As with many of the Runes, I’m not convinced that the majority of scholars have properly interpreted Ur. Depending on the Rune Poem, Ur either refers to an archaic breed of cattle or to drizzle. For various reasons I have lately had cause to meditate upon the fullness of Ur‘s meaning and here are my thoughts…
In Stephen Pollington’s ‘Rudiments of Runelore’ he features and discusses several Anglo-Saxon poems which include Runes. Generally, wherever Ur appears, he translates it to mean “our”. This seems such a simple likeness – “Ur” and “our” – but I sense it may be legitimate and it had me thinking about other etymological connections.
The French word “origin” ultimately derives from the Latin stem “oriri”, whose definition is given by etymonline.com as:
“arise, rise, get up; appear above the horizon, become visible; be born, be descended, receive life;” figuratively “come forth, take origin, proceed, start”
Furthermore, Proto Indo-European “heri” means “to rise”, and Sanskrit iyarti means “to set in motion, move,”.
“Ur”, also, was the name of a Sumerian city, dating to around 3800BC. Whether the Sumerians were truly an Aryan people or not is still debated, but we have to take into consideration the significance of this city’s name in relation to the topic of Germanic lore, as a direct lineage between the two is not beyond the realms of possibility.
All of this considered, we have the Rune which appears in second position within all of the Futharks and Futhorc (which we can be sure is no coincidence), referring to “our” (we, us), related etymologically to the Latin word “origin” and to one of the oldest known cities of civilised man, Ur. Via the same etymological trail, “Ur” could mean “to rise”, “be born” or “set in motion”. This may be where the drizzle connection comes in, as drizzle would always be seen among agrarian man as something which precipitates crop growth or, indeed, increasingly strong rain and thus flow.
As for the Aurochs connection, I would postulate that this signifies the origin of farming. For a Hunter-Gatherer tribe to make the transition to static settlement and farming, it is reasonable to assume that wild cattle would not to be caught, wrestled and domesticated in order for this new order of society to come into being. In fact, in writing this I have reason to suspect that one of the overriding stories told by the Runes could be the rise of agrarian society, or more generally the evolution of human social structures; but this I’ll have to reserve for another article.
Ur, I believe, is the Rune of origin. It signifies the establishment of settled living and culture; of something stable. If what precedes Ur is moveable wealth (Feoh), and what follows it is protection (Thorn), then this only affirms the possibility that Ur is the establishment of an Innangard and the origin of a stable system of culture and law.
Guido Von List agrees, describing Ur with such words and phrases as “primal”, “primordial”, “permanent”, “original cause”, “root of all material and cosmic phenomena“. He also calls it the “Creative Mother Principle“, which ties in with the home-making nature of permanent settlement and stability. I will write in another article about how Feoh is the force of will and creation in a more masculine sense.