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Polaris of Enlightenment

Monday, May 20, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

Nauthiz – The rune of fate

Norse mythology

The rune of the powerful and mysterious norns - Nauthiz - has a very special place in both the Norse culture in general - and in the mystical Uthark rune row in particular.

Published 26 April 2024
- By Editorial Staff
The Norns spin the threads of fate at the foot of Yggdrasil, the world tree. Xylograph by L.B. Hansen, published in 1893, colorized by The Nordic Times.

ᚾ – Nauthiz – is the reconstructed Proto-Germanic name of the n-rune with the IPA sound value [n]. It is the tenth rune of the Futhark rune row and consequently the ninth rune of the Uthark.

The literal meaning of its name is “need” – and more specifically “necessity”. It is considered to be the rune of the mysterious Norns and the rune of fate and inevitability.


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.


Nauthiz – Meaning and interpretation

According to the Norse mythology, the fate of the world is being woven by the three Norns: Urd, Verdandi, and Skuld. They represent the past (Urd), the present (Verdandi), and the future (Skuld). Urd means “fate” or “primeval” (Ur), Verdandi means “being”, and Skuld means “result” or “debt”, reflecting the Norse equivalent of the more famous Vedic concept of karma.

It is in this sense that Nauthiz’ meaning of “necessity” is to be understood, as that which is necessary and inevitable. This meaning is similarly manifested in the Roman goddess Necessitas – who is derived from the Greek primordial deity of inevitability, Ananke, from the common noun ἀνάγκη (“force, compulsion, necessity”).

The position of the Nauthiz rune as the ninth rune of the esoteric Uthark is fully logical in light of the central role of the Norns in Norse mythology. Even the gods are understood to be subjected to the Nornic web of fate, and as esoteric symbols the Norns are considerably older than Odin, who was only much later elevated to the status of Allfather.

The Nornic trio of Urðr, Verðandi, and Skuld illustrated by German artist Ludwig Burger, beneath the world tree Yggdrasil. At the top of the tree is an eagle (likely Veðrfölnir), on the trunk of the tree is a squirrel (likely Ratatoskr), and at the roots of the tree gnaws what appears to be a small dragon (likely Níðhöggr). At the bottom left of the image is the well Urðarbrunnr.

In the Qabalah the number ten represents the total, in the Nordic tradition the number nine fills the same function and is undoubtedly the most sacred number in Norse mythology. Nine represents a higher aspect of the trinity, as reflected by the Valknut’s three triangles of completion.

Existence in the Norse conception consists of nine worlds. Odin hung from the world tree Yggrasil for nine days to attain the sacred knowledge of the nature of the runes. Mimir of Mimir’s well (Mímisbrunnr) also taught Odin nine magical chants, the so-called Fimbul songs, which are described as having healing powers. The prophecy of Thor slaying the Midgard Serpent also proclaims that he takes nine steps before he himself dies from its poison. Even the distance to the realm of death is described as “nine days on horseback,” as we know from Hermod’s journey to bring back Balder and thus change the fate of the world. Loki’s sword of fate, Lævateinn, is described as having nine strong locks, and so the list goes on.

Nauthiz – Symbolism and magical use

The Norse believed that the runes, representing the different powers and aspects of the Nornic web of fate, can be used by the skilled magician to exert influence. As the rune of the Norns, Nauthiz is considered a particularly magical rune.

The connection between the Norns and the number nine is reflected in the late Edda poem “The Sun-Song” where it is told: “On the chair of the Norns, for nine days I sat“. It is also reflected in the Sigtuna amulet, where it is written: “have nine necessities, wolf”.

The Sigtuna amulet in Journal of Swedish Antiquarian Research, 1936

The same connection with nine also appears in the Icelandic book of the black arts, which teaches to carve nine Nauthiz runes. The Nauthiz rune is further mentioned in Hávamál in the ninth stanza of Odin’s troll songs.

pat kann ek it niunda:
at biarga fari mino á floti,
vind ek kyrri vági á
ok svæfik allan sæ.
ef mik nauor um stendr

a ninth I can:
if necessity threatens,
it carries my ship on the waves
the wind I calm on the wave immediately
and sing the lake to sleep

Nauthiz – Divination

In a runic reading, Nauthiz is described as the nine months of pregnancy, giving way to new life or rebirth. The rune is also metaphorically described as the friction that generates fire in life and heralds a path to profound personal and spiritual evolution.


The Roman historian 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.


Nauthiz advices one not to be scared by one’s fate, but to accept it fully and see it as a possibility to reach wisdom and new life. However, it can also indicate difficulties and obstacles in one’s path and forebode that these problems can be overcome only by great self-sacrifice.

By embracing the profound lessons of Nauthiz, it is believed that individuals will learn to meet adversity with grace, cultivate resilience, and emerge from difficult trials with a deeper understanding of themselves, the world, and their place in it.

Discover the following rune Isa – the rune of ice

 

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