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Elder Futhark Rune Meanings

Týr's 3rd Aett

Berkana Elder Futhark Rune meaning



​berkano berkano berkano

bu ba bi be bo

b e e e e e r r r r r

ob eb ib ab ub

b e e e e e r r r r r

(Galdr source: “A Handbook of Rune Magic” by Edred Thorsson)



​Old Germanic name: Bercna, Bercano

Old Norwegian name: Bjarkan

Anglo-Saxon name: Beroc

Old Celtic name: Berrachd

Old Icelandic name: Bjarkan

rune berkana symbol elder futhark

Berkana Overall Meaning: Berkana means "birch" and is a symbol of female qualities such as motherhood, pregnancy, beauty, protection and care. It is also the Rune of art and craft and new beginnings in general. This Rune also brings changes as it symbolizes a transitional period when the old dies and the new is born. It is the Rune of Mother Earth, harmony, balance and well-being.

Berkana Elder Futhark Rune meaning


Berkana is the 18th Rune of Germanic Elder Futhark and the second Rune of the Final 3rd Aett of Týr. Berkana is translated as Birch but in reality, the graphical representation of Berkana is that of a female breast which is not surprising to those who know that the Rune has a strong connection to female energy, growth and fertility.


The Birch tree has been used for many centuries in rituals. In some countries, it was customary to decorate the house a newlywed couple moves into with Birch tree branches to bring the family luck and fertility.


That said, fertility for people back then did not only mean pregnancy. It also meant the growth of food and crops, as people highly relied on products that they would grow themselves.


Birch tree, therefore, was also used in rituals to promote land fertility and the growth of crops and vegetables.


But in any case, the representation and meaning of Berkana at all times were connected to those specific magical properties: female energy, fertility, growth and abundance.


Most Runes of Elder Futhark have a corresponding God or Goddess (some others have Norns) and Berkana, being such a powerful Rune is not an exception. The Rune is connected to the Goddess Berchta (although it has a connection to the other Goddesses such as Freya, Frigg and Holda, who is said to be Berchta’s cousin).


I don’t want to get into too much detail here on the Gods but want to mention that Christianization changed the representation of the Gods to portray them as scary and evil and Berchta was no exception. While the Christian narrative describes Berchta as the Goddess that punishes children that were disobedient and “naughty” during the 12 days of Christmas, the old myths about Berchta say that she had a beautiful garden where she was taking care of the souls of stillborn babies. I will just leave it at that.



The Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem Says:

Birch lacks fruit, even though it bears

shoots without seed. It is lovely in its branches,

high in its crown and fairly adorned,

laden with leaves, pressing into the breeze.


In reality, what it means is that the birth HAS NOT taken place yet. Berkana is about gestation and growth which you cannot yet see. Just as the baby is inside the womb for 9 months. You know it’s there; you understand there is development and growth, but the “fruit” is yet to be born.


Berkana is also a PROTECTIVE RUNE, especially of homes, temples and places that serve as protective buildings.

Reversed Berkana Meaning:


Berkana IS read reversed, however, it is such a positive Rune that even when reversed its meaning is not so dark and the situation described by it is not so hopeless.


Reversed Berkana can mean day-to-day misunderstandings and arguments, irritability and words said out of anger, without thinking.


It can also mean some bad news are coming your way but not devastating or life-changing. You will be faced with temporary setbacks and challenges, so don’t despair, just get ready to move through obstacles with grace and temperance.


Rune Advice: Berkana advises to be open to new beginnings and opportunities. Be responsible and act smart. Know when to act, why to act and how to act. Knowing your end goal will help you to always see a purpose and a deeper meaning.

Berkana Elder Futhark Rune meaning in meditation and magick


Berkana is an excellent companion for spiritual growth and development, so use it safely and productively in meditation work.

Berkana + Sowilo means personal development but really at high levels. I don’t want to use the word “perfection” but this is really what the person is striving for, to be up there.

When it comes to meditation, use Berkana to get answers to the following questions:

·      Am I ready to start something you? (career, project, family)

·      What is the end goal and a true purpose for what I am putting most of my energy into every day?

·      Am I being a responsible person?

·      Do I care for others and MAKE IT KNOWN to others that help is available to them?

·      Am I being open and honest with my partner, family and/or relatives?

Berkana is a frequently used Rune in ritual work. Female witches and pagans use this Rune for beauty rituals and to boost female energy.

Male pagans don’t tend to use this Rune very often, however, if you are looking to have a balanced male and female energy in your body, Berkana is a good Rune to include in your meditation or ritual work.


Berkana would be a perfect amulet for those preparing for pregnancy or trying to get pregnant. It will really give your female energy a boost and prepare your body to become a host to a new life.


In general, if you have female health issues or need to strengthen/improve the situation, jewelry with Berkana is an excellent choice. You can carve the Rune yourself to strengthen your intent or activate the already purchased piece with candle magic.


But that’s not it! Berkana is an amazing companion to those who love gardening. You can bury the Rune symbol in the ground where you are planning to start a garden to promote plant growth and health.


Berkana is also of help to a parent who is struggling to find a common ground with their child. It will help you avoid arguments and will strengthen the bond.


Berkana is also a protective Rune but not for jewelry, more so to be placed at home, at your doorstep, and possibly even at a workplace.

Beorc Berkana Rune of Rebirth Pendant Norse Viking Asatru Jewelry.
Berkana Birch Tree Healing & Protection Elder Futhark Rune Symbol Pendant  W/ Adjustable Cord.
Berkana Elder Futhark Rune meaning in health questions



While it may seem like Berkana right away talks about reproductive and female health, the Rune is of course much more than that.


