The giant trods across the ice-capped plain. Thorns, sharp and fierce garnish the landscape.
Quite a stellar image, isn’t it? The image of a colossus, born from the great chaotic gap itself. It strides, grunts, and shuffles along. The image of its mission forward burning sharp in its mind. It takes up arms, it bellows a deafening shriek.
Its strike lands true. Thorns of might pierce. The mountain shakes and movement initiates.
Force, Chaos, Direction, and the Energy to give it motion. It is the meaningful conflict which allows growth. The punch to the face that we must throw to win a fight. Perhaps it’s to protect our girlfriend, specifically her ass, of which the man whose face you are currently rearranging was foolish enough to grope.
For great motion to take place, there needs to be a driving force to accelerate it. Without this forceful push, action is merely an idea. An empty vessel without a pilot.
Thurisaz, the THURS is the runic embodiment of the giants of old with whom it shares its namesake. The giant and the thorn. It is, in its most basic form, the chaotic, reactionary force. The sharpened thorn which stabs and bites at its target.
I talk about chaos a lot, across many articles, and for good reason. The all too often neglected aspect of life and the cosmos. Associated with chaos, there is conflict. Conflict is seen by many as an inherently bad thing.
Upon a closer look, it’s just as important as the gift of wealth or the strength of the bull discussed previously. It’s the instinctual snap of the nerves to allow for all to weave and grow.
Thurs represents the chaotic and aggressive nature of man. The aggressive will to go forward and strike out we have had since we first learned to walk upright.
We are animals at the end of the day. Since day one we have had to initiate actions of might and violence against one another. Whether it be warring tribes battling for territory, or a simple standoff over a fallen animal carcass.
This rune, whose shape even resembles that of a crude hammer, can also be the hammer we wield in the times when necessary.
It’s the force of our emotions, our spirit, our mind lashing out and driving forward. Literally, and figuratively.
I see many people in my life try to act like violence is not necessary. That conflict is not necessary. That chaos and the might of unrestrained energy is not necessary.
I have news for you holier than thou pacifists:
There is a dark side to all these things, yes. This rune has its potential for negative use as all in the futhark do. But to turn a blind eye to our chaotic instincts is foolish.
We have a will to power, the suppression of that will leads to this rune’s bite maiming you rather than what you are targeting.
THURS: The Masculine Force
The rune itself represents force of action, a powerful and brutal strike. This is tied into the hearts of us men. It is the hammer in a man’s hand, striking a nail with the intent to build. It’s the great hammer with which Þórr himself cracks the sky with. The hammer of the striker which rings through thousands of years.
It is the man who fights for his kin, for his principles. It’s the swing of the hammer or the fall of the axe to split the head of the man who opposes him.
I feel this is a rune misunderstood by many. Some choose to see it in a negative light solely, in use or casting.
Thurisaz is not evil. It does not symbolize direct harm. It’s simply a force of nature. A neutral power like a cannon with an unlit fuse. A force of chaos if you will. Any powerful force and how it’s utilized depends on the hands of its user.
You take a guy who has no idea how to drive a bulldozer, and put him in a bulldozer — what do you think the result is likely to be? Not sure you want to ask him after they’re done scraping what’s left of his supervisor off the pavement.
Understanding Thurisaz is understanding there are very primal forces. The more brutish nature of life and the cosmos.
It is force. It is conflict. It is the explosive release of energy. The great bolt of lightning. The fall of the stone hammer. It’s the nature of conflict, movement, and initiation. One of the most potent and powerful of the entire futhark. Not to be taken lightly, but necessary to understand.
Keep the image of the thorn in your hearts, for it is the sacred fury.
it is a very savage beast and fights with its horns;
a great ranger of the moors, it is a creature of mettle.
You are a hunter in the Bronze Age, somewhere in the murk of a floodplain forest in what is today’s Germany. Around you is a party made up of hunting-age men from your tribe, in your hand you hold the haft of a spear. All of you are strong, agile, and know the terrain and the behaviour of your chosen prey the way only men who eke out an arduous living killing for subsistence can.
