Ihwaz or Iwaz

Cognates: German, 'Eibe' (yew); English, yew; French 'if' (and the name, Yves, I am proud to say!)
It is a rare rune, hardly used in the texts, and one that is not found anywhere else before the year 400. It is only found in whole Futharks (the first complete Futhark dates from the beginning of the fifth century) and in incomprehensible inscriptions in Scandinavia and on the continent, it also appears in four comprehensible English examples. All these details, which can be found in the Odenstedt book, show that Ihwaz was not commonly invoked. However, it is the thirteenth rune of the ancient Futhark, and therefore central with Jeran, showing that it is not a late addition. Runologists are still trying to determine which sound it represents, but they all agree that it is not a common sound. Therefore its use would only be found seldomly.
This being, the two forms and are used indifferently. I want to note that not only are the runes written left to right as we do now, but also right to left. The rune is found in these two forms depending on the orientation of the handwriting.


Texts related to Ihwaz


Viking runic poem

Yr (yew) is the greenest of trees in winter;
when it burns, it sputters.

Gesta Danorum

Near this temple, there is an extremely large tree that widely stretches its branches and stays green in winter as in summer. No one knows what kind of tree it is.

Edda (Sayings of Fjölsvinnr)

What is the name of the tree
Whose top exceeds the earth? ...
The beam of Mimir ...
What good comes from this tree? ...
You throw some of the berries in the fire
To heal the sicknesses of women.

Icelandic poem

Yr (yew) is bent bow
and brittle iron and Farbauti of the arrow.


I know an ash called Yggdrasil,
The proud sacred tree,
Covered with a white slime,
From which comes the dew
That runs down below in the valleys.
Always green, it grows
Above Urd’s Well.

Chrestien of Troyes

You will see the boiling fountain, although it is colder than marble. Its shade makes of it the most beautiful tree that nature ever knew. In all seasons its leaves stay. It doesn’t lose them night nor morning... The tree was the most beautiful of the pines that ever grew on the earth. I think it could never rain hard enough for even a single drop of water to pierce the foliage (but it has to flow over it).

Old English rune poem

Eoh (yew) is a tree with rough bark,
hard and firm in the earth,
a keeper of flame,
well-supported by its roots,
a pleasure to have on one's land.

Old English Rune Poem as translated by Marijane Osborne

Yew on the outside is an unsmooth tree,
but firm in her wreath of roots she stands,
guarding fire, good for the home

Sixteenth runic stanza of the Havamal

I know a sixteenth :
If I want love and pleasure
From a wise woman,
She will be completely turned around,
The white-armed
And she will lose her head.

Sigrdrifumal (Runes of the Undertow)

You need the runes of Undertow
If you want to save from shipwreck
The steed of the seas;
We burn them on the keel,
And on the blade of the rudder;
Engrave them also on the oars;
The undertow will not be so strong,
Nor the waves so gloomy
That you only arrive at the port.


They are found ...

On bloody wings (Ihwaz)
And on the bridge end. (Isaz)

Groa’s Blessings

Here is what I sing for you in the sixth place
If the sea attacks you
More furious than it has ever been said,
Let the wind and the waves
Be calm for you
And grant you a joyful journey.


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Fehu Uruz Thurisaz Ansuz Raido Kaunan Gebo Wunjo
Haglaz Naudiz Isaz Jeran Ihwaz Pertho Algiz Sowelo
Tiwaz Berkanan Ehwaz Mannaz Laukaz Ingwaz Dagaz Othala