Runic Symbolism and Divinatory Tables - Reading The Runes

The Big Book of Runes and Rune Magic: How to Interpret Runes, Rune Lore, and the Art of Runecasting - Edred Thorsson 2018

Runic Symbolism and Divinatory Tables
Reading The Runes

In the first chapters of this book we concentrated on absorbing the esoteric lore of the runes; in the latter part we will engage in actively using runes to cause alterations in ourselves and in the environment. But before the student seeks to make changes or write in the warp and weft of the world, the student must learn to read the runes aright. Here I will offer the basics of the skill of runecasting. It must be emphasized, however, that the keys presented here do not exhaust the possibilities of runic readings. Each vitki ought to keep careful records of every casting so that personal trends in interpretation may be noted and utilized. Just as no two people really speak the same language (each of us uses grammar and vocabulary uniquely), the way in which “you and your runes communicate” also will be unique. This is why learning the runes is actually tantamount to learning to know the self.

The following tables, however, are based on traditional associations essentially drawn from insights into the rune poems and other aspects of ancient runelore (associations of names, number, etc.). Also, some advantage has been taken of the divinatory vision of the German Armanic system in which a great deal of runecasting has been practiced successfully for decades.

These tables will delineate the runic readings on three levels: (1) general lore, (2) “positive” or birth/life levels (under the heading “Bright-stave”), and (3) “negative” or death level (under the heading “Murk-stave”). The first is necessary to give a general orientation to the runic symbolism and to provide a context from which the runer will be able to expand personal readings.

The “bright” reading of a rune is really its “normal” reading, the one it has in isolation and outside the context of other runes. This is by no means always “positive” in the sense of “beneficial.” Take, for example, the runes thurisaz, isa, nauthiz, or hagalaz, all of which can be detrimental on their own in their “positive” aspects. The “negative” or murky reading of a rune is determined by its relationship to other runes or by the position in which it lands in a casting. This negativity is actually an expression of one of two possible patterns: (1) cataclysm, or (2) obstruction. When a rune is cataclysmically juxtaposed to another it indicates that change is in the offing, change that will perhaps be uncomfortable, but change that may lead to a new beginning. Obstruction of one runic force by another is the worst of possibilities; it suggests stasis and stagnation of the forces. Ways of determining the relative brightness or murkiness of a stave in any given reading will be discussed in detail in chapter 19.

Each table shows the stave shape, its numerical and phonetic values, its Germanic name with translations from various cultural and historical contexts, and the modern English word ultimately derived from it (or a reconstructed name). This English word can be used as an alternate modern name for the stave. Stanzas of the “Old English Rune Poem” (OERP), the “Old Norwegian Rune Rhyme” (ONRR), and the “Old Icelandic Rune Poem” (OIRP) that are relevant to each of the elder staves are also included. There are only sixteen runes in the younger system used by the “Old Norwegian Rune Rhyme” and the “Old Icelandic Rune Poem,” so only those sixteen of the twenty-four runes of the elder system have stanzas from these two works.

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OERP

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(Money) is a comfort to everybody although every man ought to deal it out freely if he wants to get approval from the lord.

ONRR

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(Money) causes strife among kinsmen; the wolf grows up in the woods.

OIRP

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(Money) is the (cause of) strife among kinsmen, and the fire of the flood-tide and the path of the serpent.

Lore

This is the principle of mobile power—within nature, within the self, and within society. Fehu is a power that flows outward like fire from its course and must be circulated in order to be beneficial. This circulation of fire must be handled by the athelings with wisdom and foresight so they do not destroy themselves or others. The F-rune is a sign of the first vital fire of life and movement which ensures continuing change in the world.

Bright-Stave

Foresight is needed. Wealth may be in the offing, but it must be used with wisdom and shared generously to avoid conflict. If used properly, social success will be won. This is also true of the “inner wealth” of knowledge. Share and your power will grow. The origin of this power of well-being is outside your present consciousness; the power is just welling up from below the surface. Ethical behavior based on wisdom and tradition is called for. There may be travel in the offing. Great energy is indicated as well as new beginnings and new life. Erotic renewal. This rune could signify a person who works with animals or finances.

Murk-Stave

Greed can cause you to become an outcast in society, and to suffer inner alienation from the self. Discord may be in the offing, discord based on a lack of circulation of the power of fehu. Excess of fehu can cause you to “burn out” your creative energies. Control them and use them with wisdom. There may be a proclivity toward offensive aggression. Obstruction leads to a blockage or atrophy of vital energies. Failure and poverty are in the offing.

Keywords for Fehu

Bright: Social success, Wealth energy, Foresight, New beginning

Murky: Greed, “Burnout,” Atrophy, Poverty, Discord

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OERP

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(Aurochs) is fearless and greatly horned a very fierce beast, it fights with its horns, a famous roamer of the moor it is a courageous animal.

ONRR

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(Slag) is from bad iron; oft runs the reindeer on the hard snow.

OIRP

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(Drizzle) is the weeping of clouds, and the diminisher of the rim of ice, and (an object for) the herdsman's hate.

