Tag Archives: nauthiz

Sigyn in Runes

Sigyn is one of the goddesses that gets some of the least love in the lore we have, but I found myself drawn to her for the role she played when Loki was bound. While everyone else deserted him, she stayed and suffered with him. Sigyn did everything she could to ease his pain, catching the venom in the bowl until the bowl could no longer hold it.

Others have said that Sigyn was cruel because she didn’t free Loki from his imprisonment, but she didn’t have the power to free him from the chains of Odin. I’ve never felt that Loki ever held that against her, and I’ve always gotten the impression that he is grateful for the respite she was able to offer him.

In my experience, Sigyn is one of the kindest, warmest goddesses of the pantheon. She’s a quiet homebody, but she has a big heart. And she’s incredibly loyal – who else would have stayed by Loki’s side, watching him suffer through such an ordeal while helpless to do anything about it? And yet, she doesn’t mind the fact that Loki sleeps around. The impression I get is that the reason she doesn’t care is that she knows that she is the woman he always comes back to – after all, she is his wife.

Because there isn’t much lore about Sigyn, it seems appropriate to do a rune reading of her name. The only story we have about her is the story of her role in Loki’s torment after he’s bound, and that doesn’t really say much.

Sigyn’s name breaks down into the follwing runes:

Sowilo, Isa, Gebo, Jera, Nauthiz

Sowilo is the rune of the sun, of success, and of victory. The sun is a nurturing force, and I’ve always found it interesting that the Sun is a goddess in Norse mythology and a god in other mythologies. In any case, this rune describes Sigyn’s warm, caring nature.

Isa is the rune of ice, or of stillness. In rune work, it usually indicates a time of stagnation, although I personally prefer to look at such periods as times of consistency or stability. From that viewpoint, Sigyn is very consistent in her attitude and manner – a perfect counterbalance to Loki’s chaotic nature.

Gebo is the rune of partnership or gift-giving. Here, Sigyn’s hospitable nature can be seen. As I have said, she is a warm goddess and always welcomes visitors. There’s a serenity to her that the other goddesses don’t have, and I find her presence to be one of the most comforting.

Jera is the rune of harvest, or of plans come to fruition. Perhaps in her original function, Sigyn was a grain goddess, but that’s something we may never know for sure. Too much of her lore has been lost.

Nauthiz is the rune of need or need-fire, which indicates resistance or friction. I think that it is this element in Sigyn that allows her to handle Loki’s inconsistency. He is very different from her, and she from him, but they have learned to work together out of necessity.

As I write this, I realize how much of Sigyn’s lore has been lost, and it saddens me. She is a goddess worth knowing, and yet, she is one that few know at all.

 

Odin in Runes

I’ve been going through “Teutonic Religion” by Kvedulf Gundarsson, as well as “Runelore” by Edred Thorsson, and I came upon an interesting idea. It seems such an obvious thing to do that I almost feel silly that I never thought about doing it before. Gundarrson states that the runes of Wodan’s name shows Odin’s nature, and I found that pretty interesting. Of course, I think to get a full picture of Odin, you’d have to do a runic analysis of every single one of his kennings, and that would be an incredibly difficult feat.

Since I have “Runelore,” I decided to consult it for some more in-depth meanings of the runes because the simple meanings don’t do justice to an analysis. I’m going to stick with “Wodan” rather than “Odin” because I feel that the runes that make up Wodan give a more complete impression of him than the runes for Odin, considering Odin is the English version of his name.

The runes for Wodan are:

Wunjo – Joy

Othala – Inheritance

Dagaz – Dawn

Ansuz – Ase (Odin)

Nauthiz – Need

I’ve provided the simple one-word translation for those who aren’t familiar with the runes. Now, I am going to go more in-depth with each one and explain why those runes explain Odin’s path so succinctly.

