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Revealed Secrets of the Viking Runic Alphabet

November 19, 2023 5 min read

Viking runic alphabet

The Revealed Secrets of Viking Runes: Hidden Powers and Ancient Mysteries

Scandinavian Runes: An Ancient and Mystical Heritage

The Scandinavian runes represent much more than a mere alphabet; they are the testimony of a rich and complex culture. These symbols, carefully engraved on various materials such as stone, wood, or metal, were used by the ancient Nordic peoples not only for writing but also for ritual and divinatory purposes. Each rune was considered a powerful symbol, carrying deep meanings and often associated with magical beliefs and practices. These ancient inscriptions offer us a fascinating glimpse into the daily life, beliefs, and values of the Vikings, revealing a world where the spiritual and the material were closely intertwined.

 

Origin and Evolution of the Runes: A Journey Through Time

The origin of the runes is shrouded in mystery, dating back over 2000 years. These symbols first emerged within the Germanic cultures, where they evolved and diversified over the centuries. Each cultural group adapted the runic alphabet to its own needs, leaving behind a legacy of variations and interpretations. This evolution reflects not only linguistic changes but also cultural and spiritual transformations. By studying the different forms and uses of runes across Northern Europe, we discover a fascinating panorama of the history and spirituality of ancient peoples, a narrative engraved in stone and metal that has traversed the ages.

 

The Elder Futhark: An Alphabet of Mysteries

The heart of the runic script is embodied by the Elder Futhark, a set of 24 runes, each with a unique name and meaning. These symbols are not just letters, but representations of fundamental concepts and elements of existence, such as strength, prosperity, or journey. Each rune was a world unto itself, offering insights into nature and the human condition. The Vikings believed that these runes held powers and meanings that went far beyond their use for writing. They were often used in rituals, amulets, and talismans, where they were supposed to bring protection, luck, or clairvoyance.

Runes and Magic: An Ancient Connection

The runes were intimately linked to magic and occultism in Norse culture. They were considered tools of divination and communication with the spiritual worlds. The ancient skalds and magicians used the runes for rituals, spells, and prophecies. These practices were based on the belief that the runes could influence the material world, provide answers to inscrutable questions, and even alter the course of events. The tales and sagas of the Norse abound with examples where runes play a central role in the lives of heroes and gods, testifying to their importance in Viking mythology and spirituality.

 

List and Meaning of the Runes

Fehu (ᚠ)

  • Associated God: Freyr, the god of fertility, associated with wealth.
  • Symbolism: Fertility, prosperity of the land.
  • Meaning: Cattle, wealth
  • Phonetic: F
  • Divination: Prosperity, abundance, financial success
  • Wisdom: Reminds of the importance of managing resources and wealth wisely.

Uruz (ᚢ)

  • Associated God: Thor, for his strength and raw power.
  • Meaning: Aurochs, strength
  • Phonetic: U
  • Divination: Vitality, health, brute strength
  • Wisdom: Encourages facing challenges with strength and determination.

Thurisaz (ᚦ)

  • Associated God: Thor, protector against the forces of chaos.
  • Meaning: Giant, protection
  • Phonetic: TH
  • Divination: Conflict, defense, challenge
  • Wisdom: Warns of potential dangers and advises caution.

Ansuz (ᚨ)

  • Associated God: Odin, god of wisdom and magic.
  • Meaning: God, communication
  • Phonetic: A
  • Divination: Inspiration, wisdom, clarity of thought
  • Wisdom: Suggests listening to advice and seeking knowledge.

Raidho (ᚱ)

  • Associated God: Forseti, god of justice and mediation.
  • Meaning: Chariot, journey
  • Phonetic: R
  • Divination: Movement, change, travel
  • Wisdom: Encourages embracing change and staying adaptable.

Kenaz (ᚲ)

  • Associated God: Freyja, goddess associated with magic and knowledge.
  • Meaning: Torch, knowledge
  • Phonetic: K
  • Divination: Revelation, understanding, creativity
  • Wisdom: Incites seeking the light of knowledge and understanding.

Gebo (ᚷ)

  • Associated God: Frigg, goddess of love and marriage.
  • Meaning: Gift, partnership
  • Phonetic: G
  • Divination: Exchange, balance, generosity
  • Wisdom: Underlines the importance of balance in relationships and exchanges.

Wunjo (ᚹ)

  • Associated God: Baldr, god of light, associated with joy.
  • Meaning: Joy, happiness
  • Phonetic: W
  • Divination: Satisfaction, well-being, success
  • Wisdom: Reminds to find joy in small things and to cultivate happiness.

Hagalaz (ᚺ)

  • Associated God: Ullr, god of hunting and winter.
  • Meaning: Hail, disruption
  • Phonetic: H
  • Divination: Unexpected change, destruction, renewal
  • Wisdom: Prepares to face challenges and find opportunities in adversity.

