Raidho is a rune of forward momentum.
Raidho has moved us well into the Futhark* at this point, midway through the first Aett.** When we plunge into the next aett, there is a new kind of darkness we will see. But Raidho is like the calm, forward movement that gets us to where we need to go.
Raidho is both wild, and sturdy. It shakes you, and the less tapped into your intuition you are, the more difficult this rune is to work with.
Basic meanings for Raidho: Change, travel, moving in the right direction, spirit journey.
That’s important – this isn’t a rune merely of change, but it’s a rune of accepting the direction you’re supposed to be moving and how to get there. “Right direction” – moving towards justice, collectively and personally.
There are not often runes that remind me of specific tarot cards. They are completely separate divination tools, with different symbols, and they are used differently. But whenever I think of Raidho, I always think of the Chariot.
The Chariot and Raidho bring us deeper
Rachel Pollack refers to the Chariot as an emblem of personal maturity. This card in the Waite-Smith deck shows the charioteer in full control of the sphinxes who drive the chariot, with no need to hold them in order to control them. The colors of the sphinxes – black and white – mirror the pillars of the High Priestess. The Chariot’s crown bears stars, or perhaps even the sun, whereas the High Priestess is all the darkness of the moon.
This suggests that the Chariot lives in the present, material realm, shining under the light of day.
Tarot teacher Lindsay Mack has talked about this card as presenting a choice: You’ve built something beautiful, but it’s only the first victory. You can stay in the chariot, or you can choose to go further, choose to go deeper. The Chariot is victory in the physical realm, of our careers and the work we need to do in our daily lives.
Raidho is also about moving forward in the areas of career, vocation, and spiritual calling.
There is a connection between Raidho and the image of a chariot, but a primary difference is that Raidho is connected to horses and to the road itself.
Raidho recognizes the power that our allies have on our movements. The Icelandic rune poem reads: “Riding is in the joy of the rider, and a speedy journey, and the labor of the horse.”
In fact, the labor of the horse is often honored in the rune poems. The Norwegian rune poem states that “Riding is said to be worst for the horses.” There’s an empathy here, a connection between the rider and the horse, the driver and the vehicle.
This also shows a certain cognition on the part of the vehicle, an understanding that the rider must be grateful to the horse for their willingness to carry us forward on the journey. Where the Chariot card implies a sort of victory, a sort of control over the vehicle, Raidho recognizes the wild qualities of the journey itself. There is a sense that Raidho takes you deeper, but only when you’re ready. Raidho is not the comfortable temptation to stay in your tidy, beautiful chariot: Raidho is the vehicle you go to when you’re ready to accept your own path of destiny.
I am not one for destiny; I am a firm believer in self determination.
But I DO believe that there are times when we are ready to accept the honor of our higher paths. Raidho is about the right order of your own personal journey through the nine realms of Yggdrasil. It is about finding the right time to move forward on your spiritual path.
It is also about seeking help from your spirit guides to know the right time. Which brings us to: The Fylgja.
Guidance in the Spirit Realm
The relationship between you and the horse is sacred in Norse workings – this isn’t just a western image of the chariot being driven, but rather a representation of you, the Guide, and the Road itself. Runic scholar Edred Thorrson describes Raidho as containing all three: The vehicle or guide, the road it takes, and the Way.
So let’s talk more specifically about this guide.
The Norse didn’t necessarily believe in a soul in the way that we understand a soul – the word for soul, or sál, was created after the conversion to Christianity during the Viking era. An interesting feature in Norse mythology is the concept that the different pieces that make up our being – the hamr (“shape/form/appearance”), the hugr (“thought”), the fylgja (“follower”), and the hamingja (“luck”) – can all be working at odds with one another. This actually makes a lot of sense: Sometimes cognitive dissonance is one of our greatest teachers.
And of all these parts of the body, Raidho is most closely related to the Fylgja.
Fylgja, or the plural Fylgur, is a personal guiding spirit, connected to you and the meaning you make in the world. Each person has their own Fylgja, and the form the follower takes is connected to that person’s character. A noble person might have a horse or a bear, a cunning or intuitive person might have a raven, a trickster might have a fox or coyote.
“Follower” is a misleading translation – the Fylgja leads the way in the spirit realm. They show you where you need to go and protect you on your way. If you work with and communicate with your Fylgja, you can even develop a relationship with them.
You can think of your Fylgja as an astral familiar.
When you have a relationship with this spirit, it is able to help you in ways that straddle the spirit and physical realm. They can act as a sort of familiar, navigating your dreams, delivering messages on the astral plane. There are tales of a spiritual person being able to send their Fylgja to appear in a friend’s dreams, to deliver messages. Sometimes, when you are about to meet someone new, your Fylgja will appear in their dreams the night before, to ensure that this will be a good working relationship. They can also serve as protectors, steering people away from you subtly on the astral plane.
The Fylgja will do this throughout your life, but if you cultivate a relationship with them, you will become more aware of their workings in the world and you will be able to work with them in your magic.
Because the Runes help us find the language we need to understand these greater forces, Raidho is the perfect rune to connect to your Fylgja. Carry Raidho with you during a meditation, visualize Raidho as a bright light, guiding you further. If you are attempting to meet your Fylgja but there are many spirit forms, use Raidho to point you towards the correct being.
If you want to engage with the Fylgja, that is a very personal journey. Spend time at your altar, open yourself up in meditation to the spirit body. Once you have made contact, and you know the form your guide takes, you can leave them offerings on your altar. If my Fylgja is a raven, I would leave them nuts and seeds. If my Fylgja is a fox, I might leave them dried meats and fruit. They are a spirit that is a part of you – honor them as you honor the gods, and honor yourself.
Norse shamanic rites often feature Raidho and Inguz as gateway runes to the spirit realm. Chant Raidho, visualize the rune, as you enter your trance states to connect with the spirit realm and with your Fylgja.
But Raidho is about more than travel in the spirit realm – it is about the transition between states of being in the physical realm. It is about the metaphoric journey to a greater understanding of your goals and dreams. Raidho can help you figure out what it is you want, and how to get there.
Use Raidho during times of transition, when you know you need to make big changes in your life and you need extra guidance. Carry the rune in your pocket through the day, meditate and visualize the rune when you are trying to make decisions about where to go next.
There are also some very obvious and practical uses for Raidho in spellcrafting. One of the most literal and obvious uses is to carry Raidho as a charm to protect you while traveling. Working with this rune will allow you to travel freely, it will clear blockages from the road. Create a travel talisman, or place a piece of paper with Raidho drawn on it in your travel bags.
In our times of deep transition, Raidho is a helpful rune ally. We are all working, on a higher level, to transition this world to better. May Raidho help you to understand your own journey, and the way you need to interact with the world to create justice.
May Raidho help you to manifest your sacred goals.
*Futhark: The Runic alphabet
**Aett: A set of 8 runes
Aswynn, Freyja. Northern Mysteries and Magick: Runes and Feminine Powers. Llewellyn Worldwide, 1998.
Blum, Ralph. The Book of Runes. St. Martin’s Press. 1993.
McCoy, Daniel. The Viking Spirit: An Introduction to Norse Mythology and Religion. CreateSpace Independent Publishing. 2016.
Murphey, Bradley. Othil: Norse Ancestral Traditions. Thrymheim Publishing. 2006.
Paxson, Diana. Taking Up The Runes: A Complete Guide to Using Runes in Spells, Rituals, Divination, and Magic. Weiser Books, 2005.
The Poetic Edda (translated by Carolyne Larrington). Oxford University Press. 1996.
The Prose Edda