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 The Old Iceland Viking ELDER  FUTHARK Runes
Runes are a Mystical Alphabet used by Ancient European tribes 2000 years ago to name places and things, attack luck and fortune, provide protection, and magically divine the course of future events.
Runes were carved or engraved on stone or wood.  The tools of the time, ax, knife, or chisel, could not easily be used to form curved lines, so Runic letters are formed with straight lines only.
Virtually all of Europe used them at one time, but today, they are best remembered for their use by the Ancient Norse. The Vikings, The oldest known form and arrangement of Runic letters, the Elder FUTHARK, is estimated by the British Museum to have been used by the Vikings around 200 A.D.; some believe much earlier.
In Norse, the Elder FUTHARK is read from right to left, but is shown from left to right as shown below as modern English is written from left to right.  FUTHARK is the first six letters of the Runic Alphabet.
The Elder Futhark

The name "futhark", like the word "alphabet", is derived from the first few letters in the runic sequence, which differs considerably from the order of the Latin alphabet and is unique amongst alphabetic scripts. The futhark originally consisted of 24 letters, beginning with F and ending with O, and was used by the northern Germanic tribes of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Northern Germany. This form of the runes is known as the Elder, or Germanic Futhark.
The Anglo-Saxon Futhorc
The Anglo-Saxon Futhorc
Sometime around the fifth century AD, changes occurred in the runes in Frisia (the area around the northern Netherlands and north-western Germany). This period coincided with the Anglo-Saxon invasions from this area and the appearance of similar runes in the British Isles. The forms of several of the runes changed, notably the runes for A/O, C/K, H, J, S, and Ng. Also, changes in the language led to between five and nine runes being added to the alphabet to compensate for the extra sounds, and several runes were given different corresponding letters. This alphabet has become known as the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc.
The Younger Futhark
The Younger Fuþark (Danish variation)
In Scandinavia, the Elder Futhark remained in use until some time around the eighth century (the time of the Eddas), when drastic changes in the Old Norse language occurred, and corresponding changes in the runic alphabet were made to accommodate the new sounds. However, unlike the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc, the Younger Futhark (as it is now called) reduced the number of runes from 24 to 16, and several runes came to represent multiple sounds. The forms of the runes were also changed and simplified. There are several variations of this futhark - Danish, long branch, Norwegian, dotted, etc.
This form of the runic alphabet spread from Denmark north into Sweden and Norway, and was carried into Iceland and Greenland by the Vikings. It is possible that they were also brought to North America with the Vinland expeditions, but so far no authenticated inscriptions have been found.
The Runic Revival
The runes, primarily in their Younger form, remained in common use until well into the 17th. century. Up until this time, they were found on everything from coins to coffins, and in some places their use was actually sanctioned by the Church. Even the common people knew simple runic spells, and the runes were frequently consulted on matters of both public and private interest. Unfortunately, as with most of the magical arts, they were officially banned in 1639 as part of the Church's efforts to "drive the devil out of Europe". The rune masters were either executed or went underground, and the knowledge of the runes may well have died with them. Some say that the knowledge was passed on in secret, but it is almost impossible to separate ancient traditions from more modern esoteric philosophies in such cases.
Perhaps the darkest period in the history of runic studies was their revival by German scholars connected with the Nazi movement in the 20's and 30's. What began as a legitimate folkloric resurgence unfortunately became so tainted by Nazi ideology and racism that the research from this period was rendered all but useless to any serious student of runic lore.
After the Second World War, the runes fell into disfavor as a result of their association with Naziism, and very little was written about them until the fifties and sixties. It was not until the mid-eighties, with the widespread appeal of the "New Age" movement and the revival of Pagan religions (especially the Asatru movement) that the runes regained their popularity as both a divinatory system and a tool for self-awareness.
Ancestry and Heritage in the Germanic Tradition
Who is going to tell Thor that his sons should not participate in something because they are not of "pure" descent?"
(Gamlinginn, "Race and Religion", in Mountain Thunder 8, 1993)
The Ring of Troth's official, and unshakeable, policy is that we do not permit racism of any sort: we require that our folk affiliate for cultural and religious, not racial and political reasons. A common belief in the Northern community is that, as Wilfrid von Dauster states, "A religion should be in touch with your heritage, or what you feel your heritage really is. Some people equate ancestry with race; I do not. If you feel strongly that you come from, say, a warrior tradition at some point, then that is your ancestry" ("How Can You Believe That Junk?", p. 21). However, because the Elder Troth as a whole is an ethnic tradition, largely stemming today from the interest in recovering a forgotten heritage, and because our forebears set so much weight on matters of kin and clan, the question often comes up of what role an awareness of personal ethnic background - not to mince words, race! - should play in our practise of our troth. Only by returning to the sources of our troth and the culture of our forebears can we hope to discover the beliefs of those who first kept the troth of the Aesir and Vanir.

