The Younger Futhork consists of 16 runes and is a result of Scandinavian runic scholars shortening the Elder Futhark by 8 staves. This happened around the 7th and 8th centuries when others were expanding the Futhark to consist of 33 total runes.
When reducing the Elder Futhark to make the new Younger Futhork, only the less complex runes were kept and the more complex ones, like Dagaz and Gebo, were dropped. However, from this two somewhat different rune-rows were created, the Swedish-Norse and the Danish rune-rows. Since the two were so similar they are both classified as the Younger Futhork. It also should be noted that the order of runes had changed a little. We now see the order of the first eight runes to spell f-u-th-o-r-k and it is because of this that you will sometime see this rune set called the Younger Futhork (as I refer to it on this site).
Stands for: Cattle (or Money specifically gold)
Casting meaning: Like other similar runes of different sets, Fé represents cattle and money – a wealth. However it is slightly different because in this wealth we take into account actually monetary pieces such as gold. Fé is not all good, however, for it warns us how unbalanced wealth can cause problems even between family members.
Sound: “u”, “o”, “y”, “w”
Stands for: Drizzle (or Slurry)
Casting meaning: This rune represents how some things can develop from nothingness. Like the fertile soil that can be created from volcanic ash which in turn with a slight amount of water and sunlight can spawn growth.
Sound: “th”, “dh”
Stands for: Giant
Casting meaning: Like the giant, Thurs contains a lot of power and strength. It was often used in bindrunes or magic staves to bring extra power to the staves or bindrune.
Sound: “o” as in “oh”
Stands for: God and also Mouth
Casting meaning: This rune represents the power of communication, oral bonds, and the commanding force of word and song.
Stands for: Riding (as well as the means – Horse, Cart, etc.)
Casting meaning: Since this rune stands for the act of riding its symbolic meaning is one of a journey. A trip or adventure that we must undertake in order to further ourselves down a path we have set out on.
Sound: “k”, “g”
Stands for: Wound (or Sore or Ulcer)
Casting meaning: Although this rune stands for a wound we must understand that it is through the suffering of such a wound that we gain new insight. This rune represents just that, the new insight that we gain from an illness or wound.
Stands for: Hail
Casting meaning: Just like hail will eventually transform into water we need to see that situations in our lives will do just the same. They will make a transformation from something restricting to something that flows more readily for us. This is what Hagall represents, a transformation of a situation into something more simple.
Stands for: Need (or Distress)
Casting meaning: The rune Naudhr represents not only need but the bondage we may fall into if we let the need of something overtake our lives.
Sound: “i”, “e”, “j” as in the “y” in “year”
Stands for: Ice
Casting meaning: Ice is unchanging and restricting and like ice this rune embodies the resistant power that tries to prevent change.
Sound: “a” as in “ah”
Stands for: A good year
Casting meaning: Ar is a rune of good results that come from the application of using our skills and knowledge at the proper time. Like the lush crops of a fall harvest resulting from the fertile soil and well timed planting season.
Stands for: Sól – the Goddess of the Sun
Casting meaning: This rune stands for the Sun Goddess called Sól in Scandinavia and Barbet in Germany and the Netherlands. It is a rune that signifies directed action under spiritual control.
Sound: “t”, “d”, “nt”, “nd”
Stands for: Tyr – A Scandinavian God
Casting meaning: In the world of the cosmos this rune represents orderliness. In the physical world this rune signifies law and order.
Sound: “b”, “p”, “v”, “mb”, “mp”
Stands for: Birch Twig
Casting meaning: The birch twig represents rebirth and purification as does the rune Bjarkan. It is also a woman’s rune symbolizing gestation and birth.
Stands for: Man (as in human, not gender)
Casting meaning: This rune stands not only for humankind but also represents the mythical “first man,” Mannus (or Mannaz). Since it represents humankind it symbolizes the continuity of the family and clan.
Stands for: Power of water
Casting meaning: Unlike other “water runes” this rune concentrates on the power of water – waterfalls, ocean wave, flowing rivers. It is a purification or washing away of unwanted or unneeded thing, a way to cleanse oneself.
