Also known as: Othalan, Othila, Odal, Odhil, Othel
Letter sound: O (as in “snow”)
Keywords: heritage, tradition, inheritance, ancestral property, family ties
Magical Uses: Gaining and holding on to wealth, healing, promote harmonious family relationships, clarity about the self and about the “bigger picture,” communication with ancestors
Othala, the final rune of the Elder Futhark, is the rune of heritage, and speaks to what we come into the world with in terms of who we are born to and raised by. This rune may refer to literal inheritance of land or other property, but it is often about the intangible things we “inherit” from our family of origin, for better or worse. No matter how we may resemble or differ from the rest of our family, and no matter how far from home we have traveled or how independently we have established ourselves, all of us carry traits, beliefs, habits and influences from our family of origin. Drawing Othala may indicate that an aspect of your current situation is related to your background—perhaps unconscious beliefs you absorbed as a child, or some other element that shaped your upbringing. Like Fehu, the first of the runes, Othala is associated with wealth. However, this is not moveable wealth (such as cattle), but ancestral wealth in the form of land. In ancient Scandinavia, land held within a family could not be sold, but had to be passed down from generation to generation. This practice meant a strong foundation of community, keeping families, clans, and cultural traditions rooted in place. Othala symbolizes these family ties, which were an integral part of life in past centuries, and still are for many people today. If you live close to your extended family, Othala may be advising you to lean on them for emotional or material support in a challenging matter, or to provide support to a family member in need. This can also be true if you live further away, although in this case the rune could just be nudging you to check in with your people “back home.” In many readings, Othala points to a tension between the traditions you inherited and the current way you’re approaching your life. Perhaps you have a lifestyle that your parents and/or ancestors would not approve of, or perhaps you are finding it necessary to hide your true self and conform to the dominant worldview of those around you. Othala represents a maintaining of the status quo, the way “things have always been done.” In an ever-changing world, however, it’s up to you to distinguish between what is useful to hang on to, and what needs to be discarded so that you can live and grow in your own authenticity on the physical, emotional, and spiritual levels. Othala reversed often points to conflict and disharmony within the family, and could indicate a divorce or major rift, or perhaps arguments over inheritance (which is not uncommon when a family member passes on). No matter the source of the dispute, patience and careful observance are recommended, with as much emotional detachment as possible. Avoid aggravating the situation with more discord. Othala reversed may also warn of a loss of property or possessions, or a situation where family support is denied. More generally, the reversed position indicates a feeling of being alone, isolated from family and/or community, without connection to your current dwelling place. Alternatively, it could be advising you to avoid “rocking the boat” by breaking major family or cultural taboos at this time.
Depending on the reading, Othala may also signify assistance from friends or older people. It also may encourage the cultivation of a garden, a particular skill, or an area of study in order to build stable resources. In some instances, it is related to one or more of the querent’s past lives.