Lore

This is the principle of vital organic life energy, original procreation, and organic transformation. Uruz is the primal cosmic bovine-force that shapes manifestation and defends that manifested form. The aurochs was a wild and powerful large bison like longhorned bovine that roamed Europe until it became extinct. The beast was known for its power, ferocity, and tenacity. The medieval rune poems use different meanings: (l) a purifying fire that removes dross elements, or (2) water that is forced from the clouds in a similar process.

Bright-Stave

Vital strength is its essence. There is an emotive up-welling and out-pouring of energy. This energy leads to strength if it is tenaciously held on to and controlled. Properly this strength should be used to defend your “homeland,” be that the physical home or the “hall” of the self (i.e., “defense mechanisms”). Strive toward inner goals and more power will result. Use the strength to burn away weakness and dross. Be constant and vigilant. The organic essence of the rune will lead to knowledge and understanding, health and general luck. (The horseshoe as a symbol of luck was derived from the :Image: stave.) This rune could signify a physician or someone in the crafts.

Murk-Stave

Obsessive protectiveness and possessiveness. Misdirection of energy ruins or destroys other beneficial aspects. This can indicate strength used in the wrong way or time (“rain on the hay”), or strength used by the wrong people whose only desire is to control others (“shepherd”). Uncontrolled enthusiasm leads to mania. A blockage of uruz leads to sickness, inconsistency, and ignorance.

Keywords for Uruz

Bright: Strength, Defense, Tenacity, Freedom, Form, Health, Understanding

Murky: Weakness, Obsession, Misdirected force, Domination by others, Sickness, Inconsistency, Ignorance

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OERP

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(Thorn) is very sharp; for every thane who grasps it; it is harmful, and exceedingly cruel to every man who lies upon them.

ONRR

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(Thurs) causes the sickness of women; few are cheerful from misfortune.

OIRP

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(Thurs) is the torment of women, and the dweller in the rocks, and the husband of Vardh-rúna (a giantess?)

Lore

The thurs is a reactive force in brute nature. It is a reaction to the clash of two polarized forces and the transformation of that force into kinetic energy. This occurs in nature in the form of the thurses (unconscious forces), but also the Ása-Thor makes use of an analogous force—Mjöllnir—to combat the encroachment of unconsciousness. The TH-rune is a sign of the psychosexual symbolic response, which in unconscious beings leads to compulsion but in conscious ones to transformation.

Bright-Stave

Reactions to your deeds may be dangerous. Take care in passively engaging or blindly grasping the “outside world” (i.e., outside yourself, home, etc.). Do so with knowledge. Danger may be present in the outside world. This is an erotic vital force. An intensification of erotic expression may be in the offing, but this may be mixed with pain. Correctly applied, this power can be protective and lead to evolutionary change and regeneration. This is the rune of crisis for good or ill, a catalyst for change. It may represent an unskilled brutal person.

Murk-Stave

Unwisely approached, the TH-stave betokens defenselessness and danger. Beware of enemies from the outside. It indicates reactive compulsion and misery in relations with the opposite sex. Betrayal may be in the offing. The thurs is an intellectually “dense” rock-like entity.

Keywords for Thurs

Bright: Reactive force, Directed force, Vital eroticism, Regenerative catalyst

Murky: Danger, Defenselessness, Compulsion, Betrayal, Dullness

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OERP

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(God/Mouth) is the chieftain of all speech, the mainstay of wisdom and a comfort to the wise ones, for every noble warrior hope and happiness.

ONRR

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(Estuary) is the way of most journeys; but the sheath is (that for) swords.

OIRP

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(Ase = Odhinn) is the olden-father, and Asgardhr's chieftain, and the leader of Valhöll.

Lore

This is the principle of divine conscious power as embodied in the god Odin. Odin is the divine pattern or exemplary model for self-transformation, not a god with whom worshippers seek “union.” This is symbolically shown in the analogies made in the ONRR: estuary/ship-journey, and sword/scabbard. Ansuz contains the mystery of the “meta-language” as it embodies all linguistic and symbolic systems. This is the rune of synthetic consciousness.

Bright-Stave

Skills involving language are indicated. The power of persuasion is great in the spoken word and the ability to imitate. Direct access to the source of consciousness and perhaps a transformative spiritual experience are in the offing. Learn the way of Odin, but do not worship him. Responsibility to ancestral ways and the promotion of the interests of the ancestors are indicated. It is necessary to synthesize, to bring together disparate elements in order to understand. Inspiration and intellectual achievement are present. The unexpected must be expected. Strive for the best and highest. This rune may indicate an intellectual or priestly person.

Murk-Stave

Without proper understanding, the ansuz may lead to delusion. Uncomfortable situations may be in the offing, as tests or catalysts to new understanding. Beware of attempts by others to manipulate you. Danger may come through a misuse of knowledge or from unwholesome influences. A blockage of this force leads to boredom and eventually to intellectual death.

Keywords for Ansuz

Bright: Inspiration (enthusiasm), Synthesis, Transformation, Words

Murky: Misunderstanding, Delusion, Manipulation by others, Boredom

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OERP

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(Riding) is in the hall to every warrior easy, but very hard for the one who sits up on a powerful horse over miles of road.

