Hagalaz means hail. The snowflake. The cosmic egg. This rune represents sudden, unrelenting and unstoppable disruption and the opportunity that follows such. It is often regarded as the most powerful and important rune, as well as containing the most depth of wisdom and thus requires a great deal of reflection to grasp the full meaning. It should never be invoked lightly.
Starting its destructive aspect, Hagalaz leads directly after Wunjo, which represents the joy and community finally formed. Hagalaz can be one of many forces, be it hail that comes and destroys the crops, a large fire that burns down all the homes, or a disease that sweeps through and kills many. It is a force of nature that comes unexpectedly out of nowhere, taking away the happiness and the safety of everything we have spent so much energy to bring together. In its most overwhelming, it takes away our sense of purpose and everything we thought was true. It may also signify a relationship break up, quitting one’s job, a car accident, or an epiphany.
But do not despair! If this is upsetting or feels too intense, flip back to Uruz. Indeed, Uruz, your heart and your strength, may be what helps you to get through this difficult rune; it is the only thing that Hagalaz cannot take from you. Not everyone dies, there is a seed left to regrow crops, out there somewhere is a new place to set up home and community. This trial is meant to bring you back into yourself, to focus on that heart space and temper you into becoming a stronger individual.
This rune is the first of the three Norns, the three women who spin the fates of all mankind. They live at the base of Yggdrasil and water its roots. When a child is born their fate is woven by Urd, Verdandi and then Skuld. Urd or Urth (Urðr), the spinner of the past, is said to represent Hagalaz. The message is that everything we have done in the past has led us up to this point. That which we have built had flaws, and Hagalaz/Urd is making us aware of our mortality and the fragility of what seemed so perfect only moments before. It is now time to put what we had into the past also.
Urd is sometimes also Wyrd (pronounced like weird), and represents the web of wyrd. The web of wyrd is drawn as a repeating pattern of isometric triangles, and if you take six Hagalaz and overlay them you can create this symbol. Is it the infinite cosmos from which all else is created. It is this web of fate that our pattern is first drawn from. It ultimately is a combination of the past, present and future that all three Norns use in creating the fate of a newborn.
Hagalaz is not just an end, but also a new beginning
Perhaps now you may begin to see Hagalaz is not just an end, but also a new beginning. The web of wyrd, the repeating pattern of 60° triangles is that from which all other runes are created. Every rune is some combination of parts of these triangles. The web of wyrd is thus not just the fabric from which we are created, but of everything in the universe. The destruction thus may have taken away all that we knew, perhaps tore away the very fabric of reality, but once the veil is removed what we are left with is infinite possibility. This is the important message of the this powerful rune, it may not be for the faint of heart but if you have the strength to take Hagalaz head on you will find you can manifest anything you can imagine into reality.
The image of the traditional Elder Futhark Halagaz doesn’t look like much on its own, it can be overlapped to create the web of wyrd, as mentioned, and it is something like how the H sound is formed by our mouths. It also has the benefit of looking like something of a bindrune of two Uruz (one upside down on top of another), which again shows the relation between these two runes. But, if you want a better representative image I think the snowflake form found in the Younger Futhark and Armanen runes makes more sense intuitively as it directly looks like the web of wyrd. The snowflake form of the rune is thus in the background of this image, so one may use it for reflection and study as well as the traditional Elder Futhark forefront H form.
Neither form of this rune has a merkstave position. And though there is an aspect of chaos as well as order that comes with Hagalaz, both of these forces come together in harmony. It says you will not receive chaotic destruction without also being given opportunity for new growth, and you will not receive that gift of infinite possibility without destruction.