HomeIndexthe runesIntroduction to Runes: What are runes?


In order to have a correct introduction to The Runes it is necessary to consider them in their simplest form, that is, as “letters” of an ancient Germanic alphabet, used both for magical/divinatory use but also in the ritual or commercial sphere.
They have been found throughout northern Europe, Scandinavia, the British Isles, Iceland, the Alpine Islands but also in North America.
Introduction to Runes


Ancient Sources to runes introduction

Already 2000 years ago Tacitus in his De Germany, describing the customs and customs of the Nordic peoples, speaks of the rituals of divination by priests who engrave or paint signs and throw them on tarpaulins to draw wishes.

 More than any other people, they respect the wishes and fortunes. For the latter, the process is simple. They cut a sprig of fruity tree into small pieces, distinguish them with certain signs and throw them at random on a white robe. After that the priest of the tribe, if the consultation is for the community, or the head of the family, if he has a private destination, invoke the gods with the gaze face to heaven, collects three pieces, one at a time, and interprets them according to the imprinted sign. If the answer is against it, the fate of the same subject is no longer questioned for that day; in the case of favourable signs, further confirmation of the wishes is required. It is also known in Germany to interrogate the voices and flights of birds. It is the specialty of those people to be inspired by the omens and warnings of horses. They are fed, at the expense of the community, in the forests and sacred forests previously remembered, very white and not contaminated by the work given to man: attached to the sacred chariot, they are accompanied by the priest, the king or the head of a people, who observe them nitrites and quivers. There is no hope to which more re-trust, not only from ordinary people, but from the notables and priests: they consider themselves ministers of the gods and the depositing horses of the divine will. There is also another way of drawing the auspices, used to predict the outcome of important wars. A prisoner of the people with whom they are at war, however captured, oppose him to fight against a champion of their people, each with their own weapons: the victory of one or the other has the value of prediction.

Tacito capitolo X De Germania.

The word “runa” means mystery, secret or whisper, and each rune has meaning-specific properties, beyond its common phonetic value.
Each rune translates into a symbol a word or phrase important concepts to the first peoples who used them, representing the forces of nature and mind. Each rune also has a history connected to it, a relationship with a Nordic god.

Tradition has it that Odin, the God of the Aesir, hung the tree of the world, Yggdrasil, impaled himself on his spear, for nine days and nights in order to acquire the knowledge of the runes.
When the runes appeared “under him”, he bent down and picked them up and knew rune. He later passed this knowledge on to the goddess Vanir Freya in exchange for The Seidr. Heimdall later taught the secrets of runes to humanity…

  “… I know that I hung myself on a tree lashed by the wind for nine whole nights, wounded by a spear and consecrated to Odin, offered by myself to myself;  The wise do not know where the roots of that ancient tree come from. They did not comfort me with bread, nor did they give me a horn to drink;  I looked down, grabbed the Runes, shouted at them; I fell from the tree.  I learned nine songs of power from Bolthor’s famous son, father of beast, and had a sip of the precious mead mixed with magical Odrerir.  Then I became learned, wise, crebbi and prospered: word of word gave me words; action gave me actions…

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