Rune Study Group: Thurisaz


I found the following interpretation of thurisaz in this wonderful site.

This is not a safe rune, nor one to be trifled with. The jotnar represent natural forces usually hostile to humans. Thor is always killing them to keep the Nine Worlds safe for Gods and Humans. They have their own World called Jotunheim. This isn't a destination I'd recommend to the beginning pathworker! Both the Old Norwegian Rune Rhyme and the Old Icelandic Rune Poem have kept the original meaning of the rune, although the name changed slightly, to "Thurs," and stress the rune's special dangers for women, who should handle it with special care, and not anywhere near their menstrual period. The Old English Rune Poem, however, perhaps under Christian influence and probably inspired by the rune's shape, changed its name to "thorn" which meant the same then as it meant then. Hostile Fire and Frost Giants. Ogres. Trolls. Nasty sharp thorns. You get the picture. This is the rune of wildfire (Kenaz/Kaunaz is controlled fire). It is also the rune of pain, harm, hostility, explosion, enemies, firearms, and conflict. It relates to division and arguments. Injuries fall under Thurisaz, as do separation, passion, anger, uncontrolled emotions, and volcanos. Imagine how the Icelandic settlers felt when they realized they had burned their bridges behind them so to speak and moved onto an island with a Thurisaz-Rune at its heart. This is by no means a healing rune!

This rune can indicate harmful obsessions, including sexual ones. Remember that when the Giantess of the frozen Earth, Gerd refused Frey's proposal of marriage, his servant Skirnir carved three Thurisaz runes on a stick and threatened her with "longing, lust and madness". She then prudently reconsidered his offer, and lived happily ever after. On a more positive note, it can denote the will or motivation to make a change. Disaster, seen and used properly, can promote growth as well as destruction! Thurisaz' effects are at their worst when they are not seen and acknowledged. It often works in a hidden fashion, but seeks to break through to the surface by any available path - just like volcanic magma.

Handled carefully, this rune can be a useful addition to the wards of one's home. They can be set to grab hold of any hostile magick directed against you, shred, mutilate and mutate it (thorns, remember), up its volume, so to speak, and send it home to torment its maker! The worse the sending, the worse the comeuppance to its sender.

The legends of Thor and his battles with the jotnar (plural of jotun) can give further insights into this rune. Bear in mind that Thor is far from stupid. After all, to be a God, he'd have to be at least as smart as the smartest human. Rather, Thor is possessed of an unusual sort of cunning.

My own personal revelations concerning this rune, however, have come from work with Odin. This rune can be used, in emergencies, to assault an evildoer's fetch out on the "astral plane". It can cause insanity and even symptoms of possession. I believe Freya Aswynn has used this rune with similar results. Such a work, if undertaken at all, is obviously for an experienced runeworker who is absolutely sure that the need is great and that he or she is in the right.

Be careful with this rune. It is perhaps the most difficult and potentially most dangerous in the entire futhark. Only a strong will can control its forces. A weak will it will control! It can dredge up fiery rage, selfishness and stubbornness from a person's subconscious. Its energy can be used to control mobs, but at the same time it can fuel marches and demonstrations for much-needed change. Thurisaz is a war rune, with ties to Tyr and to Iron (used to make weapons).

Thurisaz is not "evil" in the Christian sense. It is a necessary part of the Futhark. But neither is it "sweetness and light" either. Bear this in mind when you begin to work with it, for sooner or later, the runeworker must deal with Thurisaz.

From the poetic Pam C. comes this Zen-like and obliquely blunt (figure that!) comment on the Rune Thurisaz:

"...PMS it's like a thurs slipped up my ass!" Note from Jordsvin: Ouch! and if you take the Rune name "thurs" literally as "(frost) giant," it hurts even worse. I don't think sex with a Thurs would be much fun for the human partner


I have argued in Runa Magazine that this stave was used in childbirth charms.

