The Nordic Runes

It is difficult to identify the origin of the Nordic Runes (of Odin). Rune-like symbology appeared as cave markings as early and circa 1300 BC. Additionally, the use of runes for divination are mentioned in the Holy Bible indirectly in Leviticus 19:26, Leviticus 20:6 and Leviticus 19:31. These biblical verses deal directly with forbidding the use of divination or fortune telling.

The Mythology of Odin and the Runes
Odin was the chief of the Gods and Goddesses of Aesir, which resided in Asgard, held in the upper branches of the great tree Yggdrasil standing at the center of the Norse cosmos. Yggdrasil grows out of the Well of Urd. The Well of Urd was a pool that held many of the most powerful forces and beings in the cosmos within its' depths.

The runes were carved from the trunk of the Yggdrasil trunk and carry the intentions throughout the tree and affected everything within the nine worlds.

Odin wanted to know the runes, but they would only reveal themselves and their powers to those who prove themselves worthy. Odin hung himself upside down from a branch of the Yggdrasi and peirced himself with a spear while peering downward into the depths of the waters. At the same time, Odin forbade the other gods to grant him any comfort, not even a sip of water. He stared into the depths and called to the runes, teetering between the gulf that seperates life from death. At the end of the ninth night he perceived the shape of the runes, including the secrets which lay within them. He ended his ordeal with a scream of exultation and the secrets of the runes were known.

Freyr's Aett Fehu
Heimball's Aett Hagalaz
Tyr's Aett Teiwaz

The Meanings of the Runes

Freyr's Aett

Fehu : 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, creation/destruction (becoming).
Fehu Reversed : 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, bondage.

Phonetic equivalent: f

DIVINATORY MEANINGS: Prosperity, money, wealth, concern with physical and financial needs, goals, promotion, self-esteem, centeredness, karma
MAGICAL USES: Money, business, promotion, finding a job, achieving a goal, starting new enterprises
ASSOCIATED MYTHS & DEITIES: Freyr, Brisingamen, Gullveig, Dwarfs, Sigurd & the Otter's Gold

Uruz : 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 the self.
Uruz Reversed : Weakness, obsession, misdirected force, domination by others. Sickness, inconsistency, ignorance. lust, brutality, rashness, callousness, violence.

Phonetic equivalent: u

DIVINATORY MEANINGS: energy, passion, vitality, instinct, wildness, sexuality, fertility, the unconscious, primitive mind, irrationality, shamanic experience, rite of passage
MAGICAL USES: to strengthen the will, increase sexual potency and energy; for hunting
ASSOCIATED MYTHS & DEITIES: Ullr, Loki, Odin as shaman.

Thurisaz: Thorn or a Giant
Reactive force, directed force of destruction and defense, conflict. Instinctual will, vital eroticism, regenerative catalyst. A tendency toward change. Catharsis, purging, cleansing fire. Male sexuality, fertilization. (Thorr, the Thunder god, was of Giant stock.)
Thurisaz Reversed : Danger, defenselessness, compulsion, betrayal, dullness. Evil, malice, hatred, torment, spite, lies. A bad man or woman. Rape?

Phonetic equivalent: th (as in 'thing')

DIVINATORY MEANINGS: hardship, painful event, discipline, knowledge, introspection, focus
MAGICAL USES: aid in study and meditation, self-discipline, clearing out a bad situation
ASSOCIATED MYTHS & DEITIES: the Frost Giants, Loki

Ansuz: 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 : Misunderstanding, delusion, manipulation by others, boredom. Vanity and grandiloquence. (Odin is a mighty, but duplicitous god. He always has his own agenda.)

Phonetic equivalent: a (as in 'fall')

DIVINATORY MEANINGS: authority figure, leader, mind & body balance, justice, shaman, clairvoyant
MAGICAL USES: for wise decisions, success, leadership; to help in divination and magic

Raidho: 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 death.

Phonetic equivalent: r

DIVINATORY MEANINGS: journey, pilgrimage, change, destiny, quest, progress, life lessons
MAGICAL USES: protection for travelers, to ease or bring about change, to reconnect
ASSOCIATED MYTHS & DEITIES: the Norns, Sigurd's journey

Kenaz: 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.

