Divination on a Budget: The Elder Futhark Runes 101

Rune, Norse, Viking, Germanic, Anglo-Saxon, Elder Futhark, Amulet, Talisman, Protection, Travel, Fehu, Uruz, Thurisaz, Ansuz, Raido, Kaunan, Gebo, Wunjo, Hagalaz, Haudiz, Isa, Jera, Ihwaz, Perth, Algiz, Sowilo, Tiwaz, Brekanan, Ehwaz, Mannaz, Laguz, Ingwaz, Othila, Dagaz

Divination System Breakdown

Origin: Germanic
Dated: 2nd – 8th century
Type: Oracle
Number of Runes: 24
Traditional Format: Wooden disks or tiles
Traditional Size: ~ 3 mm diameter

The Elder Futhark is a set of 24 Germanic alphabet discovered in Gotland (1903) on the Kylver Stone that dates back to 400 AD. They represent one of the earliest writing scripts. It is postulated that they were inspired by the natural surroundings and life histories of the people during that time. The exact script usage and meaning of each letter has been lost to time.

Kylver Stone, Gotland, Sweden, Elder, Futhark, Runes, Viking, Germanic

The Old English Rune Poem is of Anglo-Saxon origin, dating (8th – 9th century) well after the Elder Futhark and is used as a proxy for the rune meanings. Therefore, clear linkage of the Elder Futhark to the Rune Poem is lacking and there is much scholarly debate as to the translation of both the script and the poem. The Elder Futhark was recorded throughout history by hand, usually carved with a knife, hence the linear and angular properties of the script. The first edition of the Rune Poem was contained in a historical manuscript, the Linguarum veterum septentrionalium thesaurus
grammatico-criticus et archæologicus by George Hickes during 1703. The original manuscript (MS Cotton Otho B. X) perished in the Cottonian library fire of 1731, thus George Hickes’ edition became the only copy of the Rune Poem. Similarities of the Thesaurus to the MS Cotton Domitian A. IX sparked scholarly debate as to whether the Rune Poem was recorded in the original manuscript. Additional oddities arose due to hand-copying, translation efforts and comparisons of the Elder Futhark with the reduced Younger Futhark (9th century, Scandinavian origin, 16 runes) and expanded Futhorc (5th century, Anglo-Saxon or Anglo-Frisian origin, 33 runes). Therefore, it is postulated that both copying error and translation errors could have crept into the (re)documented versions of the Rune Poem. As such the both the translations and interpretation of the Rune Poem is very subjective.

As such, I believe it is best for anyone interested in learning this system to acquire a translated version of the Rune Poem, which resonates with you and to interpret its exact meaning for yourself. You can use the ‘traditional’ interpretations as a rough guide (such as those in Ref 2 below are a good starting point), but you will find that some of your own interpretations start to deviate from the widely used norm. This is a natural progression and personally links you to your runes. Here are my sets:

DIY Seed Runes:
Cost: R 0

Traditionally, one should make a set of runes for yourself. I have made myself a set using palm seeds, which symbolises fertility and new beginnings. I painted the runes on them, traditionally they would be carved or pyrographed – but I opted for painting so that I do not damage the seeds. These cost me near to nothing as I found the seeds, already had the paint and painting equipment. They are a great set to cast with, but their transportability is limited and also nobody would want you to fly around with them lest they carry a plant disease. Thus, I wanted for finding a card set as well.

Rune, Norse, Viking, Germanic, Anglo-Saxon, Elder Futhark, Amulet, Talisman, Protection, Travel, Fehu, Uruz, Thurisaz, Ansuz, Raido, Kaunan, Gebo, Wunjo, Hagalaz, Haudiz, Isa, Jera, Ihwaz, Perth, Algiz, Sowilo, Tiwaz, Brekanan, Ehwaz, Mannaz, Laguz, Ingwaz, Othila, Dagaz, seed, diy
Elder Futhark DIY Seed Runes
 Elder Futhark Travel Rune Cards:
Cost: R 42
Size: 4.5 cm x3.5 cm – fits into a matchbox even after lamination
Creator: TheCatHatter (All Natural Spirit’s old art alias)

These are a set of 24 printable cards available as both a PDF and JPEG file from my Online Store (@ R 25 ~ US$ 2.5). Therefore, the cost breakdown is: 1x R 25 for the digital files, 1x R 10 for printing on A4 300 mg card stock, 1x R 7 lamination of A4 page = R42. To preserve historical authenticity the set contains Proto-Norse writing, with Proto-Germanic names and English transliterations. I will also summarise the card set review with a few considerations, which can be advantageous or disadvantageous depending on personal opinion.