The basic issue is the strong semantic similarity between the final line on the Old Icelandic Rune Poem stanza of this stave (ok vardhrunar verr) and the first line in the stanza on childbirth magic in Sigdrifumal: Bjargrunar shaltu kunna.... Turns out both Bjarga and Vardh in their verb forms mean "to guarantee, to protect, to secure." Furthermore the noun form bjarg means a "rock, mountain" which would connect it to the second line in the OIRP stanza of this stave: ok kletta bui (and the dweller in the rocks).

A further link is found in Oddrunargatr where Borgny's labor is stalled and Oddrun (Point mystery) chants spells to start the labor again. Aside from Bjarg->borg connections, we also see a weak link to the Old English Rune Poem (Thorn bidh dearly scearp).

There is more to the article than this. But there it the summary.


Intensive rune study- Thurisaz

Continuing on the journey through the runes:

Anglo Saxon rune poem:
The thorn is exceedingly sharp,
an evil thing for any knight to touch,
uncommonly severe on all who sit among them.

Giant causes sickness (anguish) to women;
misfortune makes few men cheerful.

torment (torture) of women
and cliff-dweller
and husband of (a) Vardh-runa (giantess).

Again we see two very different view points on the rune from the Icelandic/Norse variant to the Anglo Saxon. Thurisaz is a difficult rune to wrap your head around- since the primary force is so destructive, getting the idea behind the woeful variant can be even harder. In the most primary sense, thurisaz is about destruction- have no doubt. It will come in and cut away any rot it finds. We seem to love our rot, and want to keep it around- because sweeping loss is very uncomfortable. Thurisaz doesn't care about our comfort- and will give you a cleansing by fire. That "sharp" point from the OE poem- no joke there. Think about the times in your life when everything fell apart- not a pretty site. And thurisaz isn't like the Tower- it is not about cleaning up so you can rebuild- it is about cleaning up- PERIOD. You can use one of the other runes to re-build if you want. The other primary focus for thurisaz is the idea of "fertility"- and in this I do not feel that this applies just to human fertility- but that of the land as well. Which is why some people can associate Thor with this rune (though I do not). This can be seen through the idea of torment of women/sickness of women- which has been thought to refer to the pain from loss of virginity and childbirth but also refers to the fertility of the land/crops- for which Thor arises as god of thunder.

In it's woe-working aspect, thurisaz can remove fertility and result in a barren wasteland of scorched ash. Just as cutting the rot away can allow us to heal and grow healthy tissue, cutting away vital tissue- or not cutting away the rot at all, can lead us to stagnation and loss of vitality. Just as Skirnir threatened Gerdhr (I carve a Thurs rune for you..) in the old poem- thurisaz in it's woe-working aspect is a worse prospect than in it's primary one.

Now- that is not to say that thurisaz does not have its "good" aspects- it can be used to finely hone your focus, or to work at something with a razor-like precision. It can also be used as a means for defense- keeping all things out that would do you harm. But, that being said- do not play with fire unless you know how to work with it. A thorned rose is beautiful when kept in a well tended garden by one who knows how to work with it. Otherwise, you may find yourself caught in a thicket- and you may come out stronger, but will definitely wear the scars. Work with it intelligently- that is all I can say.

Aett triad associations:

Thurisaz- dynamic/disruptive unity; Isa- immobile/integrative unity; Ehwaz- dynamic and integrative unity


The galdr faded away and I was in total darkness. Where am I? I saw no one, but then heard the voice.

Don't be foolish- do you really want to see me? Think about all the times I have burned your dreams away like a wild-fire out of control. I don't care what you build afterward- if it is stagnant- I will just burn it away again until you figure it out. Want to build smart- talk to someone else! Or better yet, figure it out on your own. You can whine and cry all you want- but remember- you NEED me. I am the fire that clears the weeds, the blade that cuts away the dead, the passion that lets you know that you are still alive. I may cause you pain- but how alive do you feel when you are inflamed with passion, with anger, with pain- YES- you know you are alive! Still want more- think you can handle it? Well then come along- and you can see my woe-working as well.

