Today is our final lesson focusing on individual runes, meaning we are covering our last grouping - Tyr’s aett. At the end of this lesson, you should be familiar with the phonetic and ideographic meanings of all 24 runes of the Elder Futhark. Next week, we will begin looking at the Elder Futhark as a whole again, starting with the second part of decoding runic inscriptions: translation. Then we will discuss the magical uses of runic inscriptions in the following week.
The Third Aett – Tyr’s Aett
The final family of runes is named after the god Tyr (also known as Tiwaz). This aett is different from the others in that it contains the names of two Germanic deities (namely, Tiwaz and Ingwaz) as the names of runes. Your textbook associates this aett with the world of ideas and concepts. More prosaically, these runes can be associated with the world as seen by humans, and contain meanings that take on specific significance in their relationship to mankind.
In magic, the runes of this family are associated specifically with psychological and spiritual effects, as well as emotions and human interaction more generally.
The rune Tiwaz gets its name from the Germanic god of law and reason Tiwaz or Tir (the latter is his Norse counterpart). It is from "tiw" that we have the weekday Tuesday -- literally Tiw’s Day. As is appropriate, Tiwaz stands for all the things its namesake does: justice, reason, leadership, and neutrality. More than anything, Tiwaz represents what is objectively right and fair. It is a popular rune to find in courthouses such as the Wizengamot at the Ministry of Magic, and whenever a new judge is sworn in, they place their hands on a book of law with Tiwaz inscribed on the cover.
Merkstave this rune stands for the opposite: injustice, imbalance, and irrationality.
Throughout history, Tiwaz was inscribed on weapons such as the famous Excalibur, and they could only be wielded by those with justice and fairness in their hearts. Godric Gryffindor inscribed the rune on his sword, which found its way into the hands of both Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom at one point. It is not correct to say that Gryffindor was the only one to value fairness, however. Helga Hufflepuff believed in fairness above all else, with the possible exception of kindness. She was also a major proponent of balance and often served as a mediator. In fact, it has been posited that Hufflepuff helped bring Cnut the Dane and Edmund II, King of England, to treaty in 1,016 CE after the Battle of Assandun.
Tiwaz is used today by Aurors, judges, city officials, diplomats, and even historians looking to maintain impartiality. It is not commonly used to enchant objects or enhance certain spells, although a piece of jewelry may inspire its wearer to remember the cause for which they are fighting.
Standard Merkstave Variants
The Muggle interpretation of Berkano is “birch tree,” and our understanding of the rune stems from the idea of the tree as perpetuation, renewal, fertility, and growth. Berkano is the rune of family, birth, and happiness, both literal and metaphorical.
Merkstave, it may be used to represent (or cause) strife, infertility, and stagnation. In short, with the right combination, merkstave Berkano can tear families apart while upright it may bring them back together.
A number of professions make use of Berkano in their practices. The most common example is midwives who carve the rune onto their tools. In addition, marriage counsellors, family therapists, and maternity wards often have it inscribed around their premises. Unsurprisingly, Berkano is the most common rune (along with Wunjo) to find inscribed or painted in homes, particularly on front doors and in living rooms. Students may have encountered the recently-popular “ᛒᚹᛃ” (Berkano Wunjo Jera), also known as “Family, Joy, and Harmony”. As noted in your textbook, Hufflepuffs are especially fond of the rune, and the aforementioned phrase is inscribed prominently in their common room. Slytherins also find Berkano to be important to them as the ties of family are extolled amongst their virtues.
Berkano may be used in a number of ways. In potions, it may promote fertility within couples trying to conceive a child. It may also be used in spell therapy that treats Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to help instil faith and trust in close friends and family of the patient. Others find the rune to make great wedding and new child gifts, to foster deep compassion, love, and family ties. Due to its nature, Berkano is rarely used merkstave and when it is, it is typically used by the vengeful and the vindictive looking to render a hole in a particular family unit, whether their own or otherwise. It has also been known to create a rift in friendships, and it has been suggested that the famous locket Horcrux created by the Dark Lord carried upon it a merkstave Berkano.
Standard Merkstave Variants
Literally, Ehwaz was used to indicate “horse,” and Schreiber expanded the meaning to represent man’s relationship with the horse: teamwork, partnership, and transportation. At its core, Ehwaz is about progress made with the help of others and the change that comes with progress - whether it is physical, mental, or metaphorical. Like the horse, Ehwaz’s strength comes from the strength of the bond with its caster.
Upright, Ehwaz holds these meanings while merkstave it can represent recklessness, discord, and unwillingness to work together.
Historically, Ehwaz has been found on Viking ships to promote teamwork amongst prisoners responsible for rowing the ships. As your book notes, the rune has remained popular for this purpose throughout the centuries; sports teams today still use Ehwaz on their various pieces of equipment to coordinate collaboration, including the Hogwarts Rowing Team. For equestrian lovers, Ehwaz is the go-to rune to inscribe on saddles and horseshoes as it facilitates a strong bond between horse and rider. Ideally the rider of the horse would be the one to carve the rune to make the magic personal and, consequently, more powerful.
Mannaz is the rune of humankind, and it represents everything that man does: creation and destruction, life and mortality, happiness and despair, emotion and reason.
Upright, Mannaz embodies the best of humanity while merkstave represents the worst. Apathy and mortality are both characteristics of merkstave Mannaz while life and self-awareness would characterize the upright position.
