Category Archives: Runes for Beginners – Lisa Chamberlain

Tiwaz

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Also known as: Teiwaz, Tyr, Tiwar
Pronunciation: tee-wahz
Letter sound: T
Translation: the god Tyr
Keywords: courage, victory, strength, passion, masculine energy
Magical Uses: Healing, success, victory in competitions, strengthen willpower, courage, healthy masculine energy, strengthen spiritual faith

Primary Themes
As the first rune in Tyr’s Aett, Tiwaz represents the qualities of the god Tyr, and is associated with courage, strength, and the forward-moving nature of masculine energy. Tyr proved his bravery and dedication to his community of gods by sacrificing his right hand in order to keep the Fenris Wolf from harming Odin. As such, Tiwaz speaks of the need to put our causes above our personal desires if the greater good requires it. If you are facing a decision that involves potential discomfort in order to achieve a positive outcome, Tiwaz is signalling that you possess the courage and the ability to withstand the sacrifice and emerge victorious. You are ready for the challenge, provided you act with integrity and remain true to your inner knowledge. Stand your ground and keep the faith, and your ultimate success will be recognized and respected by others. Victory is another primary interpretation of Tiwaz, particularly when it comes to competitions of all kinds. You are likely feeling enthusiastic and motivated at this time—harness this energy toward achieving your goals and you will succeed. This rune is also a positive sign for success in legal matters, provided that you are being honest and just in your actions. The shape of Tiwaz resembles a spear—a symbol associated with Tyr—as well as an upward-pointing arrow, both of which symbolize the force of masculine energy. Action is indicated, rather than passivity, though you are cautioned not to act impulsively or let your determination override your intuition. Tiwaz can also indicate a male person. If the querent is male, then Tiwaz generally represents him. If the querent is female, Tiwaz often represents a male close to her—a partner, family member, or close friend. In this context, the runes closest to Tiwaz in the reading have direct influence on the person being represented. Tiwaz reversed points to a lack of courage or motivation when it comes to achieving your goals. You may be disheartened or even depressed by the appearance of obstacles in your way. You are most likely experiencing a blockage of forward-moving energy, making it impossible to gain traction in any direction. Alternatively, you may be moving too quickly—making hasty decisions that will cost you in the long run. You might even be displaying obstinate inflexibility, refusing to consider any ideas other than your own. No matter the circumstances, the advice of Tiwaz reversed is the same: slow down. Take your time, consider all of your options, listen to any advice offered by others, and make sure you’re grounded and centered before proceeding again.

Additional Meanings
Another aspect of the masculine energy of Tiwaz is passion and sexual energy, so romance is also indicated by this rune, depending on the context of the reading. This may refer to a new romance, or a reinvigoration of an existing relationship. Reversed in this context, Tiwaz can point to a fizzling of passion or even dishonest behavior on the part of a romantic partner—especially a male partner. Communication may be strained or nonexistent. You may need to decide whether the relationship is worth whatever it’s costing you to remain in it.

 

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Nauthiz

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Also known as: Naud, Naudirz, Not, Nautiz, Nied
Pronunciation: now-theez
Letter sound: N
Translation: need, necessity
Keywords: need, necessity, scarcity, absence, restriction, have patience
Magical Uses: Protection, maintaining equanimity in difficult circumstances, activates magical workings focused on attraction or increase

Primary Themes
Nauthiz signifies hardship in the form of one’s needs not being met, whether this indicates poverty, hunger, unemployment, lack of good health, or lack of emotional support. The rune stave represents the “need-fire,” a ritual fire lit from two large beams of wood that ancient Northern Europeans would light in times of extreme hardship or disaster, such as a famine or outbreak of fatal disease. You may be experiencing hardship that limits your ability to move forward or live comfortably, or a strong desire that appears impossible to fulfill. The possibilities are restricted due to your lack of resources, and you are likely chafing at the constraints and/or disheartened by your circumstances. The Anglo-Saxon rune poem describes Nauthiz as “a tight band across the chest,” which is often how need and restriction feel. The advice of this rune is to treat this situation as a period of learning and an opportunity to strengthen your resilience. No one enjoys hardship while it’s happening, but when we look back on the experiences that made us who we are, generally at least a few of them were unpleasant. Don’t allow bitterness, worry, or despair to get the best of you, but rather use your gifts and talents to find ways to get your needs met. Remember that needs and limitations are necessary for growth, as we would never learn or accomplish anything significant if we always had everything we needed or wanted at all times. There are conflicting viewpoints among rune readers as to whether Nauthiz has a reverse position. Many traditions hold that it does not, but the rune stave is not at all symmetrical and the difference between its upright and upside down positions can be fairly clearly distinguished. Either way, those who recognize “Nauthiz reversed” do not interpret it as the opposite of its “upright” meaning, but rather assign some aspects of its overall meaning to the reversed position. These are found below in “additional meanings.” If your intuition suggests that a reverse meaning for Nauthiz reversed should be distinctly recognized, these interpretations can serve for this rune in this position. If not, then the context provided by the other runes and the question guiding the reading can shed light on what Nauthiz is telling you at this time.

