Supporting Meanings: Dawning, life, youth, light, blessing, mirth, equalizing forces, passage of time, liminality
Ancient Meanings: According to Diana Paxson, the Anglo-Saxon rune poem “presents a rosy picture of the effect of daylight,” for the day is sent by God and his gift means “mirth and happiness to rich and poor, useful to all.” She also notes that in Old English, day and its associations with youth and warmth are strongly contrasted against the dark and cold. The further north you go, the more drastic the differences between night and day and the two poles of winter and summer. Whole chunks of the year are characterized by either one or the other, and you can’t really sleep one away like you can in contemporary American culture. Day and Night are therefore honored together, and a period of time is seen as beginning with the night–thus day is born from night. The rising sun lets you know you’ve arrived back into a period of security from the dangers of night.
Modern Meanings: Osborn and Longland see dagaz as the light of strenght and comfort that comes from the Creator, the sun. Thorsson states that Dagaz is the rune of daylight, especially at the liminal times of dawn and twilight, and of awakening. Its very shape expresses those moments when the sun sets on a horizon, sending its rays upward and outward. Therefore, it stands as a “mystical moment” of paradox and liminality, in which creative and logical thought combines to form an inspiring state. Dagaz is the light of consciousness given by the Gods to mankind, and its appearance indicates dawns of hope and happiness. Gundarsson sees the rune as an emblem of the mystical illumination in which for one blinding moment the seeker is one with the universe. It’s chiefly a rune of meditation leading to transformation for him. Freya Aswynn feels that Dagaz can indicate noon as well as dawn and sees it a s a rune of time, and a counterpart of jera. For her, Dagaz can express cataclysmic change, a point where energy reaches its zenith. Paxon identifies jera more as a rune of the summer harvest and Dagaz with the Midwinter rebirth of the sun. As the rune has both vertical and horizontal symmetry, it can also stand for great balance and a time of integrations and synthesis.
My Take-Away of the Meanings: Dagaz is a rune of dawns and all the hope that comes with them; whether it is the warmth of the sun or the joy of inner enlightenment. Better yet, it can take all that energy of a liminality and bring it into a useful balance.
Paxson’s Interpretation and Use: In readings, dagaz indicates that good things are coming; its the light at the end of the tunnel; the coming of spring. It can indicate increase and growth in any area, the timeline of which can depend on surrounding runes. It can manifest in sudden change, but adopt a sunny attitude about that change and all will come out right. It is a signal to seize and opportunity. In magical work, dagaz can be used to begin or complete a working, as it can stand for a sunrise or sunset. It can potentiate the power of other runes for transformation and contribute to new beginnings or successful conclusions. Aswynn finds it useful in transforming consciousness, as it is such a balanced “bridge” between halves. Therefore, it is of great use in third-eye work.
Paxson’s Practice for Living Dagaz: Paxon suggests that a great time of year for attuning oneself to the energies of dagaz i the time of Ostara, the vernal equinox. Though light officially turns at Yule, it is at Ostara that we can truly see the dawn. The days are warming, the flowers are blooming, and all the world is burgeoning forth in splendor. Paxon suggests a renewal ritual at this time. Make a list of things that have shadowed your life and that you wish to get rid of. Before the sun rises, wash yourself and put on clean, white clothing, then go to a place where you will see the sun rise. Lay wood for a fire and bring incense, milk, and cakes. As the sun rises, face it with your arms crossed across your breast, which makes your upper torso resemble dagaz. Greet the day with a prayer, perhaps the pray to the day from the Sigrifumál, Then light your fire and sprinkle the incense on it. Honor the gods and the day with an appropriate prayer. Drop your list of things to be banished on the flames; as it burns, visualize each item as a scene in which the light grows until the light is all you can see. Rejoice that these darknesses have been destroyed by the day.