Rune, Norse, Viking, Germanic, Anglo-Saxon, Elder Futhark, Amulet, Talisman, Protection, Travel, Fehu, Uruz, Thurisaz, Ansuz, Raido, Kaunan, Gebo, Wunjo, Hagalaz, Haudiz, Isa, Jera, Ihwaz, Perth, Algiz, Sowilo, Tiwaz, Brekanan, Ehwaz, Mannaz, Laguz, Ingwaz, Othila, Dagaz, TheCatHatter, Download, Downloadable, PDF, TheCatHatter
Elder Futhark Runes 24 Card Digital File with Sample Water Mark

 

Rune, Norse, Viking, Germanic, Anglo-Saxon, Elder Futhark, Amulet, Talisman, Protection, Travel, Fehu, Uruz, Thurisaz, Ansuz, Raido, Kaunan, Gebo, Wunjo, Hagalaz, Haudiz, Isa, Jera, Ihwaz, Perth, Algiz, Sowilo, Tiwaz, Brekanan, Ehwaz, Mannaz, Laguz, Ingwaz, Othila, Dagaz, gilding, cards, thecathatter, travel, set
Elder Futhark Travel Rune Cards Set of 24 all printed, laminated, cut and gilded.

Considerations:

  • Inexpensive (@ R 42 for South Africans, likely less than US$ 5-15 all in)
  • Easily transported
  • Spreads take up a small amount of space
  • Caters for reversals
  • No guidebook
  • No artwork on card back
  • Manual printing, lamination, cutting and optional gilding of cards (in South Africa at least, overseas POD companies are available to produce the cards for you, for example: MakePlayingCards).
Rune, Norse, Viking, Germanic, Anglo-Saxon, Elder Futhark, Amulet, Talisman, Protection, Travel, Fehu, Uruz, Thurisaz, Ansuz, Raido, Kaunan, Gebo, Wunjo, Hagalaz, Haudiz, Isa, Jera, Ihwaz, Perth, Algiz, Sowilo, Tiwaz, Brekanan, Ehwaz, Mannaz, Laguz, Ingwaz, Othila, Dagaz, gilding, cards, thecathatter, travel
Travel Rune Cards with multi-coloured gilding

The runes are my go-to system, since they can be used as both a divinatory (passive) and magickal (active) tool. I personally use them for the latter, where I actively participate in setting the intention that I seek. I use the runes extensively for my shadow work, creative problem solving and spiritual rituals. Hence they have become a spiritual tool which I use to explore the depths of soul and to introduce some light and magick into my everyday hum-drum life.

Rune, Norse, Viking, Germanic, Anglo-Saxon, Elder Futhark, Amulet, Talisman, Protection, Travel, Fehu, Uruz, Thurisaz, Ansuz, Raido, Kaunan, Gebo, Wunjo, Hagalaz, Haudiz, Isa, Jera, Ihwaz, Perth, Algiz, Sowilo, Tiwaz, Brekanan, Ehwaz, Mannaz, Laguz, Ingwaz, Othila, Dagaz, gilding, cards, thecathatter, travel, set, matchbox
Travel Rune Cards in a matchbox

References:

  1. Elder Futhark Runes 24 Card Print Out (2016). TheCatHatter aka All Natural Spirit.
  2. Oswald, B. Discovering Runes (2008). Chartwell Books Inc.
  3. Van Renterghem, A. (2014) The Anglo-Saxon runic poem: a critical reassessment. Masters Dissertation, University of Glasgow.

Rune & Flower – usesense @ pixabay

 

– Rune Casting –

All Natural Spirit

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