INGWAZ

INGWAZ

Ingwaz is a Rune of masculine fertility and gestation in terms of things waiting to come to full fruition as the seed waits in the soil for the appropriate conditions for growth. There is also the concept of sacrifice (as the sun god is sacrificed at the autumn equinox to return with the spring), or as the end of the seed is the birth of the plant, and the abundance of plenty.

There are two ways to draw Ingwaz, one as a simple square of containment and the other as two X’s stacked one upon the other. The latter symbol suggests two Gifu runes, symbols of giving and receiving, implying that with Ingwaz there is a dual exchange. Ingwaz is a Rune of the divine twins Freyr and Freyja, the Vanir twins, who were their selves thought to have been conceived by another pair of twins, Njördr and Nerthus.[1] In some ancient cultures marriage between brother and sister was socially acceptable.

The intimacy between twins suggests to me of the divine hermaphrodite; I claim responsibility for this interpretation. My reasoning is that the Vanir gods and goddesses were credited for their special magical gifts and abilities that come from higher mind. I believe the divine hermaphrodite represents the sacred marriage in which the male and female aspects of an individual human being (either man or woman) are fully actualized and operational. Man is incomplete without woman and woman is incomplete without man: the polarities of male (active polarity) and female (receptive/passive polarity) combine to form the higher mind in an enlightened person, regardless of their physical sexual orientation.

Another thought I had was that the two X’s of Ingwaz might stand for both the gift (Gifu) and the need (Nauthiz). Nauthiz offers the gift of itself in revealing the action that must to be taken to escape the difficulty it presents, as the enclosure of Ingwaz contains the seed in the soil until the proper time for its growth. The gift and the need accompany one another.

[1] Freya Aswyn, Northern Mysteries & Magic, p. 80

LAGUZ

LAGUZ

Laguz has been defined both as “lake” and “leek,” from the Norse words laguz and laukiz. Traditionally it relates to flow (water seeks its own level) and protection (the leek in Norse thought holds protective qualities). The shape and its mirrored image form the Ehwaz Rune, which relates to emotion. In this case, water is the esoteric analog for emotion. Thus Laguz can relate to deep emotional matters and matters of the subconscious. Consider too the transformational capacity of water, which can manifest as liquid (water), solid (ice), or gas (water vapor), changing with the seasons and the heat of the sun. Emotions run freely here, as opposed to those that are repressed or blocked, as is the case with Isa. This Rune might also turn up advantageously in a reading, as in the case of things being “in the flow” of natural or correct timing. When inverted, its meaning is totally opposed.

MANNAZ

MANNAZ

Mannaz is the Rune of humanity and all that is encompassed by humanity – the descent of man from the gods; the family structure, social status and social structure; the attitudes that family, friends and enemies hold toward one another; individuality and the self; consciousness, morality, the intellect, and invention; and the capacity to work cooperatively together for the benefit of the community. Mannaz deals with the group, whereas Ehwaz dealt with a partnership with a single person. Mannaz, drawn as the Rune for Joy (Wunjo) with its mirror image speaks to the pleasure people take in one another. No person is an island; the ability to survive and thrive require mutual interdependence and understanding.

Northern mythology contains more than one story of how humanity came to be descended from the gods. In one tale, Odin and his brothers gave Ask and Embla life; Odin blew the breath of life into the first human beings. In another story, Heimdall, a son of Odin, journeys to Midgard, guests with three married couples, sleeps between them as their guest, and each wife later gives birth to his sons, thus imparting the blood of the gods into the human race. Each son was believed to have inspired a social class – the warriors, the crafters, and the farmers. Mannaz is therefore a Rune that inspires cooperation between people in the community for the benefit of everyone in that community. In this it has a connection to the Rune Raidho.

Receiving this Rune in a reading can mean cooperation, compatibility, mutual understanding, teamwork, or conversely the development of the self in relation to one’s higher purpose. If Mannaz arrives inverted, it can mean that the group attitude is hostile toward the questioner, self-delusion (the things one does not wish to see), depression, suffering, immorality, or even mortality.

EHWAZ

EHWAZ

Ehwaz is the Rune associated with horses, movement, loyalty and trust, emotion, and the partnership between horse and rider. Those who have worked with horses know that horses are emotional creatures, reacting instantly and instinctively to feelings of fear or comfort, pleasure or pain, associating movement with emotion. Scientist Candace Pert discovered the molecules of emotion, centered in the body. The way we feel about things, the things we want and desire – these are all motivational factors in how we move about our life. My Gurdjieff teacher used to say emotion = e + motion. Knowing what motivates you will get you energized to get moving on it.

