THE ELDER FUTHARK
 
The fifth Rune of the Second Ætt of the Elder Futhark
(for more information on the First Ætt per se, go to
http://runesecrets.net/profiles/blogs/the-second-eight)

This is an installment in a series covering each and every Rune of the Elder Futhark. In this series, instead of giving the esoteric meaning of the Rune by citing the Rune poems written in Old Icelandic, Old Norwegian and Anglo-Saxon (a.k.a. Old English), or any modern commentary, the etymology of the Rune name is presented.


                  EI
                  EI   EI
                  EI        EI
                  EI             EI
                  EI
                  EI
                  EI
                  EI
                  EI
  EI             EI
       EI        EI
            EI   EI
                  EI


2:5 EIHWAZ

Pronunciation: How this rune is pronounced, and what sound it stood for, is not clear. The “ei” in EIHWAZ stands for whatever that sound was. Let’s say it was a sound like the “a” in “fate.” “hw” stands for a W sound without the vocal cords vibrating - so just make a wisp of air as you move your lips as you would for W. The stress is on first syllable EI, and the AZ of the last syllable is pronounced like the the land of that wizard, Oz.



Writing: The EIHWAZ stave stands for the phoneme that we shall write /ē/, assuming it really was the sound of “a” as in “fate.” Perhaps it was not, though; and so, the question is raised: If one is to write English words in the runes of the Elder Futhark, what rune - or groups of runes - should one use to represent the sound of “a” as in “fate” ? If EIHWAZ is not the answer, then the answer would be EHWAZ with JERA. Given that EHWAZ represents phoneme /ɛ/ (the sound of  “e” in “bet”) and JERA represents phoneme /j/ (the sound of “y” in “yo” and “oy”), together they would come together to make the diphthong /ɛ j/, which is more or less the same sound of that “a” in “fate.” In fact, that “a” sound is already a diphthong, and so would not be a pure long vowel that EIHWAZ as /ē/ represents; the “a” of “fate” represents a diphthong that would be that EIWHAZ /ē/ followed by JERA /j/ - but then we are getting out of the realm of phonemes (i.e, how a language’s sounds are perceived by the language’s native speakers) and into the realm of phonetics (what the actual sounds of a language are, the way a person were to perceive them without any psychological or linguistic filters). Therefore, the EIHWAZ stave as /ē/ would be perfect for representing the sound of “a” in “fate.”

This is all assuming, however, that this EI of |EI|HWAZ was not really an altogether different sound. After all, this “ei” exists in the rune T|EI|WAZ; and TEIWAZ as a Proto-Germanic word became Tiw in English and Tyr in Old Norse - phonemes /i/ and /y/ respectively. The /i/ was “eee” and this /y/ was the sound of “eee” but with lips rounded as they would be for “ooo.” Just make the “eee” sound, and concentrate on keeping everything with your mouth, tongue and throat the same as you round your lips - and there you have it! - you will hear phoneme /y/ come out!



Etymology: EIHWAZ seems to mean “yew tree; ash tree; ruddiness, redness.” In English it came through as yew, in German as EIbe (yew). Kluge [23rd edition; p. 207; translation mine] states: “The tree name stems back to a color term for ‘reddish, ruddy’ which refers in part to the heartwood, in part to the berries. Yet since such a color term has not surfaced with one clear meaning, even this supposition remains uncertain. Making only the narrowest comparison, the meaning ‘yew’ appears only in Celtic and Germanic, both of which, exclusively, have in common yet another word for yew: Indo-European proto-form eburo-, regional to western Europe and related to German Eber-esche [mountain ash, rowan]. In this way the Germanic word leads back at its earliest to the Indo-European proto-form īkwo- or eikwo, the Celtic to the proto-form iwo-. Perhaps the Germanic borrowed the Celtic word for yew, eburo; and the Celtic borrowed (late) Germanic īwo (yew).”


        REFERENCE:    
        Kluge’s Etymologisches Wörterbuch (23rd Edition)

This rune can be regarded as representing Yggdrasil, that is, The World Tree, which was an ash tree. Odhinn hanged from it for nine days, in a sort of shamanic ordeal in which he sacrificed himself to himself, to paraphrase from the Eddic poem Havamal, and thereby discovered the runes and their secrets.

        REFERENCE:
        Havamal from the Poetic/Elder Edda


...Now, NOTICE the entire semantic domain covered by EIHWAZ through time. Let this be the MYSTICAL MEANING of EIHWAZ. Study it and ABSORB it.

AUTHOR: Francis Tokarski
www.linguexperience.com
www.runesecrets.net

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