ONRR

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(Riding), it is said, is the worstfor horses; Reginn forged the best sword.

OIRP

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(Riding) is a blessed sitting, and a swift journey, and the toil of the horse.

Lore

This is the principle of rhythmic and proportional dynamism or energetic action. It is the cycle—but in spiral form—always governed by perfect proportion and interval. As such, raidho is the rune of the long ride, the long, hard journey of growth and becoming in the world. This is a journey which must be governed by good rede (counsel) and a rational process. Raidho is the practice of what ansuz has inspired.

Bright-Stave

An ordered change is indicated. Ordered ethical deeds are necessary. This requires planning, preparation, and good judgment, however. Action is necessary. Gain experience in the “outside world.” The fylgja and hamingja must be strengthened. A journey or change in domestic situation is in the offing. Logical matters may become a concern. Justice may be expected. Make use of reason and good counsel. This rune may signify a person in the legal or transportation field.

Murk-Stave

Hard times are ahead. Spiritual crisis based on unpreparedness may be in the offing. Spiritual boredom resulting from rigid routines could ensue. Beware of bad advice. A blockage of the raidho force will lead to injustice, violence, stultification, or inappropriate irrationality.

Keywords for Raidho

Bright: Rationality, Action, Justice, Ordered growth, Journey

Murky: Crisis, Rigidity, Stasis, Injustice, Irrationality

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OERP

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(Torch) is to every living person known by its fire, it is clear and bright it usually burns when the athelings rest inside the hall.

ONRR

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(Sore) is the curse of children; grief makes a man pale.

OIRP

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(Sore) is the bale of children, and a scourge, and the house of rotten flesh.

Lore

This is the principle of analysis (of breaking up things into their component parts) and of creativity or shaping things. Kenaz is the fire of divine inspiration under the control of human craft, which results in artistic creation. It is the fire of the torch, the hearth, the harrow (altar), the forge, and the funeral pyre.

Bright-Stave

Inner creativity and artistry, or general ability and aptitude are indicated. Rest and relaxation are necessary to allow it to arise. The creative fire is applied to the personality. Transformation is suggested, a shaping or reshaping of the present situation, enlightened by divine inspiration. A child may be in the offing. This rune may indicate a person in the arts or crafts.

Murk-Stave

Unwanted dissolution, perhaps in the form of physical disease or the breakup of a relationship. Problems with children may be indicated. Blockage of the kenaz force leads to inability and a lack of creativity or skill.

Keywords for Kenaz

Bright: Technical ability, Inspiration, Creativity, Transformation, Offspring

Murky: Disease, Breakup, Inability, Lack of creativity

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OERP

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(Gift ) is for every man a pride and praise, help and worthiness; and of every homeless adventurer it is the estate and substance for those who have nothing else.

Lore

This is the principle of the threefold Gift of Odin: consciousness, divine breath, and form. It is also the principle of giving and taking, of an exchange between any two beings or two realms. It is the sacrifice—or gift—made by people to gods in order to compensate or petition for divine favors. In human society this is reflected as simple hospitality.

Bright-Stave

Provide for hospitality and generosity with guests. Be prepared to accept it as well. A material or spiritual gift may be in the offing. You may expect great credit, honor, dignity—or you might be called upon to bestow these on another if you are in a position of power. You may have a magical exchange with a member of the opposite sex. A powerful and synchronistic (Wyrd) experience could be in the offing. This rune may represent a person who works for a nonprofit organization or charity, or someone in the hotel or restaurant business.

Murk-Stave

Take care not to give away all you have. Spend wisely. Do not become overly dependent upon gifts from others, for “aye does a gift always look for gain.” An attempt to buy influence with gifts is possible; beware of financial enslavement. Things might get worse before they get better. Blockage of the gebo will cause greed and weakness, or poverty and loneliness.

Keywords for Gebo

Bright: Gift (giving), Generosity, Magical exchange, Honor, Sacrifice

Murky: Influence-buying, Greed, Loneliness, Dependence, Over-sacrifice

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OERP

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(Joy) is had by the one who knows few troubles pains and sorrows, and to him who himself has power and blessedness, and a good enough house.

Lore

This is the principle of ideal harmonization of entities or elements—especially those derived from the same source. From this, harmony, joy, and good cheer naturally arise.

Bright-Stave

Social and domestic harmony can be expected. Separation from pain or the ability to cope with it is indicated. Keep ideals in mind; strive for them. Either good physical health is indicated, or attention should be paid to it. Strive to bring together disparate elements in your life; organize things. Harmonize your inner and outer lives. New social relationships—not necessarily sexual ones—are likely. Material prosperity may result from business relationships. A person in social services may be signified by this rune.

Murk-Stave

Stultification of the individuality in the “group mind” is suggested. Blurring of individual efforts and minimalization of the individual ego can lead to loss of identity. Stoppage of the wunjo force results in poor relationships with others—strife and alienation—as well as inner alienation from the self and from the gods.

Keywords for Wunjo

Bright: Harmony, Joy, Fellowship, Prosperity

Murky: Stultification, Sorrow, Strife, Alienation

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OERP

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(Hail) is the whitest of grains, it comes from high in heaven showers of wind hurl it, then it turns to water.

