In pre-Christian times, in Scandinavia, the Norse used and practiced ancient runic magick and Teutonic sorcery, and this craft is still practiced today. Personally I find runes to be extremely powerful and really fast at manifesting and causing the desired effects. The Old Norse used runes (rúnar) as symbols to specific power and carved and painted rune symbols and different bind runes (“bandrúnir” – a ligature of two or more runes) on sticks, piece of wood, bones, stones, on their skin, etc. and colored them with ash, or with their own blood or saliva.
If they wanted to use runes in a more hidden way, they also used so-called “invisible runes” drawn only with once saliva. In this way, you could not see the runes with your bare eyes, but it was still there affecting and creating the desired effect. This can be used in baneful workings, like cursing or causing misfortune.
The Old Norse used runes also in a verbal way. The key to activate the rune spirit and its specific power is to vibrate the rune name as a “mantra or chant”. This method was called “Galdr” (plural Galdrar), and it is extremely powerful sorcery. Through “galdr” the ancient Nordic Sorcerers, Shamans, Fjölkunningr, Vitkar and Völvur were able to cause and perform the most powerful magick, spells, and rites… and they were even able to bind the gods to their will.
Runes Are Living Entities And Each Rune Has Its Own Consciousness, Force And Personality
The true meaning and depth of the runes is all but lost. Many books have been written about runes but I haven’t seen much written about the subject outside of Divination. Most people approach the runes and assume them to be just a divination tool or a writing system. In my opinion, this is a huge misconception. Sure, you can use runes as a divination tool or writing method – I use them in that way too, but divination is not my main focus when working with the runes. There lies a more powerful aspect to them.
What runes offer outside divination or writing system is far more valuable and powerful. Runes are the notes of the cosmic force that creates reality — they are the multi-dimensional building blocks of the 9 worlds. With rune magick you can create powerful changes in your life for your benefit. What most people seem to overlook, even in Heathen, Asatru & other pagan communities, is the fact that runes are living entities and each rune has its own consciousness, force, and personality. Thus each rune can be evoked individually, like any god, spirit, demon or angel, etc.
Runes are a part of Wyrd – the “multi-dimensional web of reality”, and it is constantly spun by the Tree Norns/Nornir called: Urd, Verdandi, and Skuld (Old Norse “Urð, Verðandi and Skulð”). These three Norns are powerful maiden Jotuns, giantesses from Jötunheimr who spin threads of life and rule the fate of all human beings and gods. Urð means the past/fate, (What Once Was), Verðandi means the present/happening (What Is Coming into Being), and Skulð the future/debt (What Shall Be). They rule and shape destiny by weaving destiny’s web, and by carving runes into the trunk of the World Tree – Yggdrasil.
Genesis – The Origin Of The Runes
The word “rune” comes from an Old Norse word “rūn”, which means “hidden, secret, whisper, mystery, magic sign”. In Old Irish Gaelic, the word rún means “mystery, secret, “intention, affectionate love.” Similarly in Welsh and Old English, the word rhin and rūn respectively means “mystery, secret, secret writing”.
The root “rūn” can also be found in the Baltic languages, meaning “speech”. In Lithuanian, “runoti” means both “to cut (with a knife)” and “to speak”. In Finnish we have the word “runo” which means “poem” or a section of the Finnish Kalevala (Epic poetry from Finnish and Karelian oral folklore and mythology).
In the lore, Óðinn (Odin) went through a shamanic Initiation rite and hung himself on the World Tree (Yggdrasil) for 9 days and nights. Wounded by his own spear, experiencing shamanic trance, suffering and giving his own blood as a sacrifice, he managed to rip open a gap, a gateway in Ginnungagap (“darkness, abyss, primordial void”) for the runes to come through.
There is a common misconception that Óðinn created the runes, but this is not the case. He only received them as a result of his Shamanic “Death — Rebirth” Initiation Rite – he did not create them.
Below are a few takes from the Hávamál (a collection of Old Norse poems):
ODIN’S QUEST AFTER THE RUNES
137. “I trow I hung on that windy Tree nine whole days and nights, stabbed with a spear, offered to Odin, myself to mine own self given, high on that Tree of which none hath heard from what roots it rises to heaven.”
138. “None refreshed me ever with food or drink, I peered right down in the deep; crying aloud I lifted the Runes then back I fell from thence.”
139. “Nine mighty songs I learned from the great son of Bale-thorn, Bestla’s sire; I drank a measure of the wondrous Mead, with the Soulstirrer’s drops I was showered.”
