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.