Runes and Whispers: THURISAZ

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Proto- Germanic Reconstructed Name: THURISAZ 
Meaning: “thorn” or “giant”

 

Original Text in Poems:

Anglo-Saxon Poem
Ðorn byþ ðearle scearp;
ðegna gehwylcum anfeng ys yfyl,
ungemetum reþe manna gehwelcum,
ðe him mid resteð.

Norwegian Poem
Þurs vældr kvinna kvillu,
kátr værðr fár af illu.

Icelandic Poem
Þurs er kvenna kvöl
ok kletta búi
ok varðrúnar verr.
Saturnus þengill.

Translation:

Anglo-Saxon  Poem
The thorn is exceedingly sharp,
an evil thing for any knight to touch,
uncommonly severe on all who sit among them.

Norwegian Poem
Thurs (“Giant”) causes anguish to women,
misfortune makes few men cheerful.

Icelandic Poem
Thurs (“Giant”) is torture of women
and cliff-dweller
and husband of a giantess
Saturn’s thegn.

Musings:

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.

Runes and Whispers: UR

14px-runic_letter_uruz-svgProto- Germanic Reconstructed Name: UR 
Meaning: “wild cattle” or “water”

Original Text in Poems:

Anglo-Saxon Poem
Ur byþ anmod ond oferhyrned,
felafrecne deor, feohteþ mid hornum
mære morstapa; þæt is modig wuht.

Norwegian Poem
Úr er af illu jarne;
opt løypr ræinn á hjarne.

Icelandic Poem
Úr er skýja grátr
ok skára þverrir
ok hirðis hatr.
umbre vísi

Translation:

Anglo-Saxon  Poem
The aurochs is proud and has great horns;
it is a very savage beast and fights with its horns;
a great ranger of the moors, it is a creature of mettle.

Norwegian Poem
Dross comes from bad iron;
the reindeer often races over the frozen snow.

Icelandic Poem
Rain is lamentation of the clouds
and ruin of the hay-harvest
and abomination of the shepherd.

Musings:

Ur, often Uruz or Ura, is the second rune of the Elder Futhark and represents the u sound within the alphabet. Though Ur has a stanza in each rune poem, the poems all contains a different meaning for this rune, making Ur one of the more complicated and nuanced of the runes. The Anglo- Saxon poem, written in Old English, refers to this rune as “auroch,”  while the Icelandic poem refers to Ur as “rain,” and the Norwegian poem speaks of “dross/slag.”

All of these are completely different things! Why you do dis, rune poems?! These words don’t even have the same roots! The Old English word for “auroch” and the Icelandic word for “rain” come from two different Proto-Germanic words, “ūruz” and “ūrą“ respectively, and from an etymological sense, these words are not related in a way we can currently trace. It’s possible the Norwegian word for “slag”, which is the stony liquid byproduct of smelting or refining ore, could be derived from “water/ūrą,” so perhaps the Icelandic and Norwegian meanings are distantly related…but slag and rain are completely different concepts.

Most sources and modern interpretations that I have read accept “auroch” as the meaning for Ur, as a rune for “water,” “ice,” and “hail” already exists within the Futhark, making “slag” and “rain” all but unnecessary. I generally agree with that conclusion, however one should not ignore or discount the layers of meaning afforded to Ur by the Icelandic and Norwegian poems. The Icelandic poem calls Ur “rain” and proclaims it to be the “lamentation of the clouds and ruin of the hay-harvest and abomination of the shepherd,” while the Norwegian poem warns that slag “comes from bad iron.”

I tend to think of Fehu and Ur as complimentary runes. Where Fehu is the domesticated “mobile wealth,” such as cattle and sheep,  Ur is the auroch, a savage and proud wild bovine yet to be brought low by mankind’s harness and fences. When Ur appears in a spread, I consider it a symbol of the querent’s untapped potential, a messy beast yet to be wrangled and the wealth inside which we may not even be aware we possess. Sometimes that wild cattle has horns and is difficult to capture; left to its own devices, Ur can easily become the “ruin of the hay-harvest”. But, if one can take control, then that untamed beast inside can become a powerful ally or a cleansing storm.