Your comrade taps your shoulder and points silently, directing your line of sight to the object of the pursuit that has taken you hours away from the village of roundhouses you inhabit. A herd of aurochs, coats shiny in the autumn sun, their massive bodies beginning to fatten for the winter, stand grazing in the low, damp grass beneath a copse of oak trees that have grown together in the moist earth.
You all stand watching with bated breath. Right on cue, one begins to wander away from the others, tempted by some patch of vegetation that will lead it dangerously far from the herd. The eldest man gives a signal, and your party breaks from the tangle of trees behind which you were hiding. The animals scatter, but your strategy has the outlier trapped, and before it can make a move, the sound of the stampede on the waterlogged ground has left the clearing otherwise empty. The beast is surrounded, its hocks dark and eyes wild as it swings its horned head in defiance.
Maybe you kill it. Maybe your leather turnshoe slips in the mud and you end up under the hooves of 900 odd kilos of angry steak. Maybe the wild eyes turn your way and one of those wide horns comes by and hooks you under the jaw. Breaking it, slicing you open, killing you. You lose your teeth before you lose your life. You gain some esteem on the way out. It might turn out a lot of ways.
For the people of prehistoric Northern Europe, the rune *Ūruz ᚢ had a dual symbolic interpretation: the aurochs and the element of water, though primarily we believe that it represented the former, a local species of wild cattle. What is significant about the meaning of this rune is the particular nature of this animal as a phenomenon, and how their value can be contrasted with other similar symbols.
The rune *Fehu ᚠ, which was discussed in detail last week, represents domestic cattle: the proverbial bird in the hand. Cattle were tantamount to wealth, and even deified, in many pre-modern societies (compare the common Indo-European theme of the sacred cow in Hindu religious tradition). What sets the docile, productive animal represented by this rune from the wild aurochs is its predictability, its almost guaranteed return.
If you look after your *Fehu, if you’re able to maintain your livestock, your nest egg, your investments, barring an act of God, you are expected to cash out. Not so for wild *Ūruz, whose unpredictable nature means that any attempt to control it might result in abject failure, or worse – death. But while *Fehu’s extremely low risk correlates with a high level of return, so too does the high risk associated with *Ūruz mean that you might come back empty handed.
*Ūruz is the proverbial bird in the bush, available freely with 0 guarantee to any man willing to test his mettle against the unknown. While many over the years have recognised this rune’s symbolic association with strength, what needs to be acknowledged is that the personal strength that *Ūruz can be seen to represent must be understood as a reciprocal force against the external strength that one is expected to surmont. Essentially, when faced with an immovable object, one has no choice other than to become an unstoppable force.
*Ūruz is the obstacle, the hulking form of a wild and unpredictable animal preparing to charge wild-eyed at and through you, but, by the same token, he who wishes to best the bull must become like him too. It is also the raising of the stakes, the allyship of good fortune, and the never-to-be-underestimated element of grit that separates the weekend ham n’ eggers from those who take their place in the winners’ circle.
From the Minoans at Knossos and their bull-leapers, to rodeo athletes in rural Ontario, Canada, we see now where *Ūruz’ elemental symbolism as an aspect of water can be understood. As the bull rider plunges out of the chute in one of the most ancient sports still practiced, he becomes himself an aspect of water incarnate, contorting with the movements of the enraged animal between his chaps as he waits in physical meditation for his eight seconds to be up.
*Ūruz is the wild animal, it is the weight on the bar, it is the wild-eyed and rank investment in an uncertain future, the risky gamble with hooves – and while its impenetrable countenance can inspire an equally taurine outlook in the man wishing to get the better of it, one must also remember the flexible aspect of water, that which takes its place in the form of the container its been given, conforming not out of submission but in the quiet way that leads brooks over the side of mountains.
