The runes are a part of our identity. They exist within our blood, encoded into our DNA and manifest in our thoughts and actions. A gift from Woden to the folk, they have been passed down the generations, evolving over time. All rune working is personal. Though we have a wealth of collective runic knowledge – drawn from the racial memories of our folk – we should always accept that we will each view the runes in our own unique way, and the knowledge and understanding we gain from our personal experiences will advance this collective and benefit the whole. The runes are key to understanding the origins and destiny of our race, this knowledge was preserved in the various rune poems that describe each rune in turn. But never hold these interpretations to be the whole of their meaning and that the runes can be nothing more. If you work with the runes on a regular base, you’ll feel a connection to them, and hopefully you’ll develop new ideas about the runes, new interpretations and uses for them. Some individuals who have spent years studying the runes go on to formulate new rune rows – based on mystical experiences – such as the Armanen runes developed by Guido von List. His works are now being furthered by Woden’s Folk and continue through the Ar Kan Rune Lag (which forms the bases for this article). Over the ten years I’ve spent working the runes I myself have found that I’ve been drawn to particular runes, often just one rune at a time, depending on the various circumstances surrounding my life. This short essay describes some of the shared wisdom we already hold on the Hagal rune – plus some personal thoughts and ideas that, over the last year or so have developed whilst working with this rune. Some ideas have come from dreams – and you should never dismiss these ideas, for dreaming is a path to ideas held deep within our subconscious, perhaps ideas being passed on to us from our blood-memory.
The Elder Futhark names this rune Hagalaz; To the Icelanders and their Younger Futhark, it is Hagal. The Anglo Saxon and West Germanic folk call this rune Haegl. To Guido von List – he too named this rune Hagal. The rune poems sing of this rune- the destructive hail that rains down upon us. Yet this rune has the power to heal the body and calm the mind. It is a health promoting and holy rune. Some people form the rune with two upright staves joined by a diagonal one. This is the way the rune is drawn in the Ar Kan Rune Lag – the rune system of Woden’s Folk. When performing collective rituals this is the rune we use. However I also use this rune in its alternative form – three crossed lines forming a six pointed star. When I look at this rune I see reflections of life and death, a rune binding of male and female and compulsion to duty.
All the rune poems equate Hagal with the hailstone. Hail is the whitest of grains; Hail is the coldest of grains. The Old English word Haegl, Danish Hagl and the German Hagel all mean ‘hailstone’. But this is just one aspect of the rune. I prefer to call this rune ‘Hail’ rather than Hagal (pronouncing the g). If we take a quick look at some old Anglo Saxon words we find that ‘g’ was pronounced as a ‘y’ (as in these examples - geollu – yellow, geol – Yule, ge –you). This means our Hagal rune could be pronounced as Hayal, so it would be the same as Hail. The word Hayal is important as this connects the rune to the sacred mountain – this idea has come mostly from dreams. Many times I’ve dreamt of being on top of a mountain. Sometimes these are the Harz mountain range in Germany (though I’ve never been there). Other times I have no idea where the mountains are! I’ve dreamt of this rune in association to mountains to many times to ignore the idea, so instead I incorporate it into my rune working. These ideas may relate to your own experiences? I’ll discuss the ideas that equate Hagal and the mountain later.
The Hailstone is the ‘Coldest of Grains’. Another rune poem tells us it is the ‘Whitest of Grains’. But there is another ‘Whitest of grains’ which I think is important to mention, salt. This is because the root of the word salt comes from the Proto Indo-European (PIE) *sal, and this root meaning also gives us words like Salvation and Salute (German Heil) and this translates into the Gaelic tongue as Hal and Halen – words connected with our Hail and whole. So there is certainly a connection with the root words Hal and Sal. Hail is also a greeting, a salute to the gods and ancestors. Hail and Hallow: Heil and Heilige! But we also find Sal and Sæl used as greetings in Old Norse. Sal und Sig was, as we know a greeting used by Guido von List. List combined the runes with the idea of using crystals. Both Ice and Salt are crystals so it is a fitting idea! Hal and Sal! Guido von List used the connection between the runes and crystals and Hagal became the Mother rune – the centre of a runic matrix from which all the Armanen runes can be viewed. The salt crystal would, if the conditions allowed, would form a perfect cube. The cube is Hagal in a three dimensional form. The three crossed arms of the rune now form the X Y Z axis of a three dimensional cube. To List all the runes of his Armanen rune row could be found in this matrix. Using a hexagonal crystal like quartz, it is possible to ‘project’ this matrix of lines by fracturing a ray of light. The Anglo Saxon ‘Nine glory wands’ formation, as described in the Nine Herbs charm is the same but in a bigger pattern. In this larger matrix all the runes of the Anglo-Saxon futhorc can be found, and just like the smaller Armanen ‘Mother rune’ it has a Hagal rune at its centre.
