Galdr-sound: eeeee (as in "see")
"Ice is very cold / and exceedingly slippery / it glistens, clear as glass very much like gems, / a floor made of frost / is fiar to see"
(Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem)
"Ice, we call the broad bridge; / the blind need to be led"
(Old Norwegian Rune Rhyme)
"Ice is the rind fo the river / and the roof of the waves / and a danger for fey man"
(Old Icelandic Rune Poem)
"That ninth I know if need there be to guard a ship in a gale, / the wind I calm and the waves also, and wholly soothe the sea"
The rune Isa, ice, is the elemental rune of Niflheimr. As the being of fire is energy, expansion, motion, passion and change, so the being of ice is solidity, contraction, stillness, calmness and unchangeability. Although Niflheimr holds the primal life-stuff of yeast and death-stuff of venom, these cannot come forth directly from the ice; it must first be melted into the rushing waters of Hvergelmir.
The elemental ice shows complete immobility, which in its ultimate form is antimatter, as without the motion which holds the substance of the atom together there would be complete disintegration. However, as ice works in Midgardhr, together with the fire which is in all things to some degree, it is simply the force which slows energy and causes solidification, concentration and density. As the rune fehu embodies warmth, fruitfulness, life-force and conflict, so does the rune isa embodies cold, barrenness, death, and still peace. The reference to the broad bridge in te Old Norwegian Rune Rhyme seems to be a reference to a river covered with ice, which makes a very broad bridge indeed. Seen within the shape of the Nine Worlds, it speaks of the bridge to Hel, the second line perhaps being a reference to the blind Hdhr. You must not forget how closely Niflheimr, the reaml of Ice, and Hel are bound together in the Northern mind. To reach the realm of Hel, you must lower your vibrational level; this bridge is broad because this is very easy to doand is, in fact, the ordinary way of the soul after death. This may be set against the purifying flames (intense vibration) of the narrow bridge Bifrost.
Isa, the I rune, is also the strength of the ego, and it is a bridge also in the sense that it provides safe passage through the turbulent waters (laguz) of initiation - both because it guards the ego from disolution by holding the vitki´s concentration firm and warding it against the stresses placed on it, and because it provides a sound mental footing as you travel through the dark abyss. The rune-poem line "a danger to fey men" shows the perils of trying to travel on this way before you are ready. The ice of your ego may seem thick and strong, but it is often surprisingly brittle and soft beneath the glistening surface, and if you have allowed your ego to deceive you about your magickal and mental prowess, the bridge of ice will break. At best, you must tread with utmost care; the power of isa is, indeed, exceedingly slippery, and any crack in the ice of your concentration will drop you into the dark waves beneath.
Isa is the antythesis of fehu in all ways. It can be used in workings of woe to bring about barrenness, to interfere with prosperity and to cause depression and lack of the will to act. As fehu is the rune of energy and movement, so isa is the rune of binding. It can be used to set battle-fetter and cause paralyzing fear or obsession; it works to prevent or halt movement, both that of growth and that of disintegration.As a rune of control, isa should generally not be brought into direct contact with fehu, except as guided by the workings of thurisaz and hagalaz. As described in the Havamal, isa is a sea-rune: the unruly powers that it is best at calming and guiding are those sen as wild winds or waters, such as the might of troubled circumstances and confusion.
In the personal sphere, isa can be used to strengthen powers of concentration and stabilize the personality. Care should be taken, however, that you do not render yourself or another dull or obsessive. Isa works to calm hysteria, hyperactivity and restlessness.In the side of its being which is part of Heland the ice of death, isa is often used in magics of revenge and defense.
In ritual working, isa embodies the unbreakable will and concentration of the
mage. Isa can be used to numb pain of the heart or the body.
Together with other runes, isa can be used to bind or shield one rune from another to keep them from interacting, although generally making a separate taufr is simpler and more effective.
Stones which may work well with some sides of isa´s being are herkimer diamond, which is said to hold thoughts and energies still, and gem silica, which is calming and relieving, particularly to the female troubles.
