Welcome to the magical world of Runes, one of the most ancient means of divination, protection and meditation known to man. May these 9 Fun Facts about Runes inspire you, motivate you, and fill you with magical creativity! Enjoy 🙂
9 Fun Facts about Runes and how to implement them in day-to-day life
As there is much written about the Runes, I will make a bold attempt to bring some light to what I recall was the most pertinent questions when I was first introduced to these magical stones. I have loads of study material that I aim to share, so subscribe!
- Origins of Runes
- Poetic Edda
- About Runes
- Runic Aetts
- Elder Futhark Alphabet and Meaning
- Abecedarium Nordmannicum
- Ideas of interpretations
- Ideographic German House marking
- Creating Runes
The Poetic Edda is of the earliest mentioning of the Runes, a medieval book written in 1270s, demonstrating Odhinn receiving the Runes.
I know, that I hung
on the windy tree
all of the nights nine,
wounded by spear
and given to Odhinn;
myself to myself,
on that tree,
which no man knows,
from what roots it rises.
They dealt me no bread
nor drinking horn,
I looked down,
I took up the runes
I took them screaming,
I fell back from there.
Excerpt from Poetic Edda, Stanza 138 and 139
There are many similarities among the Kabbalah, Tarot, and the Runes, which adds awe and wonder to the magical realms that we find ourselves in.
However, many do believe that the Runes are the originators of the Major Arcana, I have not yet determined whether that be true or not, but it is interesting to find the links between these two splendid arts. (If you have any insight to share, please comment or contact me to guest blog, I will gladly give you links – Thanks!)
It is interesting to see where the Runes and Tarot’s path collided, bearing in mind that the Runes by far outdated the Tarot. Reading runes is an ancient form of divination.
Between the 2nd and 8th Centuries, Elder Futhark was the written and symbolic art form of the Runes, and thereby the oldest version of Runes.
Runes can either refer to the upright marked stones as are still seen today in countries such as Scandinavia and Sweden. These erect stones are more accurately referred to as Runestones. However, the runes that you and I are more interested in are the 24 little carved pieces of wood or stones, bones, crystals, clay or even wooden sticks.
Old High German, Gothic, Old Norse, Old English, and Old Saxon agree that the Germanic Rune definition remains that rún or rúna means secret, secret lore, magical signs, wisdom, or written characters.
Each Aett explains which part of cosmology the rune belongs to and thereby the nature of the rune, similar to how the suits of Tarot add personality to the card drawn.
Divide the Elder Futhark Runes into three lines and thereby you will find your three aetts.
The first ~Freyr’s aett
ᚠ ᚢ ᚦ ᚨ ᚱ ᚲ ᚷ ᚹ
- Representing a life cycle,
- That which is unfolding
- That which is increasing
The second, Haegl’s aett
ᚺ ᚾ ᛁ ᛃ ᛇ ᛈ ᛉ ᛋ
- Representing outside influences
- Circumstances and situations
The Third ~ Tyr’s aett
ᛏ ᛒ ᛖ ᛗ ᛚ ᛝ ᛞ ᛟ
- Refers to internal influences
- Tools at our disposal
Furthermore, each rune has a threefold nature pertaining to its form (phonetic symbol), Idea (symbolic content), or Number (dynamic nature in regards to relating runes)
Having cast the Runes, either read the runes independently as each holds much energy, or combine the stones in rune binding for magical purposes (I will cover rune binding in a later post, so stay tuned!).
Elder Futhark Alphabet and Meaning:
Personally, I love the Elder Futhark much in the same way I love the Tarot de Marseilles, their simplicity adds to their meaning. Instead of having all these extra symbols and signs, one merely uses the plain old 24 symbols of the Elder Futhark and magically the right message arrives with so much feeling and intense definition.
On the extremely magical exciting topic of Runes, I want to make it very clear that the *spelling of the Runes changes in every document and article written, I have chosen to stick the spelling which I was originally taught.
*Don’t mind the pun.
ᚠ ~ FEHU FEOH FE (F) CATTLE/OWNERSHIP/WEALTH
ᚢ ~ URUZ UR (U,V) AUROCH/STRENGTH/POWER
ᚦ ~ THURISAZ THURS (TH)THORN
ᚨ ~ ANSUZ (A) ASH/MOUTH/ANTENNAE/ANSWERS
ᚱ ~ RAIDO RAD REID (R) RIDE/ROAD
ᚲ ~ KAUNAZ (C,K) ULCER/TORCH
ᚷ ~ GEBO GYFU (G) GIFT/TALENT
ᚹ ~ WUNJO WYNN (W)WIN/VICTORY/JOY
ᚺ ~ HAGLAZ (H) HAIL/CHAOS/HAVOC
ᚾ ~ NAUDIZ NYD NAUD (N) NEEDS/NIGHT
ᛁ ~ ISAZ IS ISS (I) ICE/STAGNANT/FROZEN
ᛃ ~ JEERA JERAN (J) YEAR/HARVEST
ᛇ ~ EIWAZ ETM (Ey/Ei/Y) YEW STRENGTH/MAGIC
ᛈ ~ PERTHO PEORTH (P)GAMBLE/CHANCE
ᛉ ~ ALGIZ EOLHX (Z,X,Y) ELK PROTECTION/DEFENCE
ᛋ ~ SOWELO LONG BRANCH-SOL (S)SUN/SOURCE/ENERGY
ᛏ ~ TIWAZ TIR TYR (T)ONE HANDED GOD OF WAR AND HEROIC GLORY/WARRIOR
ᛒ ~ BERKANA BEORC BJARKAN (B) BIRCH/BIRTH
ᛖ ~ EHWAZ (EH) HORSE/MOVEMENT
ᛗ ~ MANNAZ (M) MAN/IDENTITY
ᛚ ~ LAUKAZ LAGU LOGR (L) LAKE/LAGOON/WATER/FLUID
ᛝ ~ INGUZ (ING) SEED/LIFE/LIVING
ᛞ ~ DAGAZ DAEG (D) DAYS/DAWN/CYCLE
ᛟ ~ OTHELLO OTHALAN ETHEL (O) INHERITANCE/HERITAGE/ESTATE
The Abecedarium Nordmannicum
The oldest manuscript containing runic symbols is the Abecedarium Nordmannicum, a mnemonic rune recital written in combined Anglo-Saxon, Old Low and Old High German, and Norse. The manuscript 878, p. 321 dated 825 CE is found in St. Gallen monastery’s library.
