DIVINATORY MEANINGS: Sudden Loss, Ordeal, Destruction, Disaster, Clearance, Testing, Karmic Lesson, Drastic Change.
MAGICAL USES:  removing unwanted influences, breaking destructive patterns.

ANALYSIS:  The idea of the destruction of the old being necessary to the growth of the new, as contained in the Norse myth of Ragnarok, is essential to our understanding of this rune.  Interestingly enough, hagalaz lies between sowulo (fire) and isa (ice), reminding us of the Norse creation myth and the creative potential that lies between these two opposites, even though their meeting may seem first to be destructive.  Like the Tower in the Tarot, hagalaz is only a negative rune if we choose to view it in that way, and refuse to learn its lessons.  Appearing as it does at the beginning of the second aett, it marks both a beginning and an end, and knocks us out of the safety and complacency of wunjo.  It represents that whenever things appear to be going too well, you can expect a good, healthy whack in the head from the Fates, just to make sure you're paying attention.

These sorts of 'wake-up calls' from the Gods will happen frequently throughout a person's life, but are often misinterpreted as divine punishment for some imagined wrong when in fact they are merely a way of drawing your attention to a recurrent pattern in your life.  Unfortunately, these types of events have a tendency to repeat themselves with greater and greater severity until the lesson is learned and the pattern is broken.   For example, someone who needs to break their dependency on a certain type of person will find themselves in relationships with such people over and over again with more and more disastrous results until they recognise the pattern and break it willingly.

NAUTHIZ or NAUÞIZ : need, necessity
DIVINATORY MEANINGS: poverty, hardship, responsibility, discontent, obstacle, frustration
MAGICAL USES: to represent a need to be filled

ANALYSIS: It is a gentle, nudging reminder that all is not as it should be.  Life appears to be out of synch, and nothing seems to be going right.  No matter how much you have, it is never enough, and there is an ever-present desire for something more, something better.  On the positive side, this dissatisfaction with the status quo can serve to draw one away from the relative safety of wunjo and motivate towards change.  

Nauþiz represents an imbalance between one's desires and one's assets.  How you resolve this situation will influence the journey, but the awareness of the imbalance itself can also be illuminating.  It causes you to closely examine and perhaps reassess your values and priorities, and forces you back onto the path of your own happiness.  You will know you are on the right track spiritually when you are doing those things which make you the most happy and fulfilled.   Nauþiz helps us to take the first step on that path by letting us know when we have strayed from it.

ISA or IAS: ice
DIVINATORY MEANINGS: inactivity, blockage, stagnation, potential, patience, reflection, withdrawal, rest, standstill.
MAGICAL USES: to stop a process; to represent primal form

ANALYSIS:  In modern symbology, fire is generally masculine and ice (or earth) is feminine, but it is unknown whether the Norse shared this association.  Certainly, ice was a constant factor in their day to day lives.  It threatened their crops and their ships almost throughout the year, but it also served as a symbol of creation, from which all life will eventually spring.  It says something about the Norse mind that they could recognise the need to have such a seemingly destructive joining of elements in order to create maintain life.  Fire may be warm and pleasant, but it must be balanced by the freezing of winter just as birth must be balanced by death.  Even the little death of sleep has been proven to be vital for our mental and physical well being.  

Isa encompasses all of these ideas, but primarily represents a period of rest before activity, and itself forms the material from which life can be created.  It is matter, inert by itself, but transformed into the stuff of stars when wedded with energy.  It is the immovable form acted upon the irresistible force.

JERA: year, harvest
DIVINATORY MEANINGS: change, cycle turning, reward, motion, productivity, and inevitable development.
MAGICAL USES: to bring change; for fertility and growth

ANALYSIS:   In this modern age of central heating it is difficult to imagine the close ties that people once had with the cycles of the year, particularly in the more Northern climes.  The changing seasons affected not only the weather, but also the to day activities and even the diets of ancient peoples.  Constant change was the norm, and the object was to become attuned those changes, not to fight against them.   An ancient farmer (or even some modern ones) wouldn't need to look at a calendar to tell him when to plant, or read a weather forecast to know when the snows were coming.  The changing seasons were a part of his blood and bones, and his very existence depended on adapting to change.

Jera follows isa just as spring follows winter.  The turning of the wheel breaks the frozen stagnancy of ice, and things are once again moving along as they should.  In fact, we have now broken out of the entire set of 'negative' runes with which we began this aett.  This has been accomplished not by fighting to escape the ice or railing against the unfairness of fate, but by learning from those experiences and simply waiting for the inevitable thaw.  Jera is the communion wine - the product of the joining of opposites bringing life.  Storms may come and go, but the sun is always there and life is generally pretty good.  Enjoy it while you can.

DIVINATORY MEANINGS: change, initiation, confrontation of fears, turning point, death, transformation.
MAGICAL USES: to bring about profound change, to ease a life transition.