Note: More on the rune poems here.

Runes and Whispers: A Divination System Part II

Part II of my series on the Elder Futhark!

So there are quite a few rune alphabets, I’ve listed the ones I feel are the most important below:

  • Elder Futhark (2nd-8th Century CE)
  • Anglo-Saxon Futhorc (5th-12th Century CE)
  • Younger Futhark (9th-12th Century CE)
  • Medieval Runes (12th- 16th Century CE)
  • Dalecarlian Runes (16th – 19th Century CE)

Obviously what I’m focusing on here is the first of the rune alphabets, the Elder Futhark.

As I mentioned briefly before in Part I, the names and meanings of the 24 runes of the Elder Futhark have been lost. But the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc and the Younger Futhark are preserved in the three rune poems: Norwegian Poem, the Icelandic Poem, and the Anglo-Saxon Poem. Scholars have reconstructed the names and meanings of the Elder Futhark runes in common Proto-Germanic based on attestations in these poems as well as the Gothic Alphabet, so needless to say these are quite important to anyone studying the runes. 

rune_poem_hickes_1705

 

 

The Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem is the oldest of the poems and is recorded in a 10th century manuscript. The Anglo-Saxon Futhorc contains the 29 Anglo-Saxon runes, an extra five runes as compared to the Elder Futhark it evolved from. Each rune comes with a riddle of which the rune is the solution. 

 

 

 

 

 

The Norwegian Rune Poem is preserved in a 17th century copy of a 13th century manuscript. The poem contains the names and descriptions of the 16 Younger Futhark runes. The Younger Futhark superseded the Elder Futhark and was used during Viking Era Europe. It is practically identical to the Elder Futhark except that it contains eight less runes than it’s older counterpart. 

rune_row

Younger Futhark

 

Capture

 

 

There are four known recordings of The Icelandic Rune Poem, the oldest of which dates from the 15th century. Exactly like the Norwegian Rune Poem, the Icelandic Poem contains the names and meanings of the 16 Younger Futhark runes.

 

 

 

This post was meant to serve as a very brief introduction to the rune poems. I will more thoroughly explain the poems and provide the poems on the posts for each individual rune.

Freyja Invocations

My witches and I have been experimenting with casting a triangle rather than a circle for rites and rituals. Below is an original triangle invocation I wrote calling on the three aspects of Freyja- Lady of the Vanir, Chooser of the Slain, and Mistress of Seidr- for a Freyja possession rite we conducted last week. More on the possession rite later!

Daughter of the Vanir – White

Casting: Daughter of the Vanir! Lady clad in white! Your beauty is unrivaled and your wisdom has no equal.  You are leader of your people, mighty in peace and mightier in war.  Oh come and be our necklace.

Dismissing: Farewell, Daughter of the Vanir, our Lady of White. Mighty ruler and mightier warrior, the shining jewel of the proud Vanir. We thank you for your presence in our triangle tonight.

Chooser of the Slain – Red

Casting: Chooser of the battle slain! Lady clad in red! Like the  winged Valkyries we are yours to command. You are power and desire, you are strength and viciousness.  Oh come and be our chariot.

Dismissing: Farewell, Chooser of the battle slain, our Lady of Red. You who select the most honorable of the noble dead from the battlefield. We thank you for your presence in our triangle tonight.

Mistress of Siedr – Black

Casting: Mistress of Siedr! Lady clad in black! Sing to us your ancient secrets, teach us the dark mysteries of our souls. You are The Witch and The Oracle, The Weaver and The Web. Oh come and be our veil.

Dismissing: Farewell, Mistress of Siedr, our Lady of Black. You are darkness and power and where others turn away in fear, we turn towards you in reverence. We thank you for the presence in our triangle tonight.

The two witches I work closely with and I have been experimenting with red, white, and black imagery and associations. Each of us have taken on one of the colors and the associations we’ve assigned to it, thus the inclusion of the color imagery.

Feel free to use and adapt these invocations to your own needs or intentions.