The following is written by James Hodur, TAC Partner from Rune Lore for All!
The Runes are the ideographic symbols of the creative and destructive forces of the multi-verse. The Runes are magical alphabet that forms the language of the cosmos. The path of the runes is one of self transformation and self empowerment. One must approach the runes with respect and reverence. One cannot be flippant with their energies. The runes have a consciousness all their own and they influence all the parts of our lives.
The earliest runic-like inscriptions can be traced to the early Bronze Age. The Runes, as we know them, came into use in the 2nd century B.C.E. when the Germanic Tribes known as the Teutones and the Cimbri invaded Northern Italy. The Etruscan alphabet was an early influence on the southern Germanic tribes. Another theory points toward the Goths as the primary tribe who originated the runic system in the 1st and 2nd centuries B.C.E.
The mythical origins of the runes are attributed to the god, Odin or Wodan. He hung on the world tree known as Yggdrasil to win the runes. He sacrificed himself by piercing himself with his own spear and hung there on the tree for 9 days and 9 nights. He looked into the Underworld and took them up screaming. Odin gave the runes to the other Gods and mankind. Landvættir also have knowledge of the runes on a more basic intrinsic level because of their connection to the fundamental energies of creation and destruction. Freyja, the Lady, also has knowledge of the Runes. She learned it from Odin in exchange for her knowledge of Seidh-magick. Heimdall, in the guise of Rig, traveled the world shaping civilization in his wanderings. In his wanderings, he also taught humanity the knowledge of the runes.
The Runes were and are primarily used for sorcery and magic. They were and can be sent out to do a purpose or to bring back a gift. Several runes were fashioned into a single glyph which is called a bind rune. Bind runes are talismans that are either worn or carried and sometimes place under a pillow for several purposes. They can bring protection, luck, love and sometimes were used to ward off your enemies.
Today, Runes are used for divination. It is a modern practice. We do not know if our ancestors had used the runes in this fashion. We have some historical accounts from Tacitus who was a Roman scholar. He documented the use of “blood” twigs that were thrown down on a white cloth. If there were any other accounts of runic divination, we simply do not have that knowledge. Runes, as a divinatory tool, are useful because they help us communicate with the deep subconscious levels of our soul. It helps build and strength that trust with our inner selves by using the runes in this way. However, they will not tell you the lotto numbers that will win you the million dollars. Runic divination will tell where you’ve been, where you are going, and what your path will look like if you keep on the path you are going.
To make a set of runes is relatively easy and there are several methods and materials you can utilize. For example, you can find a natural branch of a tree, make sure to let the wood dry out for a time and then you can cut it with saw. Sand the wooden pieces down with some sandpaper and then you can use several kinds of carving tools like “X-acto” Knife to inscribe the runes into the wood. You can also use wood burning tools to burn the runes into the wood. You must then blood the runes with your blood. But you can also use saliva and/or moon blood (vaginal blood) if you’re a woman.
You can then mix the blood or saliva with paint (preferably red) and then you can paint the runes that you have carved. Blooding the runes gives a bit of your own self to these energies and demonstrates the principle of “a gift for a gift”. It also makes the set of runes yours and they will respond to you alone. There are other materials that you can use to make runes. It doesn’t have to be with wood. You can use stones, glass beads, and almost anything that you can inscribe or draw the runes on. It’s the intention to make a set and to do it with reverence that makes the difference. Also you may wish to “galdor” or chant the runes’ name as you are blooding them to make it known to you and the runic energy that you can making a representation of that rune in the physical plane on Midgard.
There are several systems of runes that have been used in the ancient past and there is one that was devised in modern times. They are the Elder Futhark, the Anglo-Saxon Furthorc and the Younger Futhark. The Elder Futhark has 24 runes. The Anglo-Saxon Futhorc has 29 runes and in later stages had 33 runes. The Younger Futhark has 16 runes. Both the Anglo-Saxon and Younger Futhorc/Futhark systems arose in the 11th and 12th century. One came from Anglo-Saxon England and one from the Scandinavian Countries such as Norway and Sweden. The languages of each of these regions was changing and evolving into what they were to become today. As language changed, the Runes and the runic systems changed as well. In the earlier part of the 20th century, a runologist by the name of Guido von List developed, the Armanen Futhark, which has 18 runes. It was based on the 18 spell songs from the Havamal.
The Runes are a gift shared to mankind and they are a path to follow to become something more than who you are.
*Rune Name: (Letter : Number: One word Description) – Rune Meanings*
Fehu: (F: 1: cattle) - Mobile force, Energy, Fertility, Creation and Destruction (Becoming), Money, Fiery Expansive force, Wealth, Money.
Uruz: (U: 2: Aurochs) – Archetypal Patterning, Organic Organization, Wisdom, Health, Vital Strength, Healing, Breaking down barriers, Dross, Drizzle.
Thurisaz: (Th : 3: Thorn) – Force of Destruction/Defense, Action, Applied Power, Direction of Polarities, Regeneration (following destruction), Nature unleashed, Death before renewal, Giants (Thurs).
