Jera’s traditional interpretation means harvest, harvest time, or the period of a year. I have found Jera, as the year, to be inclusive also of seasonal activities, cycles, and the idea that “what comes around, goes around,” in accord with the laws of nature and of humanity. This lends Jera a judicial interpretation: lawful action leading to lawful consequences. Jera can indicate a period of time during which one works patiently towards a specific outcome that cannot be rushed. In this manner the farmer tends the planting from spring until harvest-time, weeding, watering, and fertilizing the garden until the fruits and vegetables mature. The outcome of the harvest will be what sustains you. When I was a dairy farmer, we made the field grass into hay for the cattle stored against the winter months, and in return the cattle offered us the sustenance of milk and meat. To summarize, Jera can indicate a time of waiting; with careful planning and hard work during the time of waiting, one can realize a beneficial outcome. When Jera comes up in a reading, it can mean the result the person is looking for will time itself around late summer to early fall. For those who do energy work with the Runes, the application of Jera as harvest may bring a good outcome to a healing.

Jera’s connection to the year and the seasons connects us ceremonial applications around the solstices and equinoxes. A year is the length of time that the Earth revolves around the Sun, giving it also a relationship to Raidho, the Rune attuned to the rhythms and cycles of the stars and planetary bodies. In fact we get our concept of the passage of time from the heavenly bodies. A month is the moon’s cycle through its faces as it orbits Earth; the changing faces of the Moon are the result of its position between the Earth and the Sun on any given night. (The cycles of day and night relate to the Rune Dagaz, which falls in the third Ætt of the Futhark). In ancient times, humans were attuned to these natural rhythms, and they used the heavenly bodies to navigate the oceans and rivers. The placement of the stars, sun and moon set their course. During the passage of a year, humans traditionally honor the passage of the seasons, bringing families and friends together for our health and mental wellbeing. When we are feeling out of sorts with life, Jera can indicate it is a good time to honor the old ways of the seasons to attend to and retune our biological rhythms and physical-emotional welfare.


ISA: I was considering the fullness of Isa’s essence today, and I realized that Hagal’s AEtt recreates sequential patterns of the weather and speaks to the timing of the seasons. The temperature is usually a little warmer prior to and during a storm. The Needfire speaks to the effort required for human survival, but also for the bit of warm before the temperature drops and the wetter snow then freezes into Ice. Ice and the winter season create many unseen dangers, but also offer limitless beauty. Something within us rises above the troubles and has the potential to tap into the relativity of life. The peaceful new snowfall dressing trees in filigreed lace offers the human spirit-soul complex a place of rest. Everything stops. Activity is frozen like the surrounding world. Winter becomes a season for poets and philosophers.

The dangers of Isa require survival knowledge, preparation, and hard work. If the preparation is made – food stored against lack, a well stocked wood pile, secure shelter, and the skills to work with the Ice instead of against it, people can get by well indeed. My Nordic ancestors developed the skills of skiing and skating to get around in Northern winters. The North American tribes developed snowshoeing.

Isa’s dangers are hidden. The old tribes people knew that falling asleep from the cold outdoors risked never waking up. Hidden ice could lead to broken bones in a situation wherein reaching help might be impossible. Food was harder to come by. In modern times black ice on the roads threatens a car wreck. Wintertime slows us down and delays our plans; travel requires careful attention. Wintertime is the traditional season of rest and renewal. Instead of rushing around, when I surrender to the season, I myself feel more rested and renewed. Winter is a time when plants put more energy into their roots than into their branches – a tree’s strongly rooted connection to Earth can save its life during this season of high winds and the freezing of water in the trunk. Winter is a time for choices – am I willing to slow down and surrender to the pace of the season? Or push the pace, feeling impatient and frustrated when I cannot move quickly enough?

Ice as the solid manifestation of water represents the shape shifting qualities of this Rune. Ice is reflective; ice can mirror what is going on inside of us. Ice can reveal the many divergent fragments of our selves that we need to integrate. Frozen water like frozen or repressed memories and emotions reveals aspects of a person that they had long forgotten or buried. Emotional thawing, like water thawing, can be utilized for the growth and nourishment of being and becoming. If we are sincere about our spiritual growth, at some point we will trot out those old emotions for Life Review. Contemplation upon memories and experiences can teach us about our selves, about life, and give us the wisdom of self-knowledge. While we have time to be still, we can thus utilize the time while we wait. We can dedicate that time to personal growth and development.
The solidity of Isa provides structure. The slow movement of ice can force you into yourself to see what you have not wanted to see before now, bringing structure out of chaos. Issues you had not been willing to face thaw out of the reflection of Isa at this time, forcing you into yourself until something changes, transforms, and you find yourself new, reborn as in the springtime. It offers the power to think, act, and experience for yourself.

