descriptions adapted from 'Northern Mysteries
Germanic name: FEHU
(Anglo-Saxon: FEOH, Old Norse: FE, Phonetic
Traditional meaning: cattle, wealth
This is the first rune of the first aett.
The runes are divided into groups of eight
(called aettir), which
reflect the ancient mystical numerological
tradition of Northern Europe. The classical
meaning of Fehu as handed down through various
sources is cattle or wealth, in particular,
movable wealth. In a so-called primitive
society such as existed in Northern Europe
when the runes were first developed, cattle
represented wealth. The status of the chieftain
was usually measured by the number of cattle
which he or she owned.
In those days,
cattle provided both a livelihood and a
barter medium used in much the same way
as money is used nowadays. Hence the present-day
association with the modern English word
"fee," by which name this rune is also known.
The possession of money or wealth means
that a certain level of responsibility is
required on the part of the possessor.
Germanic name: URUZ
(Anglo-Saxon: UR, Old Norse: UR, Phonetic
Traditional meaning: aurochs
The aurochs was a ferocious native species
of wild ox which is now extinct. The energy
behind this rune is the life force of the
masculine polarity, the unconscious drive
for manifestation. While the energy of Fehu
is the active element in creation, the fire
of Muspelheim, the fire of Fehu interacts
with the energy of Uruz, which is the element
of ice, and life is generated.
a primal Earth energy - the inextinguishable
impulse to be, the energy behind the forms
of nature which survives all attempts at
destruction, re-forming itself in new patterns
when the old ones are outworn. So the energy
of Uruz is indestructible, raw, primitive
and unbelievably strong. Uruz symbolizes
strength, persistence, durability and adaptability
to environmental changes. On a higher plane,
Uruz represents healing energy-a strong,
restorative recuperative physical process.
This is the energy which manifests
itself along ley-Iines. Fehu and Uruz are
closely interlinked, both relating to cattle.
They are a pair, and operate together in
a process of creating and sustaining the
life-forms on this plane.
Germanic name: THURISAZ
(Anglo-Saxon: THORN, Old Norse: THURS, Phonetic
Traditional meaning: giant
Thurisaz is the third rune in the first
aett, and its element is fire. The traditional
name of this rune is Thurisaz, which is
a very ancient name for Thor and appears
in literature alongside the names Wodenaz
and Teiwaz. Thurisaz also means "giant."
This has been preserved in present-day Icelandic,
in which the word thurs still means "giant."
Early Christians chose to translate this
as "demon," which was their stock method
of propaganda against anything which they
wished to eliminate. Thurisaz represents
both Thor and the giants. Thor has some
characteristics in common with the giants
and is certainly the only one of the Aesir
who matches the giants in physical strength.
In Northern mythology, the giants represent
the forces of chaos, and Thor is the one
who keeps these forces under control. hursiaz
is mostly representative of evil, and while
this is true it is a double-edged blade
that can easily be turnedon the one who
invokes it for evil purposes.
Germanic name: ANSUZ
(Anglo-Saxon: OS, Old Norse: ASS, Phonetic
Traditional meaning: A god
This is the fourth rune of the futhark.
Whereas Thurisaz represents the forces of
chaos, Ansuz represents order, the defenders
of which in our mythology are the Aesir.
In Norse cosmology, after the creation of
the giant Y mir (chaos ), another being
was created, Buri, who was the ancestor
of the Aesir (order). Buri fathered Borr,
although it is not mentioned who was Borr's
mother. Borr married Bestla, who was also
of the giant race. From this we see that
there is a certain amount of integration
and cooperation between the two opposing
forces of chaos (giants) and order (Aesir).
The integration of the forces of order
and chaos explains why Odin, albeit a god
of order, has an element of chaos within
him and tends to use unconventional means
to achieve his ends. Ansuz represents consciousness,
intelligence, communication, eloquence reason,
and above all the god Odin.
