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ingwaz (pronounced ING-wahz) represented the sound of English ng (as in sing, not finger) in runic writing. Ing was a Germanic deity, perhaps an aspect of Freyr, seldom appearing in the stories that have come down to us, but who gave his name to several important Germanic tribes along the continental shores of the North Sea. The Anglo-Saxon rune poem describes him thus:

Ing was first seen by men among the East-Danes,
till, followed by his chariot,
he departed eastwards over the waves.
So the Heardingas named the hero.

Both as tribal progenitor and as consort to Freya, Ing or Ingvi-Frey embodies the male generative principle. He is the primal father, the bringing of fertility and fecundity. Many ideas and concepts flow from this core: male sexuality and sexual energy, fatherhood, agricultural fertility, creativity, leadership, family, and initiating a legacy that outlives one's bodily life.

Along with tiwaz, his is one of only two runes that unambiguously names a deity. (Ansuz, sowilo, and berkano can be seen as referring to deities indirectly, or are merged with other more mundane meanings.) Tiwaz, a war god, is conqueror and destroyer, whereas Ingwaz is a creator-god, a founder and maker.

It is interesting to reflect on the process of bringing forth new life from a male perspective. It begins with an act of sexual passion, a desire for union with the female. In the context of Ing the father-god, this must be a sexuality linked with love and devotion, not a random attraction. As the child grows within the woman's body, the father becomes provider and protector, nurturing both mother and child and keeping them from harm. After the birth, the father becomes a bringer of order, creating boundaries and structures that (ideally) help the child come into its full human potential. The father also becomes teacher, passing on his knowledge and wisdom. Ultimately, the child grows to adulthood, and the father must release his auhtoritative role and trust the child to carry on after him.

This serves as a metaphor for any creative act or project: it begins with love, a passion for something outside oneself, a need to embrace the other. The creation is not a single act, but a process, with the created thing beginning small and vulnerable, requiring protection and nourishing. At a somewhat later stage, the creator provides rules and structures to help shape the creation into its best true form. And finally, the work is released, and takes on a life of its own, become - perhaps - an enduring legacy of its creator.

When this rune appears in your divination work, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What grows from the passions I feel today?
  • Who or what will I leave behind me when I'm gone?
  • Are the different aspects of love harmonized within me?
  • How do I care for the things I help create?
  • What knowledge and wisdom do I teach?

In spiritual work, ingwaz can serve as a guide in understanding the long arc of the creative process, and the need for both passionate novelty and loving dedication. It can raise questions about how one would like to be remembered, and how we share ourselves with future generations.

The rune ingwaz can be used magically to strengthen the flow of creative energy, either sexually or in the more abstract sense. It can also guide projects to completion and help with parenting issues. Remember that it combines both dynamic and structured energies; it is both an initiator and sustainer. As a god-rune, it also invokes the hand of divine guidance and protection, which we sometimes need to bring things to their proper fruition.

Rune Lore is a regular feature of Starweaver's Gems from Earth and Sky

Copyright © 2009 Tom Waters