There are a number of variations to the basic and most well-known set of runes, called the Futhark, inluding Anglo-Saxon and Germanic runes. Scandinavian runes, which are unrelated to the Anglo-Saxon runes in their development, can be divided into three categories.

The first period starts with the development of runes, which has been estimated at around A.D. 175, but as far back as 500 B.C. by some, and lasts until the eighth century. This is referred to as the Primitive Norse Period. The runic inscriptions found from this period are primarily in Primitive Old Norse or Primitive Germanic languages, and the runes are those of the Elder Futhark. All inscriptions are uninfluenced by Christianity as yet.
Note: Lore states that the ancient god Odin disovered the runes after starving and depriving himself and gouging out one of his eyes, which sort of disagrees with this more practical number. Who knows, this is just what the archaeological "experts" have said.

The second period, called the Late Primitive Period or sometimes the Viking period, began in the eighth century and ends around 1075. Mostly Younger Futhark runes are found, and some of the inscriptions found are confusing, since the Anglo-Saxon Futhork had been brought over by British scholars. The inscriptions during this period show both non-Christian and Christian subject matter, as Christianity began to spread Northward.

The third period, called the Medieval Period, endures until the middle of the fourteenth century, when runic inscriptions vanish, largely due to the intolerant pressure from the Catholic church. The magical usage of the runes is at its maximum during this period, mixing with other Pagan magics as well as Christian.

Recently, a resurgence of interest in runes and their lore has occurred, and many interesting texts are more readily available. If you would learn more, try these:
Futhark is the Runic language of the Norse. Much of its meaning is lost today, and the old Nordic meanings for the Runes are incredibly obscure, if not impossible to find at all. The current meanings described for the Futhark Runes are used based on late Gothic writing and Guido List's Secret of the Runes. All the meanings today are written in proto-Germanic script, thus much of the meaning is lost/altered. Though, just like Asatru, it is an ancient practice that was largely eradicated by the rise of Christianity, and so a modern interpretation is all that can be made of it. There are five different Runic sets, they include Elder Futhark, Younger Futhark, Anglo-Saxon Futhark, Gothic Futhark, Medieval Futhark and Armanen Futhark.

Elder Futhark

This was the original Nordic Rune language. It was not intended to be spoken, and was used purely for Runic Magic. In certain combinations the Runes would create different effects, but if one wasn't an experienced Rune reader, they were likely to get it wrong. One tale tells of a young Rune reader who inscribed a whale bone and hung it above his daughter's bed. His daughter became deathly sick, and no matter what Runes he tried she just kept getting worse. Then, an elder Rune reader came to visit him, instantly noticed the problem, and made the necessary corrections. The young Rune reader's daughter instantly recovered, and was never harmed again.

Elder Futhark contains the following Runes (it is divided into 3 equal sections of 8, otherwise know as Aetts):

First Aett

|\            /        \    /         /        |\          |
| \          /          \  /         /         | \         |\
|\   Ansuz  | /  Fehu    \/   Gebo  /   Kenaz  | /  Raido  | \  Thurasaiz
| \         |/           /\         \          |/          | /
|           |           /  \         \         |\          |/ 
|           |          /    \         \        | \         | 

|---\         |\
|    \        | \
|    | Ursuz  | / Wunjo
|    |        |/
|    |        |
|    |        |

Meanings:

Pronunciation:

  • Ansuz - An'sues
  • Fehu - Fay'hoo
  • Gebo - Gee'bow
  • Kenaz - Ken'az
  • Raido - Rye'doh
  • Thurasaiz - Thew'ras'eyes
  • Ursuz - Er'sues.
  • Wunjo - Voon'joe

Second Aett

  |\         \ | /       |  |         |       /       \ |           |\  /
  | \         \|/        | /|         |      /         \|           | \/
  |   Eihwaz   |  Elhaz  |//| Hagalaz | Isa  \ \ Jera   |\  Naudhiz |    Perdhro
\ |            |         |/ |         |       \ \       | \         | /\
 \|            |         |  |         |         /       |           |/  \
                                               /
|
| /|
|/ | Sowulo
   |

Meanings:

Pronunciation:

  • Eihwaz - Eye'ha'was
  • Elhaz - El'haz
  • Hagalaz - Hahg'ah'laz
  • Isa - Eye'sa
  • Jera - Jeh'ra
  • Naudhiz - Nord'hiz
  • Perdhro - Perd'eh'row
  • Sowulo - Sow'you'low
  • Third Aett

    |\          |\  /|       |\  /|         \/          |\/|            /\
    |/ Berkana  | \/ | Dagaz | \/ | Ehwaz   /\  Inguz   |/\|  Mannaz   /  \
    |\          | /\ |       |    |         \/          |  |           \  /
    |/          |/  \|       |    |         /\          |  |            \/    Othala
                                                                        /\
     /|\            |\                                                 /  \
    / | \ Teiwaz    | \ Laguz                                      
      |             |              
      |             |
      |             |              
    

    Note: No Runes are no bigger than any other Rune. I only made them so due to the limitations of ASCII. Also, there is no flat top on Teiwaz, it is pointed /\, like an arrow (again, limitations of ASCII)

    Meanings:

    • Berkana - Regeneration; new beginnings. Birth.
    • Dagaz - The light of day. Balance between opposites. Dawn. Protection.
    • Ehwaz - Travel, transport. Movement towards a goal.
    • Inguz - Light. Energy, potential, deferred. Bringing together separate things.
    • Mannaz - Human qualities. Social order.
    • Othala - Home or family land. The state of things, natural law.
    • Teiwaz - Positive regulation. Sacrifice. Ordered movement or progress.
    • Laguz - Fluidity. The law of unity. Growth, cycles

    Pronunciation:

    • Berkana - Ber'cah'na
    • Dagaz - Dag'az
    • Ehwaz - Eh'was
    • Inguz - In'gooz
    • Mannaz - Mann'az
    • Othala - Oth'ah'la
    • Teiwaz - Tie'was
    • Laguz - Lag'ooz

    Younger Futhark

    This was developed much later, around the time of Rome and the great migrations of the Nordic tribes. The Runes were simplified, and cut down from 24 to 16. This set of Runes, unlike Elder Futhark, was intended to be spoken (as well as used for Runic Magic).

    Younger Futhark contains the following Runes and is not divided into any sections:

      | /    |\         | /     \  |  /       |     |  /     |\        \ | /      \ |
      |/     |/         |//      \ | /        |     | /      | \        \|/        \|
     /|   Ar |\ Bjarkan |/  Fe    \|/  Hagall | Is  |/  Kaun |  \ Logr   |  Madhr   |\ Naudhr
    / |      |/         |         /|\         |     |        |           |          | \
      |                 |        / | \        |     |        |           |          |
                                /  |  \   
    
    |\      |\          |        |\           /|\        |---\       |
    | \     | \         | /|     | \         / | \       |   |       |
    |\  Oss | / Raeidh  |/ | Sol | / Thurs     |   Tyr   |   | Ur    |  Yr
    | \     |/             |     |/            |         |   |      /|\
    |       |\                   |             |         |   |     / | \
            | \                  |
             
    

    Meanings:

    • Ar - The letter A. A good year; the Rune of return. Bumper results if applied effort has been made.
    • Bjarkan - The letter B. Purification; fertility; birth; rebirth.
    • Fe - The letter F. Cattle and money; gold. Potential for division over wealth.
    • Hagall - The letter H. Hail. Rapid transformation from static to fluid.
    • Is - The letter I. Ice; the principle of concentration; static, unchanging.
    • Kaun - The letter K. Illness; illumination.
    • Logr - The letter L. The power of water; energy of flow, of life, or the body. Purification, cleansing.
    • Madhr - The letter M. Generality of human kind; continuity of the family.
    • Naudhr - The letter N. Need, distress. Bondage and captivity.
    • Oss - The letter O. A God; mouth. The commanding force of word or song.
    • Raeidh - The letter R. The process or means of riding. Horse, vehicle, road. A physical or spiritual journey. The clap of thunder.
    • Sol - The letter S. Directed action under spiritual control.
    • Thurs - The letters Th. A giant. Overcoming resistance; combinations.
    • Tyr - The letter T. Law and Order; the natural balance of things.
    • Ur - The letter U. Drizzle, slurry, growth from nothing. Something being created.
    • Yr - The letter Y. Perfect combination of skills and knowledge. Death. Decisions or divination.

