Ingwaz: The Seed of Life in the Elder Futhark Runes

In the ancient world, symbols held a profound significance. One such symbol, a rune from the Elder Futhark system, has …

In the ancient world, symbols held a profound significance. One such symbol, a rune from the Elder Futhark system, has captured the fascination of scholars and enthusiasts alike. This rune, known as Ingwaz, is a symbol of both potential and growth as well as the cyclical nature of existence. It’s a rune that whispers of the old ways, of the Norse people who once carved these symbols into stone, bone, and wood, seeking to understand and influence the world around them.

Ingwaz Background and Description

The Elder Futhark, is the oldest form of the runic alphabets. It was used by the Germanic tribes for the northwestern and Migration period dialects. Its inscriptions date back to the 2nd to 8th centuries, with some even suggesting an origin as early as the 1st century AD. The Ingwaz rune, also known as Ing, is the 22nd rune in this system, nestled between Laguz and Dagaz.

The name Ingwaz is derived from the Proto-Germanic *Ingwaz. It is believed to have been another name for the god Freyr (Ing), and is associated with fertility and prosperity. Freyr, also known as Yngvi or Ing, was considered the progenitor of the Ingaevones, a Germanic group that included the tribes of the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes. These tribes, as you may know, later migrated to the British Isles, carrying with them their language, culture, and the worship of Ing.

Graphical Representation

Ingwaz diamond
Ingwaz variant

The Ingwaz rune is recognized in two different shapes, either as two X’s on top of each other, or as a simple diamond shape, basically the core of the two X’s. This simple yet powerful design is believed to symbolize a seed or an egg, a potent symbol of potential and new beginnings. The rune’s design is straightforward, making it easy to draw, but its simplicity belies the depth of its meaning.

Historically, the design of the Ingwaz rune has remained relatively consistent. There was likley minor variations depending on the material it was inscribed on or the personal style of the scribe. This consistency suggests that the symbolic meaning of Ingwaz was both well understood, and respected by the ancient Germanic peoples.

Phonetic Value

In the Proto-Germanic language, the Ingwaz rune represented the sound “ŋ”. It is similar to the “ng” sound in English words like “long” or “sing”. This sound is known as a velar nasal, produced by closing off the back of the mouth and allowing the air to escape through the nose. Over time, as the Germanic languages evolved and diversified, the phonetic value of the Ingwaz rune may have changed in different regions and dialects.

Symbolic Meaning of the Ingwaz Rune

The Ingwaz rune is a symbol of potential, growth, and the cyclical nature of existence. Its name, derived from the divine entity Ing (Freyr), carries connotations of fertility and prosperity, reflecting the importance of these concepts in ancient Germanic culture. The seed or egg shape of the rune further emphasizes this symbolism, representing the promise of new life and the potential for growth.

In the context of Norse mythology, the Ingwaz rune is, as I mentioned, associated with the god Freyr, the brother of the goddess Freyja. Freyr, known as the “Lord” in Old Norse, was a deity associated with prosperity and sunshine as well as fertility. This is making him a fitting figure for the symbolism of the Ingwaz rune. You can learn more about Freyr here.

The Aett and its Symbolism

The Elder Futhark is divided into three groups known as aettir. Each aett is associated with a particular god or goddess and carries a distinct thematic symbolism. The Ingwaz rune belongs to the third aett, which is associated with the god Tyr.

The third aett, also known as Tyr’s aett, carries themes of balance, justice, and order. These themes reflect Tyr’s role as a divine lawmaker and his legendary sacrifice of his hand to the wolf Fenrir. The Ingwaz rune, with its symbolism of potential and growth, contributes to these themes. Moreover it reminds us of the cyclical nature of existence and the potential for growth and change within established order.

Elder Futhark Quiz

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Ingwaz Used in Divination and Magic

Truth be told I don’t personally subscribe to the belief in divination or magic. However I find the historical and cultural practices surrounding these beliefs to be fascinating. The Ingwaz rune, like other runes in the Elder Futhark, was likely used in divination and magical practices.

In divination, the Ingwaz rune may be interpreted as a sign of potential, growth, or a period of gestation. It could suggest that the querent is in a phase of preparation or development. Moreover, there might be a promise of future growth and achievement. In a magical context, the Ingwaz rune could be used in spells intended to foster growth, prosperity, or fertility.

Ingwaz in the Younger Futhark – The Lost Fertility

The Elder Futhark transitioned into the Younger Futhark, also known as Norse runes, around the 7th and 8th centuries. That change saw Ingwaz, representing fertility or the god Ing, vanished. Its disappearance signifies a transformation in the expression and understanding of fertility, growth, and the divine.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the Ingwaz rune symbolize?

The Ingwaz rune symbolizes potential and growth as well as the cyclical nature of existence. It is associated with the divine entity Ing, a figure of fertility and prosperity in Germanic paganism.

How is the Ingwaz rune used in divination?

In divination, the Ingwaz rune may be interpreted as a sign of potential, growth, or a period of gestation. Moreover it suggests a phase of preparation or development, with the promise of future growth and achievement.

What god is associated with the Ingwaz rune?

The Ingwaz rune may be associated with the god Freyr. The god of prosperity and sunshine as well as fertility in Norse mythology. Furthermore, the rune belongs to the third aett of the Elder Futhark, which is associated with the god Tyr.

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Norse mythology enthusiast, Norwegian and living in Oslo next to a series of old Viking age burial mounds.I am also able to navigate and understand quite a lot of the old Norse texts and I often lean on original texts when researching an article. Through this blog I hope more people, young and old will get to know Norse mythology and the world of the Vikings a bit better.

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