ANALYSIS: The yew tree has been associated with runes, magic and death in Northern and Western Europe for many years.   The reasons for this ancient association seem to principally derive from the fact that yews are evergreens which retain their greenery even through the death of winter, and because their red berries are symbolic of the blood of life.  The yew is extremely long-lived, thus 'immortal'.  Reverence for the yew dates back to before the times of the Celts, and continues today in Christian tradition.

Eihwaz is the thirteenth rune in the fuþark, and marks the middle of the alphabet.  (It is interesting to note that the Death card in the Tarot is also the thirteenth card)  This rune is the turning point in the runic journey.  All rites of passage, particularly those marking the transition into adulthood, contain the symbolism of death, the idea being that one's former 'self' has died and given birth to a new persona.   Eihwaz is the passage through which we must enter the realm of Hel in order to gain the knowledge and acceptance of our mortality, as well as those mysteries, which can only be learned from the dark Lady of the dead.  The process is a truly frightening one, but it is something we all must go through if we are to confront our deepest fears and emerge with the kind of wisdom that be taught but must be experienced.  Eihwaz is the gateway to this wisdom, and lies between life (jera) and rebirth (perþ).

PERTHRO, PERDHRO or perþ : vulva
DIVINATORY MEANINGS: rebirth, mystery, magic, divination, fertility, sexuality, new beginning, prophesy, something hidden and secret.
MAGICAL USES: fertility, easing childbirth, to aid in divination and magic, enhancing psychic abilities.

ANALYSIS:  The actual interpretation of perþ is subject to controversy.  The problem lies in the fact that the initial P sound doesn't occur anywhere else in the old Germanic language, leading to the belief that the word was imported from another language.  The Old English rune poem seems to indicate that it had to do with some sort of game, leading many to interpret it as 'chess pawn' or 'dice-cup'.  The dice-cup meaning is particularly interesting as it not only fits the shape of rune, but also hints at such an object's original use as a container for the runes themselves.  An alternate interpretation of perþ is derived from the Slavic 'pizda', meaning 'vulva'.  Viewing it as a symbol of the womb of the Goddess, it represents the same element of the mysterious and hidden as 'dice-cup', but taken literally as 'vulva', it adds a powerful, feminine, sexual counterpart to uruz that would otherwise be missing from the fuþark.  

However you choose to interpret the meaning of perþ, the basic symbolism is that of a vessel, nurturing and giving 'birth', keeping hidden and secret all those mysteries which can be uncovered only after the initiation of death.  The rune is closely tied in with the idea of fate, that the road we travel, regardless of what we choose to do along the way, is pre determined from the moment of our birth.  The very act of being born sets us along a course of cause and effect, action and reaction that we may choose to follow blindly, or try to divine through the runes or other means order that we may better understand the lessons we will learn.

ALGIZ or ELOH: protection
DIVINATORY MEANINGS: protection, assistance, defence, warning, support, a mentor, an ethical dilemma
MAGICAL USES: for protection.

ANALYSIS:  Heimdall is an interesting and mysterious figure in Norse mythology, and he is associated with the rune algiz because of his role as protector and guardian.  He is the watcher at the gate who guards the boundaries between the worlds and who charges all entering and leaving with caution.

In terms of the journey, we have passed through
death and rebirth, and must now face the Guardian before returning to our world.  It is he who charges us to use our newfound power wisely.  The person can no longer be simply concerned with their own personal development, but must now consider the effect that their actions may have on others.  This is a crucial turning point, and the person will either choose to adopt a system of ethics or ignore the effect on others and only work to serve their own ends.  Again, the sword is in their hands, but they must decide whether to use it for defence or offence.

DIVINATORY MEANINGS: success, positive energy, increase, power, activity, fertility, and health
MAGICAL USES: energy, strength, success, healing, and fertility

ANALYSIS:  The sun is held sacred by almost every religion in the world.  Its light and warmth symbolise life and growth and all that is good.  Norse cosmology describes the sun being driven around the heavens in a chariot and chased by a great wolf, which will devour at Ragnarok.  Throughout Indo-European Paganism, the sun has frequently been associated with the horse, often described as being carted around the sky by a horse.  Both are symbolic of life and fertility, and are usually considered 'masculine' in polarity, although in Norse myth the chariot is driven by a girl.   The swastika or sun wheel is a constant motif in rock carvings dating back to Neolithic times, and occurs throughout Europe and Asia.  The sun rune itself is a variation on this symbol, and represents motion and energy.

Sowulo marks the end of the second aett, and like wunjo represents success and glory.  However, unlike the rest and relaxation of Valhalla, the sun is very much an active symbol.  We have reached the end of the aett successfully, and the conclusion is a positive one, but in this case we are fully aware of the changing and transient nature of the universe.  We can see the wolf at heels, and we know that we must move on.  Here, though, the journeyed may pause briefly in the warmth and light of the sun, absorbing and applying its energy to the work ahead.  This time we won't need to be blasted out of our safe position, but will rather choose to leave it in order to continue on the journey.


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