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Introduction To Nordic Runes

Odin’s Runes

“Wounded I hung on a wind-swept gallows
For nine long nights,
Pierced by a spear, pledged to Odin,
Offered, myself to myself
The wisest know not from whence spring
The roots of that ancient rood.

They gave me no bread,
They gave me no mead,
I looked down;
With a loud cry
I took up runes;
From that tree I fell.”

~  Hàvamàl from the Elder Edda, describing Odin’s discovery of the Runes

Elder & Younger Futhark

In the great history of the Germanic traditions, runes play a rather central role. The most commonly known runes are the Elder and Younger Futhark, their name referencing the first six letters of their particular system.

It is for this reason that referring to a runic system as a ‘runic alphabet’ is incorrect. Alphabets are only those writing systems that have the appropriate letters. (Aleph, Bet of Hebrew, and Alpha, Beta, of Roman lettering systems, for instance).

The runes of the system are broken into three ættir of eight letter each, each group of eight is referred to as an ætt (singular of ættir). Each rune in an ætt has a designated position within that aett, from first through eighth.

This is relevant in one sense because the runes can be written in a form that disguises it’s nature, and which aett it is a part of, as well as its position within the same, is relevant to that code, which will be covered in more detail later.

The Elder Futhark is the ancestor of a number of runic systems, Danish, Swedish-Norwegian, Gothic Runes. Even the Anglo-Saxons of England had their own version they developed to accommodate their language.

The encoded version of the language even bears some superficial similarities to the Celtic Ogham, though enough archeological evidence to definitively tie the two together has yet to be found.

The ættir of the Elder Futhark

The three ættir of the runes are each tied to a particular diety of the Nordic faith, and the runes within are related to the traits of that particular path which will be covered in general here, and in more depth when we cover each rune in more detail in it’s own entry.

In the study of the runes as a student, one works one’s way through each ætt, starting with the first, and graduating through to the last. This process will also receive more attention in other articles.

Freyja’s ætt

Freyja is the mother goddess of the Nordic faith, wife of Odin the all-father. Her nature is that of the mother figure, patron of those who work the land, and those who trade among the people of Norway.

Heimdall’s ætt

Heimdall’s is a guardian, a warrior god, and a keeper of foreknowledge. He is the keeper of Gjallarhorn, the horn to be blown at to signal Ragnarök, the apocalypse of the Norse faith.

This ætt also shares a connection with Loki, in many ways Heimdall’s opposite. The interaction of Loki the thief and destroyer, and Heimdall the warrior defender, is central to the lessons of this ætt.

Tyr’ ætt

Tyr’s is a Norse god associated with law and heroic glory, having only one hand. The other was lost by placing it in the mouth of Fenrir to convince the wolf to allow them to bind him with Gleipnir, a magical ribbon made from mythic components. This ætt covers honor in battle, the rule of the divine, glory, and atonement.

The 24 Nordic Runes Meanings:

Know more about each individual rune of the Elder Futhark used in runes reading.

Fehu: This rune stands for authority and new beginnings. Uruz: This is the rune of healing, endurance and independence Thurisaz: This rune stone stands for chaos, enthusiasm, aggression and destruction. Ansuz: This rune signifies intelligence, communication and stability.
Raido: This is the rune of leadership, responsibility, nobility and respect. Kaunan: This is the rune of knowledge, opportunity, transformation and illumination. Gebo: This rune signifies gifts exchanged between people, honor and relationships. Wunjo: This rune represents happiness, family bonds and good luck.
Hagalaz: This is the rune of changes, evolution and the right balance. Nauthiz: This is the need rune that symbolizes resistance, frictions and problems. Isaz: This is the ice rune that signifies constraint, boredom and delays. Jera: This is the rune of harvest, fertility and completion.
Eihwaz: This is the yew rune of intuition, communication and renewal. Perthro: This rune signifies good luck, rebirth and intuition. Algiz: This is the rune of protection from evil, divine and spiritual blessings. Sowilo: This is the rune of victory, joy, power and enjoyment.
Tiwaz: This is the rune of justice, sacrifice, war and materialism. Berkano: This rune signifies new relationships, nurturing and birth. Ehwaz: This is the rune of changes, harmony, relocation and action. Mannaz: This is the rune of ancestry, community and society.
Laguz: This rune signifies intuition, sexuality and creativity. Ingwaz: This is the fertility rune of relationships, marriage, birth and positive energy. Dagaz: This is the day rune which is symbolic of enlightenment, good health and mental clarity. Othala: This is the rune of inheritance, wealth, knowledge and legacy.

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