Rune Magick & Their Origin
Runes and the Norse Gods have had a long history with their involvement in human progression. Each of us have an innate relationship with the runes, as they have been tied with our spiritual evolution since Odin gifted them to the world of humans. Learning how to work with them and how to honor the Gods and Goddesses of the Norse Pantheon will yield amazing results in your life.
We have all seen the movies, especially with the Thor movies taking center stage in the Marvel Universe. It is amazing to me how close movies and tv shows about Vikings and Norse Gods/Goddesses are to the original stories from the Edda (more on that below). Of course, there are always made-for-movie additions so be aware you have to account for the dramatizations. However, with the rise of media interest a positive outcome has been the reawakening of interest in runes and rune magick.
In this blog post, I will briefly introduce the major players of the Norse Pantheon, as well as the basics of rune magick and how it can apply to your life. I do not consider myself an expert, as it would take a lifetime of study to be able to claim that. However, with my Scandinavian heritage I have always been drawn to runes - they have called to me - and I'm excited to share the basics with you to spark your own desire for further study.
BASIC NORSE MYTHOLOGY
Most of contemporary society has had some exposure to the gods and goddesses of the Norse Pantheon. Gods such as Odin (the father of all gods), Thor (the thunder god), Loki (the trickster god), Tyr (the god of legal matters, and battles), Balder (the god of light and purity), and Heimdall (the watchman of the gods, stationed on the rainbow bridge known as Bifrost). Important goddesses of the pantheon, such as Frigg (the goddess of the sky) and Freya (the goddess of fate, love, beauty, and fertility). However, what is the creation story of the Norse Universe?
In the beginning, when nothing existed, there was only the tree Yggdrasil (IG-DRA-SIL) and the void. There is no mention as to how the tree was made and who / what created the great tree of the world (as far as my study has produced). All nine realms of the Norse Universe existed in and around the roots of Yggdrasil. The nine worlds are: (1) Asgard, the world of the gods; (2) Midgard, the world of the humans/mortals; (3) Muspelheim, the world of flame; (4) Jotunheim, the world of the giants; (5) Niflheim, the world of fog and mist; (6) Vanaheim, the world of the Vanir; (7) Alfheim, the world of the Light Elves; (8) Svartalfheim, the world of the Dwarves; and, (9) Helheim, the world of the dishonorable dead. Located directly below the world tree is the well of Wyrd (wyrd means fate or destiny).
The gods and goddesses of the pantheon come from Asgard; however, many have their roots in Midgard. I've included a list of recommended reading at the bottom of the blog post so you can continue reading on this creation story.
Much of the information we have about the Norse Pantheon and Universe has been passed down from generation to generation through an oral tradition. Until the 13th century, when two books were created from the generational folk tales. The two books are the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda, both books are collectively known as the Edda's. The Prose was written first; however, the Poetic Edda was written using the older stories and is considered the elder edda. It is from the Poetic Edda that we learn about the origin of the runes.
Runes are intimately woven into the Norse pantheon and its mythology. According to this mythology, runes were not invented they were given in honor of Odin's sacrifice on the great tree of life.
In the poem Hávamál, from the Poetic Edda, it is explained that Odin discovered the runes when he hung himself from the world tree Yggdrasil (IG-DRA-SIL) in order to gain wisdom.
As Odin watched the three goddesses, known as the Norns, weave the strands of fate among Yggdrasil's roots he knew he would have to make a great sacrifice in order to receive a glimpse of the Norns' knowledge. Knowledge that they seldom offered to anyone.
While Odin was hanging over the Well of Wyrd from the tree, the waters began to show him visions. Within these visions he learned 9 magickal songs. He remained hanging as he knew there was more to be revealed. On the 9th, and final night, as Odin began dying, his willing sacrifice was acknowledged and the Well showed him the runes. Odin seized the runes and with a roaring cry, fell from Yggdrasil (IG-DRA-SIL).
This is the story of how the runes came to be, as a gift for Odin's sacrifice for knowledge and wisdom.
