Meaning: Thurs, Thorn, Thor
Supporting Meanings: Divine power on earth, responsibly wielded power, protection, pain, male potency, menstruation, childbirth.
Ancient Meanings: According to Diana Paxson, the Norse and Icelandic rune poems agree that the rune’s name is thurs and are correlated with tormenting or causing illness in women and those who have sought protection, and generally being bad luck. It essentially, then suggests a more immediate threat. The Anglo-Saxon poem also treats this rune as dangerous, but calls it a thorn, which is certainly quite painful. Thorns aren’t all bad, though. Many thorny plants bear sweet berries or other beneficial plant parts, and thorn hedges were sometimes grown to create a protective barrier. Thorns are also a common instrument by which one can scratch a runespell onto something, and so “inject” power.
Modern Meanings: Thurisaz’s modern interpretation often figures it as Thor’s rune. Thor is the son of Odin and the Earth, a primal elemental force. He expresses raw physical power that defends against the chaotic energies of the Jotnar. It is to be noted, though, that he does not slaughter all of them: just enough that man can survive. In this, he’s sort of the Norse embodiment of the Voltarian maxim: “the possession of great power necessarily implies great responsibility.” With this in mind, Edred Thorsson says that thurisaz represents pure action, potency, raw power, and strength on the physical plane: the projectable form of applied power. James Peterson holds that it represents chthonic forces, which Jane Sibley agrees with, stating that the rune represents divind power on the physical plane and unstructured, natural forces. It is also a rune of protection, and Freya Aswynn feels it is the third dynamic of a fertility force shared by fehu and uruz. It is a symbol of masculine potency which quickens the wombs of women. This relates to Peterson’s belief that the “torment of women” referred to in the Norse and Icelandic poems is the menstrual cycle, and why Thorlf Wardle identifies it with the pains of childbirth.
My Take-Away of the Meanings: Thurisaz is a powder keg. It has so much potential for massive destruction and pain that it is quite frightening. It is a power that will destroy all unless it is wielded responsibly. If that is done, it is something like ecological forces: on one level, it is horrible that a plague takes out half of a population, but on the other that culling allows other species to gain a foothold and the remaining population members grow stronger through the trial. The key is responsible destruction, and in that it is actually global protection. As women undergo great pain to rid their wombs either of new life or of the wasted potential for new life in order to prepare for a new cycle, so to does thurisaz cause pain to ensure the cycle continues productively for all. In that, the rune is also the great fertilizer.
Paxson’s Interpretation and Use: Thurisaz has to be handled carefully: it is a force that can heal or destroy, and it can at as a catalyst when combined with other runes, and so can empower a spell. Drawing it on a sharp object enables it to be used as a focus for an exorcism, and can draw out evils. It can be used in weather working to bring on storms. It can be a buffer between us and the raw forces of nature. In readings, Tony Willis feels it may mean good luck or it may be a warning to take stock and consolidated before moving further. It could be a warning not to charge into things, but to enter them responsibly. Freya Asynn suggests it indicates complexities involving aggression or psychological problems in an individuals strength of will and the wills that oppose him. Therefore, it might also target areas of conflict, or the need to shake up an individual or situation and encounter destructive tendencies.
Paxson’s Meditation for Working with the Jotnar: The Jotnar are the giants that Thor culled, and carefully working with them can give you an idea of the tremendous responsibility Thor carries, and–through that responsibility–his even greater power. To work with the Jotnar, you have to find a wild place at night–at the very least, a place where there are growing things. Go prepared with offerings of foodstuffs. Find a secluded spot and set your offerings upon the ground. Sit for a while in silence, listening to the night’s sounds. Feel the solidity of the earth that supports you and make your prayer to the Earth Mother. Send her energy through your palms. One by one, honor the wild powers of the mountains and forests, the sky and sea. Salute the Jotnar by name: Ymir, from whose bones earth was made; Kári, who rides the winds; Löge, the elemental fire, and Aegir and Ran who rule the deeps. Seek for the power that rules the region where you life, and see if it will send you an image and name. Honor the smaller spirits as well. Turn in each direction, and ask those beings who guard it to show themselves to you. Usually, the shapes in which you perceive them will be those of local animals. Whether or not you see them as such, you can honor them as landvaettir. When you have finished, leave quietly, without looking behind you. Honor the spirits of Utgard whenever you are moving between the worlds.