The Runes

Runic Alphabet

The Runic Alphabet


Runic alphabets provided a brief background about the mystical lettering systems used by the Germanic people in ancient and medieval times.


Variations of the Runes

The runes were set of Germanic alphabets that were used by the North German tribes, from the 2nd century BC to the 13th century AD. The runic alphabets were often called “Futhark”, which is derived from the first six runic letters of the runic alphabets (F-U-TH-A-R-K).

There are three different variations of the Runic alphabets.

The Etruscan or the Latin alphabets probably influenced the runic scripts in the 2nd or 1st century BC, particularly when that some of runes match the Latin alphabets in form. The Teutonic (Early or Common Germanic) scripts consisted of 24 characters.

It was used in northern Europe, right up to the 8th century AD. The image on the right, I have shown the Early or Common runes (with the English equivalents to the sound, written in white).


The Anglian or Anglo-Saxon scripts, also known as Futhork, varied in number, from 28 to 33 characters. The additional characters in the Anglian runes were used to compensate for the Old English sounds that does not appeared in the Early Futhark runes. These scripts were used in the British Isle, from the 5th to the 12th century AD.

There are two variations of the Anglo-Saxon scripts. With Frisian runes, 4 new scripts were added to the Early Futhark: ac, ae, o (os), and yr. Then another five were added to the Anglo-Saxon runes; the extra runes known as the Northumbrian runes included: q, k, st, and gar.


The third variation was the Nordic (Scandinavian) runes, is called the Younger Futhark, which was used in Scandinavia, including Iceland, between the 8th and 13th century AD. More than half of the runic inscriptions discovered, were found in Sweden.

The Nordic scripts had originally contained the same 24 characters of the Early runes, but had gradually reduced them to 16 characters.

There are two variations of the Nordic runes: Short-twig and Danish.

The illustration on the left is the Danish variation of the Nordic scripts. The following scripts have remained unchanged from the Teutonic scripts: f, u, th, r, k, n, i, t, b and l.

The Short-twig have the same number of characters as the Danish variation, yet it has simplified the Danish scripts. Simplified as in some stroke were truncated. For now, I don’t have a diagram on the list of Short-twig scripts.


Timeless Myths

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Odin’s Sacrifice To Give the World The Runes

Odin’s Sacrifice To Give the World The Runes


In the Havamal (“Sayings of the High One”), Odin recorded the time he spent learning the magic from runes.


  138 I know that I hanged on a windy tree
nine long nights
wounded with a spear, dedicated to Odin,
myself to myself,
on that tree of which no man knows
from where its roots run.

139 No bread did they give me nor a drink from a horn
downward I peered;
I took up the runes, screaming I took them,
then I fell back from there.

Havamal from Poetic Edda
translated by Carolyne Larrington


On the windy days, Odin was hanging from the branch of Yggdrasill, the cosmic World Tree, with a rope around his neck. He was also suffering from a wound that was pierced by his own spear (Gungnir).

Odin remained there for nine days and nine nights. And in the next line [140], Odin learned nine mighty spells, from his grandfather Bolthor, as well as drinking from the precious mead from Odrerir. The number nine was also significant, in term of symbolism and magic.

From lines 144-145, he not only speaks of carving the runes, but also of sacrifice. It was believed that you could only learn the magic spells from the runes if you were dead. And since it was he who wanted to learn the runes, a sacrifice was needed. Odin paid the sacrifice himself. Which is why he was hanging with a hangman’s noose around his neck, so that is why Odin had acquired the name – Hanga-tyr (“god of the hanged”).

The ninth night coincided with the festival of May Eve (April 30), otherwise known as Walpurgis’ Night, where Odin mastered his ninth and final spell, which the hanged god ritually died. During this final night, all light were extinguished with his supposedly death. It was at this time that chaos and the spirit world reigned supreme and the witchcraft or sorcery is most potent. Odin’s death lasted until midnight, and then light would return to the world. Like the Celtic Beltane or May Day, the night was celebrated with large bonfires lighted around the countryside.

In the Eddiac poem, Sigrdrifumal (“Lay of Sigrdrifa”), the Valkyrie Sigrdrifa (generally known as Brynhild) was punished for letting the wrong king die in battle, so Odin had drugged her to sleep. She would have to marry a mortal when she was wakened, but she refused to marry anyone unless he was a hero who has no fear. Sigrdrifa informed Odin that she would teach this hero about the runes of powers. From lines 5-19, Sigrdrifa listed several spells using runes. They were victory-runes, ale-runes, helping-runes, sea-runes, limb-runes, speech-runes, mind-runes and book-runes.

