Perthro and the Well of the Norns

Another viewpoint on Perthro:

The Old English Rune Poem reads "[ Lot box ] is always play and laughter among bold men, where warriors sit in the beer hall, happily together." Neither the Old Norwegian Rune Poem nor the Icelandic Rune poem address the Rune. Consequently it is often interpreted as the Rune of Chance, Gambling, and Luck.

However, I was studying Runelore, by Edred Thorsson, in preparation for a Rune Talk workshop. More specifically I was hand copying the list he provides in the Appendix (see p. 204-205) for the Anglo-Friesian Futhork, and I noticed the similarity in the drawings, and alternate drawings, of Runes numbered 14, 21, and 32, scratched below:

Rune Perthro Variations
Perthro - alternate interpretation


When I noticed that the shape of the Frisian drawn stave for Rune 14 Perthro, and Rune 21 for Lagu, water, was the same, I realized that in olden times Perthro probably stood for the Well of the Norns, or Urdr's Well located in Asgard where the Aesir meet at their lawgiving. This would give the Rune Perthro its current interpretation of chance, luck, and mystery, but what was lost was the Rune's original connection with the Well of the Norns. If this was indeed the original interpretation, the meaning could have been lost along with the traditional practice of women's mysteries, which were probably associated with the mystery of the womb and childbirth, around the time of the Romans conquests when the influx, migration, and intermingling of peoples disrupted old customs and introduced new ones. I have included Anglo-Frisian Rune 32 because of the similarity of the shape and the fact that the Rune's name, Stan, means Stone.

Quote from the Younger Edda, "...the norns, that dwell in the fountain of Urd, every day take water from the fountain and take the clay that lies around the fountain and sprinkle therewith the ash, in order that its branches may not wither or decay. This water is so holy that all things that are put into the fountain become as white as the film of an egg-shell. As is here said: An ash I know/Hight Yggdrasil;/A high, holy tree/ With white clay sprinkled./Thence come the dews/That fall in the dales./Green forever it stands/Over Urd's fountain. The dew which falls on the earth from this tree men call honey-fall, and it is the food of bees. Two birds are fed in Urd's fountain; they are called swans, and they are the parents of the race of swans." (Snorri, Chapter VII, V. 16

This passage from Snorri's Younger Edda supports my idea when I consider that the Rune itself looks like a cup, pot, or can turned on its side to pour or release water. The connection to Stan/Stone seems equally obvious to me because earth contains water. Earth and water are two elements that mingle in order to provide the chemistry necessary to life.

Water also provides a metaphor for the changing states of the Soul, and the presence of the swans at Urd's Well are a clue to the involvement of the Valkyries that ride to choose the slain for Valhalla. Only those who had lived lawfully would be chosen for that high estate - another clue given by the presence of Urd's Well is by the Thing and that the Norns are responsible for overseeing Ørlög, the Norse word most akin to karma, fate, destiny.




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.