The Gothic rune set, while lacking its own rune poem, does have some very interesting meanings known to us. The reason for this is due to a bishop from the middle of the fourth century named Ulfila. Bishop Ulfila set out to construct a new alphabet that was largely based on the Gothic runes as well as Hellenic Greek and Arian and Gnostic Christian sources. While his alphabet failed for its purpose it did do a few positive things for the runes. Ulfila’s meanings for his magical alphabet found their way back into the meanings for the Gothic runes. Some would say that this is not a benefit for the runes because Ulfila’s own meanings may have replaced the older meanings for the runes. However, since we no longer have much idea what those meanings are, we do have at least one version of meanings for the runes. Of course, being a bishop, we do tend to see a sort of “Christian flavor” to the meanings, which can be looked on as either a good or a bad thing – all depending on your view.
When Christianity started to rise among the Goths they gave up their use of the runes, but they did replace their rune use with the use of Bishop Ulfila’s alphabet. The use of the new alphabet may in fact have kept us from forgetting about the Gothic runes and their meanings. Even though the true meanings may be lost, we do see at least one set of meanings for these runes thanks to the bishop. Also, I find it hard to believe that while creating meanings for his own alphabet that Ulfila completely ignored the original meanings for the Gothic runes. So there is still a possibility that the newer, “more Christianized” meanings have hints of the original meanings in them.
Another reason we know a little more about the Gothic runes, despite it not having a rune poem, is thanks to Otto von Friesen. This Swedish researcher, in 1928, published Runorn i Sverige in which he reconstructed the Gothic runes, their meanings as well as assigned genders to each rune. An excellent work that allows us more insight to the runes and their meanings on a whole new level.
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.