Holy and Halo share the same root as Hale, a variant of Hail – and Hagal is certainly a holy rune! The Greek word Hagios, meaning ‘something sacred’ relates with both ‘Hagal’ and the ‘Hag’. Hagal is the Halo – the aura of light which appears around the crown of the divine. The Buddha is depicted with one, as is Jesus – though there is no reference to halos in the bible. Perhaps the connection lies in the fact that the Germanic words for Savior stems from the Heil root – Heliand in Old Saxon and Dutch, Hælend in Old English and Heiland in modern German. The rays of light which circum the heads of the enlightened sometimes appear in Hagal form. The Saxon god Krodo holds his up high, in the form of a Sunwheel with six spokes or the Hagal rune. The Chi-Rho symbol of christ is just another manifestation of Hagal! We can sometimes see this fracturing of light upon a camera lens, the light of the sun is disperses into six equal rays – the Sun shines in the form of the Hagal rune. Indeed this really is a Holy rune and Sun rune. The Welsh word for the Sun is itself Haul – which is pronounced as ‘Heil’.
As a rune, Hagal certainly has healing qualities. We find one aspect of Hagal stemming from the proto-Germanic root *Hailijana (Hail) meaning to Heal. This is the heath enhancing side of the rune, the side to balance the destructive hailstone aspect. The Anglo Saxon phrase ‘Was Thu Hal’ meaning ‘be thou whole’ is itself an invocation of the Hagal rune, as Hal shares the same root. The wholeness is the holistic unity of body and mind. More infamous was the German National Socialist ‘Sieg Heil’ or Hail Victory rallying cry! This invocation was certainly a rune chant. We find in Viking history a very similar greeting – Heil og Sæl meaning be ‘healthy and happy’. Folkish Wodenists use the Anglo Saxon Hael und Sige in the same manner – as a greeting and invocation of wholeness, healthiness and happiness. As a symbol of health and wellbeing, Hagal still survives as the blue star sign on the side of ambulances – this symbol being called the ‘Star of Life’. As a rune galdr (chant) Hagal aids meditation by calming the mind. The rune promotes a slow rhythmic breathing which is in tune with your body’s natural patterns. Hagal-Hail is invoked once more. Hal (wholeness) is a root word meaning ‘to breath’. Inhale – exhale. In-Hail – Ex-Hail. This simple Hagal/Hail rune chant certainly helps me to relax, and I perform this rune galdr before other ritual exercises. Chant the rune seven or nine times, depending on the rune row you prefer to work with.
Hagal is a protective rune. As ‘Hagall’ this rune can be called upon for protection – ‘Hag All’ is a compound word meaning ‘All Protecting’. Perhaps this is why many of our Germanic heroes had the Hagal runes adorned upon their shields. Sigurd, Barbarossa and Widukind have all been depicted with Hagal rune inscribed shields. Hagal is related to the old English word ‘Haga’ which was a protective enclosure. The ‘Hedge’ we plant around our properties to protect our boundaries is the same – the hedge is a physical boundary, the hecg – (hex or hecs) a spiritual one. One feature of Hagal is of course its SIX arms. This is the HEX rune. Hex magic centers around hex symbolism, which has the Hagal rune as its bases. Of course there was a name for the practitioners of magic, the Hag! Meant as an insult – Hag seems a very fitting name.
