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Interpreting the Runes ~ Berkana ~ Beorch ~ Birch Tree

“The Birch, though fruitless sends out countless shoots; leafy branches, high-crowned, reach to the sky.” — Old English Rune Poem

This rune is a fertility symbol, drawn to resemble a woman’s breasts.  In ancient Viking times, the birch was regarded as the tree of fertility and the act of being lightly whipped with birch twigs was supposed to promulgate vigor and vitality!  The people of Scandinavia still hold this belief; after a sauna people are encouraged to roll around in the snow and then made to endure a lashing with a bundle of birch twigs. The Phallic maypole that was traditionally danced around, heralding in Spring and new life, was usually made from birch. The appearance of Berkana in a reading clearly points toward inception; whether of a child, a project or perhaps a new idea.

Berkana is rather auspicious. Yet  because it represents the mother, and by implication the child, there is an element of “nourishment” associated with it.  Even if the rune is essentially beneficial the new project will need the same kind of feeding or succour as an infant would. Success will not come on its own without some nurturing; effort and attention will be required.  This may explain the duality associated with the birch tree, the “fruitless tree,” implying that all is not as it seems and that success will be achieved only through authentic and genuine application.

Berkana Reversed

Reversed, Berkana becomes a symbol of sterility, implying difficulties and miscommunication, especially on the domestic front. Perhaps a desired pregnancy will prove impossible, or a current pregnancy be terminated. Alternatively, Berkana can point to worries over children, especially in terms of health. The surrounding runes always point to a clearer picture. A reversed Berkana is not particularly malign of itself and requires more ruthless runes to imply any real trouble, while helpful runes definitely reduce the situation.

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Interpreting the Runes ~ Eihwaz ~ Yew

To the ancient people, the wood from the yew was perhaps the most important.  It fashioned the longbow, the weapon that brought food and, in times of war, protection as well. The yew was of tremendous practical value to its people and held a spiritual significance as a symbol of death and resurrection.  Even today, yew can still be found in many church cemeteries.

When this rune Eihwaz, appears in a runecast or reading, it may be taken as a very positive sign.  It suggests that the person being read is close to their target and, with steady aim will achieve it before too long.  Sometimes the appearance of Eihwaz can also signal delay.  Either way, the outcome can be assuredly positive.

On a spiritual level, Eihwaz represents the ability to put one’s inner self into stronger and safer territory.  The yew tree is evergreen and extremely flexible, yet very strong and is an excellent source wood for making staffs which may in turn, be seen as symbols of inner strength.  The yew tree in a churchyard exists symbolically to direct the souls on to the other side, revealing that Eihwaz has more than one side to its nature.

As with Jera and Is, Eihwaz shows no distinction whichever way it is drawn or cast.  Because of this, particular attention must be paid to the surrounding runes in the reading or cast, as they show the kind of anticipatory actions one should take to avoid problems.  Eihwaz shows that there is a way out of any difficulty as long as the situation is approached in the correct way.`