The Elder Futhark Runes

Learn more about the runes

Introduction

Unlike some divination tools that are used to predict the future, Runes are an oracle which gives counsel to the enquirer, offering an approach to understanding the problem at hand, as well as possible outcomes and solutions on one’s spiritual path. As each Rune can have several meanings, which may appear cryptic or broad, it is best to be specific in framing your questions, using your intuition to let the Runes speak to you.

Having a basic understanding of each Rune is important, and rather than trying to memorise them, it is perhaps more helpful to reading a little about each Rune as part of your daily practice. It goes without saying that the more you use them, the more you are likely to have a better understanding from your readings. Keeping a Rune Journal to record your readings can also be beneficial, as this will encourage you to focus more on your own instincts.

The Ættir

The Futhark alphabet, made up of 24 runes, is divided into 3 groups of 8 runes. Every group is called Ætt or Ættir in the plural. Every ætt bears the name of the god corresponding to the first rune of the group or the family of runes. Every ætt holds a particular teaching and each of the runes of the same ætt is bound with the others.

Freyja’s Ætt

The common theme of the first Ætt of runes is the coming together of the primal forces of fire, ice, chaos and order to bring about the gift of the gods… the world we live on and life itself.

Heimdall’s Ætt

The common theme of the second Ætt of runes is evolution of consciousness from the basic and banal to maturity and higher and more complex thought patterns. This progression applies to anything that is capable of bettering itself, evolving towards perfection.

Tyr’s Ætt

The common theme of the third Ætt of runes is transition. It depicts the progression of humanity from its first days to the end of the world, at the Ragnarok, the Twilight of the Gods.

Fehu

Magickal Uses: Prosperity, social success, foresight, money, wealth, “inner-wealth” and creative fire.

Gods, Goddesses and Deities: Frey, Freyja and Njord

Lore: This is the principle of mobile power-within nature, within the self, and within society. Fehu is a power that flows outward like fire from its course and must be circulated in order to be beneficial.

Positive Meaning: Foresight is needed. Wealth may be in the future, but it must be used with wisdom and shared to avoid conflict. Also true of “inner wealth” of knowledge.

Negative Meaning: Greed can cause you to become a outcast. Discord may be in the future, discord based on a lack of circulation of the power of fehu. Excess of fehu can cause you to “burnout” your creative energies. Control them but use them with wisdom.

Uruz

Magickal Uses: Vital strength and virility, defense, primal forming force, tenacity, freedom, health, understanding, sudden or unexpected changes (usually for the better).

This is the principle of vital organic life energy, original procreation, and organic transformation. Uruz is the primal cosmic bovine-force that shapes manifestation and defends that manifested form. The aurochs was a wild and powerful large bison-like long horned bovine that roamed Europe until it became extinct. The beast was known for its power, ferocity, and tenacity.

Upright Meaning: Vital strength is its essence. There is an up welling and out-pouring of energy. This energy leads to strength if it is tenaciously held onto and controlled. Properly this strength should be used to defend your “homeland”, be that the physical home or the “hall” of the self (defense mechanisms). Strive toward inner goals and more power will result. Use the strength to burn away weakness and dross.

Reversed Meaning:  Obsessive protectiveness and possessiveness. Strength used in the wrong way or time, or strength used by the wrong people whose only desire is to control others. Sickness, inconsistency, ignorance.

Thurisaz

Magickal Uses: Reactive force, directed force, defense, to learn you must go through hardship, applied power, regeneration (following destruction), essential desire.

Lore: Thurisaz is the directed cosmic force of destruction and defense. This rune is a symbol of lighting and thunder and is associated with Mjollnir, the hammer of Thor. This weapon is the protector of Midhgardhr and Asgardhr. Just as the thorn protects the rose, so too does Mjollnir protect Midhgardhr and Asgardhr.

