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The runes are an ancient Germanic alphabet used for many purposes including writing, divination and magic. Mainly used throughout northern Europe at about 100 BCE to 1600CE.
Tacitus, in Chapter X of his Germania, describes a form of divination used by Germanic tribes:
"To divination and casting of lots, they pay attention beyond any other people. Their method of casting lots is a simple one: they cut a branch from a fruit-bearing tree and divide it into small pieces which they mark with certain distinctive signs and scatter at random onto a white cloth. Then, the priest of the community if the lots are consulted publicly, or the father of the family if it is done privately, after invoking the gods and with eyes raised to heaven, picks up three pieces, one at a time, and interprets them according to the signs previously marked upon them."
Runes are an oracle from which you seek advice. It is best if your describe your current situation and ask detailed questions. The reading can be somewhat obscure, they cant imply certain answers, but this is where your intuition kicks in.
Runes are a system of divination which helps you analyse your path which you will take if you continue doing what you would, that is the most probable outcome. The future is not fixed in concrete. It changes all the time, if you don't like the outcome, then take action to change it.
In ancient times, runes were used for divination and magic, in addition to writing. The word "rune" means mystery, secret or whisper. Each rune has esoteric meaning and properties beyond its mundane meaning and phonetic value. Each rune translates into a word or a phrase signifying concepts important to the people of old who used them, representing the forces of nature and mind. Each rune has a story attached to it, a relationship to a deity.
Odin, the Norse High God of the Aesir, hung from the world tree, Yggdrasil, impaled on his own spear, for nine days and nights in order to gain the knowledge of runes. When they appeared below him, he reached down and to pick them up. The runic knowledge gave him power . He later taught this knowledge to the Vanir goddess Freyja. She in return taught him the magic of seithr. Heimdall, the god who guarded the Rainbow Bridge, taught the runes to humans.
Runic alphabets first appeared among German tribes in central and eastern Europe. Some runes symbols were taken from other alphabets such as that of the Greeks, the Etruscans and the Rearly Romans. They were designed to be suitable to carve into wood and stone. The most early runic inscriptions are dated to the late thired century CE, but it is most probable that they have been used long before that.
The Elder Futhark, or the old Germanic alphabet, contains 24 letters divided into three aettrs. The first six runes spell out futhark. as the runes spread further north in Europe, some runes were removed from the alphabet, this reduced it to 16. In about 500CE, thee Germanic tribes invaded Britain. They brought the runes with them and some were changed.
One who aspires to become adept with runes must have some knowledge of the mythology, history, and culture of ancient Europe and Scandinavia. Much of what you find here will merely point you in the right direction. The rest is up to you. Delve as lightly or as deeply as you wish.
I work with the "Elder Futhark" the runic alphabet which is a composite of the symbols most commonly used in northern Europe. The names of the runes of the Elder Futhark are speculative recreations of what linguists call "proto-Germanic" or "Indo-European".
There are many versions of the runic alphabets. Each has variations in names, shapes, esoteric meanings and magical uses. One should not mix futharks, or the intent or meaning becomes mixed. The Elder Futhark, the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc, and the Younger (or Scandinavian) Futhark are most today.
The runes are broken into three sections or groups of eight, called aett (aettir, plural). This helps to remember order, and has magickal uses also.
First the rune name is given, then its phonetic value, its symbolic image, and finally the esoteric meaning used in divination. If a rune is reversed (upside down) in a rune reading, it has a different meaning than if upright. Some runes look the same upside down and right side up. These cannot be "reversed", but they may have a "merkstave" (which literally means "dark stick" and implies a dark meaning ), depending on how the runes are cast. Note that a "reversed" or "merkstave" meaning is not the opposite of its primary meaning, but usually has a more negative one.
Fehu (F: Domestic cattle, wealth.)
Possessions won or earned, earned income, luck. Abundance, financial strength in the present or near future. Sign of hope and plenty, success and happiness. Social success. Energy, foresight, fertility, creation/destruction (becoming). Fehu Reversed: Loss of personal property, esteem, or something that you put in effort to keep. It indicates some sort of failure. Greed, burnout, atrophy, discord. Cowardice, stupidity, dullness, poverty, slavery, bondage.
Uruz: (U: Auroch, a wild ox.)
Physical strength and speed, untamed potential. A time of great energy and health. Freedom, energy, action, courage, strength, tenacity, understanding, wisdom. Sudden or unexpected changes (usually for the better). Sexual desire, masculine potency. The shaping of power and pattern, formulation of the self. Uruz Reversed: Weakness, obsession, misdirected force, domination by others. Sickness, inconsistency, ignorance. Lust, brutality, rashness, callousness, violence.
Thurisaz: (TH: Thorn or a Giant.)
Reactive force, directed force of destruction and defense, conflict. Instinctual will, vital eroticism, regenerative catalyst. Atendency toward change. Catharsis, purging, cleansing fire. Male sexuality, fertilization. (Thorr, the Thunder god, was of Giant stock.) Thurisaz Reversed: Danger, defenselessness, compulsion, betrayal, dullness. Evil, malice, hatred, torment, spite, lies. A bad man or woman. Rape?
Ansuz: (A: The As, ancestral god, i.e. Odhinn.)
A revealing message or insight, communication. Signals, inspiration, enthusiasm, speech, true vision, power of words and naming. Blessings, the taking of advice. Good health, harmony, truth, wisdom. Ansuz Reversed: Misunderstanding, delusion, manipulationby others, boredom. Vanity and grandiloquence. (Odhinn is a mighty, but duplicious god. He always has his own agenda.)
Raidho: (R: Wagon or chariot.)
Travel, both in physical terms and those of life-style direction. A journey, vacation, relocation, evolution, change of place or setting. Seeing a larger perspective. Seeing the right move for you to make and deciding upon it. Personal rhythm, world rhythm, dance of life. Raidho Reversed: Crisis, rigidity, stasis, injustice, irrationality. Disruption, dislocation, demotion, delusion, possibly a death.
Kenaz: (K: Beacon or torch.)
Vision, revelation, knowledge, creativity, inspiration, technical ability. Vital fire of life, harnessed power, fire of transformation and regeneration. Power to create your own reality, the power of light. Open to new strength, energy, and power now. Passion, sexual love. Kenaz Reversed: Disease, break-up, instability, lack of creativity. Nakedness, exposure, loss of illusion and false hope.
Gebo: (G: Gift.)
Gifts, both in the sense of sacrifice and of generosity, indicating balance. All matters in relation to exchanges, including contracts, personal relationships and partnerships. Gebo Merkstave (Gebo cannot be reversed, but may lie in opposition): Greed, loneliness, dependence, over-sacrifice. Obligation, toll, privation, bribery.
Wunjo: (W or V: Joy.)
Joy, comfort, pleasure. Fellowship, harmony, prosperity. Ecstasy, glory, spiritual reward, but also the possibility of going "over the top". If restrained, the meaning is general success and recognition of worth. Wunjo Reversed: Stultification, sorrow, strife, alienation. Delirium, intoxication, possession by higher forces, impractical enthusiasm. Raging frenzy, berzerker.
Hagalaz: (H: Hail.)
Wrath of nature, destructive, uncontrolled forces, especially the weather, or within the unconscious. Tempering, testing, trial. Controlled crisis, leading to completion, inner harmony. Hagalaz Merkstave (Hagalaz cannot be reversed, but may lie in opposition): Natural disaster, catastrophe. Stagnation, loss of power. Pain, loss, suffering, hardship, sickness, crisis.
Nauthiz: (N: Need.)
Delays, restriction. Resistance leading to strength, innovation, need-fire (self-reliance). Distress, confusion, conflict, and the power of will to overcome them. Endurance, survival, determination. A time to exercise patience. Recognition of one's fate. Major self-initiated change. Face your fears. Nauthiz Reversed: Constraint of freedom, distress, toil, drudgery, laxity. Necessity, extremity, want, deprivation, starvation, need, poverty, emotional hunger.
Isa: (I: Ice.)
A challenge or frustration. Psychological blocks to thought or activity, including grievances. Standstill, or a time to turn inwardand wait for what is to come, or to seek clarity. This rune reinforces runes around it. Isa Merkstave (Isa cannot be reversed, but may lie in opposition): Ego-mania, dullness, blindness, dissipation. Treachery, illusion, deceit, betrayal, guile, stealth, ambush, plots.
Jera: (J or Y: A year, a good harvest.)
The results of earlier efforts are realized.A time of peace and happiness, fruitful season. It can break through stagnancy. Hopes andexpectations of peace and prosperity. The promise of success earned. Life cycle, cyclical pattern of the universe. Everything changes, in its own time. Jera Merkstave (Jera cannot be reversed, but may lie in opposition): Sudden setback, reversals. A major change, repetition, bad timing, poverty, conflict.
Eihwaz: (EI: Yew tree.)
Strength, reliability, dependability, trustworthiness. Enlightenment, endurance. Defense, protection. The driving force to acquire, providing motivation and a sense of purpose. Indicates that you have set your sights on a reasonable target and can achieve your goals. An honest man who can be relied upon. Eihwaz Reversed: Confusion, destruction, dissatisfaction, weakness.
Perthro: (P: Lot cup, vagina.)
Uncertain meaning, a secret matter, a mystery, hidden things and occult abilities. Initiation, knowledge of one's destiny, knowledge of future matters, determining the future or your path. Pertaining to things feminine, feminine mysteries including female fertility, and vagina. Good lot, fellowship and joy. Evolutionary change. Perthro Reversed: Addiction, stagnation, loneliness, malaise.
Algiz: (Z or -R: Elk, protection.)
Protection, a shield. The protective urge to shelter oneself or others. Defense, warding off of evil, shield, guardian. Connection with the gods, awakening, higher life.It can be used to channel energiesappropriately. Follow your instincts. Keep hold of success or maintain a position won or earned. Algiz Reversed: Hidden danger, consumption by divine forces, loss of divine link. Taboo, warning, turning away, that which repels.
Sowilo: (S: The sun.)
Success, goals achieved, honor. The life-force, health. A time when power will be available to you for positive changes in your life, victory, health, and success. Contact between the higher self and the unconscious. Wholeness, power, elemental force, sword of flame, cleansing fire. Sowilo Merkstave (Sowilo cannot be reversed, but may lie in opposition): False goals, bad counsel, false success, gullibility, loss of goals. Destruction, retribution, justice, casting down of vanity. Wrath of god.
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