Germanic name: RAIDO
(Anglo-Saxon: RAD, Old Nors: REID, Phonetic
Traditional meaning: riding
"Riding" or "journey ," has been the accepted
interpretation in runic circles as the meaning
of this rune. Riding has the more symbolic
connotations of creating movement, generating
motion, taking charge of situations, being
in control, taking the initiative, starting
a new venture, decision-making or directing
a course of action. Rad, the Anglo-Saxon
name of the rune, is correlated with the
German word "rat" and Dutch "raad", both
or "advice," which is one of the meanings
of Raido. It gives sound advice in a reading.
There is another word of Gothic origin,
"raiht" which in my opinion is closely related
to rad or Raido. This word means "right,"
or in Dutch recht, and the verb "rechten"
meaning in English "to do right, to dispense
judgment, to litigate." Thus we can clearly
establish that the Raido rune is a rune
that speaks to us of leadership and nobility.
Germanic name: KENAZ
(Anglo-Saxon: CEN, Old Norse: KAUNO, Phonetic
value: K or hard C)
Traditional meaning: torch, light
Most rune-workers interpret the meaning
of the Kenaz rune as "torch," which has
always been regarded as a symbol of knowledge,
consciousness and intellect. Kenaz means
"to know" ; the English dialect verb ken
and the Dutch and German kennen all mean
"to know, to be familiar with" Furthermore,
it means not only "to know" but "to be able
to." Another Dutch word related to Kenaz
is kunst, which can be translated as "art"
or "craft" and to which the English word
Kenaz indicates the ability to seek, gain,
apply and recognize. It also indicates the
learning and teaching process. The primary
aspect of Kenaz is the torch, that is, the
torch of knowledge which is to be passed
on to the next generation of kin or cyn
(both these words are of Anglo-Saxon origin
and related to Kenaz). The basic meaning
of the word "kin" indicates members of the
same family or blood-relatives. However,
"kin" may also be interpreted in a wider
concept as like-minded people of the same
Germanic name: GEBO
(Anglo-Saxon: GIFU; Old Norse: none; Phonetic
Traditional meaning: gift
The god primarily associated with this rune
is Odin, although some people allocate this
rune to Thor. In fact, there are certain
aspects of Gebo connected with marriage
contracts and boundary-markers which are
indeed attributes of Thor. The element of
this rune is air. Giving, as well as receiving,
has always been an important part of Northern
European customs, as is well documented
in the Havamal. The implication is that
a gift was given on the understanding that
a gift was to be received in return. It
is therefore not only a matter of giving,
but also of receiving. Everything points
to balance and equilibrium. The shape of
the rune confirms this: two crossed bars,
their arms of equal length.
Germanic name: WUNJO
(Anglo-Saxon: WYNN; Old Norse: none; Phonetic
value: W, V)
Traditional meaning: perfection
The god primarily associated with this rune
is Odin. But there is an Anglo-Saxon
magical tradition connecting this rune with
the god Uller. The name of this rune is
usually translated by other rune-workers
as "joy" or "pasture." This association
with joy is evidently derived from the rune-name's
similarity to the modem German word Wonne.
Although this interpretation is not altogether
wrong, more light will be shed on our understanding
of this rune if we concentrate on the original
meaning of the word, i.e. "perfection,"
according to the philologist Jacob Grim.
In all pagan traditions, gods are seen as
being partly good and partly bad, just like
us - except that these characteristics are
portrayed in the gods on a grander scale.
The Odinic aspects of Wunjo are more beneficial
than is implied by the writers of the Eddas,
in which Odin is usually depicted as a warmonger,
or an evil sorcerer. Wunjo contains all
that is beautiful and lovable in Odin who
after all is the fulfiller of wishes.
Germanic name: HAGALAZ
(Anglo-Saxon: HAEGL; Old Norse: HAGALL;
Phonetic value: H)
Traditional meaning: hail
This is the first rune of the second aett.
Most of the runes in this aett are concerned
with the goddesses, in particular the Noms.
The first aett deals with the emergence
of order from chaos and the establishment
of the cosmic routine. In the second aett,
we shall investigate those antagonistic
forces which attempt to disrupt this order,
thereby creating necessary change and evolution.
Even on the most superficial level it can
be seen that the meaning of Hagalaz is negative.
