The birch tree is one the fastest spreading trees and Berkano speaks of fast, eager growth.  This is a rune of spring, the green shoots rising, flowers exploding in a riot of colour upon the woodland floor, the crying of baby animals calling for food so they may grow strong.  The two triangles that make up the rune also speak of duality; in this case the ‘womb and the tomb’ – the earth that gives life is also the cave to which we return upon death.  The full breasts and belly of a pregnant woman can also be seen in the shape of this rune.

Berkano is helpful for female cycles, pregnancy and birthing and can be used very effectively with Perthro and Fehu.  It is a gentle, sensual rune and has a protective element which makes it a good talisman for children (especially girls).  It can also be helpful and healing for those who had negative sexual experiences resulting in repression, anxiety or fear.

Don’t mistake the gentleness of the Berkano rune for weakness though.  The cycles of time it works to are far longer than we can fathom – everything returns to the earth eventually.  

My rune staff is made of silver birch and I find that the protective, expansive nature of Berkano complements the energies of Isa, Eihwaz, Teiwaz, Algiz and Laguz which I often work with in conjunction with the staff.  All of these runes evoke powerful energies cascading vertically up and down the practitioner and the birch wood is very helpful to me in staying grounded.

To ground using the Berkano rune like on your back with your knees bent.  Rest your hands upon your forehead with your elbows raised up.  Excess energy will ground through the feet, finger tips and back of the head.    

Old Norse rune poem:  bjarkan meaning birch

Birch is the leaf-greenest of branches;
Loki had luck in deceit.
Translated by Pollington, Rudiments of Runelore

The more fiercely protective aspect of Berkano comes out through its association with the bear.  Think of the mother bear protecting her young.   The secretive northern European bear is the largest European predator.  Mother bears are ever watchful of their young who may fall prey to an aggressive male.  Until they are mature, baby bears also have a protective instinct: they will climb a tree when danger threatens.  The hibernation habits of the northern European bear reflect the dual nature of the Berkano rune.  Bears emerge from hibernation just at the end of the half month of Berkano to enjoy the summer months and return to hibernation in October.     

Literal meanings: Birch tree

Rich meanings:  New beginnings, divine feminine, the cycle of birth and death, that which is hidden

Deepening your connection with Berkano

My Elder Futhark journeys are based on the traditional meanings of the runes.  To get the most from the journey follow these steps:

  • Make sure the room in which you are working will be free from disturbance.  Do a simple warding if you want to.
  • Have a look at the basic correspondences for Berkano.  Make a note of any that stand out for you.
  • Make sure you know the shape of Berkano; if you have a rune set select the Berkano rune and hold it for a short while.
  • Listen to the recording.
  • If you feel a bit light headed or not fully back from your journey, have something to eat.

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