It is night. The thin crescent of the waning moon sheds a pale light over the snow-covered ground around you. You stand near the bank of a huge, powerfully rushing black river, its wild waters laced with white froth and tumbling chunks of ice. A strong, freezing wind blows about you, quickly numbing your face and hands.
You feel you need to cross to the other side of the river. It is as if you
were bound to a path leading across it, but the river is too wide and its icy
waters run too deep and fast for you to even think long about fording it.
You walk close to the edge of the bank, your boots leaving deep footprints in the blue-white snow. As you near the water, you hear a sharp cracking sound and feel your footing beginning to tilt beneath you. You try to scramble away, but the thick ice over the river´s edge has already broken off, flinging you face-down on one of the larger chunks. You must climb to your piece of ice, embracing its numbing cold tightly. It tilts sickeningly, one way and another, as the black waters whirl it around and around, sweeping you unstoppably downstream on the little floe that threatens to dump you into the river at any moment.
Slowly, moving an arm or leg to balance yourself every few seconds, you draw yourself up until you are sitting in the center of your piece of ice, which, balanced, no longer tilts so alarmingly. You can see now that all the solid snow on the banks is actually a roof of rime over the wide black sea, holding its rushing wildness back except where the betraying waters sweep you along. Carefully, concentrating on every motion to keep from tilting the ice or sliding off, you rise to your feet and stand in the position of isa, feet together and arms over your head, feeling the stillness of the rune come over you like a shield against the wind.There is so much power in the focused attention you put in the motion that means no movement. Like a rock of strength, a tower of stability, the safe haven for a longer journey through unsteady ground. You close your eyes to be one with the power of the Stillness and Unchangeability.
When you open your eyes, you stand on a fixed island of ice in the middle of the water, a white bridge stretching to the other shore of snow. It glitters eye-catchingly, like a bridge of diamonds. When you put your foot to it, you find that it is very slippery. Slowly, carefully, you walk across the treacherous bridge, standing perfectly straight so as not to slip off its rounded edges. Your eyes never waver from the white line ahead of you until you stand on solid ground again. You look out over the blue-white field of snow to the glacial mountains in the distance. Something is moving in the snow, coming closer. Watching, you make out the figure of a dark stat running in a weaving course, followed by a black shape like the shadow of a woman on skis with a bow, her long hair and loose cloak streaming out behind her. A black wolf runs at the woman´s heel, its mournful howl cutting through the still air like a needle of ice. The stag is panting hard, little clouds of ice crystals puffing out of its mouth. Its dark eyes roll desperately as the huntress skis nearer.
Although you do not hear the bowstring´s twang, you feel the cold streak
of the arrow passing you. Its dark length sinks into the chest of the stag without
leaving a wound. The hart drops heavily with neither movement nor sound, its
fur already rimmed with ice.
The woman skis up to you, looking you straight in the eyes and you stand frozen in the cold of absolute fear, then recognition. Her skin is white as death, eyes black and cold with the severity of the Great Beings of Olden Days. You know her to be Skadhi, the icy huntress whose name means Shadow, the daughter of the giant Thijazi, who rules the high mountain regions and the farthest pathways. You bow in respect and admiration, as befitted to an initiate who pays his dues to the Living Spirits of one´s Tradition. Skadhi´s unsmiling face turns to her quiver and She hands you a black ice-arrow from her quiver. It numbs your hand, sending a sharp shock of cold up the bones of your arm.
You bow respectfully as She skis away, the black wolf running behind her. Slowly, you turn and walk ove rht ebridge of ice which is now a broad, solid path ove rthe waters below. You return then to your body, feet firmly planted on the earth, knowing that there is enormous power in stillness that is not idle, in the controlled absence of movement to achieve a higher goal. This is the power of Isa, and it will be yours from this moment on to keep, use and protect in all worlds you dare to thread upon.
Stillness is not always idle and I value the gifts it brings
I see life as a search for solutions and have learnt to ponder about my actions
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