Saturday, May 18, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

Isa – The rune of ice

Norse mythology

Updated yesterday 17:59 Published 29 April 2024
- By Editorial Staff

ᛁ – Isa – is the reconstructed Proto-Germanic name of the i-rune with the IPA sound value [i(ː)], meaning “ice”. It is called íss in Old Norse.

It is the 11th rune of the Futhark, consequently the 10th according to the Uthark.

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.

Isa rune – Meaning and interpretation

Just as the fire rune Kenaz is linked to the fire thurses and their burning world of Muspelheim, Isa is associated with the ice thurses and their freezing realm of Nifelheim.

While Kenaz represents the destroying and dissolving principle of fire, the Isa rune symbolizes the materializing, condensing and constraining principle. The heat dissolves ice and water into vapor that rises upwards, while the cold materializes vapor into water and ice – causing the water to be weighed back down to earth.

Esoterically, the cold has correspondingly also been seen as the rune of incarnation, as the force that causes the soul to return from its spiritual state back to earth.
In this sense, the rune can be seen as part of the life cycle, but like winter it is primarily associated with death – a phase where life is frozen and solidified under the ice. For the Norse, the expression “to make cold” meant to kill someone.

Isa rune – Symbolism and magical use

In the legends, the long Fimbul winter foreshadowed the cataclysmic end of the current era, Ragnarök, where, according to the prosaic Edda, the only surviving humans would be the couple Liv and Livtrasir, who, like the Bible’s Adam and Eve, would bring children into a new and better world.


“Ragnarök” by the famous Swedish rock band Ultima Thule.


The encyclopaedia Fornnordiskt lexikon mentions that the concept of a Fimbul winter has been thought by some to be the result of the climate change that Swedish professor Rutger Sernander pointed out began in 700 BC and lasted until around a century before the start of the present calendar. The Nordic weather then transformed from a boreal to an Atlantic climate – with sunless, cold rainy summers and very snowy winters. This was a catastrophic change for the northerners of the time, leading to the collapse of the entire Bronze Age culture and the depopulation of large parts of central Sweden.

According to Uthark, the fire rune Kenaz is the fifth rune, while the Isa rune is the tenth. This seems to be part of a larger pattern of every fifth rune of the Uthark, considering that the fifteenth rune Sowilo is the sun rune, and the twentieth rune Laguz is the rune of water.

Isa appears in the Icelandic book of black arts as one used to cause harm and even death, and there are several examples of the belief that number ten had power to “make cold” – to kill. However, like other runes, its destructive or constructive power also seems to depend on the context. For example, the Isa rune is said to have been used by shamans to “cool” minds in uncontrolled affect or psychotic states. The tenth stanza of Odin’s troll songs in the Eddic Poetic canon also suggests that the number ten was ascribed the power to subdue those who had embarked on astral journeys to disturb others, called “túnridor”:

If túnridor are seen
that the lost may go
to their port’s rightful home

Isa rune – Divination

Like many runes, Isa is ambiguous in a runic reading and its meaning depends on the context. It doesn’t necessarily foretell of death, but can also signify the need for rest, preservation, and hibernation.

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.

The other side of the rune is like an indicator of something that lies frozen and needs to be brought back to life. It might also signify concentration, or the materialization of an idea.


Discover the following rune Jera – the rune of the Year


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