Standing above the spillway of a dam with three friends after a rodeo, drinking buckskins in the dark as we shot the shit on a cool evening this past weekend, somebody remarked at the stillness of the water before it tumbled over the precipice, roiling into the gorge with the thundering bass that reminded me so much of the hooves of a colossal group of cattle. The water is patient, the water knows that it must take on the form of its course, contorting with it as it waits for the inevitable drop in elevation – its aurochs – before returning with an imitatory vengeance as it tumbles over (or out of) the “chute”.
If you want to bet big, if you want to earn big, if your *Fehu is fed and taken care of but you still hunger for the flavour of game and the thrill of the hunt, the spark in the unknown that might lead you to failure face down in the arena as much as it might lead you to success, then learn from both aspects: in *Ūruz find the wisdom of reciprocal strength, but also the pliability to ride the bull as it bucks once they pull the gate, moving with the situation as it vacillates beyond what you can understand.
Fehu – The Mobile wealth and the first initiation.
Fé vældr frænda róge;
føðesk ulfr í skóge.
Wealth is a source of discord amongst kin;
the wolf lives in the forest.
Money and wealth is a riddle in itself.
We all want it; most for no discernable actions.
Our ancestors believed wealth to be synonymous with cattle, and this is not an analogy that should be lost on us presently.
Wealth is the fuel, and the force.
It is the blood that thumps and throbs through our titanic higher selves.
It courses through the veins of that demigod who forges our passions and plans.
If it does not then that demigod simply dreams beautifully.
In less romantic words, there is no possible way for us to move effectively through this life without the use of wealth.
The beautiful part about money is that it doesn’t exist. It’s all a hypothetical idol that we have agreed to represent worth.
Like the body and blood of Christ is imbued into ourselves at mass, this new idol is distributed and grafted into every aspect of our modern lives.
As a living power or as a form of God we experience it in various quantities at different times of our lives.
This token therefore can be sacrificed or accumulated. You are giving some of your worth for an action, or benefit that heightens your life in some way when you decide to part with some of this power.
Fehu is the first of the first, and the concept of a new beginning. For when you have wealth you might truly start to live. When you have nothing you might truly start to live.
All things start with what you can and cannot do.
You weigh your options and pass through the fire inorder to reach the next trial.
Many today love to claim no desire for wealth, as if they see what others cannot.
As if they are holy, and the rest of us are blind.
I have nothing to say to those people. Make sure you don’t either.
To say such things is folly, and only demonstrates that those people do not understand the strength and grip that logic holds over the material.
But to those who have seen their future children playing happily, and their parents cared for, and looked after, I say to you;
Search for the blood; like ravenous, and vampiric forces of nature. For we will need much of it in our pursuit of the good work.
The lesson and answer to this riddle of Fehu is truly unfolded when we understand that once we have an idea -or a spark to begin the bang- we must have a way for it to flow properly. The heart pumps and the blood flows.
The perfect example of this is business men that understand that moving their money around from stock to stock, or from project to project is the ultimate way of creating more money.
Our ancestors did not horde cows because there is no gain to be had from such things. We use the wealth, and if we use it properly we see a benefit from it.
If you carefully breed your lot then that wealth is immortal is it not?
How might we generate the same flow with our money today?
How might we protect our estate with the coins we possess?
From Ideas to cash, these things are all valuable and see growth and heightened life if they flow properly to the right avenues and people.
Disregard the idea of completing every aspect of the journey alone.
The blacksmith must make the sword better, as the barbarian wields it better than he who made it. As the magician might heal where the barbarian cannot, the elf might creep where the old wizard might stumble.
We must flow like a well-oiled machine, and we must conquer with the understanding that we get out what we put in.
A withered relationship where two people once drawn together by love have grown to resent one another. To live in quiet “comfortable” discontentment out of some fear of being alone, or perhaps something more nefarious.
That paycheck you slave away at your shit job for, week after week. You hang on to it and wake up miserable every morning, day after day, so much so that the days simply become a grey blur of dissatisfaction.
Connections and working with others, in all facets of life is unavoidable for all of us. We all know this. We are born into this world by parents. We are brought up by some kind of parental figure, biological or not. We meet friends and acquaintances as we grow up.
