Othala speaks of both individual and collective inheritance. It is the land of the ancestors, the homestead and all inherited wealth. It is the traits passed down through our DNA, our language and our culture. It speaks to us both us the unique, individual nature of each human being and of the shared history that eventually leads every single one of us back to a shared point of origin.
Othala is also the burial mound where wisdom may be sought from those who came before us. The northern tradition has many tales of the dead rising to offer wisdom, complete unfinished tasks and complete on oaths made in life.
Trace the rune upon your forehead to seek the blessing of the ancestors or draw it as a gateway to journey through. Ceremonies at your hearth fire or with a candle honour the living energy of the home and those who have cared for it before us (even new builds are on old ground). If you are near enough don’t forget to visit the resting places of your ancestors . If distance is an issue spending time honouring the dead in your local graveyard or ceremony is a beautiful act of generosity; who knows, maybe someone is doing the same for your loved ones.
The gifts of Othala can be negative as well as positive. Not all our ancestors are wise and all knowing. Not everything we inherit is desired. Work with Othala is the first step towards understanding and making peace with our inheritance. I have done a lot of work over the years with groups and individuals with the kin-fetch: a protective spirit formed when a mutual promise is made between two or more people to fulfil a joint goal. These spirits can be found in families, businesses, mission groups – if a promise has been formed then the kin-fetch will form too. They do their utmost to support alignment to the original (good) intention. For this reason they are excellent helpers when the promise hasn’t worked out well.
Old English Rune Poem: eþel meaning homeland
Family prosperity is beloved of everyone,
if he can there (his) due right and
enjoy in the hall, especially with
Translated by Bill Griffiths (2003) Aspects of Anglo-Saxon Magic
How well do you know your family tree? Websites like Ancestry now mean you can do your research very easily (and often within the free trial period) the different location-specific iterations of Ancestry make available. I really enjoyed doing work around this and found some personal heroes and heroines in my tree that I would never have otherwise known about. A lovely ceremony you can then do is to create a sacred space for yourself and say their names out loud to honour them. You can do this at any time but the half-month of Othala and festivals of the dead are a particularly good time.
Literal meanings: estate, inheritance, homeland
Rich meanings: legacy, ancestors, wealth, collective history
Deepening your connection with Othala
My Elder Futhark journeys are based on the traditional meanings of the runes. This journey connects you to the ancestors. 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 Othala. Make a note of any that stand out for you.
- Make sure you know the shape of Othala; if you have a rune set select the Othala 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.