Recently, I have drawn Eihwaz fairly frequently. Since it rarely comes up for me and is now showing itself at more regular intervals, I decided it was time to investigate it in more detail.
For me, Eihwaz, as the Rune of the Yew tree, is a symbol of stability or courage. Yew trees are the longest living trees in Europe, a clear sign of stability for generations of humans to have the same tree always there. Looking a little deeper into the actual physical tree, we find it has special characteristics to increase its longevity, including a resistance to burning. It was also a favorite wood for making bows.
A quick look at the Rune poems for Eihwaz confirms these attributes. The Anglo-Saxon poem describes the yew as holding fast to earth, with a rough exterior and as fire's keeper. The Old Norwegian poem refers to it as the greenest tree in the winter and hard to ignite when fire is set to it. Yew trees did not exist in Iceland where birch trees constituted the only woods, which may be why the Old Icelandic poem focuses on yew bows.
With this background of a tough, stable tree though, how do we use this Rune in our current situation? Interestingly, the insight provided by the Runes points to another tree, the birch, which signifies beginnings or birth; the homestead; and our self or higher self. Yes, Berkana, Othala, and Mannaz guide us in using Eihwaz at this time.
I really like this combination, because, in one sentence, what the Runes are saying is, "You are at a point in time where you have an opportunity to do something that is true to your self that has strong ties to your personal life, and could be good for your self."
Berkana offers the opportunity through a beginning or birth. It is likely that this opportunity relates to our creative side or to something that we enjoy doing. This provides good incentive for undertaking what it is that is presenting itself to us. This really feels like a career issue. I have a good idea of what this means for me; what opportunity does it represent for you?
Othala can play multiple roles in this situation, because it represents so many important aspects of our lives - the homestead, inheritance, and tradition. Perhaps we can affect all three by improving things at home immediately, building on the future, and setting the stage going forward. Conversely, it could mean that all these things are coming together to support you. Perhaps because one of your ancestors or relatives did something to improve their home, which set the stage for you to capitalize on their efforts. It would be their future giving you your beginning.
The final Rune, Mannaz, could also be the first Rune depending on your approach. Mannaz could mean that taking the opportunity before you will strengthen your self (if this Rune is in the third position) or that it is time for your self to step up and take the opportunity (placing the Rune in the first position). Either way, remember that this Rune represents not only those aspects of ourselves that make us human, but all the forces of our higher self that support us all the time. I believe that this Rune also means that, by taking this opportunity and making the most of it, we are strengthening our self and the bond between our self, our higher self, and those around us.
Where is Eihwaz in all of this? As we labor over our decision, Eihwaz keeps showing itself to us as a gentle reminder that there comes a time to be brave; but we must also be mindful that being brave can sometimes mean making a hard decision. Only we know what our beginning opportunity is and Eihwaz supports our courage in making the choice to follow it.