For most people practicing European Paganism, the goal is not merely to worship and pray to the old Gods, but to embody them and entwine their forms within us. We should strive to avoid the worship of external deities and instead become them through the emulation of their archetypal expressions.
An example in the most basic sense:
-To be a successful farmer, naturalist and Lord of the Land, one is to embody Frey.
-To be a successful sorcerer, artist and eternal student of wisdom, one is to embody Odin.
-To be a strong and fearless protector, one is to embody Thor.
These Gods personify and preserve different aspects of the ancient European mind and culture. Although they have evolved over time, they will always represent core concepts within the patterns of nature and the psyche of the folk.
Not only do we associate the forces of nature with many different deities and spirits, but each one also possesses an endless repertoire of names and “faces” associated with it. These faces are simply different expressions of the God-Power representative of the deity in focus. We see this in the lengthy list of titles for Odin, including Draugadróttin, Gaut and Grim. These titles do not refer to different deities but rather a different face, form and focus of the God we are choosing to emulate or venerate. In the same respect, we see the title and focus of the Gods change with culture and time, as the Odian archetype from the North seems to be yet another altered face and form of the original Wōdaz or Gaut incarnation.
In the word Wōdaz we see that the Odinic force was thought of as an adjective, a way to describe a specific phenomenon, state of mind or being that intoxicates the emulator or practitioner. This personification (or effect) would inspire (or require) a certain state of rage, madness, frenzy and obsession to invoke. When we look at what these forces have in common, one observation is that they are all required in the act of creating and unlocking the highest forms of the self; the unwavering and untamable “Odian” self through a supreme invocation of madness.
The reason why Odin is renowned as a war god is also reflected in this hyper-form of rage and obsession. Through many means of ancient sorcery (such as Galdr and Utisetta) the warrior ascends to a realm of complete and total awareness and focus. Time is slowed down dramatically and stormy forces begin to rise within. This gives birth to a wild flare of intense energy and aggression; a substantial power brought about by an internal means of transformation. In this state, the warrior can achieve things that a normal man cannot and fight with unhinged ferocity.
Eventually, it seems that the Norse took this “Wōdaz” concept and formed it into a more tangible and external “Godlike” force that could be consulted, worshipped, and interacted with. In other words, the act of achieving Wōdaz (madness/obsession/frenzy) was turned into a deity and noun termed Odin or “the frenzied one.” The adjective took on its’ own archetype due to the potency of its’ characteristics, demonstrating further its’ effectiveness in the transforming of the practitioner, solidifying the concept in an objective form.
When we look at the name Gaut, we see a Gothic verb meaning “to flow out of.” This seems to reflect the early stages of the Indo-European migrations when the people came “flowing out” of the Eurasian Steppes during the decline of the last Ice Age. This title seems to be more ancestral in nature, as “Gaut” was said to be the origin of the Goths or “Gauts.” Whether this term correlates with a single originating ancestor or is a term used to describe how the entire Proto-Germanic population came “flowing out” of the North is to be speculated. Either way, this title should be held in particularly high regard, as the Gothic language is one of the oldest recorded languages in this family.
To conclude this short anecdote, it is important that we do not let monotheistic, omnipotent, Zoroastrian/Abrahamic concepts plague what it means to venerate the Gods within our blood. Strive to unlearn those false and foreign concepts about what a God is (or should be) and rebuild the spiritual identity locked within your ancestry and DNA. Our cultures were unique, complex and created during the primordial ages of human development when our relationship with nature was still abundant and flourishing. They were undoubtedly more sophisticated and powerful then the watered-down concepts they “feed” us in school and in mainstream media. This applies to Paganism of all cultures and forms, as all our Gods have been painted in this way to ensure the systematic destruction of our advanced cultures and identities. Our distinct and organic histories are entwined within us; in our Gods, cultures, language and ancestors. We must hold these things in the highest respect and venerate them fully to ensure our spiritual health, freedom, and strength.
Mannaz is the rune of humanity. It represents the vessel in which the spirit is carried and the critical analysis we can apply to the world around us. Mannaz is the ability to articulate and grasp esoteric knowledge, become aware of natures’ patterns, and form practical responses to those patterns. It is a rune of magical abilities and superior memory; associated with knowledge, thinking, and interdependence with the forces of nature.
Mannaz represents the unique conductivity, receptiveness and intellectual capacity within us. It also symbolizes the importance of finding control over that heavenly conductivity. Some say this means to equalize the “male” and “female” aspects of the self, but I think this control is more concentrated within that category in which we fit. Both energies (male/female) are valuable as separate entities in their own right; each having their own physical, emotional, and spiritual needs and requirements. The Mannaz rune represents those energies coming together in the creation and preservation of the divine spark.
