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Armanen Rune Set

The Armanen rune set, like other sets, has a difficult history to pin-point where and when it was established. Some will say that this set was originally developed by Guido List, while others will tell you that List followed the previous works of a scholar named Johannes Bureus. However, either way you look at it List’s work varies enough from previous scholar’s work to make the Armanen rune set one worth having a look at.

Gudio List (1848-1919) was the founder of a school of German rune work. The contributions to the study and preservation of the runes may be one of the reasons that we know as much about the runes as we do today. That’s not to say that all that List had taught was to be held as truth. In fact List claimed that his Armanen rune set was not only older than the Elder Futhark but that his set had laid the groundwork for the Elder Futhark as well as other rune sets.

It is said that the Armanen rune set came to List in a vision one day after he had become temporarily blind from an eye surgery. He envisioned 18 runes that were said to be the original rune set and the most ancient script for the Aryan race. However, if we look closely at the 18 runes we’ll notice that List simply took various Scandinavian rune sets, used from those sets various rune staves and then added 2 more to get a total of 18 rune staves for his set – which incidentally is the number of runes talked about in the Hávamál (Sayings of the High One – Part of the Elder Edda).

As far as the divinatory meanings for List’s runes we can see a close connection to the meanings of the Younger Futhork. However, with List’s set there are different meanings for daemoniums (reversed runes) as well as different names1. The use of this set among Germans and people in German speaking countries seems to be very widespread. However, since this set has ties to Socialist German, the Nazi party and in some aspects even to Hitler, we see this set being used less by modern day rune casters.

Armanen Runes – Rune Meanings

After an eye operation Guido List claimed to have had a vision where he saw the “original” set of runes. He claimed that these runes were the runes that all other rune-rows were based on. Having 18 runes in his set, he identified each of his runes with one of the 18 spells in the Havamal1 in the Elder Edda. However, there was no evidence to support his claim.



Sound: “f”
Stands for: Primal Fire
Casting meaning: Symbolically this rune represents the power of spirit and change as well as the power of creativity.



Sound: “u”
Stands for: Resurrection
Casting meaning: Ur is a physician’s rune and represents resurrection, eternity, and continuity.



Sound: “th”
Stands for: Lightning and Thunder
Casting meaning: The rune represents the thunderbolt, but symbolically it stands for targeting goals, activity and the phallus.



Sound: “o” as in “cold”
Stands for: Mouth
Casting meaning: Os represents the spiritual power that is gained through speech. It is the breath of the world, its voice. It also signifies the strength that a person needs to rise up in power.



Sound: “r”
Stands for: Ritual (or Primal Laws)
Casting meaning: This rune represents the orderliness in the world, the ritual, primal law and things that are done correctly. It also stands for cynical events and rescue from an enemy.



Sound: “k”
Stands for: World Tree
Casting meaning: List’s version of this rune was simply for it to represent the world tree. However, more modern versions of this rune say that it stands for power, generation, ability and artfulness.



Sound: “h”
Stands for: Hail (not positive)
Casting meaning: Due to its shape Hagal is sometimes called the Mother rune and is said that all other runes derive from its shape. It is a rune of enclosure but contains a potential for growth.



Sound: “n”
Stands for: Necessity of fate
Casting meaning: This rune can be taken as the same idea as the Hindu concept of karma. What is done in this lifetime will determine our future existence.



Sound: “i” as in “piece”
Stands for: Ego
Casting meaning: Just like our ego, this rune is one that is used to control ourselves. It represents the personal power of control, obedience and our compelling will.



Sound: “a” as in “aah”
Stands for: Leadership
Casting meaning: Modern meanings of this rune are of beauty, fame, intelligence and virtue. List’s version of this rune has it representing sunlight that washes away darkness as well as having it denote nobility and leadership.