    Pronunciation:

    • Ar - Ahr
    • Bjarkan - Beh'jeh'ahr'ken
    • Fe - Feh
    • Hagall - Hey'gall
    • Is - Ice
    • Kaun - Korn
    • Logr - Loh'gerr
    • Madhr - Mad'er
    • Naudhr - Nord'er
    • Oss - Oss
    • Raeidh - Rye'deh
    • Sol - Soul
    • Thurs - Thers
    • Tyr - Teer
    • Ur - Er
    • Yr - Yer

    Anglo-saxon Futhark

    The Anglo-saxons added another Aett (but it had 9 Runes) to their language, making 33 Runes. These additions were not made to complete the "alphabet" as it may seem, as this was not a goal of the Anglo-saxons. Rather, they were an absorption of local culture, as many of their meanings relate to Druidism. This language is the basis of Old English, and it was used primarily for speaking (by this stage the practice Runic Magic was rare within Anglo-saxon society). Apart from the extra Aett, this language is essentially identical to Elder Futhark.

    Anglo-saxon Futhark contains the following extra Runes:

    Fourth Aett

    |\  /       |           |\  /                         |       |\  /    |\  /|
    | \/        |           | \/             \/\/       \ | /     | \/     | \/ |
    |\    Ac    |  Calc     |    Cweorth     /\/\ Gar    \|/ Ior  |\  / Os |    | Stan
    | \        /|\       /\ |                \/\/        /|\      | \/     |    |
    |         / | \     /  \|                /\/\       / | \     |        | /\ |
                                                          |       |        |/  \|
    
    \  /|\  /     |-\
     \/ | \/      |  \
        |    Ear  |---\ Yr
        |         | | |
        |         | | | 
    

    Meanings:

    • Ac - Great potential, power. That which grows. Long time endurance.
    • Calc - Container, cup. Conclusion of process. Connection to the "unattainable".
    • Cweorth - Sacredness, cleansing, transformation. Liberation.
    • Gar - The centre of time and space. Beginnings; new order or arrangements.
    • Ior - The World Serpent. Dual natures. Unavoidable problems and hardships.
    • Os - Speech, song, language. Communication, information.
    • Stan - Stone. Obstruction. Play, playing.
    • Ear - Soil, Earth. Death. The unavoidable end of all things. Speeding the arrival of the end.
    • Yr - The bow made from yew. The perfect combination of skills and abilities. Death. Divination.

    Pronunciation:

    • Ac - Ack
    • Calc - Calck
    • Cweorth - Kway'orth
    • Gar - Gar
    • Ior - Eye'or
    • Os - Oh'se
    • Stan - Stan
    • Ear - Ear
    • Yr - Yer

    Gothic Futhark

    The Goths, like the Anglo-saxons, modified their language. However, rather than adding another Aett and leaving the rest, they kept the same 24 Runes and simply modified them, save for the last Aett where they added one. They were intended more for speech than Runic Magic. The Gothic Futhark was the basis of the English alphabet (Old English was developed by the Saxons by mixing their language with the Gothic letters).

    Gothic Futhark contains the following Runes (like Ancient Furthark it was divided into 3 Aetts):

    First Aett

    |\          | /        \    /         /         |\          |
    | \         |/          \  /         /          | \         |\
    |\   Ansus  | /  Faihu   \/   Giba  /   Kumsa   | /  Raida  | \  Thauris
    | \         |/           /\         \  (Chomsa) |/          | /
    |           |           /  \         \          |\          |/ 
    |           |          /    \         \         | \         | 
    
    |---\         |\
    |    \        | \
    |    | Urus   | / Winja
    |    |(Uruz)  |/
    |    |        |
    |    |        |
    

    Meanings:

    • Ansus - The letter A. Divine power of creation.
    • Faihu - The letter F. The generative principle. Accumulation of power or abundance.
    • Giba - The letter G. A gift; the act of giving; the bond between giver and receiver.
    • Kumsa (Chomsa) - The letter C. Illumination; knowledge; insight; wisdom. The borderline between madness and genius.
    • Raida - The letter R. Fertility of creation.
    • Thauris - The letters Th. Cosmic power. Resistance to chaos.
    • Urus (Uruz) - The letter U. Primal strength use for creation. Persistence.
    • Winja - The letter W. Joy.

