Month for Loki, Day 3: The Runes of Your Name (O)
Othala is a rune that represents a wealth that cannot be sold, just as its shape evokes the boundary that surrounds an enclosure whose contents cannot be taken away. As a symbol, Othala is a protective rune that maintains and preserves that which it protects within its framework. In that sense, Othala represents that which belongs to the individual by natural law. But Othala represents more than physical property and boundaries – Othala represents home, family and community, as well. Othala symbolizes the cultural and spiritual heritage that has been passed down to us by our ancestors. Othala is the rune of that ancestral connection, representing the thread of ancient knowledge and wyrd.
Some rune-workers consider Othala as the final rune in Elder Futhark, and believe that in that sense, Othala contains the potential power of all the other runes. As well, Othala represents powerful ancestral memory and wisdom…the shared genetic memory-wisdom that links and therefore unifies all human beings throughout time.(1)
Author Dagulf Loptson sees the second rune in Loki’s name, Othala as representing both what Loki values (family and home), but also what He both struggles with (His Jotun ancestry) and what He seeks (a sense of belonging with the Aesir). Loptson sees the energy of Othala in Loki’s name as being how chaotic energy has been harnessed and used for the security of a community, as Loki inadvertently provides the Aesir with a form of physical wealth/property through gifts (Thor’s hammer, Odin’s spear, Freyr’s ship) that were won through the use of His mental gifts (negotiation/wit with the dwarves). In another situation, Loki provides another form of protection to the Aesir in the form of a physical boundary (the wall around Asgard) through use of one of His ancestral gifts (shapeshifting). (2)
Personally, I have come to see Othala similarly, as a rune of ancestral memory. In my opinion, how the second rune of His name applies to Loki is that, as a Jotun, Loki is in essence, a powerful and creative force of nature. Some scholars have theorized that Loki could be identified as one of the trio of ancestral creators – as Lóðurr – who animated the first humans – Ask and Embla – with Hœnir and Odin, as described in in the Völuspá.
(2.) Loptson, Dagulf, Playing With Fire: An Exploration of Loki Laufeyjarson, Asphodel Press, Hubbardston, MA, 2014, p.216