Day 351: Tyr’s Aett, Othala

As I've mentioned before, all the information below comes not from Roderick's book, but from Diana L. Paxson's Taking Up the Runes.

As I’ve mentioned before, all the information below comes not from Roderick’s book, but from Diana L. Paxson’s Taking Up the Runes.

Pronunciation:  “OH-tha-la”
Meaning:  Ancestral Property
Supporting Meanings:  The home of one’s heart, the clan, kin of mind and of body.

Ancient Meanings:  According to Diana Paxson, the meaning of this rune is linked to the concept of property held in allodial tenure: unbroken succession from father to son for three generations, or for thirty years.  It is the concept of a family rooted to their home, their community, and each other.  The Anglo-Saxon rune poem states that an odal estate “is very dear to every man if he may there rightly and peacefully enjoy in the hall frequent harvest.”  To enjoy such harvests, though, one must invest dearly into the place and into those who support the place.  The place gives you purpose as much as you give purpose to the place.

Modern Meanings:  Edred Thorsson sees othala as the symbol of clan strongholds, the sacred enclosure, the inherent qualities that bind together a clan of family; it also governs the wise management of resources necessary to make the family prosperous.  It is therefore the rune of healthy kinship.  He also notes it is a rune of Odin and its shape, both enclosed and open, symbolizes the distinction between the protected world of kin and the alien world into which individuals must venture to obtain true knowledge:  experience beyond the bounds of the known.  Gundarsson develops the concept of othala as a boundary between the in-group and the out-group.  He also provides discussion its concept of inheritance, which is not only the genetic material from one’s ancestors, but the spiritual legacy of previous lives.  As the final rune of the futhark, othala “contains” the power of all the other runes, our mystical heritage.  Freya Aswynn sees this inheritance as genetic and magical.  It’s the blood shed to take land and defend territory; to secure the inheritance.  It is the mystery of the kings who shed blood to renew the land, and the admonishment to choose marriage partners carefully to preserve the health of a line.  The rune also represents loyalty, for kin secures a place of safety where one can harvest the experiences gleaned from the outside world and reflect upon them at leisure.

My Take-Away of the Meanings:  Othala requires that we define our community and those who lie beyond it.  While this creates internal safety, it can also create enmity with “the other.”  It is a fine tightrope to walk safely…which is why its two halves of open and closed are contained in one rune.  Do not let one rule the other.

Paxson’s Interpretation and Use:  In readings, othala may refer to an individual’s family or his place in his community.  It may also refer to simple living conditions–finding a house or congenial roommates, for example.  It could also refer to finding an affinity group or establishing a healthy relationship to the land.  Willis identifies its meaning as more of one of “building”, whereas Peterson it is more “inheritance”.  Othala can be used to strengthen family ties and to recover cultural inheritance; it can also access the wisdom of past lives.  It can help with the acquisition of possessions and immobile property, and to protect that which you own.  Use it in all workings involving the protection and strengthening of home and family.  It wards the threshold with elhaz and strengthens community with mannaz.  It brings prosperity with fehu or jera, and stimulates rediscovery of lore and ritual with ansuz and dagaz and open our eyes to spiritual heritage.

Paxson’s Practice for Living Laguz:   The early Germanic peoples had no concept of race, nor really of nation.  The Clan was the most important unit.  In fact, the modern concept of the nuclear family would have been barely comphrehensible,  The most successful unit of survival was a large household with lots of roles and multiple generations.  Look to your life and see who makes up your spiritual household; invite them all to a large gathering where you can share stories and enjoy each other.  Create a space for your household to re-establish its various bonds.


Day 350: Tyr’s Aett, Dagaz

As I've mentioned before, all the information below comes not from Roderick's book, but from Diana L. Paxson's Taking Up the Runes.

As I’ve mentioned before, all the information below comes not from Roderick’s book, but from Diana L. Paxson’s Taking Up the Runes.

Pronunciation:  “DAH-gahz”
Meaning:  Day
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.

Day 349: Tyr’s Aett, Ingwaz


As I've mentioned before, all the information below comes not from Roderick's book, but from Diana L. Paxson's Taking Up the Runes.

As I’ve mentioned before, all the information below comes not from Roderick’s book, but from Diana L. Paxson’s Taking Up the Runes.

