Ancient Runic meanings
As already said in the article Ancient Runic Magic, the
intrinsic and, if you will, hidden meanings of the runes of the Scandinavian
futhark and Anglo-Saxon futhorc are found in the Norwegian runic poems, from
the 7th century, the Anglo-Saxon, from the 8th century or IX, and the
Icelandic, recorded in the S.XV. Although there is also the Nordmannicum
Alphabet, from the 9th century, it is just that, a brief exposition of the
runic characters, without versification, which does not offer as much
information about Nordic paganism as the runic poems do. The verses found in
them are considered to have a mnemonic or educational nature, which is why many
of their meanings and verification coincide.
Below is an exposition of the meanings offered by each of them, and therefore, of what the ancient runic concepts would be. (Remember that many times they do not coincide in modern esotericism, see Futhark Armanen)
-Texts have been extracted and adapted from the Rune Poem Page-
ᚠ Fehu, Feoh, Fe
Norwegian poem: Fé vældr frænda róge/ føðesk ulfr í skóge. Wealth is a direct source of discord between relatives / and wolves live in the forest.
Anglo-Saxon poem: Feoh byþ frofur fira gehwylcum/sceal ðeah manna gehwylc miclun hyt dælan/gif he wile for drihtne domes hleotan. Wealth is comfortable for all / therefore it must be freely granted to anyone / if one wishes to gain honor as the divinity.
Icelandic poem: Fé er frænda róg/ ok flæðar viti/ ok grafseiðs gata/ aurum fylkir. Wealth is a source of discord between relatives / and the fire of the sea / and the trail of the serpent
ᚢ, Ur, Uruz, Yr,
Norwegian poem: Úr er af illu jarne/ opt løypr ræinn á hjarne. The filth comes from the bad iron/ and the roe deer often runs on the cold snow.
Anglo-Saxon poem: Ur byþ anmod ond oferhyrned/ felafrecne deor, feohteþ mid hornum/ mære morstapa; þæt is modig wuht. The aurochs prides itself on its great horns/ a fierce animal that fights with its horns/ guardian of the moors, creature full of vigor.
Icelandic poem: Úr er skýja grátr/ok skára þverrir/ok hirðis hatr/umbre vísi. Rain is the wailing of clouds, the ruin of hay crops, a horror to ranchers.
Þ, Thorn, Thurs
Norwegian poem: Þurs vældr kvinna kvillu/ kátr værðr fár af illu. Thurs (giant, monster) causes anguish to women/ Few men make misfortune happy.
Anglo-Saxon poem: Ðorn byþ ðearle scearp/ ðegna gehwylcum anfeng ys yfyl/ungemetum reþe manna gehwelcum/ ðe him mid resteð. The thorn is extremely sharp / It is evil to the nobleman who touches it / And often unimportant to those who sit between them.
Icelandic poem: Ðorn byþ ðearle scearp/ðegna gehwylcum anfeng ys yfyl/ungemetum reþe manna gehwelcum/ðe him mid resteð. Thurs (giant, monster) causes distress to women / he lives on the cliff and he is the husband of a giantess who serves Saturn.
ᚬ,ᚨ, Óss, Ansuz
Norwegian poem: Óss er flæstra færða/ fo,r; in skalpr er sværða. The mouth is found on most voyages/ but the scabbard is for swords.
Anglo-Saxon poem: Os byþ ordfruma ælere spræce/ wisdomes wraþu ond witena frofur/ and eorla gehwam eadnys ond tohiht. The mouth is the source of language / pillar for knowledge / it is something pleasant for the wise / and a blessing and happiness for noble men.
Icelandic poem: Óss er algingautr/ ok ásgarðs jöfurr/ ok valhallar vísi/ Jupiter oddviti. Odin is an elder god/ruler of Asgard/lord of Valhalla/and ruler of Jupiter.
ᚱ Reith, Reiô, Rád
Norwegian poem: Ræið kveða rossom væsta/ Reginn sló sværðet bæzta. They say that riding is the worst for horses /Regin (the father of the hero Sigurd), forged the best sword.
Anglo-Saxon poem: Rad byþ on recyde rinca gehwylcum/sefte ond swiþhwæt, ðamðe sitteþ on ufan/ meare mægenheardum ofer milpaþas. Riding is easy for the warrior while he is indoors, he is brave who crosses the roads on the back of a robust mount.