Horses and travel correlate the Ehwaz Rune to Raidho, which corresponds to the travel of the heavenly bodies across the sky, to travel by horseback and by horse drawn wagon, and in this modern era by car, train or plan. The relationship of Ehwaz and Raidho to the path of self-evolution is illustrated by the old teaching story of the carriage, the horse, the driver, and the passenger who rides inside the carriage. In this tale, the carriage represents the physical body, the horse the emotions, and the driver as the intellect. The horse is yoked to the carriage by its harness (as emotions are centered in the body), and the driver directs the attention of the horse through the reins. However, to accomplish a real aim, the development of the master (the passenger in the carriage) is necessary to direct the driver. Otherwise all three would be going in their own direction: the carriage would not move, the horse would be freely following its own emotional whims, and the driver would be down at the pub drowning his boredom in beer. We can see these aspects of self in our body, our emotions, and our intellect. When these three aspects of self are united through consistent practice of intentional sensation, the fourth aspect develops – the master.

Ehwaz is the ultimate Rune of partnership between two beings: horse and rider, a married couple, a business partnership. Honest communication is essential for the harmony of such partnerships having a common goal. Edred Thorsson relates Ehwaz to the power of the twin gods, and goes on to say that the horse in Germanic thought is related to mans’ “fetch” which easily travels between the worlds of Yggdrasil.[1] When I consider the shape of the Rune, it is the mirrored image of Laguz, which means flow. Laguz, coming later in the third ÆTT, is a symbol for water, which always seeks its own level. When honest communication stops, like water becoming ice, partnerships falter and break apart.

Ehwaz in a Rune reading is usually a positive indicator of events moving in a favorable direction with correct motivation, but if inverted Ehwaz can mean one’s emotional energies are scattered and unfocused, causing one to spin one’s wheels needlessly in any endeavor. Look to the health of partnerships or any endeavor wherein you are working with another person in a common goal.

[1] Edred Thorsson, Futhark, location 1195 kindle edition. The “fetch” is related to the astral body; see GNG definitions.

BERKANO

BERKANO

Berkano often comes up for me as a protective Rune in galdr-song, and it does this in the role of the protective mother. Berkano is a feminine Rune connected to motherhood, pregnancy, birth, nurture, nourishment, shelter, new ideas, new beginnings, and related life changes such as weddings, funerals, or coming of age. I believe Berkano also to be associated with the Disir, the Matronae, and the Norns, including the group of women souls (and birth planners) who help the Norns with the work of overseeing ørlög. The Disir are strong matriarchs within the ancestral line of Norse clans, and they have also been associated with the Valkyries, Norns, and Vaettir, or land spirits. The Matronae are mother goddesses, appearing in groups of three, worshipped in areas of Germania, Eastern Gaul, and Northern Italy that were occupied by the Roman army from the first century to the fifth. These beings represent the female principle in her fullest empowerment.

In pre-Christian and pre-patriarchal times, women managed the tribes and the villages while the men were away at hunting or war. The Nordic women were practical, efficient, productive, and expedient. They had to make all the hours of the day count for taking care of children and the elderly; the animals who supplied meat, milk, and wool; the crops which would be needed to eat through the cold months; and the washing, spinning, and weaving of the wool and flax into the clothing for the kindred. The point is that women of those times were as respected and as capable as men in any area of life, and that women are not less now, nor should have ever been so regarded at any point in history. In fact women were stronger, as it was their role to bear life, and this they did without the modern advantages of hospitals, pain medication, or cesarean section.

When Berkano shows up with Perthro it is indicative of the women’s mysteries. Ancient ways of feminine initiation included birth and birthing rites; coming of age for young women upon the first menses; there were gender specific rituals that were used by the gythia (priestess) for those women who accompanied the men to war or on the hunt; and marital and death rites. Death was a fact of life for the Northern peoples; they considered women who had born living children to have come near the realm of death and returned. Women held a special power to work with the spirits through the practice of seidr, galdr, or shamanism. [See GNG Definitions] These powers would have been used to nurture the livestock and crops, calm the powers of life threatening storms, locate animals for the hunters, and as charms for good luck and protection put into the weaving of clothing and the processing of food.

TEIWAZ

TEIWAZ

Teiwaz, also known as Tyr, bears the name of the warrior god who sacrificed his hand to chain the wolf of greed (Fenris Wolf), thereby gaining more time for the existence of the world, because this wolf has the power to consume the world. Tiwaz is a warrior Rune of sacrifice, impeccability, the inner discipline of integrity, and the understanding that sometimes one must be the instrument of betrayal of trust for the greater good.