The most interesting is the victory-runes, when you wish for victory in battle or combat. Sigrdrifa suggested that runes should be cut into sword’s hilts, blade-guard and plates, then invoking the name of Tyr. Tyr is the god of war, though Odin also used the name Tyr, such as Sigtyr, which means god of victory or god of war.

It is interesting that the origin of sacrificing by hanging victim had existed and written some hundreds of years before the Havamal was written. According to Tacitus, a Roman historian (fl. AD 100), he recorded an older tradition practised by the Cimbri, an ancient Germanic tribe. The Cimbri sacrificed their victims to Wodan (Woden), the Germanic form of Odin (some called him by his Roman name, Mercury), by hanging their victims over a cauldron. The priestess then cut the hanged victims’ throats, so that they would bleed in the cauldron, before their bodies were thrown into sacred lakes.

This custom was practised by the Cimbri had nothing to do with learning runes, but the sacrifices were used as a mean to appease Wodan (Odin).


Timeless Myths

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Let’s Talk Witch – Runes, What Are They? Do You Use Them?


Let’s Talk Witch – Runes, What Are They? Do You Use Them?

Norse mythology tells ua about the God Odin (or Woden) brought the Runes to human beings. Used for two thousand years in Northern Europe and Scandinavia, the Runes were brought to the British Isles by Vikings and Saxon invaders. Centuries later, J. R. R. Tolkien’s trilogy The Lord of the Rings introduced many readers in the United States to the Runes and Ralph Blum’s bestselling Book of Runes taught them how to use the oracle.

The word “rune” means “secret” or “mystery.” It also refers to things that are whispered, to knowledge that’s revealed to us during moments of stillness and contemplation, which suggests that meditating on the Runes can help you understand their meanings.

The most popular version of the Runes come from an old Teutonic alphabet, the Elder Futhark, which contains twenty-four letters. Each rune is a letter. Unlike the letters in modern alphabets, however, these ancient glyphs aren’t just components of words, they convey deeper meaning as well.

Each rune is name for an animal, object, condition, or deity. The rune Berkana, which looks like a B, corresponds to the birch tree; it represents birth and growth. Ehwaz refers to a horse and signifies movement or progress.

Although most people think of the runes only in terms of the letters in one of the old Norse alphabets, other alphabets can be used for divination and spell working too. One such alphabet is Ogham, the Irish language that links each letter with a tree.

Just as the ancient Norse did, you can include runes in amulets and talismans for love, protection, health, prosperity, and other blessings. You might like to decorate your magickal tools with relevant runes. Or engrave a meaningful rune on a piece of jewelry and wear it to attract what you desire.

Perhaps the most familiar rune is Gifu, which means “gift.” It looks like an “X” a popular symbol for a kiss. In the old Norse alphabet, this rune is linked with love, so it’s perfect to include in love spells. Draw a X on paper and add it to a talisman, along with rose petals and other ingredients that correspond to love and romance. Or carve Gifu on a candle and light it; as the candle burns, it releases your intention into the universe.

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Runes, along with many other forms of divination can be valuable allies. In preparing to do a runecast you are preparing to  ask your higher self for answers and assistance. There are many factors to take into account when interpreting a runecast, it takes practice. So, don’t  be discouraged if you come up with a few “duds” in your first readings. Because of divinations’ similarity to counceling, I highly recomend  that you practice readings on yourself before doing spreads for anyone else. You should prepare yourself before you begin to read or cast the runes. Start by  relaxing. Find somewhere free of distractions, and then clear your mind of any unrelated thoughts. It is important to concentrate on your specific question  or issue while drawing and casting the runes. Focusing your mind and having a clear intent will greatly enhance the accuracy of your readings. Interpreting a  runecast is like telling a story. Your job is to find the characters, themes, events, and advice of the reading. Take as much time as you need to interpret a  spread, and pay close attention to all the connections. The times I am most satisfied in the accuracy of my readings are when each rune clearly plays a part  in the runecast, or rather when the runecast itself becomes a comprehensable story.

Sometimes the runes will clearly answer your question, and sometimes they will ignore it completely, choosing to focus on  other issues instead. Often times these are issues that you knew existed but didn’t want to face. Look within to see if the runes haven’t met the  mark. Runes (in divination) work by connecting you to that part of you that is in touch with your subconcious, higher self or that part of you that is in  tune with the all. However you want to look at it. Even the most accurate of runecasts can not tell you what is destined to be. They only predict what is  likely to happen based on current information. A negative runecast should never be taken as irreversable, you always have the choice to change your situation  in life. In divination, runes are used to tell you what path you are currently on. Remember, it is always within your power to keep with or alter that  path.

