Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

Eihwaz – The rune of the Sky Father

Norse mythology

Published 9 May 2024
- By Editorial Staff
Behind the yew tree and the world tree Yggdrasil, the ancient light god Ull is symbolized in the Eihwaz rune.

ᛇ – Eihwaz is the reconstructed proto-Germanic name of the rune which, according to the Anglo-Saxon runic song, means “yew tree”.

Behind this seemingly mundane meaning lies a powerful symbolism that reaches deep into the rune magic of ancient Norse culture.

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.

The rune is still shrouded in mysteries. Some rune scholars even doubt, for example, that the rune has ever had a defined sound value at all – and believe that its purpose is primarily magical in nature. The actual placement of the rune in the rune row has not been fully determined, as we will discuss further.

Meaning and interpretation

There are clear indications that the world tree Yggdrasil was not actually an ash, but a yew. The German philologist Franz Rolf Schröder has proposed an etymology according to which yggdrasill means “yew pillar”, deriving yggia from *igwja (meaning “yew-tree”), and drasill from *dher- (meaning “support”). The Swedish linguist Frits Läffler has also suggested that the “evergreen tree” in Old Uppsala was probably a yew and a kind of prototype of Yggrasil.

The Eihwaz rune, however, seems to have fallen into obscurity since the Bronze Age, but archeological finds suggest that it may have been by far the most pivotal rune in the entire rune row, possibly equivalent to the king on a chess board. The rune can be directly traced to the god Ull – a major deity, if not the major deity, in ancient Norse religion.

What has been identified as Ull can be seen with a bow in the left corner on the Böksta runestone in Uppsala. Photo: Berig/CC BY 2.5

According to Grimnismál, the dwelling place of the god Ull was called Ydalir – the valley of the yew tree. The 42nd stanza of the same Eddic poem indicates that this deity once held a supreme standing in Germanic folklore, which further suggests that Ull is much older than Odin.

The grace of Ull he owns and that of all the gods.
Who quenches the flame first.
For the worlds are opened to the eyes of aesir,
when from the flame the kettles are lifted.”

(Free translation, The Nordic Times)

The verse is vague, but seems to refer to sacrificial meals and the great power of such offerings to bring the human world into contact with the gods. What is most interesting in this context, however, is that Ull is mentioned as foremost among the gods.

According to the ancient work Codex argenteus, the name Ull can be traced back to the Gothic “Wulpus” meaning “majestic brilliance” and, according to the preserved characteristics described, Ull is also called a “fair” god – in other words, “bright” and ” splendid”. Ull is described by professor Sigurd Agrell, among others, as a potential direct North Germanic equivalent to a light god such as the highest deity in the Zoroastrian tradition, Ahura Mazda.

Symbolism and magical use

It is known that the yew tree was regarded as a sacred tree in the ancient Germanic world, partly because it was the tree that lived the longest. From this normally poisonous tree, a powerful narcotic substance can also be prepared, something that seems to have been well known in ancient Norse medicine. Of all the means used by the ancient Germanic peoples to protect themselves against witchcraft, the yew was also considered one of the most effective. This is why many people often carried a small twig or a piece of the trunk close to their bodies, according to a study on the significance of plants in folk tradition according to Agrell.

The yew has been used to make magical amulets and wands, and, as is well known in modern research, to make bows – which is probably why Ull has sometimes been described as an archer god. Further back in time, runes were carved to a large extent on yew wood because of its magical signifance.

Ull is probably also the first god ever to be mentioned in a runic inscription, judging by finds in old Danish territory such as the Thorsberg chape.

The runic inscription on the Thorsberg chape, dating to dating to roughly 200 CE, reads “The servant of Ullr, the renowned”.

It is also clear that the name Ull was highly central in the ancient Norse culture, naming a myriad of areas and communities in both Sweden and Norway. It is very likely that Ullr had a special place in Sweden while Tiwaz had a more prominent place in Denmark.

Names of towns and other places with “Ull” in Norway and Sweden. Photo from rune researcher Magnus Stenlund’s runic calendar

One of the most mysterious of these places is Ulleråker – which means “Ull’s field”. During the Bronze Age, Ulleråker was an island 8 kilometers long and 3 kilometers wide (5 miles long 3 miles wide) south of Uppsala, which was the sanctuary of a sacred god of light. Ulleråker is also home to the mound of the Håga king, erected over the oldest Swedish kingdom’s founder and the most splendid bronze age grave in all of Scandinavia. The grave dates back to 1000 BC predating Caesar, Hannibal and Alexander the great by well over 500 years. For context this is roughly 1800 years before the time of Ragnar Lothbrok.

Ulleråker during the bronze age with the grave of oldest Swedish kingdom’s founder marked on the map. Photo from the Swedish book Fornnordiskt lexikon.

No less than 52 different artifacts clad in gold were found, many from continental Europe. State-owned TV channel SVT showcases around 20 minutes in this documentary.

Gematrical connections also point to the logical place of the Eihwaz rune as the thirteenth rune of the esoteric Uthark rune row, which would also be consistent with the Kylver stone, where Eihwaz is carved as the thirteenth rune. However as covered in the previous article about Perthro, the order of the two is shrouded in mystery.

The gematria on the Thorsberg cape actually revolves around 12, but looking to the 12th and 13th stanzas in Odin’s troll songs, the order on the Kylver stone makes sense.

The modern interpretation of 13 as an unlucky number seems to be almost the exact opposite in old Germanic culture, which is evident, one example being that Iceland had 13 places of political assemblies (things) and 39, that is, 3×13 temples. There are a vast number of breathtaking artifacts with gematria based around 13.


According to esoteric philosophy based on the Utharks, Eihwaz represents the supreme divine and also the sacred masculine, the supporting axis that not only holds up the world but also stretches between life and death.

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.

In rune reading, Eihwaz is also described as symbolizing meaning and direction, as well as the underlying answer to the seemingly unknown and inexplicable. When Eihwaz appears to the runic reader, it often means that a person is on the right path and can be assured of the highest possible protection.


Discover the following rune Algiz – the rune of protection


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