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It's not much, but it's a good enough introductions for anyone hoping to make their own set of runes.
The debate about what materials can, can't and shouldn't be used for
runes is up there with the debate of Christ's mortality, so I'll stick
to the bare facts.
Bones are considered to be the older form of runes, deer, carabou, moose
and bear being the most common. Tooth, horn and claw are also
appropriate. Bone has been said to channel the "Primal" force of nature,
the kill-or-be-killed energy that balances our 'magic', and is thus
considered to be the best conduit for divination, especially with the
raw nature of the heathen way. Bones from an animal you have hunted and
killed yourself are, of course, the best to use, even if it's as small
as a rabbit.
Rock is a perfectly acceptable medium for runes, and probably the most
(professionally) common. I personally suggest you use raw rock that you
harvest, polish and carve yourself, as it shows the severe dedication
the runes draw from best.
Wooden runes are a touchy subject, as wood is perishable and denies the
natural permamancy of runes. Petrified wood is a common material,
although I'd personally avoid it, as you don't always know what wood it
is. Oak, Elm, Ash and Yew are the most appropriate, birch and pine are
also acceptable. Avoid mistletoe (for obvious reasons) and blackthorne
The energy of stones like jasper, malachite and lapis make them perfect
for runesets, although it's thought that the runes can 'taint' a read,
and turn the outcome. Use stone sets for casts where you want a specific
type of answer: Jasper if you're seeking ways to aid yourself
spiritually, for example, or Lapis if you seek knowledge and glory.
I don't personally like using crystal runes, as the energies they
contain and channel can overpower the messages sent to the runes.
Obsidian is probably the best if you really desire a crystal set, but
avoid quartz and amethyst, as they can alter the outcome of the cast by
Amber and Glass
Amber is a good, but short lived, material for runes, and glass makes a
perfect channel for the energy of the runes. But unless you use heat
hardened, neatly cut pieces, the set wont last very long, and replacing
runes can often lead to poor energy in casts.
Apart from mixing the colour of rock or bone that you're using, I would
suggest avoiding mixing your sets. Using runes of different material,
and the same goes for runes from different sets, can cause the runes to
'not recognise' each other, and you often end up with conflicting
readings and even casts where the stones completely contradict each
I'm not going to go into methods of carving rock, crystal or wood here,
if you don't already know, it's not hard to learn. The methods I'll
discuss are spiritual.
Runesets should be carved over a period of nine days following the
tradition of Grimnir hanging apon the World Ash for nine days, and nine
is a sacred number in norse culture. Meditate on the meanings,
signifcance and energy of each rune as you carefully carve the image
onto it's face. If you're a heathen, drink to the gods at the end of
your work, if not, do whatever is applicable to your faith. This same
technique can also be used for making runic items of any kind: carving a
wand or a stave, engraving a sword or athame, even just scratching
runes into a box.
What are the Runes?
The Futhark runes are a sacred relic of norse mythology, a language of
most of the northern lands and a divinatory tool of most of today's
pagan world. They are not toys to be played with, you don't play 'rune
games', and you don't ask them silly questions like 'what is my future
The runes have power, they are a link to something primal, something
deep. People have speculated that the runes answers come from within
you, from the Earth Herself, from the norse landvaettir and even from
Odin himself. I say: why not all of them. Well maybe not from Odin,
seeing as they already had power when he found them. But who knows, Ol'
One Eye has a habit of meddling.
Here follows a general interpretation of the Elder Futhark runes used in
seidhr castings. The meanings also apply in general drawing of the
runes. Names and sounds are also listed.
These 8 runes belong to the fertility god Frey and are runes associated
with the creation of the world, its inhabitant races and the gods. Runes
in this aett have the effect of starting things moving. As Aswynn puts
it "For the purpose of divination therefore the runes of this aett often
express the basic principles of life - such as money, health, conflict,
intelligence, control, knowledge, balance and pleasure".The runes are:
Fehu, Uruz, Thurisaz, Ansuz, Raido, Kenaz, Gebo, and Wunjo.
Strict meaning: Wealth
General meanings: 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).
Merkstave: 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,
"ooo or v"
Strict meaning: Strength
General meanings: 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.
Merkstave: Weakness, obsession, misdirected force, domination by others.