You may use these, or other techniques and rune spreads that you come across. There are an abundance of tarot spreads  available, for example, tarot spreads adapt very well to rune divination. You could certainly form your own spreads and techniques for a reading, or maybe  incorporate methods from various spreads. Generally, the more runes used in a runecast or spread, the more involved, the reading.

Runes are read either upright or reversed. When casting the runes, it is helpful to have a system of deciding which runes you  will consider upright, and which you will consider reversed. I usually interpret all the runes with their top pointing up or to the left, upright; and all  the runes that have their top pointing down or to the right, reversed.

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This is the oldest Futhark – the European common heritage. We don’t know for sure when or by who it is originated, but it might be among  Germanic tribes in the beginning of our era.  

The Elder Futhark has 24 runes. This “runic alphabet” got its name after the sound of what is traditionally held to be the six first runes in this  “alphabet”:  

F – U – Þ – A – R – K

f u th a r k g w Frey’s Aett
Fehu Uruz Thurisaz Ansuz Raidho Kenaz Gebo Wunjo
h n i j ë p R s Hagall’s Aett
Hagalaz Nauthiz Isa Jera Eihwaz Perthro Algiz Sowilo
t b e m l ng d o Tyr’s Aett
Tiwaz Berkano Ehwaz Mannaz Laguz Ingwaz Dagaz Othala
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What Is Rune Meditation?

What Is Rune Meditation?