The first, and simplest, problem is the question of whether our forebears had an over-arching "racial" consciousness - whether "race" meant anything to them or not. The Anglo-Saxons had laws which separated the "Welsh" from the "English" insofar as weregild and rights were concerned. However, the distinction here seems to have been one of language and culture, not of race as such: intermarriage was not only common, but highly respected. According to our legends, the Saxon woman Rowena was given in marriage to the Romano-Celtic king Vortigern; the Saxon heroes Cerdic and his brother Cynric bear British names, implying that their mother may have been British; and similar alliances - treated with full honor - are recorded through the history of the Saxon folk. Marriage alliances were likewise made between Germanic and Roman persons of high rank. The historical Attila the Hun is thought to have maintained a court of mixed Hunnish and Gothic composition, and his last marriage was to an atheling-maiden of Germanic stock. Further, the Germans who sang tales of the great hero-king Theodoric the Ostrogoth counted it no disgrace for Theodoric to have served in Attila's warband. Although the latter cycle of legends may be historically inaccurate, it clearly shows the beliefs of its tellers. The Norse who settled Iceland brought along Irish thralls to their new land, with whom they interbred so freely that blood-type groupings show the average Icelander of today to be 25% to 75% Irish. For those who argue that the Celts are so close to the Germanic folks ethnically and culturally that it makes no difference, it should also be pointed out that the Scandinavians have gone out of their way to breed with, and absorb elements of the culture of, the Finns, who are not only non-Germanic, but not even Indo-European - their language and, as far as we know, ethnic origin have no more in common with ours than do those of any other non-Indo-European group (such as Orientals, Africans, or Amerindians), but we have been interbreeding so long and so thoroughly that now it is hardly possible to tell a Swede from a Finn on the basis of looks. Further, the relations of the Scandinavians with the Saami (Lapps), a Finno-Ugric people who bear a much closer physical, and generally closer cultural, resemblance to the Siberians and Inuit than to any Indo-European folk, were so successful that Saami tradition is now thought to be one of the greater sources for understanding Germanic religion - both in regards to the shamanic practices we learned from them in the elder days and the god/esses and traditions which they learned about from us and held holy through even the last couple of centuries. Although there was little recorded intermingling between the Norse and Inuit inhabitants of Greenland, that is likely to be due to the fact that the Norse settlers were christians for the vast majority of their stay in that land, and, being extremely concerned to maintain their European identity (cf. the malnourished skeletons of the Herjolfsness settlers dressed in the height of European fashion, and the condition of the country in 1406 as "entirely Norse and resolutely Christian" - Jones, p. 310), were unwilling to learn the things that could have kept them alive from their native Heathen neighbors. The evidence of the Norse relationship with the Finns and, even more, with the Saami, tells us that the "Skraelings" were probably not shunned by the Scandinavians in Greenland on racial grounds; rather, the Norse Greenlanders' xenophobia was a part of their situation as "the farthest medieval outpost of what had been the Viking and was now the European world"   There is also some ethnographic reason to believe that the Norse settlers in America interbred with the Beothuck (the isolated Native American tribe inhabiting the area around the L'Anse Aux Meadows Viking Age site).
This seeming indifference to the concept of "race" is mirrored in the deeds of our gods. Odin himself is a "halfbreed" - the son of the god Borr and the giantess Bestla; Frey marries the giantess Gerd; his father Njord marries the giantess Skadi. Even Thor, who is best known for battling against the giants, has the giantess Jarnsaxa as concubine (which is not an illicit relationship in the elder days, but a legally recognised condition with responsibilities on both sides), and his sons by her, Modi and Magni, shall inherit his hall and hammer after Ragnarok. The god/esses' hostility towards giants is not based on the race of these latter, but on the deeds of individuals among them. This is shown in the tale of Hrungnir (told in the Prose Edda) where Odin makes a friendly wager with the giant and the Aesir invite him in for a drink: not until Hrungnir becomes drunk and begins to make threatening boasts do the dwellers in Asgard show any signs of enmity towards him. In short, it can be safely stated that the Germanic folk did not think in terms of "race"; nor does our tradition give us any grounds for considering the idea meaningful; and the suggestion that "racial purity" might have meant anything to a Norseman, Saxon, or Goth is absolutely laughable.