ONRR

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(Hail) is the coldest of grains; Christ1 shaped the world in ancient times.

OIRP

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(Hail) is a cold grain, and a shower of sleet, and the sickness (destroyer) of snakes.

Lore

“Hail” is a complex principle which involves the projection (from “above” or “beyond”) of a hard and dangerous substance which is also the “seed of becoming,” new creation, and transformation—sometimes through crisis. This is clear in all the rune poems which refer to “hail” as a form of “grain” or a seed. This is transformation within the framework of the cosmos, and the (re-)unification of polar opposites in a productive way. Like the number nine, it represents completion.

Bright-Stave

A change or transformation of your life situation. Perhaps crisis or trauma may be in the offing. The source of this impetus probably will come from beyond your present consciousness. Warning: Be prepared for crisis. This rune indicates self-ordering and inner harmony based on mythic models. (This is the only preparation possible.) Seek to develop pure—crystalline—ideals or principles. If change is undertaken from the impetus of crisis, a good outcome can be expected. A reshaping of your present situation modeled on higher forms or principles (archetypes) is indicated. This rune may indicate a mystic, magician, or priest.

Murk-Stave

Crisis leading to destruction of your vital powers and sources of well-being is indicated. There is lack of preparation. Change for the worse. Personal stagnation is an invitation to catastrophe. Blockage of the “hail” will result in total stagnation and lack of change in life. At first, this may seem beneficial, but crisis must be controlled, not avoided entirely.

Keywords for Hagalaz

Bright: Change according to ideals, Controlled crisis, Completion, Inner harmony

Murky: Catastrophe, Crisis, Stagnation, Loss of power

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OERP

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(Need) is constricting on the chest although to the children of men it of ten becomes a help and salvation nevertheless, if they heed it in time.

ONRR

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(Need) makes for a difficult situation; the naked freeze in the frost.

OIRP

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(Need) is the grief of the bondmaid, and a hard condition to be in, and toilsome work.

Lore

“Need” is the principle of resistance or friction in the universe. As with the “hail” rune, the source of this is outside the individual's control. This is the principle of the chain of causality—cause and effect. This is a root principle of ørlög—action and reaction in a chain of events. In the darkness and cold of the need-rune the need for fire is realized, but the fire must be generated from what you have within yourself. Thus the need-fire is kindled to banish distress.

Bright-Stave

Recognition of “need” leads to taking appropriate action to alleviate distress. Stress is turned to strength through consciousness. Resistance to the will leads to a strengthening of the will. Crisis forces original thought and self-reliance. A change leads to salvation from within the self. This rune may indicate a torrid love affair or a crisis in the present one. It also can signify a menial worker or bureaucrat—or a mystic/magician.

Murk-Stave

External circumstances constrain freedom. Beware a hostile environment. Your will is being resisted. The toilsome aspects of life are grinding you down. Friction is present in your inner and outer relationships. You are overly directed toward “outer” things—turn within. Blockage of the nauthiz leads to a lack of dynamic tension in life. There is a danger of being seduced to the “easy path” (the so-called “path of least resistance”). This would result in personal atrophy.

Keywords for Nauthiz

Bright: Resistance (leading to strength), Recognition of ørlög, Innovation, Need-fire (self-reliance)

Murky: Constraint of freedom, Distress, Toil, Drudgery, Laxity

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OERP

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(Ice) is very cold and exceedingly slippery; it glistens, clear as glass, very much like gems, a floor made of frost is fair to see.

ONRR

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(Ice), we call the broad bridge; the blind need to be led.

OIRP

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(Ice) is the rind of the river, and the roof of the waves, and a danger for fey men.

Lore

“Ice” is the principle of absolute contraction and stasis. It gathers all things around it into itself and tries to hold them in stillness, darkness, and coldness. This is the extension of the cosmic ice of Niflheimr which balances the all-dynamism of the fires in Muspellsheimr. This force acts as a bridge between worlds due to its “solidifying” quality. It is the bonding element in the cosmos. However, in its pure state it is a destructive and dangerous element.

Bright-Stave

Enhancement of self-consciousness and of ego awareness. Difficult situations are overcome with inner resources. Transition (not always easy) from one state of being to another. This rune may indicate a time to pull back into the self without separating from the world. You need enlightened action to guide your steps in the possible transitions. You possess self-control, the ability to influence others, unity of purpose and being. This element is not without the fascination of beauty. Isa also may represent a mystic, scoundrel, or dead man.

Murk-Stave

Out of balance, the “ice” can cause a freezing of life forces and an over-concentration in the ego center, leading to dullness and stupidity. There is a danger of becoming blind to the totality. Transitions bode dangers, though the dangers may be hidden by beauty. Your will may be weakened; or you may be controlled by others, by outside forces: A blockage of isa leads to a dissipation of forces and an inability to concentrate consciousness or activity.

Keywords for Isa

Bright: Concentrated self, (Ego) Consciousness, Self-control, Unity

Murky: Ego-mania, Dullness, Blindness, Dissipation

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OERP

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(Harvest ) is the hope of men, when god lets, holy king of heaven, the earth give her bright fruits to the noble ones and the needy.