The tasks of the winter months are those one has not time for during the planting, tending, and harvesting the crops. Traditionally, these tasks would have included spinning the wool and weaving or knitting it into useful garments. Time working with one’s hands provides ample opportunity for meditation, reflection, and contemplation: a time to examine one’s self, one’s feelings, and allow the blending of emotion and thought toward useful knowledge, or the summing up of life’s lessons. What lies in the silence of our hearts? Ice, with its qualities of silence and reflection, can teach us much while we wait for the spring thaw.


NAUTHIZ, the “Need Rune,” translates as “Needfire,” and represents the Bow Drill, an ancient tool for fire making the fire essential to saving and maintaining life during long, icy northern winters. Following the Rune Hagalaz in the Rune Row, Nauthiz indicates severe constraint and hardship; its very essence helps determine the solution to the need.

Nauthiz as a Rune of Time connects one to the Norns, and represents those things that contribute to the development of character: delay, constraint, limitation, oppression, affliction, illness, lack of vitality, money, or other resources. The difficulty of Nauthiz can best be overcome by developing a wait and see attitude, and the practice of patience and endurance. When Nauthiz shows up in a reading, the questioner is undergoing a trial by fire that could result in the further development of their character.

Nauthiz is not a lucky Rune, but if one comes to the Rune with an accepting and willing attitude the solutions to the problems will make themselves known, offering knowledge of the necessary actions to get out of the difficulty. If Nauthiz shows up reversed, the best position to take is one of total honesty and open communication with all involved parties. This is a situation where more face will be saved by owning the mistake than trying to place blame on another party. Nauthiz can also mean continuing hardship, karmic debt or Ørlög to pay off through suffering, melancholy or depression.

Rather than to be regarded as “evil” this Rune can represent the displacement of a great force – what is favorable within one set of circumstances may prove stressful in another. Overcoming Nauthiz means a period of hard work, attention to detail, and perseverance.


HAGALAZ begins the second Rune Row, and Hagalaz is a complex Rune of transformation, containing all the challenges of life, that if overcome can lead to one’s highest potential. Hagal is the hailstorm that threatens crops and can mean even life threatening storms: whiteouts, blizzards, sudden snow squalls that blind one to the path.

The keys to working with Hagalaz and the other seven Runes that accompany Hagal’s Ætt are surrender and acceptance. The power of the storm is greater than any one human being’s effort to advance against it. It is wisdom to stop one’s activities and take stock of the lay of the land: Where is shelter? What advance can be made, if any, against the forces arrayed against one? Sometimes it is better to conserve what one has gained, and rest to fight another day. The Runes that follow Hagalaz provide the information that is needed (Nauthiz) to resolve the problem after a concentrated time of taking stock (Isa). More will be said at the end of the commentary on this Rune row.

With Hagalaz the challenges presented by life through limitation, delay, disruption, sudden change, and events outside of our control arise. Hagal interprets as “hailstone,” the snow or seed crystal, the germ within the sudden transformational storm. Hagalaz is strongly connected to natural causes, disruptions, limitations, and delays. Life disruptions may be weddings, death, illness, birth, or random acts of Nature. Happiness may be found by learning to live within these limitations. Hagalaz also can mean a sudden change brought about by hard work or taking a calculated gamble, in which the outcome can fall either way – great success or failure.

Hagalaz is not necessarily a Rune of unfortunate outcomes. Hagalaz drawn as *H* a bridge connecting two sides represents the Rainbow Bridge of Asgard, Bifröst, that connects the highest form of conscious being to all levels of the World Tree. The snowflake version of Hagal, the “seed crystal” has six sides reminiscent of a quartz crystal with all of the potential for conscious being contained in the quartz crystal. There is a quartz crystal called a Dow crystal that has the three and seven sided windows and represents the consciousness of Love. Thus, Hagalaz represents the tremendous potential inherent within all things. For a thing to crystallize is for its potential to come into being. Hela once told me that all children are seed crystals. At the time I was sitting at my son’s All-County Chorus and following Hela’s suggestion I began looking at all the children through the eyes of love, and seeing how uniquely each child utilized their musical talents, which greatly improved my enjoyment of the concert.

When I was new to the Runes, and Hagalaz showed up in a reading, I shrank back from the approaching troubles. But once I learned how to work with and welcome the energies of Hagalaz, I instead anticipate the offer of a new opportunity. Through undergoing challenges, ordeals, or other forms of suffering willingly, I know that once I get to the other side of it, something in my life will be immeasurably better.

