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The Rede

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October 27th, 2008

Runes From A Vanic Perspective: Isa

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I often connect Skadi and Ullr both with Isa as this to me is a rune that requires teamwork in order to overcome the more rigorous of its challenges. The rune poem says that ice is called the broad bridge and the blind man must be led. I believe this is saying not just that those who have no vision must be led, but that teamwork is ultimately needed in the depths of winter(or other challenging times and places)in order to survive. I think the reason that so many have connected Ullr and Skadi as having become 'an item' after her marriage to Njord did not take is because both have the needed survival skills for winter in mountainous climes. Skadi is the snowshoe goddess as we are all familiar with, and Ullr goes about with his bow and arrow, wrapped in the furs of animals whom He has slain in order to survive(I do not see Him as 'sport hunter').

Isa is ice, though most people will tell you that they know this already, this means different things for the various tribes... i  It is probably obvious in  some ways, at least ,  how it relates to Skadi, when one thinks of Her striding across the frozen wastes in her snowshoes with wolves howling at her heels. Skadi generates a feeling of both reverence and fear. Much as winter itself did for those folk of elder times. It was in the winter that so many succumbed to the darker emotions which dwelt within, being deprived of the longer hours of natural sunlight, and the ability to move about as they would wish. It was also during the winter, when during the long hours of the night as they sat about the fires the stories would be told from one generation to the next, often to the sound  of wild winds and wolves howling outside. There was a kind of reverence for the forces of nature, that they could grant life or take it at a whim, and striding out in the midst of the storm Skadi could save you from the worst if it was Her will to do so. 

How Isa relates to Ullr may be a bit less obvious to folks. He is seen by some, as a kind of Green Man and by others as a 'god of winter' so here we're going to look at the God of Winter aspect. In modern times, Ullr has become almost iconically related to winter, there are several different towns in the U.S.A that throw Ullr festivals yearly in order to gain a high yield snowfall. This has in fact been a subject of some debate in the Heathen Community as to whether or not these festivals were really respectful of Him or just kind of 'in thing' in a sense. Either way, Ullr has entered the public consciousness as being intrinsically connected to winter for better or for worse. 

Isa is ice, though most people will tell you that they know this already, this means different things for the various tribes...The Vanir deal very much with the psyche and emotions, They also deal with the concept of working together and this is how Isa is being interpreted here. As a rune of ice, Isa represents a kind of fear that can lock you within yourself, as you create and recreate a story or series of stories that will define your experience of the world. This can be representative in some ways of PTSD, in that a person with post traumatic stress disorder relives over and over again the same story, locked forever in a loop, freezing them when a set trigger occurs.  It can also be used to create this self-same fear in an opponent if you feel a dire need to do so, as a kind of 'battle fetter' so to speak; creating such a fear that the individual cannot move against you. A more constructive use of Isa, is to retain control over yourself when in the midst of a panic attack, seeing it as 'still water' which you take within yourself, bringing the panic to a complete point of stillness and allowing you to move forward. Isa can allow you to 'slip through' situations you wouldn't want to find yourself in if you learn how to walk upon it with care and give respect to it as an element in and of itself. Remember that the world was created in Fire and in Ice and so Isa has a kind of consciousness attached to it that many other runes do not, it has a kind of self memory. When working with Isa give respect to that and you will do much better with it.

Written by, Ayla Wolffe©2008



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