Uruz: The primeval rune

Norse mythology

Published 19 March 2024
- By Editorial Staff
Uruz Rune
Uruz first and foremost indicates a connection to ”the origin”, derived from the Proto-Germanic word for the auroch that once roamed the European landscapes.

  – Uruz, or Ur, is the second rune of the Elder Futhark, with the IPA [u(ː)], transliterated to U. According to the Uthark theory it is actually the very first rune, as many believe is the case in the Kylver stone inscriptions (see below). This theory is also supported by the strong symbolism of “new life” conveyed by the rune.

Uruz first and foremost indicates a connection to ”the origin”, as is evident in the Swedish words ursprung (origin), urtid (primeval time) and ursprungsbefolkning (indigenous population) and also in the Urd goddess, the Norn who weavs one of the three threads of destiny.


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.


Meaning and interpretation

The rune is derived from the Proto-Germanic word for the auroch, an extinct species of wild ox that once roamed the European landscapes. If we were to turn the Uruz rune so that it would look like a normal “u” we can also see how it illustrates the horns of the animal.

The aurochs were highly respected animals and featured in hunting rituals and mythology, symbolizing the most primal aspects of nature, raw energy and qualities such as unbridled strength and indomitable will. The auroch is associated with the primeval cow Auðhumbla, who according to the Norse myth of creation brought forth the material world with its nourishment of the world giant Ymir.

Ymir sucks at the udder of Auðumbla as she licks Búri out of the ice in a painting by Nicolai Abildgaard, 1790.

The Ur rune also illustrates Ginnungagap, the wide-open crack of primeval chaos and the original emptiness. In many regards, the rune denotes the womb from which everything is created and born.

Symbolism and magical use

Practitioners of rune magic typically inscribe the Uruz into talismans and other objects for courage and protection, or use it in meditations to connect with their instinctual power. It is also employed to invoke strength, health, and endurance – used in workings aimed at boosting vitality, overcoming illnesses or embarking on significant life changes that require great energy and inner fortitude.

The Kylver stone

In the beginning of the Kylver stone, before Uruz, there is an Iss rune, believed by many to be a curse. Apart from the absence of a Fehu rune on the inscriptions, the Uthark rune row makes a whole lot of sense from a mythological perspective. This runestone will be a recurring reference in this series as it is significant to the Uthark theory. We will go into further detail in later articles covering other runes.

Runic inscriptions on the Kylver stone. Photo: SHM/CC BY-SA 4.0

Together with the Ansuz and Laguz runes, Uruz is also found inscribed on many artefacts and runestone forming the word ALU. Professor Agrell believe this to be the incantation of the magic number 24. The only possible meaning of ALU is beer, however the same runes but in order LUA are found on artefacts as well, giving further bearing on Agrell’s Uthark hypothesis.

Divination

The Uruz rune, as a symbol of primordial force and a return to the source, is believed to encourage the breaking of old patterns and courage to embrace the new, symbolizing raw energy and material from which new realities are forged.


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.

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.


If you are facing a problem, you may also consider going back to the beginning and for a moment leave your present plans and solutions behind. Let the situation be an unwritten page again and get new energy and ideas from the many possibilities that this offers.

When appearing inverted or in a challenging position within a spread, Uruz might suggest a warning against recklessness or the misapplication of force. It can also highlight areas where one may be resisting change or where there is a need to confront one’s fears and vulnerabilities in order to move forward.

 

Discover the following rune – Thurisaz – the rune of chaos

 

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