The meaning of the word ‘PERTHRO‘ is unknown to the scholars, as it seems to have no other origin outside the runes. Rather than suppose that the word is lost, I treat this as intentional, as I must with all the names and their positions in the Aetts. Therefor, the reason that Perthro is unknown is because of all the runes it represents the unknown: Fate, the unmanifest, the unknowable and the nature of chance. Together all of these suggests Wyrd (the manipulation of chance and fate).


Image by Thunderchild

A Note on Using the ‘Blank Rune’

The rune meaning of Perthro includes Wyrd, Fate, the mysteries of the unknown and unknowable. Most agree that it represents a ‘lot-cup’. It is the rune of the runes. Because this is so, we can immediately see why a ‘blank rune’ is an unnecessary addition to the 24 elder futhark runes. Typically, the ‘blank rune’ represents exactly those things that can be discovered and explored through Perthro — adding a blank rune into the strictly ordered futhark is at best redundant, and at worst a confusing impediment to genuine understanding (at least in the context of the system described by Rune Secrets.)

The Power of Guessing

Though on the scale of everyday life we tend not to think about it, we live in a multiverse of unknowns and unknowables. We live by certain axioms — we can depend on gravity, on sunlight, that we are in a primarily physical world. Often, we possess unexamined, if pragmatic assumptions. In the end, these are simply our best guesses. Perthro is the ‘guessing’ rune, something we constantly do, but that is a remarkable ability, in both psychological and magical contexts.

Guessing is an unbelievably extensive component of our interactions with the universe. The cosmos forces us to make such guesses constantly: we cannot ever stop guessing, barring a perfectly silent mind or perfect enlightenment. The mystery perpetuates itself! Science has never come close to running out of questions — there will always be more questions than answers, in any form of knowledge.

A guess, especially an unexamined one, is really a bid for certainty in a chaotic world. Perthro is the rune of questions, doubt and guessing, so it makes sense that it was inscribed on ‘lot-cups’ and used for luck in gambling and other games of chance and/or strategy.

The Game of Life

The ‘guessing game’ that this playful universe invites us to celebrate is infinitely complex, spontaneous and beautiful — the stakes can sometimes be high, but for better or for worse, Perthro frames the makeup of the universe as uncompromisingly playful. Remember that the second Aett is composed of Orlog: the elements of reality that are inimical to human life, that continue on despite our wishes and designs. The universe is unapologetically playful even when we do not feel like playing.

The biggest game, with the highest stakes, is our life and death. This is where the idea of Fate comes into play. Fate is a tricky subject — it is a word often used but perhaps mostly misunderstood. It represents the things and events chosen for us, instead of by us. Examples include parents, date of birth, birthplace and all the initial conditions of our lives. Fate represents the patterns of your thought and behavior which attract people, events and environments into your life. It is the unchangeable, or unchallenged factors that someday will lead to your death. The idea of ‘doom’ is when fate has become like a curse.

Fate and Wyrd

Fate is governed by the Norns, who must be negotiated with if things are to change. Wyrd, or the ‘Wyrding Way’, is the magic we all possess (and often unknowingly use) that we can learn to use in order to change or guide our fate, where necessary, or alternatively discover it and work with our Fates instead of against them. One such application is discovering certainty over your purpose in life, and how you can transform your patterns to align yourself to that purpose. This is perhaps the highest function of Wyrd: the removal of fetters which hold us to our negative patterns and the perfection of our positive patterns so that we can accomplish, in this lifetime, what we are meant to do, what we chose to come to this world for. Part of the game is that we have to guess and gamble, taking risks even with these highest of stakes.

Fate is the study and manipulation of consequences. There are innumerable factors within our lives, both conscious and unconscious, within ourselves or our environment, which we may or may not have any awareness of. These causes (and effects, which then in turn became causes) form our patterns, our ‘primal cause’. The laws of cause and effect play themselves out and lead us into our future selves. Whatever control and awareness we can gain over these consequences, that that extend we can guide our fates, use Wyrd, or work with the unchangeable rather than toiling in futility against it. This magical working is at the core of Wyrd, and it allows us to shape our destinies and often the destinies of those who depend on us in some way.

Perthro in Divination

Much is hidden and unkowable. Perthro can represent the void from which all things manifest, itself being the unmanifest, the unknowable in the sense that it is yet to exist. If it once existed, it may be accessed through our collective unconscious with LAGUZ, or our memories via MANNAZ.) In a rune lay, Perthro will often mean just that. The runes sometimes say: “Your guess is as good as mine.”

For a more basic metaphysical interpretation, see the entry on Perthro – Rune Meaning.

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6 Responses to Perthro – Rune Meaning Analysis

  1. Brian says:

    I read somewhere that this rune is like a gateway or bridge to new or undiscovered “places” but can be a one way ticket to unfavorable situations because sometimes in order to be somewhere new (physically, mentally, or spiritually) you end up losing what you had and find things to be more difficult or worse than before…

  2. Jennifer Rose says:

    “Much is hidden and unknowable. Perthro can represent the void from which all things manifest, itself being the unmanifest, the unknowable in the sense that it is yet to exist.”

    This interpretation is very insightful, and it makes me think of potential. It’s like quantum physics, the reality we experience is one of unlimited possibilities, and it is a consequence of our actions. without trying to argue for or against free will, I will say that having an awareness of our effect on our reality through our actions will greatly influence – not the outcome (at first), but the choice. So, would you say perthro can be used to change the choices we make, or the outcome? And by the way, I found your site today, and think very highly of your interpretations and comments. Thank you.

  3. sean says:

    from a rune poem .peqrth is ever the laughter and play of proud men , where warriors meet with cheer in the beer hall .

  4. Kat says:

    Does pertho with any other rune just make it more unknown or make is more fate or destiny?

    • Tyriel says:

      Short Answer: Both. It’s a paradoxical rune. Destiny is both written and unwritten. Forecast-able, but unknown.

      Long answer: It’s not that I’m ignoring you, Kat, but it is difficult for me, at this point, to advise people on the meanings of combination of runes, especially without knowing a good deal about the context in which they were drawn. And by context, I mean, the stuff that’s been going on in your life, in detail, since you were born, the question you asked the runes, etc.

      Once I finish the writing I need to do on each individual rune, I will spend some time developing an instructive system for taking any combination of runes and thinking about them for further exploration of the universe’s complex energies.

      Combining runes together is a highly inventive activity. If you think one rune is complex and deep, when you get two of them together, (or three, or four…) it becomes all that much more subjective.

      So I think developing a ‘way’ or method is in order, and I’ll try to do it in the book I’m writing. I know that some other authors have tried to do this, but haven’t much succeeded (from my viewpoint) because they haven’t empowered the novice with pragmatic advice. (Which, in this comment, I also may be failing to do.)

  5. kat says:

    pertho and algiz behind it? meanings?

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