Almost every card in the suit of Swords can be thought of as Thurisaz. Thurisaz is the rune of conflict. Thurisaz is the rune of Thor swinging Mjolnir in his fights with the giants. It is also the rune of the fallout from those wars, the pain and heartache of those who stay at home. When you look at the man fighting off 6 opponents on the Seven of Wands, or the person mourning on the Five of Cups, think of Thurisaz. This rune encompasses both.
One of the things that doesn’t get emphasized in Tarot is the phallic nature of swords, but Norse Mythology is not shy about the fact that Mjolnir is a metaphor for Thor’s phallus. There is no tarot card for the pain of childbirth, but Thurisaz is a rune of that pain. The Eight, Nine, and Ten of Swords can all be thought of as embodying this process.
My favorite story about Thor embodies this rune. Thor traveled to Jotunheim (the land of the giants) one day with some companions. On the journey, Thor met a giant and, while he thought the giant was asleep, he hurled Mjolnir at the giant’s head three times with all his might. The giant was fine, because he was a powerful sorcerer and had put the peaks of the mountains in the path of the hammer. (This is why mountains have jagged peaks by the way.)
When Thor got to the outskirts of Jotunheim, he and his companions stayed in a castle owned by the giant he had attacked, and they were asked to perform a series of challenges. Thor was asked to wrestle an old woman, drink the water in a horn, and lift a cat. The old woman drove Thor to one knee after hours of wrestling, the horn was only ⅓ empty after Thor nearly drowned trying to drink it, and the cat arched its back so much that only one foot was lifted off the ground.
Again, all three of these challenges were the result of sorcery. The old woman was the concept of old age, and the fact that Thor was only driven to one knee was very impressive. The horn was attached to the ocean, and Thor’s heroic efforts to drain it are why we now have tides. And the cat was really The Midgard Serpent, a gigantic, serpentine dragon that wraps itself around the world and bites its own tail.
This isn’t the rune of that sorcery, though. This is the rune off the brute strength of Thor fighting against the sorcery. If you want a rune for sorcery, look no farther than the next rune Ansuz (ᚨ).
I read this rune very differently for men than for women. Two of the rune poems tell us that “Thurisaz is a pain to women.” If I am reading this for a woman, I will ask her if she feels safe at home. I will look for who is hurting her, or going to hurt her. Look for the sketchy men and the abusers and the sexual harassers when this rune comes up.
If I am reading for a man, this is a rune of conflict, and I look for the war he is fighting. Is something going on with his siblings? Is he vying for a promotion at work? Is he getting into fights at school?
Uses in Magick
I almost never use this rune in my magick. I try not to push conflict between people, and I certainly don’t want to cause pain to women. If I am trying to resolve conflict, I will reach for other runes, like Naudhiz (ᚾ) to fulfill their unmet needs and Mannaz (ᛗ) to help them work together.
It is my view of magick that it should be used to bring about outcomes for the good of all. If you hold a different view, then you could use Thurisaz to bring about conflict between people you don’t like. I have a feeling that someone has been using it against the United States for the past few years.
A Note on Bindrunes
The primary way in which I do rune magic is by a technique called Bindrunes. When you are making a Bindrune, you take two or more runes and combine them into one. Then, the meanings of those two runes combine to form a new meaning for the spell I am working.
I have taken a class from an Italian witch who believes that every rune in the Futhark is a combination of Isa (ᛁ) and Kenaz (ᚲ), fire and ice. This makes sense in the concept that the entire world in Norse Mythology comes from Fire and Ice, Muspelheim and Niflheim. It also makes sense if you look at the runes: Every rune is made of between zero and two upright Isa staves and between zero and two Kenazes which may have been rotated.
When you are making a bindrune, try to avoid forming a Thurisaz. This is similar to the Monkey’s Paw concept where you need to word your wishes carefully to avoid causing greater conflict. Look to see what runes you DO create in your bindrunes, because those will be the outcomes of the spell you are about to do.