Rune of the Month January: Perthro

This is the first installment in a new series on the runes. During the twelve days of Yule I drew twelve runes, one for each month of the upcoming year. Each month I will write about the rune selected for that month.


Pronunciation: PER-throw Perthro rune

Keywords: Lot, Cup, Game Piece, Chance, Fate, Birth, Creativity

At first glance the various keywords for Perthro seem to be confusing. What do dice cups and gambling have to do with birth and creativity? When you think about the context of the rune the connection becomes more apparent. In old Norse society birth was a gamble for both the mother and the child. Any number of things could go wrong medically, or if the child was not recognized by the father it could possibly be left to die.

Diana Paxson links the runes Eihwaz and Perthro as the tree and the well, and that symbolism resonates with me.

“In the ancient literature, the Norns, the Well, and the Tree are linked in the imagery of fate, which is manifested in the playing of a game, the casting of lots, or of the runes themselves to determine the fater of both grown men and of the newly born.”

To me Perthro has a decidedly feminine feel. It is a rune of the Disir and the Norns. Paxson links this rune to Frigga as the power behind the Norns. Aswynn identifies Perthro as the rune of fate and as Mimir’s Well. Paxson believes Perthro is the rune of the runes themselves.

“Perthro is the womb/well into which Yggdrasil drops its berries to stimulate the birth of destiny. One might even say that the berries are the runes…From the Well/Perthro, the runes, and the pattern of destiny they express, are born.”

The shape of Perthro reminds me of a cauldron, with all its associations with creativity, creation, and rebirth. The little booklet that came with my rune set lists one of the meanings of Perthro as “creativity waiting to come to fruition”. One of the phrases that came to my mind when I first started studying this rune is “Perthro is pregnant with possibilities”. I have just started to study the Tarot and in a couple of sources I have seen Perthro linked to the Wheel of Fortune card in the Major Arcana (ducking the rotten tomatoes tossed at me by both the Norse and the Tarot purists). Perthro reminds me to look for the possibility of fate, chance, or random action on my plans. A good gambler weighs the odds before placing a bet but sometimes a risk is necessary to get the reward.

Implications for the month of January:

The new year opens full of possibilities and creativity waiting to be expressed. How these possibilities will unfold is still up to chance.


Diana Paxson Taking Up the Runes

Katie Gerrard Odin’s Gateways

Amber Hammer Creations The Runes A Basic Booklet

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