Upright Berkana on its own is an excellent health rune. If it is surrounded by positive Runes, then it indicates great physical and mental health as well as energy level.


At times, Berkana describes a situation where your family member needs help or care due to their health situation, most likely it’s one of your older relatives or a parent (Berkana represents ancestry, remember?).


Reversed Berkana in Health Questions:


Reversed Berkana can mean hidden health issues or a situation where you are struggling to get to the root of the problem. When you do, you will be able to turn things around and heal well.


Berkana does not mean a dead-end situation. Often it indicates that a chronic illness is acting out. Still, the Rune advises you to take care of your health and pay attention to the issues when they come up. Preventative medicine is the best medicine.

Rune berkana in love & relationship (7).png



Berkana can often mean a wedding as a symbol of starting a family union. Even if a wedding is not in your plans, the Rune will indicate taking the next step in your relationship towards something bigger. If something big for you means getting a puppy, then that's what it is.


But the traditional representation is of course that of a Mother so the Rune’s most common meaning is pregnancy.


If you pulled the Rune asking if you or your client will get pregnant, the answer is certainly “yes”.


In fact, if you pulled Berkana + Ingwaz together, then there is a high chance that a woman you inquired about is already pregnant and may not even know it yet.


Berkana + Gebo brings together a beautiful combination and a positive prognosis for a couple. It is a very harmonious, understanding and supporting relationship. It really is a relationship based on mutual support and reciprocation.


Berkana + Wunjo can mean celebrating something meaningful together, this can be something as simple as enjoying your weekend together to having a baby announcement.


Reversed Berkana Love & Relationship Meaning:


I want to put it out there right away: reversed Berkana DOES NOT mean permanent infertility. I can point to fertility issues you are facing right now and depending on the nearby Runes, you can hope to gain more information about the root of the problem.


However, there are a few combinations that point to temporary infertility issues that you may have to resolve, such as Berkana + Odin’s (Empty) Rune and Berkana + Perthro. With the last combination, you should also do a reading to make sure there was no magical influence on your current situation.


But most often it just means a lack of harmony in a relationship, meaningless fights and arguments that result in stress. If amongst all of this you are planning a baby, reversed Berkana is a good indication that there is no good energy flow between partners.

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Berkana Elder Futhark Rune meaning money and career



Berkana in a career or business question can mean a new idea that is in the gestation process for now. You still need to do more research and planning before putting this idea into action. But if you are wondering if the idea is worth it at all, it certainly is.


If you are already in the process of career growth or have your own business and are wondering how things will be progressing, then Berkana means that you are standing firmly on your feet right now. You have built a good foundation and are moving in the right direction. Keep up the good work!


Berkana + Kenaz: as a Bindrune can boost your confidence in yourself and the work you are doing. In a reading, the combination means you have enough knowledge and resource to go through with your plans.


Now, this combination reminds me of one more point. Berkana can also imply that you need more knowledge or credentials in order to move up the career ladder, especially if it comes up together with reversed (facing left) Rune Kenaz. If you are currently stuck in your career, this is something to think about.


Berkana + Raidho means that you either will need to move in order to progress in your career, or the promotion you are offered will depend on how mobile you are.


With regards to finances, the Rune gives a good prognosis, it is a good time for you to SAFELY invest. It is not an overnight lottery win card. It is about steady but positive growth.


Reversed Berkana in Career, Business and Money Questions:


Reversed Berkana means that the situation is not progressing the way you’d like it to. It can mean that at this time you are taking one step forward, and two steps back.


Reversed Berkana + Fehu means that you are losing money on your investments because you haven’t done enough research and are now paying the consequences. It can also mean that you are incapable of saving money and tend to blow everything off without planning ahead.


Reversed Berkana + Thurisaz usually means that it is as bad as it can get at this point. Things will get better soon. Have faith and confidence in yourself.

Berkana Elder Futhark Rune meaning in tattoos



Berkana is a neutral Rune when it comes to a Runic tattoo. The other question you would need to ask yourself is what exactly are you trying to accomplish when tattooing it on your body?


When choosing a place, keep in mind that the Berkana can be read reversed and this is always a danger with those Runes, their meaning changes drastically.


With all things said, you can tattoo this Rune safely and it has a lot of positive qualities to offer.

Read more: Viking Rune Tattoos: All You Need Know Before Getting One. Norse Runes & Icelandic Staves in Tattoos



Berkana is closely connected to the notion of the family and in combination with Dagaz can mean that a person misses their family home where they spent their childhood. They can also miss their homeland if they are far away and wish to go back, as this is truly a place where they feel “at home”.


If you are looking for advice, then a combination of Berkana + Ansuz says that it is the time for you to consult with your family, as they will be able to give you the best advice.


Sometimes Berkana really has these Tarot High Priestess vibes, in a sense that it can mean a situation where something is kept secret. Berkana is a “closed womb”, something that hasn’t been birthed yet. This is of course a mere metaphor but what it means is that the information is concealed and just as with the High Priestess, you don’t know what you will find out.

Berkana Elder Futhark Rune meaning

Berkana can predict pregnancy or marriage. It can also point to a period of growth.

The Rune represents the time when your physical and mental health is at its best. You can therefore invest this energy now into knowledge, new ideas and personal development.


Berkana as the Rune of the Day:

Berkana is a very positive Rune for your day. It brings new ideas and adventures, a quality time with your family or loved ones. If the weather permits, spend this day in nature.


Check out "Runes" page for Elder Futhark Rune meanings


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