by: Donald Tyson
Before the runes can be effective for works of magic or divination , they must be understood on the intuitive level and made to come alive in the unconscious. This will occur over time  simply by using them, but the process can be encouraged through regular meditation upon the individual rune symbols. Meditation gives the runes reality in  the astral world, where magical forces and actions manifest themselves most clearly to the awareness.
When you carve a rune materially for a magical purpose, you must also be able to cut it into the astral with your will so that it glows and shimmers on the  material where you made the physical rune. When you draw a rune in the air with your right index finger or  magic wand, you must be able to see it sustaining itself with the eye of your imagination. This does not mean that you pretend to yourself that the rune  exists on the astral level, or picture it there in the way you would imagine the face of your cat. Magical visualization is more intense and real than  regular images in the imagination. The magical image persists and can be so real that it appears material.
Meditation on the runes serves the dual purpose of expanding an understanding of their meanings, both conscious and unconscious (this is needed in  divination) and allowing the clear formation of the runes on the astral level (this is necessary in ritual magic).
There are many ways to actively meditate upon the runes. One is to contemplate the forms of the runes visually. Rune cards are an excellent way of keeping  images of the runes before the sight during meditation, where they impress themselves through the eye upon the mind, when the mind reaches a receptive state.  Here I will describe a second technique that I find effective in bringing the meanings and forms of the runes alive.
In preparation you must be familiar with the shapes of the runes, their names and short meanings, their order, the place of each rune in its aett, and its  pair rune. This can be done by playing with a set of rune wands, or ideally with the rune cards, which are excellent for this purpose. Once you have a  general knowledge of the futhark, you are ready to begin considering the runes individually.
To be most effective, meditations should be done in a series at regular times, one per day. It is possible to do two meditations a day if they are separated  in timeófor example, one at noon and one at midnight. If this is done, a pair of runes should be considered each day. However, until you have had some  experience in meditating upon the individual runes, you should not attempt to consider two or more runes in combination at the same time.
Wear loose clothing and take off your shoes, belt, watch, jewelry, and anything that irritates the skin or restricts the circulation. Even if your watch and  earrings do not irritate you during your daily routine, they may be a distraction during meditation. When the mind is stilled and focused, small sounds will  seem like thunder and the slightest itch will become a torment as your mind, like a restless child, seeks any escape from the task you have imposed upon it.
Do not meditate where there is noise or bustle, or where you are likely to be disturbed. Do not meditate until at least two hours after eating a meal. Do not  meditate just before sleep when you are very tired, and do not meditate when you are physically ill, or when your mind is filled with worry, anger, or  frustration.
Find a tranquil place and sit comfortably with your back relaxed but straight. It does not really matter how you sit. I usually sit Japanese style upon my  heels, but some people find this posture hard on the knees. The important thing is that you forget about how you are sitting and concentrate on the  meditation. Face a blank wall or featureless surface. If there is no flat unbroken surface, turn out the lights and the darkness will serve. If you are  outside, face a wall, a distant forested hill, the ocean horizon, or lie on your back and look at the sky – but it is better not to lie down during  meditation. The important thing is that you not be distracted by something in your field of view. Distractions are not necessarily fatal to meditations, but  they disrupt them and delay your progress. There are bound to be distractions in any case – you want to minimize them.
Take half a dozen slow, deep breaths to clear your lungs and relax your body. When you are ready, extend your right index finger and draw the rune you have  chosen for your meditation in the air at a comfortable armís length, making it a size that will fit easily into the center of your field of vision – about 18  inches tall is a good height.
Now try to actually see the rune in the air where you have drawn it. Hold the form of the rune in your imagination, and mentally retrace over and over the  rune you have drawn whenever its strokes become indistinct or slip from your mind. It is not necessary to use your finger to retrace the rune. Pretend you  have a blackboard in your imagination, and an imaginary piece of chalk that you use to continually redefine the rune as it fades.
Runes should always be drawn, both in the world and in the mind, with strokes that move downward and to the right. A little practice will make this second  nature.
During the meditation do not actively try to consider a predetermined list of associations with the runes. These will rise in their own time and order into  the stillness of your consciousness. Hold your attention upon the shape of the rune and your task of keeping it visually before your inner sight. You must  not be thinking of your grocery list while you are doing this. It is inevitable that your mind will wander to other things, but when it does, gently and  firmly guide it back to the purpose of the meditationóan active contemplation of the rune you have drawn in the air. When an idea about the rune itself, its  nature, or its relationship with other runes comes into your mind, consider it, but do not try to force these ideas. Let them rise by themselves.
This meditation should be stopped before it begins to become physically tiring. There is no point in forcing the work. A period of 15 minutes to half an hour  will be about right for most people. Take care that you remain relaxed, your breathing regular, and your eyes focused normally without strain. Strain of any  kind is counterproductive. Only sustained attention is required, and you will find that this is effort enough.
Success is not marked by how many new ideas you have about the rune, not even by how clearly you are able to visualize its form in space, but rather by how  sustained and effortless your awareness of the rune has been during the period set aside for the exercise.
It is a good idea to do these meditations in the same place and at the same time of day. Several meditations, even half a dozen, should be done on each rune,  but these can be mixed up with other runes. You do not have to meditate upon the same rune for six days running – unless you want to, of course. It can be  useful to consider the runes in groups, doing them in pairs, or in families, or even doing the complete futhark on 24 consecutive days, then repeating it  several times. If the sequence of the meditations becomes tedious, mix it up. Boredom should be minimized, because your mind will seize on any excuse to stop  these exercises.
You will soon discover that your mind is without disciplineónot that its discipline is low, but that it does not have any discipline at all. If you try to  force it too hard, it will turn around and bite you. You will accomplish nothing. Firmness, patience, persistence, and an understanding of how your mind  functions are needed to achieve the best results. Be wary of little tricks. You may suddenly find that your bowels are tumbling every time you sit down to  meditate, that your ears itch, that people are constantly interrupting you, that you feel very tired and sleepy, or that the entire exercise seems pointless  and stupid. These are all ways your mind will use in trying to squirm out of doing the work you have set for it.

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What Makes Runes Powerful?

What Makes Runes Powerful?

