Further Analysis of the Ehwaz Rune

Ehwaz

ᛖ / E

Ehwaz means “horse” in Proto-Germanic and is associated with transportation, trust, movement, quickness, and adventure. Ehwaz represents the vehicle we use to travel, whether that be the horse, the chariot, the car, or even the body itself. Ehwaz is that which we depend upon to move around the landscape and quicken journeys over vast distances. Great trust, care, and love was bestowed upon the horse, as one would treat their vehicle in modern times. General health and maintenance of the vehicle should always hold a top priority in necessary duties.

Ehwaz represents the physical body and that which our soul inhabits. While Raido is the soul, or “driver,” Ehwaz is the vehicle that the soul uses to “ride” in, as one uses a horse on a long journey. The horse can also be applied to our thoughts as well, as the skilled visionary can separate oneself from their thoughts, watching them as if one would watch a wild horse in an open field. This is a dissociative meditation practice where one can take a third person view of their own thoughts, observing them in awe, without attachment, being represented by the wild running horse.

Horses were of high importance in Germanic culture, being associated with the gods Odin and Freyr in particular. Both gods possess magical horses, Odin with the 8-legged Sleipnir (Slippery One) and Freyr with Blóðughófi (Bloody Hoof). Freyr’s temple in Þrandheimr was said to host a herd of sacred horses. We also have the word Yggdrasil, the name of the great world tree, which translates to “Terrible Steed,” a shamanic reference to Odin as he travels the 9 worlds of the tree. Two other notable horses of Norse myth are the horses of Dagr (day) and Nótt (night), Skinfaxi (Shining-Mane) and Hrímfaxi (Frost-Mane).

The “Old English Rune Poem” is the only of the old poems to invoke Ehwaz, although in Old English this rune is called Eoh, meaning “horse,” but also, “stallion.” Admiration for this noble beast is shown here, stating:

“Stallion is for earls among athelings a joy,

a horse haughty on its hooves, when warriors,

wealthy in steeds, trade talk about it;

and for the restless it is always a remedy.”

Through this poem, we can deduce a few meanings that the Anglo-Saxons associated with this rune. First, they reference the stallion as opposed to just a plain horse, giving this rune a masculine and “fertile” role. Second, it invokes the “athelings,” or nobles, linking royalty and regality to the rune. The third line has a “Fehu” tone to it, stating that one can be “wealthy in steeds,” showing that this animal was worth money and could represent a person’s wealth. The last line refers to being “restless” or anxious, stating the horse as a remedy to these feelings. This would tie us back in with the meditative association with the horse, as this quick and possibly “reckless” movement can be therapeutic to those suffering from uneasiness.

In Sanskrit, we have the relative word áśva, which translates to “horse,” also being the name of the constellation Sagittarius, a cluster of stars resembling horse-like features. It is also a term denoting the “Knight” of the chess board. Through many branches of the Indo-European language family tree, we can see this word emerge, nearly unscathed by time. We can see this in the proto-Indo-European root word héḱwos, meaning “steed/horse.” This word remains in the lexicon almost unchanged over thousands of years, showing up in Latin as equus and Primitive Irish as eqas. In modern English, we see this word evolved into equestrian, a word relating to those who ride horses.

It’s debated whether or not the horse was domesticated first by (Yamnaya) Indo-European speaking peoples or (Botai) Urgic speaking peoples, but many have traced horse domestication back to people of the west Eurasian steppes. These people are said to be the alleged “proto-Indo-Europeans,” and this could be very well be the reason the Indo-European language family spread so far and so quickly; carried by those riding on the backs of these fast and powerful beasts. Regardless, humans have had a very close connection to these animals for nearly 6000 years. Prior to their domestication, horses were hunted for food like many other wild game, even being consumed in sacred religious ceremonies amongst the northern Germanic tribes. In “Unmentionable Cuisine” by Calvin Schwabe, he says:

”In pre-Christian times, horsemeat eating in northern Europe figured prominently in Teutonic religious ceremonies, particularly those associated with the worship of the god Odin. So much so, in fact, that in A.D. 732 Pope Gregory III began a concerted effort to stop this pagan practice, and it has been said that the Icelandic people specifically were reluctant to embrace Christianity for some time largely over the issue of their giving up horsemeat.”

Among this, he also references cross cultural similarities and associations amongst Indo-European peoples and the horse, stating:

“For among our Indo-European forebears, many legends bespeak the prime religious importance of the horse, not only as a manifestation of Odin worship but as the Gaul’s horse goddess Epona, who was but a form of the Celtic people’s mother goddess. Among Teutons, Slavs, and Iranians the sun traversed the heavens in a horse-drawn chariot.”

To conclude, we can see Ehwaz holds a very important place in the rune row, representing one of the most important animals to our ancestors, if not the most important. The horse was used by most classes of society, whether for farming, war, or regal means, making it an animal of the people and a part of the living “organism” of society. Ehwaz has direct association to gods such as Odin and Freyr, as well as celestial and natural deities such as Day and Night, or Sun and Moon. It’s because of the horse that more than 3.2 billion people speak an Indo-European language today, as the adventurous young warrior bands, or Männerbunds, spread across the world in search of wealth, glory, adventure, and wisdom.

Shiva

Shiva represents the higher Self within all beings; that which transcends the flesh and connects us all to the source.

Shiva is the origin, the permanent aspect of conscious reality; the eternal point of stillness in a constant sea of changes.

Shiva is rhythm, abundance, and divine union; the almighty vibration at the core of every atom.

Shiva creates, preserves, and destroys.

Shiva is All.

For Germanic Pagans, Shiva can be equated best to Odin, the soul-giving, auspicious All-Father; destroyer of Ymir/Yama.

