third rune

The Road to Runes

January, 2019

The Road to Runes: Isa, Waiting for the Thaw

means ‘ice’ and is associated with stillness, stagnation and
immobility. It is the third rune in the second aett of the Elder
Futhark, also known as Hagal’s aett.

I was pondering a frustrating work problem and decided to see what
the runes had to say. My situation was that I wanted to make a
change, but there was the possibility of a certain opportunity if I
stayed where I was for the time being. It’s that age-old question
immortalised by The Clash: should I stay, or should I go?


drew the rune Isa, which literally means ‘Ice’. Isa is associated
with stillness and stasis. Ice seems to render flowing and fluid
water suddenly still and motionless. It stops things in their tracks,
yet it is beautiful and alluring. This makes it all the more
dangerous, as while we pause, transfixed by cold beauty, we are not
moving forward and completing our journey. Of course, sometimes a
moment of stillness can be refreshing and rejuvenating. But when we
stay still for too long, we become stiff, useless, and even forget
why we were moving forward in the first place.

rune indicates that I am stuck. The work situation that I was worried
about shows no signs of resolving itself anytime soon, and I am left
with the same dilemma; to forcefully break out of the situation or
allow things to take their course, no matter how slow and frustrating
this may be.


the frustration of being stuck is my primary reaction to Isa, Isa can
mean so much more than this. Just as the earth rests in winter before
new growth in spring, so do we sometimes need to let ourselves rest
and be still before our lives get back on track. Isa can indicate a
period of gestation; a time to let things grow and progress
naturally. It could actually be the worst time to change or force
change, as now is the time for rest and letting things take their

represents Niflheim, the cold and misty world of the dead. It is a
place we fear to be; frozen and unmoving, with no chance of life.
This is like real-world stagnation. We yearn to be ever moving
forward, achieving and progressing. Isa makes us realise that
sometimes, events which are outside our control can prevent us from
moving forward, and that we have to accept that and not let that
stagnation prevent us from being the best we can be. Continue to live
our lives, as well as we can, and trust that when the ice thaws, the
water will flow again. Our river will move inexorably towards the

rune seems to tell me I just need to wait, for now. However, I should
keep working at my problem, checking in, being cautious and aware of
new information and changes. I should not let my ego take over but
remain calm and avoid giving in to frustration. If I follow my own
process and stay true to myself, eventually the ice will thaw, the
problem will become clearer and the solution may even become visible.

an afterthought, I drew another rune, which was Dagaz, the rune of
breakthroughs. This gave me more hope, and I’ll discuss this
further in next month’s article. Don’t forget, you can tweet me
@Mabherick if you want me to focus on a particular rune for this
column. Until next time!


the Author:

a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

is the author of 
Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors

and Pagan
Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors on Amazon

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways on Amazon