    Pronunciation:

    • Ansus - An'soos
    • Faihu - Fi'hoo
    • Giba - Gee'ba
    • Kumsa (Chomsa) - Kum'sa (Chom'sa)
    • Raida - Rye'da
    • Thauris - Thor'iss
    • Urus (Uruz) - You'res (You'rez).
    • Winja - Vin'ja

    Second Aett

     /|          \ | /       |  |         |       /       \ |           |\  /
    / |           \|/        |  |         |      /         \|           | \/
      |   Aihs     |  Algs   | /| Hagl    | Eis  \ \ Jer    |\  Nauths  |    Paitra
      | /          | (Ezec)  |/ |         |       \ \ (Gar) | \         | /\
      |/           |         |  |         |         /       |           |/  \
                                                   /
    |
    | /|
    |/ | Saugil
       |
    

    Meanings:

    • Aihs - The letters Ai. The staff of life and death. Sacrifice.
    • Algs (Ezec) - The letter Z. The human connection with the divine.
    • Hagl - The letter H. Rapid and complete transformation from one state to the next.
    • Eis - The letter I. Unchanging existence; the eternal present.
    • Jer (Gar) - The letter J. Year; season. Completion at the proper time.
    • Nauths - The letter N. Need; necessity. Absence or scarcity.
    • Paitra - The letter P. The power of nature to bring completion to a process.
    • Saugil - The letter S. Ascendancy of the light over darkness.

    Pronunciation:

  • Aihs - Ay'hess
  • Algs (Ezec) - Al'ges (Eh'zek)
  • Hagl - Hah'gell
  • Eis - Ice
  • Jer (Gar) - Jer (Gah)
  • Nauths - Nor'thess
  • Paitra - Pie'tra
  • Saugil - Saw'gil
  • Third Aett

    |\          |\  /|       |\  /|         /\          |\/|            /\
    |/ Bairkana | \/ | Dags  | \/ | Egeis  /  \ Iggws   |/\|  Mannaz   /  \
    |\          | /\ |       |    | (Eyz)  \  /         |  |           \  /
    |/          |/  \|       |    |         \/          |  |            \/    Othal
                                                                        /\
     /|\            |\          ---   |                                /  \
    / | \ Teiwaz    | \ Lagus     /   |  Quairtra                              
      |             |            /    |
      |             |            \----/\  
    

    Note: Quairtra was almost impossible to draw, think of it more curved, like a U with those bits sticking out.

    Meanings:

    • Bairkana - The letter B. Birth, regeneration, the power of woman.
    • Dags - The letter D. The light of day. Balance between opposites. Dawn. Protection.
    • Egeis (Eyz) - The letter E. Protection of entrances. The archetype of wholeness.
    • Iggws - The letters Ng. Generative power. Potentials.
    • Mannaz - The letter M. Cooperation; support; social abilities.
    • Othal - The letter O. Riches. Inherited possessions. Intellectual property.
    • Teiwaz - The letter T. Earthly power; victory. Achievement attained through male power.
    • Lagus - The letter L. Fluidity and the power of growth.
    • Quairtra - The letter Q. Cleansing; completion; transmutation.

    Pronunciation:

    • Bairkana - Buy'ar'kah'na
    • Dags - Dags
    • Egeis (Eyz) - Egg'ice
    • Iggws - Igg'woos
    • Mannaz - Mann'az
    • Othal - Oth'al
    • Teiwaz - Tie'was
    • Lagus - Lag'oos
    • Quairtra - Kw'eye'ar'tra

    Medieval Futhark

    At the time of the Holy Roman Empire, the need for Runes was almost dissipated. However, Runic Magic was still practised as a method of healing. The Runes had little to no relation to any other Futhark, and there was only one Aett.

