History and Origin of the Runes
What we now know as the runic alphabet seems to have developed from two distinct sources - one magical, one literate. Pre-runic symbols, or hällristningar, have been found in various Bronze Age rock carvings, primarily in Sweden. Some of these symbols are readily identifiable in the later alphabets, while others represent ideas and concepts which were incorporated into the names of the runes (sun, horse, etc.). The exact meanings of these sigils are now lost to us, as is their original purpose, but they are believed to have been used for divination or lot-casting, and it is fairly certain that they contributed to the magical function of the later runic alphabets.
There is some debate over the origin of the "alphabet" aspect of the runes. Cases have been made for both Latin and Greek derivation, and several scholars are once again arguing in favour of both these theories. However, the strongest evidence still seems to point to a North Italic origin. The parallels between the two alphabets are too close to be ignored, particularly in the forms of the letters, as well as in the variable direction of the writing, and certain structural and even symbolic characteristics. This would also explain why so many of the runes resemble Roman letters, since both Italic and Latin scripts are derived from the Etruscan alphabet (itself a branch of the Western Greek family of alphabets). This theory would place the original creation of the futhark sometime before the 1st. century c.e., when the Italic scripts were absorbed and replaced by the Latin alphabet. Linguistic and phoenetic analysis points to an even earlier inception date, perhaps as far back as 200 b.c.e.
When the northern tribes began integrating the Italic alphabets into their own symbolic system, they gave the letters names relating to all aspects of their secular and religious lives, thus transforming their simple pictographs into a magical alphabet which could be used for talismans, magical inscriptions and divination.
The Elder Futhark
The name "futhark", like the word "alphabet", is derived from the first few letters in the runic sequence, which differs considerably from the order of the Latin alphabet and is unique amongst alphabetic scripts. The futhark originally consisted of 24 letters, beginning with F and ending with O, and was used by the northern Germanic tribes of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Northern Germany. This form of the runes is known as the Elder, or Germanic Futhark.
The Anglo-Saxon Futhorc
The Anglo-Saxon Futhorc
Sometime around the fifth century AD, changes occurred in the runes in Frisia (the area around the northern Netherlands and north-western Germany). This period coincided with the Anglo-Saxon invasions from this area and the appearance of similar runes in the British Isles. The forms of several of the runes changed, notably the runes for A/O, C/K, H, J, S, and Ng. Also, changes in the language led to between five and nine runes being added to the alphabet to compensate for the extra sounds, and several runes were given different corresponding letters. This alphabet has become known as the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc.
The Younger Futhark
The Younger Fuþark (Danish variation)
In Scandinavia, the Elder Futhark remained in use until some time around the eighth century (the time of the Eddas), when drastic changes in the Old Norse language occurred, and corresponding changes in the runic alphabet were made to accommodate the new sounds. However, unlike the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc, the Younger Futhark (as it is now called) reduced the number of runes from 24 to 16, and several runes came to represent multiple sounds. The forms of the runes were also changed and simplified. There are several variations of this futhark - Danish, long branch, Norwegian, dotted, etc.
This form of the runic alphabet spread from Denmark north into Sweden and Norway, and was carried into Iceland and Greenland by the Vikings. It is possible that they were also brought to North America with the Vinland expeditions, but so far no authenticated inscriptions have been found.
The Runic Revival
The runes, primarily in their Younger form, remained in common use until well into the 17th. century. Up until this time, they were found on everything from coins to coffins, and in some places their use was actually sanctioned by the Church. Even the common people knew simple runic spells, and the runes were frequently consulted on matters of both public and private interest. Unfortunately, as with most of the magical arts, they were officially banned in 1639 as part of the Church's efforts to "drive the devil out of Europe". The rune masters were either executed or went underground, and the knowledge of the runes may well have died with them. Some say that the knowledge was passed on in secret, but it is almost impossible to separate ancient traditions from more modern esoteric philosophies in such cases.
Perhaps the darkest period in the history of runic studies was their revival by German scholars connected with the Nazi movement in the 20's and 30's. What began as a legitimate folkloric resurgence unfortunately became so tainted by Nazi ideology and racism that the research from this period was rendered all but useless to any serious student of runic lore.
After the Second World War, the runes fell into disfavour as a result of their association with Naziism, and very little was written about them until the fifties and sixties. It was not until the mid-eighties, with the widespread appeal of the "New Age" movement and the revival of Pagan religions (especially the Asatru movement) that the runes regained their popularity as both a divinatory system and a tool for self-awareness.
I hope to add to this later..................
