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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


Footnotes / Notes:
All quotes from Poems of the Elder Edda translated by Patricia Terry ©1990 University of Pennsylvania Press.



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