Runes – EIHWAZ
(EI: Yew tree.)
DIVINATORY MEANINGS: Strength, reliability, dependability, trustworthiness. Enlightenment, endurance. Defense, protection. The driving force to acquire, providing motivation and a sense of purpose. Indicates that you have set your sights on a reasonable target and can achieve your goals. An honest man who can be relied upon. Change, initiation, confrontation of fears, turning point, death, transformation
MAGICAL USES: to bring about profound change, to ease a life transition
ASSOCIATED MYTHS & DEITIES: Hel, Yggdrasil
ANALYSIS: The yew tree has been associated with runes, magic and death in northern and western Europe since time immemorial. The reasons for this ancient association are numerous, but seem to principally derive from the fact that yews are evergreens which retain their greenery even through the death of winter, and because their red berries are symbolic of the blood of life. The yew is extremely long-lived, thus effectively ‘immortal’. Reverence for the yew dates back to before the times of the Celts, and continues today in Christian tradition.
Eihwaz is the thirteenth rune in the futhark, and marks the middle of the alphabet. (It is interesting to note that the Death card in the Tarot is also the thirteenth card.) This rune is the turning point in the runic journey, and represents the transformation the initiatory process. All rites of passage, particularly those marking the transition into adulthood, contain the symbolism of death, the idea being that one’s former ‘self’ has died and given birth to a new persona.
Eihwaz is the passage through which we must enter the realm of Hel in order to gain the knowledge and acceptance of our mortality, as well as those mysteries which can only be learned from the dark Lady of the dead. The process is a truly frightening one, but it is something we all must go through if we are to confront our deepest fears and emerge with the kind of wisdom that be taught but must be experienced. Eihwaz is the gateway to this wisdom, and lies between life (jera) and rebirth (perthro).