ALGIZ - THE RUNE OF PROTECTION. "You are safe." ALGIZ is the Rune of Protection. It is the Rune of defence, of survival, of instinctive protective action, of sacred or magical resistance, of shielding against conflict. It attracts positive energy, repels attack, wards off evil, shelters from ill-will and ill-wishing. It places a protective energy shield around people, animals and property, particularly those under threat from other people, animals, or spirits. It helps individuals find their true purpose in life. It protects and defends on a physical, spiritual, mental and emotional level; it shields out ego, negative energy, delusion and illusion. ALGIZ is not a weapon, but a passive, defensive shield (THURISAZ is the active weapon of attack or defence). ALGIZ is associated with the animal kingdom; its protective power is linked to "Fetches" (power animals, familiars, totems). In the Northern Tradition each person has a Light Fetch and a Dark Fetch, which guide, advise, protect, assist and teach. The Light Fetch is the equivalent of the power animal of other cultures, usually openly acknowledged and regarded as sharing its positive qualities with those whom it guides. The Dark Fetch is a more complex concept, often relating to something suppressed (for example, someone terrified of snakes might have a snake as their Dark Fetch, someone who likes to be seen as invulnerable might have a small, timid mouse). However much disliked or rejected by the individual, the Dark Fetch is also a powerful guiding, protecting and teaching influence, working at a deeper level than the Light Fetch. The concept of Fetches needs to be understood by anyone using ALGIZ for protection, or the appearance of the Dark Fetch answering a call for help may create more alarm than the original problem! In a Runecast, ALGIZ is likely to mean some form of protective influence coming into your life, at a time when you are under threat. This protection may come from a person, a power animal, an invocation, or a guardian of some sort ... or it may come from within yourself as an instinct to be wary, not to trust someone or something, to make sure that you are not vulnerable in some respect. This Rune will not necessarily shield you completely, but will defend you from the worse outcome of a threat or attack. It may also relate to your appointment as a guardian, trustee, gatekeeper or defender of some kind. In certain circumstances, it may indicate finding your true purpose, often with assistance from guides and/or power animals. EOLH, ALGIZ or EOLHS This is the rune of protection. It tells of a fortunate new influence entering your life. You should follow your instincts now as they will hit the mark. Friendships are in the picture, either new or old friends will lend you useful assistance. EOLH is often a prediction of an opportunity someone will give you. Accepting the offer or opportunity will turn you in a beneficial new direction. As usual, look to the placement of EOLH and the surrounding runes to find information of the type of offer. If any harm is pending, you are likely to receive a strong premonition. Use and trust your intuition. This rune can indicate that a "guardian angel" is hovering. EOLH REVERSED Drawing EOLH REVERSED shows a time when you are vulnerable. You may have to sacrifice something with no gain. Someone may be deceiving or misleading you. Be on guard for trouble from any direction. EOLH REVERSED tells that there is someone you should avoid, or perhaps an offer that you should refuse. Someone may be using you. Consult the surrounding runes for a clearer indication of this. Beware of new "friends" , someone will try and use you. It is possible that you are deceiving yourself, don't expect something for nothing. If you are behaving with greed or are being naive, someone is sure to try and con you. In questions regarding love, delay a new relationship until more is known about their character and motives. The rune's name: Algiz The Meaning: Elk, protection, swan, yr:yew, yew bow (used in runic inscription only), kilt worn for protection to carry thing in when not worn. The sound: Z (-R) The Germanic name: Algis, Algiz or Elhaz The Gothic name: Algiz The Norse name: Ihwar The Anglo Saxon name: Eolh or Olh The Gaelic name: Eileadh The Icelandic name: Elgr (?) The Norwegian name: Elgr KEY WORDS: protection, elk, peace, friendship, defense, banishment of negativity POSSIBLE DIVINATORY MEANING: This is a very positive Rune indicating protection in your work or in your love life. Also a Rune of friendship, good influences, and protection from misfortunes. If harm does threaten, you will receive a strong premonition of the disaster that enables you to take caution and prepare. Our Higher Power, Spirit Guides, Guardian Angels or Protectors look out for us at all times. This Rune makes us more aware of them! Always be careful of theft - don't invite it. Lock up belongings, car, house, etc. Leave nothing to chance. In any new relationship always use your intuition and proceed with caution until you are assured you have mutual friends and trust established. This Rune upside down is a 60's "peace" symbol, e.g., "no war," "no nuke," etc. Be more careful not to be deceived and really use your intuition to avoid what you must. The Algiz-rune, the Elk-rune, should only be used when the sound of "r" is the last rune in a word. When you see runic inscriptions written with