On the Gothic monument stone known as the Kylver Stone we find the oldest complete rune-row. The runes of the Gothic rune-row were used mainly for religious dedications. Unfortunately not a whole lot is known about their meanings because unlike other rune sets there is no Gothic Rune Poem.
Around the middle of the 4th century Bishop Ulfila created a new alphabet, based on the Elder Futhark, to write Christian material in the Gothic language. For the names of the runes below I have listed the name Ulfila had given the runes as well as the Gothic name for the rune.
Stands for: Well being
Casting meaning: This is a rune of prosperity, well-being, and fruitfulness. It represents the Mother Goddess as preserver and nurturer as well as the mythical cow Audhumla. It symbolizes the abundance gained through power, as well as the power itself.
Stands for: Strength
Casting meaning: The rune Urus represents Urd, one of the three Norns, or fates, in Norse mythology. It denotes primal strength and the power of creativity.
Stands for: Thorn
Casting meaning: Thauris is a rune of defense, like the thorn it can resist an attack without a fight. The rune Thyth represents the power of enclosure and has the strength to breakdown disorder and chaos.
Sound: “a” as in “car”
Stands for: Human decent from divine beings
Casting meaning: Ansus is a god rune showing us that humans are descendents of the gods. Aza is a rune that calls upon the divine beings and holds the power of creativity.
Stands for: Motion
Casting meaning: Raida simply means motion and it’s Gothic representation Reda adds to it the feminine power of the Mother Goddess.
Sound: “k”, “c” as in “cake”
Stands for: Knowledge
Casting meaning: The rune Kusma symbolizes insight, learning, knowledge, wisdom and enlightenment. Chosma shows us the duality between things such as the thin border between madness and genius.
Sound: “g” as in “gift”
Stands for: The act of giving
Casting meaning: Giba and Gewa, like the Elder Futhark rune Gebo, stands for the gift given between two people as well as the act of giving and the bond that such a gift creates.
Stands for: Joy
Casting meaning: The last rune of the first ætt represents joy, harmony and a peaceful state of mind in a chaotic world.
Stands for: Hailstone
Casting meaning: Like a hailstone, the rune Hagl/Haal represents restrictions and restraints. But like a hailstone melting, Hagl/Haal allows for the transformation form something so restricting to something more fluid and easy going.
Stands for: Need
Casting meaning: This rune denotes the absence or scarcity of something as well as symbolizing a necessity or need. The Gothic rune of Noics also signifies the letter of justice.
Sound: “i” as in “piece”
Stands for: Icicle
Casting meaning: his rune represents an icicle symbolizing unchanging existence.
Sound: “y”, “j” as in “Frejya”
Stands for: Season (or Year)
Casting meaning: Like the changing from season to season or from one year to the next, this rune represents the characters of the cycles found in nature. It is a completion at the proper time with the chance for new beginnings.
Sound: “e” as in “egg”
Stands for: Staff cut from a Yew Tree
Casting meaning: Aihs represents a double-ended staff of life and death cut from a yew tree. Waer symbolizes sacrifice.
Stands for: A Pot (or a Womb)
Casting meaning: The rune Pairthra represents a pot which in turn symbolizes a womb. The Gothic representation of this rune stands for an unexpected resolution to difficult situations.
Stands for: Power (of the elk)
Casting meaning: The rune Algs represents the power that is found in an elk. The Gothic rune of Ezec represents the fifteen starts of traditional European astronomy.
Sound: “ss” as in “kiss”
Stands for: Light overtaking darkness
Casting meaning: The runes of Saúil and Sugil stand for the power of the sun overtaking darkness. The Greek roots of Saúil referring to both the sun and the moon.
Stands for: Victory
Casting meaning: This rune symbolizes victory, goals attained, and earthly strength though male power.
Stands for: Birth (or Regeneration)
Casting meaning: This rune represents the power of woman, birth and regeneration. It also represents the birch tree (or twig) which is the favored wood used for runic divination because it is considered pure and absent of harmful influences.