Just as Odin did, we can use runes to peer deeper into the workings of the unseen world around us, as well as into the deep recesses of our inner world. And, with proper usage, we can use them to appeal to the greater energies around us to help us achieve the results that we would like to see in our life.
Runes were the primary system of communication for the northfolk. Before alphabets spread across the world, runes were used as a writing system. However, runes do not represent a language on their own. The earliest runes are known as the Elder Futhark. The name comes from the first six letters spelling out futhark (Fehu, Uruz, Thurisaz, Ansuz, Raidho, Kano). More runes came later, but for this article I'm focusing on the Elder Futhark.
The elder futhark runes have 24 characters in it. Often times you will find a blank rune in the set and it is known as Odin's rune, an optional rune. Just as we name the letters of our alphabet, the runes also have individual names for each sigil. In order to decode the names, one must seek the poems of the Poetic Edda.
Runes are divided into 3 distinct sets called aettir's or aetts (ah TETTS), each of which are rule by a specific god or goddess according to their basic essence: (1) Freya; (2) Heimdall; and (3) Tyr. For this blog post, I will not go further into this division, instead I will focus on the three magical uses of runes.
The word rune means a mark or letter of mysterious or magick significance. Runes are used as a method of connecting to one’s higher self, inner guidance and tapping into your intuition as a method of seeing the probabilities of what the future may hold. The runes offer guidance. The key in rune divination is our intuition, as it will play a profound role in actual pulls, readings, castings or spreads. I am not going to go into these methods in this post, instead I encourage you if you are interested to attend my upcoming classes on Runes, or to pursue your own study using the resources I've listed below.
2. BIND RUNES
Bind runes are formed when multiple runes are combined, in an aesthetic fashion, to form a single conjoined glyph. By combining the runes in this manner you are harnessing the power of each individual rune for better or specific effect. A perfect contemporary example of a bind rune is the bluetooth symbol, combining the rune for beginnings, healing & growth, with the rune for joy, bliss & peace.
Often times , when creating a bind rune, you will use between two to three runes with the elements of your desired sigil. You could choose to draw these sigils on yourself, on a piece of leather to wear, or on an object. There are many ways to apply the bind rune for your desired outcome, the key is to ensure that the runes are integrated fully with one another. Hence the Bind. These bind runes can be created for a vast array of reasons, here is a small list to get your mind thinking: calling in more joy into your life, for protection, to increase abundance, to call in a love interest, for success in battle. There are endless possibilities with this kind of magick.
3. RUNE SCRIPT
The last way to work magick with runes is in the form of a rune script. Rune scripts are formed by several rune letters written sequentially along a long common line. It's almost like writing the letters on sheet music. These sequences create magical formulas for what you are trying to bring more into reality. They most commonly created in sets of 3 runes, 5 runes, 7 runes, or 9 runes. Each having of these sets have very different applications. I'll be teaching more on this in the upcoming classes.
FURTHER WORK WITH RUNES
As you can see from this brief outline, there are many uses for runes in our contemporary and practical lives. They can be used in spellwork, as a talisman or an amulet, or as a tool to help guide us in our decision making.
I am excited to share a series of classes starting in October of 2022, that are focused on Rune Magick. In these classes we will dive deeper into lore, mythology, and practical application of rune magick. If you are interested in this, or any other program or session, please reach out to me directly.
You can stay up to date on what's happening at the Center by visiting our event calendar.
To get you started here is some recommendations.
(1) You can purchase a set of runes. Make sure that they are created on natural material and that you cleanse them energetically when you bring them home. If you'd like, we carry several runes varieties at the Center.
(2) Here is a list of books I would recommend to get you started and to give you a solid foundation:
The Book of Runes by Ralph H. Blum
The Beginner's Guide to Runes by Josh Simonds
The Poetic Edda by Anonymous and Henry Adams Bellows
The Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson and Jesse L. Byock
(3) Happy Casting! Runes are meant to be used so start using them. Your relationship with your rune set will deepen as you work with them.
Brandon Aho is a Spiritual Guide, Teacher and Healer, certified by the Modern Mystery School.
Contact Brandon: email@example.com