Image: August Strindberg "Packis i stranden"
Hagal is a rune that typically elicits an immediate reaction from readers. Like the Tower, in tarot, it is often associated by some solely with disaster, and like the Tower, that is only a fraction of the story.
Hagalaz is meant to represent hail - the result of the combination of Ice and Fire in the Gaping Void. It is sudden and destructive - I recall when I was a teenager, a hailstorm ripped through the area I grew up in during the early spring. It destroyed every car sitting out in the sales lots of Exeter, NH, totaling their body value. It lasted less than 15 minutes with hail the size of golf balls. The dealerships eventually had to sell the otherwise completely functional cars for a small fraction of their original worth.
And it's true, this rune does traditionally represent upheaval. From my experience, Hagalaz is a sudden and abrupt shift in circumstance. Having lived through several iterations of Hagal myself, I can say in full confidence that even the most positive change, when it happens too quickly, can be traumatic.
Sometimes when I see hagalaz, I take it as a different kind of message - what things do I need to change in my life, or otherwise find life and nature will change it for me? Is what I am currently doing unsustainable? Is there something unhealthy that I am enabling in myself that is bound to come crashing down?
Other times it is a different kind of warning - Things will change, and it is time to internally prepare for that reality.
Regardless of the outcome or circumstance of working with Hagalaz, the message is undeniable. Everything changes. Nothing is permanent. Whether what we are going through is good or bad, it will always be driven away by the next thing to come. Hagalaz teaches us to move with that experience, and to welcome the creativity and freedom of starting fresh.