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Northumbrian Runes – Rune Meanings

The Northumbrian runes are an extension of the Anglo-Saxon runes, which in turn are an extension of the Elder Futhark rune set. The Northumbrian runes add 4 more runes to the Anglo-Saxon set making the total of 33 runes. Again due to the set up of the Anglo-Saxon runes, you may see this set also being referred to as the Northumbrian Futhork.

Cweorth

Cweorth

Sound: “q”
Stands for: Flames of a fire
Casting meaning: This rune represents a process of transformation through fire. The spirit of a body from a person on a funeral pyre is liberated by fire. Cweorth refers to the sacredness of the hearth and ritual cleansing by fire.


Calc

Calc

Sound: “k”
Stands for: Offering Cup
Casting meaning: Calc denotes the death of the individual, however it is not seen as a death rune. Like Ear, Calc indicates the natural ending or conclusion of a process. Do not view this ending as a termination, but as the end of an old era resulting in a spiritual transformation.


Stan

Stan

Sound: “st”
Stands for: Stone
Casting meaning: Stan represents an obstruction in our path, like a boulder at the entrance to a cave. It also represents the stone playing pieces used in board games. Symbolically it represents a link between heavenly bodies and earthly beings. This rune can be used to obstruct and turn back any opposition in our lives.


Gar

Gar

Sound: “g” as in “gap”
Stands for: Spear (specifically Gungnir – Odin’s Spear)
Casting meaning: The Gar rune is a special one. Unlike the previous 32 runes in the Northumbrian set, Gar does not belong to an ætt. However, this rune is said to be the center point of all the other runes in this set. It is also said to contain all the other runes in itself, making it a powerful and useful rune.


Anglo-Saxon and Frisian Rune Sets

The Anglo-Saxon rune set was adapted early in the 6th century B.C.E. from a rune row known as the Frisian rune row. The Frisian runes were the result of a rapid change in the language in Frisia. With such a rapid change in the language more runes were eventually needed so the Elder Futhark was expanded by 4 symbols to bring the Frisian rune row to a total of twenty-eight rune staves. Later around the 7th century a twenty-ninth rune, Ear, was added to form the Anglo-Saxon rune set.

When the rune row was expanded a slight change was made to the order of the set. Ansuz, the fourth rune of the Elder Futhark, was replaced with a new rune, Os and Ansuz was renamed Aesc. While this may have been the only change to the shapes and names of some of the runes it was not the only change in rune order that we come across with this set (and its similar sets). In various manuscripts and on some carvings we see the runes in different orders. On a knife found in the Thames River in London we see the full rune row but in a different order. On the Thames River knife we still see that the fourth rune is Aesc, but the last eight runes are arranged differently leaving the rune Ear to be at the end of the rune order.

Most of the information for the order of the Anglo-Saxon and Frisian rune sets is known because of the Thames River knife, also known as the Thames scramasax, and the Vienna Codex. The Vienna Codex is an early 9th century Anglo-Saxon manuscript that does provide a complete version of the Anglo-Saxon rune row.

Anglo-Saxon and Frisian Runes – Rune Meanings

The reason I have combined the Frisian and Anglo-Saxon rune sets together are due to their close relation to each other. Originally the Frisian set was created by expanding the Elder Futhark set by four runes (the first four listed below – Ac, Os, Yr and Ior). Then later one new rune, Ear, was added to form the Anglo-Saxon rune set sometimes called the Anglo-Saxon Futhork.

It should also be noted that the Elder Futhark rune Ansuz was renamed Aesc for these sets.

Ac

Ac

Sound: “a” as in “sat”
Stands for: Oak Tree
Casting meaning: This rune symbolizes great potential power and is a rune of great usefulness. Ac channels the power of strong, continuous growth from small beginnings to a powerful and mighty climax.


Os

Os

Sound: “o” as in “home”
Stands for: Mouth
Casting meaning: This rune, like Aesc, is a God rune. Os belongs to Odin in his aspects of a master communicator through language and writing. Os denotes the creative power of word in all its forms – in poetry, song, oral tales, and written literature.


Yr

Yr

Sound: “y” as in “yoga”
Stands for: Bow made from a Yew Tree
Casting meaning: Yr symbolizes the perfect combination of skills and knowledge applied to materials taken from nature. This rune lets us know when we are in the “right spot” for a situation, and is good to use when looking for lost objects.


Ior

Ior

Sound: “io” as in “helios”
Stands for: The World Serpent
Casting meaning: Ior symbolizes dual natures, evident in the amphibious habits of many water beasts (like the World Serpent). It also signifies the unavoidable hardships in life that we can do nothing about, but should still not worry about.


Ear

Ear

Sound: “ea” as in “dear”
Stands for: Soil of Earth (actually the dust our bodies become after death)
Casting meaning: Ear symbolizes the grave that we will all return to. However the only way that we can die is because there was life to begin with. “Without life, there is no death and without time there is no life.” More generally Ear signifies the unavoidable end of all things.