Pronunciation:  “ING-wahz”
Meaning:  Ing, Yngvi
Supporting Meanings:  Transformation, return, fertility, birth/death, grain god

Ancient Meanings:  According to Diana Paxson, the “Ng” rune is found only in Old Germanic and Anglo-Saxon futharks, and–like tiwaz–it has a god’s name.  According to the Anglo-Saxon rune poem, this god was first recognized by the East-Danes until he wnet to the east over waves where the Heardings, or perhaps the Asdings, named him.  The royal dynasty of Sweden, the Ynglings, carry his name in their etymology, and Yngvi figures as an ancestor of many Old English royal families.  Paxson speculates that Ing may have been a local name of the god of herd and harvest.

Modern Meanings:  Thorsson notes that Ing is the seed energy needed for gestation to result in plenty and so signifies the cycle of withdrawal, transformation, and return.  He notes that Ing was the consort of the earth mother who gave up his power to her to be released in the spring.  Gundarsson continues in this vein calling Ing the consort to Berkano whos seed brings fertility to man and nature.  It therfore unties man with earth and the nature-wisdom of the Vanir.  Freya Aswnn holds Yngvi as a title of Freyr, meaning “son of,” and that “Land of Yng” may be the spiritual meaning of the word “England.”  She also holds that the Anglo Saxon form pictured above looks like a DNA helix, so Yng may be considered a rune of genetic inheritance and reincarnation.  Osborn and Longland interpret the Old English poem to fix Ing as a god whose passage calms the waves and releases creative powers of the universe.

My Take-Away of the Meanings:  This rune is the essence of the consort god; he who provides the energy to keep the world in fruit.

Paxson’s Interpretation and Use:  Ingwaz represents creative power in the masculine form, transition to a new stage in a cycle, and endings that lead to new beginnings.  It’s a rune of power for brewing.  Willis says it indicates completion, transition, or new beginning.  Peterson feels it indicates peace and bounty in the external world; sensuality, sernity, and love.  Asywn states that its seed form can be used as a magic circle or to contain other energies.  As a sign of the consort god, it is a rune of positive sexuality where forces interact in equality.

Paxson’s Practice for Living Ingwaz:  Through Ingwaz, we can connect to the god Yngvi, who is a role model for a male life cycle that is not focused on war.  After all, the real test of a king was not whether he won battles, but whether he made the crops grow.  It is this power that the male focuses and transmits, and that the female awakens so that she can receive it once more.  Meditating on Ingwaz can act as a key to men’s mysteries.  For a woman, meditating on this cycle can lead to a new understanding of her relationship to the masculine.  We can also use Ingwaz as a focus for an ancestor altar, to honor all those who came before us and who successfully lived this creative balance.

Day 348: Tyr’s Aett, Laguz


As I’ve mentioned before, all the information below comes not from Roderick’s book, but from Diana L. Paxson’s Taking Up the Runes.

Pronunciation:  “LAH-gooz”
Meaning:  Lake, Leek
Supporting Meanings:  Ocean, water, ebb, flow, Goddess, life, death, beyond control

Ancient Meanings:  According to Diana Paxson, the meaning of the rune is essentially water–a lake or a river, given as Logr in Old Norse and Lagu in Old English, but there is an associated ‘pun’ meaning of Laukaz, or the leek, from the Old Germalic word for lake, Laguz.  In the Anglo-Saxon poem, this rune is the wild ocean the Anglos and Saxsons ventured to reach Britain.  It is as seen that seems unending to all those who venture upon ships, and its waves shall terrify them for they will be so strong that the ships cannot be controlled.  The Icelandic poem is more moderated, and water there is simply “a swelling stream, a geyser, and land of the fish.”  The Norwegian verses say that water is where a waterfall cascades from a mountain face and ends with the enigmatic phrase “but ornaments are made of gold.”  That may refer to the practice of hiding hoards of treasure behind waterfalls

