Rune Meanings for Modern Day: An Intro to Runes

Rune Meanings for Modern Day: An Intro to Runes
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Rune Meanings for Modern Day: An Introduction to Runes

Runes are an ancient form of writing used in northern Europe, including Germany, Scandinavia, and the British Isles. The listing below is a very basic chart of Scandinavian rune meanings known as the “elder Futhark.” In modern times, people often use runes for divination, in writing magical texts or spells, or as talismans.

You may have heard of or encountered the runic alphabet before but been mystified by its cryptic appearance. Unlike the alphabet we use today, each rune acts as a symbolic representation for some aspect of life. Once you understand these meanings, runes can become a powerful tool for divination, spellwork, and more.

The Elder Futhark consists of 25 runes (24 with characters and one blank rune). The image below provides the name and symbol for each rune, and the following chart describes the historical rune meanings and what it may signify in divination. Feel free to Pin this image to Pinterest to save it as a handy reference guide!

Introduction to Runes - Names and Rune Meanings

Letter

What it means

What it may signify

Wyrd (  )

Odin

All knowledge, cosmic power, fate, destiny, gateway, blank space, void

Fehu (f)

Cattle

Wealth, prosperity, status, power

Uruz (u)

Aurochs (ancient cow)

Strength, courage, determination

Thurisaz (th)

Thor, or a giant

Protection, obstacles, stubbornness

Ansuz (a)

Voice of the gods

Wisdom from a higher source

Raidho (r)

Wheel

A journey, whether physical or otherwise

Kenaz (k)

Torch

Knowledge, study, skill, ideas

Gebo (g)

Gift

Gift, love, union, mutual responsibility

Wunjo (w)

Joy

Good luck or good news, family, harmony

Hagalaz (h)

Hail

Disruption, misfortune, shock

Nauthiz (n)

Need

Poverty, distress, something lacking

Isa (i)

Ice

Stasis, stillness (desirable or otherwise)

Jera (j)

Year

Success, productivity, cycles

Eihwaz (ei)

Yew tree

Change, flexibility, empowerment, safety

Perthro (p)

Cauldron or dice cup

Mystery, chance, seeing the future

Algiz (z)

Elk

Protection, communication, friendship

Sowilo (s)

Sun

One’s will, success, good health & fortune

Tiwaz (t)

Victory

Justice, leadership, self-sacrifice

Berkana (b)

Birch tree

Feminine energy, nurturing, love, beauty

Ehwaz (e)

Horse

Service, trust, self-control, a helper

Mannaz (m)

Man

Self, rational thought, friends, consciousness

Laguz (l)

Lake

Water, intuition, scrying, dreams, the moon

Ingwaz (ng)

Ing (fertility god)

Sexual energy, fertility, union, intense creativity

Othila (o)

Homeland

Home, family, inheritance, ancestors

Dagaz (d)

Day

Beginnings & endings, cyclic change, destiny

 

We love the rustic, natural feel of wooden rune sets, which are perfect for beginners!

Although we feel that the physical weightiness of wooden or ceramic rune tiles can’t be beaten, especially when you take the time to cast them as part of a ritual or ceremony, you can alternatively incorporate rune oracle cards into your divination practice. There are several great decks of rune oracle cards available and you can use these along with your favorite layouts and spreads rather than casting them (which we must admit does sometimes make interpreting rune meanings a little bit easier than with casting).

Our favorite parts were the mnemonics Chauran provides for each rune, making the task of memorizing the alphabet much more manageable.

If you want to deepen your knowledge of runes and rune-casting for divination, healing and more even further than this introductory post, there are several excellent books about runes you may be interested in adding to your reading list. Some focus more on history and lore of runes while others are geared for more of a practical, hands-on approach to working runes as part of your spiritual practice.

This book and card deck set contain all you need to start interpreting and using runes from a contemporary angle.

Based on an adapted set of runes created by Shekhinah Mountainwater in 1987, Womanrunes approach the runic alphabet from a more woman-centric perspective than traditional interpretations.

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