Let me start by defining the names, as they add depth of meaning to the story. Etymologically, the name Tyr is linked to ancient words for gods: Teiwaz; Ziu; Indo-European counterparts Zeus, Dyaus, and Jupiter; and words for “god” – Old Indian deva, Latin dei, and old Norse tívar (the plural of tyr).[1] A second meaning of Tyr’s name is “Beast” or “Animal.”[2] “Fenrisulfr” translates literally as the “Wolf of Greed.” [3] In this tale, the ancient poets bring together Tyr and Fenris as the mirrored aspects of passion: that which makes courageous sacrifices, and that which craves power and material goods.[4] These mirrored qualities of the human soul struggle within the warrior spirit – a paradox of integrity.

Fenris was one of three children of Loki, the Trickster God of the Aesir, by Angraboda, Hagia (head witch) of the Iron Wood in Jötunheim, home of the giants. Foreseeing the potential in these three children for great harm, All-Father Odin bound the Serpent Jörmundgand into the waters surrounding Midgard; sent their daughter, Hela, to her place overseeing the dead in Helheim (her appearance as half-corpse, half-young beauty reveals her power between death and life, the Other World and this one); and the Fenris Wolf. Whatever his reasons, Odin took Fenris to Asgard to rear among the Aesir. Tyr was given the care of this animal, and as the Wolf grew, his appetite became larger and larger.

The Aesir feared Fenris Wolf and desired to have him chained. They tried three times. Twice the wolf broke his fetters. The third time the Aesir commissioned the dwarves to make a very special chain that the wolf could not break. By this time, however, Fenris was mistrustful of the new chain, which was light and flexible, and refused to test his strength against it no matter how the Aesir cajoled him. Only when Tyr, who had fed and befriended the wolf, offered to put his hand in the wolf’s mouth as assurance against trickery, did the wolf agree to let him self be bound.

Try as he might, Fenris could not free himself from the new chain. He bit off Tyr’s hand at the wrist, and the Aesir laughed. Tyr, also called the Just, in sacrificing his hand, had brought a greater good to the larger number of people with his betrayal of the wolf. The Aesir themselves, representing as they do the higher mind, lied and tricked the wolf into testing the new fetters. The paradox in the story is the price one pays to do the right thing. The effort to do the right thing co-exists with the voice of self-deception. We have seen in the story how the higher mind, represented by the Aesir, lied and deceived the wolf, which lives within each of us.

There is fear behind greed: fear that there will not be enough, fear of loss, fears that the warrior in each of us must keep in check through self-knowledge, discipline, and temperance. Tyr was given the task of standing watch over greed. The greater group of the Aesir, warriors all, could not overcome its fear, and decided the wolf must be bound. Tyr, who knew how to feed the wolf, fed the wolf his hand, a part of himself, in the task of binding the wolf.

There is an old story attributed to the Native American Indians that has a grandfather talking to his grandson. “Within each of us, grandson, live two wolves. One is fearless and industrious. The other one is lazy and greedy.” “How will I know which wolf will win, Grandfather?” asks the boy. “The one you feed will win,” the Grandfather sagely tells his grandson. I believe that Tyr fed the wolf that part of himself that could rise above betrayal as long as life conditions were right. But when life conditions became untenable, he had to act against his own nature for the greater good.

This Rune is about impeccability – doing our best and being our best, especially under trying situations. It is about holding our own integrity, even when the choices within the circumstances we are facing may lead to poor outcomes. Tiwaz is the rune of warriors and soldiers, those who have fought for survival, and spiritual warriors. Tiwaz is about keeping your head high and doing what you know is right, even against the odds. Tyr sacrificed his sword hand, which was also his oath taking hand, in a mythology wherein one needs to be physically whole in order to be a leader. His sacrifice included betrayal. The pain of betrayal becomes shame a man of integrity must then live with, even knowing his action led to a greater good.

Tyr is the wounded warrior. I feel we must be mindful of those modern soldiers who return home from war, wounded in mind and/or body, betrayed by a government system (VA) that fails to meet their needs, or the Vietnam veterans who came home and were despised because the war they fought in was despised. Whether we the people agree with the reasons our government sent these soldiers to war, they went forward, putting their lives and their wellbeing on the line for the nation. They deserve honor and our respect for that. American leadership needs to step up and repair its damaged word to its wounded veterans.

