Lessons of Hagalaz: Rune of Disaster and Healing

In my personal rune set, I replaced the elder futhark Hagalaz symbol with the younger futhark Hagalaz variation a while ago, a personal choice, and I should take this opportunity to explain why.

In the face of disaster, compassionate human beings discover that they do not break, but become stronger. We discover that our communities come together, even on a global scale, in face of unimaginable destruction. When the universe shows its inimical side, the side that couldn’t care less about average human affairs, it’s as if we come together to show overwhelmingly that we care for one another. When the universe demonstrates that it cannot be depended upon, that it is more than able to wreck havoc, we react by showing that we can depend upon one another.

This reactive human response to the crisis and catastrophe that Hagalaz can often represent is a strange magic, but one of great potential.

We can also point to the immense wisdom in preparing for the worst, in allowing ourselves not only to imagine catastrophe, but to incorporate it into our plans for the future.

We see from the Japanese, in the past few days, after their massive 8.9 earthquake, tsunami and the threats to their nuclear power plants, a tragic event that will have taken 10,000+ lives. But consider this: the Japanese have for a good number of years held incredible standards for their buildings and construction — everything is made to bend, to wiggle. These standards were in place to protect their cities and their people against the worst forms of earthquake… the kind they recently experienced. It likely saved millions of lives.

While it is hard to wrench our focus from the spectacular chaos and destruction of Hagalaz, we ought to keep in mind a great, untold story: that planning and foresight, that the willingness to contemplate the worst, is a powerful form of wisdom for an individual to have, and even more-so an entire people. It may not be positive thinking — but it has positive consequences. It is an example of taking the negative aspects of a rune and transmuting it for positive ends.

So today, let us contemplate the younger futhark symbol for Hagalaz — the potential for us to unite and heal in the face of unimaginable destruction, to show our strength and courage in the face of catastrophe and the wisdom of looking ahead in order to safeguard against the worst the universe can throw at us.

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8 thoughts on “Lessons of Hagalaz: Rune of Disaster and Healing”

  1. Although I am relatively new to studying the runes, I am tending to prefer the YF version of this rune; when I look at it I see GEBO and ISA together — the gift of Isa. From the melting hail comes water which nourishes and from the innocuous snowflake comes the avalanche. Makes sense to me!

  2. Incidently with hagalas as the great Disruptor I would see it more as stopping a process rather than a “seeding” – if it seeds it seeds something new something not expected not what you plan , surely

    1. Caroline, thanks for your perspective on this. I agree with your excellent point about “riding the whirlwind” but I feel that at this point in my life I NEED a disruption of sorts to help me renew myself. I also feel that all Rune work could be seen as inherently dangerous, but I think this renewal process is worth the risk. I should mention that I have had huge changes in my life in the last few years, including a move to another country, unemployment, and a 3-year fight with cancer. Like I said, I need renewal and seek the cosmic power to fuel it. Hagalaz serves both as a reminder of my dedication to change, and an admission that I need power from “other” to make it happen. That said, I remain vigilant, as I would be if I used any other potentially dangerous “tool”.

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