Ansuz: (A: 4: God) – Reception/Transformation/Expression, Container/contained, Numinous Knowledge, Inspiration, Ecstasy, Word-song, Death Mysteries, Communication, Mouth, Freedom from fetters, Estuary.
Raidho: (R: 5: Wagon) – Journey, Rhythm, Ritual, Right Action & order, Cosmic cyclical law, Religion/magic, Travel, Riding.
Kenaz: (K/Hard C: 6: Torch) – Controlled Energy, Ability, Transformation, Regeneration, Will to generate, Sexual Lust, Creativity, Illumination, Revelation, Ulcer/Sore.
Gebo: (G: 7 : Gift) – Giver/Giving/Given/Given to, Magical Force, Sacrifice, Ecstasy, Sex magic, Equal Exchange, Communication method with the Universe, Generosity.
Wunjo: (W/V: 8: Joy) – Glory, Harmony, Well being, Fellowship, Binding, Sense of accomplishment & knowing the next goal, Bliss.
Hagalaz: (H: 9: Hail) – Potential for Creation and destruction, Deep scouring/cleansing, Cosmic pattern, framework, Completion, Union (cosmic egg), Evolution (within framework), Protection.
Nauthiz: (N: 10: Need) – Challenge, Resistance, Experience of Inertia, Overcoming Inertia, Difficult situations, Distress, Trouble, Deliverance (need-fire), Stepping forth into manifestation, Testing of your Mettle.
Isa: (I: 11: Ice) – Constraint, Conductivity, Stillness, World Ice, Antimatter, Concentration, Ego.
Jera: (J/Y: 12: Harvest) – Cyclical Nature of the Universe, Cause and Effect long term, Solar year cycle, Reward, Fruition, Eagle, Summer.
Eihwaz (Ei: 13: Yew Tree) – Vertical axis of Yggdrasil (World Tree), Numinous initiation, Life/Death cycle, Endurance, Protection, Connection to the Gods and Ancestors.
Perthro: (P: 14: Dice Cup) – Örlog, Time, Norns (Urdh, Verdhandi, Skuld), Cause and Effect, Evolution/Change, Fate revealed (Wyrd), Peorth (Anglo-Saxon).
Elhaz/Algiz: (Z: 15: Elk) – Protection, Enclosure, Life, Bifrost, Path of the branches and roots, Connection between gods and men, Connection to the higher self (Fetch), Eolh-Sedge (Elk-Sedge).
Sowilo: (S: 16: Sun) – Victory, Solar Wheel, Magical Will, Guide, Goal and Path, Success, Honor, Guardianship.
Tiwaz: (T: 17: Tyr) – Justice, World Order, Victory (according to law), Self Sacrifice, Spiritual Discipline, Right Action, Piercing the Veils of Reality, the God Tiw.
Berkano: (B: 18: Birch) – Birth, Birth/Life/Death Cycle, Containment, Moment, Earth Mother, Motherly Protection, Time of Reflection before being born anew, Poplar tree.
Ehwaz: (E: 19: Horse) – Harmonious Duality, Vehicle of otherworldly journeys, Horse/Rider relationship, Fertility, Trust, Loyalty, Legal marriage, Meeting of you and your higher self (Fetch).
Mannaz: (M: 20: Man) – Divine Link, Divine Structure, Intelligence, Initiate, Union/Marriage with your Higher Self, Equal Exchange of Gifts and Energies.
Laguz: (L: 21: Water) – Life, Primal Water, Deep Emotion, Subconscious, Passage to and from life, Growth, Vital Power, Ocean, Wetness, Waterfall.
Ingwaz: (NG: 22: Seed) – The God Ing (Frey), Potential Energy, Gestation of the Seed, Male Sexuality, Converting active energy to potential, Withdrawal into oneself to be birthed anew.
Dagaz: (D: 23: Day) – Light, Polarity, Syncretization, “Odhinic paradox”, Completion, Transcendent Consciousness, Awakened to True Potential.
Othala: (O: 24: Ancestral Property) – Sacred Enclosure, Inherited power, Preserved Freedom, Prosperity, Estate.
I did not indicate which runes are murk staves or the darker/opposite meaning. The Runes have both positive and negative connotations. Some runes are more negative while others are more positive. We must maintain our respect to them when using them in either mode/connotation. Also, there is some controversy on the order of the last two runes, Dagaz and Othala. It doesn’t matter what order they are in. It is a matter of personal preference.
Lore of the Runes
Now we will examine some of the lore of the runes which are contained in three main poems. The first poem is the Anglo-Saxon Rune Rhyme/Poem. It is where we get the lore for both the Elder Futhark and the Anglo-Saxon Futhark. The first 24 stanzas correspond to each of the runes that we had discussed above. The Norwegian Rune Rhyme and Old Icelandic Rune Poem are poems that correspond to the runes of the Younger Futhark. If you examine each of the poems, they will give you insights into each of the runes they are talking about. I do recommend to the reader that they look into each of the Futhark systems. It will give the potential runester a well rounded education on all of the runes and especially the runes they are working with.
