|Aett: 2nd Aett, Hagall's Aett
Position within the Aett: 7
Position within the Futhark: 15
Meaning: Protection, life and death
English Letter Value: Z (or ending r)
Sound: Z (r)
|Other Names: Anglo-Saxon: Eolh
|Level One Meaning(s)|
| Algiz is another one of those runes that has many and varied meanings; some of which seen to be in direct opposition to each other. It is also one of the few runes that were actually used in its reversed form. It means both life (upright) and death (inversed) as well as protection from death or harm. The life/death cycle, as you will see, is a common theme within the different meanings and associations for algiz. It is also symbolic of the World Tree and its branches and roots that ascend and descend into the upper and under worlds.
The z-rune, unlike eiwaz, which is the trunk of the World Tree and Midgard, is (in its upright form) representative of the branches of Yggdrasil which flourish in the upper worlds of Vanaheim, Asaheim, and Alfheim. It is here where the "creatures" of light abide: the gods, both Aesir and Vana, and the light elves, as well as the honored dead (those slain on the battlefield in the ancient tradition; as well as those gained great honor while alive [such as poets, artists, etc.] but did not die in battle) from Midgard. It is here, also, where some of the destroyers of the World Tree live; the harts.
In its reversed form, algiz represents the roots of Yggdrasil which plunge into to worlds of Jotenheim, Helheim and Swartalfheim. It is within Helheim, the land of the dead (those who did not die in battle nor attain great honor while alive, but died with their honor intact) that the other destroyer of the World Tree lives. In a separate realm within Helheim, Niflhel, lives the fearsome dragon Niddhog. Niddhog, when not gnawing on the roots of Yggdrasil, would devour the souls of those who died with dishonor, such as family slayers, traitors, etc. This realm, to the ancient Germanic peoples, would be as terrifying to them as Hell is to the ancient Christians.
The z-rune is also associated with the concept of protection. It is with this association with protection that the rune is associated with the Valkyries. The Valkyries were also known to the Northern Peoples as Shield Maidens and were thought of as protectors of the warrior on the battlefield. Again, this shows the rune’s association with life and death. As well as protectors of the living on the battlefield, it was also the Valkyries job to roam the battlefield, in the disguise of a swan or raven, to choose which of the slain would be taken to Asgard to chosen by either Freyja or Odin (and in that order). Algiz has also been associated with the god Tyr (Tiw) and the had that he lost (due, in part, to it looking like part of an arm and a hand). Tyr gave willingly his hand so that the Fenris Wolf could be bound for the protection of all the worlds. (More on this sacrifice when we reach the rune tiwaz.)
Heimdal has also been associated with the z-rune. Heimdal, like Thor, is considered a protector god. Heimdal is the son of Nine Maidens (the nine waves) and an unknown father (although Odin has been name by some as the father, which is not all that unlikely). This would make him, also, the grandson of Aegir and Ran. Heimdal, unlike Thor (who would go out looking for a fight, especially with the jotans), has a more passive role as protector of Asgard. Although he has fought in many battles as protector of Asgard, his main duties are to guard the rainbow bridge, Bifrost, and to watch and listen for enemies trying to use this "back door" into Asgard. Heimdal, like Thor, was often called upon by humans for protection in times of crisis. In this way, algiz, in its upright form, can be seen as a human in supplication, or invocation, to the gods for any gift that they need; especially when asking for their protection.
In later years algiz was also associated with the elk. The rune does resemble the antlers of an elk which were used for the defense and protection. This may be a hold over from earlier times and was originally another association with the reindeer; whose antlers look very similar to the those of the elk. Here again is the runes association with life and death. If the antlers worked as a deterrent against an enemy or predator, then the elk/reindeer would survive. If they did not, then death would be the result.
In a more esoteric sense, algiz can be used for protection. In its single form, it can be worn as a talisman for protection and continued life (which makes me wonder if the peace symbol [a reversed algiz in a circle] brought with it the doom of the culture that helped to popularize it). However, the most potent form of protection using the algiz rune has to be the Awehelm (or Helm of Awe). This is six or eight of the algiz runes, in its upright form, bound together with their bases joined at the center of an imaginary circle with the "arm" pointed outward (makes the Awehelm look something like a snowflake). This is the simplest of its forms, there can also be multiple algiz runes per branch as well and I have even seen some with a cross bar on each branch (nauthiz ?).
|Level Three Meaning - The 4-4 Relationship|
|As a part of the runic concept of the time/space continuum, algiz represents all the other worlds where beings also live. These worlds, Vanaheim, Asaheim, Ljossalfheim, Jotenheim, Helheim, Swartalfheim and Midgard (eihwaz), all exist within the primal gap, between the two primal lands of, or worlds, of Muspellsheim and Niflheim. It is within this "space" that all things that happen in time (hagalaz, nauthiz, isa and jera) take place. They are the stage upon which the play of wyrd is set. However, not all things that are or will be is ruled by this rune. There are many aspects of the universe (or even the multiverse) that happen or that mark the passing of time that do not take place on the World Tree and those are part of the aspects of sowulo.|
| Heimdal: See above
Valkyries: See above