Modern Meanings:  Edred Thorsson says that laguz represents the basic energy and secret source of organic life:  primal potential, initiation into life, and passage across the waters through death.  Osborn and Longland state that water is a powerful, unpredicatble, and dangerous element that cannot be governed by human agencies, a ship out of control.  Gundarsson takes a more naturalistic approach.  For him, laguz signifies the primal water, an ambivalent element that brings either prosperity or destruction; life-giving flowing water is contrasted with stagnant, poisonous water.  As the leek, it is a protection against danger, especially that which comes through drink.  It is a transition between life and death.  Freya Aswynn feels laguz is a feminine rune and connected with sorcery, perhaps that which is boiled in a cauldron.  Willis sees laguz as a woman, feminine energy, the moon cycle, amniotic fluid, etc.  Peterson, however, focuses on the leek as a phallic symbol and holds laguz as symbolic of the male principle.  Paxon seems to agree more with Aswynn, noting that all the waters of the planet can be interpreted as the blood of the goddess for the earth is her body.

My Take-Away of the Meanings:  Water is a double-edged sword.  It is necessary for life, but it can also dramatically sweep it all away.

Paxson’s Interpretation and Use:  Laguz may indicate a woman or feminine influence in divination, or a new life or creativity welling up from the depths of the unconscious.  Willis says it governs the powers of conception and birth.  Matters pertaining to the psychic or the unconscious, contact with the spiritual ream, or the realm of the imagination.  It can indicate a need to go with the flow, or promise that sympathetic help is coming.  The leek, as a healing herb, can be used for protections and aid intuition.  Laguz is a useful rune in spellcraft, for it has a powerful effect on the female reproductive cycle (and menses in particular).  Drawing it emerging from an upended perthro on the womb can help relieve menstrual cramps and get the flow started, or it can stimulate contractions in child birth.  Combining it with fehu and applying it to both partners can aid in conception.  Drawing it on the brow while intoning it can remove writer’s block, and its power is increased in conjunction with uruz.  In fact, combining it with uruz and thurisaz can influence rain magic.

Paxson’s Practice for Living Laguz:  Studying laguz provides a good opportunity to examine your relationship with the element of water.  If it rains, go for a walk without an umbrella.  Spend time near a lake or pond or by the sea.  Visit an aquarium, investigate the watershed from which your water comes.  Drink at least one glass of water each day, and as you do, sign it with the laguz rune and spend a few moments thinking about its source.  This is also an excellent time to explore the craft of brewing and to make herbal teas and infusions.  Chant appropriate runes over the pot as it bubbles.

Day 347: Tyr’s Aett, Mannaz


As I’ve mentioned before, all the information below comes not from Roderick’s book, but from Diana L. Paxson’s Taking Up the Runes.

Pronunciation:  “MAN-naz”
Meaning:  Man
Supporting Meanings:  Human relations, the divine-in-human, the human archetype, the best that man can be

Ancient Meanings:  In the Younger Futhark, this rune evolved to an intermediate form that resembled a diamond struck through with a line that continued through its bottom point.  It later lost its top and took a form identical to that of the older rune for Elhaz.  In the Anglo-Saxon rune poem takes a rather gloomy view of what man is capable of, saying that “the mirthful man is dear to kinsmen” but that all men inevitably “fail his fellow” since God dooms that their “frail flesh” will be eventually buried in death.  In the Scandinavian poems, however, this final death is augmented.  The Norwegian poem, for example, directly states that “man is an augmentation of the dust; great is the claw of the hawk”.  The Icelandic one, says that man is the joy of man and an augmentation of the dust and adorner of ships.”  In either case, both note that man, though he might become dust, is eventually reborn of it and accomplishes great things.

Modern Meanings:  Edred Thorsson holds that mannaz is the human archetype that identifies humanity as progeny of the gods.  Thus, mannaz is man as a manifestation of the Divine.  In addition, he sees it as an archetypal androgyne, the humanity beyond gender.  Gundarsson reads it as the rune of the rational minds in which the powers of thought and memory interact.  Aswyn reasons that mannaz is a rune of the fetch, as man is the highest animal in which mind rules instinct.  Paxon says that in studying mannaz, “we confront the question of what it means to be human.”  We are both divine and animal.  We may be distinguished by the powers of our intellect and memory, but we have animal urges as well.  The essence of our humanity, perhaps, is the ability to relate to the rest of humankind.