The Anglo-Saxon Rune Rhyme/Poem (in Modern English)
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.
The aurochs is proud and has great horns; it is a very savage beast and fights with its horns; a great ranger of the moors, it is a creature of mettle.
The thorn is exceedingly sharp, an evil thing for any knight to touch, uncommonly severe on all who sit among them.
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.
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.
The torch is known to every living man by its pale, bright flame; it always burns where princes sit within.
Generosity brings credit and honour, which support one's dignity; it furnishes help and subsistence to all broken men who are devoid of aught else.
Bliss he enjoys who knows not suffering, sorrow nor anxiety, and has prosperity and happiness and a good enough house.
Hail is the whitest of grain; it is whirled from the vault of heaven and is tossed about by gusts of wind and then it melts into water.
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.
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.
Summer is a joy to men, when God, the holy King of Heaven, suffers the earth to bring forth shining fruits for rich and poor alike.
The yew is a tree with rough bark, hard and fast in the earth, supported by its roots, a guardian of flame and a joy upon an estate.
Peorth is a source of recreation and amusement to the great, where warriors sit blithely together in the banqueting-hall.
The Eolh-sedge is mostly to be found in a marsh; it grows in the water and makes a ghastly wound, covering with blood every warrior who touches it.
The sun is ever a joy in the hopes of seafarers when they journey away over the fishes' bath, until the course of the deep bears them to land.
Tiw is a guiding star; well does it keep faith with princes; it is ever on its course over the mists of night and never fails.
The poplar bears no fruit; yet without seed it brings forth suckers, for it is generated from its leaves.
Splendid are its branches and gloriously adorned its lofty crown which reaches to the skies.
The horse is a joy to princes in the presence of warriors.
A steed in the pride of its hoofs, when rich men on horseback bandy words about it; and it is ever a source of comfort to the restless.
The joyous man is dear to his kinsmen; yet every man is doomed to fail his fellow, since the Lord by his decree will commit the vile carrion to the earth.
The ocean seems interminable to men, if they venture on the rolling bark and the waves of the sea terrify them and the courser of the deep heed not its bridle.
Ing was first seen by men among the East-Danes, till, followed by his chariot, he departed eastwards over the waves. So the Heardingas named the hero.
An estate is very dear to every man, if he can enjoy there in his house whatever is right and proper in constant prosperity.
Day, the glorious light of the Creator, is sent by the Lord; it is beloved of men, a source of hope and happiness to rich and poor, and of service to all.
The oak fattens the flesh of pigs for the children of men. Often it traverses the gannet's bath, and the ocean proves whether the oak keeps faith in honourable fashion.
The ash is exceedingly high and precious to men. With its sturdy trunk it offers a stubborn resistance, though attacked by many a man.
Yr is a source of joy and honour to every prince and knight; it looks well on a horse and is a reliable equipment for a journey.
Iar is a river fish and yet it always feeds on land; it has a fair abode encompassed by water, where it lives in happiness.
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.
The Norwegian Rune Poem
Wealth is a source of discord among kinsmen; the wolf lives in the forest.
Dross comes from bad iron; the reindeer often races over the frozen snow.
Giant causes anguish to women; misfortune makes few men cheerful.
Estuary is the way of most journeys; but a scabbard is of swords.
Riding is said to be the worst thing for horses; Reginn forged the finest sword.
Ulcer is fatal to children; death makes a corpse pale.
Hail is the coldest of grain; Christ created the world of old.
Constraint gives scant choice; a naked man is chilled by the frost.
Ice we call the broad bridge; the blind man must be led.
Plenty is a boon to men; I say that Frothi was generous.
Sun is the light of the world; I bow to the divine decree.
Tyr is a one-handed god; often has the smith to blow.
Birch has the greenest leaves of any shrub; Loki was fortunate in his deceit.
Man is an augmentation of the dust; great is the claw of the hawk.
A waterfall is a River which falls from a mountain-side; but ornaments are of gold.
Yew is the greenest of trees in winter; it is wont to crackle when it burns.
Hodur, James. "Rune Lore for All! (Rúnafræði Fyrir Alla!)." Wordpress.com. Web.
Paxson, Diana L. Taking up the Runes: A Complete Guide to Using Runes in Spells, Rituals, Divination, and Magic. Boston, MA: Weiser, 2005. Print.
Thorsson, Edred. Futhark: A Handbook of Rune Magic. Wellingborough: Aquarian, 1985. Print.
Updike, Daniel. "NRR-Northern Runes Radio." NRR Northern Runes Radio RSS. Web. 30 June 2015. http://nrr.podbean.com/.
"The Rune Poems." The Rune Poem Page. Web. 30 June 2015. https://www.ragweedforge.com/poems.html.
Check out the author of this piece, and his website at Rune Lore for All by clicking on the big Ansuz rune!