Hagalaz also represents the weather, timing of things within the seasons, the recognition of Earth as an ecological unity, and learning to work within the rhythms of Nature instead of coercing one’s own will upon the timing of the situation. Delays and limitations can convert the time to come more favorably toward the outcome one is shaping. There is much to be said for Divine Timing if one has the grace to surrender, accept, and allow.

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Wunjo has been directly interpreted as “Joy,” and also means satisfaction, success, delight, deep lasting affection, and having all things necessary and really satisfying to one’s existence. The old Rune poem speaks of Joy in the company of the kinsmen sitting together in the hall. Wunjo can mean satisfaction in work or a job well done. All of one’s needs are met. There is the sense and feeling of connectedness, wholeness, or completeness in this Rune at the end of the first Rune Row.

This Rune in reversal indicates disappointment, dissatisfaction, failure, troubles, opposition, or obstacles to be overcome. This Rune is a reminder that although opportunity exists for great joy in life, so too does its opposite of suffering. The juxtaposition of joy and suffering, like pleasant and unpleasant, light and dark are constant reminders of the paradox inherent within the universe.

The first Rune row represents the process of Creation, of things coming into being. From Fehu, the Rune that empowers things to come into being, the Row moves to Uruz, the powers of animal nature and the cow nourishing the first man-like being Ymir. From Ymir, the prototype of humanity, Thurisaz, first the giants, or primal forces of Nature arise, followed by the gods, Ansuz, or beings of higher mind and consciousness. With the event of conscious being in the Cosmos, the great beings (stars, suns, planets, moons) find their balance in the Cosmos through electromagnetism and the power of gravity, establishing their position, the right rhythm and right relationship of Raidho. Within this positioning, all things have their place. Humanity arises on Midgarth, connoting conscious mind, knowledge, artistry, and the craft of Kenaz. Within Great Nature, all things exist in reciprocal relationships, the providence of Gifu, and the satisfaction of having everything necessary for existence, Wunjo.


Gifu translates literally as “gift,” but its meaning includes a sense of obligation with the accepting of the gift. The worldview of the ancient Norse placed high value on hospitality and frith. Frith is a concept that most scholars interpret as meaning “peace,” but Odinic scholar Galina Kroskova has suggested its interpretation is more in line with “right relationship.” This fits what I wrote under Raidho. The concept of gifting thus represented that which was given in reciprocal exchange. On a mundane level this can mean two people coming together in partnership whether in a romantic union, a business relationship, or friendship. On a spiritual level this can equate with the sacred marriage or in communion with the Gods. The Rune has no reversed meaning, so if it appears in a reading with otherwise negative Runes it can point out a condition of an emotional nature or an area where a partnership’s reciprocal responsibilities have not been met. When Gifu shows up sometimes it is worth considering all aspects of what is expected in the mutual exchange before one commits to accepting what is offered.


Kenaz is one of the friendliest of the Runes. Whereas Fehu is the wildfire, Kenaz is the fire of the torch, the hearth, the forge, the candlelight that warms the garth, and the warm heat of the living human body. In this sense it has a protective influence. The Rune can be used to activate Tumo/Tuvo, the process that young Tibetan monks are taught to raise the heat within their own bodies.[1] (A useful kenning for a cold day!) Kenaz conveys the essence of strength and good health. As a forge fire it indicates all the good and useful things that can be designed and crafted to meet the needs for life. In modern times, the meaning may extend to electric lighting and electric usage.

Kenaz represents knowledge, the fire of the creative mind, a passion followed, or the birth of a new idea. It is a Rune for artists and craftspeople; the knowledge gained can represent a trade or apprenticeship of some kind. Protective, positive attitudes lead to right action followed by good benefits. It can indicate a time of good things coming into life – an opportunity to start a business or a new relationship. With proper application of knowledge, Kenaz can mean freedom from anxiety. When reversed in a reading, Kenaz can indicate misuse of knowledge, lost opportunities, or failing, broken relationships. The “heart” has left the “hearthfire.”

[1] See section on Shamanic Exercises and Meditative Techniques.