ONRR

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(Good harvest) is the profit of men; I say that Frodhi was generous.

OIRP

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(Good harvest) is the profit of all men, and a good summer, and a ripened field.

Lore

Jera is the cyclical aspect of nature, the great wheel of the year. When properly used, this natural cycle yields good fruits (rewards). The year is a mechanical/organic process, not a “moral” one. This concept of eternal cycle, or eternal return, is one of the core concepts of the rune row. The other is found in the axis of the yew-rune.

Bright-Stave

Rewards for right action. Plenty and a “good harvest” can be expected. You may be the recipient of the generosity of another. Peace and tranquility born of material well-being are in the offing. You experience the organic/material manifestations of your actions. Have patience to act at the proper time. This rune may represent a farmer or someone in financial affairs.

Murk-Stave

Enslavement to cyclical patterns. You are unable to get beyond repetitious behavior. Inappropriate timing or actions lead to negative results. Failure and poverty can result from wrong work. A blockage of the year-rune causes an inability to use cyclical, natural patterns. Ignorance of the ways of nature may lead to conflict with the self and with others as you attempt to compensate.

Keywords for Jera

Bright: Reward, Plenty, Peace, Proper timing

Murky: Repetition, Bad timing, Poverty, Conflict

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OERP

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(Yew) is on the outside a rough tree and hard, firm in the earth, keeper of the fire, supported by roots, (it is a) joy on the estate.

ONRR

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(Yew) is the greenest wood in the winter; there is usually, when it bums, singeing (i.e., it makes a hot fire).

OIRP

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(Yew) is a strung bow, and brittle iron, and Farbauti (= agiant) of the arrow.

Lore

This is the principle of the vertical axis that penetrates into the world above and the world below and connects the human realm to the heavenly and chthonic regions. It is the synthesis of above and below, light and dark, life and death. The yew is a flexible force but also hard; it endures beyond all other things.

The yew is evergreen in the winter—life in the midst of death—and it is used to build fires, thus becoming the “sun within.” This is the World-Tree Yggdrasill.

Bright-Stave

The “yew” promotes spiritual enlightenment along the vertical axis of consciousness. Mental toughness and flexibility are needed. The inner flame must be ignited through discipline. Seek independence from the natural/mechanical order of the cosmos. Controlled changes in consciousness are indicated (initiation). Realization of inner strength will protect you from outside dangers. Bring together the light and dark. This rune may also indicate a mystic or magician.

Murk-Stave

Eihwaz coming too early into the life of a person can cause deep confusion and consternation. The hot fires unconsciously ignited may cause “burn out,” leading to death and decay. A stoppage of the “yew” principle in those who are prepared for it causes a profound sense of dissatisfaction, boredom, and meaninglessness. It also can soften your will and sense of self-discipline.

Keywords for Eihwaz

Bright: Enlightenment, Endurance, Initiation, Protection

Murky: Confusion, Destruction, Dissatisfaction, Weakness

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OERP

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(Lot-box) is always play and laughter among bold men, where the warriors sit in the beer hall, happily together.

Lore

Two things are necessary to understand the connection between the mirth described in the “beer hall” (i.e., a place where sacrificial drink is consumed) and the idea of divination or runecasting. First, you must understand that there was very little difference between the techniques and tools of runecasting and those of simple gambling. Second, you must realize that gambling was an absolute passion among the Germanic (and even Indo-European) peoples. (See the Germania, chapter 24.) Like war, gambling was a way to “test their luck”—which meant no less than the strength of their essential beings. This is the runic principle behind the process embodied in the three Norns—Urdhr-Verdhandi-Skuld—which results in ørlög, the ordeal of humankind. The mystery of perthro is what runecasting is about.

Bright-Stave

A source of joy to athelings (powerful, enlightened ones) who sit in the beer hall, i.e., a well of knowledge and ecstasy to athelings in a contemplative state contained within their psychosomatic enclosures (“hall”) charged with the fluid (“beer”) of Odian consciousness. This is generally a “good lot” to have and bodes well for runecasts. It portends good fellowship and happiness but indicates constant evolutionary change and growth. It may represent an entertainer or musician.

Murk-Stave

Too much of this force, an addiction to its pleasures, can cause chaos, destruction, and confusion. Unwise use of perthro leads to dissipation and squandering of vital forces. A stoppage of this force results in stagnation, loneliness, and withering of life's pleasures.

Keywords for Perthro

Bright: Good lot, Knowledge of ørlög, Fellowship and joy, Evolutionary change

Murky: Addiction, Stagnation, Loneliness, Malaise

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OERP

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(Elk's)sedge has its home most often in the fen, it waxes in the water and grimly wounds and reddens (“burns”) with blood any man who, in any way, tries to grasp it.