    Medieval Futhark contains the following Runes:

       /\        Fyruedal     O       |\         Wan     \ | /             |
      /  \        \           | Sol   | \      \     /    \|/            --|--
      \  /  Erda --------     |       | | Ul  ---------    |  Wendhorn   \ |   Wolfsangel
       \/         /           |      \| |      /     \    /|\             \|
    \  /\  /                                             / | \            
     \/  \/ 
    
    /|\
     | /|
     |/ | Ziu
        |
    

    Note: Ziu is pointed, not flat. Sol's O is bigger. Fyruedal and Wan should have the offshoots connected in seamlessly with the horizontal line.

    Meanings:

    Pronunciation:

    • Erds - Er'da
    • Fyruedal - Fi'roo'dal
    • Sol - Soul
    • Wan - Von
    • Wendhorn - Vend'horn
    • Wolfsangel - Volfs'ang'gol
    • Ziu - Zee'you.

    Armanen Futhark

    Guido List (1848-1919) was a mystic who, apart from inspiring the nazis with his ideas about Aryans, invented the following set of Runes, as based on older Futharks. He wrote a book Secret of the Runes which was highly influential in Germany, leading the nazis to adopt the Swastika (a version of Gibor) as their emblem, and also to use Sig and Man. Although, it can be said that the Runic language was dead after the Gothic version, and Armanen Futhark is a definite perversion of the original script, working Aryan ideals into the very language itself (not unlike 1984's Newspeak).

    Armanen Futhark contains the following Runes (it is not divided into Aetts):

       |           |           | /    |         |                    |    |  /    |\
       |    |\     |           |/     | /       |  |      \ | /      |    | /     | \
       |    |/     |\         /|      |/     /--|--/       \|/       |    |/      |  
      /| Ar |\ Bar | \ Dorn  / | Eh   | / Fa |  |   Gibor  /|\ Hagal | Is |   Ka  |  Laf
     / |    |/     | /         |      |/        |         / | \      |    |       |
    /  |           |/                                       
    
    \ | /    \ |        /|    |\       |          /|\     |---\        |
     \|/      \|       / |    | \      | /|      / | \    |    \       |
      | Man    |\ Not   /| Os | / Rit  |/ | Sig    |  Tyr |    | Ur    |  Yr
      |        | \     / |    |/          |        |      |    |      /|\
      |        |         |    |\                   |      |    |     / | \
    

    Meanings:

    • Ar - The letter A. Nobility and leadership. Beauty, wisdom, fame, virtue.
    • Bar - The letter B. Birth. Predestination. The power of becoming; the power of song.
    • Dorn - The letter D. Lightening and Thunder. Activity, goals, the phallus.
    • Eh - The letter E. Love, marriage, trust. Duality and binding.
    • Fa - The letter F. Primal fire. Creative power of the spirit.
    • Gibor - The letter G. The giver of life. The divine principle; the cosmic consciousness. The giver and the gift.
    • Hagel - The letter H. Order, origin. The primal seed.
    • Is - The letter I. The ego. Obedience. Personal power. Control.
    • Ka - The letter K. The World Tree. Artfulness, power, generation, general ability.
    • Laf - The letter L. Primal law. Life, water.
    • Man - The letter M. Man, maleness, increase. A birth.
    • Not - The letter N. Necessity of fate. Karma.
    • Os - The letter O. The power to rise up. Spiritual power working through speech. Breaking through boundaries.
    • Rit - The letter R. Ritual. Primal laws. Correctness; orderliness.
    • Sig - The letter S. Victory, success. The conquering energy of the creative spirit.
    • Tyr - The letter T. Turnabout. Concealment; invisibility. Generative power, wisdom.
    • Ur - The letter U. Eternity, continuity, resurrection. Primal soul.
    • Yr - The letter Y. Anger, error, falsehood. Femaleness, instinct, night, death.

    Pronunciation:

    • Ar - Ar
    • Bar - Bar
    • Dorn - Dorn
    • Eh - Eh
    • Fa - Fah
    • Gibor - Gee'bore
    • Hagel - Hey'gell
    • Is - Is
    • Ka - Kah
    • Laf - Laf
    • Man - Man
    • Not - Not
    • Os - Oss
    • Rit - Rit
    • Sig - Sig
    • Tyr - Teer
    • Ur - Er
    • Yr - Yer

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