140. “Ere long I bare fruit, and throve full well, I grew and waxed in wisdom; word following word, I found me words, deed following deed, I wrought deeds.”
141. “Hidden Runes shalt thou seek and interpreted signs, many symbols of might and power, by the great Singer painted, by the high Powers fashioned, graved by the Utterer of gods.” 142. “For gods graved Odin, for elves graved Daïn, Dvalin the Dallier for dwarfs, All-wise for Jötuns, and I, of myself, graved some for the sons of men.”— Hávamál (Rúnatal Óðins)
Pathworking With The Runes
The powerful way of becoming acquainted with the runes is to make a set for yourself. You can use wood, stone, bone, clay etc. One of my favorite rune material is animal bone. I have always been fascinated with bones and feel a strong connection to them. If you are going to use bone to make your own rune set, If you are able to, use the bone of your spirit animal or totem.
Vet du, hur du rista skall? Vet du, hur du reda skall? Vet du, hur du färga skall? Vet du, hur du fresta skall? Vet du, hur du bedja skall? Vet du, hur du blota skall? Vet du, hur du sända skall? Vet du, hur du slopa skall?
143. Dost know how to write? Dost know how to read? Dost know how to paint? Dost know how to prove? Dost know how to ask? Dost know how to offer? Dost know how to send? Dost know how to spend?— Hávamál (Rúnatal Óðins)
Carve the runes with a special knife, a magickal tool that is only meant for rune carving. Color the runes in red, I recommend using your own blood and your saliva. Saliva is a powerful medium of communicating between worlds. As a magician and sorcerer, it is common to name your magickal tools. My rune carving knife is called “Dreyrugr” (Old Norse meaning “blood-stained”). If you want, you can also use a wood burner to carve your runes.
Red is the color of blood and fire, the color of action. Blood and fire are the things that bring your magick into life. While carving and coloring the runes, Galðr (Sing/Chant) the name of the rune, giving the rune breath and energy.
When pathworking with the runes, you can call e.g. Loki, Angrboða, Gullveig, Mimir, Óðinn, or Freyja to assist and guide you. Freyja is known to be the archetype of Völva and the First Shaman. She taught the runes to Óðinn.
Learning the runes takes discipline, but the reward is enormous. Below are some of my personal methods and practices I use:
✓ Spend 9 days with each rune and do daily Meditation & Trance-work (Útiseta Meditation — “sitting out” in the wilderness).
✓ To put your body in unusual stress is a great way to achieve shamanic altered states & trance and receive prophesy. Forex. coldness (cold shower, Útiseta “sitting out” in the wilderness in wintertime), Heat (sweat lodge, sauna, desert), etc.
✓ Paint the rún on your forehead, where your third eye resides. I recommend using a few drops of your own blood. Attain shamanic altered states and trance and simultaneously “Galðr” (Sing/Chant) the rune name — e.g. fehu would be “fff…eee…hhh…uuu” or just simply “fff…” Try both, experiment, and make notes.
✓ Don’t memorize the rune attributes from books, simply use the rune poems as your only reference — meditate on them. Let the runes themselves reveal their secrets to you.
✓ Take each rune as a part of your daily, mundane life. e.g. keep the rune in your pocket and see where it takes you and where does it manifest.
✓ Look for synchronicity during your day and always keep a record and make notes
✓ Ask the rune what it knows, what it’s powers are, what it means — Runes are powerful spirit allies. Thus each rune can be evoked individually, like any god, spirit, demon or angel, etc.
Here are the rune poems for rune “Fé/Fehu” — The first rune you will work with:
OLD NORWEGIAN RUNE POEM: “Wealth is a source of discord amongst kin; the wolf lives in the forest.”
ICELANDIC RUNE POEM: “Wealth is a source of discord amongst kin and fire of the sea and path of the serpent.”
ANGLO-SAXON RUNE POEM: “Wealth is a comfort to all; yet must everyone bestow it freely, if they wish to gain honor in the sight of the Lord”
Here are the rune poems for rune “Úr/Uruz” — The second rune you will work with:
OLD NORWEGIAN RUNE POEM: “Dross comes from bad iron; the reindeer often races over the frozen snow.”
ICELANDIC RUNE POEM: “Lamentation of the clouds and ruin of the hay-harvest and abomination of the shepherd.”
ANGLO-SAXON RUNE POEM: “The aurochs is proud and has great horns; it is a very savage beast and fights with its horns; a great ranger of the moors, it is a creature of mettle.”