The Norse did have a concept of physical beauty which was closely tied to light skin and fair hair: those folk described as beautiful are almost always blond - especially women, for whom long blond hair was the ideal - while those described as ugly are almost always black-haired (Jochens, Jenny. "Before the Male Gaze", p. 248). The two strains show up particularly in the family of Egill Skalla-Grimsson, the Myramannakyn, which was said to produce the most beautiful and the ugliest people in Iceland. The beautiful ones included the blond Thorolfr (Egill's brother), Kjartan Olafsson (who was a typical "light hero", a "noble Heathen" in the period before his conversion and an exemplary christian afterwards), and Helga in fagra; the ugly ones included the black-haired Kveld-Ulfr, Skalla-Grimr, and Egill himself (that is, the wise Odinists of the line). Since Egill Skalla-Grimsson is thought to be one of the worthiest folk of the Viking Age, and is one of the most honoured by all the true in modern times, while his handsome, fair-haired brother is mentioned only in passing, and only thought significant due to his relationship with Egill, this gives us some idea of the actual importance of blond beauty in our Northern forebears' culture. Another example which shows the Norse view of the same matter is found in Landnamabok (Hauksbok ch. 86): Ljufvina, the wife of king Hjorr, gives birth to two sons with remarkably dark skins, while her handmaid bears a very fair son. The queen thus changes the sons; but when her husband comes home, he is unhappy with the fair child, and says that he will hardly be manly. When the children are three winters old, the queen asks the skald Bragi to look at them; he does, and it is clear to him that the fair child is the son of a thrall and by far the worst of the three, while the dark-skinned children are the sons of the king. Ljufvina then confesses, and shows Hjorr his own sons. He says that he has never seen such "Hel-skins", but accepts them as his own. Thereafter the brothers bear the by-name their father has given them, "heljarskinn", and become battle-kings and vikings. To our forebears, beauty was a fine thing, but many others were far more important: strength, skill, and bravery, for instance. We have only to look at the many great saga-heroes who were ugly as trolls to see that!
A more difficult question is that of the meaning of one's own ancestry: are only those descended from folk who worshiped the Aesir and Vanir really suited for the Elder Troth of the Germanic folk? Must every person follow his/her own genetic heritage, or is the simple act of choice enough to make one a legitimate heir to whichever spiritual path one chooses? While this question may seem on the surface to merely recast the issue of "race" in a more palatable guise, the distinction is of considerable significance. Our forebears did not think about "race"; however, they were very strongly aware of individual kinship and ancestry, and to say that these issues were not important to them would be to falsify the evidence of our sources.
If we accept that anyone with any forebears who followed our troth has the full right to follow their own ancestors' ways, we include the entire continent of Europe, North Africa (where the Vandals settled) and the Middle East (where the Crusaders spread their seed), and Russia, which takes its very name from the Swedish Rus who settled there. Still, we are left with the problem of whether those who have no Germanic forebears in their clan-lines should take part in our troth and rites. As a faith which is, in large part, based on an ethnic culture and heritage, it is our duty to support all ethnic religions - Saami, Siberian, African, Jewish, Oriental, Native American, and the rest - as shield-fellows in our fight to preserve the diversity of this world's individual folks with all their unique heritages. Most of us came to the Troth because we wished to learn about the ways of our own ancestors and the roots of our own culture - a culture which Christianity and Mediterranean thought worked to suppress in much the same way as they have worked to suppress the native cultures of the Americas, Africa, and so forth in more recent centuries. It follows, then, that those folk whose clans do not include any Germanic ancestors, however distant, should be encouraged at least to learn about and appreciate the beauty of their own personal heritage before seeking out a stranger's faith. On the other hand, the English language is still Germanic; although the Germanic origins of many of our ideals and customs have been forgotten by Western society at large, anyone of any bloodline who has been raised in an English-speaking country has a claim to the cultural heritage of the Elder Troth, if not the physical ancestry stemming from our god/esses. The meaning which our forebears would have placed on this distinction must then be looked at.
To the Germanic folk, the soul was, at least in some of its aspects, something which was inherited (see "Soul, Death, and Rebirth" in Our Troth for a fuller discussion). The importance of ancestry to the soul also appears in the Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon genealogies where Freyr (in the case of the Ynglings) or Woden/Odin (in the case of historical dynasties such as those of the Saxon kings and legendary dynasties such as the Volsungs) is named as the founder of a royal line: the descendants of the god bear the might of the god. Spiritual characteristics such as berserkergang are hereditary, as is shown in Egils saga; so are many aspects of wyrd. In this respect, bloodline can be seen as important to troth: the god/esses and godly ancestors of one's personal forebears are the shapers of one's soul. This appears most clearly in Volsunga saga, where Odin fathers the Volsung line, acts as needful to further its life, gives Sigmundr the sword which embodies the Volsungs' clan-soul, and shapes the lives of the clan's members from beginning to end. The tendency, indeed, was for a kindred to favour the god/dess who was its own ancestor, as the Saxon kings followed Woden and the Ynglings worshipped Freyr - though this cannot be taken too far: Thor was the most beloved of the Norse gods, and there are no tales which even hint at his fathering human clans, though certain families (such as that of Thorolf Mostrarskeggi) held him to be their particular friend.