My Take-Away of the Meanings:  Biologically speaking, I think that humans are unique among the animals as being capable of true altruism.  We don’t necessarily protect our kin out of a compulsion to keep a stable breeding pool.  Instead, we’re capable of having empathy for people we’ve never seen in places we’ve never been.  We can even extend this empathy to other animals.  It’s the divine in us recognizing the divine in others.

Paxson’s Interpretation and Use:  A diviner should consider all possible meanings of “gift” in a layout, including the gifts of the spirit, or a need to look at the nature of one’s interactions with others.  Another area to consider is the balance between aspects of an individual’s life, or between the individual and his environment.  It can have economic significance relating to job relationships and results.  IT can also indicate a union or partnership of some kind.  It may also refer to contracts, agreements, and alliances.  It can be used as a general luck rune and to create a link between other forces or in spells of integration or balance.

Paxson’s Practice for Living Mannaz:  Everyone wants to know where they came from, so it’s unsurprising that all peoples develop some myth to account for the origins of human kind.  Read some of these myths from cultures extant and extinct, read what the latest scientific data infers what our origins may be.  Read stories and myths that discuss how humanity has come together to form societies.  When you have read, write your own story.

Day 346: Tyr’s Aett, Ehwaz


As I’ve mentioned before, all the information below comes not from Roderick’s book, but from Diana L. Paxson’s Taking Up the Runes

Pronunciation:  “EH-wahz”
Meaning:  Horse
Supporting Meanings:  Trust, partnership, power, privilege, transportation between realms

Ancient Meanings:  Ehwaz does not appear in the Younger Futhark, likely because the “e” sound it stood for in old Germanic languages migrated to a long “a” sound.  In the Anglo-Saxon rune poem, ehwaz is aligned with the horse and associated with aristocracy, prosperity, and mobility.  It calls the horse “a joy to princes in presence of earls” and calls the horse proud of its hooves with rich men mount it and bandy words.  It also calls teh horse a comfort to the restless.

Modern Meanings:  Edred Thorsson sees ehwaz as a symbiosis between partners, be they man/horse, man/woman, etc:  any form of complementary dyads working together toward a single goal.  Osborn and Longland call it the vehicle of transcendence that increases physical power, or the body which is the soul’s vehicle.  Freya Aswynn views it as that which forms a link between one’s emotional attitudes and the external world and, like Thorsson, sees it as a rune of partnership, cooperation, and adjustment.  For Gundarsson, ehwaz is the vehicle of communication between the worlds, and can symbolize the joining of mystical interpretation and earthly prosperity.  Paxon calls attention to the relationship between horse and rider, calling it “significantly empowering” and saying that together they are able to do things that neither would accomplish alone.  She also notes that ehwaz seems to represent extension of strength through union and spiritual or physical energy, operating in both the physical and spiritual realms.

My Take-Away of the Meanings:  Riding a horse is a powerful experience.  You have to trust the horse to be conscious enough of you to not kill you, and the horse has to trust you to direct it upon a safe course and to care for it.  It’s a real partnership, not simple tool utilization such as driving a car.  And that’s nothing compared to how it feels to ride a horse at a full run!  It is like flying!  No wonder people associate this rune with bridging the spiritual and physical realms!

Paxson’s Interpretation and Use:  Depending on context, ehwaz’s meaning in a reading can include change and movement or an increase in capacity in either the physical or spiritual realms  as a result of cooperation with another.  It can also indicate the possibility or need to change a situation through changing one’s relationship to it.  It can be used as a protective rune in workings involving trance or altered consciousness.  Thosson holds that it stands for connection, loyalty, and the principle of teamwork.  Willis feels that it may mean one is on the right track and success is imminent.  Peterson associates it with physical or astral travel, and Aswynn says that it refers to the relationship with a mother or an older female in divinatory readings.  It can be combined with elhaz in a bind rune to hunt a wandering spirits.

Paxson’s Practice for Living Ehwaz:  The obvious practice here is to experience riding a horse.  However, this is not practical for everyone as it involves a level of physical fitness and coordination…not to mention a healthy pocketbook!  You can find the next best thing in literature, though.  Paxson recommends viewing the film The Black Stallion which skillfully transforms the relationship between the boy and the horse into a metaphor of transcendence.  Similarly, reading Laura Hillenbrand’s book Seabiscuit or even watching the later film can help give you insights into this profound sort of relationship.