Lore

This, like the thurisaz rune (note the thematic similarities in the OERP), is a “two-edged” concept. The OE name “elk-sedge” is a kenning, or poetic name, for sword. Essentially, elhaz is the principle of numinous attraction and even union between the individual consciousness and the “higher self” embodied in the fetch of fylgja. (See Rune Poems, chapter 8.) This contact, of course, can be dangerous when attempted by one who is unprepared. As with the eihwaz rune, this also may be put into arboreal symbology to show the connection between the “roots and branches” of anything. Or it may take the shape of the “Rainbow Bridge” (Bifröst) which connects the human mind with the grandeur of the gods.

Bright-Stave

Except for the experienced atheling or runer, this runestave can bode danger. For those who know not to “grasp” the elhaz but to “become” it, however, divine realizations await. Do not barge in like a warrior, but rather approach with the craft of an Odian. This craft or awakening is foreshadowed. Divine communication is indicated. Also, this force can be turned around and used in an at-tack or to protect yourself. Generally, this rune does not signify persons, but rather divine forces.

Murk-Stave

Grave dangers lie hidden. Lack of preparedness leads to being consumed by awesome, archetypal forces and can result in injury to the self. Blockage of this force may be a blessing to most people. For athelings or Erulians, however, it means being cut off from an important well-spring of inspiration—the fetch (Greek daimon, Latin genius).

Keywords for Elhaz

Bright: Connection with the gods, Awakening, Higher life, Protection

Murky: Hidden danger, Consumption by divine forces, Loss of divine link

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OERP

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(Sun) is by sea-men always hoped for when they fare far away over the fishes bath until the brine-stallion they bring to land.

ONRR

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(Sun) is the light of the lands; I bow to the holyness.

OIRP

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(Sun) is the shield of the clouds, and a shining glory, and the life-long sorrow (= destroyer) of ice.

Lore

This is the principle of the guide. It is also the goal after which the runer quests. It shines like a beacon attracting and encouraging those who seek it. Sowilo is the sun-wheel; it not only guides but also is itself a dynamically moving, spinning symbol, a counterbalance to the isa-rune. This is the rune of higher being. The S-rune is also a sign of the often ignored serpentine mysteries of the North which show the necessity of dealing with darkness to win true wisdom (see Odin's rewinning of the poetic mead, chapter 9).

Bright-Stave

There is reason for hope. Good guidance is being given. If you are “lost” you will find your way. Fixed concentration on your goal leads to success. This rune bodes well for any journey, especially those over water. Listen to higher rede ( = counsel) from within the self or from others. The light of the “sun” burns away all external appearances (“ice”), leaving only the essential reality. This force will protect the runer from hostile powers. It will break cosmic or psychological inertia and help the journey along. Sowilo brings honor and luck. Educational undertakings may be in the offing. This rune also may signify a sailor or a teacher.

Murk-Stave

Bad counsel. This rune reveals an unthinking attraction to, and pursuit of, goals set by others. False success is gained by dishonorable means. There is a tendency to look outside yourself for answers to questions and for guidance. Gullibility. Blockage of the “sun” leads to loss of your sense of purpose and goals in life. Confusion and eventual defeat of your plans are due to a lack of direction.

Keywords for Sowilo

Bright: Guidance, Hope, Success, Goals achieved, Honor

Murky: False goals, Bad counsel, False success, Gullibility, Loss of goals

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OERP

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(Tir) is a star, it keeps faith well with athelings, always on its course over the mists of night it never fails.

ONRR

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(Tyr) is the one-handed among the Aesir; the smith has to blow often.

OIRP

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(Tyr) is the one-handed god, and the leavings of the wolf, and the ruler of the temple.

Lore

This rune is a threefold principle of (1) order (justice, law), (2) self-sacrifice, and (3) the world column. Each of these really derives from the unified principle of independent ordered existence, whose servants will sacrifice themselves for its sake. Its main cosmic function is the separation of the heavens and earth by the world column (Irminsūl) so that manifestation can take place in the “created” space. Tiwaz is the sign of the “pole-” or “load-star” used as a constant guide through the night sky.

Bright-Stave

This is the lot of troth (faith, loyalty) and trust that endures in the face of all hardships. Justice can be expected, and good judgment based on a careful analysis of the facts. Victory will be yours if you have acted wisely. Strive to order the environment in a rational way. The path to success may lie through self-sacrifice. Vigilance and hard work combined with knowledge are necessary. Reliability, loyalty, faithfulness must be practiced, and can be expected. Strive for exactitude and precision, and plan very carefully. Make your work methodical. Analytical models based on mathematical principles are indicated. The rune may indicate a scientist or academic.

Murk-Stave

You have a tendency to become bogged down in analysis and details, which may lead to a paralysis of action and a limitation in vision. You are always planning, never doing. Self-sacrifice is to the detriment of the ultimate interests—”sacrificing over much.” A stoppage of tiwaz force leads to injustice, imbalance, confusion, a deterioration of rationality.

Keywords for Tiwaz

Bright: Troth, Justice, Rationality, Self-sacrifice, Analysis

Murky: Mental paralysis, Over-analysis, Over-sacrifice, Injustice, Imbalance

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OERP

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(Birch) is without fruit but just the same it bears limbs without fertile seed; it has beautiful branches, high on its crown it is finely covered, loaded with leaves, touching the sky.