Think back again- remember that time your soul was dead? Come on, I know you remember. Nothing mattered, there was no joy, no laughter, no anguish, no tears- just a big pile of nothing. Remember that? I find it interesting- some people just let their spirit die, others take drugs or medications to get the effect- you know who they are, you are close to a few of them no? Don't you love that black hole feeling, sitting next to a sucking void? Am I still the bad guy? Hmm- makes you think doesn't it. Hey, I do the shit that no one else wants- I clear out the crap and tell the hard truths that no one wants to hear. Tired of me, well then I can just back off completely and watch your soul die. Don't like it? Well- get over it. You can't have it both ways, what do you want?

I sit, and think- I have been in both spaces and both are hard places to be. But I would rather feel alive, even if I am in pain. And so I chose, and he laughs. And the fire fills my soul and runs up my spine- and for the first time in days, my fatigue is gone and I feel good. I look into the darkness, questioning. A light appears, and I see him. He smiles, a cocky grin- surprised? Don't be- you don't have anything at this point that needs to be cut away- so, for now, all you have is the fire. But, when you decide to hold onto some dead and withered part of your life- I will cut it away, have no doubt. That is your choice- others may choose differently. That is what I am- and what I do. But know that you don't have to fear me, for you have lived through my fire already- time and time again. I smile- for I have. And somehow, I know that no matter what- the choice I made will be the one I keep.


I found the Thurisaz rune a little challenging to comprehend and interpret because of its richness and to some extent, a lot of paradoxical interpretations which I think we need to either take note of, guard against, build upon or merge so that we can complement them.

In the other threads, I observed that we have talked a lot about changes which can be hurled upon us. Roby made mention of how nature can sometimes wreak its flack on us even if mankind tries to put controls for coping in the form of technology.

The poems also warn us about impending dangers that lie ahead which we may not be wary of.

I understand that Thurisaz is protective. "Shaped like a horn, it symbolizes the power of resistance characterized by thorn trees, and the massive resistance of the earth giants known as thurses or moldthurs." (lifted from Nigel Pennick, The Complete Illustrated Guide to Runes).

I realized that precisely because changes are caused by nature and other external forces, or sometimes may be the consequences also of our own actions, Thurisaz tells us to protect ourselves, create a defense to ensure we are not harmed.

In plants, the thorns are part of their nature - their natural defense against possible predator even humans who want to uproot them.

For the humans, we are told to handle these plants with care, because we can hurt ourselves in the process if we just do it instinctively or without thinking and caution.

Just to help me appreciate this particular rune further, I researched a bit on thorns and found out that aside from being a protection from other herbivores, there are some plants that also precisely grow thorns that can allow plants to spread to other areas and in turn, get predators stuck to them.

Thurisaz apparently also involves both defense and attach against adversaries. If we use the principle of attack-defense, we can see how this rune can help us when sudden changes happen in our lives.

Thurisaz is a message for us to build a very good defense that will protect us from the onslaught of things not within our control. I find the runes quite interestingly connected -- if Fehu is about abundance, prosperity and wealth and being wisely responsible for their use and how they are earned, and Uruz is about balancing our energies to ensure we have enough energies to grow, create, constantly sustain ourselves, Thurisaz is about being mindful and protective of what we have, of the goals we are already seeking for ourselves, of the things we have earned, the relationships we have built, and to make sure we do everything we could to keep what we have safe.

On the other other hand, we may also have energies (male creative force) to constantly arm ourselves in the area of wealth, people, relationships, and others so that when others unknowlngly try to harm us, or when natural disasters come in, we still have enough to protect us.

It would be good to reflect on what is our current "natural" line of defense, or what keeps us secure and how do we protect this from harm? What are possible threats that lurk out there and how can we use what we have to ensure we remain whole, intact and if possible unharmed - and if we do get harmed because nature's changes are sudden and inevitable, even if they were upheaval types, what do we have within us that keep us going so as to survive (how do we use our male creative energies) to ensure we remain integrated?