Sound: “e” as in “egg”
Stands for: Horse
Casting meaning: Egeis represents the power and status of a horse. It was said that the gods used horses in divination, shamanism and royal pageantries. The rune Eyz signifies the aether, the medium prevading cosmos.
Stands for: Basic human qualities
Casting meaning: This rune represents the basic qualities that are found in all humans such as support, social abilities, happiness and cooperation.
Stands for: Water
Casting meaning: As water stimulates the growth of plant life the Lagus/Laaz rune stimulates growth in all of us. It also represents the fluidity and easygoing nature that we all strive to obtain.
Sound: “ng” as in “song”
Stands for: Generative power
Casting meaning: This rune symbolizes the potential power that we must learn to channel before we unleash it on the world. A generative power that is released in a single burst.
Stands for: Day
Casting meaning: The rune that stands for “day” is one that can be used for the protection of entrances. In a reading you may take this rune to mean a protection from new people or situations that enter your life or your present situation.
Sound: “o” as in “cold”
Stands for: Inherited land/property
Casting meaning: Like similar runes that represent land in its many forms this rune is one of a wealth that is passed on to us from our family. Like family knowledge or a family secret it is something we should carefully watch and guard over.
Sound: “qu” as in “quick”
Stands for: Flames of a fire
Casting meaning: Although it is part of the third Gothic ætt the rune Quairtra encapsulates all the other runes in this set. It symbolically represents the flames of a fire as the transform things from one form to another cleansing them as it changes their form.
One thing that I always do when I cast the runes is to record the results so I can look back at each reading at a later date. In order to do this you want to make sure to write down as much information as you can. The best way that I’ve found to do this is to use a rune cast record sheet. They’re so useful to me that I’m sharing them here.
All downloads listed are PDF files.
Download all record sheets in a ZIP file: All Rune Casting Record Sheets
At the top of each sheet there are spaces to record the date and time, for whom the rune cast was for, information about the surroundings (or setting) and the question being asked. Next will be a section that will allow you to draw in the rune symbols that you picked for each spot. You are then given an overview of what each space in the rune cast stands for or means in relation to the layout. You can scribble down what each rune means or general notes on what the rune is trying to tell you for each spot. Lastly, there is a section for any additional notes you may have – the weather, your health condition, which rune set you were using
This a layout taken from the Icelandic Saga titled, “Egils saga Skallagrímssonar” (Egil’s Saga). In this story Egil Skallagrimsson is a master poet, warrior and rune master who accomplishes much in his lifetime. While this story does offer a lot of insight into the uses of the runes we are especially interested in his rune work in chapter seventy-three. It is in this chapter where we see Egil cure Thorfinn’s daughter, Helga, who had become sick because of some runes wrongfully carved on whalebone. The runes were originally carved on whalebone and placed in Helga’s bed. But because the person who carved those runes was not a master of the runes, Helga became sick and lay dying in her bed until Egil came, scrapped off the old runes, and cured her by placing healing runes onto the whalebone.
For this reading we do something a little different than most other rune readings you may be familiar with or even come across in other books. Instead of each rune having it’s own unique meaning we break this twelve rune layout into four “group of three” positions. For each group we take all three runes and read them as it they were “speaking” to us as a whole. Basically it’s like doing a typical three-rune reading and at the end of that reading you look at what all three runes are trying to say to us as a whole.
The four groups derive their names and meanings from the saga, the characters, and their purpose in the story. It’s not necessary to read and understand Egil’s Saga in order to use this layout but it can help, especially if you ever do a spur of the moment rune cast for someone and would like to use this layout. Then knowing the story can help you to remember what each group stands for more easily.
Group 1 – Runes 1, 2 and 3 – Carver’s Intentions
In the story we see that the original rune carver had specific intentions for what he wanted the runes to do. This first group acts the same for us during a cast. We consult the runes because we have certain situations, goals or intentions. Before you do this cast figure out what it is that you want to know from the runes. Keep this in mind through the entire cast, even as you pick up your runes and place them in the layout positions. These first three runes will tell you what the runes think about your intentions. It is important to keep what they say in mind as you work towards your goal.