Friends, romantic partners, co-workers, and the like all enter and leave our personal saga throughout our life’s journey. Some of those who enter into our sphere never leave. Lifelong friends, for example. People who’s connection to you uplift you and awaken the best within yourself.
Not everybody is going to click with you. We’ve all had that shitty co-worker or classmate we don’t get on with at all. It happens.
Now for the crux of what I have to say here today:
Know when to tie the rope tighter, and know when to sever it from the dock.
Know when to cut the cable. A simple concept but over-complicated by many. I look around me in my day to day life quite often and I see the results of this often crucial move never being executed.
I see couples fighting with each other in a public restaurant.
I see public family gatherings where one or more members of the clan is at the throat of another.
I see people slogging away at their jobs in silent suffering. All the while, their limp dick boss with the greasy pole of middle management stuffed up their ass barking orders at them.
All because apparently they didn’t make my coffee right.
Yet often many of these people just go along with all of it, because they have this idea that it’s just “Part of it”. That it’s just something we’re supposed to do.
I say no. This is bullshit. Certain people’s characters line up with ours. Others don’t, and others are downright damaging to ourselves. We need to cut certain people out of our lives, and it’s important to know when.
Should you break up with your girlfriend because you had an argument over who pays the bill at the end of the night? No. Should you dump her because you had a bit of a tiff over something so small you barely remember the next day? Probably not.
But if that girlfriend is constantly being a leech on your mental well being. When you find yourself disgusted to be with her rather than elated, then it’s time to kick that out of your life.
You’re worth more than that, man.
Many families are rife with dysfunction and it’s sad to see. But it’s the same Idea. If someone in your bloodline is creating a constant negativity stream in your life, then connections often need to be severed.
You can try to fix things in situations like this, and many time’s people succeed. If both parties are willing to bend and listen then oftentimes the fraying threads can be sutured back together.
But if it’s cut or be dragged down into the deep, get the knife ready.
We are social creatures, and we often forget how much this social interaction has on our own psyche. How we interact with others directly impacts the way we form our thoughts and ideas when we’re alone. If those interactions are wholly negative then, take a wild guess what you’ll be feeling when you are alone.
On the other side of the coin, I see many people who take this idea too far, and cut all ties over more insignificant reasons. This is often down to that person’s judgement based on experience, and ultimately is up to that person to fix.
Throwing everyone who mildly inconvenienced you on the chopping block is rather overzealous behavior. Some people really can change, and it’s up to you to find out who those people are. Who is willing to make that effort to stay in your life and who is already halfway out the door?
To go back to the start for a second however, you also have people too afraid to cut people out. Maybe you’ve convinced yourself so desperately you love your toxic partner so much you can’t bear the thought of life without them. That you need them, when all they do is make your life miserable.
Cutting people out isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Everyone’s circumstance will be different, and so fear is understandable. But you’d be amazed how on point your inner voice is when you actually listen to it.
Life is momentum. Life is moving forward and overcoming obstacles along the way. Know when to cut things out of your life that are destroying that momentum. People are no different.
If people are making excuses, giving you reasons why you shouldn’t, that’s not their decision to make. Listen to your voice. Think if that paycheck or the mediocre sex with someone you can’t stand is really worth it.
You’re worth a lot. If anyone else is trying to convince you that you’re not, Cut that shit out, man. You’ll thank yourself.
But not all men seek rest and peace; some were born with the spirit of the storm in their blood.
-Robert E. Howard-
There once was a land that lay to the east of the golden isle; that abode of Godkings. This was a time when none might have dared crossed that ocean which now has no name. Where serpents and the battered divine drank the black waters that echoed the cold of the cosmos, and shone its ugly reflection back at itself, deep from within a night that never ended.