ONRR

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(Birch-twig) is the limb greenest with leaves, Loki brought the luck of deceit.

OIRP

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(Birch-twig) is a leafy limb, and a little tree, and a youthful wood.

Lore

The berkano principle is one of self-contained and continuous propagation or growth. It is the principle of birth itself which is never “born” but always is. This lot expands itself without losing its self-consciousness. It is a creative originator of being that extends into the heavens and into the nether regions. The B rune is a collector and conserver of energy and a sign of enclosure and shelter. The birch is the liberator of pent-up energies, which when released lead to new growth.

Bright-Stave

New beginnings based on old patterns are indicated. Gradual changes are on the way. Look for the importance of new things, things that might seem small at their birth. Spiritual growth comes within tradition. Domestic change occurs within a tranquil environment. New aspects are introduced into erotic relationships. Prosperity and beauty are indicated. Some elements of craft, deceit, or viciousness may be necessary to achieve goals. This rune may represent a mother or a whore.

Murk-Stave

Submersion into the “natural world” leads to a blurring of self-consciousness and awareness. There is a fascination with the sheer beauty of the world of appearances. Deceit is a danger. A blockage of the “birch” can lead to sterility of mind and body, and stagnation in all aspects of life.

Keywords for Berkano

Bright: Birth, Becoming, Life changes, Shelter, Liberation

Murky: Blurring of consciousness, Deceit, Sterility, Stagnation

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OERP

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(Horse) is, infront of the earls the joy of athelings, a charger proud on its hooves; when concerning it, heroes—wealthy men—on war-horses exchange speech, and it is always a comfort to the restless.

Lore

This is the principle of “teamwork,” especially in tandem. It represents two different, yet harmoniously working entities. In traditional Germanic culture this is most clearly experienced in the special relationship between rider (mannaz) and horse (elhaz), or by observing how a team of horses works. This is, then, a metaphor for the relationship of the self to the body and/or the special inner bond between any two entities or things that are directed toward noble endeavors.

Bright-Stave

Dynamic harmony with others is indicated, especially with a partner, mentor, husband, or wife. There is teamwork without loss of individuality. You understand the necessity of give and take and accept unique differences in the other. Good results are indicated. Develop a relationship with your fetch. Marriage or other formal partnership may be in the offing. Mutual trust and loyalty are necessary and present. The rune may represent your spouse or partner in some endeavor.

Murk-Stave

Loss of self in the partner is indicated. Too much “harmony” leads to sameness and duplication of efforts. A stoppage of the ehwaz results in mistrust, betrayal, disharmony, divorce.

Keywords for Ehwaz

Bright: Harmony, Teamwork, Trust, Loyalty

Murky: Duplication, Disharmony, Mistrust, Betrayal

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OERP

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(Man) is in his mirth dear to his kinsman; although each shall depart from the other; for the lord wants to commit, by his decree, that frail flesh to the earth.

ONRR

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(Man) is the increase of dust; mighty is the talon-span of the hawk.

OIRP

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(Man) is the joy of man, and the increase of dust, and the adornment of ships.

Lore

“Man” is the principle of embodied self-consciousness. This symbolizes humankind's earthly life as a heroic struggle, and points to the reality that we are only truly human when in the flesh. The stave refers to the origin of humanity (both Askr and Embla) as a result of the threefold gift of Odin-Vili-Vé, and to the origin of threefold human society (farmers, fighters, and rulers/magicians). Both myths show the shaping of people on earth (Midhgardhr) in the image of the divine—both in consciousness and in order. Our mortality—as that of the gods—ensures becoming.

Bright-Stave

This is the lot of humanity, of humanness with all its great nobility and power of spirit, as well as its weakness and mortality. Great intelligence born of divine or higher knowledge is indicated. Individuation of the self is needed. There is happiness in inner and social life, born of a realization of the truths of human existence. Blinders will be removed; you will see things as they are. Awakening. This rune could indicate any person, but especially seekers of all kinds.

Murk-Stave

Depression due to a perception of hopelessness is indicated. You dwell on mortality and weakness, fearing true knowledge. Relationships are based on lies and misperceptions. A blockage of mannaz leads to blindness, self-delusion, and a tendency to live in a fantasy world.

Keywords for Mannaz

Bright: Divine structure, Intelligence, Awareness, Social order

Murky: Depression, Mortality, Blindness, Self-delusion

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OERP

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(Water) is to people seemingly unending if they should venture out on an unsteady ship and the sea waves frighten them very much, and the brine-stallion does not heed its bridle.

ONRR

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(Water) is (that), which falls from the mountain; as a force; but gold (objects) are costly things.

OIRP

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(Wetness) is churning water, and a wide kettle, and the land of fish.

Lore

This is the principle of cosmic water welling up from Niflheimr and containing the potential for life. This water is the great sea of dynamic forces into which you are thrust during your voyage of becoming. The deep can represent that vast sea of the world of which humankind is usually unconscious, and which can be threatening if you are voyaging in a “vessel” that is subject to disturbances on this “sea.” A “downward” flow of vital energy is indicated. The alternate name “leek” indicates growth upward.

