Winter Solstice 2020 Rune Reading

Winter Solstice 2020 Rune Reading cover

Note 1: For context, check out the 2019 Winter Solstice reading! (Just click, it will open in a new tab, so you can come right back here.)

Note 2: Looking for a TL;DR version? The video version will be up on TikTok (@rune_reader) in just a few days so make sure you follow me there!

Each solstice is a time of balance. Since the winter solstice brings a new year and not just a new season, it’s always interesting. This time, there’s also a new astronomical and astrological age, and after nearly a year of pandemic, a new way of life.

Winter Solstice 2020 pnFor those following along with this image (left), we’re starting at the bottom, moving around clockwise and ending in the center.


Hagalaz is a rune we’ve seen regularly this year. It means hail or storm, and signifies disruption or disaster. This is what’s dying, what we’re leaving behind us as we progress through the darkness.

The Holly

Othala translates to inheritance, homeland, or legacy. It is the gift of the god Ing. This is what we need to protect through the winter. And by focusing on home and hearth, we also protect ourselves. (Yeah, there’s still a damn pandemic, but you aren’t likely to find trouble if you don’t go looking, right? Take care of your business.) By taking full responsibility for your own destiny, you contribute to the legacy of family honor and integrity and you ensure that future generations also benefit.

The Candle

Nauthiz means need. Like Hagalaz, we’ve seen plenty of it in this year’s readings, starting with the Spring Equinox reading. It often suggests urgency or desperation. But as the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. The path ahead looks promising but there will still be challenges. Nauthiz helps us recognize the obstacles and gives us the courage to overcome them, even if it means a short-term sacrifice for a long-term gain.

The Wonder

Kaunaz literally means mean torch (and thus heat and light) and often metaphorically means enlightenment. Simple knowledge is a good thing and applied knowledge is even better. Kenaz does not represent simple enlightenment, though. As has been said, the map is not the territory. Kenaz is the map; the point for us to meditate on and internalize is not a single simple truth, it is the ongoing search for truth and wisdom.  

The Celebration

Gebo translates to gift, although the actual meaning is closer to an exchange. As a mirror rune, it implies a balance. It is an exchange of energy in some form, in the way that a gift obligates the recipient to reciprocate. Meaningful exchange shows honor and can remove barriers. Gifts are a way to strengthen relationships. Our dear ones are gifts worth celebrating, but we move through winter, this rune encourages us to be open to family and friends we haven’t met yet.

The Ivy 

Perthro, as regular readers may recall, is not always a favorite rune because it’s a mystery – a gamble, or the unknown. It’s not a recognized word, though the concept seems to fit known uses. And with context it can make perfect sense. It’s time to nurture our intuition, look at recent patterns of cause and effect, and see how things connect. We may find some peace with the understanding that our fate is in our hands.

The Light

Ingwaz is the rune of the god Ing, and the word translates to seed. However, the seed in this sense isn’t a noun, but a quiet process of storing energy. Like a seed, Inguz is a rune of potential energy that slowly accumulates and is released through action. (Yep, there’s a hint of male sexuality there, but this rune isn’t about fertility, so chill.) This rune is sort of the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s about creating a space for transformation and growth. It may start at a personal level but this could signify the beginning of major systemic changes in our world.

The Grand Conjunction

Nope, not a rune, though like Perthro, this one may prove to be a reflection of the effects of our behaviors. It’s an astronomical and astrological event that coincides with the winter solstice this year. It happens every 20 years, when Jupiter and Saturn appear to align, so it’s not rare. Now, no more than four conjunctions will occur in the same zodiac constellation but they can happen within the same element for centuries – the conjunction has occurred within earth signs since 1802. Earth signs are slower to move, steady, mostly stable and unchanging. Sometimes this is good. But think of some ideas that have become reality since 1802: employment, equal rights, public education. Seems like lots of progress but not much change in those institutions.

There are two factors that make this Grand Conjunction more interesting: 1) the planets will be the closest they’ve been to each other since 1623, and 2) more importantly, the solstice AND the conjunction occur in the first degree of Aquarius. It’s an astronomical shift that moves this conjunction out of earth signs and into air signs for the next several decades.

And our actions since the last winter solstice – particularly since the fall equinox – have helped shape what’s to come with this shift.

Thanks for reading – let me know what you think!

See you next time!

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