Day 345: Tyr’s Aett, Berkano


As I’ve mentioned before, all the information below comes not from Roderick’s book, but from Diana L. Paxson’s Taking Up the Runes

Pronunciation:  “BER-kah-no”
Meaning:  Birch Tree
Supporting Meanings:  Goddess, Earth Mother, pregnancy, nurturing, birth-death-rebirth, life cycles

Ancient Meanings:  According to Diana Paxson, all three rune poems agree that this rune (Beorc in the Anglo-Saxon and Bjarkan in the Norwegian and Icelandic) all mean “birch tree”, though Osborn and Longland cite a gloss on the Anglo-Saxon that argues the meaning as “poplar tree”.  The Anglo-Saxon poem notes that the birch tree is a splendidly branched tree that forms a ‘gloriously adorned’ lofty crown that reaches to the sky, but also that the birch bears no fruit or seed and is generated by suckers that develop from its leaves.  With this description, Osborn and Longland may be on to something as poplars readily reproduce through suckers.  Birch trees typically reproduce sexually through the production of catkins which then develop into seeds.  Many of the seeds do not result in trees, however, and birch trees do have a limited ability to reproduce asexually through the formation of suckers.  The Icelandic poem notes that while birch is “a leafy branch”, it is a youthful wood and is a little tree.  The Norwegian verse is the most cryptic, saying that “birch is the greenest-leaved of branches; Loki was lucky in his deception.”

Modern Meanings:  While Osborn and Longland align Berkano with the black poplar, that doesn’t really impact their interpretation of the rune:  they take this description of asexual reproduction to represent continuous growth and an example of the masculine principle.  Thorsson, however, calls it a rune of the Earth Mother, which makes sense as many cultures feminize the birch tree in their poetry.  Berkano, then, suggests pregnancy and reveals the mystery of birth-death-rebirth and rites of passage.  Gundarsson agrees, calling berkano “the rune of the earth who receives the sacrifice/seed and holds it within herself, guarding and nourishing it until the time has come for it to return to the worlds outside again.”  Frey Aswynn ascribes the rune to the Goddess Berchta, who guards mothers and children, and takes special care of abandoned children and infant spirits.  Wardle describes the rune as the shining may Queen and interprets berkano’s shape as an image of the open womb, making it the sequel to the birthgiving of perthro.  Paxon notes that if berkano is a birch tree rather than a poplar, the rune may be interpreted as a symbol of the tree goddess found in many cultures, female and motherly, source of nourishment and protection.  She prefers to see it as a rune of Frigga, the most motherly and most queenly of the Northern goddesses.

My Take-Away of the Meanings:  Birch trees are one of the first trees to return to an area after a fire, flood, or any such disaster.  Indeed, many grow from the stumps of older birch trees.  They are a sign of the earth re-birthing itself, and is a sign of the Great Mother

Paxson’s Interpretation and Use:  Berkano turns up at significant life passages.  It indicates birth and becoming, rootedness, the feminine.  Gundarsson calls it a rune of “bringing into being” and is the first protection given a child at his or her birth.  It is useful in all female fertility magic and women’s mysteries.  It hides the workings of other runes until their action is ready to be revealed and is a rune of hidden transformation and growth.  It’s a useful healing rune for women’s troubles and menstrual problems.  It suggests success for new enterprises or something beginning.  It indicates healing, recovery, and regeneration.  Birch also has some pain-relieving and fever-reducing qualities as willow, so it can be used magically to speed healing on these lines, too.

Paxson’s Practice for Living Berkano:  One of the major uses of the birch in Scandanavia is in the sauna, a particular type of sweat-lodge where heavy stones are heated with birchwood; therefore, the scent of birch smoke is part of the true Finnish sauna experience.  Fresh birch branches are tied together, and people swat themselves and other sauna bathers with it to improve circulation and to enjoy more of the birch scent.  In Finland, the sauna is the most sacred place after the church, and prior to mass hospitalization, it was the place where women gave birth.  Even today, the experience of a sauna is said to be cleansing for both the body and the mind.  Since birch, healing, and motherhood are all important aspects of the sauna, it might do well to reflect upon berkano as you experience a traditional sauna.