Icelandic poem: Reið er sitjandi sæla/ok snúðig ferð/ok jórs erfiði./iter ræsir. Riding is joy for those who ride /, a fast trip / and hard work for the horse, / king (of the road?)
ᚳ, ᛍ, ᚲ, Kaun, Cen, Keunaz
Norwegian poem: Kaun er barna bǫlvan;/ bǫl gørver nán fǫlvan. An ulcer is fatal in children/ death makes the corpse pale.
Anglo-Saxon poem: Cen byþ cwicera gehwam, cuþ on fyre/ blac ond beorhtlic, byrneþ oftust/ ðær hi æþelingas inne restaþ. The torch is known to every man / by its white and resplendent flame; always burns / near where the prince sits.
Icelandic poem: Kaun er barna böl/ ok bardaga [för]/ ok holdfúa hús./flagella konungr. Fatal disease for children, / and a painful zone / and home of sacrifice. (whip?)
ᚷ Gyfu (It only appears in the Anglo-Saxon poem)
Anglo-Saxon poem: Gyfu gumena byþ gleng and herenys,/ wraþu and wyrþscype and wræcna gehwam/ ar and ætwist, ðe byþ oþra leas. Generosity brings prestige and honour, which supports one's dignity/provides help and sustenance for broken men who lack everything.
Ƿ , ᚹ Wynn, Wunjo (It only appears in the Anglo-Saxon poem)
Anglo-Saxon poem: Ƿenne bruceþ, ðe can ƿeana lyt/ sares and sorge and him sylfa hæfþ/ blæd and blysse and eac byrga geniht. Bliss is enjoyed by those who do not know suffering/sadness or worry, who have/prosperity, joy and a house big enough.
ᛡ, ᚻ, ᚺ, Hagall, Hægl
Norwegian poem: Hagall er kaldastr korna;/ Kristr skóp hæimenn forna. Hail is the coldest grain / Christ? created the world of the ancients.
Anglo-Saxon poem: Hægl byþ hwitust corna; / hwyrft hit of heofones lyfte,/wealcaþ hit windes scura;/ weorþeþ hit to wætere syððan. Hail is the whitest grain / the swirl of the celestial dome, thrown by a gust of wind / and water when it melts.
Icelandic poem: Hagall er kaldakorn/ ok krapadrífa/ ok snáka sótt./grando hildingr. Hail is a cold pimple, a downpour of sleet, and the vomit of snakes.
ᚾ, ᚿ Nauðr, Nauð, Nyd
Norwegian poem: Nauðr gerer næppa koste;/ nøktan kælr í froste. Deprivation gives few chances/ A naked man frozen with frost.
Anglo-Saxon poem: Nyd byþ nearu on breostan; / weorþeþ hi þeah oft niþa bearnum to helpe and to hæle gehwæþre, /gif hi his hlystaþ æror. Difficulties oppress the heart / but also a source of help and salvation / for the sons of men who take care of their goods.
Icelandic poem: Nauð er Þýjar þrá/ ok þungr kostr/ ok vássamlig verk/ opera niflungr. Bullying is the pain of the shackled, oppressed, hard-working maiden.
I Iss, Is
Norwegian poem: Ís köllum brú bræiða; / blindan þarf at læiða. We call the wide bridge ice / We must guide the blind.
Anglo-Saxon poem: Is byþ ofereald, ungemetum slidor, / glisnaþ glæshluttur gimmum gelicust,/ flor forste geworuht, fæger ansyne. The ice is very cold and slippery with no limits. / Transparent as glass and brighter than precious gems / It is justly considered the ground of frost.
Icelandic poem: Íss er árbörkr /ok unnar þak/ ok feigra manna fár. The ice is the bark of the rivers / what covers the pots / and the destruction of the curse.
ᛄ Ger (It only appears in the Anglo-Saxon poem)
Anglo-Saxon poem: Ger byÞ gumena hiht, ðonne God læteþ,/ halig heofones cyning, hrusan syllan/ beorhte bleda beornum ond ðearfum. The harvest is happiness for men, when God, / holy king of heaven, allows the earth to offer its fruits periodically / in the same way to the rich as to the poor.
ᛢ Eoh (It only appears in the Anglo-Saxon poem)
Anglo-Saxon poem: Eoh byþ utan unsmeþe treow, / heard hrusan fæst, hyrde fyres,/ wyrtrumun underwreþyd, wyn on eþle. The yew is a tree with rough/hard and immutable bark, it is sustained thanks to its roots/guardian of the flames and joy of the farms.