Group 2 – Runes 4, 5 and 6 – Helga’s Results
Helga is the woman in the story who gets harmed due to the result of wrongfully carved runes. For our purposes this group of runes lets us see the possible “wrong” results that may come about if our intentions are not pure or we are not willing to put forth effort to move towards our goal.
Group 3 – Runes 7, 8 and 9 – Thorfinn’s Concerns
Thorfinn is the father of Helga and, in the story, we see him worry about his daughter, as she lay sick in her bed. This group of runes represents any outside concerns or obstacles that may come into play as we move towards our goal. Outside influences can do one of two things for us. First, they may support us and help us on our way to achieving the results we are looking for. This can come in any number of ways. If our goal is to be financially secure in our later years support may come from family and friends who help us out in troubled times, or even help us to find a different job that pays more and helps to secure our financial goal. Secondly, outside forces can be negative and can try to hinder us as we strive towards our objective. Again if our goal was to be financially secure in our later years a negative influence may be shown to us in the runes. We may see that our spending habits or generosity with our friends is not letting us put away the money we may need at a later time. The runes will show us what we should keep an eye on.
Group 4 – Runes 10, 11 and 12 – Egil’s Results
Egil is the master of the runes. Despite the wrongly carved runes, their results and even the concerns of Thorfinn, Egil manages to make things right again. It is only through his masterful rune skills that this is possible. He can shave the runes off the whalebone, carve new runes, and make things right for us once again. While we aren’t dealing with carved whalebone we are dealing with a rune layout. We shouldn’t have to cast the runes again to make sure we get the desired results we are looking for, we should only have to look at this group of runes to help guide us. Despite the previous groups and what they have been telling us, this last set of three runes lets us know how we can overcome all that we have been told and still achieve our goal. This does not mean that we can disregard the previous groups and just follow this last group and have everything work out fine. This last group just lets us know how we are able to reach our goal while keeping in mind the possible difficulties of the first three groups.
Since this rune layout isn’t a typical layout it may be a little difficult to do the first few times. You may become a bit confused as to what the runes are saying to you. In other layouts reading each rune individually isn’t a difficult thing to master. However, with this layout you need to read a group of three runes as if they were one. Until you become familiar with your rune set you may find that you’re not seeing the “whole picture” and that this reading isn’t always as exact as other layouts may be. If this is the case don’t give up. With practice you’ll soon see that this is a powerful layout that can give you great insight into just about any topic you ask the runes.
If you wish to record your rune casts I’ve created a a printable recording sheet for the Egil’s Whalebone Layout rune cast.
File: Egil’s Whalebone Layout Record Sheet
Filesize: 130.27 kB
A spread that’s synonymous with tarot cards can be used in casting the runes. It involves picking 10 runes and placing them in the same layout that the Celtic Cross tarot card spread is in. The one variation that I like to use with this involves the first rune. In the tarot card reading you choose a card that represents the person that is asking the question. For a rune spread I like to do one of two things. If the person asking the questions wants, have them pick a rune that has meaning to the question. If this is a question about love, have them pick a rune that involves love, fertility or something similar. Draw this rune on a piece of paper and give it to the person asking the question to have them concentrate on. If you’re asking the question for yourself, then just concentrate on the rune as you cast. The other way to do this is to pick a rune at random from your rune pouch and write the rune down. Place the rune back in the bag so it has the possibility to turn up in your reading. Just make sure that you or the other person are concentrating on that rune, depending on who’s asking the question.
Rune number 2 should be placed on top of rune 1 if this is possible. To read this layout follow this guide.
If you wish to record your rune casts I’ve created a a printable recording sheet for the Celtic Cross Spread rune cast.
File: Celtic Cross Spread Record Sheet
Filesize: 123.23 kB
We see in the story the Havamal1 that the God Odin hung on a tree (possibly Yggdrasil – the World Tree) for nine days and nights. The first six represent the God himself and the last three make up his spear, Gungnir. The set up looks like so:
The layout image isn’t much the way it looks here. Numbers 1 and 5 are suppose to be Odin’s legs and feet, numbers 2 and 6 are his arms and hands, number 3 is his body and number 4 is his head. The spear is standing up at Odin’s side and consists on numbers 7, 8 and 9. If you use a great deal of imagination you may start to see how the picture is suppose to look. To read this layout follow this guide.