The process of individual rebirth was thought to take place within the family line, but was also tied up with the rite of name-giving. It was the custom to give a newborn the name of the most newly dead family member of the same sex, and the child sometimes bore signs which showed it to be the rebirth of that person: H.R. Ellis cites the Upphaf sogu description of the birth of Thordr, in which the newborn is named after his recently dead father, and has a scar on his left arm where his father had been wounded, and is at once given the nickname which his father had borne (Road to Hel, p. 141). The family connection is important, but the name seems to be even more important, as the Helgi lays of the Elder Edda show. In the first of these, Helgi is given his name and his soul with it; the second Helgi is not descended from him, but is called after him and thus inherits his wyrd and his reborn valkyrie. Though only a summary of the third Helgi's tale survives, it seems to repeat this process of naming = rebirth = wyrd. Here, it seems to be the ritual action, rather than the actual bloodline, which transmits the soul, memory, and might.
The importance of ancestry stands out most clearly in the worship we give to our fore-gone kin whose ghosts still ward and help us, the disir and alfar; and in our awareness that the god/esses are our own eldest kin. In the homelands of the Germanic folk, particularly Scandinavia, this belief was bound up with the understanding that those dead who were buried in family lands still looked after their land and kin. This understanding was the source of the legal term "udal" or "inherited" lands - the same word as that of the rune-name othala. Udal lands could not be taken from the line, nor sold so long as there was a clan-member to inherit them: the soul of the line was bound up with the soul of the land. When the Norse fared to Iceland, they began hallowing the land with their dead at once. This is shown in Egils saga: when Egill's grandfather Kveld-Ulfr dies on the way to Iceland, he tells his son Skalla-Grim to toss his coffin overboard and to settle where it comes to land: the living and the dead members of the clan continued to be bound in a single weave of holiness and legal right.
This presents one of the thornier problems in dealing with the ancestral question in the modern Troth: is it good for someone whose background is wholly non-European to use Germanic names and forms in calling upon their own ancestors? The problem is made more difficult by the fact that some non-European cultures, among those being branches of African and Oriental religions, have very strong traditions of ancestor worship of their own. If one believes in the ghosts of one's ancestors, one might tend to think that they would prefer to be called upon by the names and in the ways that they know, just as they once called upon their own forebears - perhaps even that they might be confused and/or angered to be hailed in alien terms. It can, however, be argued that the terms and rites are less important than the bonds of blood and the act of remembering: few of us, after all, would cast all our kin who have died within the christian church from our line, and those beliefs are farther from our own than the beliefs of (for instance) many African tribes. In this matter, individual intuition is the only possible guide: we can say no more than that each person must honour her/his own ancestors in the way that he/she finds personally most fitting.
At this point, it appears that a person's own bloodline must be thought of as a meaningful guide to the path of her/his soul. However, although our forebears set much store by the inherited might of the clan, they also had several rituals by which that might could be passed to those who were not related by blood. The first of these was the ritual of name-giving, by which a newborn child was taken into the family line and had its human soul bestowed upon it. Without this naming and ritual acceptance, no matter what its bloodline was, the child had no soul: it was like a troll or an outlaw. In Scandinavian folklore, cast-out babies made particularly horrible ghosts, who would haunt until someone gave them a name, thereby allowing the child the chance of later rebirth in that person's family line. 1 The action is not recommended. While the children set out to die in the christian era were often healthy and strong babies whose only fault was being born out of wedlock, those set out in the heathen period were the crippled or weak (who were abandoned because their community did not have the extra resources needed to support them) - that is to say, bearers of characteristics which one would not choose to pass on to one's descendants. An unrelated child could also be accepted into the family line and thereby given full rights and might, as in the case of Sigurd the Volsung who, born after the death of his father, is given his name and clan-right by the king Hjalprek, who is not related to him in any way.
The ritual of blood-brotherhood also binds those who carry it out into each other's clan, giving each full access to the might and rights of the other: an oath-sibling becomes a sibling in truth. The close relationship between Odin and Loki (entirely a giant by birth) is one example of this; another appears in Volsunga saga, where Grimhild says to Sigurd, "King Gjuki shall be your father, and I your mother, your brothers Gunnar and Hogni and all who swear the oaths."