More than any other rune, Mannaz will tell you what is in your soul. When written, this rune will be charged with whatever true intent lies in your heart, and it will respond to intelligence and self-reflection. This is not a rune for the impulsive user; rather, Mannaz asks for patience and thought. Indeed, it has been a favourite rune amongst journal crafters throughout the centuries, and it is favoured by those interested in intellectual pursuits. However, Mannaz can also represent pride and greed, and those who are filled with either, when using Mannaz, may find their spellwork to be less than perfect or, in some cases, completely ineffective.
Mannaz can be used in a number of ways. Most commonly, Mannaz is carved into an object to be used as a talisman for objectivity, intelligence, and reason (particularly favoured by scholars, judges, and researchers). As mentioned above, journal crafters also use it to promote thought and self-awareness amongst their journals’ users, and wandmakers find it handy in developing the bond between wand and holder. Some recent research has suggested that the rune may also be used to help rehabilitate prisoners, working on their general lack of human connections and instilling the feelings of human connection in their hearts. This remains conjecture as more research needs to be done to qualify these findings, but it serves as a reminder of how relevant runes are today.
The rune Laguz is most commonly seen by Muggles to mean “water,” or “the sea.” This is something that can still be seen in the modern European languages, many of which have words referring to a body of water that begin with the same syllable, such as English “lake” or French “lac.” There is also some speculation that this rune may more correctly be referring to the vegetable “leek,” but this is mere conjecture. Schreiber’s correction for this rune can be seen as a deepening of the mundane meaning of this rune, as it is often said that “still waters run deep,” and so the rune for water is also the rune that stands for intuition, the unknown and the profound as well as the subconscious.
In its merkstave form, Laguz stands for madness and fear, as a consequence of trusting false intuition.
Laguz is useful in magic that attempts to discover the unknown such as amulets and charms intended for truth-seeking. It is a rune well-loved by Slytherins for its association with the element water and many claim that wearing jewelry with the rune Laguz aids them in fulfilling their potential. Another use for Laguz is in healing, especially with regard to mental illness, where it can be used by therapists to help a patient understand the underlying or subconscious elements that may be contributing to their situation. It can also be used to discover hidden talent, particularly when it comes to magic. It is rumoured that the admissions registry at Hogwarts, which lists all the students to be newly admitted in the following school year, is imbued with the magic of Laguz on every page.
Ingwaz is the second rune in Tyr’s aett that is named after a deity. It is named for the god Ingwaz, the Earth god, who represents fertility, peace and plenty. The rune Ingwaz stands for the hero and all he embodies: maleness, home and virtue. In Schreiber’s corrections, this is further expanded to signify common sense, humility, caring, and relaxation. Ingwaz stands for the hero and his positive virtues, as well as for the Earth. It is the rune of hard work and fair play.
In merkstave form, Ingwaz can signify sloth and unfairness, as well as a warning against too narrow a focus on details.
As the rune associated most closely with the Earth, as well as with common sense and hard work, it is not surprising that this rune is a favourite of Hufflepuffs. It can be found all over the Hufflepuff Common Room, and embodies the virtues so cherished by Helga Hufflepuff in her students.
In spellcraft, Ingwaz is often used to increase the power of tools and objects that require hard work, either to manufacture or to use them, such as hammers used by smiths or the metal ores they work into weapons and tools. It can also be used to increase a sense of fair play, and supports justice and common sense in the workplace and in government.
The last two runes are sometimes reversed in their order, but more commonly, Dagaz is presented second-last. Like Laguz, Dagaz has a strong legacy in our languages, and can be traced to the English word “Day” (which is the main meaning of Dagaz), as well as “dag” in the Nordic languages and “Tag” in German. Schreiber expands Dagaz’ mundane meaning of “day” to include associated concepts such as clarity and breakthrough, as well as balance.
In its merkstave form, Dagaz stands for endings and completion (like the end of the day), as well as hopelessness and blindness.
Rowena Ravenclaw made use of Dagaz in the Ravenclaw Common Room, as it is known to encourage creative thinking, and it can also be used in memory charms. Similar to Laguz, it can draw out knowledge and ideas that have lain hidden, and for this reason is also often used as a decorative element for brainstorming sessions and in research environments to encourage breakthroughs and new discoveries.
Finally, we come to Othala, the last rune in the Elder Futhark. It stands for birthplace and heritage, and evokes tradition and long-standing associations. Othala is the rune that signifies community, as well as the homeland and ancestral property. It is a rune associated with communally shared property and traditions, with social connections and a long-term sense of shared purpose and belief.
In its merkstave form, these positive values are turned to their extremes, leading to intolerance, prejudice and clannishness, as well as unwillingness to help others, particularly when they are different.
Othala is especially useful as a rune used in magic that relies on and affects larger groups or communities, as it can draw on their shared strength while also sharing that strength among them. Othala cannot be used for an individual, which can make it a dangerous rune; curses that target a whole family or clan are often powered by the use of Othala. However, as Othala is equally able to share power for positive purposes, it still is used quite frequently on buildings that serve particular communities. Salazar Slytherin himself used it to strengthen the community spirit here at Hogwarts, and in turn used the community spirit to bolster the defences of the castle through Othala. Whether for right or wrong, Othala works by uniting a community against those outside it.
With that, we have come to the end of the lesson and the end of the Elder Futhark. Each rune is unique, and its effects cannot be replaced through the use of another rune. Your assignment this week consists of a final quiz on the meanings of these runes.
If you have any questions or queries, please do not hesitate to contact either myself, the Ancient Runes Head Student(s), or an Ancient Runes PA (Professor’s Assistant, also known as Prefect) - they’re here to help!
Ingwaz: Norse Earth god
Tyr/Tiwaz: Norse god of justice, reason, leadership, and neutrality
Original lesson written by Professor Rebecca Black
(Based off of content by Professor Genesis Starfight)