. Augustine for his heretical view that Man is not born sinful and no child comes into the World with the taint of ‘Adam’s Original Sin’. Being a Celt, Pelagius observed the doctrine of free will, believing in Man’s inate capacity for self-control. The Doctrine of Free Will became known as the Pelagian Heresy.[ref]This issue did not begin with Christianity as the Celts
destroyed Rome in the 4th century BC over the issue of Mans freedoms, including his free-will.[/ref] I’ve read about this heresy frequently; but, this time it was after finishing re-reading “Up From Slavery” by Booker T. Washington and reading two books by Frederick Douglass. In “My Bondage and My Freedom”, Douglass was forthright about his ‘bondage’, about how he found out he was a “slave for life” and about how deeply and intensely he thought about how this came to be. He was still a little boy when he set his mind to the task of thinking about his condition in life and how he could change it. He was only seven when he became aware of his “entire dependence on the will of somebody (he) had never seen”. Douglass reflects throughout his book on how he put together some understanding of the system beneath the bizarre slave/master relationship. At age ten, he connected the skill of reading and the acquiring of knowledge into the puzzle of slavery. That was when he learned the effects of those skills on making slaves unfit to be slaves. His mistress was forbidden to teach him any more reading skills. He could only carry books for another boy, the son of his Master, who was free-by-birth. Nevertheless, Frederick Douglass did find ways to keep learning, letter by letter and word by word.
By about age fourteen, ‘Master’ must have sensed a problem brewing. Douglass started attending a Sabbath School in Baltimore while at Master Thomas’ house where he had been sent at age ten to help with their young son. His brief exposure to reading apparently had unfitted him to slavery. He said Master Thomas declared, “…that I was unsuited to his wants: that my city life had affected me perniciously; that, in fact, it had almost ruined me for every good purpose, and had fitted me for everything that was bad.”[ref]”My Bondage and My Freedom” p.126[/ref]Master Thomas sent him to work for a man named Mr. Edward Covey who was known as a reliable “negro breaker”. This Mr. Covey got slave labor more cheaply because of this service he provided of ‘breaking Negros’. Douglass was savagely beaten, early on and for insufficient cause, so Douglass went back and asked Master Thomas to intervene before this man killed him. Douglass had enough free-will to believe in the ideas of fairness and justice so, he was obviously unsuited to slavery now. Master Thomas sent him back and told him if he didn’t go back, he personally would beat him even more severely. Douglass did go back; however, he thought about what he was doing and why. He considered what he wanted to happen. Moreover, he considered what he would allow and what he would no longer tolerate. I’ve heard this story several times and I have seen it on documentaries. This time I read and reread the story- in Douglass’ own words. The varied interpretations confirm my opinion that we frequently read our own interpretations into what we read.
Douglass called this chapter “The Last Flogging”. Some people exaggerate the violence and others cut out the part about the special roots that the slave ‘Sandy’ gave to Douglass to protect him. I include the roots because that kind of magic or mojo goes by many names; but, the essence of it lies in what it brings out of a person and not what it puts into people. It is a tool for focusing what is already within us. It ignites that inner fire which is expressed as -igni- in dignity. There are games for cultivating this quality like the game of ‘dozens’ in which people push one another with insults to see who is first to lose self-control. Frederick Douglass makes his frame of mind unmistakable. He describes how Mr. Covey behaves on Sunday when he is on his way to church and then when he returns from church. He strikes me as a man who has little self-control and a great capacity for self-deception.
On Monday, Douglass is called before the sun is up and is instructed to feed, rub and curry the horses. While he was obeying orders and going up to the stable loft to throw down ‘blades’, Covey sneaked into the stable, snuck up behind Douglass, seized him by the leg and brought him to the stable floor. He was still injured from the previous beating but he remembered his pledge to “stand up in my own defense“. Douglass says, “The brute was endeavoring skilfully to get a slip knot on my legs, before I could draw up my feet”. The fight was on and Douglass says, “Every blow of his was parried though I dealt no blow in return.” “I was strictly on the defense preventing him from injuring me rather than trying to injure him.” He says that Covey was trembling and was taken aback by his resistance, that Covey asked, “Are you going to resist, you scoundrel?” He returned a polite, “Yes, Sir.” Covey called out for help. He called for his cousin Hughes. Douglas was still on defensive with Covey but, aggressive toward Hughes. Douglass kicked Hughes while he was trying to tie Douglass’ right hand. Covey asked if he meant to persist in his resistance and he replied, “Yes, come what might, that I’ve been treated like a brute and will take it no longer.” By this time Covey has also been knocked down on the stable floor. Bill, the hired man, shows up and Covey cries to him for assistance. Bill demurred. Covey’s slave woman shows up and he calls to her for help. She refused and took the consequences.
After two hours had elapsed, Covey gave up the contest. “Letting me go, he said…’now, you scoundrel, go to your work; I would not have whipped you half so much as I have had you not resisted’. ” I’ve heard a lot of embroidery around this story, but the unadorned story is the most impressive. He didn’t want to hurt Mr. Covey. Frederick Douglass said, “Well, my dear reader, this battle with Mr. Covey,–undignified as it was, and as I fear my narration of it is–was the turning point in my “life as a slave“. It rekindled in my breast the smoldering embers of liberty; it brought up my Baltimore dreams, and revived a sense of my own manhood. I was a changed being after that fight. I was nothing before; I was a man now. It recalled to life my crushed self-respect and my self confidence, and inspired me with a renewed determination to be a freeman. A man, without force, is without the essential dignity of humanity. Human nature is so constituted, that it cannot honor a helpless man, although it can pity him; and even this it cannot do long, if the signs of power do not arise.
What Frederick Douglass did, resisting his master, was a hanging offense in the laws of Maryland of that time. -and he knew it. He also knew that being publicly whipped was a usual punishment in such cases. The only explanation he offers for his not being taken up and punished by the authorities is that Mr. Covey “enjoyed the unbounded and very valuable reputation of being a first-rate overseer and negro-breaker”. For it to be widely known that he had been mastered by a sixteen-year-old boy would have been inestimably damaging to his reputation.
This energy we symbolize with UR is an ancient principle that is often connected with Babylon and Assyria. Ur is the birthplace of Abraham. It is also the symbol that represents the powerful energy of the individual, it is the fundamental principle of collective and coöperative energy that is represented by herds and groups. It is generated by the group and used to benefit the group.
Whenever we see /u/ or double-u /w / this represents UR. There are many kinds of energy represented in the symbol sets of English. This is a powerful earth energy. Whenever we use the sense elements ur, ure, sur, sure, we are using the earth energy of the common man. It is not just coincidental that you, your, our, hour, ure, sure, us, use, we, were are all expressions of our collective power.
The strongest Man, irrespective of gender, is the one who is his own Master and has self-control. That is the only time a man contends with his equal. If we were all honest with ourselves and practiced self-control we would need no other masters. If we would all practice the give and take of interdependence, we would need no other surety03-20-2016 JOH
- Judith has written (and re-written) the pages below, initially for a book and now for this website. These files are still under revision, and should not be treated as stable documents.