Wunjo

Thorsson has quite a bit to say on the subject of the runes, and his interpretation of Wunjo is an intriguing one. What struck me the most about his interpretation of this particular rune was this: “The wunjo marshals diverse but sympathetic forces and/or beings to a common purpose.” Overall, it’s a rune that promotes harmony and peace – an aspect of Odin that few people appreciate. This is the aspect that gives Odin his All-father status. He is a leader of the community, looking for ways to keep his people prospering and healthy. I also find it interesting that Thorsson uses the phrase “sympathetic forces” because Odin rules runework, which is a type of sympathetic magic.

Othala

On Othala, Thorsson has this to say: “Othala describes the essence of the mystery of the ebb and flow between states of order and chaos – the great cosmic state of flux. However, it celebrates the state of balance obtained when forces of consciousness have established their enclosures interacting with the powers of the exterior darkness.” This is obviously a much more metaphysical interpretation of the rune than “inheritance.” It still refers to inheritance because families are enclosed units within larger groups, and the smaller group turns to the larger group while maintaining its independence. Othala, according to Thorrson, indicates a sacred enclosure – a rune that marks sacred sites. I’m still working on wrapping my head around this rune because it is very much a rune that speaks to the deeper aspects of magic. That it deals with magic in any form is enough to give it a strong relation to Odin, but the fact it speaks to the deepest type of magic truly ties it to him. After all, he is known for his working of magic, and is, perhaps, the foremost authority on it (along with Freyja, of course).

Dagaz

Dagaz is an interesting rune because it’s the rune of extremes. While it translates to “dawn,” in runic work, it is often translated as “breakthrough.” This makes sense, if you consider dawn to be the sun breaking through the cover of darkness. According to Thorrson, “Dagaz is the ‘[Odian] Paradox’ – the sudden realization (after concerted conscious effort of the will) that perceived opposites are aspects of a third idea that contains both….This is the simultaneous, bidirectional will that is almost unique to Germanic magical lore.” And here we have another rune that ties Odin to magic. In fact, every rune in his name ties him to magic, so it’s easy to see why he’s considered the god of both inspiration and madness. Extremes can drive people to do crazy things, but Dagaz is a useful rune because it allows the path between extremes to be seen clearly. Dagaz indicates a balance between the creative and destructive forces of the world around us, and Odin works desperately to maintain that balance.

Ansuz

This rune should be pretty self-explanatory, considering it’s the rune of Odin himself. “Ase” means “God,” and specifically refers to Odin. It is also the rune of communication, the rune that links the divine world and the human world. This is where Odin’s ecstasy comes in most clearly. Thorsson’s interpretation is one I like quite a bit. He states, “On a cosmological level, ansuz describes an ecology of energy. It is the medium through which power is received, the receptacle of that power, and the power itself when expressed through the inspired mental state.” In this rune, I can see Odin perhaps the most clearly. If you’ve ever met a person who was incredibly calm but just knew that there was incredible power brimming underneath the surface of that calm – that’s the type of ecology of energy that Thorsson is referring to. Power leashed by the will. In fact, most of the time, when I encounter Odin, he is incredibly calm and collected, but there is a vibe that he is dangerous when provoked.

Nauthiz

Nauthiz, or need, is an interesting rune. When doing runework, it generally indicates a lack of something that is needed, but in magic, need is what calls forth the strongest and most potent forces. This is referred to as need-fire in the rune poems, and we certainly see Odin acting out of need often enough in the myths. He is in need of a solution to Ragnarok, and there is nothing and no one that will stand in his way until he finds the answers he is looking for. This is Odin provoked into action, and he is dangerous when provoked. As an example, one of my friends had a difficult encounter with him. To keep a long story short: My friend’s friend swore an oath to Odin and then broke the oath and banished him from her life, so Odin started showing up on my friend’s doorstep, demanding she do something about it (despite the fact my friend doesn’t follow the Norse gods). In other words, Odin’s will isn’t something that is easy to thwart, and he will find a way to get what he wants. It is in this aspect that Odin is the most dangerous.

I think that this exercise is worth doing for the other gods and goddesses as well, so I may eventually break down all of their names like this. I encourage everyone to do this, as I really feel that going through the runes in this way not only enhances understanding of the runes but also enhances the understanding of the gods themselves.