Tag Archives: Runes

The Runes of Odin and their Uses

Runes (Proto-Norse: ᚱᚢᚾᛟ (runo), Old Norse: rún) are the letters in a set of related alphabets known as runic alphabets, which were used to write various Germanic languages before the adoption of the Latin alphabet and for specialized purposes thereafter. The Scandinavian variants are also known as futhark or fuþark (derived from their first six letters of the alphabet: F, U, Þ, A, R, and K); the Anglo-Saxon variant is futhorc or fuþorc (due to sound changes undergone in Old English by the names of those six letters).

Legend has it that Odin, hung from the world tree for nine days in order to gain the wisdom of the Runes, and he lost an eye in the process. Odin’s sacrifice and the knowledge of the runes was passed down in the poem Hávamál:

“I know that I hung on a windy tree
nine long nights,
wounded with a spear, dedicated to Odin,
myself to myself,
on that tree of which no man knows
from where its roots run.”

No bread did they give me nor a drink from a horn,
downwards I peered;
I took up the runes, screaming I took them,
then I fell back from there

The original poem is much longer, and has been interpreted and edited by several people. Here is a selection if you wish to purchase a copy:


It is a relatively easy process to make a set of Runes for oneself, simply by scoring small lumps of roughly oval clay or some other crafting material and then painting them to suit.

You can also use crystals , glass or metal and paint the runes on to them, however if possible try and etch the symbols in first with either an special acid or vinegar depending on the medium you are working with.

To learn more about the meaning of the individual runes, select from the list below:

Wyrd

Original meaning: Fate
The rune of destiny. Outcome is unknown.

What will be, will be – you must have faith. Accept responsibility for your actions.

Wyrd is a concept – a blank rune, and its inclusion in the rune set is a contemporary invention.

To learn more about other runes, select from the list below:

Ur/Uruz

Original meaning: Wild Ox
Determination. Strength, virility and Health are well favored. Rapid recovery from illness.

Ur is the power of the extinct wild ox, the aurochs. The aurochs was one of the largest bovines to ever live, often standing 7 feet at the shoulder. As fierce and strong as the American buffalo, its horns spread out form its skull like a Texas longhorn and made it a deadly prey to hunt. Ancient Germans used to hunt the aurochs as a test of manhood in the woods and glades of Northern Europe. The horns were prized as drinking vessels, and the hides and meat provided warmth and food for the children of the tribe.

Ur symbolizes strength, fierceness, and individuality. It is the rune of determination and individuality, the strength needed to accomplish great things. It is the rune of raw physical might or spiritual strenght. It’s traits are valuable to a warrior, but they also have much in common with the outlaw. The word fr,cne used in the “Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem” is related to the Old Icelandic word Freki, the name of one of Woden’s wolves. Wolves in the ancient lore were commonly associated with outlaws in general and seen to have many traits in common. This trait is further borne out by description of the aurochs as a “moor walker” in the “Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem.”

The outlaw in Northern European society held a unique position. Outlaws because they were largely expendable were used to commit deeds that no one else were willing to do. Often the outlaw though feared and hated found themselves in the role of hero.

Many feel Ur represents the cosmic bovine Audhumla and therefore represents the vitality of the life force or m??en. This ties in with the meaning that lies behind the “Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem” verse quite well, although more likely Ur represents the physical aspect of m??en called might.

In divination it usually represents strength will be called for or fierceness and the courage to use these qualities. In magic it can be used to bring about strength and physical health.

To learn more about other runes, select from the list below:

Wynn/Wunjo

Original meaning: Joy
Joy and luck. Connections with Water. Recent problems are resolved happily.

Wynn is the rune of joy and pleasure. The rune name itself is related to the word winsome. This is the rune of positive thinking; to achieve few sorrows, one must use joy or happiness. In addition, they must have a good stronghold, a fortress of the self to withstand the travails of life. Wynn is the rune of elation, of happiness, of taking pleasure in life. Even with the often rugged and hard life of the ancient Northern Europeans there was room for happiness and joy; the togetherness of the family, the seasonal celebrations throughout the year such as Yule. Wynn is the rune of wishes come true, of dreams fulfilled, of togetherness and love. Wynn governs the harmony of humans, that which allows Mankind to live in peace and happiness.

Wynn also governs self esteem for without good self esteem, one can not truly feel happy. For this, one must have a strong will to survive, to combat sorrow. One who loves one’s self is usually loved by others. In essence, Wynn is the rune of frith or peace, the peace of mind one has when living in a community of caring individuals without the threat of such hardships as poverty, famine, or heartbreak.

In divination, it can mean a period of joy or that happiness will be needed. In magic, it can be used to achieve joy and happiness.

