For almost all other rune sets you should be able to find some divinatory meanings for each rune in its set. This is where the Medieval runes differ from the rest. They were never used for divination purposes and are actually not a rune row in their own right. What they are is individual runic symbols that hold magickal properties of protection and healing. They are probably the least known of the rune sets and probably one set that we may never fully understand how and what they were used for. They are said to originate in the Middle Ages and are largely thought to be Germanic or Dutch in origin.
The images and shapes of this set (shown here) are not that different than the other runes that we’ve seen before. But why is that? If these runes were used for magickal protection and healing, why not just use the protection runes or healing runes from an already developed set? The answer to that is not clear and may never be. It could be that the images for the runes were chosen because each rune was said to relate to a god or goddess. If that’s true then setting them apart from the other runes may be the reason why the shape was changed only a little. If you wanted the power of a god to help protect you or your home then it may be wise to use a protection rune from an established rune set. However, if you wanted to make sure that the rune held a little more power and possibly some magick to it, then it may have been the intent of the user to modify the rune just slightly enough so that the image was not identical, but still showed the original rune, therefore adding the element of magick to the rune. This is of course a lot of speculation and guesswork since there is no solid evidence of why these runes were only used for magickal purposes and not in casting.
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.
There are many different versions or sets of runes that you will encounter as you read more about the runes. This is largely due to the history, travel and adaptation of the runes by different societies and cultures as they traveled around Europe. History tells us that the runes moved from society to society by the means of traders, travelers and warriors. A person may encounter and learn the runes from one society and then carry that knowledge to a new society through their travels. Since each society may have different phonetic sounds in their vocabulary the runes would take on new sounds, forms and meanings. For the most part you’ll see that the meanings and sounds didn’t change all that much. Similarities can be found between many sets. Of course there are times when you see that one rune set may be expanded or shortened to fit the needs of a specific society.
But what makes one set different from another set? Is it simply their shapes, meanings and sounds? Or can it be something deeper than that? From here on we’ll examine a few of the different rune sets and see what makes one different from the other. Click on the links to learn more about them.
Anglo-Saxon and Frisian Rune Sets – Expanded versions of the Elder Futhark rune set totaling 28 runes staves for the Frisian runes and 29 staves for the Anglo-Saxon set.
Armanen Rune Set – An 18 rune stave set created by Guido List. List claimed that this set was the “original rune set.”
Elder Futhark Rune Set – Also known as the German or Viking rune set, the Elder futhark set contains 24 rune staves.
Gothic Rune Set – This rune set of 25 staves was adapted from the Elder Futhark by a 4th century bishop for the use of writing Christian material.
Medieval Runes of Healing and Magick Set – These 8 runes were never really used for writing but were mainly associated with gods and goddesses that were worshiped in secret during Christian times.
Northumbrian Rune Set – This 33 rune stave collection was an extension of the Anglo-Saxon rune set adding 4 more runes to the already 29 rune set.
Younger Futhork Rune Set – Around the 7th or 8th century the Elder futhark rune set was shortened to 16 runes to form two new sets collectively known as the Younger futhork.
If you’ve had time to look at the different type of rune sets then you may be curious about is just what those runes stand for. As the runes were developed and as they transformed over time they came to stand for more than just sounds. They held magickal properties to people who used the runes for casting. They were still being used for writing so they held a phonetic sound as well. The name of each rune held a certain meaning and could stand for an item or an idea. For each different set below you will get to see an image of each rune, the phonetic value, what the rune stood for and also it’s meaning for casting purposes.
Anglo-Saxon and Frisian Runes – consists of the Elder Futhark Runes plus 5 more runes
Armanen Runes – similar to other runes in Scandinavia but were created by Guido List (1848-1919)
Elder Futhark Runes – sometimes called the German or Viking Futhark
Gothic Runes – the type of runes that are found on the Kylver Stone
Medieval Runes of Healing and Magick – 8 runes that were not used for writing but for magickal and healing purposes during the Middle Ages
Northumbrian Runes – consists of the Anglo-Saxon Runes plus 4 more runes
Younger Futhork Runes – includes the Danish and Swedish-Norse Futhark
It’s important to note that the names of the runes that you will find on other sites and in books may be different than the ones that you see on the pages for this site. For example the Elder Futhark rune “Kenaz” has at least five different names (or spellings) that I can think of off the top of my head. What I have done here is to use the names which I have used in my runic journal since I started it. You may also find that the images in a few books or other sites may be a little different as well. I took the most common images that I found in all of my rune books and used those in hopes that if you further your study on the runes that you may encounter the images I have used.
Sets in bold will be covered here when I get the time.