Raidho, described as the journey Rune, actually has far more depth of meaning than this. Raidho is also the journey the heavenly bodies take through the Cosmos. The stars were the subjects of close observation by those who journeyed both by water and overland in those days when there were no compasses or GIS apps on cell phones. Travelers in the Northern Hemisphere could orient themselves by the North Star, also known as the Pole Star, and the trek of Sun and Moon across the night sky.[1] People who depended on their skills to orient their sense of place in space by such methods noted the roundness of the heavenly bodies. Perhaps this was the first concept of a wheel. Certainly we have the idea of “solar wheel” for the Sun. This Rune is also interpreted as the “solar wagon,” or chariot of Thor as he drives his goat cart across the heavens. The heavenly bodies sustain each other in their orbits via the laws of gravity and electromagnetism. Therefore it is also understandable that this Rune also holds the concept of “right rhythms” within the natural orders of the Cosmos.

I tend to extend this meaning of “right rhythms” one step further, to “right relationships.” My reason is simple. I’m a practicing shamanist. My Spirit Guide has spoken to me often about the importance of remaining in right relationship with the land, nature spirits, and other “invisible” helpers I work with, including the souls of plants, trees, and animals in order to remain in Balance. The concept of Balance is a very important one in shamanism. The Peruvian Indians express it as Ayni – “Today for me and tomorrow for you,” a version of reciprocity, and Munay, meaning “Love.” Right relationship has been expressed in other times and cultures, such as Buddhism. I am thrilled that my ancestral religion too has its version of it.

When the Runes first “downloaded” themselves into my awareness back in 2013, when it came to Raidho, I saw men working together as they prepared for war. They were dressed in leather armor, and the forges were working at hammering out swords, and the men were loading wagons with supplies. Then another scene imprinted itself upon me. Monks were working to load hay on to wagons for the care of the cattle during the winter months. Working together for war or peace represent aspects of this Rune that stands for Right Rhythm and Right Relationship. Within the natural cycles are included the year (the Rune Jera) and the daytime/nighttime cycle (the Rune Dagaz). To this list I would add the laws of the Cosmos: attraction, repulsion, and equilibrium.[2]

Inherent in the aspects of Raidho as a Rune of Right Relationships is communication. One can expect messages via letter, phone, telegram, or email. Generally a fortunate Rune, when one encounters Raidho reversed it could mean failure in communication, difficulties in transportation, delays in one’s plans, or the need to make a journey at an inopportune time.

[1] Edred Thorsson also relates the North Star to the Rune Tiwaz, also called Tyr, after the God of War who sacrificed his hand in order that the Fenris Wolf be bound.

[2] See chapter on Valknut where I spend some time discussing the correspondences between Gurdjieff’s Laws of Three, Seven, and the Runic Ætts.


Ansuz is the God-Rune, the Rune of Divine Breath, wind, and wise council. The Æsir Gods evolved from the giants by the power of conscious being/becoming. Therefore no longer acting purely from instinctive natural impulses, they now act from the shining higher mind. The garth of the Gods, Asgard, is found at the very top of the World Tree representing the highest aspects of being, akin to the Crown chakra or Higher Self. This is the enlightened, illuminated mind. Humanity (the first humans Askr and Embla made from trees) received the gift of breath/life, inspiration, and physicality/passion/sensuality from Odhinn, Hœnir, and Lódhurr, the three grandsons of Ymir. These forces guided by higher mind represent the sacred pinnacle of life via the twinned aspects of Thought and Memory, symbolized by Odhinn’s Ravens Huginn and Muninn, given to him by Hulde, who may be the pre-Christian version of Hela, Norse Goddess of Death.[1] This relationship seems to point also at the life and death relationship of this Rune. Ansuz is the Rune of the Word made flesh, the transformative power of spiritual and numinous knowledge. A human being in prayer or in ecstatic practice becomes the receiver for this way of knowing, which possesses an inherent force for transformation in the sense of being.

Relating also to the Ancestors, Ansuz is a Rune for the knowledge held within our DNA, chromosomes, blood, and bone. This Rune is a knowing of the ancestral, sovereign god of consciousness, notably Odhinn, also known as “All-Father.” Another kenning here for Ansuz is Ond, or “mouth,” like the mouths of rivers from which all journeys begin, like humans are descended from this Sovereign God.[2] The capacity for consciousness is inherited from the Gods through our human ancestors, giving us the capacity for self-sovereignty, or self rule.

On the more mundane level of daily life, Ansuz can mean the spoken word; education, exam, or test; the receiving of knowledge, wisdom, or life experience from an expert source; or the chance meeting with a wise elder. When the Rune shows up reversed, it can mean poor advice, lies, lawsuit, trickery, deception, or the need to get a second opinion.

[1] Freya Aswyn Northern Mysteries at end of Hulde/Hela chapter

[2] Edred Thorsson, ALU, An Advanced Guide to Operative Runology, Kindle edition, location 943 of 3522.