Tiwaz’s appearance within a reading may indicate a soldier, the need for a warrior’s approach, a call for integrity of purpose, honor and justice, keeping one’s word, choosing the best course of action from contradictory choices, or justice. I did one reading in which Tiwaz turned up amidst romantic Runes, and the woman’s fiancé was a soldier. The battle one faces might be a real war; it might be in the legal, marital, or political realms; or contained within one’s job situation. There are also battles to overcome serious, life threatening diseases that demand one’s entire inner temperance and fortitude. I am inspired by those who survive years of debilitating cancers with a smile and cheerful attitude despite their pain. One has said that her bones feel better when she remains in a state of laughter. Another turns to her inner artist to keep going. I believe that every human being has some special purpose to honor. Tiwaz energizes us to keep going.

[1] Kvilhaug, p. 350

[2] ibid., p. 350

[3] ibid., p. 344

[4] Ibid., p. 351

SOWELO

SOWELO

Sowelo corresponds to the Sun, bringer of light and sustainer of life, whose warmth and light call forth the seed waiting quietly in the soil until the warm Sun of spring informs it of its time to be born. The Sun is a sphere, and as such, its emanations are felt from all directions. To the Norse, this was a powerful victory Rune. I think of its appearance as making the impossible possible. The figure, drawn like a zigzag, indicates the flow of energy activated by this Rune, moving in a spiral motion every which way throughout every situation, refreshing and enlivening. Also known as SOL, Sowelo relates to our higher self, seeking conscious becoming from the depths of the subconscious. From a shamanist viewpoint, Sowelo’s energy as a figure-eight on the horizontal plane interacts perpendicularly with its energy as a figure-eight on the vertical plane, spinning like a top, revolving from a vortex, pushing outward and upward, contracting back to its point of origin in a repetitive process, causing unusual and unexpected things to happen.[1] This Rune is the light in the darkness that enables one to see one’s way with greater clarity. It enables one to see the hidden potentials within one’s own being, activating hope and ultimate success. In a reading this Rune is almost always beneficial, as it has no reverse position.

Thus ends the second ÆTT which began with Runes for disaster and ends up with the most optimistic Rune of all, but getting through the difficulties presented by the earlier situation have meant life challenges and the growth of one’s will. Hagalaz present the sudden change, Nauthiz is the dire need directing one to the knowledge of what is needed to overcome the difficulty, and Isa represents the time of stopping and waiting for the obstacles to clear and be overcome. Jera, too, speaks to the need for waiting, but its term of waiting is for the results of your period of work to culminate in the harvest. Eihwaz connects us to both sides of the doing, as it represents upward and downward motion along the trunk of the Tree of Life, as Algiz represents the root and the branches crowning the Tree. Perthro, and the Norns, represent those unknown and un-nameable factors that arise within the situation. If you are given timely advice and are willing to do the work advised, you will be given help from above. Otherwise, don’t bother the gods. The Sowelo, like Perthro, represents the unseen forces that contribute to the outcome of any situation. Unlike Perthro, it is always optimistic and can make what seems impossible, possible.

[1] Meadows, Kenneth. Rune Power. P 81.

ALGIZ

ALGIZ

Algiz is the horns of the deer, elk, and aurochs, or the crown of the trees. The crown is the apex. A person’s crown is felt as a dense energy at the top of the head when the crown chakra is active. The crown chakra connects us to Source; communion with Source is possible for all of us without the need of priestly or clerical mediators. The connection to the Divine suggests protection of the sort that comes from knowledge of higher consciousness. If you have that, you will know what to do in any situation, threatening or otherwise. Thus this Rune can mean awakening to the life of higher consciousness, connection to the gods, or depending on the Runes surrounding it in the layout, hidden danger or loss of connectivity to divine forces. When I am reading for myself in relation to a question on my own soul work, when this Rune shows up reversed, I know I need to be more grounded. After all, the branches of the crown of the tree have their counterpart in the root system. There is a Tree Meditation we have taught that centers and grounds us and helps us to be more present to life. In this manner we gain energy, continuity, and are more receptive to receiving our guidance. A higher level of protection comes in when we have the capacity to receive and accept guidance and hold our light.

However, we are not always in an inner state to hold our light strong in the outer world, therefore… In a practical Rune reading, this Rune upright usually means that you have protection concerning the inquiry you asked about. It can also mean friendship, a new business opportunity or other type of good fortune, with beneficial outcomes all around. If a threat does arise, you will have a strong premonition that will help you to counteract that threat. Algiz reversed can mean that you are in a particular state of vulnerability, of making a sacrifice with no gain, or that you are in some manner being deceived or held as a scapegoat for other people’s failures.

