January 7, 2010

Berkana

Berkana is the letter B. It is probably one of the easier and most recognizable runes around. You might also recognize it from the logo of Bluetooth.

Anglo-Saxon Poem (from ragweedforge.com)
The birch bears no fruit; yet without seed it brings forth suckers,
for it is generated from its leaves.
Splendid are its branches and gloriously adorned
its lofty crown which reaches to the skies.

I did change this poem in one way. The name of the rune means Birch. Yet, the plant described in the anglo-saxon poem is not Birch, but a tree known as Poplar. In other rune poems, it is more aimed at the Birch. For reasons of keeping the word true, I have changed it.

Berkana (Birch) is a rune of healing, growth and comforting, nurturing power. Birch in some parts of Northern Europe, was even deified, and recognized as a goddess (Berchta) who was associated with healing, purification and childbirth. In the poem itself, as it describes the poplar tree, it points to the way plant propagates itself, by sending out suckers that will grow other trees, which will do the same. It is this generative, growing power that is most often associated with this rune.

Often times the shape of this rune is identified as being the Breasts of a Goddess, the breasts of course being the part that nourishes and sustains new born life. They are also eroticized as well. Breasts are also the place of comfort, perhaps extending from our vague memories of being fed as infants, that the common image of a mother, holding her child to her, often near her breasts, to both protect and comfort the child. Berkana can symbolize and evoke all of these things. The nourishing power bringing growth, sustaining life, and also protects and comforts life.

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