The first Rune of the Second Ætt of the Elder Futhark
(for more information on the First Ætt per se, go to

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.

H                          H
H                          H
H                          H
H                          H
H   H                     H           
H         H               H
H                 H       H
H                      H  H
H                          H
H                          H
H                          H
H                          H
H                          H


Pronunciation: “hah-guh-lahz” with the primary stress on first syllable “hah,” secondary stress on last syllable “lahz.”

Phonetically, this sound can be (1) the “hhhhh” sound as in English, or (2) the “kkkkkhhhh” sound as “ch” in Scottish “loch” or German “loch” or “ach.” Therefore, an alternative pronunciation to this rune is “kkkkkhhhhhah-guh-lahz.”

The H-sound of English is very interesting. One could argue there is no such thing as an H, that what we think of as H is really a voiceless version of the vowel directly following the H. In other words, with that vowel - as is characteristic of vowels in general - the vocal cords are vibrating (voiced); but with the H, everything is exactly the same as when pronouncing that vowel, except that the vocal cords are not vibrating (voiceless).

Writing: The HAGALAZ stave stands for the phoneme /h/, with the the allophonic variations mentioned above, that is, with the variance of its expression as either being as (1) above (hhhhh), or (2) above “kkkkkhhhhh.” You may use the HAGALAZ stave to write a word with the H sound in it, as discussed above with this H sound being that of a voiceless vowel; or to write a word with that sound of “ch” in Scottish “loch,” German “Loch” and “ach.”

Etymology: HAGALAZ is Proto-Germanic for “hailstone.” It appears in German as Hagal[stein], English as hail[stone], Old Norse as hagl, Anglo-Saxon (a.k.a. Old English) as hagal, hagol. Kluge [23rd edition; p. 341; translation mine] states: “Greek kachlex (a small rock, pebble) might be related. However, the derivation for this is thought to be from a subtrate language.” A substrate language could very plausibly be that non-Indo-European language that is Old European à la Gimbutas.

        Kluge’s Etymologisches Wörterbuch (23rd Edition)
        New Oxford American Dictionary
        the writings and work of Marija Gimbutas

An English-speaker may hear the derivative of HAGALAZ, “hail[stone,” and think of the word “hale,” and then “healthy.” Such punning homophonic extension of meaning might be useful as a way of CHARGING the rune with meaning…

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

AUTHOR: Francis Tokarski