Bright-Stave

Stern tests in life are indicated, but you have the vital energies to stand these tests. The self evolves through the experience of true initiation. Transition from one state of being to another. Begin at once to act. Control of the self is most needed. Do not fear the journey. By “going under” you will gain the gold of well-being. Personal growth will occur through perhaps uncomfortable situations. A sailor, fisherman, or lawyer may be represented by this rune.

Murk-Stave

Fear of change, fear of the journey and of the unknown vastness within the deep self are present. There is a danger of “going around in circles,” avoiding the path, avoiding life. Failing the test is indicated. A stoppage of laguz dams up the vital force and leads to stunted growth, withering, and poverty. Access to the deep self is blocked.

Keywords for Laguz

Bright: Life, “Water” journey, Sea of vitality, Sea of unconscious, Growth

Murky: Fear, Circular motion, Avoidance, Withering

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OERP

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(Ing) was first, among the East-Danes, seen by men until he again eastward (or “back”) went over the wave; the wain followed on; this is what the warriors called the hero.

Lore

This is the principle of contained, isolated separation, which is absolutely necessary to any transformational process. “Ing” is the stasis of being which forms a step along the path of eternal becoming. Entering into this principle is a movement “widder-shins”—against the sun—”to the east” into the realm of darkness inhabited by the etins (giants). In this realm of darkness and solitude new growth arises.

Bright-Stave

“Ing” is the stave of rest, of active internal growth. There is a deep-level gestation of new power. Rest, let things “gestate,” to be brought forth at the right time in full maturity. Have patience. Listen to yourself. This lot indicates concepts or aspects that have had the benefit of such a period of gestation. This is a time of stasis to be followed by fertile dynamism. Things are in a potential state awaiting activation. This rune may signify a farmer or a priest.

Murk-Stave

The misapplication of “ing” can lead to self-absorption and to a disassociation from the environment. You can become “bottled up” in the subjective world, unable to interact with objectivity. Paralytic stasis is indicated. This can be a seductive force, fooling you into thinking it is the “end” rather than a stage; thus it is the curse of many mystics. On the other hand, a blockage of the NG-stave can lead to a scattering of essence or a sense of meaningless motion—without stages at which essence can be gathered and consolidated. There is movement but without real change, and unbridled dynamism.

Keywords for Ingwaz

Bright: Rest stage, Internal growth, Gestation

Murky: Impotence, Scattering, Movement without change

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OERP

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(Day) is the lord's messenger, dear to men, the ruler's famous light; (it is) mirth and hope to rich and poor (and) is useful for all.

Lore

This is the ultimate principle of bipolar creativity. It is a unique stave of consciousness as a developed, evolved form of the gifts of the god(s) Odin-Vili-Vé. In the light of day all seemingly polar opposites are brought together and understood. This is the rune of enlightened consciousness.

Bright-Stave

“Day” brings the boon of archetypal awareness, which can sometimes seem spontaneous. It is a source—really the only true source—of hope and happiness. The power of “day” can be known to all who seek it earnestly. A great awakening is at hand. True vision will be gained. This light may be found where you do not expect it. Seek the ideal. “Day” represents a true seeker.

Murk-Stave

It is difficult for “day” to be seen as a murk-stave in the active sense. The only detriment would be its manifestation in the life of someone who did not want it or who was not prepared for it. Of course, a blockage of the light of “day” means blindness, dullness, boredom, hopelessness, etc.

Keywords for Dagaz

Bright: Awakening, Awareness, Hope/happiness, The ideal

Murky: Blindness, Hopelessness

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OERP

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(Estate) is very dear to every man, if he can enjoy what is right and according to custom in his dwelling, most often in prosperity.

Lore

This is the principle of the “homeland” in its most ideal form. It represents the “inside” vs. the “outside.” Psychologically, it is the self in all its complexity as distinguished from non-self. Socially, it is the group (be it family, clan, tribe, guild, order, etc.) distinguished from those outside that group. Right order must be preserved in this group for it to work. Although secure in the home, there is continued interaction—give and take—with the environment. It is the “home within,” i.e., the ideal reality which is not attached to any particular “land.” Othala is complete freedom. It is the active consolidation of all gains.

Bright-Stave

“Odal” is the lot of stable prosperity and well-being. A solid and peaceful home-, family-, or group-life is indicated, and one that leads to continued growth. Attention must always be paid to customs and order within the group and to the vigilant defense of the group. There is true freedom stemming from a secure base. A new dwelling or a new allegiance may be in the offing. Productive interaction with “outsiders” is a continuing possibility. This lot may indicate a leader of some kind, or a whole group of people.

Murk-Stave

Again, this stave is difficult to see in an actively negative way. The only danger comes through not preserving right customary or traditional order within a group, thus limiting the powers of leaders. A misunderstanding of “odal” can lead to a totalitarianism that runs counter to the interests of the whole. All of this will lead to disaster. A stoppage of the O-stave, however, will end in slavery to outside forces, poverty, homelessness, and loneliness.

Keywords for Othala

Bright: A home, Group prosperity, Group order, Freedom, Productive interaction

Murky: Lack of customary order, Totalitarianism, Slavery, Poverty, Homelessness