This place was known as Old Harrow and its King was Kol. The land was stoney and stark. Its air moaned forever as if the traveling wind coaxed its people away from the land’s emptiness. Sharp mountains of jagged grey stone slashed across the desolation in a manner which would have seemed unnatural to any who might have dared visit the pergatorious realm; yet none ever did. The mountains jutted out of the ground like the razor-sharp teeth of a beast from primordial waters now forgotten, and the sky was forever grey. Clouds full of tears that never fell, and only ever caused a grand pressure-spell which could only be described as a heavy weight upon the head of all who dwelled there under that rule of an immortal mountain king.
This Chieftain had made a deal with ‘The Darkest God Forgotten’. As is the case with many deals made with forces beyond our mortal comprehension, he had felt confident in the bargain’s boons. He should not have.
When Kol was young, restless, and lost he had traveled far away from his Father’s disheveled and gale-torn hut upon the south side of the mountain known as Old Rook. He traveled into the deep north, and starved himself in solitude as a means to grant himself audience with that horrid god his people had tried to forget. Every night he slept thinking about how cold, and agonizing this journey to a banished god truly was. Night after night he slowly began to realize that this sense of pain was not unlike the same pain he felt back home. For Kol was a man who had no love for the path, but would go anywhere for the treasures he imagined were his birthright. He thought about how much they pay off would be worth in the long run of things though, and that fact smote all other rationale he had learned from the elders, and all intuition his soul tried to shoot at him.
But Kol was certain that he and this poor God could come to some sort of deal, seeing as they were both down on their luck in this world which seemed to reject them both. As he dragged himself through the sharp spines of rock, and across the peaks that cut his flesh and soul he eventually came to his journey’s end. He found the blackest of caves, and struck the starkest of fires, and spoke the most ancient words. There he struck a deal with that dark God of the deepest caves. He appeared to him in the form of shadow, and not once did he show his true self to the boy.
The deal was that if he could guess the God’s ancient name he would be granted immortality for a small price in the face of his long and powerful rule; or so said the lurker of shadows. As is the case with all young and brave men, he could tell there was something amiss. For this entity which would scarcely even show its shadowy form to him from behind the crags and cracks of the dripping cave did not speak in a manner which calmed, and only spoke of a relief that rank of death and dimming. Nonetheless, Kol took his deal. He grew ancient, and over the long centuries he ruled and prospered his skin began to dry and crack. He saw himself slowly becoming not unlike those very mountains that took his soul long ago.
His eyes whitened, and his heart pumped blood no more. His soul yearned for nothing, and his mind was as a boulder upon the shore. Ever still and watchful over a vast sea of nothing. In order for this King to remain perpetual, and in order for him to cling to his life of purgatory – wherein his soul would wander instead of his physical- he was tasked by that God of the caves to devour his own daughters. His sons would perpetually wait for a throne he would never give up, and yet it was the will of this dark God to keep this power solely within the patriarchal lineage of Kol. And so for centuries did the old King eat his daughters and oppress his sons who were destined to become as cold, and hollow as he. For they too were tasked with the devouring of the feminine blood of Kol.
This story is of an unknown origin. It comes from a time that is no longer spoken of outside of dream. Yet we understand it, we see the same bones that move it. They pushforth our own spiritual understanding of the world around us, and navigate how we choose to conduct our own selves throughout the storms of this reality.
This is a tale of desperation that we might all sympathize with. Through disparity comes a bargain, and through bargains we meet the devil. When we become so weathered by the storm in our great and divine masculine search for something more, we will be greeted by the shadow many times before we find the true boons. But if we take his deal, that banished one that men have long discussed as they cling to the walls of caves, castles, halls, and houses throughout time-immemorial we only trade one agony for the next.
When we choose to throw in that towel, and seek the answer that has found itself in our minds through weakness, it was never the answer.
When we seek only to eliminate hardship from our lives, we swallow it like Cronus devoured his offspring (i.e his future). That is to internalize a problem, and bring it into our deepest and most spiritual chambers of the mind for the sole reason that it was too heavy a burden to bear in the waking world/ physical realm.
This was the answer for many individuals of many different time periods. And depending on how you view your quality of life, or the manner in which you might receive elevation within the social hierarchies, this path might be seen as an advantage, or even quite manageable. This is the power of this path, and it is the elixir of escape that many find to be more comforting as an answer. It is easier to be a king in a land of nothing, than a wanderer amidst the endless storms.
