Wednesday, January 9, 2013


          Runic alphabets were used to write various Germanic languages before the adoption of the Latin alphabet.  The earliest runic inscriptions date from around AD 150. The characters were generally replaced by the Latin alphabet as the cultures that had used runes underwent Christianization, by approximately AD 700 in central Europe and AD 1100 in Northern Europe. However, the use of runes persisted for specialized purposes in Northern Europe. Until the early 20th century runes were used in rural Sweden for decorative purposes in Dalarna and on Runic calendars.  The three best-known runic alphabets are the Elder Futhark (around AD 150–800), the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc (AD 400–1100), and the Younger Futhark (AD 800–1100). 

               In runic writing, a space, a single dot (.) or two dots (:) may break the symbols or words. Sometimes no break was used and the rune symbols all run together. Runic writing can run from left to right, or from right to left; sometimes even from top to bottom or the opposite.  They can also be bind.  Bindrunes consist of two or more runes superimposed on each other, sharing a common stem.

               Since ancient times, runes have been used for divination and magic, in addition to writing. The word "rune" actually means mystery, secret or whisper. Each rune has esoteric meanings and properties associated with it, beyond its mundane meaning and phonetic value. Each translates into a word or a phrase signifying concepts important to the early peoples who used them, representing the forces of nature and mind. Each rune has a story attached to it, a relationship to a Norse God.

               Odin A, 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 the runes appeared below him, he reached down and took them up, and the runic knowledge gave him power.  He later passed on this knowledge to the Vanir Goddess Freya f. She, in turn, taught him the magic of seidr.  Heimdall x, the God who guarded the Rainbow Bridge, taught the runes to mankind.

               Runic alphabets first appeared among German tribes in Central and Eastern Europe. Some runes symbols are likely to have been acquired from other alphabets, such as the Greek, Etruscan, and the Early Roman.  The runes were made of straight lines to make the characters suitable for cutting into wood or stone.  The earliest runic inscriptions on stone are dated to the late 3rd century AD, although it is probable that runic alphabets had been in use for some centuries before.


a (Ansuz, knowledge, communication, Aesir)  A

air (Wind, change, wisdom, spirit)


b (Berkanan, growth, renewal, birch)  b


c (Cen, torch, safety, heat)  c


d (Daeg, transition, beginning, day)  d

dragon (Destroyer, chaos, primal force)


e (Ehwaz, movements, adaptability, horse)  e

ea (Ear, stability, home, strength, earth)  q

eo/ei (Eiwaz, defense, protection, accept, yew)  I

f (Fehu, wealth, prosperity, possessions)  f


g (Gar, sacrifice, dignity, spear, gift)  G


h (Haglaz, transformation, hail, balance)  h


i (Isaz, ice, blockage, standstill)  i

ing (Inguz, fertility, peace, harmony)  N

io/ia (Iar, serpent, dual forces, encircling)  j


j (Jera, harvest, gradual  changes)  j


k (Kenaz, light, creativity, passion)  k

kk (Kalc, chalice, offering)  K


l (Laguz, flow, truth, emotion, water)  l


m (Mannaz, man, humanity, self)  m

moon (Manni, freedom, change, family)  d


n (Naudiz, need, desires, sorrow)  n

ng (Ingwaz, masculine, expectations)  q

o (Othala, ancestors, foundation, property)  o

p (Peord, feminine, hidden talents, secrets)  p

q (Cweorth, action, fire, power) 


r (Raido, journey, quest, travel)  r


s (Sowilo, guide, purity, Sunna, life)  s

st (Stan, stone, strength, achieve) 


t (Teiwaz, honor, justice, Tyr, courage)  t

th (Thurisaz, conflicts, defense, thorn, force)  T


u (Uruz, strength, health, auroch)  u


v/w (Wunjo, glory, joy, temperance)  w


x/z (Algiz, protection, safety, elk)  z

y (Yr, skill, status, lessons, bow)  y


G Waxing Maiden Air Moon                                        

m New Dark Earth Moon

M Full Mother Fire Moon                                    

T Waning Crone Water Moon



All Father Odin, the Rune Master.

Lead me to true knowledge

of the sacred runes.


Freya, Mistress of Beauty,

reveal to me the future paths.


Heimdall, Guardian to All,

escort me through the past.


Tyr, Master of Justice,

guide me to present glory.


So may it be.



  1. the square with x symbol is not a distroyer, you need to read more

    1. True - it is a complex mark that is not a true Norse Rune but one that I use for rituals. It comes from Orlanthi Runes -

      In many cultures dragons are viewed as representing the primal forces in nature and the universe. They can alternately breathe Fire, poison or ice. These abilities demonstrate that they are both creators and destroyers. Fire gives life (and sometimes death); ice and poison mete out death. Early muskets were named “dragons” due to their fire-spitting ability. Likewise, muskets can serve either to procure food and preserve life or to dole out death in battle. Check out the Dragon Rune in February Posts and Thank You for help clearing it up.

  2. Link share from a reader:

  3. Question from reader: I don't suppose you know when/how cweorth became associated with the funeral pyre/fire-twirl? According to Elliot the word "cweorth" has no meaning (and I double checked, unsurprisingly my Anglo-Saxon dictionary backs him up) and there is no verse for cweorth, but most people associate it with a ritual fire or a funeral fire and I have no idea *why*.

    Hail and Thank You! You are correct with you research and there is no real answer 'why' but let me maybe expand from what I know.

    There are several systems of runes that can be used. The most common and oldest form is the Elder Futhark with 24 runes - from 2nd to 8th centuries. Most people who work with runes prefer to stick to the basic 24 Futhark set, largely because those are what they can find all around them. Then there is the Anglo Saxon and Frisian which adds on 5 more runes - starting about 5th centuries. The Anglo-Saxon is much more adaptable for writing ordinary messages in English, as they contain certain letters and sounds that Norse doesn't use. And finally there is the Northumbrian which is more uncommon and adds on 4 more runes. (There is also rune systems in Armanen, Younger Futhark, Gothic, Cipher, Orlanthi, Medieval and many other sets)

    The Northumbrian runes are an extension of the Anglo-Saxon runes. It adds 4 more runes to the Anglo-Saxon set making the total 33 runes. Examples of them can be found in the Cottonian Collection, now at the British Library. The Domitian is one manuscript there with Anglo Saxon Chronicles and Futhorc Row - from about 11th century. But many manuscripts there are now in fragments with parts completely destroyed. So, like stan, calc and gar, there is no standard poem, lore or text.

    Cweorð may be a modification of peorð. But of the four additional letters, only the cweorth rune fails to appear epigraphically. In the Domitian manuscript there are a total of 33 letters, one of the only few known examples of its use that I can think of. And like you pointed out, it was more for the letter q, instead of fire. Add into the mix that I have heard of may be a misinterpretation and the mystery deepens.

    I read from Raven Kaldera at Northern Shamanism The author Galina Krasskova book 'Runes Theory and Practice' or author Alaric Albertsson 'Wyrdworking'. The British Library would be another resource But cweorth is not a Norse word and an irregular rune so there is not much historical information. Blessed Be!