Overlooking, renouncing or ignoring the powers of the sexes in magic (or spirituality) is to miss the divinity held within both individually. In this respect, we should celebrate our physical incarnation and hold our biological strengths in high regard; recognizing the powers held within them both. Nature has suggested separate requirements for the sexes, and these are all necessary for the manifestation, cultivation and propulsion of Humanity. Mannaz signifies our journeys coming together equally to manifest creation and ascension.
Mannaz is the rune of intellect, logic and reason. Mannaz represents the sacred structure of mankind; symbolizing the intelligence, awareness and technical abilities we possess. These abilities distinguish humanity from the rest of the animal kingdom, who we are closely associated with in many ways, shapes, and forms. In the order of the Futhark, the Mannaz rune appears right after the (ᛖ) rune Ehwaz, which symbolizes animals. This close proximity (and similar shape) suggest a similar origin or purpose, but distinct separation.
Nauthiz is the rune of need; a fairly vague and unclear rune when approached for the first time. However, this “need” has a clear, yet deep and esoteric connotation associated with it. Nauthiz is above all, a force of resistance and resilience. It symbolizes obstacles within our lives, and the deep inherent “need” for these obstacles in order for us to grow. This is a required force of resistance, causing ones inner fire to be cultivated and strengthened.
Nauthiz can be applied to conflicts of the material or spiritual, symbolizing the changes happening during these conflicts. The conquering of these forces provides the “need-fire” creation within us; the unlocked power and function of Nauthiz. With this fire within us, we can keep climbing the ladder of defeated obstacles, eventually freeing ourselves of the need to incarnate; riding forever on the Eternal Winds of Wotan. Nauthiz symbolizes the hardships required for us to grow and reach further stages of development.
Without moments of darkness and uncertainty we would be robbed of our ability to grow and appreciate that growth. The only way to truly understand and strive for feelings of power and accomplishment is to be at odds with the possibility of failure; and perhaps even humiliation and shame. Nauthiz represents those moments in our lives when we have the opportunity to truly prove our worth to ourselves, and to the Gods. Nauthiz supplies us with moments to shine, as well as moments to fall.
Nauthiz is a rune of effort, or lack thereof. Nauthiz can be visualized with the saying “to light a fire under ones ass;” something that’s meant to combat stagnation and laziness. Obstacles can crush ones morality and inner fire, so we must be strong and keen to recognize these moments to show our strength and power of will. With persistence and consistency in action, we can achieve great feats and feelings of power.
By consistently conquering obstacles, we ensure our inner fire stays strong and bright, providing us with powerful and creative energies for the future. Nauthiz is a reminder of what must be done in order to achieve our goals, and a reminder of the hard work that lies ahead of us in our journey toward the Ultimate Truth. By constantly destroying the obstacles in front of us, we can remove any feelings of restraint and uncertainty in life; curbing all feelings of anxiety.
Nauthiz represents the development of your magical ability; meaning your ability to change and alter the circumstances in your life and surroundings. True ascension and spiritual cultivation is a warlike process on many levels, with your greatest enemy being yourself and your human condition. We battle the hindering aspects of ourselves in order to achieve victory and personal mastery; a state of ecstasy that is crystalline and unchangeable. Do not fear Nauthiz, for it is one of the greatest teachers and conduits of growth.
Uruz is the rune of the Aurochs; a strong, wild and ox-like creature that is now extinct. This rune, like the animal, represents strength, endurance and vitality; and it was necessary for young men to venture out and vanquish one of these animals on their own if they hoped to join the warrior class. Uruz should be applied when you need that extra boost of wild energy; that flare of frenzied strength to push through the perimeters of your limits and obstacles. Uruz represents fortitude and the ability to work long, hard hours; giving sweat and blood to the Earth.
Uruz teaches us to be sturdy, head strong, and not to waver in the face of threats. It encourages us to make ourselves strong in all ways; to become untamed forces of self actualization and creation. Uruz should be applied to the body, mind and spirit; for if one of these elements is weak, they all shall suffer. Let Uruz be a beacon of strength and solidarity for you to meditate on, acting as an anchor for your soul in rough and unsure times.
Uruz is a rune of superior vitality and stone like endurance. You can never be broken if you have unlocked the powers of Uruz within; and it will always act as a force of resilience against weakness and illness. Use this rune to acquire deeper levels of strength and power in all aspects of life, for it will guide you to a place of confidence and quell any insecure feelings that hinder your growth. Uruz should be used to invoke divine strength, rage and vigor; a useful ingredient to any spell of confidence and solidarity. Meditate on this rune often for iron-like qualities.