Upright Meaning: Thurisaz is the forward-trusting force of destruction of powers hostile to cosmic order. These hostile powers are not “evil”, they are just harmful to the way of life demonstrated by the gods and expressed in mankind. It is a projectable form of applied power. May be combined with other runes to direct their force.

Thurisaz is also a rune of regeneration and fertilization. It breaks down barriers so that new beginnings may occur. It is a catalyst for change. This rune is a sign of the psychosexual symbolic response, which in unconscious individuals leads to compulsion and in conscious ones to transformation.

Reversed Meaning: Betrayal, compulsion and defenselessness.

Ansuz

Magickal Uses: Inspiration (enthusiasm), synthesis, spiritual knowledge, container of knowledge, magical incantation, speech (the power of suggestion).

The Ansuz rune is instrumental in the creation of mankind. It describes two of the gifts given to Ask and Embla (the first man and woman) by the gods Odin, Vili, and Vé. These gifts were ond or anda (breath, sprit, animating life principle) and odhr (inspired mental activity, inspiration).

Upright Meaning: This is the rune of the word, song, poetry, and magical incantation (galdr) as a container and expresser of magical force. Ansuz is a magical ancestral power, one that has been handed down from generation to generation along genetic line. Through the power of this rune the realization of the link between the ancestral gods and their people may be regained.

Reversed Meaning: Danger may come through a misuse of knowledge or from unwholesome influences. Beware of others trying to manipulate you. Boredom and intellectual death.

Raido

Magickal Uses: Right action and order, journey (way back to right), ritual

Lore: Raido is the cosmic law of right and order in the multiverse. It came to be a symbol of organised religion, of Asatru, the ancient form of Germanic religion. Today this rune is a symbol of the “way back to right”, through the efforts of those who want to recover the essence of the primal order.

Positive Meaning: This rune represents the right order of a persons journey through the paths of the Nine Worlds of Yggdrasill. Good advice and judgment according to right are attributes of Raidho. It is the channeling force according to natural laws along the right road leading to the right results. Obtaining justice according to right.

Negative Meaning: Spiritual boredom. Beware of bad advice. Injustice.

Kanoz

Magickal Uses: Controlled energy, creativity, ability, sexual lust, transformation

Lore: Kenaz is the fire of creation, sacrifice, the hearth and the forge-fire controlled by mankind toward a willed result.

Positive Meaning: It has the ability and the will to generate and create. It is the rune of the artist and craftsman, and the technical aspects of magic. Kenaz is also the rune of human passion, lust, and sexual love – as positive attributes. It is also important to the concept of kin.

Negative Meaning: Lack of creativity, Inability, problems with relationships (break-ups).

Gebo

Magickal Uses: Gift (giving), generosity, hospitality, magical exchange, sex magic

Lore: Gebo is the eminent unconscious magical force present in the Ginnungapgap (magically charged void) before the formation of the Worlds. The holy mystery of the two (or many) in one.

Positive Meaning: It is the giver, the giving, the given and that which is given to. By the power of this rune persons are bound together through an act of will in order to effect a result. Gebo contains the secrets of psychically joining two people, or several persons, in order that they may produce a creative power greater that their sum total. This is the rune of sex magic.

Negative Meaning: Do not become overly dependent upon gifts from others. Greed and weakness, or poverty and loneliness.

Negative Meaning: Greed can cause you to become a outcast. Discord may be in the future, discord based on a lack of circulation of the power of fehu. Excess of fehu can cause you to “burnout” your creative energies. Control them but use them with wisdom.

Wunjo

Magickal Uses: Joy, harmony, fellowship, well-being, binding

Lore: This is the principle of ideal harmonisation of entities or elements – especially those derived from the same source.

Positive Meaning: The power this rune aids in is the promotion of fellowship and goodwill between brother and sister and of the clan or tribe. Wunjo is the energy that binds different fields of power together and is therefore invaluable in rune magic. With this energy you can bind several runes into a single harmonious force that can work toward a specific result.