Hailaz / Namaste

Further Analysis of the Tiwaz Rune

Tiwaz

ᛏ / T

Tiwaz is a peculiar rune, representing a broad spectrum of meanings, associations, and uses. In Proto-Germanic, Tiwaz means “deity/god,” and would later develop into the Norse god Týr.  In most cases, it is agreed upon that Tiwaz is a rune of victory, war, warriors, justice, and the sky.  Tiwaz stems from the proto-Indo-European word deywós, meaning “god,” which was a deification of the daytime sky. When Tacitus wrote of the Germanic tribes, he spoke of a certain war god they worshiped, identifying it with the Roman god Mars. Tiwaz is cognate with the Greek god Zeus, another great sky god of the Pagans. The Luwians of Anatolia had a sun-god named Tiwaz as well, with another epithet of tati, meaning “father.”

There has been much debate over whether Tyr or Odin was the chief god of the Germans before Christianity, mostly due to this word and the emphasis on the god in Germania. Not only this, but on the Negau helmets found in Slovenia, dated 450-350 B.C., we have a runic inscription reading “Teiva,” which would indicate ancient worship of this god. I think it is possible there was more emphasis on this god in some areas of Europe, although it’s possible it could have just been a term used for Odin. There are many names for Odin ending with the word –týr, including Valtýr (god of dead warriors) and Farmatýr (god of cargoes). When viewing Tiwaz (and its shape) through the lens of Odin, we can attribute this rune to his magic spear, Gungnir, which he hurls over enemies that are to be conquered. In Voluspa verse 23 it is said:

“On the host his spear

did Othin hurl,

Then in the world

did war first come…”

Evidence for Tiwaz being invoked in war or magical purposes can be found in Sigrdrífumál, verse 6,where the great valkyrie, Sigrdrífa, states:

“Winning-runes learn,

    if thou longest to win,

    And the runes on thy sword-hilt write;

    Some on the furrow,

    and some on the flat,

    And twice shalt thou call on Tyr.”

In Old English, this rune/god was called Tīw. This is where we get our modern word Tuesday from, as the second day of the week in the time of the early English was called Tiwesdæg. The“Old English Rune Poem” states:

“Tyr is a certain sign, it keeps covenant well

with athelings; it is ever on course

above the night’s mists; it never misleads.”

This poem invokes Tiwaz as a “certain” sign, meaning one that is unwavering. It keeps its oaths and promises, as Tyr is a god of honor, justice, and judgement. This is reflected in another Old English word, tīr, meaning “fame, glory, honor.” As an Aesir god, his duty is among them and his dharma is unclouded in their ranks. Tyr is the law. The last line mentions this rune as a star, likely Polaris, which has been used to navigate the northern hemisphere since antiquity. With this perspective, one can see the Tiwaz rune in the “little dipper.”

The “Old Norwegian Rune Rhyme” is less descriptive but more cryptic in tone, stating:

“Tyr is the one-handed among gods.

Oft the smith has to be blowing.”

The poem invokes Tyr’s mythological context of being one-handed, as he is said to have one bitten off by the wolf Fenrir. The second line refers to Tyr as a war-god, as during wartime, a smith is hard at work making weapons and tools of battle. Tyr is usually identified with the sword, and thus, would further connect him closely with the smith and smithing.  The mysterious tone of this poem is likely due to poetic artistry.

The “Old Icelandic Rune Poem” adds another element to the previous poem, stating:

“Tyr is the one-handed Ase, and the wolf’s leftovers,

And the helmsman of holy sites.”

Here we see the same concepts brought up as in the former poem, although the second line clarifies the connection with the wolf, as “leftovers” refers to Tyr’s hand that wolf Fenrir bites off. The “helmsmen” of holy sites is an interesting line, showing Tyr’s role as a mediator, judge, or presence of justice. Tyr is truth, law, and vigilance.

Tyr’s shape has been theorized to symbolize a pillar holding up the sky, perhaps giving deeper insight into his role in the ancient worldview of the pagans. Tiwaz was a protector and upholder of the glorious daytime heavens, the unobstructed sun and fair weather on the land. Another proto-Indo-European root word for Tiwaz is dyew-, meaning “sky, heaven” and “to be bright.” Together, with the notion of a god, I believe it is without doubt we are looking at a sky-god representing the unobstructed sun. The glory of the daytime sky was was synonymous with god and heaven.

In conclusion, it is clear that Tiwaz, in his many forms and titles, has persisted for many thousands of years throughout time and culture. Whether associated directly with the sky, heaven, and sun, or whether associated with honor, oaths, and justice, we see a god of high rank and merit. No matter which pantheon we look at, Tiwaz can be found in some way, ranking highest or near the top. The Old English associated this rune highly with honor, fame, and glory, while the continental tribes associated Tiwaz more directly with war and victory. Either way, Tiwaz can be attributed to warriors, weapons (spears/swords), and victory in battle. For modern pagans, we shouldn’t overlook this god in our practice, as Tuesdays should be dedicated to his admiration and veneration. Tiwaz is a good god for those interested in criminal justice, honor, or warfare. In this respect, Tiwaz has long been a god of warriors and military personnel. Therefore, practicing pagans in the military should look to this god for protection and guidance.  May he protect you always and fill you with the courage and stability to do what is right.

Mjolnir and Vajra

The Mjolnir and the Vajra are spiritually symbolic weapons meant to destroy ignorance, uphold order, and ultimately, represent the indestructible and diamond-like state of awareness that exists within us. 

Whether or not you carry this symbol on your person throughout the day, always remember its power when needed, until it becomes a constant state of awareness. 

Hailaz / Namaste