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Updated on October 28, 2012



Elderfuthark BERKANA


Alternative Names

Berkano; Beorc; Bairkan; Bjarkan.

Key Phrase

‘Now is the time

to put the knowledge and wisdom

you have learned into practice’.


A Birch Tree

Viking Rune Equivalent and Meaning

Growth. Birch Tree. Re-birth.

Divinatory Meaning

New Beginnings


Collective Force

Tarot Card Equivalent

Judgement - 20 - XX

Corresponding Letter


Associated Colour

Dark Green

Associated Herb

Lady’s Mantle

Associated Gemstone


Associated Tree


Associated Myths and Deities

Freya, Frigg, Hel, Nerthus, Holda, Berchta, Idunna. Sacred to the Earth Goddess.

Manifestation Uses

Healing (particularly infectious wounds), achieving conception, making a new start. Promotes safety and secrecy.

Relationship Interpretation

Fertility, children, parental projection of the self onto the children.

Healing Colour and Qualities


Aides with pregnancy, delivery (birth) and for dis-ease of the womb or uterus. Can also ease the pain of menstruation and related symptoms.


Berkana can be worn to ward off and heal infections. It can also be worn to bring about good harvests and/or to make a fresh start.

Berkana Drawn Upright


Fertility, health, new beginnings, birth, conception, plenty, clearance, nurturing, protection, mental and physical growth, prosperity in an enterprise, youth, vigour, beauty, purification, spring, liberation, regenerative power, renewal, personal growth, brings light, creative abilities.

BERKANA is ‘Rebirth and Feminine Energy’.

The second rune of the third Aett is the rune Berkana. It is the eighteenth rune of twenty-four. It is a ‘birth rune’.

Berkana is the rune of the Birch tree and like the young Birch tree, Berkana has the power to be flexible without breaking. In ancient traditions, Birch twigs were used to bring prosperity and to encourage conception. The branches represent fertility. In European folklore and tradition, Birch twigs were fixed above a sweetheart’s door on May Day, and were placed in stables and houses to promote fertility. Young men, women and cattle were struck with Birch twigs for this same purpose, and young boys would be sent out into the fields and around the town, to ‘beat the bounds of the parish’ with branches of Birch to ensure prosperity in the coming year.

‘Witches’ were said to ride broomsticks made from Birch. This concept originated with fertility rituals where dancers would ‘ride’ brooms though the fields, the height of their jumping indicating how high the grain should grow that coming season.

In Norse mythology, the Berkana rune represents various goddesses simultaneously, including Freya, Frigg, Hel, Nerthus, Holda and Berchta. This Rune is one of femininity and represents the ability to give birth, to be motherly and nurturing as well as the sexuality of the breasts. Berkana is the rune in which we find the embodiment of feminine energy which resides in both males and females, although the qualities are generally looked for in women. It is the rune of ‘Mother Earth,’ the ‘Great Mother,’ or the ‘Earth Goddess.’

Berkana represents the path of the mother, the healer and the midwife, bringing new life after death, just as the Birch puts out the first leaves after winter. Berkana’s ‘wound’ is one of menstruation and her ordeal is that of childbirth. The Birch tree is abundant and all providing and heals through nourishment, cleansing and loving. It was often planted before a house was built, to protect the home and its occupants in Nordic countries.

Berkana also comes to represent burial mounds in which we return to after we die. It is a rune which leads to blossoming and ripening and is concerned with life, death, rebirth and renewal. Berkana’s actions are gentle, yet penetrating and pervasive.

Drawing Berkana in a reading warns you not to wallow in the past and let obstacles and problems hold you back, today. You will be able to receive and appreciate new opportunities and adventures if you find yourself in a place not relevant to your life.

Many doors of opportunity are opening up for you at this time, but you must use discernment and discretion. There is much energy around and this could prove to be a very exciting time. There is great activity and motion. Make the most of it.

Drawing Berkana indicates that this is a time to sow seeds and make plans. Be aware though, not to expect to see instant results and immediate rewards for your efforts, as new ideas and concepts need nurturing, feeding and growth before they are able to bare fruit. Patience and diligence are needed here.

Berkana tells that a meeting will bring romance, arousal and desire, and promises that an enterprise or new venture that has begun will be successful and will bring prosperity.

Drawing Berkana gives one a sense of protection, in a caring and gentle way. With this rune in play growth is unavoidable on all levels including the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

Berkana Drawn Reversed


Family problems or domestic troubles, anxiety, carelessness, abandonment, loss of control, deceit, sterility, stagnation.

If the Berkana rune is drawn merkstave, it is an indication that you may have been careless in your actions (or in-actions) and now find yourself in an uncomfortable position. You may feel dismay at failing to take right action or making wise choices. It is your opportunity to look at situations and those involved, then rectify issues.

There is also an indication that you may be suffering with family problems, conflict or turmoil. This can be both immediate family or distant relatives. It can also relate to close friendships and bonds with others. Look to your own actions and emotions first, before seeking to lay blame on others.

Plans, ideas and concepts that you thought were sound, may turn out to be a waste of your time and effort. Do not allow this to discourage you – it is merely indicating that a different concept or angle must be looked at.


Sacred Scribes

RUNES – The Elderfuthark


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      4 years ago

      Thank you for this wonderful little article on the meaning of Berkana. I have a new home and love in my life. Planted a flower garden in front. Where a friend was caring for my divided plants from my old garden a birch tree sprang up in one of the pots. She grew almost three feet in one cycle of the seasons. As she was so full of life I planted her in a central space in the garden. She has grown taller than I in the past two months. A little research on the meaning of trees brought me to your site. Another nudge for me and my direction. Again thank you.


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