Negative Meaning: Loss of identity, alienation, sorrow

Hagalaz

Magickal Uses: Controlled crisis, completion, inner harmony, protection

Gods, Goddesses and Deities: Ymir

Lore: “Hail” is a complex principle which involves the projection (from “above” or “beyond”) of a hard and dangerous substance which is also the “seed of becoming”, new creation and transformation, sometimes through crisis.

Positive Meaning: A change or transformation of your life situation. Be prepared for a controlled crisis, leading to completion, inner harmony. Wrath of nature. Hagalaz is also a rune of protection and a rune “mother”, as all runic forms may be created from its sixfold form.

Negative Meaning: Crisis leading to the destruction of your vital powers and sources of well-being. A Change for the worse. Or the blocking of this rune’s force could lead to a lack of change in life.

Nauthiz

Magickal Uses: Controlled crisis, completion, inner harmony, protection

Gods, Goddesses and Deities: Ymir

Lore: “Hail” is a complex principle which involves the projection (from “above” or “beyond”) of a hard and dangerous substance which is also the “seed of becoming”, new creation and transformation, sometimes through crisis.

Positive Meaning: A change or transformation of your life situation. Be prepared for a controlled crisis, leading to completion, inner harmony. Wrath of nature. Hagalaz is also a rune of protection and a rune “mother”, as all runic forms may be created from its sixfold form.

Negative Meaning: Crisis leading to the destruction of your vital powers and sources of well-being. A Change for the worse. Or the blocking of this rune’s force could lead to a lack of change in life.

Isa

Magickal Uses: Controlled crisis, completion, inner harmony, protection

Gods, Goddesses and Deities: Ymir

Lore: “Hail” is a complex principle which involves the projection (from “above” or “beyond”) of a hard and dangerous substance which is also the “seed of becoming”, new creation and transformation, sometimes through crisis.

Positive Meaning: A change or transformation of your life situation. Be prepared for a controlled crisis, leading to completion, inner harmony. Wrath of nature. Hagalaz is also a rune of protection and a rune “mother”, as all runic forms may be created from its sixfold form.

Negative Meaning: Crisis leading to the destruction of your vital powers and sources of well-being. A Change for the worse. Or the blocking of this rune’s force could lead to a lack of change in life.

Jera

Magickal Uses: Controlled crisis, completion, inner harmony, protection

Gods, Goddesses and Deities: Ymir

Lore: “Hail” is a complex principle which involves the projection (from “above” or “beyond”) of a hard and dangerous substance which is also the “seed of becoming”, new creation and transformation, sometimes through crisis.

Positive Meaning: A change or transformation of your life situation. Be prepared for a controlled crisis, leading to completion, inner harmony. Wrath of nature. Hagalaz is also a rune of protection and a rune “mother”, as all runic forms may be created from its sixfold form.

Negative Meaning: Crisis leading to the destruction of your vital powers and sources of well-being. A Change for the worse. Or the blocking of this rune’s force could lead to a lack of change in life.

Eihwaz

Magickal Uses: Controlled crisis, completion, inner harmony, protection

Gods, Goddesses and Deities: Ymir

Lore: “Hail” is a complex principle which involves the projection (from “above” or “beyond”) of a hard and dangerous substance which is also the “seed of becoming”, new creation and transformation, sometimes through crisis.

Positive Meaning: A change or transformation of your life situation. Be prepared for a controlled crisis, leading to completion, inner harmony. Wrath of nature. Hagalaz is also a rune of protection and a rune “mother”, as all runic forms may be created from its sixfold form.

Negative Meaning: Crisis leading to the destruction of your vital powers and sources of well-being. A Change for the worse. Or the blocking of this rune’s force could lead to a lack of change in life.

Perth

Magickal Uses: Controlled crisis, completion, inner harmony, protection

Gods, Goddesses and Deities: Ymir

Lore: “Hail” is a complex principle which involves the projection (from “above” or “beyond”) of a hard and dangerous substance which is also the “seed of becoming”, new creation and transformation, sometimes through crisis.