The Abecedarium Nordmannicum
Thuris thritten stabu,
Os is himo oboro,
Rat endost ritan
Chaon thanne cliuôt.
Hagal, Naut hab&
Is, Ar endi Sol
Tiu, Brica endi Man midi
Lagu the leohto,
Yr al bihabet.
Ideas of interpretations:
ᚠ Fehu (Cattle)
Wealth is a source of discord among kinsmen;
the wolf lives in the forest.
Wealth is a comfort to all men;
yet must every man bestow it freely,
if he wish to gain honour in the sight of the Lord.
ᚢ Uruz (strength)
Dross comes from bad iron;
the reindeer often races over the frozen snow.
ᚦ Thurisaz (Thorn)
Giant causes anguish to women;
misfortune makes few men cheerful.
The thorn is exceedingly sharp,
an evil thing for any knight to touch,
uncommonly severe on all who sit among them.
ᚬ As (Mouth)
Estuary is the way of most journeys;
but a scabbard is of swords.
The mouth is the source of all language,
a pillar of wisdom and a comfort to wise men,
a blessing and a joy to every knight.
ᚱ Reidho (Riding)
Riding is said to be the worst thing for horses;
Reginn forged the finest sword.
Riding seems easy to every warrior while he is indoors
and very courageous to him who traverses the high-roads
on the back of a stout horse.
ᚴ Kaunaz (Torch)
Ulcer is fatal to children;
death makes a corpse pale.
The torch is known to every living man by its pale, bright flame;
it always burns where princes sit within.
ᚼ Hagallaz (Hail)
Hail is the coldest of grain;
Christ created the world of old.
ᚾ Nauthhiz (Needs)
Constraint gives scant choice;
a naked man is chilled by the frost.
Trouble is oppressive to the heart;
yet often it proves a source of help and salvation
to the children of men, to everyone who heeds it betimes.
ᛁ Isa (Ice)
Ice we call the broad bridge;
the blind man must be led.
Ice is very cold and immeasurably slippery;
it glistens as clear as glass and most like to gems;
it is a floor wrought by the frost, fair to look upon.
ᛅ Ar (Leadership)
Plenty is a boon to men;
I say that Frodi was generous.
ᛋ Sowelo (Sun)
Sun is the light of the world;
I bow to the divine decree.
ᛏ Tywaz (Tyr)
Tyr is a one-handed god;
often has the smith to blow.
ᛒ Barkana (Birch)
Birch has the greenest leaves of any shrub;
Loki was fortunate in his deceit.
ᛘ Madhr (Man)
Man is an augmentation of the dust;
great is the claw of the hawk.
ᛚ Laguz (Lake)
A waterfall is a River which falls from a mountain-side;
but ornaments are of gold.
A river fish always feeds on land;
it has a fair abode encompassed by water, where it lives in happiness.
ᛦ Yr (Death)
The grave is horrible to every knight,
when the corpse quickly begins to cool
and is laid in the bosom of the dark earth.
Prosperity declines, happiness passes away
and covenants are broken…
Runic House Markings
Runes are also used as a form of protection:
The Ideographic German House marking is a perfect example of how Runes war off any negative elements.
In the diagram below we can identify the two thorns of life depicting life and death, while the hammer of Thor rests between them. The esoteric meaning is then “Between life and death may my estate increase and prosper.”
In the pendant seen below we can identify the Triskele, also known as the triple spiral. Albeit many say that this symbol has been ‘convoluted’, I like to believe that it is a reminder of the three Aetts and thereby the three pertinent roles found within cosmology and thereby the Runic Alphabet.
We can identify that the artist engraved the Triskele above and below the carved message, which is a reminder of “As Above, So Below”
The message itself can then be read and interpreted as “Venture forth safe from harm”
Runes have been found created of bone, horns, stone, wood, and metal.
It was Tacitus who wrote in Germania that Germanic tribes “cut off a branch from a nut-bearing tree and slice it into strips, these they mark with different signs and throw them at random on a white cloth,” This he dated back to 9 c.e.
I find that when creating my runes from wood, I prefer to use any fruit bearing wood, in order to bear fruit from my practice.
Through the ages their focus remains on three old Norse examples stafr (stave or secret lore), teinn (twig or talisman) and hlutr ( runes carved for divination on talismanic object.)
The Norse utilized upright stones for cultish and funeral-ceremonies. Metal was most favorable for talismanic purposes. Bracteates were thin metal discs inscribed with runes that represented the strong magical powers.
I trust that this article inspires you to either have an even stronger connection to your runes, or to make a create yourself a whole new set of runes! Feel free to leave comments or email me with any queries, a Runic Reading, or personal mentoring sessions. I would love to hear from you!