In the Elder futhark and Anglo Frisian futhorc it appears as the ninth rune – nine being a sacred number in the Northlands! However to the Armanen runologists Siegfried Adolf Kummer and Guido von List the rune is associated with the number seven. Hagal is the seventh rune in the Armanen rune row. To Kummer, the rune represented the world Tree, Walhalla, the Hag-All All-Hag, which itself was the title of the Edda Society’s publication. There are seven points of power located in the Hagal rune. One on the end of every arm, and the seventh is found at the centre where the arms cross. This seventh point represents the Sacred Centre. Kummer uses a hand mantra to form the rune. By extending and touching the index fingers and pointing your thumbs up, you can form a mantra resembling the letter ‘H’. I use a very different mantra for this rune. It feels right for me, I find the mantra comfortable and can hold the position for a long time as there is no muscle tension to hold. First, on each hand touch your thumb to your little finger. Then extend the three middle fingers and side your hands together. This gives you the Hagal rune on the front of your hand, but by touching the two ‘circles’ you’ve made with your thumbs and little fingers, you can also make the ‘infinite’ symbol on the reverse. There is no right or wrong way to perform a mantra. You should practice to find a method that suits you and feels right. If standing or sitting, place your hands over your naval area.
Hagal can be seen as a binding of the Life and Death runes – and a binding of male and female. To Miguel Serrano the Hagal rune is the Gral rune, the Holy Blood, the Morning and Evening Star (the Star of Life) and the rune of Totality. To Himmler the rune represented his ‘unshakeable faith’ and appeared on the SS Honour ring, designed by Wiligut. The rune is a binding of Death and Life – Yr and Man. Death first, then life reborn; or the ritual death and initiation of the Sun Initiate – the Aryan, who is the twice-born Sun Initiate. Thus the Sun-Man is the Yr-Man or Irmin. Irmin is the god of the Irminsul, and this is represented by the Hagal rune in its Wendehorn form. The Irminsul or its Nordic equivalent, the Yggdrasil has its three roots in the earth and its branches high in the heavens. Hagal represents this transition from Man to God Man – the Hallowed, the Haloed and the Holy! This is the rune of the Crowned and Conquering Son who in Wodenic lore is Helgi the Thriceborn!
We can view the rune as a different binding too, as the binding of the Armanen Not and Eh runes. Perhaps this binding represents the tale of Sigurd who climbs the sacred mountain to kiss Brunhilda. To List, Not represented Fate and Destiny. It was Sigurd’s destiny to climb the sacred mountain and to kiss Brunhilda – symbolised by the Eh rune (the rune of marriage and union).
Now we see hints at the symbol of the Sacred Mountain. The initiation the Sun-Man makes is to descend to the top of the Sacred Mountain. The mountain has often been seen as the home of the gods. One such sacred mountain is the Kailesh in Tibet, a name not too dissimilar to khailaz (the root word of Hail). Kailesh is the Spiritual home to the Aryan-Hindu god Shiva. Shiva (whose figure is symbolised in the six armed rune) dances his mantra of destruction. The ancient name of Kailesh was Kailasa, which at an esoteric level could mean ‘Khail-Asa’ or ‘Hail the Gods’. A common rune-stance performed in Runic-yoga or exercise is to stand upright with your arms pointing down. Then raise your arms upright, to form the Hagal shape. This is the start of the Dance of Shiva. Hail rains down its destructive hailstorms – which is the purpose of Shiva’s dance. To destroy so that Brahma can create. We must remember that the destructive Hailstone is frozen water and when ice forms, it does so in the six armed ice crystal. ‘Hayal’ in the Indo-Persian languages is also connected to the mountain, to dreaming and clearing your mind– in Urdu (which is rooted in ancient Persian tongue) it means to ‘have your head in the mountains’ (we would say clouds) or to ‘descend to the top of the mountains’ – meaning to clear your mind of thoughts, hence why I use this rune to aid meditation, as it can focus my mind by clearing my thoughts, ideal for preparing me mentally for further ritual or blot. Thus ‘Hayal’ can be invoked to induce dreams or visions! There is even a famous Hayal mountain in Pakistan. Hayal is a popular girls name in Iran and the surrounding area. The English equivalent is the name Hayley – which again means a clearing (this time a cleared field) – the word hay means to be ‘cleared’, and is also a greeting – Hay, Hey, Heil or even Hello! All rooted in the Hagal rune, which is a rune of welcoming and greeting. In contrast the name ‘Helen’ is associated with Hel, the goddess of the underworld. The Old Norse ‘Hèla’ is the Hailstone and the Frost. So Hel is also associated with Hagal. In one dream I have seen the Sun rising over a mountain top. The mountain formed the bottom half of the rune, whilst the Sun’s rays of light formed the top. As I stated before – these are just ideas, based on my own experiences and dreams. Over time other ideas may develop and the more work we do with the runes, the more insights and discoveries we will make.