Adrienne Jaret     intuitive consultant


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The Runes


The use and origins of the Runes have historical and mythological roots, extending back 2,500 years.

Historically, the precise origins of the original Runic alphabet are uncertain. However, it is believed the very first version of Runic Symbols were Ancient Rock Symbols. These Rock Symbols, essentially pictographs of the natural forces and circumstances governing daily life, referred to the conceptual and physical world of these early nomadic Germanic tribes: weather, wildlife, sun, male virility, mountain, water,  protection. Although these Runic Rock Symbols most likely had function and specific names, there seems to be no evidence that they were used as an alphabet.

While theories date use of the symbol Runes from as early as 500B.C., the first Teutonic Runic Alphabet, known as the Elder Futhark, did not come into use until early 5th Century A.D. It was the practice among ancient cultures to name their alphabetic sequences after the names of the first letters in this sequence, as the word “alphabet” is a derivative of the Greek letters “alpha” and “beta.” The runic alphabet’s name, Futhark, is derived from the first six letters in its sequence: Feoh (cattle), Ur (Aurochs, an extinct long-horned wild ox), Thorn (Thorn), Ansur (Mouth), Rad (Riding), Ken (Torch). As divergent peoples adopted the runic alphabet, they altered them to fulfill the linguistic needs, replicating the sounds in their languages. There are three main Futharks: the Elder (Germanic) serving as the prototype, the Younger (Norse) and the Anglo-Saxon (Old English). Each Futhark contains an different number of letter symbols. The Elder Futhark contained 24 letters, the Younger Futhark, used in Scandinavia and Iceland, utilized only 16, as the Anglo-Saxon Futhark grew to 28 then 33 letters.
The evolution of the Runic Alphabet is attributed to be the result of a mingling of the early Teutonic rock symbols with the Etruscan alphabet, later influenced by the Roman, or Latin, alphabet, which itself was an evolution of the Etruscan alphabet. There are a significant number of characters comprising the Elder Futhark that are rather similar, if not identical, to original Runic Rock Symbols, as well as characters quite similar in resemblance to letters in the earlier Etruscan alphabet and the later Roman alphabet.

It seems as if the co-mingling between the Teutonic Rock Symbols, the Etruscan Alphabet, the Latin Alphabet and the Runic Alphabet was as much circular as linear. The original Etruscans were Northern peoples who moved from the North, over the Alps, to settle in Northern Italy, where their alphabet developed. While Etruscan alphabet characters influenced the evolution of the Elder Futhark alphabet, alternately there are also Etruscan letters comparable in appearance to a number of early Teutonic rock symbols. The cultural contact between the Teutonic people, serving as mercenaries for the Etruscans and in the Roman army, when Rome was viewed as an Etruscan colony, from 1st Century B.C. to 5th Century A.D., is considered to be the basis for this mingling of the Etruscan alphabet with Runic symbols. And when Rome’s power and influence made their Latin alphabet more prominent, it curiously appears that some Latin alphabet symbols, with no relation to Etruscan alphabet symbols, actually reflected early Teutonic Rock Symbols. More curious is that several Elder Futhark alphabet symbols took on the evolved appearance of those same Latin alphabet symbols, lacking equivalent representation in the interim Etruscan alphabet, but seemingly developed from early Teutonic Rock Symbols. Ultimately, when the formalized Elder Futhark came into use, many of it’s Runic alphabet symbols were similar or identical with many characters used in the Latin Alphabet.

The Elder Futhark Runes are glyphs, representing the sounds used in the ancient Germanic language, as our own present alphabet represents the sounds in modern speech. But because most of these alphabet Runes were adopted from the earlier symbol Runes, each of the 24 Runes in the Elder Futhark is named for and depicted as a natural element, a physical object (animate or inanimate), an animal or an aspect of a god. These symbolic pictographs are representatively drawn, or written, in depiction of such as cattle, fire, horse, harvest, water, spear, need, sun, ice, thorn, male potency, hail. Understandably, symbol Runes were named in accordance with the image they represented and quite possibly, those Runes which made their way into the Elder Futhark Runic alphabet were selected on the basis of  the correlation between their names and the sounds and letters needed to represent the ancient Teutonic or Germanic linguistic sounds. For example, the symbol Rune, named Tir, imaged as a spear, an aspect of the war god, Tyr, represents the letter T and its concomitant sound. The Runes were carved into wood or stone with axes and blades, drawn or written, in straight lines intersecting at angles with one another, each letter an angular pictographic image.

As hunters, warriors, herders and farmers, the Teutonic tribes did not share in the advanced state of knowledge and literacy other cultures, such as the Phoenicians, Greeks, and Etruscans, were exhibiting. Only the most educated and elevated of the tribes people, such as priests, tribal chiefs and magicians were believed to possess the phonetic knowledge of writing with the Runes. For the general populace, the world in which they lived and the forces which effected their lives were sheathed in a great deal of mystery. In fact, many of the Rune relics discovered bear no words, only the symbolic pictographs. One did not have to be literate to well understand the meanings of each Rune, and translate them into a form of visual language.

The word “Rune,” itself, holds the root meaning of a secret, a whisper, a mystery. By connecting with what were considered sacred symbols, the Teutonic tribes connected with the powerful higher forces which affected their lives, their world and their future. Understanding that their personal and communal actions and interactions affected their lives and their destinies, the Runic pictographs served them as intuitive triggers, components of a strongly oracular system for gaining knowledge and guidance from the Universal Forces, or Higher Consciousness, that ruled their existence.

In later times, a 25th Rune, a blank Rune, came into use. Indicative of concealing a mystery, it symbolized an increased understanding of the degree to which an individual bears the ultimate responsibility for their own fate and the concomitant concept that less of their circumstances and progress rested in the hands of the gods.

The Elder Futhark Runic Alphabet, when used as an intuitive oracular system, operates on the fundamental philosophy that life is comprised from events in progress and from one’s self in constant evolution and development. There is little room for the concept of helplessness. Consulting with the Runes, through pertinent questions, enables one to better understand the dynamics of their circumstances, and then, receive the guidance, creative counsel and wisdom to enable them to move forward to a better future.

In the old Norse poem, the Eddic, Havamal, Odin describes how, hung head downward on the great ash tree that binds together earth, heaven and hell, the sacred Yggdrasill tree, he came to the Runes. It is a story of evolution, depicting the death of the mundane self rebirthing into a higher self. In contemporary terminology, Odin elected to move out of his comfort zone, tap into the knowledge of universal consciousness, utilize the knowledge gained, conceive of new ideas and approaches and launch them into action.



I trow that I hung on the windy tree, 
swing there nights all nine,
gashed with a blade,
bloodied for Odin,
myself a sacrifice to myself-
knotted to that tree,
no man know
whither the roots of it run.

None gave me bread
 none gave me drink,
down to the depths
I peered
to snatch up runes
with a roaring scream
and fell in a dizzied swoon.

Well-being I won
and wisdom too,
I grew and joyed in my growth-
from a word to a word
I was led to a word,
from a deed to another deed.