ᛚ / L
Laguz is the rune of liquid. In Proto-Germanic, laguz means “water, sea, ocean, or wetness.” Other Proto-Germanic names of this rune include lahō (lake, pond, puddle), and laukaz (leek). When we look for roots in this word, we reach the proto-Indo-European lókus, meaning a “pool or pond.” With these various forms, we can deduce that Laguz represents various bodies of water and overall “wetness.” In Scottish/Gaelic, this word emerges as loch, meaning a “fjord, lake, or ‘arm of the sea.’” In Ancient Greek, we see this word as lákkos, which means “pond” but also “cistern, tank, pit, and reservoir.” This has associations to vessels that wine is contained in, giving us another concept to associate Laguz with.
As one can interpret Laguz as wine, it can also be attributed to the physical blood itself: the flowing liquid within us. The blood was believed to contain memories and various other metaphysical qualities, and therefore, carried much spiritual importance to the Pagan practices. Like the sea and rivers that connect all land on Earth, the blood flows through us, circulating everywhere, connecting everything. This links Laguz with the moon as well, as the moon pulls and pushes the tides of the seas and blood within us.
In terms of shape, Laguz resembles a fishing hook, which can also symbolize the “pulling” powers of the moon. Laguz, in this regard, can be considered the “hook” of the moon. Like the moon, Laguz can also be used to calm oneself. If sung, the “la” sound soothes and eases one’s internal fire when it is burning too hot. Laguz can represent patience, calmness, and oneness, as water links all land together.
The ”Old English Rune Poem” states:
“Sea to men seems ceaseless
if they should fare forth on a shaking ship,
and the sea’s waves sorely frighten,
and their surf-steed heeds not the bridle.”
This poem is unique, as it gives a more “wrathful” description of Laguz; things like the “restless sea, shaking ship” and frightening waves paint a picture that is opposite to that of what most would associate Laguz with. Laguz runes have been said to have been carved onto ship oars, representing a basic “spell” against angry and unpredictable seas. I believe, as the fishing hook shape suggests, Laguz was also a protective symbol against the great serpent, Jormungandr, who was believed to inhabit the vast oceans. In relation to the serpent, Laguz can also be attributed to the gentle Spring rains, which are generally associated with the god Thor. This duality between Thor and Jormungandr we can see echoed in the poem Hymiskviða, where Thor goes fishing for the world serpent itself, with the head of an ox as bait.
The “Old Norwegian Rune Rhyme” gives us a unique glimpse into the archaic abundance of fresh water the Norwegians were accustomed to, stating:
“Liquid, flowing from a fell, is a falls;
But costly things are of gold.”
This poem has a different feeling, evoking the free-flowing and bountiful supplies of fresh water that the Scandinavians were blessed with. Fresh water costs nothing, as it is given to us by the Earth itself. The second line implies that one needs not “buy” water, as it is free, as not “costly.”
The “Old Icelandic Rune Poem” brings all of our concepts together, stating in three brief lines:
“Liquid is welling water,
and a vast vat,
and the fishes’ ground.”
This poem gives us a broad area to work with. First, as the previously mentioned freshwater resources, second, as the vast vat, which we can only assume has to do with wine, mead, or ale of some sort. The last line alludes to the sea, lakes, and rivers directly, as the “fishes’ ground.” Here we are given the best mix of meanings that are supported by our previous travel through related words and concepts.
Before we conclude, I want to touch on the alternative name for this rune once more. The word laukaz (leek) was found inscribed on a bracteate in Denmark dating to around 400-650 CE. This word was found by another magical word, ALU, which is said to mean something like “ale”. This would have been an intoxicating beverage of some kind and used in sacred context in reverence of the god Odin. I think this rune was used to not only quell stormy seas and internal tides, but also to bless liquid drinks like mead, wine, and ale. This rune could have been a protective spell one said or invoked over their alcohol to keep it safe. It could also allude to wisdom, as these drinks, to a certain extent, are associated with poetry, knowledge, and ritual offerings to gods. This raises another title we have touched upon in a previous rune, the Gothic form of Odin as Gautaz, or “the one who pours.” The title of a Pagan priest in Old Norse was goði, also having a meaning of “one who pours (to the gods)”. This Lagu-vessel could have belonged to the priest or priestess who was responsible for these types of offerings in the temple or ritual activities. This, I believe, is a valid interpretation of these different pieces of evidence, painting a genuine context for these separate pieces of the historical puzzle.
One could also speculate that the magical phrase ALU, while being associated with an “intoxicating” beverage, could be a reference to the “madness” that Odin is said to bring forth in his devotees. Other Proto-Germanic words like aluh (amulet) and alh (protect) can bring us to see ALU as being “protected by the intoxication of Odin.” It is quite possible, as with the Vedic and Egyptian ancient temples, that this AlU was a mix of substances, kept within the temple for sacred use. Other ingredients were likely various herbs and psychedelic mushrooms.
In conclusion, Laguz can safely be attributed to basically any type of water or body thereof. It can also be attributed to alcohol, magic tinctures, and the pouring of liquid offerings to the gods. Laguz can be used to quell internal and external seas; to balance opposing forces as necessary. Leeks and healing springs belong to this rune, as these medicinal items heal and represent nourishing aspects of water. Laguz can be used to represent the moon, as the moon controls the ebbing and flowing of the tides of the sea and of the blood within us. As the horse (ᛖ) pulls the chariot, so does the Laguz rune pull the seas of the soul.