The Runic Symbols:
The first letters of the runic alphabet have
the powers of the letters f, u, th, o, r, c, for which reason the order of the
runic letters is not called an alphabet but a FUTHORC or FUPARK (Futhark), the p equalling th.
The system is both symbolic and representative of different sounds, as outlined below:
It is thought that the whole system was derived
from a purely pictorial alphabet in which the pictures of the letters stood for
animals or objects.
There are many versions of the runic
alphabets. Each has variations in names, shapes, esoteric meanings
and magical uses. One should not mix futharks, or the intent or
meaning becomes confused. The Elder Futhark, the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc,
and the Younger (or Scandinavian) Futhark are the most frequently
seen versions of the runic alphabets in use today.
The runes are broken into three sections or
groups of eight, called aett (aettir, plural). This helps one to
remember their order, and later, you will see, has significance in
First the rune name is given, then its
phonetic value, its symbolic image, and finally the esoteric meaning
used in divination. Rune users often vehemently disagree on whether or not to place a
different meaning on a rune that falls in an inverted or reversed
Some runes look the same upside down and right side up. These cannot be "reversed". Nevertheless, any of the runes may appear
as a "merkstave" (which literally means "dark stick" and implies
a "dark" meaning), depending on how the runes are cast. Note
that a "reversed" or "merkstave" meaning is not the opposite of its
primary meaning, but usually has a more negative
Meanings: (as interpreted for the Elder
Fehu ("fay-who", F: Domestic cattle, wealth) 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,
Fehu Reversed or 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,
Uruz ("ooo-rooze", U: Auroch, a wild ox) 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
Uruz Reversed or Merkstave: Weakness, obsession,
misdirected force, domination by others. Sickness, inconsistency,
ignorance. Lust, brutality, rashness, callousness,
Thurisaz ("thoor-ee-saws", TH: Thorn or a Giant) Reactive force,
directed force of destruction and defence, conflict. Instinctual
will, vital eroticism, regenerative catalyst. A tendency toward
change. Catharsis, purging, cleansing fire. Male sexuality,
fertilization. (Thor, the Thunder god, was of Giant stock.).
Reversed or Merkstave: Danger, defencelessness, compulsion, betrayal,
dullness. Evil, malice, hatred, torment, spite, lies. A bad man or
Ansuz ("awn-sooze", A: The As, ancestral god, i.e. Odin)
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, wisdom.
Ansuz Reversed or Merkstave: Misunderstanding, delusion, manipulation
by others, boredom. Vanity and grandiloquence. (Odin is a mighty, but
duplicitous god. He always has his own agenda.)
Raidho ("rye-though", R: Wagon or chariot)
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 life.
Raidho Reversed or
Merkstave: Crisis, rigidity, stasis, injustice, irrationality.
Disruption, dislocation, demotion, delusion, possibly a
Kenaz ("kane-awze", K: Beacon or torch)
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.
Kenaz Reversed or
Merkstave: Disease, breakup, instability, lack of creativity.
Nakedness, exposure, loss of illusion and false hope.
Gebo ("gay-boe", G: Gift)
Gifts, both in the sense of
sacrifice and of generosity, indicating balance. All matters in
relation to exchanges, including contracts, personal relationships
Gebo Merkstave (Gebo cannot be reversed, but may
lie in opposition): Greed, loneliness, dependence, over-sacrifice.
Obligation, toll, privation, bribery.
Wunjo ("woon-yo", W or V: Joy) 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
Wunjo Reversed or Merkstave: Stultification, sorrow, strife,
alienation. Delirium, intoxication, possession by higher forces,
impractical enthusiasm. Raging frenzy, berzerker.
Hagalaz ("haw-gaw-laws", H: Hail)
Wrath of nature, destructive,
uncontrolled forces, especially the weather, or within the
unconscious. Tempering, testing, trial. Controlled crisis, leading to
completion, inner harmony.
Hagalaz Merkstave (Hagalaz cannot be
reversed, but may lie in opposition): Natural disaster, catastrophe.
Stagnation, loss of power. Pain, loss, suffering, hardship, sickness,
Nauthiz ("now-these", N: Need)
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.
Nauthiz Reversed or Merkstave: Constraint of freedom,
distress, toil, drudgery, laxity. Necessity, extremity, want,
deprivation, starvation, need, poverty, emotional hunger.
Isa ("ee-saw", I: Ice)
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.
(Isa cannot be reversed, but may lie in opposition): Ego-mania,
dullness, blindness, dissipation. Treachery, illusion, deceit,
betrayal, guile, stealth, ambush, plots.
Jera ("yare-awe", J or Y: A year, a good harvest)
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.
Jera Merkstave (Jera cannot be reversed, but may lie in
opposition): Sudden setback, reversals. A major change, repetition,
bad timing, poverty, conflict.
Eihwaz ("eye-wawz", EI: Yew tree)
Strength, reliability, dependability, trustworthiness. Enlightenment, endurance.
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.
Eihwaz Reversed or Merkstave: Confusion, destruction,
Perthro ("perth-row", P: Lot cup, vagina)
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 change.
Perthro Reversed or
Merkstave: Addiction, stagnation, loneliness, malaise.
Algiz ("all-yeese", Z or R: Elk, protection)
Protection, a shield. The protective urge to shelter oneself or others. Defence,
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.
Algiz Reversed: or Merkstave:
Hidden danger, consumption by divine forces, loss of divine link.
Taboo, warning, turning away, that which repels.
Sowilo ("soe-wee-low", S: The sun)
Success, goals achieved, honour.
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
Tiwaz ("tea-wawz", T: Tyr, the sky god)
Honour, 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 matters.
Tiwaz Reversed or
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.
Berkano ("bear-kawn-oh", B: Berchta, the birch-goddess)
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.
Berkano Reversed or Merkstave: Family problems and or domestic troubles.
Anxiety about someone close to you. Carelessness, abandon, loss of
control. Blurring of consciousness, deceit, sterility,
Ehwaz ("ay-wawz", E: Horse, two horses)
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
Ehwaz Reversed or 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.
Mannaz ("mawn-nawz", M: Man, mankind)
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.
Mannaz Reversed or Merkstave: Depression, mortality, blindness,
self-delusion. Cunning, slyness, manipulation, craftiness,
calculation. Expect no help now.
Laguz ("law-gooze", L: Water, or a leek)
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.
Reversed or 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,
Ingwaz ("eeeng-wawz", NG: Ing, the earth god)
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.
Ingwaz Merkstave (Ingwaz cannot be reversed, but may lie in
opposition): Impotence, movement without change. Production, toil,
Dagaz ("thaw-gauze", D: Day or dawn)
Breakthrough, awakening, awareness. Daylight clarity as opposed to night time 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.
Dagaz Merkstave (Dagaz cannot be reversed, but
may lie in opposition): A completion, ending, limit, coming full
circle. Blindness, hopelessness.
Othala ("oath-awe-law", O: Ancestral property)
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 abundance.
or Merkstave: Lack of customary order, totalitarianism, slavery,
poverty, homelessness. Bad karma, prejudice, clannishness,
provincialism. What a man is bound to.
Blank Rune : There is no historical support for a "Blank Rune,
Odin's Rune, or Wyrd" in
runic divination. It was invented in the 1980's and should not be used in a rune casting. If you
have a rune
set with a blank piece, save it in case you lose another rune piece, but do not use it in rune casting.
There are as many different pronunciations of
the Elder Futhark rune sounds as there are runic authors. Since the
names are modern re-creations of what is referred to as
"proto-Indo-European", which no longer exists (or perhaps never did), your guess is as good as the next person's.