Perthro. The word translates to dice cup or chess piece. This rune speaks to the mysteries of luck and fate of an individual. Perthro is a great win for some, but for others it is an unending burden. Not everyone is born equally, and we all encounter moments where we are subject to this higher force that determines events in our lives.
Some of you might not believe in luck or fate, but if so, I would say it is likely you are one who hasn’t experienced the extremes that fate can be. Everyone has their up and down moments within their lives, sometimes it is related to the choice of an individual but not always. Not everyone has equal chance from the start. Think of how some people are born with birth defects, they are not given an equal footing from the start as everyone else, they lack the same opportunities. But with great misfortune can sometimes come some of the most fortunate circumstances and many people in these circumstances power through and find meaning from it.
The Norse believed in not just one but two aspects of fate, called Wyrd, which we have encountered in Hagalaz, and Orlog. Wyrd is our destiny, something like how we play the hand of cards we have been dealt. Wyrd is the circumstances that we have control over, the aspect of luck and fate that our actions and choices change. Wyrd has been laid out for us by the Norns, but with the expectation that we will weave this part of the pattern ourselves. We have to work to grasp it or we will find misfortune. Orlog is described as the fate that we lack control over, the threads which have been woven in a more permanent manner by the Norns upon our coming into this world. To tune into your Orlog, you must accept yourself in both strengths and weaknesses and see that they are what make you perfect for your destiny. You are equipped with what you need to achieve what is your purpose in this life. Realization of your Orlog will help you to go with the flow and accept the things you cannot change.
Orlog is described as the fate that we lack control over, the threads which have been woven in a more permanent manner by the Norns upon our coming into this world.
Tuning into synchronicities is a good way of paying attention to what the Fates have in store for you. The times when you encounter the person you were thinking of in the coffee shop, find that exact thing you needed in that exact moment, you see the clock at 11:11 randomly, or see an animal cross your path that has spiritual meaning related to your predicament. These are messages from the higher powers and patterns of things telling you that you are on the right track. You’re in the exact right moment that you are supposed to be at this time, you are seeing the threads of Wyrd.
The most obvious image of Perthro is that of a dice throwing cup. The dice game represented here is the game spears and shields, a recent game inspired by Nordic dice games. The chess board is of the game Hnefatafl, where the object is for the white to escort their king off the board, and the black pawns to try to stop them from doing so. The chess piece is another image that Perthro is said to represent. The dice are pure luck, whereas Hnefatafl is pure strategy, both dice and chess games were played in the Viking era. Games were not just a fun past time as the luck and ability that went with the games helped the Norse to decide who made good warriors and strategists. The luck that one had in games was said to be tied to the luck one had on the battlefield and in life.
The other image Perthro is said to represent is the womb. The cup is also a metaphor for the womb, in which luck and fate play out when the egg is fertilized by the sperm. It is also in this womb when the Norns spin their threads of fate. Water is highly linked here because of the well from which the Norns draw souls out of.
In the sequence of the runes, the womb comes immediately after the rune of death because in this point of the journey the hero is experiencing a rebirth. The actual birth happens in rune 18-Berkano, with the next three runes being something like the three trimesters of pregnancy. Perthro signals the beginning of this new stage of the journey, after the death and release that happened previously in Eihwaz. The die have been cast, the cards laid out on the table, and now we wait to see what happens next.
Sometimes we will find that no matter how hard we try, we simply cannot seem to move forward. It can feel like running on a treadmill and never getting anywhere. This is the merkstave meaning of Perthro, when we are in the wrong place and life won’t let us continue on this same path. It can take some time to discern between those places that we are not meant to be and when life has just put a more difficult obstacle in our way to make our resolve even stronger. Merkstave Perthro does not necessarily mean that now is the time to give up, it can also mean that you just can’t see the higher purpose to whatever it is that you are struggling with at the moment. Turning misfortune into fortune is the pinnacle of good luck.