To learn more about other runes, select from the list below:

Cen/Kenaz

Original meaning: Fire
Celebration. Love and success are strongly indicated. Great health and recovery from illness. Good things may be about to happen for you.

Cen is the rune of fire. Its Anglo-Saxon name means torch and the rune is therefore linked to all aspects of fire. Fire was seen by the ancient Northern Europeans as having warding and healing qualities. Food was passed over fire to bless it and cattle driven through the smoke of need fire to drive off pests and disease. In Medieval times, European nobles burned candles in their bedrooms at night to keep away evil spirits. Thus Cen is a rune of warding and defense, not to mention one of blessing. It is the opponent of disease and evil. It was also fire that sent such warriors as Beowulf off to the realms of the gods. This was the fire of cremation, which KveldolfR Gundarsson sees as a primary aspect of Cen (Gundarsson, Teutonic Magic, page 61).

It is also the rune of creation, the blacksmith’s fire, and here it hold’s much in common with the rune feoh. As symbolic of the blacksmith’s fire, Cen governs many of the creative energies of the artist and worker. While Os is the rune of divine inspiration, Cen is the raw energy needed to complete a task, the blood, sweat, and tears. Cen is also the rune of passion of flaming desire. And is Cen also controls many of the negative aspects of fire, its destructive qualities.

In divination, Cen can mean a need to be creative, to generate the energy needed to ensure one’s health. It can also indicate passions and desires. In spellwork it can be used as a rune of warding, or to set off creative energies.

To learn more about other runes, select from the list below:

Raed/Raidho

Original Meaning: Wagon
A journey or change is indicated, perhaps spiritual, perhaps physicial. Progress is made. The time is right for trade. Unexpected news coming.

Raed symbolizes a journey, either a physical one or a spiritual one. The ancient Europeans saw the universe not as space but as action, for them where action was not taking place, there was a void where nothing existed. This action or movement is reflected in Rae. This action was also reflected in the metaphysical realm by the movement of the dew dripping down from the World Tree into Wyrd’s Well, only to become dew again. This action was symbolic of the flow of time itself. It is the rune of ordered movement and as such also is the rune of the dance and the rhythm to the dance. It is the rune of time keeping and travel. It is also symbolic of the sun’s course across the sky as well as that of the moon. This being so Raed is tied to the passage of the day, the months, and the seasons.

As can be seen by the “Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem” verse, any journey seems easy to the one not taking it. The ancient Northern Europeans saw action as necessary to the maintenance of the universe, non-action was seen as evil or detrimental. Therefore, it was desirable to take the long hard journey, to be constantly in movement. Yet, anything seems easy to one that does not do it. Raed is related to the other “journey” runes Lagu and Sigel, as well as Eh which also implies movement.

Raed can also represent the hard journey, the difficult road to travel in life. The “Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem” verse could refer to the refusal of the hero to take that journey, a part of Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth. Refusal indicates a loss of what could have been a great reward, while acceptance can mean great benefits will be received after a hard time of travel.

In divination Raed means a journey that should be or has been taken. In magic, it can be used to send one on a journey or to keep ordered movement.

To learn more about other runes, select from the list below:

Thorn/Thurisaz

Original Meaning: Thor’s Hammer
Protection, defence. Patience is recommended. Fortunes may be changing. Re-evaluate your thinking – you may not be looking at a situation objectively.

In Old Norse this rune’s name is thurs or giant. The thurses were known for their brute strength and often were in opposition to the Norse gods, though sometimes they were helpful. The Anglo-Saxon name refers to the thorn of the rose or any other plant. However, it must be remembered that while the thorn may draw blood, it often defends something of great beauty like the rose. The Old Norse and Old Icelandic rune poems portray this rune as harmful to women, and it is also the rune with which Skirnir threatens Gerdhr when seeking her hand in marriage on behalf of the god Freyr. This is probably the dark side of the rune. Its ability to draw blood and do harm. It has for this reason been seen as a phallic symbol, the phallus that takes away the maiden’s virginity.

It is also linked to the god Thor however, a god who is linked to many plants that have thorns or thorn like structures like nettle and thistle. This is the good side of thorn, its ability to use its power to defend man and beast. Thor with his hammer and powerful arms protected both god and man from the giants. He was also responsible for sending the thunderstorms that brought water to the crops. Thorn in either aspect is a rune of silent strength waiting to be unleashed. Thorn is similar to Eolh-secg in its defensive aspects.

In divination, thorn can mean “look before you leap,” or proceed with caution. It is a dangerous rune to be used in magic but can be used for defensive spells although it is commonly seen used in mythology and folklore in curses.