Different Kind Of Runes
Personally, I use mostly the Elder Futhark Runes. Runes can be used to make magical talismans and amulets, carved on your ritual tools etc. Runes can be used individually, combined as a rune row or “bindrune” or they can also be used as keys and tools to pathwalk between the 9 worlds.
In the history of the Norse/nordic sorcerers, shamans, and witches, there is mention of this darker, more baneful side of magick, rune and spell working that was practiced by witches, sorcerers, and shamans, etc. I personally categorize them under the term of Myrkirstafir or Myrkrunar. Myrkirstafir and Myrkrunar mean “Murk Staves” or “Dark Marks” and “Dark Runes”. It includes Bölstafir (Evil marks), Flærstafir (Brands of misfortune), Beadurun (Rune of conflicts), and Valrun (Rune of death). Some of these darker runes, spells, and practices are often associated with Necromancy as well.
THE ELDER FUTHARK
Elder Futhark (also called Old Futhark, Elder Fuþark, Older Futhark) is the most popular, and the oldest form of runic symbols/alphabets. The Elder Futhark is divided into three rune rows called “Aettir”.
The first Aett is Freya’s Aettir and the runes are Fehu/Fé, Uruz/Úr, Thurizas/Thurs, Ansuz/Os, Raidho/reið, Kenaz/Ken, Gebo and Wunjo.
The second Aett is Hagal’s Aettir and the the runes are Hagalaz/Hoegl, Nauthiz, Isa/Iss, Jera, Eihwaz, Pertho, Algiz and Sowilō/Sowelu.
The third Aett is Tyr’s Aettir and the runes are Tiwaz/Teiwaz, Berkano/Bjarkan, Ehwaz, Mannaz/Mann, Laguz/Logr, Inguz/Ing, Dagaz/Dæg and Othala/Othila.
UTHARK – THE CODE OF SECRECY
During the 1930’s, professor Sigurd Agrell wrote about the controversial theory about the “Uthark” runes. According to Agrell, the Elder Futhark Runes contains a secret order and system which was only known by the initiated rune priests, sorcerers, and rune-masters. This secret rune row is called “Uthark”. Agrell wrote that:
At the positioning of the runes in a Futhark the last rune (Feh/Fehu) should be placed before the others. Thus, it has been made impossible for the uninitiated to know the real order of the runes.— Sigurd Agrell
This theory seems controversial, but personally, I think there might be some truth in it. If you will study Uthark’s esoteric meanings deeply enough, it will start to make sense. The” Ur” (primeval, “the origin” rune) being the first rune, and the “Fehu” (the goal and reward rune) being the last. Also, we know that ancient rune traditions had multiple layers and that the Nordic sorcerers created several secret rune systems hidden from the public eye.
Swedish occultist and esoteric author Thomas Karlsson has also written a great book about the Uthark theory. The book is called: “Uthark: Nightside of the Runes “, I highly recommend it.
THE YOUNGER FUTHARK
The Younger Futhark, also called “Scandinavian runes”, is reduced form of the Elder Futhark, with only 16 characters. Fé, Úr, Thurs, As/Oss, Reið, Kaun, Hagall, Nauðr, Ár, Sól, Týr, Björk/bjarkan/bjarken, Maðr, Lögr and Yr.
THE ANGLO-SAXON FUTHORC
The Anglo-Saxon Futhorc (or fuþorc) has the same three Aettir as the Elder Futhark Runes, with and extra darker Aett, which is considered to be Hela’s Aett. This Aett is connected to the “dark gods” Rokkr or Jotnar. The exception is the ninth rune, Gar, which is believed to be Odin’s rune. This is also the blank rune in Elder Futhark, or so I personally see it in divination purposes – and it works.
THE ARMANEN FUTHARKH
The Armanen runes are a series of 18 runes, closely based on the historical Younger Futhark, introduced by Austrian mysticist and Germanic revivalist Guido von List. Von List claimed they were “revealed” to him while in an 11-month state of temporary blindness (1902). List stated that his Armanen Futharkh were encrypted in the Rúnatal of the Poetic Edda (stanzas 138 to 165 of the Hávamál), with stanzas 147 through 165, where Odin/Oðinn enumerates eighteen wisdoms, the “song of the 18 runes”. List and many of his followers believed his runes to represent the “primal runes” upon which all historical rune rows were based.
THE WITCHES’ RUNES
The Witches Runes have no clear origin but they are evidently a modern wiccan invention. The reason I am mentioning them here is the fact that you won’t mistakenly confuse them with the Norse/Nordic Runes. The Witches Runes are 13 altogether (although some other variations do exist) and they are a series of symbols that can be used in divination or in magick work.