ᛈ Peorð, Peorth (It only appears in the Anglo-Saxon poem)
Anglo-Saxon poem: worseð byþ symble plega and hlehter/ wlancum [on middum], ðar wigan sittaþ/ on beorsele bliþe ætsomne. Peorð is the source of fun and distraction / For the proud warriors who sit / Together in the tavern full of joy.
ᚣ,ᛨ, ᛣ, ᛉ , Ýr, Eolh
Norwegian poem: Ýr er vetrgrønstr viða;/ vænt er, er brennr, at sviða. The yew is the greenest tree in winter/it tends to crackle when it burns.
Anglo-Saxon poem: Eolh-secg eard hæfþ oftust on fenne / wexeð on wature, wundaþ grimme/ blode breneð beorna gehwylcne/ ðe him ænigne onfeng gedeþ. The sedge (a grass) of elk appears in the wetlands / it grows in the water, seriously injures and stains with blood / the man who tries to take it.
Icelandic poem: Ýr er bendr bogi/ok brotgjarnt járn/ok fífu fárbauti. The yew is a bow if it bends, and brittle iron, and a farbauti (giant) arrow.
ᛋ, ᛊ, Sun, Sigel
Norwegian poem: Sól er landa ljóme;/ lúti ek helgum dóme. The sun is the light of the world/ I bow to the divine plan.
Anglo-Saxon poem: Sigel semannum symble biþ on hihte, /ðonne hi hine feriaþ ofer fisces beþ,/ oþ hi brimhengest bringeþ to lande. The sun is always a joy to the hopeful sailors/ When they travel over the layer of fish/ Till the deep currents carry them ashore.
Icelandic poem: Sól er skýja skjöldr/ ok skínandi röðull/ ok ísa aldrtregi/rota siklingr. The sun is the shield of the clouds, and a bright ray, and the destroyer of the ice.
ᛐ, ᛏ, Týr
Norwegian poem: Tyr es einhendr Asa;/ opt verðr smiðr at blasa. Tyr is the one-armed Æsir (chief god)/often the blacksmith blows.
Anglo-Saxon poem: Tir biþ tacna sum, healdeð trywa wel/ wiþ æþelingas; a biþ on færylde/ ofer nihta genipu, næfre swiceþ. Tyr is a star that fills the princes/ with hope; always on its course,/ under the night mists, it never falls.
Icelandic poem: Týr er einhendr áss/ ok ulfs leifar/ ok hofa hilmir. Tyr is a one-armed god, /the farewell of the wolves /and the prince of the temples.
ᛒ Bjarkan, Berkana, Beorc
Norwegian poem: Bjarkan er laufgrønstr líma; / Loki bar flærða tima. The birch is the tree with the greenest leaves / Loki is lucky with his tricks.
Anglo-Saxon poem: Beorc byþ bleda leas, bereþ efne swa ðeah/tanas butan tudder, biþ on telgum wlitig,/ heah on helme hrysted fægere,/ geloden leafum, lyfte getenge. The poplar does not bear fruit, but without seeds it gives four buds/ from its leaves, its branches are marvelous,/ and they adorn gloriously/ its majestic crowns touch the sky.
Icelandic poem: Bjarken er laufgat lim/ ok lítit tré/ ok ungsamligr viðr./ abies buðlungr. The birch is a leafy branch,/ and a minor tree/ and a fresh/ young bush.
ᛖ, Eh (It only appears in the Anglo-Saxon poem)
Anglo-Saxon poem: Eh byþ for eorlum æþelinga wyn,/ hors hofum wlanc, ðær him hæleþ ymb[e]/ welege on wicgum wrixlaþ spræce/ and biþ unstyllum æfre frofur. The horse is the delight of princes /with warriors present, a steed is the pride of their hooves/when rich men on their horses speak of it/and it is always a comfortable place for the restless.
ᛘ, ᛗ, Maðr, Man, Mannaz
Norwegian poem: Maðr er moldar auki;/ mikil er græip á hauki. Man grows from the dust/ The bird of prey's claw is huge.
Anglo-Saxon poem: Man byþ on myrgþe his magan leof:/sceal þeah anra gehwylc oðrum swican,/ forðum drihten wyle dome sine/ þæt earme flæsc eorþan The jovial man is loved by his kindred/but every man is destined to fail his mate/ since the lord will assign as duty the vile return to earth.
