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Runes An Introduction to Runes


An Introduction to Runes

The Runes were once the sacred alphabet of the Germanic people of northern Europe. They were also used as a system of divination in a similar manner to the Tarot cards.

The very name Rune comes from the ancient Gothic 'Runa', meaning a secret or a mystery. However unlike the cards the Runes spelled words of power to be carved into amulets, rings, weapons and also tombstones. Infact the verb 'spell' may come from the ancient Rune masters because it means 'to make magic'. The rune masters of old were feared & honoured members of society which wore cloth to set them apart as they were shaman, but this was not just for men and there is evidence showing women were also rune master/mistresses.

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This can be highlighted in the Saga of Erik the Red which was written in the thirteenth century

“She wore a cloak set with stones along the hem. Around her neck and covering her head, she wore a hood lined with white cat skins. In one hand she carried a staff with a knob on the end, and at her belt, holding together her long dress, hung a charm pouch. She wore calf skin shoes and cat skin mittens to cover her hands all the time.”

In today’s world, the Runes are usually drawn or carved onto slivers of wood or pebbles, or even plastic moulded Rune stones. Although in the past human blood was used in the making of the Runes, thankfully times have changed and we no longer feel the need to use human blood in their making. There are many types of Runes or even Rune cards available today, however the Rune masters of old would definitely recommended making your own set of Runes by carving them out the wood of a fruit bearing tree or painting them in red on small stones, failing that drawing them again in red on a piece of card.

After Christianity was introduced to Scandinavia and Iceland during the early medieval period, use of the Runes for divination or in talismans was frowned upon as being akin to witchcraft. Never the less the Runic art continued secretly in Iceland until the death of the last of the great Rune masters in the middle of the 17th century, which ended an unbroken mystical tradition that was by then over 2000 years old. However this was not the end of the story for the Runes. The 19th century saw a revival of interest, not only in the Runes but in the Nordic past in general.

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Legend has it that they were a gift from Odin to man. After lying fallow for over 300 years, they have started to become a popular medium/tool to use, which to scholars of the runes is an exciting time considering they are older than the New Testament. Their history is lost in the annuals of time and is even mentioned in the bible (mark 4:11).

Ralph W.V. Elliot. In his book Runes: An Introduction indicated that Runes had a very big influence upon the Anglo Saxon era. He indicates that when that the wise peoples of the clans met in secret they called their discussions “Runes”. He also quotes Bishop Wulfila translation of the bible in the 4th century where he stated “the mystery of the kingdom of god” (mark 4:11} “the Runa of the kingdom of god” using the word Runa instead of the word mystery.

Many standing stones in Europe still today carry the marks of the runes, indicating the importance of runes to the peoples of old.

"A king he was on a craven throne, In many pillared halls of stone. With golden roof, and silver floor & runes of power upon the floor
J.R.R. Tolkien the fellowship of the ring"

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An Introduction to Runes

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