PERTHRO

PERTHRO

Perthro is the Mystery Rune associated with the Norns, ørlög, and the Unknown. It can be a Rune of omens, evolutionary change, or conversely addiction and stagnation. Another meaning of Perthro is “lockbox,” a Rune of games of chance, gambling, and luck. If this Rune shows up in a reading, it may mean don’t ask further questions. If you cannot clarify the meaning, stop asking. Yet as a person who has been taught by the Norns, I have learned that careful questioning during a divination can smooth the way to make the best choices to work through ørlög situations. Help will be given unless this is a spiritual test for the questioner. The key to questioning the Norns is a sincere willingness to do the work required with these conditions. Come to the work with an appropriate measure of humility. After all, we are talking about working through karmic (ørlög) conditions in terms of spiritual evolution, and usually these are problems we have caused our selves.

I also believe that the Rune Perthro refers to the well of the Norns, who are responsible for watering the World Tree from Urdr’s Well in Asgard. During one of my meditations with the Tree Yggdrasil, I learned that it is a very old symbol of divine awareness. To the people of ancient times dwelling amidst the ancient forests, trees were known to be conscious beings with which one could communicate, so a Tree of Life as a symbol for conscious awareness makes a lot of sense. Yggdrasil combines within itself all the elements of life throughout the biospheres, as do you and I. During the winter I studied the element of fire, I learned that all the elements integrate with each other, and have their analogs in the human condition. Fire is the analog of thought, as the element of water is to emotion. These two elements seem to oppose each other, yet at a point in our spiritual evolution, we come to the sacred marriage when thought and emotion are realized as opposite faces of the same coin.

The element of water features prominently in the Tree, from the oceans of Midgard, to the frozen waters of Niflheim, with the water vapor rising in the mornings and falling as dew in the valleys. The water from the Tree runs down to the root, condenses into rain, rises to the top of the tree as clouds, and supplies all the Worlds of Yggdrasil with the vital waters for life. There are three wells on Yggdrasil’s worlds: Urdr’s Brunner, Mimir’s Well, and Hvergelmer. I have seen in Vision these three wells merging into one well, and these too have their analog in a human being. The Rune itself looks like a well set on its side to pour water out. I think of it as the Well of the Water of Life that waters the Earth. Emotions are being. What we want we consciously or unconsciously draw toward us, and desire leads to manifesting life experience, which complicates us in ørlög situations. What goes around, comes around.

EIHWAZ

EIHWAZ

Eihwaz, also known as Eolh, or Elk Sedge, a marsh plant, is one of two Runes used for protection and defense; the other is Algiz. The protective and defensive quality lies within the energy of the Rune itself, which contains within itself what is needed for defense, as the horns of the deer or the sharp edges of the Elk Sedge. Eihwaz is the flow of energy from the root to the crown and back again along Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life and Worlds, and in the energy system of the human body running vertically up and down the spine – Barbara Ann Brennan’s Universal Energy Core. It represents the connection and the connectivity between opposite extremes: life and death, conscious and unconscious, dreams and waking consciousness, the recycling of life itself, and the movement between polar opposites. No energy is ever lost, it moves into a new form. It might be considered that which connects two opposing forces in divine Paradox. What is this Paradox? Everywhere in life we see opposites. The Paradox is the blending of the forces: the higher with the lower or the lower with the corresponding higher. I hate, I love – forgiveness brings the transformation. Whenever Eihwaz shows up, take heart, there is work to be done, but there is hope for the situation.

At its highest level, Eihwaz can mean enlightenment. The status of enlightenment is one of harmonious growth and development between human knowledge and being, between the intellect and the emotions, which results in understanding. We may not all attain the Enlightenment of a Buddha, but each time we gain understanding, we say we have gained in enlightenment or illumination. This letting in of understanding is a by-product of experience, and the knowledge we have gained based upon that experience. I feel it important here to mention the process inherent in the Runes as a pathway to conscious being is the flow between thought and memory that defines and enhances our experience via the process of Reason. The clues are there in the Lore for us to find – for example, Odin’s Ravens, Huginn and Muninn, who were given to him by Mother Hulde.[1]

In the Rune work the starting point is the self. Remember that Odin sacrificed himself to himself in taking up the Runes. Self knowledge lies at the heart of the matter, and no matter what events occur at any given point in time in our Outer World or Inner World, there is a stillpoint we come back to: our indwelling center. Eihwaz, like Sowelo, is a Rune that formed the base of the Solar Wheel, or a sky wheel denoting the movement of energy, whether solar, storm, or wind. The eye is at the heart of a hurricane. Like the eye of a hurricane, there can always be a part of the self that holds its stillness through the storms of life. This is the defense offered by this Rune: within us is always that still center from which we can choose how to respond to situations. We are the deciders, and then the doers.

[1] Aswyn, Freyja. Northern Mysteries & Magic.