Meaning: Aurochs (Wild OX)
Supporting Meanings: Creative force, destruction to create, courage, vitality, vigorous health, strength.
Ancient Meanings: According to Diana Paxson, continental and Scandinavian sources differ on the meaning. Most Germanic interpretations hold that uruz refers to a wild member of the cattle family. A Norwegian rune poem, however, gives it the meaning “slag,” or the waste of a refining process and an Icelandic poem gives it the meaning of “rain” or “drizzle.” The Anglo-Saxon rune poem associates the wild cattle with fearlessness, ferocity, and courage. The Icelandic poem associates drizzle with destroying crops and making life difficult for herdsmen. The Norwegian poem compares the rising of slag from molten iron to the movement of reindeer across snow.
Modern Meanings: Modern interpretation of these three apparently disparate ancient meanings actually brings them into synthesis. Edred Thorsson views the wild ox as Audhumla, the primal cow whose licking released the first being from ice and whose milk fed the giant from whose body the world was made. Therefore, uruz is the archetype of the wild forces of creation or the creative pattern whose energy shapes matter. Kveldulf Gundarsson relates the “slag” and “drizzle” meanings to the endless process of patterning, cleansing, and reshaping: the power drawn up by the Worldtree only to be released back into the Well of Urdh. Uruz is, then, the twin power of shaping and nourishment. Freya Aswynn interprets uruz as a source of primal earth energy, the creative force that breaks down old forms and erects new ones. For her, this has implications of courage, endurance, and a positive application of aggressive energy. Tony Willis similarly interprets the rune to indicate the use of energy and the courage to move into a new position or to make change. Consequently, he identifies the rune as one of vitality, health, and fighting spirit.
My Take-Away of the Meanings: Uruz is interesting. I can see the strong cow who needs no herder and can birth, nourish, and protect her young on her own…but who is so strong she may pose a danger to her young. I can also see it as the destroying rain that washes all away to create a new foundation for future growth. I also see value in it as slag, for as slag floats upon molten iron, so too does the earth’s crust float upon its molten core. (Or the life blood of a reindeer herd tread carefully on potentially unstable snow.) Uruz is the combination of new creation and of the destruction necessary to create. It is both foundation and wrecking ball. In either case, it is strong: a foundation must be strong to hold a structure up, and a wrecking ball must be strong to bring that structure down.
Paxson’s Interpretation and Use: Uruz could be a rune of manifestation–resources becoming available, energy producing results, or organizing energy so that it will be usable. It can also say something about the physical energy or health of the subject, or it could imply the need to take an active role in obtaining and protecting resources and taking risks and the willingness to change if necessary. Negatively, it might mean there is difficulty in making that change or a need to get rid of the past. In spellwork, uruz can increase energy or make potential available. It can be drawn on the forehead, for instance, when one is tired. It helps the powers of other runes to manifest on the physical plane.
Paxson’s Spell for Strengthening: This working basically involves taking a healing bath. At a time when you can be sure you will not be interrupted, purify your bathroom with the smoke of vervain, rosemary, or your favorite herbal incense. Turn out the lights and light a few candles. Run the bathwater warm but not overwhelmingly hot, and add a spoonful of salt for purification and a pint of a mugwort or mint infusion or a few drops of rosemary oil (all strengthening herbs). As you lie in the bath, imagine that you are the primal ice being melted by the warmth of Muspel’s fires. Let the scented water relax each limb. As tension leaves each muscle, consciously release it. Float, needing nothing, wanting nothing. When the water cools, get out of the tub. Draw uruz on your forehead, then take a rough towel and rub life back into your limbs. As you do so, imagine that it is the rough tongue of Audhumla, licking you free from all that keeps you weak. As you dry, say something like “This is my foot, strong to stand; by Audhumla freed, by Erda fed, by Lodhur led, thus I reclaim it.” (Erda is the earth goddess and Lodhur one of the trinity who gave life to humankind.) When all is dry, put on clean nightclothes, drink a cup of warm milk, and go to bed.