Runes of the Hávamál

I’m no longer sure where I found the information that I’m about to present to you. It was a while back when I found it on some web page and took a closer look at the information for myself. In the Hávamál, found in the Elder Edda (or Poetic Edda) there is a section where Odin talks about the runes that he has discovered and their uses. The information below talks about the eighteen charms, their intent and the primary and supporting runes of the elder futhark in relation to that story. We can’t say for certain if the material below is accurate or not, but it is interesting enough that I think it’s worth putting on this site.

First Charm

I know spells – no king’s wife can say – and no man has mastered; – one is called “Help” – because it can comfort – the sick and careworn, – relieve all sorrows.

Intent: Help in sorrow or distress
Primary rune: Fehu
Supporting runes: Inguz, Laguz

Second Charm

I know another – which all men need – who hope to be healers.

Intent: Healing
Primary rune: Uruz
Supporting runes: Jera, Sowulo

Third Charm

I know a third – if I should need – to fetter any foe; – it blunts the edge – of my enemy’s sword, – neither wiles nor weapons work.

Intent: Fettering foes
Primary rune: Thurisaz
Supporting runes: Isa, Naudhiz

Fourth Charm

I know a fourth: – if I should find myself – fettered hand and foot, – I shout the spell – that sets me free, – bonds break from my feet, – nothing holds my hands.

Intent: Release fetters
Primary rune: Ansuz
Supporting runes: Fehu, Inguz

Fifth Charm

I know a fifth: – in battle’s fury – if someone flings a spear, – it speeds not so fast – but that I can stop it – I only have to see it.

Intent: Ability to stop a dart (spear)
Primary rune: Raidho
Supporting runes: Isa, Kenaz

Sixth Charm

I know a sixth: – if someone would harm me – by writing runes on a tree root, – the man who wished – I would not come to woe – will meet misfortune, not I.

Intent: Return curse to sender
Primary rune: Hagalaz
Supporting runes: Jera, Raidho

Seventh Charm

I know a seventh: – if I see flames – high around a hall, – no matter how far – the fire has spread – my spell can stop it.

Intent: To put out a fire
Primary rune: Isa
Supporting runes: Laguz, Naudhiz

Eighth Charm

I know an eighth – which no one on earth – could fail to find useful: – when hatred waxes – among warriors – the spell will soothe them.

Intent: Ability to bring about reconciliation
Primary rune: Gebo
Supporting runes: Mannaz, Wunjo

Ninth Charm

I know a ninth: – if I ever need – to save my ship in a storm, – it will quiet the wind – and calm the waves, – soothing the sea.

Intent: Control sea winds
Primary rune: Gebo
Supporting runes: Ansuz, Raidho

Tenth Charm

I know a tenth: – any time I see – witches sailing the sky – the spell I sing – sends them off their course; – when they lose their skins – they fail to find their homes.

Intent: To confuse a spell sender
Primary rune: Dagaz
Supporting runes: Ehwaz, Laguz

Eleventh Charm

I know an eleventh: – if I lead to war – good and faithful friends, – under a shield I shout – the spell that speeds them – well they fare in the fight, – well they fare from the fight, – wherever they go they fare well.

Intent: Protecting friends in battle
Primary rune: Sowulo
Supporting runes: Elhaz, Ansuz

Twelfth Charm

I know a twelfth: – if up in a tree – I see a corpse hanging high, – the mighty runes – I write and color – make the man come down – to talk with me.

Intent: Necromancy
Primary rune: Hagalaz
Supporting runes: Teiwaz, Kenaz

Thirteenth Charm

I know a thirteenth: – if I pour water – over a youth, – he will not fall – in any fight, – swords will not slay him.

Intent: Protecting a young warrior with water
Primary rune: Gebo
Supporting runes: Inguz, Laguz, Elhaz

Fourteenth Charm

I know a fourteenth, Рas men will find Рwhen I tell them the tales of the gods: РI know all about Рthe elves and the ̠sir Рfew fools can say as much.

Intent: Knowledge of all Gods and elves
Primary rune: Eihwaz
Supporting runes: Ansuz, Mannaz

Fifteenth Charm

I know a fifteenth – that the dwarf Thjodrorir – chanted at Delling’s door: – power to the Æsir, – triumph to the elves, – understanding to Odin.

Intent: Gives power to the Æsir, prowess to the elves and foresight to Odin
Primary rune: Sowulo
Supporting runes: Raidho, Kenaz

Sixteenth Charm

I know a sixteenth: – if I say that spell – any girl soon grants my desires; – I win the heart – of the white-armed maiden, – turn her thoughts where I will.

