Tinne / Holly


Tinne is the Holly King’s tree. In one small sense he is the antithesis of Duir, the young king, but to view them as opposites is very misleading. The old religion is not about opposites but about opposing forces and being in balance with them. It is about understanding your Wyrd and working for the best within it, not trying to fight against it or to deny the forces of nature or the spiritual world.

The Holly King is another of the Spiritual Warriors. He is the champion of Justice. His time of the year is the time just before Thule, the longest night. His tree, Holly, is an evergreen tree with stiff, sharply pointed leaves. Holly leaves show us, in themselves, an example of the message of Tinne. They are soft in the summer when other leaves are abundant but stiffen and sharpen their spines when winter comes and browsing animals will want to eat them.

These would seem to be very grim symbols, but we must keep in mind that the modern image of the Holly King is Santa Claus, the old gent who keeps a list and rewards the just with longed-for toys and punishes the unjust with lumps of coal. We can ask for his help if we remember that his only agenda is for justice, so we must examine the struggle for signs of selfishness, self-indulgence, or willful delusion before we enter into it.

For centuries the message of Tinne has been, «I am a battle-raging spear.» The spear is the symbol of the rune that is paired with Tinne, the rune Tyr, the spear of sacrifice and accomplishment. Tinne and Tyr also stand for victory in any sort of competition that uses strength and power in a balanced manner. Not generally a war of words, more common in the technological age, but any athletic competition or contest using a physical skill. In a mythic sense, any struggle that is using unfair power or overwhelming dominance in an unbalanced way is the battleground of Tinne. Although the Holly King can be a daunting figure, the message of Tinne is one of triumph. The spear is an immensely powerful magical weapon that can be sent a great distance when strongly thrown and can defend a large safe area around an embattled warrior.

The card reversed is a warning of a lack of balance. You should look carefully at the basic motivations of yourself and your allies, the possible unexpected outcome of your actions, and the innocent people who might be swept aside in the struggle before you lend your strength to any action. Invoking the aid of the Holly King is something that should be carefully considered, because once he enters a struggle he will side with the just until victory is achieved.

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