Nauthiz, the need-fire.  I see this rune as having a dual nature.  It is black, it is the hollow of lack, it is the cold earth, the dark days, the emptiness of loss, of starvation, the dark night of the soul.  But it is also the hands that kindle the fire in that darkness, and it is the spark of hope that won’t let you role over and die.  That spark is the tenacity of human nature that keeps on trying – even when you are at your lowest ebb.  The shape of the rune suggests two twigs being rubbed together; they are dry and brittle, lacking in life, but ideal for creating that spark you need.

Nauthiz connects with the trickster, the one who cheats death, who finds the way out of the hopeless situation – however questionable the method.  This rune is about survival, not just of the body but of the soul.  There is a school of thought that says ‘value’ is determined by context – if you are starving the only thing of value is survival.  The premise here is that you can’t reach self-actualisation until all your other needs are fulfilled.  I am not convinced.  The child who has everything does not understand need, they cannot emphathise with the suffering of others or kindle the need-fire, for they do not know what they need to become.  The dark night of the soul brings an experience of suffering and need which is essential for an understanding of value.  In this sense Nauthiz is a liberator as it frees you from valuing things because you should and teaches you what is actually essential to you.

Drawing Nauthiz can feel like heartless laughter on the part of the universe “You are suffering” the rune says – no kidding, tell me something I didn’t know!  But experience has taught me that the Nauthiz rune has a hidden message for you:  “Somewhere inside you there is faith, the light will come.”

Traditional meaning: Need, distress

Pronunciation: north-eez

Number: 10

Gods: Skuld

Colour: Black

Hour: 21:30-22:30

Half month: November 13th-November 28th

Plants: Beech, rowan, snake root

World: Nifelheim

Body: Sacral chakra, arms

Animal: Unknown

Mineral: Lapis lazuli

Aroma: Eucalyptus, black pepper

Object of power: Need fire

Elder Futhark – The Second Aett

Nauthiz is the second rune in the Second Aett (second family) of the Elder Futhark.  Visit the Resources page to download your free Journeys with the Elder Futhark – The Second Aett includes the Nauthiz journey.

Magin’s articles featuring Nauthiz

  • Magin’s June 2012 podcast on The Shamanic Voice: The Shamanic Calling looks at the role of the shamanic practitioner in alleviating suffering and manifesting desire; it includes a working using the Nauthiz rune to discover what suffering and desire can teach you about your true needs

What other practitioners say