Lastly is the rite of claiming ancestry which appears in the Eddic poem Hyndluljodh. In this poem, the young hero Ottar, Freyja's love, has been challenged to prove his nobility of descent against another hero. Freyja transforms him into a boar and rides with him to the cave of the giantess Hyndla, whom Freyja then forces to recite a list of ancestors for him. This genealogy is not particularly consistent with other heroic genealogies, but begins with a list of historical Scandinavian persons, moving back to figures of semi-historical legend (Gunnar) and pure legend (Sigurd), and finally bringing in the god/esses and giants back to Ymir (in the section which is exerpted separately in Hollander's translation as Voluspa hin skamma). At the end of the recitation, Freyja has Hyndla bring Ottar a cup of "memory-ale" so that he will be able to remember all the names he has learned. The rite shown here is one by which the subject ritually ties himself into the might of the heroes of history and legend, and ultimately claims his kinship with the god/esses: the issue is not one of bodily descent, but of a unification of the individual's soul with the current of holy might which is the life-blood of the Germanic heritage. This rite may be carried out by anyone, regardless of his/her actual clan-lineage; and the one who carries it out must then be recognised as partaking in the might of the holy clans of the North.
Having shown that an earthly blood-line reaching back to those who first worshipped the god/esses of our folk is not needful for the practise of the Elder Troth today, the question then arises: is ancestry alone enough to make one true of soul? The evidence of Volsunga saga and Hervarar saga suggests that it is not. In the latter, Angantyr's daughter Hervor is raised by her mother's kin after her father's death, but to gain the might of his line and the sword Tyrfing which embodies the soul of the clan, she must go to the grave where Angantyr and his brothers rest and confront the frightful figure of the dead man with her claim, forcing him to acknowledge her. Signy's children by Siggeir, although they carry as much of the Volsung genetic material as does Sigurd, fail the tests of hardiness and bravery which Signy and Sigmund put them through: despite their ancestry, they are not true Volsungs. His father being dead, Sigurd must initiate himself into his Volsung heritage: first by gaining the shards of his father's sword from his mother and having it reforged, then by avenging his father, with the final test of his might coming when he slays the dragon Fafnir.
It is, further, needful to note that all of us have had the soul-line which reached back to our first true forebears broken at some point. The sagas show clearly that the christian rite of baptism was thought to cut its subject not only off from the god/esses, but from the ancestral kin-fetch and the personal fetch as well. The function of the baptismal rite was, and is, to bring the person undergoing it into the spiritual line of Christ and the family of the christian church. Whether we ourselves have suffered this ritual or not, it is certain that our ancestors did, and therefore that the oneness of soul of our clans has been broken. Therefore, it is needful even for those who can trace their ancestry back to the time when our Heathen troth still flourished to ritually take up the might of those early kin and lay claim to the worship of our forebears' god/esses just as those who do not share in the bloodline of their clans must. For new-born children, this rite takes place with the name-giving and sprinkling of water; for adults newly come to the Troth, it is whatever rite of welcome a Kindred, Hearth, Garth, or Hof uses, or, for one who has no Troth-kin close enough, something similar to the rites of Troth-claiming given in Our Troth, A Book of Troth, or Teutonic Religion.
Lastly, we learn of the meaning of inheritance from a deed wrought by Egill Skalla-Grimsson, one of the wisest runesters of the Viking Age. When Egill felt himself about to die, he took the English silver he had saved and went to a secret place. He was unwilling to pass it on to his children, whom he thought unworthy; instead he hid it in the water, a mighty inheritance waiting for whoever was strong, lucky, or wise enough to find it. Just so, the inheritance of our god/esses and our true ways has lain hidden in the waters of Wyrd's well for many years - waiting not for those who were simply born to it, but whoever is able and willing to find and take it!
Lastly, for those who think fair colouration to be a great thew of the folk, there is an old and lasting Icelandic proverb: "Oft er flagð undir fögru skinni, og dyggð undir dökkum hárum" - often a troll-woman is under fair skin, and virtue under dark hair (Magnus Einarsson, Icelandic-Canadian Memory Lore, p. 283).
(note: since traditional Germanic and modern Icelandic names are patronymics, they are listed alphabetically according to first name)
Byock, Jesse (tr.). Saga of the Volsungs (University of California Press, 1990).
von Dauster, Wilfrid. "How Can You Believe That Junk? An Essay for the Modern Pagan". Mountain Thunder 4, pp. 20-22.
Edred Thorsson. A Book of Troth (St. Paul: Llewellyn, 1989).
Ellis, H.R. Road to Hel (Cambridge: University Press, 1943).
Fell, Christine (ed., tr.). Egils saga (London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1975).
Gamlinginn. "Race and Religion". Mountain Thunder 8, 1993, pp. 9-10.
Kveldulfr Hagan Gundarsson (ed.). Our Troth (Seattle: Ring of Troth, 1994).
Kveldulfr Hagan Gundarsson. "Race, Inheritance, and Ásatrú Today". Mountain Thunder 5, pp. 7-11 (original publication of the bulk of this work).
Kveldulf Gundarsson. Teutonic Religion (St. Paul: Llewellyn, 1993).
Hollander, Lee (ed., tr.). The Poetic Edda (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1986).
Jakob Benediktsson (ed). Islendingabo/Landnamabok. Islenzk fornrit vol. 1 (Reykjavik: Hidh islenzka fornritafelag, 1986).