Positive Meaning: A change or transformation of your life situation. Be prepared for a controlled crisis, leading to completion, inner harmony. Wrath of nature. Hagalaz is also a rune of protection and a rune “mother”, as all runic forms may be created from its sixfold form.

Negative Meaning: Crisis leading to the destruction of your vital powers and sources of well-being. A Change for the worse. Or the blocking of this rune’s force could lead to a lack of change in life.

Algiz

Magickal Uses: Controlled crisis, completion, inner harmony, protection

Gods, Goddesses and Deities: Ymir

Lore: “Hail” is a complex principle which involves the projection (from “above” or “beyond”) of a hard and dangerous substance which is also the “seed of becoming”, new creation and transformation, sometimes through crisis.

Positive Meaning: A change or transformation of your life situation. Be prepared for a controlled crisis, leading to completion, inner harmony. Wrath of nature. Hagalaz is also a rune of protection and a rune “mother”, as all runic forms may be created from its sixfold form.

Negative Meaning: Crisis leading to the destruction of your vital powers and sources of well-being. A Change for the worse. Or the blocking of this rune’s force could lead to a lack of change in life.

Sowelo

Magickal Uses: Controlled crisis, completion, inner harmony, protection

Gods, Goddesses and Deities: Ymir

Lore: “Hail” is a complex principle which involves the projection (from “above” or “beyond”) of a hard and dangerous substance which is also the “seed of becoming”, new creation and transformation, sometimes through crisis.

Positive Meaning: A change or transformation of your life situation. Be prepared for a controlled crisis, leading to completion, inner harmony. Wrath of nature. Hagalaz is also a rune of protection and a rune “mother”, as all runic forms may be created from its sixfold form.

Negative Meaning: Crisis leading to the destruction of your vital powers and sources of well-being. A Change for the worse. Or the blocking of this rune’s force could lead to a lack of change in life.

Tiwaz

Magickal Uses: Justice, victory, self-sacrifice, analysis, world order

Gods, Goddesses and Deities: Tyr

Lore: This rune embodies the force of the god Tyr. He is the Norse god of law and justice. Tyr rules over the administration of right and honorable justice, so he is invoked for victory and is therefore an important war god. In northern mythology, it is Tyr who sacrifices his hand between the jaws of the Fenris wolf in order to save his fellow gods from destruction.

Positive Meaning: Justice can be expected, and good judgment based on a careful analysis for the facts. Victory will be yours if you have acted wisely. The power of positive self-sacrifice.

Negative Meaning: Too much analysis can overwhelm you. Stop planning and start doing. Do not over-sacrifice. Injustice.

Berkana

Magickal Uses: Justice, victory, self-sacrifice, analysis, world order

Gods, Goddesses and Deities: Tyr

Lore: This rune embodies the force of the god Tyr. He is the Norse god of law and justice. Tyr rules over the administration of right and honorable justice, so he is invoked for victory and is therefore an important war god. In northern mythology, it is Tyr who sacrifices his hand between the jaws of the Fenris wolf in order to save his fellow gods from destruction.

Positive Meaning: Justice can be expected, and good judgment based on a careful analysis for the facts. Victory will be yours if you have acted wisely. The power of positive self-sacrifice.

Negative Meaning: Too much analysis can overwhelm you. Stop planning and start doing. Do not over-sacrifice. Injustice.

Ehwaz

Magickal Uses: Justice, victory, self-sacrifice, analysis, world order

Gods, Goddesses and Deities: Tyr

Lore: This rune embodies the force of the god Tyr. He is the Norse god of law and justice. Tyr rules over the administration of right and honorable justice, so he is invoked for victory and is therefore an important war god. In northern mythology, it is Tyr who sacrifices his hand between the jaws of the Fenris wolf in order to save his fellow gods from destruction.