Intent: To attract a lover
Primary rune: Kenaz
Supporting runes: Jera, Inguz

Seventeenth Charm

I know a seventeenth, – and with that spell – no maiden will forsake me.

Intent: To keep romance in a marriage
Primary rune: Gebo
Supporting runes: Inguz, Ehwaz

Eighteenth Charm

I know and eighteenth – which I never tell – a maiden or any man’s wife – the best of charms – if you can chant it; – this is the last of my lay – unless to a lady – who lies in my arms, – or I’ll sing it to my sister.

Intent: Union of male and female
Primary rune: To be discovered by the reader
Supporting runes: To be discovered by the reader

Elder Futhark – Rune Meanings

The Elder Futhark consists of 24 runes divided into three groups of eight, known as an ætt (singular of ættir), which are said to be ruled over by both a god and goddess. The first ætt is ruled over by Frey and Freyja, the deities of fertility. The second ætt is ruled over by Heimdall and Mordgud, and the third and final ætt is ruled over by Tîwaz and Zisa.

I have added to this page the color associations for each rune. The first color will be the color that I have assigned to the rune and the one in parentheses is the color assigned by the author D. Jason Cooper in his book Esoteric Rune Magic. If there is are no parentheses for a second color that simply means that my color choice is the same as Mr. Cooper’s.

Fehu

Fehu

Sound: “f”
Stands for: Cattle
Color: Green (Brown)
Casting meaning: Fehu is a rune of power and control. It represents new beginnings and “movable” wealth such as money and credit. It is a rune that gives us the power we need to obtain wealth as well as the power we need to hold on to it.


Uruz

Uruz

Sound: “oo”
Stands for: Auroch (like a wild ox)
Color: Orange (Dark Green)
Casting meaning: Uruz is also a rune of power, but unlike Fehu, it’s a power that we can neither own nor control. In a casting it can mean that personal success is near. For charms and talismans use Uruz for its healing powers.


Thurisaz

Thurisaz

Sound: “th”
Stands for: Thorn (or Giant)
Color: White
Casting meaning: This rune represents the ability we have to resist unwanted conflicts in a passive manner. It is a rune of protection and can tell us of a possible change that would have otherwise come without warning. You can use the protection aspect of Thurisaz as a defense against adversaries.


Ansuz

Ansuz

Sound: “aa” as in “aah”
Stands for: Mouth (or Divine Breath)
Color: Purple
Casting meaning: Ansuz is a rune that symbolizes stability and shows us order. It is also a rune that indicates intellectual activities and directly represents the divine breath of all life and creation.


Raidho

Raidho

Sound: “r”
Stands for: Wheel, Cartwheel (or Riding)
Color: Blue (Black)
Casting meaning: This rune allows us to focus our energy so that we may obtain our goals. However to do so effectively we must be “in the right place at the right time.”


Kenaz

Kenaz

Sound: “k”
Stands for: Torch
Color: Yellow
Casting meaning: Kenaz is a rune of knowledge, understanding, learning and teaching. It allows us to view situations with more clarity than we normally would.


Gebo

Gebo

Sound: “g” as in “gift”
Stands for: Gift
Color: Gold & Silver (Red)
Casting meaning: Gebo represents the honor and connection that is created between people when they exchange gifts. The connection and honor is similar to the connection and honor that a person has with the gods for giving them life.


Wunjo

Wunjo

Sound: “w”, “v”
Stands for: Joy
Color: Pink (Blue)
Casting meaning: This rune shows us the balance between all things even when in a chaotic world. It is also a rune of fellowship, common goals and well being to all things. If you come across this rune in a reading you can expect good news to come your way.


Hagalaz

Hagalaz

Sound: “h”
Stands for: Hail, Hailstone
Color: Blue (White)
Casting meaning: Representing a hailstone we can expect time and situations to be constricting if Hagalaz turns up in a reading. But much like a hailstone will eventually turn to water, which flows smoothly, these situations and times will eventually flow smoothly for us.


Naudhiz

Naudhiz

Sound: “n”
Stands for: Necessity (or Need)
Color: Black (Blue)
Casting meaning: This rune represents how our need or want of something can put a restriction on us. It restricts our possibilities but also contains the power we need to break free from those restrictions.


Isa

Isa

Sound: “i”, “ee” as in “east”
Stands for: Ice
Color: Brown (Black)
Casting meaning: Like an icicle formed at the start of winter, with this rune we can only wait until the warmth of the sun allows us to be free from a constricting form. Isa represents a halt in activity until a change is made.


Jera

Jera

Sound: “j” like the “y” in “year”
Stands for: Harvest (or Year or Season)
Color: Brown
Casting meaning: Jera is a rune that represents the cycle of life. With this rune we see that we must go with the flow of nature to obtain the goals we want.