by: Donald Tyson
Runes are the manifest symbols through which rune magic is worked. They can be employed for all of the magical purposes that other magical systems serve, but  they possess unique aspects that make them superior for certain uses.
Because they were forged over the centuries in the same creative fire that shaped the pagan gods of the Teutonic peoples, runes are indispensable in magical  dealings that involve the northern hierarchy. They are a key that unlocks the powers of these gods, and they are a book that unfolds the secrets of their  personalities. Before the rediscovery of runes, the Aesir, lords of Asgard – who number among their ranks Odin, Thor, Tiw, Heimdall, Baldar, Loki, Frija and  Hel – were difficult to integrate into modern ceremonial magic. An elemental wildness distinguishes them from the more civilized gods of Greece and Rome and  the abstract, almost technical natures of the angels and spirits of Hebrew occultism. It would be absurd to invoke the Aesir with Hebrew numerology or Greek  words. Yet before the rebirth of runes, the magus had little option.
Because runes form the magical language of the northern gods and express the forces upon which those gods are framed, manipulating the runes gives direct  control over the actions- not just of the deities but also of the spirits and lesser entities of Norse mythology, which all arose out of the same primeval  crucible of mythic archetypes. They are more than just arbitrary symbols chosen to represent occult forces by the Germanic shamans; each rune contains in its  structure the same essence that is in the god, spirit, or magical potential to which it corresponds. It is the magical name of that god or natural power.     Anyone seeking to contact and communicate with the northern hierarchy – whether for purposes of worship, divination, or active magic – must use the runes. It  is possible to invoke the Aesir without runes, but this is akin to driving a nail with a rock when a hammer is sitting within easy reach. It makes no sense.  More and more, those with Teutonic roots are seeking to know the gods of their ancestors. Runes are indispensable in building this bridge to the past.
Perhaps because they rested forgotten for so many centuries, the runes remain undiluted by modem skepticism and rationalization. Of all the symbolic tools of  magic, they are the most powerful for causing material change in the world. Rune magic makes things happen – often violently, sometimes unpredictably. Most  potent physically, rune magic is also most dangerous to the unwary. The elemental powers contained and defined by the runes are not conscious in the human  sense, but they possess a type of animation and awareness not unlike the self-awareness of animals, plants, or embodied spirits – a watchful, quick,  sometimes malicious awareness that might almost be called mad in its unexpectedness. But madness is a human concept, and the runes are true to themselves and  terribly sane.
All types of occult work that seek material change – or transformations on the human level of emotions and urges that are linked to the body – can be  fulfilled with rune magic. Rune magic also embraces the spiritual level of the human soul, and great works of the spirit are possible using the runes. The  point that should be grasped here is that runes are weighted more toward the physical, tangible end of the scale than any other ancient magical system. It  may be that in their beginnings all magical systems were mainly concerned with material change, but it is only the runes that have descended through time in  their pristine, primitive state.
Another unique aspect of the runes has to do with their structure. Because they are simple letters that can be carried in the head and inscribed on any  surface as easily as the alphabet, they are the most compact and accessible of magical systems. Bulky temple instruments are not needed in rune magic. They  can be written anywhere on virtually anything in moments when an emergency arises. No one can ever take the runes away or destroy them; they live in the  mind.
In their portability runes resemble the Hebrew letters, which are combined into magical names and words of power based upon the numerical values of the  letters in the system of Jewish occultism known as the Kabbalah. At one time each letter of the Hebrew alphabet also had its elemental meaning, independent  of its numerical value. But in modern times, the natural powers embodied in the Hebrew letters have largely been forgotten, displaced by the number values.
As is true of the Hebrew letters, the runes can be combined both occultly in numerical and symbolic groupings and phonetically to form words and sentences.  The same runes can both embody a magical desire in their combination of elemental potentials and explicitly define that desire in words. These methods  complement and support each other, and are frequently encountered together on rune artifacts made for magical purposes. For example, the sixth-century  Lindholm amulet of Sweden bears the intelligible inscription of its magician maker: “I am an Herulian, I am called the Cunning One.” But it also  bears a string of runes that cannot be translated, because they convey only an occult, not a literal, meaning.

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The Rune Galdr

The Rune Galdr


The galdr is probably both the most powerful and subtle way to access the  magical energy of the rune. These chants have been described as being like a soft-flowing river with a powerful current underneath. Used in every phase of  runic magic together with the form of the rune, the galdr is the main medium through which runic power finds expression. Everyone intones slightly  differently, so feel free to experiment. By chanting and toning a rune, you can better experience and express its meaning.

When learning to galdr, focus on one rune at a time. Observe each rune’s tone, form, flow, and relationship to you and to
the other runes. Trust your intuition, and decide when to sing
each rune as a song in and of itself, complete with melody and a beginning, middle, and end, and when to sing the rune by toning only one note. There is no  right or wrong way to galdr.

When you galdr, breathe from your diaphragm and really stretch out the sound of each rune, toning as many consonant/vowel combinations as possible.  For example, Fehu can be sung as “Feeeeeeee,
Faaaaaaaa, Fuuuuuuuuu, Faaaaaaaayhuuuuuuuuu!” (akin to the giant’s
“fee-fi-fo-fum” as he counts his golden coins, a symbol of mobile
wealth). Draw out and expand each of the vowel sounds, exploring
all registers and resonances in your voice. Discover where each
rune fits in your vocal register, and note where you feel it in your
body. Above all, remember galdring is a lot like learning how to sing
for the first time. Relax and enjoy the process. Galdring together
with your children, in the woods or at the ocean, can be great fun. As
you become proficient, you can combine the chants of several runes into
one song. With 24 runes in the Elder Futhark, there are many possible
combinations, but generally galdr songs using one rune, three runes, or
nine runes work best in magic. Be aware of the numerical significance
of the combined runes when crafting songs.

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