Saturday, July 26, 2014

Elder Futhark Runes

Elder Futhark Runes

I have always been fascinated with divination or the practice of seeking knowledge of the future or unknown through magical means. However, I have never dabbled in the art before. I decided to change that, starting with runes.

Why runes? First, runes are the most popular form of divination, making access to detailed information easy. Second, I recently took a trip to the Great Lakes with my mother and grandmother where I collected a large number of beautiful stones. While most of my stones contain fossils (I went to school for paleontology/evolutionary biology) and will not be used, many I picked because they spoke to me. I pondered over what to use them for before it hit me like a sack of stones (ha!). They told me to turn them into runes, but I don't know the first thing about runes. Well, I just spent the last few weeks learning everything I can online about runes and how to use them. Since there is so much information available, I decided to turn my learning journey into a mini-blog series. What better way to solidify my understanding than to teach others?

Runes are the most popular method of divination. I chose to work with the Elder Futhark alphabet, which is the oldest and most commonly used runic alphabet. There are, of course, several other alphabets including Cirth, Gothic, Hungarian, Turkic, and Younger Futhark. There are between 24 and 25 runes in the Elder Futhark alphabet. Below is a comprehensive list of all the runes and their meanings.

FEHU- F: Cattle, Wealth
Sign of abundance or financial strength in the present or near future. Abundance through effort, possession won or earned, luck, success.
Reversed: Abandonment of plans, loss, disappointment, failure.

Strength, speed, untamed potential. Sign of great energy and health and sudden/unexpected changes (usually for the better). Freedom, courage, understanding, wisdom.
Reversed: Missed abilities, weak willpower, lack of motivation, ignorance.

THURISAZ- TH: Thorn or Giant
Reactive forces, conflict, destruction. Usually a sign of violent change. Purging.
Reversed: Danger, defenselessness, stubborn mindset, lies. Bad person.

ANSUZ- A: Ancestral God (Odin)
Sign of a message from within or insight. Advice from others, inspiration, blessings, chance encounter. Harmony, truth, and wisdom. Think carefully so you will know what to do.
Reversed: Trickery, failed communication, delusion, manipulation by others.

RAIDHO- R: Wagon, Journey
Sign of that you are about to embark on a journey, either physical or your lifestyle. Vacation, relocation, evolution, change in perspective. Seeing the right move for you and deciding on it.
Reversed: Crisis, stasis, disruption, dislocation, demotion, upsetting plans, or even death.

KENAZ- K: Beacon, Torch
Vision, knowledge, inspiration, revelation. A sign of opening new strength, energy, and power. Also associated with passion.
Reversed: Exposure, loss of hope, disease, breakup, instability, withdrawal.

GEBO- G: Gift
Sign of gifts from both sacrifice and generosity, thus indicating balance. Unity of self and others. Marriage.
Cannot be reversed.

WUNJO- W or V: Joy
A sign that you don't need someone. Peace, pleasure, self-worth, joy, serenity, happy results, prosperity. However, it is also a sign of going "over the top."
Reversed: Sorrow, dissatisfaction, disappointment, delay, possession by a higher force, frenzy.

HAGALAZ- H: Hail, Destructive Forces
Out of our control. Wrath of nature. Uncontrollable forces, especially in regards to weather or within our unconscious. Trial.
Cannot be reversed.

Resistance, distress, delay, restraint. Sign to proceed with caution and that willpower can overcome distress, confusion, and conflict. A time to exercise patience and face your fears.
Reversed: Improper course of action, toil, deprivation, want, poverty, hunger.

ISA- I: Ice
Frozen in time, non-action, on hold. A sign of standstill and psychological blocks to thought or activity. Time to turn inward and wait for what is to come. This rune reinforces the runes around it. Let go of your ego.
Cannot be reversed.

JERA- J or Y: A Year
Sign that the results from earlier efforts are paying off. A time of peace and happiness. Prosperity, promise of success earned. Fruition. Everything happens in its own time.
Cannot be reversed.

EIHWAZ- EI: Yew Tree
Stability, patience, endurance, dependability. Indications that you have set your sights on a reasonable goal that you can achieve. A sign of an honest man you can rely on.
Reversed: Confusion, destruction, weakness.