Phonetic equivalent: c (as in 'candle')

DIVINATORY MEANINGS: wisdom, insight, solution to a problem, creativity, inspiration, enlightenment
MAGICAL USES: for creative inspiration, aid in study, fertility, dispelling anxiety and fear
ASSOCIATED MYTHS & DEITIES: Mimir, the Dwarfs, Muspellheim

Gebo: Gift
Gifts, both in the sense of sacrifice and of generosity, indicating balance. All matters in relation to exchanges, including contracts, personal relationships and partnerships.
Gebo Reversed : Gebo cannot actually be reversed, but may lie in opposition: Greed, loneliness, dependence, over-sacrifice. Obligation, toll, privation, bribery.

Phonetic equivalent: g (as in 'girl')

DIVINATORY MEANINGS: gift, offering, relationship, love, marriage, partnership, generosity, unexpected good fortune
MAGICAL USES: to find or strengthen a relationship, for fertility, to mark a gift or offering, to bring luck
ASSOCIATED MYTHS & DEITIES: Sigurd & Brunhild; Aesir & Vanir treaty

Wunjo: 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 worth.
Wunjo Reversed : Stultification, sorrow, strife, alienation. Delirium, intoxication, possession by higher forces, impractical enthusiasm. Raging frenzy, berzerker.

Phonetic equivalent: w

DIVINATORY MEANINGS: success, recognition of achievements, reward, joy, bliss, achievement of goals, contentment
MAGICAL USES: for success in any endeavor, to motivate, to complete a task.

Heimdall's Aett

Hagalaz: 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 Reversed : Hagalaz cannot actually be reversed, but may lie in opposition: Natural disaster, catastrophe. Stagnation, loss of power. Pain, loss, suffering, hardship, sickness, crisis.

Phonetic equivalent: h

DIVINATORY MEANINGS: sudden loss, ordeal, destruction, disaster, clearance, testing, karmic lesson, drastic change.
MAGICAL USES: removing unwanted influences, breaking destructive patterns
ASSOCIATED MYTHS & DEITIES: Ragnarok, Loki, Frost Giants

Nauthiz: 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 : Constraint of freedom, distress, toil, drudgery, laxity. Necessity, extremity, want, deprivation, starvation, need, poverty, emotional hunger.

Phonetic equivalent: n

DIVINATORY MEANINGS: poverty, hardship, responsibility, discontent, obstacle, frustration
MAGICAL USES: to represent a need to be filled
ASSOCIATED MYTHS & DEITIES: Freyr & Gurd, the Otter's Gold

Isa: 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 Reversed : Isa cannot actually be reversed, but may lie in opposition: Ego-mania, dullness, blindness, dissipation. Treachery, illusion, deceit, betrayal, guile, stealth, ambush, plots.

Phonetic equivalent: i (ee as in 'eel')

DIVINATORY MEANINGS: inactivity, blockage, stagnation, potential, patience, reflection, withdrawal, rest
MAGICAL USES: to stop a process; to represent primal form

Jera: 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 Reversed: Jera cannot actually be reversed, but may lie in opposition: Sudden setback, reversals. A major change, repetition, bad timing, poverty, conflict.

Phonetic equivalent: y (but may be used in place of 'j')

DIVINATORY MEANINGS: change, cycle turning, reward, motion, productivity, inevitable development
MAGICAL USES: to bring change; for fertility and growth
ASSOCIATED MYTHS & DEITIES: Sif, Thor, Freyr, Granni

Eihwaz: Yew tree
Strength, reliability, dependability, trustworthiness. Enlightenment, endurance. Defense, 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 : Confusion, destruction, dissatisfaction, weakness.

Phonetic equivalent: ei

DIVINATORY MEANINGS: change, initiation, confrontation of fears, turning point, death, transformation
MAGICAL USES: to bring about profound change, to ease a life transition

Perthro: 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 : Addiction, stagnation, loneliness, malaise.

Phonetic equivalent: p

DIVINATORY MEANINGS: rebirth, mystery, magic, divination, fertility, sexuality, new beginning, prophecy
MAGICAL USES: fertility, easing childbirth, to aid in divination and magic, enhancing psychic abilities

Algiz: Elk, protection
Protection, a shield. The protective urge to shelter oneself or others. Defense, 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 : Hidden danger, consumption by divine forces, loss of divine link. Taboo, warning, turning away, that which repels.

Phonetic equivalent: x, z

DIVINATORY MEANINGS: protection, assistance, defense, warning, support, a mentor, an ethical dilemma
MAGICAL USES: for protection, hunting
ASSOCIATED MYTHS & DEITIES: Heimdall, Gjallerhorn

Sowilo: The sun
Success, goals achieved, honor. 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.
Sowilo Reversed : Sowilo cannot actually 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 god.