Hagalaz means "hail" and every farmer knows
what hail can do to the crops: it is a destructive
natural force. In order to understand the
more esoteric meaning of Hagalaz it is necessary
to discuss it in conjunction with two other
runes, Isa and Nauthiz. These three runes,
which are the first three in the second
aett, are related magically and semantically/.
More discussion of this aspect can be found
in "Northern Mysteries and Magick" available
for sale on this site.
Germanic name: NAUTHIZ
(Anglo-Saxon: NEED; Old Norse: NAUDR; Phonetic
Traditional meaning: need
Nauthiz is another rune closely associated
with one of the three Noms, in this case
Skuld, who rules the future. The word Skuld
relates to the Dutch and German word Schuld,
meaning "debt," i.e. that which is owed.
It can mean in traditional Nordic terms
wergild. Wer is Old Germanic for "man "
and gild means both money and guilt; hence,
These associations combine to form a Norse
version of what is commonly known as karma.
The actions in the past (Hagalaz) create
the conditions prevailing in the future
(Nauthiz = need). Skuld is the youngest
of the three Noms. She cuts the thread of
life when it comes to its end. The fate
created during that life will be meted out
accordingly. This shows that the future
is in the hands of fate and Nauthiz reflects
this in its meaning.
Germanic name: ISA
(Anglo-Saxon: IS; Old Norse: IS; Phonetic
Traditional meaning: ice
Like the first two runes in the second aett,
lsa is also associated with an element -
ice. Ice is water in its densest frozen
state. Water is fluid; ice is solid and
static. Isa therefore represents the principle
of preservation and resistance to change.
It is the counter-force to evolution, slowing
down change; as such it performs a function
equivalent to the principle expressed in
occult terminology as "The ring pass not."
Isa is a necessarily antagonistic force
whose controlling effect is essential in
order to prevent evolution from running
riot in unrestrained and random growth.
Our ancestors saw ice as a challenge, and
not only succeeded in the struggle for survival
in unfavourable conditions, but were also
spurred on by Isa to evolve faster than
others. Thus necessity proved to be the
mother of invention. Our ancestors also
had to develop as a sturdy warrior race.
Germanic name: JERA
(Anglo-Saxon: GER; Old Norse: AR; Phonetic
value: J or Y)
Traditional meaning: year, harvest
This rune is the fourth in the aett of Hagalaz
and the twelfth in the futhark. Since there
are twelve months in the year and twice
twelve hours in a day this seems appropriate.
The name of this rune indicates that it
has an important bearing on time and the
divisions of time.
This rune, following immediately after
the three Norn-related runes, represents
time itself. The two halves of the Jera
rune clearly portray two halves of a year
circling around each other in perpetual
swirling motion from light to darkness and
back again. The Jera rune is associated,
in particular, with the turning of the year
at Yuletide, when the Sun returns. Jera
also contains the mystery of Baldur and
Hodur, who are killed and reborn.
Germanic name: EIHWAZ
(Anglo-Saxon: EOH: Old Norse: none; Phonetic
value: E, Y)
Traditional meaning: yew
Eihwaz represents Yggdrasil. However, it
also resembles the human spine or backbone,
which supports the rest of the body. Eihwaz
is the psychic equivalent of the backbone,
as Yggdrasil, supporting creation, resembles
a cosmic spine. The spine has 24 vertebrae
and this is a clear correspondence with
Eihwaz is traditionally associated with
hunting, especially by means of a bow, for
bows used to be made of yew, and hunting
requires daring, especially so in olden
days. The power of this rune is a strong
and assertive power. It can give you the
necessary impetus to take a headlong plunge
into the deep end. It is an outgoing rune
of action, striving, persistence and endurance.
On the magical path, Eihwaz is a testing
force. Eihwaz invariably advises that a
risk should be taken. It says, "Go for it!"
Germanic name: PERTHO
(Anglo-Saxon: PEORTH; Old Norse: none; Phonetic
Traditional meaning: birth?
The traditional meaning of this rune has
not been established, but various suggestions
have been made, including "secret" and "chess
piece." This is the fourteenth rune of the
second aett and it is one of the most obscure
runes in the futhark. Often it has been
left unexplained and described as a secret
by uninformed authors. Yet it really should
not be that difficult to tune into the mysteries
of this rune.