Latin letters, the Algiz-rune is written as a capitalized "R". SOWILO - THE RUNE OF THE SUN "I am the Sun." SOWILO is the Rune of the Sun. This Rune is not the subtle, magical light of daybreak (DAGAZ), but the sun’s light at noon in midsummer. Rich, golden, unwavering, pouring down massive heat and light from without, SOWILO is bright with a brightness that is impossible to look upon, an unwavering, blazing, majestic, irresistible, overpowering radiance. SOWILO makes things mercilessly plain - so plain that you may feel inadequate, shrivelling from this undiluted power! SOWILO is an external force, reminding us of things which are not within our control. It burns through years of shielding, exposes, dries out, overwhelms, cuts down to size, shows how small and insignificant we are in the great scheme of things. Yet SOWILO, though a stern power, is not a cruel one. For SOWILO, giver of life, is the Rune of holistic healing and the way-shower of the day. It heals and recharges us, enables us to see ourselves clearly, controls our egos, teaches us our proper place in the order of things. It fills us with strength and well-being, reminds us of the great power of which we are a part, impartially radiates light and warmth, clarifies misunderstandings, dissolves shame and guilt in waves of healing heat and light, motivates us to change in accordance with the greater plan. The solar serpent of SOWILO represents our guides, higher consciousness, power words, healing abilities, and energy which comes from without to replenish our bodies. In a Runecast, SOWILO is likely to mean everything becoming mercilessly clear via some outside force, which exposes falsehoods and false premises, brings everything out into the open, clears up ambiguities and misunderstandings, demystifies everything, and opens up secrets to public gaze. This Rune can also mean facing a greater power than yourself, having no place to hide, feeling overpowered and exposed, being cut down to size, receiving (or giving) some blunt speaking, facing up to glaring imperfections, getting rid of subtlety and deviousness. However, it can also mean healing, drying out, ending of depression or misery, getting things into proportion, becoming able to see straight, and feeling recharged with energy and warmth. SIGEL, SIGIL, SOWELU or SYGEL SIGEL is a rune of victory, health, and success. It indicates a time when power will be available to you for positive changes in your life. In a generally positive reading, SIGEL is an indication of your being healthy and of you overcoming opposition. RELAX ! Don't let worry and tension get you. In a runecast with RAIDHO, WUNJO, OTHEL or FEHU, you are being a workaholic. Paired with negative runes SIGEL foretells of over exertion. This rune could be a warning that your stressful lifestyle may deteriorate your health. When SIGEL is shown with HAGALL, ISA, NIED or THURISAZ, you may wish to be in total control of your life at all times, and if this is not possible you are likely to feel anxious and helpless. Despite all this, SIGEL is generally considered a positive rune. NO REVERSE The rune's name: Sowilo The Meaning: Sun, the power of sun, bright. The sound: S The Germanic name: Sugil (Sowilo) The Gothic name: Saugil The Norse name: Sól The Anglo Saxon name: Sigel or Sigil The Gaelic name: Soilleir The Icelandic name: Sól The Norwegian name: Sol Old Danish: sulu Old German: sil, sulhil, sigo KEY WORDS: wholeness, life's energy, sun's energy, health, wise direction POSSIBLE DIVINATORY MEANING: In reference to one's health, this is a good Rune to draw. Indicates healing is on the way. If feeling depressed, ask yourself, "Are you communicating with nature? Are you seeking out day light activities, too?" Be in harmony with nature because we need quiet time in the sun and the garden of life. This Rune is one of great power and success. Especially if you are involved in a taxing project. Still, know when to quit or slow down. The energy is there when you really need it - don't abuse it, center and balance yourself. In relationships, success is possible. The usual compatibility thing of common interests, et., will determine the longevity, though. Warning against over-exertions, bad diet, executive stress and living on the nerves. Pay attention to warning signs before it's
EHWAZ - THE RUNE OF THE HORSE "The whole is greater than the sum of the parts." EHWAZ is the Rune of the Horse. It is the Rune of humankind’s relationship with the animal kingdom, the natural world, the earth and all her creatures ... symbolised by humanity’s symbiotic, or even dependent, relationship with the horse. The horse was a sacred, as well as an extremely useful, animal in Nordic culture. ODIN’s steed, SLEIPNIR, was an eight-legged horse (sometimes defined as a mare and stallion harnessed together, sometimes as a spider because of ODIN’s shamanic riding of the Web of Wyrd). However, EHWAZ does not relate to the horse as a Fetch or Power Animal (this role belongs to ALGIZ), but to the horse as a living creature - an animal which provided the ancient peoples with their only means of swift personal transport on land, plus an important source of power for agriculture and for the carriage of goods. EHWAZ therefore relates to the practical, sacred-within-the-everyday aspects of our relationship with the animal world, and with our own animal natures. Provided only that its requirements are