Icelandic poem: Maðr er manns gaman/ ok moldar auki/ ok skipa skreytir/homo mildingr. Man is delight to man, and a fruit of the earth, and who decorates ships.
ᛚ , Lögr, Lagu, Laguz
Norwegian poem: Lögr er, fællr ór fjalle foss;/ en gull ero nosser. A waterfall is a river that falls from the side of the mountain / but the adornment is gold.
Anglo-Saxon poem: Lagu byþ leodum langsum geþuht, /gif hi sculun neþan on nacan tealtum/ and hi sæyþa swyþe bregaþ/ and se brimhengest bridles ne gym[eð]. The ocean seems endless to men/ If they venture out on a lurching ship/ And the waves of the sea terrify them/ And the deep currents ignore their gear.
Icelandic poem: Lögr er vellanda vatn/ ok viðr ketill/ ok glömmungr grund. The water is a eddy current / a great geyser / and the territory of the fish.
ᛝ, ᛜ Ing, Ingwaz ( It only appears in the Anglo-Saxon poem)
Anglo-Saxon poem: Ing wæs ærest mid Eástdenum/ gesewen secgum, oð he Síððan eást/ ofer wæg gewát. wæn æfter ran./þus Heardingas þone hæle nemdon. Ing is considered the first of the Danes / until he set out east / across the sea / followed by his chariot / and was regarded as a hero by the Heardingas (the Ingvaeones, from whose name the rune comes, a people of the Northwest German)
ᛟ, ethel, ēðel, othalaz (It only occurs in the Anglo-Saxon poem)
Anglo-Saxon poem: Eþel byþ oferleof æghwylcum men,/ gif he mot ðær rihtes and gerysena on/ brucan on bolde bleadum oftast. A farm is much appreciated by any man/ if he can enjoy his home there/ all is well, in continual prosperity.
ᛑ, ᛞ Daeg, Dagaz ( It only appears in the Anglo-Saxon poem)
Anglo-Saxon rune poem: Dæg byþ drihtnes sond, deore mannum, /mære metodes leoht, myrgþ and tohiht/ eadgum and earmum, eallum brice. The day is the messenger of the Lord, loved by men / glorious light of the creator, joy, hope, for the poor and for the rich, makes everyone happy equally.
Norwegian poem: Ár er gumna góðe; /get ek at o,rr var Fróðe. Abundance is a blessing for men/ I say that Frothe (?) was generous.
Icelandic poem: Ár er gumna góði/ ok gott add/ algróinn akr. Abundance blesses men/ and a good summer/ a prosperous harvest.
The runes that are exposed below do not appear in the poems and in many cases even their phonetics are unknown, some of them seem alternative or incomplete forms, but in any case it has been considered appropriate, at least, to expose them at the bottom of this annex:
ᚫ, aesc, "ash"; ᚪ, aac, "oak", ᛣ, calc "chalice"; ᛠ ear, "grave"; ᚸ gar "spear"; ᛡ ior "eel"(?); ᛥstan "stone";
ᛛ dotted laguz; ᛀ naud dotted; ᛔ b, p? dotted;
ᛤ, cealc; ᛢ cweord, ᛂ , ᛮ arlaug; ᛯ tvimadur; ᛰ belgthor;
e?; ᚧ eath?; ᚵ g?;; ᛃjeran; ᚮ or?; ᚯ oe?; ᚰ on?; ᛕ p?; ᚩ oss?; ᛩ what?; ᛓ bj?; ᚽh?; ᛙ m? ; ᛌ, s?; ᛧ yr?; ᚡv?; ᚥw?; ᛪ x?; ᚤ y?; ᛎz?; ᛭ (tails, punctuation?)
Pietro Viktor Carracedo Ahumada - firstname.lastname@example.org
-MacCulloch, J.A. The celtic and scandinavian religions.
Cosimo Classics, New York, 2005
- Mitchell, Stephen A. Witchcraft and Magic in the Nordic
Middle Ages, PENN (Pennsylvania University Press), Philadelphia, Oxford, 2011.
-Orchard, Andy, Dictionary of Norse Myth and Legend. Cassel,
1997-Pulsiano, Phillip, Mediavl Scandinavia: an enciclopedia,
Garland Publishing, New York, London, 1993