The hail stone, the mother rune, the cosmic seed, the destructive force of nature. There is nothing gentle about Hagalaz. For some it represents mindless destruction, the ruination of carefully laid plans; for others there is a perfect and crystalline plan hidden deep within the workings of Hagalaz – it sets right the balance, as violently as it needs to.
Hagalaz begins the second Aett (group of eight runes) of the Elder Futhark; this Aett is known as Hel’s Aett and it starts with a bang with the powerful and disruptive energies of Hagalaz. One way of looking at the Aetts is to see them as a life journey and, in this sense, the first Aett represents the influences that go to make up the individual – manifested in the joyful and fulfilled rune of Wunjo. Hel’s Aett appears at the point where the individual is ready to be tested, fate takes hold and we steel ourselves to weather the storm, knowing that it is only through testing and challenge that we can grow and develop.
When I first worked with the runes I felt a certain dread when Hagalaz appeared in my own readings (which it often did). I recognise now that the Hagalaz rune is bound to turn up for every young person making the journey from childhood into adulthood (as will Nauthiz).
Hagalaz is the ninth rune, nine being the number of worlds within the great World Tree – Hagalaz is not just a hail stone, it is a seed, containing within it all possibility and potential. The hail storm of Hagalaz clears away stagnation, weakness and disease, and once it is passed the way is cleared and strong new growth can manifest.
Hagalaz represents those things that are outside our control, its literal meaning is ‘hail’, when the weather goes really crazy and pelts the land and anyone who gets in its way. The onslaught of Hagalaz can feel painful and undeserved, but there are great gifts to be reaped from this rune.
The appearance of Hagalaz in a reading suggests that a time of testing is at hand, it is up to the individual to find the strength within themselves to turn adversity into opportunity and destruction into rebirth.
Literal meanings: Hail, grain
Rich meanings: Cosmic seed, disruption, change, transformation, cycle of destruction and creation