Thursday, May 16, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

Algiz – The rune of protection

Norse mythology

Published today 17:39
- By Editorial Staff
There are many indications that Algiz was the rune of protection, especially at sea.

ᛉ – Algiz, is the name conventionally given to the z-rune of the Elder Futhark rune row.

According to the Uthark, Algiz is the 14th rune in a numerological-magical sense, which is logical according to it’s underlying symbolism.

This article is part of our exclusive series on the origins and secrets of the Nordic runes in the Elder Futhark and the merits of the intriguing Uthark theory proposed by the Swedish philologist Sigurd Agrell, professor at Lund University, Sweden.

The Uthark is a secret cipher, based on positioning the Fehu rune at the end of the rune row, like an ace in a deck of cards, revealing esoteric philosophy reaching deep into the heart of Norse culture and religious beliefs.

Its meaning has been thought by some to be “elk” – something that does not stand up to closer scrutiny and seems to be a mistranslation of when the runes came to England. Instead, there are many indications that Algiz was the rune of protection.

Meaning and interpretation

According to the Roman historian Tacitus, there is evidence that a pair of divine brothers named Alci, corresponding to the Roman and Greek twin gods Castor and Pollux, the so-called Dioscuri, were worshipped by the East Germanic peoples just before the end of the first century AD.

The Dioscuri were helpers and protectors of people in distress, especially at sea. They can be traced back to a common Indo-European belief, also found in the Açvins of the Vedas, about two closely linked light deities who were seen as benefactors of mankind. The same mythological symbolism is also found among the Celts and Latvians.

Professor Agrell suggests, based on corresponding symbolism in the Mithra tradition, that each of these divinities would have been considered to belong to the night sky, each to a respective half of the zodiac. It is also known today that Norse seafarers navigated according to the stars, so the supposed symbolism of the Algiz rune as a protector especially at sea is not far-fetched.

The Anglo-Saxon verb “calgian” – “to protect” has been traced by some to the same roots.

Symbolism and magical use

The Algiz rune is also particularly famous for its association with the Ægishjálmur – “The helm of Terror/Dread”. Here, four Algiz runes are used to create what has been regarded as perhaps the most powerful symbol of protection in Norse history, described as dissolving fear and instead instilling it in the enemy, whoever they might be. Despite its roots in the sagas, we can not tell for sure what the actual symbol of an original Ægishjálmur looked like. The appearance with which it is depicted today comes from the Icelandic manuscript Galdrabók, a book of Icelandic galdras – spells or incantations – written between 1550 and 1650. In it, Ægishjálmur appears as a so-called galdra staff, in which Algiz is contained.

Ægishjálmur in Galdrabók to the left.

The 14th stanza of Oden’s troll songs also relates the fourteenth rune as the one telling “a number of gods” – that is, gods in the plural.

Many have also noted that the shape of Algiz is strikingly similar to a man with his arms raised to the sky, possibly calling upon higher powers.

With this in consideration, Algiz may be used magically to protect, ward off, and create a safe perimeter around a person, place, or object – to create a shield against negative energies or malicious intentions, invoking a strengthened connection with one’s guardian spirits or ancestral protectors for spiritual defense.

On the so called Charnay Fibula, an artifact found in the east of France that most likely was worn by a woman, the Algiz rune is doubled in meaning as it contains one Algiz rune on top of another inverted Algiz rune. Interestingly, the inverted Algiz is used in the younger Futhark denoting the R-sound.

The Charnay fibula. Montage by TNT, original photo of the artifact by and illustration by Sigurd Agrell.

It’s one of the oldest findings with an (almost) complete Futhark that includes the mysterious Eihwaz and Perthro (a version of it at least) runes. It has been dated to around year 520 and contains a remarkable gematria around the number 17 – a number typically associated to the feminine.

Apart from the 20 rune long Futhark, there are three words without meaning:

UTHFNTHAI – ᚢ ᚦ ᚨ ᚺ ᚦ ᚨ ᛁ

IDDAN – ᛁ ᛞ ᛞ ᚨ ᚾ

LIANO – ᛚ ᛁ ᚨ ᚾ ᛟ

The runes on the Charnay Fibula with transliteration in Runornas talmystik och dess antika förebild.

The numerical value, using the Uthark, is 51=3*17 for the first row and 68=4*17 for the second. Moreover, the sum of all the runes plus the odd number of punctuation marks (four dots separating the words and three dots after the rune row) is 408=24*17. To new readers these random punctuation marks may seem random, but in reality, as on this artifact as on many others, they typically appear with pronounced gematria.

Finally, the numerical sum of all the runes just happens to be exactly the same as on another artifact containing gematria based around 17, namely the Seax of Beagnoth.


Algiz represents a powerful symbol of protection and defense, not just in the physical realm but also against spiritual threats. It can be interpreted as a rune strengthening the cultivation of a safe, sacred space for growth and healing – personal as well as collective.

The basics of rune divination

According to Norse belief, the runes represent aspects of the web of destiny, called the web of Urd (Wyrd). This web is intimately connected to time and the three Norns; Urd, Verdandi and Skuld. The Norns are weaving the threads of the web and represent what was, what is and what is to come.

Tacitus, among others, noted that rune divination was a widespread practice among the Norse. One of the most basic forms of such divination is to pray and draw three runes on twigs or cards which will signify the three Norns. By reading the web of Urd one may understand the present of Verdandi as well as the past, and also lift the veil of Skuld and see what lies hidden in the future.

When Algiz appears in a reversed or obstructed position, it might indicate a vulnerability or a breakdown in one’s protective barriers. It might serve as a warning to reassess one’s defenses, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual, and to take steps to fortify oneself against potential threats.



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