Positive Meaning: Justice can be expected, and good judgment based on a careful analysis for the facts. Victory will be yours if you have acted wisely. The power of positive self-sacrifice.

Negative Meaning: Too much analysis can overwhelm you. Stop planning and start doing. Do not over-sacrifice. Injustice.

Mannaz

Magickal Uses: Justice, victory, self-sacrifice, analysis, world order

Gods, Goddesses and Deities: Tyr

Lore: This rune embodies the force of the god Tyr. He is the Norse god of law and justice. Tyr rules over the administration of right and honorable justice, so he is invoked for victory and is therefore an important war god. In northern mythology, it is Tyr who sacrifices his hand between the jaws of the Fenris wolf in order to save his fellow gods from destruction.

Positive Meaning: Justice can be expected, and good judgment based on a careful analysis for the facts. Victory will be yours if you have acted wisely. The power of positive self-sacrifice.

Negative Meaning: Too much analysis can overwhelm you. Stop planning and start doing. Do not over-sacrifice. Injustice.

Laguz

Magickal Uses: Justice, victory, self-sacrifice, analysis, world order

Gods, Goddesses and Deities: Tyr

Lore: This rune embodies the force of the god Tyr. He is the Norse god of law and justice. Tyr rules over the administration of right and honorable justice, so he is invoked for victory and is therefore an important war god. In northern mythology, it is Tyr who sacrifices his hand between the jaws of the Fenris wolf in order to save his fellow gods from destruction.

Positive Meaning: Justice can be expected, and good judgment based on a careful analysis for the facts. Victory will be yours if you have acted wisely. The power of positive self-sacrifice.

Negative Meaning: Too much analysis can overwhelm you. Stop planning and start doing. Do not over-sacrifice. Injustice.

Ingwaz

Magickal Uses: Justice, victory, self-sacrifice, analysis, world order

Gods, Goddesses and Deities: Tyr

Lore: This rune embodies the force of the god Tyr. He is the Norse god of law and justice. Tyr rules over the administration of right and honorable justice, so he is invoked for victory and is therefore an important war god. In northern mythology, it is Tyr who sacrifices his hand between the jaws of the Fenris wolf in order to save his fellow gods from destruction.

Positive Meaning: Justice can be expected, and good judgment based on a careful analysis for the facts. Victory will be yours if you have acted wisely. The power of positive self-sacrifice.

Negative Meaning: Too much analysis can overwhelm you. Stop planning and start doing. Do not over-sacrifice. Injustice.

Dagaz

Magickal Uses: Justice, victory, self-sacrifice, analysis, world order

Gods, Goddesses and Deities: Tyr

Lore: This rune embodies the force of the god Tyr. He is the Norse god of law and justice. Tyr rules over the administration of right and honorable justice, so he is invoked for victory and is therefore an important war god. In northern mythology, it is Tyr who sacrifices his hand between the jaws of the Fenris wolf in order to save his fellow gods from destruction.

Positive Meaning: Justice can be expected, and good judgment based on a careful analysis for the facts. Victory will be yours if you have acted wisely. The power of positive self-sacrifice.

Negative Meaning: Too much analysis can overwhelm you. Stop planning and start doing. Do not over-sacrifice. Injustice.

Othila

Magickal Uses: Justice, victory, self-sacrifice, analysis, world order

Gods, Goddesses and Deities: Tyr

Lore: This rune embodies the force of the god Tyr. He is the Norse god of law and justice. Tyr rules over the administration of right and honorable justice, so he is invoked for victory and is therefore an important war god. In northern mythology, it is Tyr who sacrifices his hand between the jaws of the Fenris wolf in order to save his fellow gods from destruction.

Positive Meaning: Justice can be expected, and good judgment based on a careful analysis for the facts. Victory will be yours if you have acted wisely. The power of positive self-sacrifice.

Negative Meaning: Too much analysis can overwhelm you. Stop planning and start doing. Do not over-sacrifice. Injustice.