Thanks to the book "Runelore" by Thorolf
Wardle, I found the exact information explaining
why this is a birth-rune and I explain this
more fully in "Northern Mysteries and Magick".
I made an exception to my general rule of
not quoting from other authors, because
this information is too valuable not to
be shared. Thorolf Wardle puts forward the
suggestion that the Anglo-Saxon rune-poem
has been inaccurately edited in the past
and that the fourteenth verse dealing with
Pertho actually relates to birth, life and
destiny. I do not subscribe to the "secret"
meaning, but the "chance"
or "gamble" interpretations are supportable
in the context of destiny.
Germanic : ALG1Z
(Anglo-Saxon : EOLH; Old Norse : YR; Phonetic
Traditional meaning: protection
The primary meaning of the Algiz rune is
protection. The sign itself looks like a
splayed hand, and is reminiscent of Tyr's
hand, which he sacrificed in order to bind
Fenris the wolf. The Old Germanic word alhs
means temple or sanctuary. Because all the
magical accoutrements and ritual equipment
were kept in the alhs, these sacred places
of worship had to be strongly defended.
Alcis, according to Tacitus, was the name
of the divine twins worshiped by Germanic
people. Although no one has yet been able
to identify these twins, suggestions have
been put forward that they were the Northern
equivalent of Castor and Pollux. Some workers
have suggested that the twins were in fact
Baldur and Hodur. My research indicates
that since Algiz has a female and male form,
the twins also may be male and female. The
assumption that these twins are male is
probably due to the fact that most serious
rune-workers have been male.
They have overlooked the possibility that
the twins could be Frey and Freya. Alternatively,
as this sign is one of the oldest of all
the extant runes, it may even represent
the original twin divinity, from which all
others have been extrapolated. Other twin
deities include Niord and Nerthus, and Ziu
Germanic : SOWULO
(Anglo-Saxon : SIGIL; Old Norse : SOL; Phonetic
Traditional meaning: Sun
The ancient Northern people, like all primitive
peoples, regarded the Sun as a life-giving
force. It should, however, be emphasized that
they regarded the Sun as feminine. Even in
modern German the grammatical gender of Sonne
is feminine. The idea that the Sun is feminine
is evidently very old and may well stem from
a more ancient matriarchal magical tradition.
Sowulo represents the higher will or intent
as well as the sense of self and self-worth.
It is the highest force in the self, directing
the individual's evolution along a specific
path. Sowulo is associated with spiritual
guidance and leadership. It can direct a
course of action or state a positive purpose.
Germanic name: TEIWAZ
Tyr is a warrior motivated by a sense of justice.
He is more of a god of law and order, governing
social values, legal contracts and oaths.
The Teiwaz rune should be used in workings
to gain justice or to win victory in a conflict.
Tyr is a god of valour and bravery and in
divination Teiwaz reflects these qualities
along with that of selfless sacrifice for
the common good.
(Anglo-Saxon: TYR; Old Norse: TYR; Phonetic
Traditional meaning: the god Tyr
This is the first rune of the third aett,
which is named after it. Teiwaz is the oldest
name known for the god Tyr; its origin is
contemporaneous with Wodenaz and Thurisaz.
The shape of the Teiwaz rune is like a spear.
It also resembles the traditional astrological
sign of the planet Mars, identified with
the Roman god of war. Tyr resembles this
god in some respects. Both are associated
with war and battle. Tyr was the original
god of battle in the Northern pantheon,
although this attribute was later assumed
Germanic name: BERKANA
(Anglo-Saxon: BEORC; Old Norse: BJARKAN;
Phonetic value: B)
Traditional meaning: birch
In most of the Germanic languages this rune
has the meaning of "birch." First and foremost
this is a goddess-rune and especially relates
to the goddess Berchta, who is the patron
of mothers and children. Berchta has some
aspects in common with Frigga and might
indeed be a different form of the same goddess.
The Berkana rune, in particular, refers
to the processes of gestation and birth.
