MEANINGS OF THE RUNES



THE THIRD AETT



TIWAZ, TIR or TEIWAZ : Tyr
DIVINATORY MEANINGS: conflict, discipline, responsibility, self-sacrifice, duty, strength, a wound, physicality, the warrior path.
MAGICAL USES:  protection, victory, and strength, strengthening the will, healing a wound.

ANALYSIS:  Just as the second aett began with the cleansing destruction of hagalaz, so too does the third aett begin with a loss. However, this is a loss brought about through choice as Teiwaz represents a voluntary sacrifice, made by someone who understands exactly what they are giving up and why.

Tyr's sacrifice of his hand to allow the binding of the Fenris Wolf was a noble one, and notable in a pantheon of deities not known for their sense of duty and ethical responsibility.  He is believed to be one of the oldest of the Norse Gods (a Bronze age rock carving was found in Scandinavia depicting a one-handed warrior) and his position may well have originally superseded Odin.  Tyr's rune is also one of the oldest in the fuþark, having survived virtually unchanged from the earliest Bronze-age carvings.  It represents all those qualities associated with the God: strength, heroism, duty and responsibility.  But it also represents a deeper mystery, that of the wounded God.  Like þurisaz, the pain of Teiwaz focuses the attention and forces discipline.  However, in this case the effect is more conscious and the wound carries a greater significance.  Uruz has been confronted and bound, and the lessons of Tiwaz and Hagalaz have been learned.  This is the path of the warrior.



BERKANO, BEORC or BERKANA: birch
DIVINATORY MEANINGS: fertility, health, new beginnings, growth, conception, plenty, clearance
MAGICAL USES:  healing (especially infections), achieving conception, and making a fresh start.

ANALYSIS:  The birch is fundamentally a symbol of fertility.  There are numerous instances in European folk tradition where birch twigs bring prosperity and encourage conception.  They were fixed above a sweetheart's door on May Day and placed in stables and houses to promote fertility.  On the continent, young men, women and cattle were struck with birch twigs for this same purpose and young boys would be sent out to "beat the bounds of the parish" with branches of birch to bring prosperity in the coming year.  Witches were said to ride broomsticks made from birch, an image which probably originated with fertility rituals where dancers would 'ride' brooms through the fields, the height of their jumping indicating how high the grain should grow.

If Teiwaz is the fundamental male mystery, then berkana certainly belongs to the women, for it represents the path of the mother, the healer and the midwife, bringing new life after death just as the birch puts out the first leaves after winter.  While Tyr's wound is acquired through his encounter with death, berkana's wound is that of menstruation, and her ordeal is that of childbirth.  The birch is abundant and all providing, and heals through nourishment, cleansing and empathy.



EHWAZ: horse
DIVINATORY MEANINGS: transportation, motion, assistance, energy, power, communication, will, recklessness
MAGICAL USES:  power, aiding in communication, transportation; to 'send' a spell

ANALYSIS:  The horse is a powerful symbol in nearly every culture. Strong, swift and loyal, their relationship with humankind is unique.  They allow us to perform tasks that would normally be beyond our strength, and to travel distances that would normally be beyond our reach. It is an animal that never lost its power by being domesticated.

Ehwaz represents energy and motion.  In this case, however, there is also respect for the source of the power to be considered.  This is not merely an impersonal energy source - it is a living, breathing thing whose needs and desires must be taken into consideration, rather than be simply used as a slave. This rune reminds us to only use it to help and never to harm.  Like the two-edged sword, the horse is a powerful tool, but must be carefully controlled to avoid harming yourself or others.  It is tempting to just go recklessly on, but to do so is to risk loosing that power forever.  This is the balance that must be achieved on the path of pure magic.



MANNAZ: man, humankind
DIVINATORY MEANINGS: significator, self, family, community, relationships, and social concerns.
MAGICAL USES:  to represent a specific person or group of people; to establish social relationships.

ANALYSIS:  In its broadest sense, mannaz represents all of humanity, and therefore the entire realm of Midgard.  In more practical terms, it is those with whom we have personal connections, from our immediate circle of family and friends to the wider community around us, reminding us of our nature as social animals.  It takes the raw energy of ehwaz and controls it through our social conscience, reminding us of those we affect with our deeds both magical and mundane.

The rune itself resembles the entire web of human relationships, with the self at the centre, which mirrors the web of fate explored through raihdo.  But while that web joined was more or less fixed, this one is mutable and alive.  Past and present, male and female, self and other - all opposites are joined here and made whole.  Mannaz is our home, and speaks for all those whose lives we touch when we use the gifts we have been given through the runes.



LAGUZ or LAGAZ: water
DIVINATORY MEANINGS: emotions, fears, unconscious mind, things hidden, revelation, intuition, counselling.
MAGICAL USES:  enhancing psychic abilities, confronting fears, stabilising mental or emotional disorders, uncovering hidden things.

