Thurisaz, the third Rune, has been interpreted to mean “Thorn,” but relates also to Thor, the Æsir God who protects the garth/gard/guard (enclosure or protective settlement) from the giants. The root word thurse also relates to the race of giants whom frequently oppose the gods who support humanity. Thor, with his hammer Mjöllnir, an iron belt, and an iron glove, travels about in his goat cart killing trolls and protecting Asgard from predation by the giants who represent large natural forces.
A “giant” might be any natural force, or any inherent unconscious force, that is larger than ourselves: floods, thunder and lightning, earthquakes, forest fires (Fehu), and other natural disasters, which are external to ourselves, and fear, anxiety, or subconscious rage, which are internal to ourselves. Thor himself has the property of making himself as large or as small as needed, which makes him the ideal counterforce to the giants.
Thor is also called Thunar, which means thunder. He has come to me when I needed guidance to work the weather and in friendship when I have worked the land. He definitely has ties to storms, as thunderstorms are essential for setting nitrogen in the soil for the legumes to prosper. His iron belt and the glove that he wears to use his hammer evoke also his capacity to attract and manage electrical forces.
As Thorn, Thurisaz reveals two aspects of itself. Rose bushes, thorn apples, and raspberry or blackberry bushes are those shrubs and trees which come to mind bearing both the nasty thorn, scented flower, and fruit. The shrubs provide protective hedges for the smaller wildlife to escape the winged predators: hawks, owls, and eagles. As with the thurses and Thor, the Rune is both dangerous and protective. When Thurisaz shows up in a reading, whether upright or reversed, look at both the destructive and protective potential inherent within the situation. Where lies the Thorn? Where lies the Rose? More than any other Rune, Thurisaz represents the power of Paradox.
If Uruz is the Rune of physicality, Thurisaz is the Rune that can indicate the inherently unconscious, emotional forces underlying situations where we get in our own way. As we explored in the chapter on the Subconscious, the reptilian and mammalian brain still retain the capacity for over-riding the waking consciousness of the neo-cortex in situations where quick response proves essential for survival. These episodes can result in unconscious patterns of behavior that can trip us up in our own lives and our own goals until we begin to discern the resultant behaviors and change them. (See Engrams and Negative Behavior Feedback Loops). Thurisaz thus becomes a Rune to help us get in touch with those lost and forgotten aspects of self through the process of recollection, recapitulation, and the effort to see ourselves as we really are, not as we would have others see us. Through our ability to weather the pointy, sharp, shadowy aspects of self we pass through the thorns to smell the roses.
The related fairy tale here is the one of Sleeping Beauty. The original story to the fairy tale is the one where Odin punished Brunhilda, a disobedient Valkyrie, by putting her to sleep in a thorn thicket until the hero Sigrid came along to awaken her. The sleep thorn is the unconscious, and the thorn the conscious. The awakened Valkryie is now able to teach the hero the full magical workings of the Runes.