Also known as: Berkano, Bairkan, Beorc, Bjarkan
Letter sound: B
Translation: birch, birch goddess
Keywords: birth, new beginnings, family, growth, regeneration
Magical Uses: Fertility, female health, strengthen family ties, love, protection, bringing ideas into physical manifestation, creativity
A very positive rune, Berkana symbolizes new beginnings. This can take the form of a new project, a new relationship, a new phase of spiritual development, or a new idea that leads to successful outcomes. The Universal energies are fertile and lined up for bringing forth new manifestations, so you are in an excellent position to begin your next adventure. Berkana is known as the birth rune, and can indicate the actual birth of a child, a wedding, or other happy family occasion. This rune is a very good sign for women who are trying to conceive. Berkana is the rune of female energy and its shape represents the breasts of the archetypal Earth Mother, who was known in many different guises to pagan cultures around the globe. This rune symbolizes the nurturing, attentive, and protective qualities of maternal energy. Depending on the context of the reading, Berkana may be asking you to look at where your own caretaking energy is being directed. Are you nurturing your dreams and goals? Are you taking good care of yourself? Alternatively, it could be pointing to a supportive outside influence—whether a person or an environment—that can be helpful to you now. Don’t be afraid to accept loving assistance from others. Berkana can also signify a female person. If the querent is female, then Berkana generally represents her. If the querent is male, Tiwaz often represents a female close to him—a partner, family member, or close friend. In this context, the runes closest to Berkana in the reading have direct influence on the person being represented. In the reverse position, Berkana points to stagnation and obstacles to beginning something new. Depending on the context, it may indicate trouble conceiving or issues with pregnancy, or with getting a new enterprise off the ground. There may be conflicts within the home or family, with tempers flaring easily. You may be worrying about someone you love, or offering support to someone who won’t accept it. The advice here is to keep an open mind, and perhaps reexamine the motives behind your actions. But don’t block yourself off to new possibilities by focusing on things you can’t change. Focus your energy where you can be productive, and give the intractable problems a rest.
Berkana’s translation is “birch,” a highly revered tree associated with renewal and regeneration. The birch was among the first trees that returned to reforest the land after the last Ice Age, and is one of the first trees to leaf out in the spring. If you’re struggling with difficulties or if the reading is predominantly negative, drawing Berkana is a reminder that no matter how cold or dark things may seem, warmth and light will return. You may very well be in a dormant phase that precedes a spiritual reawakening. Soon enough, you will begin to bloom again.