Proto- Germanic Reconstructed Name: THURISAZ
Meaning: “thorn” or “giant”
Original Text in Poems:
Ðorn byþ ðearle scearp;
ðegna gehwylcum anfeng ys yfyl,
ungemetum reþe manna gehwelcum,
ðe him mid resteð.
Þurs vældr kvinna kvillu,
kátr værðr fár af illu.
Þurs er kvenna kvöl
ok kletta búi
ok varðrúnar verr.
The thorn is exceedingly sharp,
an evil thing for any knight to touch,
uncommonly severe on all who sit among them.
Thurs (“Giant”) causes anguish to women,
misfortune makes few men cheerful.
Thurs (“Giant”) is torture of women
and husband of a giantess
Thurisaz is the third rune of the Elder Futhark and represents the d sound in the alphabet. This is a powerful rune, an aggressive ally, and a violent force if not given proper attentions. All three of the runic poems mention Thurisaz with warnings of giants and thorns; they speak of “exceedingly sharp evil things” and the “anguish of women.”
The Anglo-Saxon Poem names this rune the thorn (Ðorn), calling it “uncommonly severe” and “sharp.” According to the poem, Thurisaz is an “evil thing for any knight to touch.” Thorns are instruments of protection, grown by plants to ward away animals, and though the poem regards the thorn as evil, what is good for the plant is not always good for the beast. A thorn is also a visible, if not a somewhat passive form protection: if you cut your hand on a thorn, well then you should’ve heeded the plant’s warning.
The Icelandic Poem and the Norwegian Poem both refer to Thurizas as a giant (Þurs). The Icelandic poem specifically seems to be referencing one particular giant, calling Thurizas the “torture of women and cliff-dweller and husband of a giantess” and “Saturn’s theign” (a theign being Old Norse for an attendant to the king). The Norwegian poem warns that “misfortune makes few men cheerful.” The Jötunn, the giants of Norse mythology, are proud and fierce and as mighty as the Aesir and Vanir with whom the Jötunn have a very complex relationship.
One can also not discount the similarity the word Thurizas bears to the son of Odin and wielder of Mjölnir, Thor. Though he is not mentioned specifically in any of the poems, Thurizas is often called “Thor’s Rune.”
When Thurizas appears, it is a warning and an ally, a call to arms. One must be able to protect one’s self with all the sharpness of a thorn and the ruthlessness of a giant when it is time to pick up the hammer.