Sickness, inconsistency, ignorance. Lust, brutality, rashness,
Strict meaning: Giants
General meanings: Reactive force, directed force of destruction and
defense, conflict. Instinctual will, vital eroticism, regenerative
catalyst. A tendency toward change. Catharsis, purging, cleansing fire.
Male sexuality, fertilization. (Thorr, the Thunder god, was of Giant
Merkstave: Danger, defenselessness, compulsion, betrayal, dullness.
Evil, malice, hatred, torment, spite, lies. A bad man or woman. Rape?
Strict meaning: Ancestors, Ancestral gods. Considered to be Odin's Rune.
General meanings: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,
Merkstave: Misunderstanding, delusion, manipulation by others, boredom.
Vanity and grandiloquence. (Odin is a mighty, but duplicitous god. He
always has his own agenda.)
Strict meaning: Wagon
General meanings: Travel, both in physical terms and those of lifestyle
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
Merkstave: Crisis, rigidity, stasis, injustice, irrationality. Disruption, dislocation, demotion, delusion, possibly a death.
Strict meaning: Beacon
General meanings: 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.
Merkstave: Disease, breakup, instability, lack of creativity. Nakedness, exposure, loss of illusion and false hope.
Strict meaning: Gift
General meanings: 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,
Strict meaning: Joy
General meanings: 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.
Merkstave: Stultification, sorrow, strife, alienation. Delirium,
intoxication, possession by higher forces, impractical enthusiasm.
Raging frenzy, berzerker.
There is some disagreement concerning the owner of this Aett. Some
people link it to Hel, goddess of the Underworld known as Niflhelm, a
cold unwelcoming place as reflected by the harsh nature of the first two
runes. Others believe it belongs to Heimdall, the watcher god. Runes in
this Aett are associated with forces beyond human influence and with
cosmic understanding. These runes represent powers such as the Norns,
time, Wyrd and spiritual development. Aswynn says "This is the aett of
development of consciousness and magic, psychological growth and
personal evolution".. From left to right the runes are: Hagalaz,
Nauthiz, Isa, Jera, Eihwaz, Pertho, Algiz, and Sowelu.
Strict meaning: Hail
General meanings: Wrath of nature, destructive, uncontrolled forces,
especially the weather, or within the unconscious. Tempering, testing,
trial. Controlled crisis, leading to completion, inner harmony.
Merkstave (Hagalaz cannot be reversed, but may lie in opposition):
Natural disaster, catastrophe. Stagnation, loss of power. Pain, loss,
suffering, hardship, sickness, crisis.
Strict meaning: Need
General meanings: 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.
Merkstave: Constraint of freedom, distress, toil, drudgery, laxity.
Necessity, extremity, want, deprivation, starvation, need, poverty,
Strict meaning: Ice
General meanings: A challenge or frustration. Psychological blocks to
thought or activity, including grievances. Standstill, or a time to turn
inward and wait for what is to come, or to seek clarity. This rune
reinforces runes around it.
Merkstave (Isa cannot be reversed, but may lie in opposition):
Ego-mania, dullness, blindness, dissipation. Treachery, illusion,
deceit, betrayal, guile, stealth, ambush, plots.
Jear or Jera
Year or Jare-awe
"yeh or j"
Strict meaning: Harvest
General meanings: The results of earlier efforts are realized. A time of
peace and happiness, fruitful season. It can break through stagnancy.
Hopes and expectations of peace and prosperity. The promise of success
earned. Life cycle, cyclical pattern of the universe. Everything
changes, in its own time.
Merkstave (Jera cannot be reversed, but may lie in opposition): Sudden
setback, reversals. A major change, repetition, bad timing, poverty,
Strict meaning: Yew or Purpose
General meanings: 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.
Merkstave: Confusion, destruction, dissatisfaction, weakness.
Perthro or Perth
Perth-row or Perth
Strict meaning: Vagina
General meanings: 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
Merkstave: Addiction, stagnation, loneliness, malaise.
"z or a final r"
Strict meaning: Protection
General meanings: 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 energies appropriately. Follow your instincts. Keep hold of
success or maintain a position won or earned.
Merkstave: Hidden danger, consumption by divine forces, loss of divine link. Taboo, warning, turning away, that which repels.
