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IHWAZ - The Rune of Defence


Alternative Names
Anglo-Friesian/Germanic: Ihwaz
Norse (Viking): Eihwaz
Old English: Eeoh
Other Names/Spellings: Eihwas, Eihwaz, Eo, Erwaz, Ezck,
                                     Ihwar, Ihwas, Iwar, Iwaz, Yr

Pronunciation: Eye - warz

English Letter Equivalent: Y as in yew or long I as in side.

Translation: Yew tree

Meaning: Yew tree, archer's bow, weapon. Magic, deflection, prevention.


Ihwaz is the symbol of rune magic. Avertive, deflective or defensive power is yours. Patience, perseverance, foresight and protection against unexpected attack. Wisdom in adversity.

topazThe Yew tree has mistakenly been linked with death because of the ancient practice of planting yew hedges around graveyards. Because Ihwaz is rune number 13, that is the origin of the "unlucky thirteen" superstition of Anglo-Saxon culture.

But the real reason the Yew was planted was to keep out unwanted scavenging animals - the evergreen Yew is both poisonous and impenetrable year-round. These Yews - now grown to huge gnarled old trees - are still to be found in many early British churchyards.

Ihwaz should not be feared, because it also means continuity and endurance. The best longbows were always made from yew trees. As well as being strong, long-lasting, and flexible, they contained protective magic. Thus, Ihwaz also represents safety from attack and a weapon of defence.

Ihwaz has no reverse.

Your defensive abilities are dormant and must be realized. What appears as a danger will be easily averted through patience and concentrated effort.

Personal Interpretation
This is a time of transformation, a time to let go of the old and embrace the new, new beginnings, new life and new dreams. The only constant is change, and quick progress requires an acceptance of change, not resistance to it. Don’t be afraid. Change is scary, but if you remain true to yourself and stick to your path, you will soon achieve your goal.

lilacRunic Number: 13

Color:  Magenta  

Elements: Earth, Air, Fire and Water

Polarity: Male

Associated gods: Ullr

Astrological Correspondence: Scorpio

Tarot Talk by Leila Vey
Ihwaz is difficult to match to any one Major Arcana card, because its dominant energy is that of defensive protection. There is no strongly protective counterpart in Tarot's Major Arcana. Any association made is bound to be a bit of a stretch. Some experts argue that Ihwaz fits with The Hanged Man, and this works to some extent, although the Hanged Man is more about suspension, waiting, and surrender than it is about protection, magic or deflection.

I prefer to link Ihwaz with the Death card since the rune also embodies continuity and endurance, both of which are promised in the Death card. Ihwaz and Death both challenge us to let go of the old and embrace change, no matter how fearful we might be of the unknown. One further possitibility for Ihwaz is the Emperor card. The Emperor is a figure of authority and defense, but he is also a protective figure who will lay down his life to save those for whom he is responsible.

visit Leila's site at http://tarot.leila.ca

The Rune Poem: Verse XIII Ihwaz
The Yew is a rough tree without,
Fixed hard in the earth, the fire's herd,
Sustained by its roots,
A delight on the homeland.


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