Sound: “s”
Stands for: Sun Power
Casting meaning: Like Ar this rune represents the power of the sun. The difference is that Sig is the power of the sun whereas Ar is the power that the light of the sun contains. It is also a rune of success and victory.



Sound: “t”
Stands for: Rebirth of the Sun God
Casting meaning: Tyr is a rune that has the power to make situations turn completely around. A rune of wisdom, spiritual understanding, and the power of generation.



Sound: “b”
Stands for: Birth
Casting meaning: This rune represents birth, but in a sense of the birth of the future life that is preordained for us. Modern versions of this rune say it stands for the power of becoming as well as the power of creativity found in song.



Sound: “l”
Stands for: Örlog (Primal Law)
Casting meaning: List said this rune stood for the concepts of defeat and the laws of nature. Today modern versions have this rune denoting life, water and primal law.



Sound: “m”
Stands for: Man (as in human, not gender)
Casting meaning: The second mother rune of this set, Man was used in Armanen tradition to represent birth. Modern versions say it stands for health, increase, maleness and man (gender this time).



Sound: “y” as in “tiny”
Stands for: Bow (or Rainbow)
Casting meaning: Modern interpreters see this as a female rune, the night, death and instinct. List said it denoted anger, falsehood, error and the oppositions found in man (as in human not gender).



Sound: “e” as in “every”
Stands for: Duality (or possibly even Horse)
Casting meaning: The rune Eh is said to symbolize duality where a pair is bound by primal law, love, trust and marriage.



Sound: “g”
Stands for: Gift of life
Casting meaning: This rune represents the giver of life and both the giver and the gift of life itself. It is also the cosmic consciousness and the divine principle.

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

Odin Discovers the Runes

The Elder Edda is a book of mythological stories of the Norse gods and goddesses and it is in here where we first see Odin learn about the runes. A story called Havamal1 or “Sayings of the High One2” tells us just how Odin first learned the runes.

Odin said:
I know that I hung on a high windy tree
for nine long nights;
pierced by a spear -Odin’s pledge-
given myself to myself.
No one can tell about that tree,
from what deep roots it rises.

They brought me no bread, no horn to drink from,
I gazed toward the ground.
Crying aloud, I caught up the runes;
finally I fell.

We see that Odin, in a shaman-like self-sacrificing ritual, deprives himself of food and drink as he hangs upside down on a tree. In some translations we are told that this tree is Yggdrasil, the Norse World Tree. As the days drag out longer and longer for him, nine nights pass and it is then when Odin sees the shapes of the runes. Crying out, he catches up the runes and falls from the tree.

The poem goes on talking about the runes and how Odin knows how to carve them for magickal uses. There are a total of eighteen runes that are listed but we never are told the names nor hinted at what they may look like. However if you believe the stories and tales of Guido List then you would tend to accept the Armanen Runes to be the runes that Odin discovered. Of course there is no evidence to even come close to supporting List’s claim as his rune set being the very first and original rune set.

If you are looking for the section in the Hávamál where it talks about Odin and the runes, it starts on the 138th stanza in the poem. Or if your poem doesn’t tell you the stanza number look for the section “The Lay of Loaddfafnir” (which starts on the 111th stanza). Skim a little ahead and you should see it.

Runes in Mythology and Sagas

An important part of runic knowledge can be learned by examining the mythology, sagas, and folklore of the people of Northern Europe, Iceland and even Greenland. By doing so we start to get an understanding of where the runes may have come from, how there were used and even some of the mystery and magick behind them.

For this section I have broken down the stories or myths and have given my input on how the runes come into play in that story or myth. A good place to start is to take a look at how the runes are said to have come into existence in Norse mythology. After we examine the runes in mythology we can begin to learn and understand more about how the runes were used by the people in the saga tales.


Odin Discovers the Runes
Runes of the Hávamál

Sagas of Iceland

Egil’s Saga
Saga of the People of Vatnsdal

Other Sagas

The Saga of the Volsungs


‘Casting Lots’ in Sagas