respected, EHWAZ is therefore an empowering, enabling, and confirmatory force. Because of the symbolic, sacred, and symbiotic relationship between human and horse, EHWAZ is sometimes seen as the Rune of dynamic relationships between people, particularly long-term and multiple partnerships (in the family, community, or business), where those involved are "moving forward harmoniously together". EHWAZ is also the Rune of dynamic relationship with oneself, (building upon GEBO’s static balance). In particular, EHWAZ is the Rune of the Fetch Husband or Fetch Wife (the "male within" every woman, the "female within" every man, the animus and anima), whose development enables each individual to become a complete human being. EHWAZ is a complex, challenging Rune to grasp, but one which expands understanding and abilities, much as the speed and power of the horse must have expanded the horizons and capabilities of our ancestors. In a Runecast, EHWAZ is likely to mean a great expansion of your abilities and understanding, particularly in relation to your feminine side (if you are male) or your masculine side (if you are female) ... for a man, involvement in something requiring creativity, nurturing, imagination, gentleness, or attention to fine detail ... for a woman, involvement in something requiring judgement, analysis, logic, decisiveness, an ability to take a broad perspective. It can also mean empowerment, an opportunity to learn a new skill (particularly as part of a team), an integration of different sides of your life or personality, a new role which allows you to use skills which you were not previously using, self-development, creating something as a member of a partnership or team. This Rune can also symbolise a dynamic relationship, a move forward within a partnership or group relationship, good teamwork, a team victory. EHWAZ, EH or EOW This rune represents movement and changes. Travelling, a change of occupation or maybe a new dwelling place. EHWAZ tells of a change for the better. Gradual development and steady progress are indicated. This rune may mean a journey, especially if paired with RAIDHO (short distance), or LAGAZ (long distance). With ANSUZ REVERSED it means visiting a sick relative and with BEORC the changes or travel involves a family get together. EHWAZ indicates that you are going about a problem correctly. If paired with ANSUZ, JERA, or MANNAZ someone with good judgment is helping you. EHWAZ REVERSED EHWAZ REVERSED in your runecast is a good indication that you are feeling restless or confined in a situation. This is not a really a negative rune even though it is reversed. You are perhaps craving a change. Sometimes a distant journey is involved. This is especially the case if paired with LAGAZ. If RAIDHO is present in the spread, the journey will only be a temporary one. If travel is indicated, it will probably leave you with the feeling of having wasted your time. If URUZ is in the spread, a sudden or unexpected change is indicated. If EHWAZ REVERSED is in a negative reading, the advice is to not make any changes in your life now. Be sure that what you are involved in is timely. The rune's name: Ehwaz The Meaning: Horse, stallion, arise, wake up. The sound: ? The Germanic name: Eys (Ehwaz) The Gothic name: Aihs The Norse name: Ehol, Ior The Anglo Saxon name: Eh or Eoh The Gaelic name: Eirich The Icelandic name: Eykur The Norwegian name: Eh, Eol KEY WORDS: Movement, gradual growth, change POSSIBLE DIVINATORY MEANING: This Rune represents many different things. It can signify a change in your life, like relocating because of a new job, acquiring a new home or just plain moving to a new locale. It also indicates that progress is being made, although it be gradual, keep your mind open to change. This Rune can also refer to our means of conveyance. All kind relied on the horse for transportation for pleasure and work until the modern invention of the car, train, boat, plane, etc. It can refer to our modern conveyances as well. A trip for pleasure may be in the off-spring. This rune stands for gradual developmental and steady progress. Get rid of hang ups and throw yourself into an adventure. Move, do something! Indicates travel plans soon or even a long pleasurable journey so plan accordingly. Short trips may be demanded of you possibly to accomplish necessary business when an unexpected change occurs. Sometimes this Rune can also indicate an unexpected change of travel plans with the outcome not necessarily a bad one! MANNAZ - THE RUNE OF HUMANKIND "Namaste ... The divine within me acknowledges the divine within you." MANNAZ is the Rune of Humankind. It is the Rune of "the divine, made human", the point at which humanity and spirit overlap, the Rune of the dual mind which distinguishes humankind from the animals. Just as EHWAZ links the animal kingdom and the human race, so MANNAZ links humankind and the dimension of spirit. Therefore, MANNAZ represents those qualities which are the highest forms of "humanity". MANNAZ is the Rune of the mind, of intellectual and spiritual understanding harnessed together, and of all the attributes of mind; of tolerance, connection, friendship, co-operative effort, fairness, justice tempered with mercy, anti-discriminatory measures, openness to others’ perspectives, positive compromise, win-win situations, acceptance of divergent views, valuing the diversity of humankind. It is the Rune of development