Strict meaning: Sun
General meanings: 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.
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.
The final Aett belongs to the god of war and justice Tyr and is
associated with those experiences which mould or transform human lives.
Aswynn remarks that "the third aett is concerned more with the human
condition, social aspects and spiritual transformation". From left to
right the runes are Tiwaz, Berkana, Ehwaz, Mannaz, Laguz, Ingwaz, Dagaz,
Strict meaning: Tyr, the sky god, or Honour
General meanings: Honor, justice, leadership and authority. Analysis,
rationality. Knowing where one's true strengths lie. Willingness to
self-sacrifice. Victory and success in any competition or in legal
Merkstave: One's energy and creative flow are blocked. Mental paralysis,
over-analysis, over-sacrifice, injustice, imbalance. Strife, war,
conflict, failure in competition. Dwindling passion, difficulties in
communication, and possibly separation.
Strict meaning: Birch, or Renewel
General meanings: Birth, general fertility, both mental and physical and
personal growth, liberation. Regenerative power and light of spring,
renewal, promise of new beginnings, new growth. Arousal of desire. A
love affair or new birth. The prospering of an enterprise or venture.
Merkstave: Family problems and or domestic troubles. Anxiety about
someone close to you. Carelessness, abandon, loss of control. Blurring
of consciousness, deceit, sterility, stagnation.
Strict meaning: Horses
General meanings: Transportation. May represent a horse, car, plane,
boat or other vehicle. Movement and change for the better. Gradual
development and steady progress are indicated. Harmony, teamwork, trust,
loyalty. An ideal marriage or partnership. Confirmation beyond doubt
the meanings of the runes around it.
Merkstave: This is not really a negative rune. A change is perhaps
craved. Feeling restless or confined in a situation. Reckless haste,
disharmony, mistrust, betrayal.
Strict meaning: Mankind
General meanings: The Self; the individual or the human race. Your
attitude toward others and their attitudes towards you. Friends and
enemies, social order. Intelligence, forethought, create, skill,
ability. Divine structure, intelligence, awareness. Expect to receive
some sort of aid or cooperation now.
Merkstave: Depression, mortality, blindness, self-delusion. Cunning,
slyness, manipulation, craftiness, calculation. Expect no help now.
Strict meaning: Water
General meanings: Flow, water, sea, a fertility source, the healing
power of renewal. Life energy and organic growth. Imagination and
psychic matters. Dreams, fantasies, mysteries, the unknown, the hidden,
the deep, the underworld. Success in travel or acquisition, but with the
possibility of loss.
Merkstave: An indication of a period of confusion in your life. You may
be making wrong decisions and poor judgements. Lack of creativity and
feelings of being in a rut. Fear, circular motion, avoidance, withering.
Madness, obsession, despair, perversity, sickness, suicide.
Strict meaning: Ing, the earth god, or Prosperity
General meanings: Male fertility, gestation, internal growth. Common
virtues, common sense, simple strengths, family love, caring, human
warmth, the home. Rest stage, a time of relief, of no anxiety. A time
when all loose strings are tied and you are free to move in a new
direction. Listen to yourself.
Merkstave (Ingwaz cannot be reversed, but may lie in opposition):
Impotence, movement without change. Production, toil, labor, work.
Thaw-gawz or Daw-gawz
"heavy th or d"
Strict meaning: Dawn
General meanings: Breakthrough, awakening, awareness. Daylight clarity
as opposed to nighttime uncertainty. A time to plan or embark upon an
enterprise. The power of change directed by your own will,
transformation. Hope/happiness, the ideal. Security and certainty.
Growth and release. Balance point, the place where opposites meet.
Merkstave (Dagaz cannot be reversed, but may lie in opposition): A
completion, ending, limit, coming full circle. Blindness, hopelessness.
Strict meaning: Ancestral Home or Inheritance
General meanings: Inherited property or possessions, a house, a home.
What is truly important to one. Group order, group prosperity. Land of
birth, spiritual heritage, experience and fundamental values. Aid in
spiritual and physical journeys. Source of safety, increase and
Merkstave: Lack of customary order, totalitarianism, slavery, poverty,
homelessness. Bad karma, prejudice, clannishness, provincialism. What a
man is bound to.
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