Phonetic equivalent: s

DIVINATORY MEANINGS: success, positive energy, increase, power, activity, fertility, health
MAGICAL USES: energy, strength, success, healing, fertility

Tyr's Aett

Tiwaz: Tyr, the sky god.
Honor, 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 : 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.

Phonetic equivalent: t

DIVINATORY MEANINGS: duty, discipline, responsibility, self-sacrifice, conflict, strength, a wound, physicality, the warrior path
MAGICAL USES: protection, victory, strength, strengthening the will, healing a wound
ASSOCIATED MYTHS & DEITIES: Tyr and the Fenris Wolf, Odin's ordeals

Berkano: 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 : Family problems and or domestic troubles. Anxiety about someone close to you. Carelessness, abandon, loss of control. Blurring of consciousness, deceit, sterility, stagnation.

Phonetic equivalent: b

DIVINATORY MEANINGS: fertility, health, new beginnings, growth, conception, plenty, clearance
MAGICAL USES: healing especially of infections, achieving conception, making a fresh start

Ehwaz: 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 around it.
Ehwaz Reversed : This is not really a negative rune. A change is perhaps craved. Feeling restless or confined in a situation. Reckless haste, disharmony, mistrust, betrayal.

Phonetic equivalent: e (as in 'egg')

DIVINATORY MEANINGS: transportation, motion, assistance, energy, power, communication, will, recklessness
MAGICAL USES: power, aiding in communication, transportation; to 'send' a spell
ASSOCIATED MYTHS & DEITIES: Sleipnir, Freya's feathered cloak

Mannaz: 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 : Depression, mortality, blindness, self-delusion. Cunning, slyness, manipulation, craftiness, calculation. Expect no help now.

Phonetic equivalent: m

DIVINATORY MEANINGS: significator, self, family, community, relationships, social concerns
MAGICAL USES: to represent a specific person or group of people; to establish social relationships
ASSOCIATED MYTHS & DEITIES: Ask and Embla, Midgard

Laguz: 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.
Laguz Reversed : 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, sickness, suicide.

Phonetic equivalent: l

DIVINATORY MEANINGS: emotions, fears, unconscious mind, things hidden, revelation, intuition, counselling
MAGICAL USES: enhancing psychic abilities, confronting fears, stabilizing mental or emotional disorders, uncovering hidden things
ASSOCIATED MYTHS & DEITIES: Njord, Midgard Serpent

Ingaz: 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 Reversed : Ingwaz cannot actually be reversed, but may lie in opposition : Impotence, movement without change. Production, toil, labor, work.

Phonetic equivalent: ng

DIVINATORY MEANINGS: work, productivity, bounty, groundedness, balance, connection with the land
MAGICAL USES: fertility, farming, growth, general health, balance
ASSOCIATED MYTHS & DEITIES: Freyr / Ing, Nerthus, Thor, the Vanir

Dagaz: Day or dawn
Breakthrough, awakening, awareness. Daylight clarity as opposed to nighttime 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 Reversed : Dagaz cannot actually be reversed, but may lie in opposition : A completion, ending, limit, coming full circle. Blindness, hopelessness.

Phonetic equivalent: d (pronounced as 'th', as in 'this')

DIVINATORY MEANINGS: happiness, success, activity, a fulfilling lifestyle, satisfaction
MAGICAL USES: to bring a positive outcome
ASSOCIATED MYTHS & DEITIES: Sunna, Baldr, Nerthus, Yggdrasil

Othala: 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.
Othala Reversed : Lack of customary order, totalitarianism, slavery, poverty, homelessness. Bad karma, prejudice, clannishness, provincialism. What a man is bound to.

Phonetic equivalent: o

DIVINATORY MEANINGS: property, land, inheritance, home, permanence, legacy, synthesis, sense of belonging
MAGICAL USES: for acquiring land or property, to complete a project, to strengthen family ties
ASSOCIATED MYTHS & DEITIES: the nine worlds of Yggdrasil

The Blank Rune:
There is no historical support for a "Blank Rune" in runic divination. It was invented in the 1980's by Ralph Blum. It should not be used in a rune casting. If you bought a rune set with a blank piece, save it in case you lose another rune piece, but don't use it in rune casting