ANALYSIS:  When most people think of water, they generally think of its more pleasant associations; peacefulness, love, compassion, intuition, and the emotions in general.  However, we must remember that, to the Norse, water most often meant the sea, and the sea was a terrifying, unpredictable place, home of the Midgard serpent and the grave of many sailors.  Laguz, then, should be thought of in terms of the lighter and the darker sides of the element of water.  It speaks to our primal fears of the dark, the cold, and all those terrifying things hidden deep within our subconscious minds.  

Like eihwaz, which forced the journeyed to confront his or her mortality, laguz makes us examine the underlying roots of our behaviour, and allows us to modify those aspects, which are hindering our spiritual development.  The understanding and wisdom gained through eihwaz and the runes, which followed, have prepared the journeyed to face this darker side (represented by laguz) and accept it as an integral part of their selves.  Laguz also prepares the person to take on the task of helping others through this self-examination process, allowing them to empathise more strongly and share their own experiences, making it (among other things) the rune of the spiritual counsellor.



INGWAZ or INGUZ: Ing
DIVINATORY MEANINGS: work, productivity, bounty, groundedness, balance, connection with the land
MAGICAL USES:  fertility, farming, growth, general health, balance

ANALYSIS:  Ing is a Danish/Anglo-Saxon name for Freyr, the God of agriculture and fertility.  Agriculture represents one of the first attempts by mankind to control the environment, and the fertility of crops, animals and people has always been the primary concern and religious focus of most Pagan agrarian societies.  From the earliest Sumerian accounts to modern-day British folk custom, people throughout history have sought to ensure the success of their crops.

The vast majority of people in Western society have lost all contact and connection with the land and the process of growing things.  The spiritual consequences of this segregation from the earth have been disastrous, since most people find it difficult to relate to deity in a purely man-made environment.  The shape of this rune can be likened to that of a field, but its real significance may lie in its balance, representing the harmonious relationship between ourselves and the four elements/four directions.  Inguz reminds us of that ancient connection between the Gods and the land, and re-links us with our spiritual natures through the realm of the physical.  It is quite literally a grounding rune, and by reintroducing us to the earth, it reconnects our bodies, our minds and our spirits.



DAGAZ or DAEG : day
DIVINATORY MEANINGS: happiness, success, activity, a fulfilling lifestyle, and satisfaction
MAGICAL USES:  to bring a positive outcome

ANALYSIS:  This rune effectively marks the end of the third aett, leaving only oþila to complete the cycle.  As in the previous two aetts, ðagaz concludes the third with light and hope. However, while wunjo represented earthly glories and the sun, heavenly the day brings these two realms together, bringing the more abstract light and power of sowulo 'down to earth' and applying it to our everyday lives.

The shape of the rune itself denotes this kind of interconnection.  It is reminiscent of gebo, with
its balance of masculine, feminine and the four elements, but ðagaz makes further connections to the celestial and the realm of nature.  Like inguz, it symbolises harmony with one's environment. but again takes it a step further, implying a harmonious relationship with the spiritual environment as well.  It is a bringing together of all six cardinal points - the four compass directions, the celestial realm above us where the Gods are thought to dwell; and that, which is below - all the spirits of the earth, and of nature.  All of these things are balanced and integrated through ðagaz and brought into our daily lives.



OTHALA, OTHEL or OþILA : property
DIVINATORY MEANINGS: property, land, inheritance, home, permanence, legacy, synthesis, and sense of belonging.
MAGICAL USES:  for acquiring land or property, to complete a project, to strengthen family ties.

ANALYSIS:  In oþila, we find ourselves back in the seemingly mundane realm of wealth and property, just like the first rune, Fehu.  However, while cattle represented a more movable, transitory form of wealth, the land is the only thing that lasts.  It can be passed on as a legacy, but more importantly, it defines who we are by defining where we are.  It is, ultimately, our home.

This rune brings us to the seventh cardinal point, which is the centre.  It is the meeting place between Midgard and Asgard; between ourselves and our Gods.  It is the axis around which our lives revolve.  The idea of land or property is only a symbol - we must all find our own "centre" to give our lives meaning, and this is really the ultimate goal of the runic journey.  Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, we discover that after all our travels and adventures, we all eventually end up going home.  But this doesn't mean that the travels and adventures are pointless.  On the contrary, it is only through those explorations that our 'home' or spiritual centre can have any real meaning for us.  "There's no place like home" of will have no power to send us there unless we come to truly understand what and where our home is to us.  Conversely, none of the lessons learned along the way can be of any real use to us unless we actively integrate them into our 'mundane' lives and find that centre point to anchor them to.  Oþila not only completes the smaller cycle of the third aett, but also brings us back to the beginning of the fuþark itself, only on a higher level.  We may now begin the grand cycle of the runic journey again.



RELATED PRODUCTS:
RUNE SETS         BIND RUNES      ELVISH RUNES


Back Earthchild Home Page Email me via this button