Nauthiz (ᚾ)

  • Associated God: Njord, god of winds and seas, symbolizing challenges.
  • Meaning: Need, necessity
  • Phonetic: N
  • Divination: Restrictions, difficulties, unmet needs
  • Wisdom: Encourages identifying real needs and learning from difficulty.

Isa (ᛁ)

  • Associated God: Skadi, goddess of winter and hunting.
  • Meaning: Ice, stagnation
  • Phonetic: I
  • Divination: Blockage, waiting, challenge
  • Wisdom: Advises patience and reflection during periods of stagnation.

Jera (ᛃ)

  • Associated God: Freyr, associated with fertility and harvests.
  • Meaning: Year, harvest
  • Phonetic: J or Y
  • Divination: Reward, natural cycles, fulfillment
  • Wisdom: Reminds of the importance of perseverance and hard work to achieve goals.

Eihwaz (ᛇ)

  • Associated Myth: Yggdrasil, the World Tree, symbolizing the connection of all things.
  • Meaning: Yew, endurance
  • Phonetic: EI or Í
  • Divination: Resilience, transformation, passage
  • Wisdom: Encourages facing challenges with inner strength and determination.

Perthro (ᛈ)

  • Associated God: The Norns, goddesses of fate.
  • Meaning: Fate, mystery
  • Phonetic: P
  • Divination: The unknown, fate, luck
  • Wisdom: Incites to accept the unknown and recognize that some things are beyond our control.

Algiz (ᛉ)

  • Associated God: Heimdall, guardian of the gods.
  • Meaning: Elk, protection
  • Phonetic: Z or R
  • Divination: Defense, safeguarding, connection with the divine
  • Wisdom: Advises seeking protection and connecting to one's intuition.

Sowilo (ᛋ)

  • Associated God: Sol, the sun goddess.
  • Meaning: Sun, success
  • Phonetic: S
  • Divination: Energy, health, victory
  • Wisdom: Reminds of the importance of optimism and pursuing personal goals.

Tiwaz (ᛏ)

  • Associated God: Tyr, god of war and justice.
  • Meaning: Tyr, justice
  • Phonetic: T
  • Divination: Balance, sacrifice, victory in battles
  • Wisdom: Encourages acting with honor and justice, and being ready to make sacrifices for the greater good.

Berkano (ᛒ)

  • Associated God: Nerthus, goddess of earth and fertility.
  • Meaning: Birch, renewal
  • Phonetic: B
  • Divination: Growth, renewal, fertility
  • Wisdom: Symbolizes regeneration and rebirth, reminding of the importance of personal growth and renewal.

Ehwaz (ᛖ)

  • Associated Myth: Sleipnir, Odin's eight-legged horse, symbolizing trust and journey.
  • Meaning: Horse, movement
  • Phonetic: E
  • Divination: Progress, trust, partnership
  • Wisdom: Suggests working in harmony with others and trusting the journey of life.

Mannaz (ᛗ)

  • Associated God: Heimdall, as the creator of humanity.
  • Meaning: Man, humanity
  • Phonetic: M
  • Divination: Humanity, social support, self-reflection
  • Wisdom: Encourages connecting with others and understanding our place in the world.

Laguz (ᛚ)

  • Associated God: Njord, god of the sea.
  • Meaning: Water, flow
  • Phonetic: L
  • Divination: Intuition, creativity, subconscious
  • Wisdom: Reminds the importance of following one's intuition and being in tune with one's emotions.

Ingwaz (ᛜ)

  • Associated God: Freyr, symbolizing fertility and growth.
  • Meaning: Ing, fertility
  • Phonetic: NG
  • Divination: Potential, inner growth, gestation
  • Wisdom: Symbolizes inner potential and encourages nurturing projects to their maturity.

Dagaz (ᛞ)

  • Meaning: Day, awakening
  • Phonetic: D
  • Divination: Enlightenment, hope, transformation
  • Wisdom: Represents breakthroughs and new beginnings, encouraging optimism and renewal.

Othala (ᛟ)

  • Associated God: Dagr, personification of the day.
  • Meaning: Heritage, property
  • Phonetic: O
  • Divination: Heritage, ancestral legacy, inheritance
  • Wisdom: Emphasizes the importance of roots, family, and preserving heritage.

 

Runes in the Modern World: A Perpetuated Heritage

Today, Viking runes continue to captivate the collective imagination. Their presence is palpable in various aspects of contemporary culture, ranging from art and literature to tattoo fashion. These ancient symbols are often sought for their unique aesthetics and deep mystique. Beyond their visual aspect, there is a resurgence of interest in runes in modern spiritual practices, to establish a connection with an ancestral past, using them in rituals and meditative practices, seeking to reconnect with ancient wisdoms and the energies of nature.

 

To complement your reading, read our article "NORSE AND VIKING SYMBOLS AND THEIR MEANINGS"

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