The “life rune” is also known as the Algiz or Elhaz rune. There is another variation of this symbol called the Mannaz rune.
The “life rune” is the fifteenth letter of the Futhark alphabet, an ancient Germanic script mainly found in Scandinavia and the British Isles. The Algiz variation means "moose,” while the Mannaz variation means “man” or “person.”
The symbol denotes the sounds [z] or [ks] in runic writing. Modern neo-pagans who have no connection to Nazism or other far-right ideologies also use it.
Guido von List — an Austrian occultist in the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth century, who had a significant influence on the development of occultism within Nazism — founded an esoteric, occult ideological movement called Armanism. Von List included a symbol he described as the “life rune” in his version of the Futhark alphabet, along with an inverted version, interpreted as the “death rune.”
List’s teachings were followed in Nazi Germany, where this rune was used widely to denote life, as well as health, family life, and the birth of children. It was included in the emblems of several organizations in Nazi Germany, including the National Socialist Women's League, the Lebensborn (an SS unit tasked with increasing the birth rate of "racially pure Aryan" children and later abducting children for "Aryanization"), and various other women's and medical groups.
Use as a hate symbol:
Among modern neo-Nazis this rune symbolizes "life" and the so-called "life force of the nation." It is one of the most common neo-Nazi symbols and is used widely by members of the Far Right in various countries as a marker of Nazi, neo-Nazi, and racist views. It is often paired with the “death rune” as an opposing symbol of birth (for example, in obituaries, biographies, epitaphs, etc.). However, it can be used separately as a symbol of the so-called “life force.”
The “life rune” is used widely in Ukraine to demonstrate Nazi views, often without being affiliated with a specific organization or structure. It is often used as a symbol of birth, as well.
This symbol is almost never used mistakenly. However, neo-pagans sometimes use it to symbolize birth. To determine if it is being employed as a hate symbol, one must pay attention to who is using — a number of pagan groups that use the “life rune” do in fact adhere to racist ideology, but not all of them.
Since there are some visual images that resemble the “life rune,” it’s important to examine the context in which it appears to determine whether or not it is actually being used as a hate symbol. If it appears alongside other runes or hate symbols, it is likely being used for its far-right symbolism.