To learn more about other runes, select from the list below:

Nied

Original meaning: Patience
Be patient , protect yourself first , meet your basic needs. Delays or resistance may plague you for a while, but results will ultimately be positive. Look after your health.

Nied is the rune of necessity and constraint. It is representative of the stresses of everyday life. However, stress, as the rune poem verse says need not be a bad thing. Often, it can signal a need for change, and if this signal is heeded, the changes to be made can lead to healing of mind, body, and soul. It is the rune of the overcoming of all odds. Whereas Wynn is a rune of joy and happiness, Nied is its nearly its opposite. Nied is the “school of hard knocks” where lessons are learned by necessity. It is therefore a rune of struggle, sometimes of the ordeal. Nonetheless it can be used to help fight hardships one endures. In the Sigdrifumal Sigdrifa advises Sigurdh to carve Nied on his finger nails and any drinking vessel to avoid enchantment. Nied can be used to avoid those situations that cause hardship by constraining those very causes. It is also the rune of the need fire, the fire created from a fire drill and used by the ancient Northern Europeans to drive away pestilence and disease and other forms of evil. For this reason, Nied also represents not only the stresses of everyday life, but the ability to overcome them.

In divination, Nied indicates a need that may have to be met or overcome. In spellwork it can be used to overcome such obstacles.

To learn more about other runes, select from the list below:

Eoh/Eihwaz

Original meaning: Yew
Flexibility is indicated. Don’t borrow trouble. Some events are outside your control at the present time, however delays may be beneficial.

??oh reflects the quality of the European Yew, a tree that grows to great heights, is nearly indestructible, and has deep meaning for the peoples of Northern Europe. The wood of the yew was used in staves fashioned for protection against all forms of evil, and also in bows, a weapon that commonly was used to protect against the onslaught of an enemy charge. Beyond this however, the yew had deeper meanings, for many believe that the World Tree of ancient belief was a yew (though some said it was an ash). This would explain the use of yew trees in ancient European cemeteries and its connection in folklore to death. In order to reach the gods’ realms, the worthy dead would have to journey up the World Tree from our plane here on Earth. Eoh therefore can represent death, or the spiritual death and rebirth of the shaman who makes a similar journey while alive.

??oh also represents the ability to be hard and fast and ever on our guard against the “fire” that may damage us. By doing so we build strength deep within us so we appear rooted in any stand we make. ??oh gives us the ability to ward and defend ourselves just as the yew tree does.

The verse of the “Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem” for ??oh also contains the names of two other runes, Wynn and ????el. Usually when this occurs it indicates that the rune contains qualities of the runes mentioned in its verse. Eoh then, drawing on its own symbols and those of Wynn and ????el; could indicate the joy or ecstasy of death and rebirth in the estates of the gods.

In divination, Eoh can be a difficult rune to interpret. Nonetheless, it can indicate that a spiritual journey is about to be made or that psychic death may be in the making. In spellwork, it can be used as a rune of defense.

To learn more about other runes, select from the list below:

Os/Ansuz

Original meaning: Mouth
Seek advice from one in authority, or with the wisdom of experience. An examination or test is indicated, which should not present you with difficulties.

Os is the rune of the god Woden (Odin), god of magic, death, and speech. It was Woden (Odin) who first won the runes for mankind when he hung on the World Tree for nine nights and nine days. It is therefore the rune of wisdom and esoteric secrets. It is the rune of knowledge and the power that knowledge can bring. It can been seen as the rune of the psychic death and the spiritual rebirth of the shaman or spell caster. This makes it the rune of “shamanic” ecstasy. In order to win the runes, (Woden) Odin hung on the World Tree for nine nights and nine days without food or drink. From the “Hávamál” stanzas 138 and 139 of the Elder Edda.

Wit I that I hung–on that wind swept tree,

Nights all nine–wounded by a spear,

And given to Odin–myself to myself,

On that tree which no man knows–from whence its roots rise.

Given no bread–nor horn,

I looked down–I took up the runes

Screaming I took them up–I fell back from there.

It is linked to all powers of speech and the written word such as poetry, song, and prose. It also governs the words of the magic charm. It is the word well spoken, the ability to sway others, the rune of poetic inspiration. Being the rune of speech it is also connected to the word of power, the secret word spoken only in arcane circles. It is the rune of runes, esoteric secrets known only to the enlightened. Os is therefore linked to divine inspiration, the flash of enlightenment that comes out of the blue. It is also the `them or breath of life, as Odin was god of the winds was giver of divine breath to mankind.

In divination, Os can mean divine inspiration, enlightenment, or a time when words will flow easily and freely. In magic workings it can be used to draw up magic energy or to receive enlightenment on some issue.

To learn more about other runes, select from the list below: