Othala – Rune Meaning Analysis

Othala is a complex rune, infamously misused by the Nazis in their attempt to promote ‘racial purity’ and expand their nation with totalitarian fury. The power of the rune will become clear, and a closer analysis of the rune will reveal how it could be properly used to potential global effect without any mass violence whatsoever.

Photo by Tracy Misso

Othala traces back to certain words in Anglo-Saxon and Norse whose oldest meaning is ‘noble‘ or nobility, and are associatively linked to property, estate, homeland and nation-building. Othala’s core power is the wise management of resources both physical and psychic. Not the ruthless efficiency that leads to totalitarian states or monopolies, but a more harmonious give and take that leads to peace and freedom amongst the people, a state of balance between order and chaos.

We have legends in every culture about this perfect, harmonious city or place. Asgard, Atlantis, Avalon. Shangri-la, Shambala and Eden. We use the word Utopia, which was an imaginary place that Thomas Moore described in his book of the same name. All of these represent the inate human understanding that we, as a species, have the potential to create a harmonious and peaceful society.

Ancestral Spiritual Inheritance

It has been said that Othala contains the potential power of all the other runes. The main energy involved in this is the ancestral spiritual power, which connects us to our genetic wisdom, the unconscious and sometimes awakened unity that links us back to the first humans who began to think and seek something ‘greater’ than a simple ‘animal’ existence. This is one way in which Othala unites all of mankind, throughout time.

However, some groups hearken to a past they have no record of and cannot understand. It is common for us to romanticize the past. But, the ancients are quite clear with us that the world has sometimes been a very harsh place. Such romanticizing will not do. Although we may draw on the past, it is perhaps better to tend to our own lot in the present, honestly and with keen observation and judgement. We shall see that Othala is actually a forward-looking rune, a rune of continuation of the ancestral toward a collective destiny, not merely a reliving of the past.

The proper use for a group or community is to observe how it lives and breathes, the methods by which it functions, the social-psychology of its members, so one may gain a great understanding of families, groups and community’s in general, and to celebrate the kinship of awakening with others. A group that promote a culture of openness, fairness, honesty and freedom is a healthy group. A group (or cult, or nation) that focuses on conformity, making enemies with other groups, rigidness of thinking and mindless devotion is, in reality, quite insane.

Sacred Enclosure and Homeland

Othala is the root of why we honor the blood that was shed to take and defend a territory. That symbolic act of the warrior is representative of a deeper act, which the Greeks expounded upon in their philosophy, which is found amongst the druids and throughout mysticism the world over, which is: the expansion of the light of individual and collective human consciousness against the forces of ignorance and darkness of the old ‘chaotic’ world.

This expansion is illustrated quite profoundly in the constant battle of Asgard (consciousness) against the Giants (unconsciousness).

Seen as a sacred enclosure, Othala scales from merely a personal space and living conditions, to a home or a community such as a town or city. It scales to the level of a state or nation, and indeed, Othala rises even to the height of an entire civilization.

At it’s apex, Othala represents an allegience to all life on the planet, a global unity amongst humankind, and the potential ‘utopia’ that humankind is destined to eventually build together. Though the Nazis chose to try and do this through war, studied more deeply, Othala’s vision of a united world is inevitable because of the power of ordinary, every day, peaceful people interacting together in a mundane way, profoundly spiritual in its simplicity.


Rather than representing genetic inheritance and blood (which it of course does but only on a lower level of meaning) Othala is actually the movement of society to transcend these ideas, and embrace all humanity as kindred, all the world as a single global nation. It is the rune of a sustainable planetary civilization, a utopia, or paradise. The ‘noble’ is in fact anyone who takes up the role of a person moving his portion of the homeland/personal-communal sphere toward heaven-on-earth.

This idea of nobility is especially poignant, because it was not always the case that nobility was bestowed due to blood. It could be merit, or a spiritual inheritance of some sort. In many ways of thinking, to be noble is to act noble. If you behave as a noble, as a king or queen, the power of your hamingja will organize the world around you, slowly and surely, to reflect this inner. The outer is merely a reflection of the inner. Therefor it is essential to understand nobility as something gained through one’s own actions and behaviors, not bestowed by birth, blood, title, or any other external circumstance. Therefor, the understanding of and responsibility for one’s inner-world is absolutely paramount, for its very essence will structure the minute details of the world around you.

Relationship to Time

As may be obvious by now, Othala is a rune concerned with time, and a past-and-future based sense. Jera, as the 12th rune, half of Othala’s position, concentrates on the cyclical nature of time, whereas Othala seems to indicate the arrow of time, as seen by the human mind. Therefor it connects the past to the future, and our ancestors to our eventual progeny.

Therefor, where Jera represents nature’s own ecology, Othala represents our relationship as a species to the land, to this planet, in the form of responsibility, stewardship and the potent and real consequences of human actions on a mass scale.

The Power of the Domestic

All this above may sound grandiose, but Othala is powerfully rooted in the mundane world. I will often define Othala in terms of the personal estate, that is the family, community and business affairs. It extends outward to include the political sphere, and then the human condition. But first comes the home. There are many factors in a happy home, but the nation should be measured by the extent to which these happy homes exist, and can remain peaceful and free from oppression. That means access to adequate shelter, food and water, education, love and respect between its members, interesting work for the community and so on. The home is often the outpost from which a good life is lived — “home is where the heart is”.

One of Othala’s prime teachings may be that “One who is unable to be trusted with the little things, cannot be trusted with the big things.”  Think that over carefully before assuming authority of any sort.

Othala Reversed

The perversion of Othala is the road toward totalitarianism, the inappropriate use or waste of resources, the disruption of the peace and security of home, and the denial of freedoms, sometimes in the form of various slavery. Nationalism, contrary to what may be believed about this rune, is a negative, energy-draining phenomenon, which creates inevitable conflict and war. Nazi Germany may have been a particularly extreme version of a nation, but the underlying trend is inherent within all nation-states.

The negative consequences of a system of ownership also fall under the murkstave of this rune. Ownership requires the co-operation and agreement of the community. When ‘ownership’ becomes imbalanced, more laws, more force, and more violence are required to uphold entitlement. Citizens and members of the community must be increasingly spied upon and mistrusted when only a few control the wealth and power of the so-called ‘nation’.

There can be only one destiny for a family, community or nation that does not live in balance, uphold the common justice of the people, and strive for the freedom and prosperity of its every member, and it is grim indeed.

Further Reading:

Othala – Rune Meaning


What is the state of your home? Your community? Your nation? Now is a good time to reflect on the aspects of your life that create the place you live from day-to-day, and what you have the power to do to change it if it needs to be changed.

Your comments are most welcome!


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