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Kiama  Kiama is offline
Dancing to the Vodou groove
Join Date: 06 Aug 2001
Location: Cardiff, Wales
Posts: 6,273

Isa, pronounced by me, 'Ee-saw'

This Rune has been said to be a pictorial representation of an icicle... This is one of the simplest Runes, in my opinion. It quite simply means Standstill, Stagnation, Freezing... Just as ice freezes over the pond, and winter sets in, causing the water to cease to flow, and teh animals to hibernate, plans are put on hold, and ideas and emotions stagnate... Maybe people will 'give you the cold shoulder', or maybe your relationship is feeling boring, going nowhere... Maybe you feel Ice-olated (he he...) from your emotions and others?

The soil has frozen over, and as such, nothing grows from it... But, when the Winter is over, the ice melts, and from the once-dormant soil blooms a solitary snowdrop...

Behind the standstill and ice of a frozen time, there is always the seed of rebirth waiting to come out. (Which leads beautifully onto our next Rune! )

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zorya  zorya is offline
of the woods
Join Date: 18 Mar 2002
Location: earth
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Umbrae  Umbrae is offline
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Location: Upper Left-Coast, USA
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Divine connection between two worlds; but must use caution when walking on an/the ice bridge. With self-control, brings success and influential abilities. Difficult situations are overcome with caution and inner-strength.
Ice is a binding element; in its pure state it is dangerous and destructive, but not without beauty and fascination. So discipline is required to move forward, or thou shalt spin thy tyres.

As a merkstave, it represents egomania, blindness, treachery, deceit, betrayal, guile, stealth, ambush, plots.

As a person, it represents a scoundrel or Dead (man)
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ladycj  ladycj is offline
Join Date: 29 Mar 2002
Location: California
Posts: 166

This is probally the one definition of Blums that I like for this Rune. He says "That which impeeds ice". It takes a lot to slow ice down, as it still has the abilities of water to flow up and around anything in it's path. So if something is slowing it down, watch out. It is a force to be wary of.
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einhverfr  einhverfr is offline
Join Date: 29 Nov 2005
Location: Chelan, WA
Posts: 253
Isa analysis

*Isa is the root that provides words like "is" (pronounced EEs) in Old Norse, and Ice in modern English.

The Scandenavian rune poems (OIRP and ONRR) describe the dangers of the ice that forms across the rivers in cold climates. It is a mortal danger to men who are fated to die. It is also associated with the boundaries of the water and other things too (the banks of the river, and the roof of the wave) in the OIRP.

As a grim reminder, it is worth retelling the three deaths in Wisconsin last month from falling through the ice. In one case, a nine-year-old girl fell through the ice, and her father broke through while trying to save her. Both were found drowned about three hours later by diving teams. In the second case, a twelf-year-old boy broke through the ice in a pond while riding an all terrain vehicle. He was later declared dead on arrival at the hospital. While it is true that it is was probably too early in the season to trust the ice in any way, it serves as a grim reminder how deceptive the strength of the ice can be, and what the consequences of falling through can be.

The ONRR also juxtaposes the image of the ice-covered river with the phrase "The blind need to be lead." I suppose that this may indeed refer also to the deceptive strength of the ice and the fact that it is dangerous to assume one knows a safe path.

The OERP takes a different tone. It emphasizes three things about ice: its coldness, its slipperiness, and its beauty. It is not associated with the rinds of rivers as in the other two poems, but dangers are noted anyway on account of its slippriness.

There are three more considerations inherent in Isa: The role of ice in the formation of the world, and the role of ice in the concept of the afterlife, and the name of the giantess in the Lay of Helgi Hundingsbane (Hrimgerdh).

Snorri tells us that, in the beginning, there were three parts to the universe: In the north, there were venomous (i.e. dangerously cold) waters, in the south there was fire, and in the middle there was nothing (air?) arising from the spring of Hvergelmir. From the waters arose mist. And the mist condenced into rime/ice. From the south the fires shot sparks into the center. When the rime and the sparks met, the sparks melted the ice and the ice constricted the fire until it was the shape of a man (Ymir). Ymir grows tall and strong by drinking the milk of Audhumla, the Great Hornless One (a primal cow), and Audhumla lives on the salty rime itself. Bur, the ancestor of Odhinn and the rest of the gods, was also formed directly from within the ice matrix and freed by Audhumla In essence, in this concept of the formation of the world, water is the prima materia and the source of all form through its solid aspect, which is ice.

Secondly, the realm of Hel is entered by a broad bridge of ice, echoing the imagery of a river that is frozen over. In general to "send someone to Hel" just meant to kill that person. There was no real judgemental aspect to this teaching. This can be interpreted in part to be a reference to the dangers of the ice surface of rivers, and in part as an expansion of this concept that dying involves a process like falling through the ice. Note too that to reach Asgard, warriors were required to cross venomously cold rivers in the Eddas as well. Ice and cold water were both closely tied to the concepts of death in Norse myth.

Third, the Lay of Helgi Hjorvardhson contains an interesting passage which pears some relevancy here. Helgi, after meeting his valkyrie (who we learn later to be the princess Svava) travels by sea with his friend Atli (Attila the Hun is also called Atli in other stories which are supposed to occur chronologically later, such as the Volsung Saga) to an island where they slay the giant Hati ("The Hateful One"). Hati's daughter, Hrimgerdh ("Rime Splendor" or "Resplendence of Ice"), arises from beneath the waves and threatens to kill Helgi in order to avenge the death of her father. However, she offers to spare Helgi's life if he will compensate her for her loss by giving her sexual favors (compare with Alvis in Alvismal, sp?). Helgi responds by asking her a series of questions until the sun comes up and she too is destroyed. Like Alvis, she is not entirely considered to be benevolant. Like Alvis she comes from the underworldly kingdoms and asks for sexual favors as compensation, and like Alvis, she is undone by the someone asking questions of her until the sun rises. See more about this pattern and the role of the sun in it later when I cover Sowilo.

However, the name Rhimgerdh is important because it indicates an association in the Norse material too between beauty/spendor and ice.
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Dancing Bear  Dancing Bear is offline
Join Date: 04 Dec 2005
Location: Living in John Lennons song, Imagine. Nth QLD
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Dancing Bear 

I always see Isa as a caution to stay put and wait for things to thaw before moving forward. a full season before you can see the earth beneath your feet, and as with Jera when a fisherman cannot go fishing he sits and mends his nets.
Isa stands for not now just be patient and wait. If there is no other choice but to keep moving use caution!
i have always pronounced it (ice-a)
Dancing Bear
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einhverfr  einhverfr is offline
Join Date: 29 Nov 2005
Location: Chelan, WA
Posts: 253

*isa would have been pronounced EE-sah

One more point I didn't make in my original analysis was that of the sword being known by the kenning of "Valkyrie Ice" again connecting this stave with the mysteries of death. More about the Valkyrie under Elhaz when I post tomorrow :-)
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