Jochens, Jenny. "Before the Male Gaze: The Absence of the Female Body in Old Norse". Eighth International Saga Conference: The Audience of the Sagas. Pre-prints, vol. I (A-K), 1991, pp. 247-256.
Jones, Gwynn. A History of the Vikings, 2nd ed. (Oxford: University Press, 1984).
Magnus Einarsson. Icelandic-Canadian Memory Lore (Quebec: Canadian Museum of Civilization, 1992).
Slauson, Irv (ed.). The Religion of Odin (Red Wing: Asatru Free Church Committee, 1978)
Snorri Sturluson; Anthony Faulkes (tr.). Edda (London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1987).
Turville-Petre, G. (ed.) Hervarar saga ok Heidhreks, 2nd ed. (London: Viking Society for Northern Research, 1976). This saga may be found in translation by Christopher Tolkien as The Saga of King Heidrek the Wise.


Meanings of The Elder Futhark Runes:
Rune Symbol Rune Name Corresponds to English:
Meaning/ Element

 Fehu F Wealth Fire
 Uruz U Strength Earth
 Thurisaz TH Force, Giant Fire
 Ansuz A God, Ancestor, Divine Breath Air
 Raido R Journey, Wheel Air
 Kenaz K, C, or Q Torch, Fire, Light Fire
 Gifu G Gift, Partnership Air
 Wunjo W or V Glory, Joy, Perfection, Wish Earth
 Hagalaz H Hail, Weapon of War Ice
 Nauthiz N Need, Necessity Fire
 Isa I Ice, Power Ice
 Jera Y or J Year, Harvest Earth
 Eihwaz EI, F, AE Yew Tree, Potential Air
 Pertho P Secrets, Chance Water
 Algiz Z or X Protection Air
 Sowulo S Sun, Salvation Air
 Teiwaz T Creator, Spear, Tyr - Norse God of Justice Air
 Berkana B Birch Tree, Beloved Earth
 Ehwaz E Horse, Friendship Earth
 Mannaz M Mankind, Knowledge Air
 Laguz L Water, Lake Water
 Inguz NG or ing Fertility, True Love Earth
 Othila O Property, Homeland, Inheritance Earth
 Dagaz D Day, Good Luck Fire / Air
Blank Rune     Unlimited Potential
Words are translated into Icelandic, the closest modern language to Ancient Norse
 NORSE (Icelandic)
        All         ALUR
        And         OG
        Are         ERU
        As         EINS OG
        At         HJA
        Bands (as in ring)         RAEMA
        Battle         ORUSTA
        Be         VERA
        Believe         TRUA
        Boldness         DIRFSKA
        Brother         BRODIR
        Brotherhood         BRAEDRALAG
        By         HJA
        Calm         LOGN
        Calmness         ROLYNDI
        Care         ADGAT
        Character         MANGERD
        Courage(ous)         HUGRAKUR
        Day         DAGUR
        Deceiver         TAELIR
        Deprive         HINDRA
        Determination         EINBEITNI
        Do         GERA
        Dragon         DREKI
        Echo(es)         BERGMAL
        Essence         EDLI
        Eternal         EILIFUR
        Eternity         EILIFD
        Faith         TRU
        Family         AETINGJAR
        Feast         HATID
        Fire         BRUNI
        Focus         FOKUS
        For         HANDA
        Forever         EILIFT
        Fortune         AUDUR
        Fraternity         BRAEDRALAG
        Freedom         FRELSI
        Friend(s)         VINUR
        Friendship         VINATA
        Give         GEFA
        God         GUD
        Grant         GEFA
        Guide         LEIDA
        Happiness         HAMINGJA
        Happy         LUKULEGUR
        Health         HEILSA
        Heritage         AFLEIFD
        Hope         VON
        I         EG
        Ice         IS
        In         I
        Is         ER
        It         PETA
        Joy         GLEDI
 NORSE (Icelandic)
        Life         LIF
        Lord         HERA
        Love         AST
        Loyalty         TRYGD
        Luck         HEPNI
        Magic         TOFRAR
        Match (as in pair)         JAFNINGI
        Me         MIG
        Men         MANA
        Merlyn         SMYRIL
        Moment(s)         ANDARTAK
        Motive         HVOT
        Mountain(s)         FJAL
        My         MIN
        Mysteries         DULARFULUR
        Night         NOT
        Of         AF
        Our         OKAR
        Party         VEISLA
        Peace         HRADI
        People         PJOD
        Power         KRAFTUR
        Pride         STOLT
        Prophecies         SPA
        Prosperity         VELGENGNI
        Protect         VERJA
        Protection         VERNDUN
        Purity         TAERLEIKI
        Respect         VIRDA
        Riches         AUDAEFI
        Skill         FAERNI
        Soul         SAL
        Spirit         ANDI
        Strength         AFL
        Success         VELGENGI
        Think         HALDA
        This         PESI
        Through         I  GEGN
        To         TIL
        Together         SAMTIMIS
        Tranquility         RO
        True         SANUR
        Trust         TRAUST
        Truth         SANLEIKUR
        Valor         HUGPRYDI
        Victory         SIGUR
        War         STRIDI
        Watch Over         GAETA
        We         VER
        Wealth         AUDUR
        Wellness         VELLIDAN
        What         EN SA
        Who         SEM
        Wisdom         VISKA
        Wish         VILJA
        With         MED
        Within         INAN
        Wolf         ULFUR
        You         PU
        Yourself         PIG

Making Your Own Runes:

Making Your Own Runes
Runes are the mighty magical sigils of the North, won by Óðinn in the dawn-time through His self-imposed hanging sacrifice on the world tree Yggdrasil. They represent all the forces of creation, and are used for magic, divination, and meditation. Study and use of the runes over time is an ancient Heathen method for connecting to the primal forces of nature, and with the deepest levels of your Self. Great wisdom can be won in the process of such studies.
