Dagaz. The dawn or dusk. The tipping point between the balance of day and night, that is in itself neither dark nor light but marks the transition between the two. Dagaz is about shifts that come in wave patterns of ups and downs. This rune tends to mark the end or beginning of noticeably low or high points in life and says that something is shifting. This rune is also the rune of bipolarity, and is often in the birth reading of people who have severe emotional swings and/or extremes of bad and good luck. Dagaz can be used help bring light to dark places, by illuminating the unknown or helping to phase someone out of a depressive state.
The position of Dagaz and Othala can be exchanged. The way I had been taught and use it is that esoterically Dagaz comes first but chronologically Othala is first. So for most purposes, Dagaz is the 23rd rune, but when using a calendar or time based system Othala is the 23rd rune. The Anglo-Saxon rune poem also places Dagaz as the 24th rune, but as the Anglo-Saxon runes differ in the number of runes it is not an end all argument for placing Dagaz last.
There are a few runes that denote time, so let’s start by differentiating them. The first was Raidho, which was the path of the sun (as well as physical travel). Raidho is unidirectional forward motion (unless merkstave) and is repeatable. The second time rune was Jera, which is unidirectional and represents a year and progress through time. Dagaz differs from Jera and Raidho in that it is change that is repeatable and bidirectional; it does not only progress forwards but also backwards. This is why it is the same shape as a figure eight on its side, the leminscate or ouroboros, that of a serpent biting its own tail.
Dagaz is change that is repeatable and bidirectional, waves of up and down
Tiwaz, the beginning of this aett was also about balance. In Tiwaz, both the night and day are present in equal parts; the spear is the pillar by which the heavens are held above the earth. Dagaz is not day nor night, but the point in between and the shift in between the two. Instead of the balance of equality in Tyr, we are now going between one extreme and the other. That this is the wrapping up of Tyr’s aett is fitting, as the justice and sacrifice made are now fulfilled and the reward will be given in Othala.
For our hero, Dagaz marks the shift into a new cycle. Our story is ending, but it will also begin again due to the cyclical nature of the runes. Where Ingwaz was a climax, Dagaz is the natural de-escalation from that peak. In Othala, our hero will settle into a quiet family life from his wide and explorative journey that he set out on so long ago. He has learned what there is to learn and now has the experience he needs to settle down. He has found his place and partner and is content. Dagaz isn’t much of an event in itself, but it marks the transition point where he rides his horse off into the sunset on his journey home.
Dagaz has very strong implications for emotional and mental states, and is one of the most useful runes for aiding mental illness. It can help with anxiety, depression, manic states, trauma, PTSD or any other disorder where one finds they feel particularly low. I don’t mean to say it will necessarily heal or fix someone’s illness, but Dagaz has profound wisdom to helping someone ride out the downwards waves and can help bring a down wave into an upwards one. Dagaz can be kept to help one remember that any emotion is only temporary, as is one’s position in life. If you find yourself in darkness, Dagaz is the knowledge that the sun will shine again someday. This knowledge is something that, when repeated and believed will lead to empowerment. So it may not “fix” one’s illness, but it will help to give them the tools they need to take charge of it.
Dagaz is the knowledge that the sun will shine again someday
It is important to remember that Dagaz is the tipping point in between two polars. It is not day, nor night, it is not only dusk or dawn but can be either of the two. We might like to think that it is only the dawn, the bringing of light and a new day and stepping out of the darkness. However, you may sometimes need to pay close attention to what type of shift this is so you can mentally prepare yourself if you find yourself in a dusk situation. It might feel negative to shift into the darkness from a position of light, but Dagaz comes with the promise that the sun will shine again.
My illustration was intentionally made with the purpose of showing the night transitioning into day, the dark moving into a position of light. But the moon is in a position of waning, where it is fading from its brightest to darkest so both the dark -> light and light -> dark transitions are part of this painting. The tides are another important aspect of Dagaz, as these are another natural principle that rides in ‘waves’ of daily and monthly cycles with the moon. The shape of Dagaz is the shape of waves but it is also that of the infinity symbol, the figure eight on its side. This is a universal symbol of balance and the endless back and forth between darkness and light.
The other potent magick that lies within Dagaz is the bringing of the light into dark places. This is useful for someone who has been pondering on an idea for some time but can’t seem to solve the problem. An unresolved problem is the darkness. But finally, something comes to shine light on the subject and all of a sudden the problem is solved. This is the “AHA!” moment many scientists experience. Sometimes it can come in mundane places like the bathroom or a passing conversation, the places one least expects to find it. No matter the source it marks the shift into the ‘day’ where we can now move forward with our endeavour.
Dagaz has no merkstave position. It represents a neutral point that is neither positive nor negative. It can be scary to shift into a place of darkness but Dagaz is the knowledge that this too shall pass. If we did not have darkness we would never be able to appreciate the light, darkness needs to come in balance for us to have our brightest days. Without polarity, everything would just be a boring grey.