Germanic Name: Berkana/o, Birch, the Birch Goddess, or Twig
Phonetic Value: B
Translation: Birch Tree
Modern English: Birch
Rune Number: 18th of the Elder Futhark & 2nd in Tyr’s Aett
Color Association(s): Dark Green
Elemental Association(s): Earth
Herbal Association(s): Lady’s Mantle
Tree Association(s): Birch
Astrological Association(s): Virgo
Month/Days: March 14 – March 30
Deity(ies): Frigg, Nethus, Hel
Chakras: Root, Sacral
Tarot Card(s): The Empress, The Hermit
Magickal Uses: Aid in matters that threaten family life. Support outside influence – person/environment that can be helpful to you now. Great rune for fertility & for new projects. For persons having trouble with conception, draw the rune on the stomach of the birth giver. Draw the rune in the air with your finger or wand , chanting or intoning the rune while imagining the beginning of that which you desire.
Overall Meanings/Keyword(s): Birch Tree Association – Renewal, regeneration. Among the first trees to return to the forest after the Ice Age. One of the first trees to leaf at Spring . Birth, rebirth, regeneration, healing, cycle of life, every ending is a new beginning. Clear away the old to make way for the new. Powerful sense of nurturing, protection, support, & creation. Nurture dreams & goals. Accept loving assistance. Berkana is a healing rune because the birch tree has many healing aspects. Oils & teas can be used for healing & to calm. The Chaga mushroom (known only to grow around the birch tree) is the world’s most potent antioxidant superfood, & much like ginseng, it’s at risk for being overharvested. Rune of birth & rebirth. The great cycle of life, death, rebirth. Regeneration & new growth from old roots.
Ancient Folklore: There are many rites & rituals to do with the birch tree in Norse cultures. Birch branches & leaves were boiled for tea & also for a cleansing type of water. The water was sprinkled or used to soak items and/or people to drive away & repel negative spirits. A “birching” (whipping with birch branches) was a folk rite in Holland. It was used to whip women for fertility. Bundles of branches or twigs were tied to the front doors of newlyweds. Brooms were made from birch to drive away evil spirits & the boughs of birch were hung over doorways to encourage & bring in good luck. It was known to be the main wood burned during Beltane & maypoles were made from birch. It also plays a significant role in northern European cultures. IE: The first Ogham is Birch in that alphabet for Ireland /Celtic Trees
Brightstave/Upright: Soul transformation is upon you, reaching up from your roots. A death, a birth, a new form firmly planted into the terracotta of your life. Allow your spirit to nurture your new existence in the material world. Mental, physical, & personal growth. Freedom. Arousal of sexual desire. A new lover or child. The success of an enterprise or venture. New beginnings based on old patterns are indicated. Gradual changes are on the way. Look for the importance of new things, things that might seem small at their birth. Spiritual growth comes within the tradition.
Merkstave/Reversed: Stagnation & obstacles with beginning something new. Trouble conceiving, issues with pregnancy, or a new enterprise off the ground. Conflicts within home & /or family, tempers flaring easily.Family issues, anxiety about someone you care deeply about. Carelessness, abandon, loss of control. The blurring of consciousness, lies, sterility.
Affirmation: My eyes, my heart :heart, & my soul shatter & shine. The glistening shards of what was reflect gratitude & wisdom behind me. Each of these pieces has been me, will be me. All these pieces are whole, within & without.
Meditation: Berkano - Magin Rose
Chamberlain, Lisa. Runes for Beginners: A Guide to Reading Runes in Divination, Rune Magic, and the Meaning of the Elder Futhark Runes . Chamberlain Publications, 2018.
Kristina, Jillian. “Wild Runes Deck - Tamed Wild.” Nashville Metropolitan Area, Nashville, 2020. Wild Runes Deck – Tamed Wild
Simonds, Josh. The Beginner’s Guide to Runes: Divination and Magic with the Elder Futhark Runes . Rockridge Press, 2020.
Thorsson, Edred. Big Book of Runes and Rune Magic: A Complete Guide to Interpreting Runes, Rune Lore, and the Art of Runecasting . Red Wheel/Weiser, 2018.