Further Analysis of the Thurisaz/Thurs Rune

Thurisaz / Thurs / Thyth

Th / ð

Thurisaz has roots in the power of thunder, representing the hammer of Thor, Mjolnir. However, it is widely used for (and known for) offensive and defensive forms of sorcery; internal and external direction of force. Another core concept hidden in this rune is the deep mystery of the giants; the thurs, trolls, ogres, wights, and other associated beings inherent within nature. Many people assign this “giant” like attribute to different, perhaps older races or gods that the Aesir eventually usurped.  

It can be speculated that the persona of the thurs lie with the native populations who were living in modern Europe prior to the Indo-European migrations into the northern regions. These “older” gods and creatures described in the myths can be attributed to these older people in the region, whom already had established a complete religion and cult of their own, centered around the fertile Earth Mother and natural spirits of agriculture. In this regard, thurs could also be a word simply denoting any type of foreign culture or people that the pre-Germanic Indo-Europeans encountered as they spread westward.

We can also see this rune in connection to the great Thursian serpent Jormungandr, as when vocalized alone, the “th” sound can mimic the hissing of a snake. This could be an archaic connection to this giant worm of the depths, the entangling serpent, who is killed and likewise kills the god Thor (a fertility god) during Ragnarök. Perhaps, as many people suggest, this rune has a light and dark side within this framework, where the light represents the god Thor and the dark represents the adversarial giant, Jormungandr.

Another connection we find when describing giants, thurs and ancient Europeans comes from the Scottish-Gaelic word tursa which means “megalith, standing stone, monolith.” These are all key features and unique creations of the native European peoples prior to the Indo-European migration. It’s been said in most old accounts of Stonehenge that these monuments were created by “giants” or older gods. In 1155 Wace writes, “In the British language the Britons usually call them the Giants’ Dance; in English they are called Stonehenge, and in French, the Hanging Stones.” Newgrange, Stonehenge, and all these ancient, megalithic monuments were here long before the Indo-Europeans moved in, and they immediately incorporated these shrines into their practice when they arrived, usually building upon them considerably.

There is also mention of the force(s) of chaos when discussing Thurisaz. This is highly appropriate, as in many ways it can be shown that these beings are a force within nature that represent destruction and chaos, but also rebirth, wisdom, and change. These aren’t evil beings like the Abrahamic demons, but rather vital and necessary forces in nature, slightly unpredictable and highly wild in temperament. Catalysts of impermanence within life and matter. A force to consider for destructive and constructive sorcery. 

In the Anglo-Saxon futhorc, this rune changes into its thorn aspect, leaving the giant associations behind. Whether this was out of fear or out of separate connotations with their tribes is up to debate, although, the Old Saxon’s still called this rune thuris meaning “giant”.

In the “Old English Rune Poem” it is said:

“Thorn is sorely sharp to every thane,

Who takes ahold; evil and immensely mean

To any man who rests in its midst.”

Here we are given allusions to the thorn tree/bush and the power our ancestors associated with its’ magic. The Hawthorn was used for many magical and medicinal means, but its’ main function on a homestead was to create defensive barriers between the interior and exterior realms of the village or farm. With their powerful and mildly toxic thorns, they deter almost anything from trying to enter their midst. These trees also house many small birds, who protect homesteads by eating pests like insects and chasing away larger farm antagonists like crows and hawks.

This seems to differ in approach from the “Old Norwegian Rune Rhyme” which states:

“A thurse causes women’s woe;

Few become glad from evil.”

Here we see the word and concept of evil appear again, linking these two different forms together more uniformly within this dark and mysterious rune.

Last, we have the Sanskirt turá meaning “quick, willing, prompt,” but also “strong, powerful, rich and abundant.” We can see a connection with thorn in this word, where turá can also mean “hurt.” This word can reach back further into proto-Indo-European with the word twerHwhich means to “hasten, quicken.” Strangely, this word also has a co-meaning of “enclosed, fenced in,” this could be associated with the (Haw)thorn tree, which was used to mark borders and enclose fields, as their thorns are a mighty force of defense. Here we can see Thurisaz as a rune of defense, but also of strong action; one that represents a force of Will that makes things happen around the practitioner. In this way, Thurisaz is the rune of Will, of action, and of exertion of internal force. Thurisaz is the manipulation, direction, and force of “chaos” inherent within life and matter; the ebb and flow of attack and defense.

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