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Picking a Rune Set

If you plan to buy a set of runes at some bookstore, like Barnes & Noble, you’ll most likely be buying a set of the Elder Futhark runes unless it says otherwise on the box/set. The reason for this is that the Elder Futhark is a good starter set as well as being a good set for all around castings. If you buy a set from some new age shop (online or at a store near you) you should have a choice of different sets. If you do it this way then it is important that you get the rune set that is right for you and the type of casting that you will be doing.

The first question you may have is “How do I know which rune set is right for me?” Well, take a look at a few things. Do you plan to have more than one set in case you want to do different readings? Is this just a simple interest or do you plan to further your study on the runes? Are you going to be making your runes?

If you plan on making your runes, I strongly suggest that you start by making the Elder Futhark runes. The reason is that this set if good for any cast that you will do. There are 24 runes in this set so you can ask simple, general questions as well as specific, in-depth questions and still get a good reading. If you plan to be asking a lot of more vague questions then you can get by with a smaller set of runes like the Younger Futhork. If the questions you have are going to be more specific then you may want to use a set that contains more runes, like the Northumbrian runes, which contain a total of 33 runes.

The next question to look at is “Will I be using ‘reversed’ runes in my readings?” Like some uses of the tarot cards, the runes can be reversed if you choose to use them in such a way. However, be aware that some runes are always ‘upright’ no matter which way they land. This is because of the shape of the rune. One such rune is Gebo, which looks like a large “x”. Any way this rune lands it will appear that it is ‘upright’. I have not included reversed rune meanings in the rune meanings section because I personally do not use them. If you’d like more information on the reversed meanings of the runes, you’ll have to find a book that contains that information.

You should also look the rune set itself. Do you like the way the runes look and feel to you? Does the material your set is made from matter to you? Do you prefer to have a small set or a large set? Do you care for the history behind the set? Also take a look at the uses of the runes, a set like the Medieval Runes of Healing and Magick Set were not used for casting so you obviously won’t choose to make or buy a set of that type to cast with.

The last and most important thing when picking a set is to make sure that you’re comfortable with it. Make sure you pick a set that you’re interested in and that you know really well (or want to learn really well). The more you use your runes, the more you’ll start to understand what they are trying to tell you. Even experienced rune casters need time to get familiar with a new set. Each set has a different “personality” and it’s up to the caster to figure it out.

Medieval Runes of Healing and Magick Set

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.

Medieval Runes of Healing and Magick – Rune Meanings

The Medieval runes of healing and magick are special as they were not used in rune casting but for protection and healing. In fact they were mainly associated with gods and goddesses that were worshiped secretly in Christian times.



Sound: “sz” as the sound in “ease”
Stands for: Wolf-hook (Ancient Iron Weapon)
Magick/Healing use: Used to bind and eliminate harmful influences.



Sound: “oe” as the sound in “er”
Stands for: Our Planet (Mother Earth)
Magick/Healing use: Helps to reincorporate human actions with the world.



Sound: “ue” as the sound in “ee” or “ö”
Stands for: Turning point
Magick/Healing use: Revives former powers and helps assist in crises of healing.



Sound: “zz” as in “buzz”
Stands for: Thunderbolt of the God Ziu
Magick/Healing use: Concentrates and channels cosmic energies to maintain correct order.



Sound: “ss” as in “kiss”
Stands for: Disk of the sun
Magick/Healing use: Brings the healing power and warmth of the sun.



Sound: “mm” as in “humming”
Stands for: Phases of the moon
Magick/Healing use: Reminds us that we must experience good and bad alike.



Sound: no sound
Stands for: Bellows
Magick/Healing use: Contains the power of motivation.



Sound: no sound
Stands for: Emptiness
Magick/Healing use: Represents the power of the place where all existence began.

Rune Sets

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.

Rune Meanings

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.