The column with numbers 1 and 2 represent the past factors that have acted on the question you have asked.
The column with numbers 3 and 4 represent the present forces on the question.
The column with the number 5 and 6 represent the outcome of the question.
The last column that shows Odin’s spear represents the powers you have or need to deal with each of the previous three columns.
If you wish to record your rune casts I’ve created a a printable recording sheet for the Odin’s Nine Layout rune cast.
File: Odin’s Nine Layout Record Sheet
Filesize: 129.65 kB
This is more often referred to as The Grid of Nine and is slightly adapted from Nigel Pennick’s book The Complete Illustrated Guide to Runes. You cast out your runes and pick up nine runes placing them in a grid as follows:
If you add up the numbers from any row or column or even diagonally, they add up to the number 15. In order to read this you should do the following:
Read the lowest horizontal line first – it represents the past factors that have acted on the matter at hand. The runes go as follows…
Read the middle row next – it represents the present forces on the question. The runes in this row are read as follows…
Finally read the top row – it represents the outcome of the question. Read its runes as follows…
If you wish to record your rune casts I’ve created a a printable recording sheet for the Grid of Nine Layout rune cast.
File: Grid of Nine Layout Record Sheet
Filesize: 126.79 kB
Here again we have a rune cast that makes use of Norse Mythology. According to Norse Mythology, Bifröst is the bridge that connects two worlds together, the world of the gods and the world of the humans. Since Bifröst acts as a connection between the humans and the gods we get a sense with this layout that our answers and the help the runes give us are coming straight from the gods themselves.
The order for this layout is again a simple one. Bifröst is often said to be a rainbow bridge between two worlds so we make use of the basic colors of the rainbow for the position. You may have seen the “Roy G. Biv” trick taught to children to help them remember the colors of the rainbow. This is where we come up with the positions and names for this layout.
This cast is pretty straightforward and there’s not too much you need to be aware of. You just want to make sure that you’re reading the correct runes for the position you place them in. It’s basically a “Past, Present, Future” layout with a few exceptions. More often than not in a “Past, Present, Future” layout we are only dealing with the effects of each and not the attitudes of those positions. The attitude portions of this cast help to give us insight into why the effects have taken place, are taking place or may take place. If you’re not sure what I mean by this let’s look at a simple example.
We’ll pretend that you’ve cast this layout to find out about a possible promotion at work. When you start to read your runes for this cast the first rune you select will be for the “Attitude of the past” – meaning your attitude about past promotions you may or may not have received. In the past, if you had been a hard worker with a positive outlook and have received a promotion, the runes may be able to let you know that it was, in fact, your outlook and work efforts that helped you get the promotion.
One other thing you need to be aware of is the last rune for this cast, “Violet: Overall Outcome.” For most “Past, Present, Future” rune readings you won’t have an overall outcome because the “future” position will usually represent the outcome. For this rune layout the overall outcome position is there to help provide a more in-depth look at the outcome. We still need to make sure that we look at the overall meaning to the cast by taking all the other runes into consideration, but we must not forget that there is also a rune to show us the overall outcome. Such a rune can be very helpful to us at times so we should not take it too lightly.
If you wish to record your rune casts I’ve created a a printable recording sheet for the Bifröst Layout rune cast.
File: Bifrost Layout Record Sheet
Filesize: 124.21 kB
Rune layouts and spreads help us to figure out what the runes are saying to us. Where as the runes themselves tell us what they mean, we need to know what and where those meanings come to play in our lives and the questions we ask of them. The layouts and spreads provide us with such a structure as well as that information.
You may be asking yourself, “What’s the different between a layout and a spread?” Well to be honest there isn’t much. While reading and finding out more about different rune layouts I have come to find the similarities between rune layouts and tarot card spreads. Some authors even adapt tarot card spreads to use with the runes. I find nothing wrong with this but choose to call such casting structures “spreads” instead of “layouts” so that I can remember that these “spreads” where not created specifically for rune casting.
