Supporting Meanings: Restriction, oppression, creativity within, trials, response to stress.
Ancient Meanings: According to Diana Paxson, the “N” rune is related to the Old English word nyd, meaning need or distress, and the Old Norse naudhr, which has the same meaning with an added connotation of restraint. The idea in the Scandinavian verses is that naudhiz takes away choice, especially in the social realm where it leaves nothing but oppression and endless hard work. They relate to man’s inability to control his environment, and the almost hopeless work ahead when he tries to do so. The Anglo-Saxon poem is a little more hopeful. While it does not deny the distressfulness of need, it suggest that its constraints have something to teach those who understand them. It counsels the sufferer to let himself be toughened by adversity.
Modern Meanings: Edred Thorsson maintains that naudhiz is the thesis and antithesis whose resistance to each other shapes the fate of the world: it is both trouble and deliverance. It is the friction that makes the fire. Freya Aswynn relates the rune to the concept of debth and the fine paid in attempt to compensate for a crime. This aspect of debt also connects naudhiz to the idea of karma. Gundarsson states that naudhiz can be used to give strength to meet and overcome trials, and can help one deal with stress. It is a rune of the inner stresses that can either drive an individual to greatness or destroy him. It can cause compulsive behaviors or obsessions in its more negative aspects. Paxon notes that the concept of need in naudhiz resembles the Greek concept of Ananke–or necessity, as discussed by James Hillman. It’s root involves concepts of constraint and narrowing, or the factors in life that cannot be escaped. However, this constraint can have a creative function. This suggests that one way to deal with this necessity is to use it to identify our own deepest needs and purposes, to find out who we really are.
My Take-Away of the Meanings: Need can be restrictive, but it can also provide the constrictions that engender great creativity. These limiting factors can crush our spirits, but they can also provide the infrastructure to allow us to achieve greatness, depending on our self-awareness and karma.
Paxson’s Interpretation and Use: In readings, naudhiz can indicate problems that weigh on the spirit; frustrations, blocks, and constraints that can become helpful if properly used. The problem may be an opportunity for change and growth. The need may also be for action. Osborn and Longland call it a change rune, the necessity for transformation. Magically, Gundarsson feels that naudhiz is the rune of banishings and cleansing by fire and can imbue other spells with the force of necessity. He suggests that when doing rune reading or other divination, it should be drawn on the forehead or over the runes to strengthen their link with destiny.
Paxson’s Practice for Naudhiz: Studying Naudhiz provides a great opportunity to take stock of your life. List the things you need. List the changes that must occur if you are to get them. And while you are on the subject, look back at your life and try to understand the forces that put you where you are today. What fate, in terms of heredity and environment, was wished upon you at your birth? How has your background bound you? How have you transformed or transcended it? Ponder the relationship between fate and free will.