The History Of The Runes

Runes have been used as part of magic ceremonies and for divining the future for centuries. However, it is almost impossible to fix a date on when and where they were first used; the word ‘Rune’ means ‘shrouded by mystery’ or ‘hidden wisdom’, so it seems fitting that their origins are not yet fully identified. In spite of this, the Runes feature in myth and historical accounts.


Runes in Myth

Many Runic symbols have been found in Bronze Age carvings and some have even survived to find themselves in subsequent alphabets. However, the mythological origin of the Runes tells us that they have their roots in Viking beliefs. The Norse legends reveal that Odin, ruler of the gods, hung upside-down from the Tree of the World, Yggdrasil. After nine days and nine nights, Odin died and passed on to a realm beyond death in which he learned secrets beyond the comprehension of mere mortals. Odin was then reborn and his knowledge was passed on in the form of Runes.


Runes in History

Historically, the major runic alphabets – known as ‘futharks’ – are European. The Elder Futhark is thought to be the oldest version of the runic alphabet and was used widely by the early Germanic and Scandinavian peoples. It is further thought that Runes were brought to Britain in the 5th Century, probably by the Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Frisians. Although very few runic scripts from these times have survived, there are plenty of carvings found in jewellery and weapons. However, it also seems likely that the Elder Futhark has absorbed letter from the runes of other civilizations, such as the Hungarians, Etruscans, Greeks and Romans. In Ancient Times, there were often large migrations of people, who brought their traditions and their cultures with them.


Runes are still very much used in the 21st Century. Shamans, healers and magicians use them on a daily basis to help them with divination, healing and affecting physical change. They received their worst press in the Second World War, when they were used by the Nazis. It was not until the mid-80’s that interest in them was renewed, particularly for divination and encouraging self-awareness.

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