Signal of a secret matter, mystery, or hidden abilities. Knowledge of future matters, determining the future or your path. Initiation. Do not repeat the old.
Reversed: Events stalled, unpleasant surprises, addiction, loneliness.

ALGIZ- Z: Elk, Protection
Spirit guides, protection, making a connection with the spirit. Defense, warding off evil, shield. The urge to protect others or oneself. Follow your instincts. A sign to keep hold of success and try to maintain position either won or earned.
Reversed: Hidden danger, loss of divine link.

SOWILO- S: The Sun
A sign that the circle is complete and that your goals are going to be achieved. Honor, self-knowledge, self-awareness, wholeness, power. A time when power will be available to you for positive changes. Success.
Cannot be reversed.

TIWAZ- T: Tyr, the sky god
Honor, justice, authority, leadership. Rationality and analysis. Willingness to self-sacrifice. A sign of victory in any competition or legal matter. Finding yourself.
Reversed: Low energy, lack of enthusiasm. Strife, war, conflict, failure.

BERKANO- B: Berchta, the birch goddess
A sign of general fertility, both mental and physical. Renewal, birth, promise of new beginnings, new growth. Love and desire. Be prepared and cautious in what you do in regards to family.
Reversed: Family problems, domestic troubles, loss of control, sterility, deceit.

EHWAZ- E: Horse
Transportation whether by horse, car, plane, boat, or other vehicle. Change for the better. Harmony, loyalty, trust, teamwork. A sign of an ideal marriage or partnership. Move forward carefully, focusing on the tools that you will need to get there. Confirms without a doubt the meaning of the runes around it.
Reversed: Sudden, unexpected change that is not wanted.
                                          Reckless, disharmony, mistrust, betrayal.

The self and its place in the collective conscience of humanity. Personal reflection. Your attitude toward others and their attitudes towards you. Social order. Expect to receive aid or cooperation. Intelligence, forethought, skill.
Reversed: Depression, mortality, self-delusion. Expect no help.

LAGUZ- L: Water
Flow, fertility source, healing, renewal. Dreams, fantasies. Health and healing. Emotions are connected to all things.
Reversed: Not listening to your inner voice. You may be making the wrong decisions and poor judgements. Stuck, obsession, sickness, suicide.

INGWAZ- NG: Ing, the earth god.
Male fertility, internal growth, gestation, family love, human warmth, common virtues. Finish up what you are doing, tie up lose ends, and start something new.
Cannot be reversed.

DAGAZ- D:  Day or Dawn
Breakthrough, new day, awakening. This is the time to plan or embark on a new journey. Security, certainty, transformation, happiness, hope. The power to change.
Cannot be reversed.

OTHALA- O: Ancestral Property
A sign that you may inherit property or possessions. Group prosperity, spiritual heritage, values, safety.
Reversed: Slavery, poverty, homelessness, prejudice, stuck. Not letting go.

The last rune is the blank rune*. This rune was not used historically, but instead was created in the 1980's. Many believe you shouldn't use a blank rune. I haven't decided if I will use this rune or not, but is represents Fate or Destiny and cannot be reversed. If it shows up when asking a question, it usually means it is not the right time to ask. It can also represents major changes in your life, good and bad. I'll leave it up to you whether or not you wish to include this rune.

I hope this has been informative. If you already practice rune divination, do you use the blank rune or not?

Want to print a copy of this for your Book of Shadows? Click below for your free copy! Please note there are 5, yes 5, separate pages. 
*Blank Rune is not included.


  1. Have you every read the Futhark by Stephen Flowers? It's a great book to have on hand for anything to do with runes. Every household in my tribe owns at least two. I can't go without mine, I take it everywhere with me!

  2. Our family has always included the blank rune in our New Years divination tradition. Oddly, it was very rarely ever drawn, except when 2017 came around. Then it was drawn a ton! XD

  3. Just curious, where did you get the information on the runes you’ve listed?

    1. So I pulled information from several different sources as well as my own personal experience working with the rune set I created. Being that I wrote this back in 2014, I can't be 100% which books and websites I specifically used as I pulled information I had taken as notes years ago, as well as notes from rune spreads I had done to write this post. I apologize I can't give you a more specific answer!


This witch loves to hear from her readers, so please share your thoughts below!