towards a more perfect state of being, of harnessing the left- and right- brain thinking of TIWAZ and BERKANO into a unified entity within the heart, of dawning understanding that all humanity, indeed all life, is truly a single perfect whole. From this reaching for perfection, it becomes the Rune of social order and civilisation. In the Northern Tradition, humankind was created when the first man and woman were carved out of an ash and an elm log respectively, and ODIN (and his two brothers) breathed life (and other qualities) into the wood. MANNAZ is the Rune of humanity in transition between the unawareness of wood and the wisdom and knowledge of the divine - of humankind moving towards, or returning to, the Absolute. This Rune is a place of integration - if we choose to use it as such. In a Runecast, MANNAZ is likely to mean a project or piece of work coming together after a long struggle; a solution to a problem which is fairly satisfactory to all concerned; a compromise which opens up a way forward; an "inspired" solution which can also be justified by the use of facts and figures; the conscious use of the mind to make optimal choices; doing something for the good of the whole of humankind. It can also mean rising above some provocation or difficulty, finding an opportunity to forgive or to ask for forgiveness, dealing with a difficult situation in a civil and civilised way, giving or receiving help or support (perhaps to or from an unexpected quarter), working with people you would prefer to avoid in order to achieve a beneficial result; having something turn out better than expected because of the intervention of a third party; releasing yourself from the chains of instinctive compulsions. Occasionally, this Rune will signify the arrival of a guide or teacher in your life. MANNAZ or MAN MANNAZ is the rune of assistance and team work. You can expect to receive some sort of aid or cooperation now. Possibly in the form of good advice. ( Especially if paired with ANSUZ. ) Surrounded by positive runes, MANNAZ indicates that now is a very good time to implement any plans. It speaks of constructive activity with the assistance of many people. MANNAZ in your reading hints to be on the lookout for a new aquaintance, one that will enlarge your outlook and contacts. If the surrounding runes are negative, you may have blown a problem way out of proportion and are on the verge of giving up. In that case you may be too caught up in a problem to solve it, and should seek advice from someone. It is important for you to have a positive attitude now. If it needs adjusting, do it. If there are delay runes (NIED, ISA, OTHEL and ANSUZ REVERSED), the time is not right for projects. Take special care to remain modest. This rune may indicate magickal ability especially if paired with PERDHRO or LAGAZ. Although LAGAZ in a spread with MANNAZ may also mean trouble with women, as always, look to the placement in the spread and the surrounding runes. MANNAZ REVERSED This rune appearing reversed tells you to expect no help now. MANNAZ REVERSED in your reading may indicate a time when you are feeling isolated and lonely. Perhaps you have (or will) separated yourself from others to "pull yourself together", and reflect on your life. There will be obstacles, ( especially if found with HAGALL or NIED) and someone or more likely a group may be interfering in with your business. If this is the case, look at the surrounding runes to show how to deal with them. If ISA or NIED are in the runecast, the advice is to wait. With JERA, the advice is to use legal means. When paired with TIR, the advice of MANNAZ REVERSED is to fight. Selfishness on your part may be part of the problem. You should try and see things from point of view of someone else. The rune's name: Mannaz The Meaning: Man, husband, human being, intellect. The sound: M The Germanic name: Manna (Mannaz) The Gothic name: Manna The Norse name: Maðr The Anglo Saxon name: Mann The Gaelic name: Mofein The Icelandic name: Maður The Norwegian name: Madr KEY WORDS: Man, Self-esteem. POSSIBLE DIVINATORY MEANING: This is the rune of our dealings and interactions with each other as a society. Do not be judgmental, prejudice or self-righteous in your dealing with others. This rune also indicates how you feel others see you. How you perceive yourself. Your self-esteem. This rune represents love of family, relatives, friends and all humankind. It is a loving warm friendly rune that encourages generosity by giving of yourself. Drawing this rune can mean you may hear from a relative, friend, or acquaintance you have been wanting to hear from and/or see. If you haven't heard from someone in a long time and have been angry with them, then it is time to get in touch with them to patch things up. Be positive about your accomplishments, but do not be a braggart. Enjoy being industrious. Learn, grow, and know yourself better. If you have been sick, slow down and take care of yourself. If you have a problem, you have the energy within to resolve it. If the problem is too large, then seek help. Remember that no one is an island. We are all a part of humankind and there is always a higher power or someone else that can help. Love yourself and accept your faults whatever they may be. By doing so, you will be able to love and share with others unselfishly. Learning to do this is what makes living a real joy...loving and being loved.