I speak to you now of a second path told within this tale.
Þracu Seventhson, was his name. He was known as a mighty and fearless leader of his father’s people. Out of all the sons of Kol, Þracu persevered with the flow of human blood far beyond all others. His might was unmatched, and his imagination beyond even the elves. He was able to take broken spirited men and rear them into a frenzy that no God had witnessed for thousands of years.
His father hated him for this. Kol watched as Þracu was thrown into any terrible fate that his father or his closest sons could think of from the darkest and coldest spots of their stoney hearts. Time after time would Þracu emerge victorious and brighter than ever. Red in the face, and fiery in the eyes. “Father, I have returned victorious” became words he spat at his father in a manner that could only be witnessed as primal youth triumphant over the bitter and old.
Until one day Kol looked over to the West from the top of his crumbling and cold keep. He saw the mists of the nameless ocean twinkle and hide the forbidden land of Godkings. For all knew the tales. Even he, as a poor farmer’s son, thought of traversing that endless ocean in hopes of finding the forbidden realm of goldenlight. But he did not. Yet he heard of these meddling tribes from the south. Two sons of the Boar King of Merunord had traveled the endless oceans, and none knew if they had made it or drowned. And so he had made up his mind. He would send this fiery son of his across the endless ocean.
“ÞRACU, MY SON” he bellowed like the wind down his stoney tunneled hall of black rock. All the elders and other-sons gazed at Þracu as he knelt upon the midnight blue carpet that draped down from his fathers jagged throne. He told his son of his newest quest. And all knew it was a sentence to death. For no good could come from traversing the endless ocean.
“A monotonous hell of cold, and damp. An immortal lulling of waves and foam which took every man eventually.” So said the elders who recorded their times at sea attempting to cross. It was suicide.
Yet Þracu was full of excitement. His father had sent him the grandest task of all, to find the land of Godkings. He was to be the first of his kind to find this land, and beat even those Sons of the Boar he so often dreamt of meeting.
He left as soon as he could, with a ship of his toughest and most loyal men. The son of the first stoneblood was to traverse the untraversable, and was laughing into the storm that sat dormant on the horizon like a reaper waiting for your arrival at the end of all things.
For days his ship tossed and turned, ripped, and swayed, and they found no land to the west. Þracu Seventhson of the Stoneblood Royal house was drowned that day. And he met that final wave with laughter and screams of pride.
But he did not find death like his companions, who had all but died days before they drowned. He sank deep below the bryne. Blue waters turned to green, and then to black.
And then there was light.
In the distance behind a shroud of his last breath’s bubbles, he saw a lantern swaying. All around it was hair that danced like seaweed. Eyes opened and they were the size of his ship. The face was fair and her skin was a seafoam green.
He had found a most ancient Goddess of the deep, and she had felt his heartbeat pummeling towards her for miles.
“You will not die this day, son of the storm. You have much left to accomplish upon your journey.”
This part of the tale should highlight to you the importance of the journey, and of the trials. For what is it about organic food we find more delicious?
What is it about the Chef who goes to the farmers market that outshines the chef who goes to the Superstore?
The musician that uses a variety of tools and pedals compared to that of the digital amp user?
It is a journey, of course. It is the story that the individual has created that matters much before the final outcome is to be appreciated at its finest. It is always the journey.
If you love the process, then your end result will be more powerful and resonant with others. Even if others don’t notice the difference consciously, you will at least take pride in knowing that you created something that told a story, that you found a pathway which gave you lessons, hardships, trials, and results. This is the difference between the Stonebloods and the Stormbloods.
With scars and shudders we Storm through it all and witness our ancestral spear become sharper and more accurate with every stride through this life. There is nothing to be disappointed in, even in the face of death and failure, when you know yourself to be a pathforger, and a firebringer.
You will march with pride through all storms once you realize that the mightiest skill a Halithazian might possess is the love the journey and not the destination.