Uruz is a rune steeped in chaos, for it still holds the wild and raw energies of creation. The Aurochs, Cow, and Bull are all very important symbols to the Indo-European consciousness; symbolizing the initial nourishing elements and building blocks of creation. From most angles of Indo-European spirituality we encounter a primeval creature similar to the Aurochs; this being usually symbolizing the first organic creation of existence, or the source being who is slain and brings about the creation of the world as we know it. Whether you follow Germanic, Celtic, or Vedic sources, you can trace these myths back to an original bovine-like creature who is associated with (or responsible for) the construction and cultivation of the world. Uruz represents this key component of creation.
Isaz is the rune of ice, frost, and timeless stillness. It emits cold and frigid energies, glistening with beauty and gem-like radiance. This serene state of being, symbolized by ice, is a metaphor for mastery over focus and concentration; concrete and locked in place. Isaz is a great rune to enhance clarity, composure, and focus.
Isaz can also mean to kill or “make cold.” Like the motionless ice, the corpse also lays still and frozen. Isaz is a powerful addition to runespells of destruction or death; for it not only focuses the energy directly on the target, but it enhances any runes near it with this clear and focused intent. When paired with runes like Thurisaz (ᚦ), it can create an intense spell of either defense or destruction.
Isaz is a direct communication with the frozen underworld, Niflheim. This realm of mist, fog, darkness, and ice is a place that exists within all of us; within our blood and spirit. This primordial darkness and cold is deep within our subconscious and DNA, locked deep within our memory. Our species experience of the desolate Ice Ages still haunt us to this day; recalling that sunless existence upon fields of ice. That experience has been imprinted on our genes, and our memories of that ancient darkness give us our appreciation for the light. For the light means nothing without the dark.
Isaz is akin to the very slow and destructive movements of the ice upon the Earth. Ice appears still and calm, but it holds a ruinous power within. Ice is a slow and silent destructive force; one that sneaks up on you over years and years of steady, consistent movement. This consistency of movement shapes and carves the landscape around it, creating the vast arrays of mountains, valleys, and formations upon the land.
Isaz is a catalyst for memories; for it changes, locks, and transports them through time. States of physical being can be trapped within this force and carried through the ages, making them discoverable and tangible; almost unchanged by hundreds or thousands of years of stagnation. With this aspect in mind, we can feel confident in using Isaz to contact other ages and eras; using it as a conductor to access the frozen layers of the past. Meditation with Isaz can be powerful and enlightening, and it must be done to remember, access, and decipher the cold and desolate parts of the psyche.
Wunjo is a rune of joy, ecstasy, serenity and pleasure. This rune radiates blissful happiness and uplifting feelings of goodness. Wunjo is smiles, laughter, fun, entertainment, amusement, and enjoyment. Meditate on this rune to balance any detrimental energies of unhappiness within.
Wunjo is prosperity, good fortune and a protective omen of well being. When present, you can almost always associate it with good luck and good news. Wunjo radiates positivity in all ways, representing delight and gratification in life. Wunjo is the clear, calm, bliss of the soul.
Wunjo is a spell against anxiety, depression, and fear. Good health, meditation, and sleep will encourage its’ energies; allowing it to radiate from you in all directions. When we can achieve this constant flow of energy, we can begin to heal any habits that have led us astray. Wunjo is the hope (and rope) we use to climb out of the dark and uninhabitable places of the mind.
Wunjo represents the right choices and right paths chosen. The more right choices we make, the more we experience Wunjo. It is our reward for correct behavior and application of Will; the fruit of alchemical harmony within. Wunjo is fulfillment and satisfaction; the feeling of achievement. When we are victorious in life, we are reminded of this blissful phenomenon present in Wunjo.
Wunjo also represents love and its’ reciprocation. In instances of unconditional affection, we are transported beyond the reaches of our bodies; entering a timeless sphere of ecstasy. This is the metaphysical creation of Wunjo and a direct means of communication with its’ energies. The more habitual work you do with Wunjo, the more enjoyment you will see in your life. This is a holy act of self preservation.
Wunjo keeps us optimistic and enthusiastic, acting as a compass for us in hard times. Just like short whims of true joy, we are destined to feel equally crippling moments of sorrow and anguish. Wunjo is the promise of better days to come and the beautiful reminder that emotions are impermanent; all things shall pass. All hope is never lost if you hold-fast in your efforts.