A life in threes

Tag: Othala

Month for Loki: Fifth

On Othala:

Loki is a shaman just as Odin is, and Othala in His name represents His purview as a Master of Boundaries (as one must master all that defines a boundary in order to know how to push, much less break through a boundary.)

Luckily, one of the aspects of Othala is as a rune that represents a created boundary around the home, the community, and perhaps, the boundaries that define the individual  body.

Othala represents both what protects the tangible and intangible ‘wealth’/property of a space, as well as the intangible wealth of one’s heritage/knowledge, the boundaries of body and mind.

Loki as a crosser of boundaries is well versed in magicks that dissolve boundaries, as He is a liminal God, One Who stands between worlds, in pushing boundaries, and crossing boundaries.

As a protective rune, Othala may signify the holy enclosure that echoes back to a holy role as featured in the Migration Age gold stamped bracteates, (1) such as this one:

RZ bracteate

Therefore, the rune Othala can be invoked to create a sacred space/boundary for any individual or community work in much the same way one calls the quarters or casts a circle. The Norse specifically have rituals of ‘landtaking’ and frithstead making (see Thor’s Weoende Song).

Othala can be invoked to create sacred space for other specific forms of spiritual work, as follows:

-Othala is an appropriate rune to call upon for ancestral work as Othala is a rune that signifies spiritual heritage; thus Othala can be incorporated into any ritual that honors one’s ancestors (such as that which is done at Samhain or Yule).

– Othala can be an appropropriate rune for any ritual-work that requires calling upon one’s ancestors or the Norns themselves during divination or pathwalking (such as utiseta or seidr) as Othala is a rune that represents ancestral knowledge


Othala is a powerful rune that is said to hold the power of all other runes, along with representing both the physical and spiritual boundaries. Othala is a rune of powerful protective magic that can be invoked to mark space, hallow ground and hold energy within specific boundaries for divination and pathwalking.



(1) Stephan Grundy, PhD in Norse Studies, discusses in his book that “…there are three main surviving accounts of Baldur’s death. This concept… of Baldr as ‘sacred offering’ is the earliest account (c. 500 C.E) and is based upon the imagery that is stamped upon several Migration Age gold pendants called the “Three God Bracteates” which were worn for good luck… The three Gods are generally thought to be Loki, Odin, and Baldr. This interpretation, [according to Grundy] was first advanced by scholar Karl Hauck, as the bracteates depict three figures standing within an enclosure; one with a spear, one with a ring, and the other is winged and appears of mixed gender.” (Grundy, Stephan; God in Flames, God in Fetters: Loki’s Role in Northern Religion, pp. 9-15)

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


On Saturday night, my family and I attended a lovely wedding held on a beach in St. Petersberg, FL.

We arrived a bit early, so to pass the time before the ceremony began, we looked for shells on the beach.

Almost immediately, my husband V found this shell, and thought to save it for me, as he pointed out that there was a rune on it.

At first glance, V saw Sowilo.
When my son K looked at it, he thought it was closer to Kenaz.
Meanwhile I saw Othala.

I thought that Othala was rather fitting, as we were attending a wedding, and Othala strikes me as a rune of family and heritage, of community and ancestral/spiritual wealth.

I thought it appropriate since a wedding is a family event, that involves communion between two families, wherein often guests (of perhaps several generations) gather to celebrate.  (We briefly considered giving the shell to the couple and explaining its delightful appropriateness in regards to us finding it on the day of their wedding, but then I recalled that the couple were rather devout Christians who may not have appreciated runes as being significant -let alone a spiritual/ancestral blessing – upon their union.)

It was a pleasant and surprising thing, and upon arriving home, I posted a picture of the shell, asking others what rune they saw.

While most agreed with me that it definitely looked like Othala, one friend mentioned that she’d initially seen Gebo a moment before she noticed that it was Othala.  When I told her about the circumstances in which the shell was found, she agreed even more so that the seashell was a sign of blessing of the ancestors upon the wedding — and truly a gift from the sea. ❤