If you want to make a set of runes in the traditional way, you must first learn the runes. You must meditate on them and study all the Historic Rune Poems. Delve into the Eddas and Norse Sagas and discover the clues hidden there that indicate how runes were made and used. Draw or scratch the runes on something, (paper sheets, the ground, snow, etc.) and stare at one rune at a time until you get a vision or strong impression. These temporary runes should be unmade after you use them: burn them, or wipe them out when you are finished. This also can be practised without props, and it is good to be able to see and hold the form of a rune in your mind's eye without getting distracted. It is helpful to develop a way of saying the entire FUTHARK to yourself, in a song of some kind, so that you can remember their order and names. Chanting this rune-row to yourself while walking is a very good way to ingrain the runes in your psyche. This can (and should) take some time. However, the runes do speak to our minds and souls directly, and to the dedicated and worthy student they will reveal their nature. While concentrating on a rune, you might find yourself "entering into it" or traveling into a sort of runic landscape or world. If this happens, take careful note of what you see and perceive with all your senses. You may also have insights into a rune that just "pop" into your head. Write down all your impressions in a notebook. Over time, this will grow into your own personal runic key. The insights into the runes gained in meditation and shamanic journeying are why reading a modern book is not only unnecessary to learning the runes, it can sometimes be deleterious. Some authors of rune books have made up their own system, and some put forward bad research and personal speculation as the definitive rune meanings. The runes will reveal themselves to you in a unique way that suits you as an individual. Beware those books that claim to have the "be all and end all" runic answers, or that promote rigid or costly training programs to gain runic knowledge. These are pure bunk. Even though there is some information of value in a few rune books, the runes are a mystery that you must work to discover. There are no short-cuts to runic wisdom, and you must of necessity blaze your own trail into the runic worlds.
One need not purchase ready-made runes either, and I know of no serious rune vitki who uses anything but runes they have made themselves. If you choose to use wood, a fruit tree is traditional. A tree that appeals to you especially is good. Make an offering to the tree, and ask it for some wood for your runes, telling the tree the purpose for which you will use the wood . An appropriate offering is mead, beer, bread, or whole milk. A good tree fertilizer is also a nice gift to the tree. You are asking the tree to give a bit of its life-force in the branch that will be cut off, so you should show gratitude to the tree-spirit by offering something of good quality. You should only cut the tree if you really feel that it agrees to give you a branch. You might want to cut a branch bending to the North, or perhaps another direction that appeals to you. When you cut the limb, you should do this in a sacred manner, with a special knife, if you have one. It is, after all, a very holy thing to make runes out of the limb. I usually rub saliva on the cut I make on any plant I'm harvesting for ritual use. It aids in the healing of the cut, and again, is an offering of a bit of myself for the gift the plant has given me. It is also appropriate to use a drop of your own blood as an offering to the plant, which will bleed sap for your runes. (I would like to say that it is not appropriate to use anyone else's blood for these rituals--animal or human).
