Elhaz Rune Meaning



a final grammatical z, which eventually developed into the final r of Old Norse.


Protective force, valkyrjur.

Germanic Gothic Old English Old Norse
elhaz or algiz algis eolh ihwar
elk, protection swan (?) elk (in runic inscriptions only) yew, yew bow

Protection – enclosure, Life, Bifrost, Path of the branches and roots, Connection between gods and men.


  • Protection, defense.
  • Mystical and religious communication with nonhuman sentient beings.
  • Communication with other worlds, especially Ásgardhr and the cosmic wells of Urdhr, Mimir, and Hvergelmir.
  • Strengthening of hamingja (magical power and “luck”) and life force (see M-rune for more practical applications of the shape).

This rune is historically perhaps the most complex of all from a symbological perspective. A unified ideological complex does rise to the surface once its secrets are penetrated. The Proto-Germanic form algiz means “protection,” and its stave form is perhaps derived from the basic sign of defense and protection: the splayed hand. The concept of the valkyrjur also has been connected to this stave through the interpretation of the name as “swan.” The valkyrjur are protective, life-giving beings who often fly by means of magical cloaks made of swan feathers. These beings are protectors, power givers, and a mode by which Ódhinn communicates with his chosen heroes. The sign : ᛉ : is often found carved into spears for protection and victory.

Elhaz, meaning “elk,” refers to the four cosmic harts that constantly bite at the needles of the world-tree. The yew again comes into the symbol complex of this rune with the Old Norse word i(h)war, which occurs only in runic inscriptions. This term means either “yew tree” or “yew bow” and is later rendered by the word ýr and the stave form: ᛦ :.

The Gothic word alhs (sanctuary) has been related to this rune as well. This is a protected grove or enclosure dedicated to the gods. The Z-rune contains an aspect of the protective power of the divine twins. Alcis, the name of the twins reported by Tacitus in the Germania, may indeed be related to the rune name. Ideographically, the divine twins were sometimes represented as being joined at the head, rather like the primal form of the rune.

In their aggressive, warlike aspect, the twins are visualized as harts, while in other aspects they are represented as horses (see Erune). Elhaz is the power of human life and “spirit” striving toward the world of the Æsir.

It is the rune of the connection between gods and humanity, the force that draws the consciousness of man toward the realm of the gods. The Z-rune is the three-colored bridge of shimmering light, Bifröst, the “Rainbow Bridge” of Norse mythology. This bridge connects Ásgardhr, Midhgardhr, and Hel. It is another mode for the consciousness to traverse the worlds. It is the curved path of the branches and roots rather than the straight path of the trunk (: ᛇ :), a symbol of the magical power of the hamingja. The Z-rune is the force used by Heimdallr in his aspect as guardian of Ásgardhr. Elhaz is a rune of consciousness and awareness (a hugrún). It is over Bifröst that the rime- and fire-giants destroy the worlds of men and gods. All this is best understood through a synthesis of the diverse mysteries presented above.

The stödhur of the Z-rune are the traditional postures in which the Germanic peoples communicate with the gods (see the section of Stadhagaldr). Also, this shape was later employed as the M-rune in the Younger Futhark.


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