Introduction Runes originate in the Viking period, in the time of Odin, the chief god of Norse mythology, a time when longboats sailed from the fjords of Scandinavia on military missions. It is part of Viking legend that Odin's horse, Sleipnir, had runic symbols engraved upon its teeth. Maybe for this reason, the 19th rune is called Ehwaz, the horse. Fortunately runes and runic symbols did not die with the Vikings. Thanks to television and film, many people who would otherwise know nothing of the Vikings are aware of them, their gods and their lifestyle, but relatively few also know that the lore of the Vikings continues well into our modern-day lives through the use of the runes. Every rune symbolises not only an alphabetical letter, but a deeper meaning, an energy. It is our aim to show the relevance of the wisdom of the runes even in this day and age in our everyday lives as we progress through this book. At the end of the day, wisdom is ageless and its source never dries up. What Is The Futhark? Runes are often called the Futhark, Futhorc or Elder Futhark after the first six letters of the runic alphabet in traditional order. The runic alphabet has undergone various changes over the years, and runic characters are not only the alphabet of their time but also have their own meanings. They are not mere letters with sounds, and in many ways are similar in character to ancient Egyptian or Hebrew. Those who are interested in language foundation may already know that runic was originally the language of the northern Germanic races, and that there are remarkable similarities between runic and other early languages, such as early Celtic. Stemming from an unwritten language, the runic symbols were often regarded as magical. All the characters of the runic alphabet are in straight lines, as with the Ogham alphabet, of which we will learn a little more at a later stage. This is probably because it made them easier to carve on stone. As we progress with our studies of the runes, we will link the runic symbol with its modern English alphabetical equivalent. What Are Runes? Runes are both strangely marked standing stones found in Scandinavia (more correctly known as runestones rather than runes) and also smaller stones or wooden pieces used as a tool towards self- knowledge and self-help. There are some fine examples of runestones in Stockholm Museum. Many runic carvings can still be found throughout Europe, but unfortunately some of the original carvings, many made in wood, have now perished, and only the stone carvings remain. Until relatively recently, runes were seldom heard of and seldom used outside Scandinavia. Readers of Tolkien may have heard of runes, but few people understood their significance. However, their
very accessible symbolism began to attract more attention towards the end of the 1960s, and today many people around the world are using them.
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