Additional Meanings
Nauthiz may be warning you to avoid greed or unhealthy desire, which can lead to destructive behaviors and negative consequences. If you have been focusing too heavily on the material world, this is a sign to go within and tend to your spiritual development. This rune may also be a warning against making hasty decisions or committing to something at this time, as unexpected needs or limitations may result. You are advised to conserve your energy, focusing only on the essentials for now. You are likely simply not at the right place or time for moving forward. Patience is the best strategy. Nauthiz has no reversed meaning.

Hagalaz

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Also known as: Hagal, Hagall
Pronunciation: hah-gah-lahz
Letter sound: H
Translation: hail, hailstone
Keywords: destruction, chaos, interference, misfortune, transformation
Magical Uses: Protection, luck, quick transformations, success in navigating difficult situations, break unhealthy patterns

Primary Themes
The first rune of Hagal’s Aett translates to “hail,” and points to the fact that we cannot always control our circumstances. Even with all of the technology we possess in modern times, Nature can step in at any moment with destructive forces that flatten cities and even countries. Hailstorms may be brief and localized compared to larger natural disasters, but the balls of ice that pelt the ground can leave destruction in their wake, injuring people and animals and destroying entire crops. This certainly would have spelled disaster for any ancient community living off of the land. Hagalaz signifies these forces of chaos that cannot be controlled, whether they come in the form of sweeping disaster, illness, or simply unexpected problems or disruptions that interfere with your progress toward a goal. You cannot control or “fix” this interference—in other words, resistance is futile. While this may be a frustrating time, know that your course is being corrected for reasons beyond your understanding. You may be being forced into taking a new approach, which will become clear with patience and perseverance, as well as an ability to analyze your situation without attachment to the outcome. If the reading is generally positive, then the chaos may be interpreted at the lower end of the spectrum—a temporary interruption rather than an unexpected, life-altering development. If the runes close to Hagalaz are negative, then the trouble may be more severe or have long-lasting implications. If your reading is about a new project or endeavor, you may not want to start just yet.

Additional Meanings
Hail is a temporary phenomenon, beginning and ending as water in a liquid state. Hagalaz can signify a significant change that may be rocky at first, but ultimately the transformation that results from this experience will leave you better off. Important shifts are taking place for you, whether materially, emotionally, or spiritually. But for new creation to occur, what is old must be dismantled. Hagalaz has no reversed meaning.

 

Othala

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Also known as: Othalan, Othila, Odal, Odhil, Othel
Pronunciation: oh-thee-lah
Letter sound: O (as in “snow”)
Translation: inheritance
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

Primary Themes
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.

Additional Meanings
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.

Thurisaz

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Also known as: Thurs, Thor
Pronunciation: thoo-ree-sahz
Letter sound: TH (as in “thorn”)
Translation: thorn, thorn bush, giant, the god Thor
Keywords: protection, warning, contemplation, decisions, luck
Magical Uses: Defensive magic, protection, help with decisions, good luck

Primary Themes
Thurisaz is chiefly concerned with aspects of protection and resistance to danger or other unwanted circumstances. The shape of this rune represents a thorn on a branch, symbolizing the wisdom of choosing a defensive stance, rather than rushing to attack an adversary. If you go into a challenging or potentially dangerous situation, you can surround yourself with a shield of protective energy, carry a talisman, and/or be extra mindful of your environment and your actions. Taking these measures is often enough to deter potential attackers from trying to harm or take advantage of you, so that you avoid the unpleasant situation altogether. Consider this rune as a friendly but stern warning to be alert to potential danger at this time. Reversed, Thurisaz in this sense may actually indicate that danger is passing, or that the risk you’re facing is less significant. It may also simply point to a feeling of vulnerability or fear of adversity. In a related interpretation, Thurisaz advises you to be mindful of your motives. Watch out for opportunities that bring reward through deceit or dishonesty, remembering that what goes around comes around. Don’t take the “easy path” if doing so allows you to skirt responsibility. Furthermore, be willing to listen to advice from those you trust, even if you don’t like what you hear. In this context, drawing Thurisaz reversed may mean that you have been stubborn in this regard, refusing to follow solid advice that could have helped you avoid an unwanted experience.

Additional Meanings
Another common interpretation of Thurisaz indicates that you’re facing an important decision requiring careful consideration. Be sure to thoroughly evaluate every aspect of the situation before making your move. Take as much time as you can to decide, and don’t make your choice from a place of emotion. The ability to come from a neutral, rational place when making a decision that could significantly impact your life is another form of protection against unwanted circumstances. Thurisaz reversed may be signaling that you’re not serving yourself well in this regard—you may be in denial about an aspect of the situation and therefore unable to make a balanced decision. Seek the advice of experts and/or people whose perspective you trust. Depending on the context of the reading, Thurisaz can also simply represent a stroke of luck—in either a positive or negative sense, depending on the position of the rune. Thurisaz is sacred to both Thor, the Norse god of thunder and lightning, and Loki, the trickster god. It reminds us that chaos is necessary for transformation, that what appears to be positive at first may not be (and vice versa). We may love a good thunderstorm, and the land may benefit from the rain, but we also know that lightning may strike and trees may be destroyed. Thurisaz represents this destructive, chaotic, primal force within the Universe.