Choosing a layout or spread will not be a difficult thing to do. If you have a question that’s going to need some in-depth information you will want to pick a layout/spread that uses more tiles. This way you’ll get a more specific reading and better guidance. On the other hand if you have a question that is more general then you can get by with a smaller layout/spread.
As you can tell I like to create my rune spreads around figures and objects from Norse Mythology, and this spread is no different. The Midgard Serpent is a beast that is said to live in the ocean that surrounds the world and is so long that he is able to bite his own tail. In this layout we use the fact that the serpent is able to bite his own tail and it’s important in the reading that we are aware that if we’re not careful the results of this layout can pass us by.
You do not need to worry about placing the runes in the “flowing” pattern of the image above. The purpose of line in the image is to give you a feel that we are placing the runes to create a serpent. However the line also helps us to better understand the positions and their meanings. We pretend that we start at position one (the tail) and we “walk” along the line until we reach the head of the serpent at position seven. As we “walk” along the serpent we must make “uphill journeys” which represent obstacles or situations that we may need to overcome. The “downhill journeys,” for example moving from position two to position three, are times after we have conquered or overcome an obstacle. These are periods when we can relax a little and once again prepare ourselves for future hurdles that may come our way.
Now let’s take a look at the rune positions and their meanings.
1 – Represents our feelings in the distant past in relation to the situation we are asking the runes for help with.
2 – Represents the struggles with this situation as a result of our feelings from position one. Also the “hump” symbolizes the obstacles we may have overcome and we should be aware of how we handled the situation in the past because it may once again come back to us in the present time (position four).
3 – This point concerns our feelings about the situation during the present time. Physically it is the closest rune to us as we lay the runes down so it not only represents the present time, but also the close connection to our heart or feelings.
4 – Position four is when we start the journey towards our outcome. The obstacles we may have had in the past (at position two) may come back into play for us here. We also see that the “hump” here is a little steeper, which may mean that the obstacle is even more difficult to overcome. However, we do have our past experiences with this matter to help guide us along our path.
5 – At position five we reach the peek of our journey and we can see our goal clearly. This rune will tell us about our feelings and how they can begin to control us once we think we can achieve our goal. We cannot let our feelings get the better of us, rather we must learn to understand that we need these feelings to gain our goal but at the same time not let them control us.
6 – Position six reminds us that we still have to work towards our goal if we want to achieve it. Take this rune to heart. If it is telling you that you need hard work to get to your goal then you’ll need to listen. If it’s a rune about power and control, you may need to be strong and control your emotions in order to get to the goal.
7 – This spot represents the Midgard Serpent’s head. Most of the time this is our goal. However, according to Norse Mythology, the serpent is so large that is able to bite its own tail. If we are not watching what the other runes are saying to us so we can reach our goal we may find ourselves passing by our goal and beginning once again on the tail of the serpent.
This rune layout represents a sort of “timeline” to reach our goal. Position one starts us off at the tail of the serpent and we must work our way towards the serpent’s head at position seven. We must be aware that time, like the Midgard Serpent, can often be seen as a cycle. Time continues to move from one day to the next as the sun and moon rise and fall letting us know that a new day has come and gone. This cycle continues unbroken in our mind unless we form “breaking points” to split up this constantly moving cycle. With time we use “breaking points” like weekends or holidays to give us a rest from the busy workweek, which can have a monotony of it’s own. The “breaking point” for this layout can be seen as our goal for the situation we are asking the runes about. If we’re not careful we may pass up our goal because of our feelings of excitement to break this cycle. If that happens we may find that we may, in fact, not have reached our goal at all and instead have restarted our journey at the tail of the Midgard Serpent. Because of this we must learn to understand, control and make good use of our feelings as we try to achieve our goal.
If you wish to record your rune casts I’ve created a a printable recording sheet for the Midgard Serpent Layout rune cast.
File: Midgard Serpent Layout Record Sheet
Filesize: 127.05 kB