Supporting Meanings: Justice, the just fight, righteous war, governmental guidance, spiritual warrior, sovereignty
Ancient Meanings: According to Diana Paxson, tiwaz is one of the two runes named after a deity. Therefore, mastering this rune requires understanding the god whose anme it bears. Alas, Tyr himself is not easy to understand as he is a very old figure and successive groups of people attributed different qualities to him. As Wikipedia notes, Tyr is portrayed in the Icelandic Eddas alternately as the son of Odin or of Hymir, while the origins of his name and his possible relationship to Tuisto suggest he was once considered the father of the gods and head of the pantheon, since his name is ultimately cognate to that of Dyeus, the reconstructed chief deity in Indo-European religion. It is assumed that Tîwaz was overtaken in popularity and in authority by both Odin and Thor at some point during the Migration Age, as Odin shares his role as God of war. Looking to the Rune poems, the Anglo-Saxon one focuses on Tyr as “a guiding star” who keeps princes faithful and never veers from its course. The Icelandic poem refers to the myth of Tyr binding the Fenris wolf and having his hand bit off in the process. The Norwegian poem refers to this myth, too, but notes that Tyr often employs blacksmiths…presumably to make his weapons of war. Paxon is careful, however, to note that Tyr’s role in fighting was not bloodlust, but to make sure the battle served divine justice.
Modern Meanings: Edred Thorsson defines Tyr as a sky god who is specifically associated with justice as decided by war and judicial combat. He says that Tyr is the self-sacrificing sovereign who rules cosmic order, precise and careful. Osborn and Longland identify Tyr as the polestar, which is a dependable guide. Wardle fees Tyr as the star that marks the midpoint of the heavens, which makes it a symbol of the world axis whose equal arms could be considered to resemble the rune. Gundarsson agrees with the Latin writers association of Tyr with Mars, and interprests the one-ended form of the rune as separating earth and heaven, reflecting Tyr’s unipolar and single-minded character (in contrast to Odin’s flexibility). Tyr only sees the one right way, not the many shades of gray in a situation. The tiwaz rune strongly resembles a spear, which–by Viking times–had become associated with Odin. However, the spear is also a sign of sovereignty.
My Take-Away of the Meanings: I think that part of this rune is the process of statecraft. While there may be many variables contributing to a situation with different levels of justice in each, government can really only take one action. Tiwaz represents coming to the most just response and galvanizing all around you to that response.
Paxson’s Interpretation and Use: In readings, tiwaz can indicate a legal problem or a situation in which one must fight for one’s rights and seek justice. The querent needs to pay attention to duty and serve a higher truth. It can provide moral strength and will to succeed. Willis states that tiwaz can be used to obtain victory in any matter in which there is competition. It indicates strength of will, determination to win, and the potential for conflict. Peterson interprets it to mean victory in legal/political areas or in physical combat. Thorsson sees it as justice and victory won by self-sacrifice. Aswynn sees it as a rune of the spiritual warrior, stimulating the courage and energy needed to come through difficult situations. It’s most useful in legal matters when combined in a bindrune with raidho. Gundarsson says it develops courage, strength, and honor and makes one aware of one’s duty. It can be extremely useful in magical work in the personal/social realms. It focuses one’s energy and directs it single-mindedly to a given purpose. Since Tyr is a god of absolute justice, if you invoke him, be sure that you are in the right, for he will do justice…not necessarily seeing that you win.
Paxson’s Practice for Living Tiwaz: Try meditating on the meaning of justice, perhaps through the myth of Tyr and the wolf Fenris. The gods decided to shackle the wolf, but Fenris broke every chain they put on him. Eventually, the gods had the dwarves make a magical rope, but Fenris sensed their deceit and refused to be bound with it unless one of the gods put his hand in the wolf’s mouth. When Fenris realized he’d been tricked and the ribbon held fast, he bit off Tyr’s hand. Was the wolf just in his action? Why would Tyr have had the courage to submit to Fenris’s demand, knowing that the rope was a trick?