Othala – Initial Rune Study

Six months ago I started a thorough initial study of the Elder Futhark. Each week I would focus on a new rune, reading the rune poems and a number of published interpretations. While these posts are old (originally posted to my Tumblr), I want to move them over here for easy reference.

Week 24: Othala

Basic meaning: ancestral property; inherited land

Further meanings:  Inherited property or possessions, a house, a home.  What is truly important to you.  Group order, group prosperity.  Land of birth, spiritual heritage, experience and fundamental values.  Source of safety, increase in abundance.  A tie to ancestors and hamingja.  Divine and earthly ancestry.  Connectedness with all human beings.

Divinatory meanings:  Points to something important to you.  Aid in physical or spiritual journeys.  Group identity.  Personal wealth and abundance already available to you.  Rune of material prosperity and well-being.

Reversed/Merkstave meanings:  Lack of customary order, totalitarianism, slavery, poverty, homelessness.  Prejudice, clannishness, provincialism.  Racism, xenophobia, greed.  What one is bound to.

Magical uses:  Maintaining order among peers.  Concentration on common interests in home and family.  Shift of focus from self to family/group.  Gathering power and knowledge from past generations.  Acquisition of wealth and prosperity.

Personal thoughts on and associations with Othala

For those of you just joining me for these, I’ve shifted my focus a lot from heathen things over the past couple of months.  But I still wanted to finish this rune study as using the runes has proven to be pretty effective.  Plus, I made a promise, and that means I have to fulfill it!

I bring this up right now because of a recent rune reading I did.  Nearing the end of this project is a really big deal to me, and I wanted guidance as to what I should do next (take a break, work on something personal, start a new study project related to my path, etc).  I asked a few different deities specifically, and got the repeated answer that I need to continue to work but start focusing on more of the community aspect rather than the personal.

Othala is an interesting rune because it seems very focused on the physical, but really can be taken far beyond that as well.  Certainly there is a very strong element of ancestral community, but to me it also seems to point to a supportive network.  This is often family, but can include organizations, religious groups, friends, anything with a solid community feel to it.

I’m in the process of shifting communities, which so far has not been as scary as I feared it would.  At the same time, I still have my own family as a core to who I am no matter where I flail to.  My partner for example deals with me no matter how my interests change or my moods.  My parents love me no matter what and support me to the best of their abilities.  So no matter how much I change, I know I have a firm, safe ground to stand on, and I am extremely grateful for it.

Also, I’m extremely grateful to all of you who have stuck it out this long for my rune writings!  You are amazing!  I know the Tumblr pagan et al communities get a lot of negativity, and certainly there are problems.  But I know I wouldn’t have been adventurous enough to get this far without some direction from perfect strangers on the internet.  So thanks to all of you, too.

Sources for meanings:

  • Sunnyway.com/runes/index.html
  • Runelore by Edred Thorsson
  • Futhark: A Handbook of Rune Magic by Edred Thorsson
  • Principles of Runes by Freya Aswynn
  • Northern Mysteries and Magick by Freya Aswynn
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