Wicca, Witchcraft and Paganism, for the Novice to the Crone
The runes Berkana and Dagaz are associated with the Goddess Ostara’s Sabbat
Sadly, not much is known about Ostara, save that She was a goddess of Spring. The runes Berkana and Dagaz are associated with her Sabbat (called a Blot in Asatru; “blot” rhymes with “boat” and means “blessing”).
Berkana (in Anglo-Saxon, Beorc, pronounced “birch,” like the tree similar to the poplar the Anglo-Saxons associated with this rune) is a rune of the Earth, associated with several Norse Goddesses and Their qualities. Dagaz (in Anglo Saxon, Daeg) means “day,” in the sense of the 24-hour period, not just the daylight hours. It’s easier to understand the ways in which these runes might relate to Ostara as a Goddess of Spring if we take a look at them.
Berkana, fairly obviously, can look like a woman’s breasts seen from the top, or
if she’s in profile, her breasts and pregnant belly. According to Freya Aswynn, Berkana
symbolizes “the emergence of an agricultural society, based on settled villages,
which replaced the hunting and gathering society.” Kveldulf Gundarsson, an Asatru
law speaker and rune teacher, is the author of several articles on the runes and
other Teutonic subjects. In Teutonic Magic (Llewellyn, 1994) he notes that the Earth
“receives the sacrifice/seed and holds it within herself, guarding and nourishing
it until the time has come for it to return to the worlds outside again.” He calls
Berkana a rune of “bringing-into-being,” which relates it well to Spring.
Dagaz represents a staff, and a staff helps us keep our balance. Clearly, this Rune is balanced symmetrically, too: it’s neither invertible nor reversible—it looks the same whether you flip it horizontally or vertically. Either way (and whether the outer lines are extended or not) one side can represent dark, and one side light, the 24-hour day, and the Winter and Summer halves of the year. It can also represent dawn, a symbolism that also fits its association with Ostara.
This informative Wicca How-To, plus much more, can be found in:
Unique among books about the Wiccan Sabbats, Celebrating the Seasons of Life: Samhain to Ostara takes a different approach to explaining the holidays by taking an in-depth look at half of the Wheel of the Year. Rather than dissecting each holiday, Ashleen's goal is to take a broader look at them, explaining how and why we celebrate each, along with how the celebration of one leads to the next.
The first of two new titles from Ashleen offers a vision of the holidays we celebrate from October to March. This book covers each holiday by first giving us its history and original customs, then explaining its place in modern life. Stories are shared for each Sabbat to reconnect us with our lore and bring new meaning to current practice. Ashleen includes ideas for rituals that are ideal for practicing solitaries, covens, or Wiccan families, with special sections on what children of various ages are ready to learn about these holidays.
Copyright © 2009 Ashleen O'Gaea