Thurisaz is the Viking rune for thorn. It’s easy to see a thorn in this rune’s shape, such as the type a rose grows on its stems. Thorn hedges form powerful barriers that keep predatory animals and problematic people from bothering the village. For this reason, Thurisaz has strong overtones of protection.
In some early poems, Thurisaz is also used to refer to giants. Researchers believe this usage is in the style of a kenning, or figure of speech, rather than as a direct reference. Giants figure in Viking mythology as powerful creatures who caused a lot of hardship and were very difficult to stop.
Understanding Thurisaz: Readings from the Rune Poems
When we look at the rune poems, we find Thurisaz used in the sense of a giant in the Old Icelandic and Old Norwegian. Thurisaz is referenced as a literal thorn in the Anglo-Saxon. Thurisaz is the runic symbol for the ‘th’ sound, such as you hear in words like think or thing.
From the Old Icelandic Rune Poem
Thurs (“Giant”) causes anguish to women,
misfortune makes few men cheerful.
From the Old Norwegian Rune Poem
Thurs (“Giant”) is torture of women
and husband of a giantess
From the Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem
The thorn is exceedingly sharp,
an evil thing for any thegn to touch,
uncommonly severe on all who sit among them
What Does Thurisaz Mean In a Rune Reading?
Thurisaz is strongly associated with Thor, and as such has a strong protective energy. If you’ve ever walked up on a thorny hedge, where sharp spikes stud every stem, you know what type of protection it provides – a determined person might push their way through, but it’s going to be a painful, bloody process. This is why some people wear Thurisaz as a protective pendant.
In the sense of giant, Thurisaz can indicate the presence of strong, powerful emotions. Uncontrollable anger and upset can cause damage, to ourselves and to other people. Thurisaz teaches us to direct that aggressive energy into ways that benefit the people we care about.