The first hailstorm of the year is first transformational and the protective and definitely associated with Holle. The hailstorm heralds impending changes or shifts (good, bad, even neutral), and the saved hailstones bring Holle's protection and banishment of harm through the changes and through the year.
Historically, refrigeration would have been problematic, so the stones would melt (also symbolic of the spring thaw in most cases, unless there was no hail until late int he year), and people would either drink the water from the fallen stones or they would save the water to pour to the growing garden or field plants when spring had set in. When refrigeration became more available, people began to save the stone throughout the year. There is no set removal time for saved stones, but I've never kept them past the Yuletide of the same year in which they were taken, and I generally put them out in the spring in the garden.
Aspects of this tradition appear to be echoes of the Haagel rune, which in Deitsch use has meanings akin to Hagalaz and Anglo-Saxan Hagal. The structure of the Deitsch rune looks more like that of the Younger Futhark than of the Elder Futhark; however, it is just as frequently depicted standing on two of its legs as it is on one.
|Haagel on its end|
The same circumstance applies to the common six-point rosette symbols on hex signs, and many people believe that the rune and the rosette are related. Indeed, the meaning of the rosette in hex signs is similar to that of the Haagel rune: banishment and protection.
|Haagel as rosette on two legs|
Haagel is a rune of proactive elemental Spirit, which places it useful in dealing with issues associated with reactive Spirit (depression, grief, death) and with elemental Earth issues (often digestive disorders), particularly of the reactive type (diarrhea, food poisoning, parasitic infections, etc., but, of course, always see a doctor, too!).
The rune may also be used in the general application of protection and also for transformation of the mind, of understanding, and in interpersonal relationships. It may applied for good or for ill, for terminations to allow new beginnings, for bringing about or confronting radical change, for inciting change in the self or others, for the expulsion unwanted baggage on the mind and the soul, and for dealing with the shadow of the self and the shadow sides of others. There is no rune in Deitsch practice more associated with both the application and the blocking or deflection of hexes, and indeed, skilled practitioners can use Haagel to transform hexes into blessings that draw energy from the sender. It is also the most commonly used rune in Urglaawe house blessings.
Along with Loch (Laguz), Haagel is a rune of mirrors, which brings in aspects associated with Berchta as well. While Loch is the reactive side of the mirror (that which looks back at the view), proactive Haagel is the eye seeking answers in the mirror. It is the seeker of wisdom, insight, and truth, and it is that which causes the active deflection of harm.
Haagel, in both physical and runic form, has longstanding traditions within the Deitsch culture, and its lore and applications will continue to grow as Urglaawe evolves.