Theban alphabet, also known as “witches’ alphabet”, “Honorian alphabet” or “Runes of Honorius” is a writing system or cipher alphabet with unknown origins. The alphabet was first mentioned in Johannes Trithemius’s Polygraphia (1518), in which it was attributed to Honorius of Thebes, the legendary magus from the Middle Ages.
Theban alphabet is not a runic alphabet, but it is commonly used in modern Wicca and other forms of witchcraft to hide and protect magical writings such as the contents of a Book of Shadows. For magical empowerment, different symbols and letters are often carved to magical tools and ritual implements as well.
Norse Magick Rune Categories
Below I have listed some of the runes, their features, and how they can be combined. Categorizing runes can sometimes be a tricky business, and mastering them takes time, discipline, and experience…
Svartrúnar means “dark runes or black runes”. These runes are used to work with dark rune magick and shadow sorcery. Also baneful magick. The Svartrúnar are Pertho/Peorth, Ior, Ear, and Cweorth.
Audhstafr means “stave of riches”; the audhstafr runes are Fehu, Gyfu, and Jera. These runes can be used individually or combined as a “bindrune” in order to bring wealth, financial success, abundance, and prosperity.
Hugrúnar means “mind runes”, runes to memory and loquacity. These runes can be used to improve the mind, speech, etc.
Gamanrúnar means runes of joy or pleasure. The Gamanrúnar are Wunjo, Sowilo/Sigil, and Chalc/Calc.
Sigrúnar (Runes of Victory), recorded that were used on garments, artifacts, or weapons. Allegedly offered an advantage in situations of risk and the battlefield.
Limrúnar (“healing runes” Uruz, Berkana, Laguz, and Ac. They are also called Liknstafr (“health/healing stave”, and are used for healing work when combined into bind runes).
Galdrastafr (“Stave of magic”), Flærdgstafr (“stave of deception” Hagalaz, Nyth, and Thurisaz/Thorn), Trollrúnar (“the runes of the Thurses” Thorn/Thurisaz).
Myrkstafr (“Murky Stave”, the negative aspects of any given rune), Myrkirstafir, and Myrkrúnar means “Murk Staves” or “Dark Marks” and “Dark Runes”. It includes Bölstafir (Evil marks), Flærstafir (Brands of misfortune), Beadurún (Rune of conflicts) and Valrún (Rune of death).
Jotna-villur (This word means the bewilderments, the shadowy enchantments of the Jotnar and Etins (giants).
Divination With Runes
Three Runes Cast – The Three Nornir
This rune cast method is named after the three powerful maiden Jotuns (giantesses), the goddesses of fate. This rune reading gives an overview of the past, future, and present influences at work in relation to a specific question. This method is helpful in getting an overall fix on a given situation and providing some ideas about a future outcome.
Rune Position 1. The place of Urð
The first rune to the left corresponds to the Norn Urð, representing what has been all the past actions and events that affect the question and current situation. A rune in this position reveals events in the past that have direct relevance to the present situation and form the foundations of the future.
Rune Position 2. The place of Verðandi
The middle rune corresponds to the Norn Verðandi and that which is, as well as the path you, or the person you’re reading for, are currently on. It reflects all those influences in the present that relate directly to the question. The Verðandi rune frequently points to a choice that needs to be made. This rune refers to present circumstances and will point out any choices that will have to be made in the very near future.
Rune Position 3. The place of Skulð
The third rune corresponds to the Norn Skulð. Signifying the future and that which is to become, the Skulð rune points to the likely outcome to your question if you continue on your present path, or at least one of the possible end results. In some instances, the Skulð rune may signify the fate of the questioner. This rune relates to the veiled future. It may also reveal an aspect of your fate that is as yet unknown. It may equally either show the outcome of current trends or provide a possible future scenario that is dependent on the choices that you make.
The Nine Runes Cast – Thor’s Hammer
This 9 rune method will give a detailed overview of a person’s situation, providing insight into where they are in terms of their spiritual path, clarifying the options and possible outcomes available to them.
Rune Position 1. What mask do you show the world?
Rune Position 2. What fears are within you?
Rune Position 3. What are you seeking?
Rune Position 4. How should you best approach this?
Rune Position 5. What do you hope to become?
Rune Position 6. What is stopping you?
Rune Position 7. What is your destiny?
Rune Position 8. What do you need to learn?
Rune Position 9. What do the gods say?
These are some of the guidelines and tips to work with the Rune Spirits. Feel free to experiment and make your own discoveries and conclusions.