B is for Berkano

birkano For the second post for ‘B’ for the Pagan Blog Project I thought I’d write a bit about Berkano (or Birch). Mind you, I’m not an officionado of the Runes, and don’t use them very often in my spiritual path as I prefer to use the Ogham. However, there are times when I’m drawn to them at certain times of year; and Spring is one of them. The rune Berkano literally means ‘birch twig or branch’ and is associated with the Goddess or Great Mother. Pronounced *bear-kawn-oh* its phonetic value is the letter B. It is the rune of continued growth and continual rebirth or renewal in all things; the rune of becoming. This is so fitting for this time of year don’t you think? Even now, where I live, though the ground is still hard, and frosts and snow are still our guests, new life can be seen – tiny buds on the trees, snowdrops poking their fresh green spears through the earth and the dawn chorus starting to  greet us each morning. Yes indeed, new growth is around us and also within us – all our aspirations and hopes are rekindled ready to fire up and get going.

The energy of Berkano is that of containing and releasing, female fertility, trees and plant life. Symbolically it stands for motherhood, childbirth and child raising, the womb, gardening and healing. It governs the rebirth of the spirit, liberation, sanctuary, the realization of stillness, the Now-ness of all things and the bringing ideas to fruition in the creative process. It also symbolises the birch grove – the hidden sanctuary in times of need. The birch is among one of the first trees to awaken in the spring time, and so Berkano is about the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. Healing of all sorts is strongest through this rune, particularly recuperation, rejuvenation, purification, detoxification and regeneration. Birch trees have long been associated with fertility and the protection of children and women. In Scandinavia and early American colonies, birches were planted in front of a home to protect those within it.

Berkano  is the rune of the Great Mother, the goddess worshipped as Nerthus by the early Germanic people, who became Holda on the continent and was split into Hel and Freya in the Norse countries. The Earth Goddess is the mother of manifestation and of birth and rebirth.

Working with Berkano

1. Research the Northern Goddesses. Make notes on those you find interesting, or who draw you.

2. Arrange a rite of passage for a family member or a friend. These have now been secularised as birthday parties, baby showers etc. However, they are also ways you can bring the influence of Berkano into your family or circle of friends.

3. Plant seeds.

4. Visit a birch grove or anywhere where birches grow. Spend some time there with the trees, either in meditation or just enjoying their company.


The Runes Workbook by Leon D. Wild.


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