Eihwaz

Eihwaz

Sound: “eo”, “æ”
Stands for: Yew Tree
Color: White (Green)
Casting meaning: Eihwaz is a rune that can be used as a magical protector and facilitator. It shows us that in the event of an ending situation we find the start of a new situation.


Perdhro

Perdhro

Sound: “p”
Stands for: Dice Cup (there are many variations)
Color: Blue (Red)
Casting meaning: Perdhro reminds us of the uncertainties in life and represents freewill and the connection of the restrictions we have due to our circumstances. It is viewed as a rune of memory and problem solving.


Elhaz

Elhaz

Sound: “zz” as in “buzz”
Stands for: Elk (or Protection)
Color: Black (Purple)
Casting meaning: This is a rune of great restraint power, defense and protection. Use this rune in charms and talismans to protect yourself as well as your property.


Sowulo

Sowulo

Sound: “s”
Stands for: Sun
Color: Yellow
Casting meaning: With the help of this rune we tend to be able to see things more clearly. Like the sun sheds light on dark times, with Sowulo we too can find the light during dark times.


Teiwaz

Teiwaz

Sound: “t”
Stands for: Creator
Color: Green (Red)
Casting meaning: Teiwaz can promise us success in our actions but this time without personal sacrifice. It also means success in “legal” matters but only if we were in the right to begin with.


Berkana

Berkana

Sound: “b”
Stands for: Birch Tree (or Birch Twig)
Color: White (Blue)
Casting meaning: Like the birch tree coming to life from a seed planted in the earth, Berkana represents a new beginning and is also a powerful birth rune.


Ehwaz

Ehwaz

Sound: “e” as in “every”
Stands for: Horse
Color: Red (White)
Casting meaning: Ehwaz reminds us that in order for success there must be a natural flow in the task at hand. With this rune to give us power as well as it making use of our good intentions we can surely achieve such success.


Mannaz

Mannaz

Sound: “m”
Stands for: Man (as in human, not gender)
Color: Blue (Purple)
Casting meaning: Mannaz has many powers. First it is a rune that lets us know we can achieve our fullest potential. Secondly it reminds us that we, as humans, all have shared experiences in life. Lastly we can use the power of this rune to gain the upper hand in disputes and arguments.


Laguz

Laguz

Sound: “l”
Stands for: Water (or Lake)
Color: Black & White (Green)
Casting meaning: Laguz represents the power of water and its easy flowing nature. We must learn to “go with the flow” when this rune shows up in a reading so that we can take full advantage of our powers.


Inguz

Inguz

Sound: “ng” as in “long”
Stands for: Fertility
Color: Brown (Black)
Casting meaning: This rune allows us to spread our energy out far and wide. It is a protective rune mainly for the protection of our homes. To use Inguz effectively we must learn to build up our powers over time and then release the power all at once.


Dagaz

Dagaz

Sound: “d”
Stands for: Day
Color: Yellow
Casting meaning: Dagaz represents a stability between opposites, such as light and dark. It can stop harmful energy from getting to you but at the same time allow the good energy to slip through so that you can make good use of it.


Othala

Othala

Sound: “o” as in “old”
Stands for: Home (or Odla – sacred ancestral land)
Color: Copper (Brown)
Casting meaning: Much like Fehu this is a rune of wealth. But unlike Fehu, Othala represents a wealth that cannot be sold. This is wealth like family, friendships or our culture and heritage that is passed down to us. It represents an enclosure and maintains the existing state of things as they presently are.


Runic Half-Months

I forget where and when I read about the concept of runic half-months and I really wish I could remember so that I may give some credit to the author here. However, I feel that this idea is too great to leave off the site simply because I can’t remember where I read it.

How does it work? The idea is simple: There are 12 months in a year and 24 runes of the elder futhark. Which means that each month contains two runes, or each rune has a half-month where it represents the time, season and events of that month. A similar action can be held true for the hours in a day, which will be covered in another section (24 runes, 24 hours in a day).

Runic Half-Months
Runic half-month start date* Rune
January 13 Perdhro
January 28 Elhaz
February 12 Sowulo
February 27 Teiwaz
March 14 Berkana
March 30 Ehwaz
April 14 Mannaz
April 29 Laguz
May 14 Inguz
May 29 Othala
June 14 Dagaz
June 29 Fehu
July 14 Uruz
July 29 Thurisaz
August 13 Ansuz
August 29 Raidho
September 13 Kenaz
September 28 Gebo
October 13 Wunjo
October 28 Hagalaz
November 13 Naudhiz
November 28 Isa
December 13 Jera
December 28 Eihwaz

For those of you who are new to the runes and wish to learn more – well use this table to your advantage. Read and learn as much as you can about the rune that relates to the half-month you are currently in. Learn the different names and symbols for that rune, the color and sound associated with it and even try to commit the rune meaning for casting to memory. It sounds tough, but trust me it’s a great exercise.