Once you have your limb, you cut disks out of it, all of uniform size. Use a vice to hold the limb steady. Mark the limb with evenly spaced lines before you cut. A hacksaw works well for this. You can sand the resulting lots if you want, or remove the bark or not. Then you prepare to cut the runes. Be in a quite, safe place where you will not be disturbed. Use your altar, if you have one, as a table for your work. You should call on Odin, God of the Runes to aid you, and on any other Deities you want to help you. Thor is good to call on for protection while you work. Freya, Frigg, and Jörd, are Goddesses who can be helpful also. It is good to have a candle lit, and to have a horn of mead to offer the Gods and Goddesses, either at the beginning or the end of the work. Making runes takes a lot of energy. It is best to start and finish your set of runes all at once, to retain focus and intensity. Start with Fehu and proceed in order through the whole FUTHARK. You should sing each rune's name as you firmly cut the rune into the flat face of the disks of wood. There are special blessed knives for this cutting (risting or carving) called Seax knives. Any knife you use, however, should be cleansed and blessed first. You breathe your breath and life-force into the wood as you cut and as you sing. Then you blood the rune, continuing to sing the rune's name and sound. Using your own blood to colour the runes is the most powerful way to imbue them with might, as well as the best way to bond them to you. Your blood is literally a part of your self, freely offered to sanctify the runes. I use a yew-twig to apply the blood, and you must do so quickly, before the fluid coagulates. A wedge shaped stylus, quill, or knife blade works just as well for colouring. Obviously, care should be taken in drawing the blood. An extremely sharp knife drawn across the ring finger of the left hand is my usual method. As I said, I use a yew twig to dip into the blood, which is contained in a dished-out stone. Then I lay the blood into the cut lines of the rune with the yew twig, singing its name/sound all the while. Also, you must hold in your mind an image of the rune, glowing with might, and all of its meanings and associations. You must try to feel the specific rune on all its levels as you carve it. Strive to both connect with each rune's central mystery and to pour your own energy into it as you colour the stave. When you finish making your runes, you might lay them out in order, in a circle in the sun (or moon) to dry. Be sure to thank the Deities for helping.
Your set of runes is a living thing, with life force and spirit of its own, and should always be treated with great respect. Most vitkar have a special bag that contains their runes. Pure silk or linen especially are good choices for this bag. I would say black, white, red or cobalt blue are good colours for the pouch. Sometimes a symbol such as the valknot is embroidered onto the rune bag for protection. This bag may then be placed within an outer bag made of something tougher, such as leather.
I do not let other people touch my runes. If I read for them, I alone handle the runes. This seems to work best for me. If you colour your runes with blood not letting others touch your runes is something you should definitely consider. On porous wood blood soaks in and stains. However, on stone runes the blood does eventually flake off a bit. Because of this I periodically restain my runes. It empowers them more every time I do it. I gathered the rune stones I have used for the past fifteen years from the foam of the surf on a glacial island in the Atlantic, during waxing moon phase only. It took me three months to find enough flat oval stones of the same size. These stones have always suited me, and if you work with Jörd (Goddess of Earth) you might bond well with stones also. I like the way a stone rune feels, as it both Earth and Mind/Spirit (the stone and the rune carved onto it, or Jörd and Odin). I pray to both Earth Goddess and Allfather when I prepare to cast the runes, asking for guidance.Since the object of using runes for divination is to reveal objective truth, and to transcend the limits of normal human perception, one does well to ask for the Gods to help interpret the staves aright.
It is true that the more research, effort, thought, and intensity of emotion you put into the making of a magical tool, the more powerful it will be. This is not merely a matter of belief, but of awakening yourself to a recognition of the inherent power in the object, the energy you have poured into it, and to your soul connection to it. The aim is to align yourself with your runes and the cosmic forces they represent, and with the Gods , Who teach us understanding. Care and impeccability in making the runes is a good technique for achieving this goal. The subconscious mind will respond to a work of art made to the best of one's knowledge and ability more so than to an impersonal, mass-produced item acquired with little effort. The offering of one's time, energy, thought, and even one's own blood is the gift that truly brings the runes -- or any magical tool -- to life. Taking the time and energy to find and make your own rune stones or staves is not only worth the effort, it is a process that in itself is transformative.
Runes are used for divination; they are an oracle, and in the hands of an adept seer act as a template that reveals hidden patterns of Wyrd. Working with runes daily can help you develop latent psychic abilities. Although this is the runes' best known function, they have many other uses: carved onto objects they are employed in the making of talismans, amulets, and charms. Runes are useful in faring forth (spirit travel) and psychic protection. Certainly, the staves lend themselves to all kinds of magical work--including the bending of Wyrd. It is wise to remember, however, that we do not escape the consequences of our actions, whether in Midgard or the runic realms, and what goes around comes around. True runecraft, like any ethical magical art, has at its core the work of transforming and perfecting one's Self in the pursuit of wisdom. Although the runes are keys to the deepest layers of our psyches and the vast mysteries of universe, they are impersonal forces and will propagate through the worlds just as they are sent forth. This means that if you put out blessings, you draw blessings to you, and if you put out curses, you draw curses to you--in abundance. You should take great care when using the runes, lest by accident you cause harm to yourself or others. This is why it is best to educate yourself as deeply as possible, and ask the Gods' guidance, before undertaking rune magic.

(The above rune-making ritual is for those who are very serious about using the runes, and who have already studied them for a while. I would not suggest a dabbler attempt it).