Pertho looks like an opened-up Berkana,
which suggests that what remains a hidden
promise in Berkana will be brought into
the open by Pertho. Frigga, the goddess
who more than any other is associated with
the Pertho rune, consequently also governs
Frigga and the Berkana rune have
the qualities of secretiveness and protectiveness
in common. The Berkana rune is very beneficial
for women and especially for women's problems.
It has a pronounced healing effect when
applied to female troubles. It also has
a rejuvenating effect and promoters fertility
as witnessed by many old customs and traditions.
Germanic name: EHWAZ
(Anglo-Saxon: EOH; Old Norse: none; Phonetic
Traditional meaning: horse
Most runologists agree that this rune indicates
a pair of horses. The most obvious meaning
of Ehwaz implies vehicles and control of
vehicles. In the olden days a horse and
chariot were common vehicles. In modern
days this rune could refer to a car or,
more probably, a motorbike. Ehwaz also represents
the physical vehicle and may be incorporated
in a healing working.
On a deeper level, the Ehwaz rune represents
the vehicle, or in psychological terms the
persona, which is used to relate the external
world to one's own emotional attitudes.
In other words, it stands for one's ability
to adjust to various situations. Ehwaz,
moreover, emphatically relates to Sleipnir,
Odin's eight-legged horse.
Germanic name: MANNAZ
(Anglo-Saxon: MAN; Old Norse name: MADR;
Phonetic value: M)
Traditional meaning: man
The term men in old Germanic languages,
as for example in Anglo-Saxon, denoted not
just the male section of the folk. The words
for man and woman were "weapmen" and "weavemen"
respectively; clearly the former means men
with weapons, and the latter translates
literally as "men who weave," i.e., women.
Thus the word-ending "-men" was used for
both sexes and it is in this context that
the Mannaz rune should be viewed.
This rune not only means "man " or "mankind,"
it is also the name of mankind's ancestor
and progenitor. It signifies relationships
between people sharing the same environment
and should therefore be taken to mean people,
legal affairs, and mutual cooperation in
general in divination.
Germanic name: LAGUZ
(Anglo-Saxon: LAGU; Old Norse: LOGR; Phonetic
Traditional meaning: lake
This rune is feminine. The goddess associated
with Laguz is Nerthus. She is probably the
oldest goddess known from Germanic sources
and she was worshiped on an island in a
lake, possibly in Frisia. She was supposed
to bestow blessings wherever she visited.
Nerthus corresponds to the Scandinavian
god Niord, who is also the patron of the
sea and harbours. Indeed, they may be either
one and the same god, or else husband and
wife to each other. Both possibilities have
been suggested by various writers on the
mythology of the North. Niord and consequently
Nerthus are the parents of Frey and Freya.
Their rune, Laguz, precedes the Inguz rune,
which is primarily the rune of Frey and
secondarily the rune of Freya.
Laguz in various aspects can indicate the
ebb and flow of the tide, or the water of
life. In divination it can also indicate
whether a particular project has been carried
by a favourable tide.
Germanic name: INGUZ
(Anglo-Saxon: ING; Old Norse name: none;
Phonetic value: NG)
Traditional meaning: the god Frey
The name of this rune refers primarily to
the god Yngvi Frey. The position of the
Inguz rune in the futhark ties in with the
preceding runes. Just as Mannaz relates
to Heimdal and Laguz to Nerthus and Niord,
so Inguz signifies Niord's children, Frey
and Freya. Frey is the son of Niord;
"son of" is one of the meanings of this
rune. In Anglo-Saxon and Frisian patronomic
names were formed by adding "-ing" after
the father's forename; this is the usual
significance of the "-ing" in names like
Bunting and Harding which are found throughout
modern Britain and the Netherlands
In divination Inguz
often denotes the completion of a situation
and the progression to the next stage of
one's affairs. It can mean a transformation
or even a dark night of the soul, or indeed
a light and harmonious conclusion,
depending on the surrounding runes.
Germanic name: OTHlLA
(Anglo-Saxon: ETHEL; Old Norse: none; Phonetic
'Traditional meaning: inherited land
The oldest literal meaning of this rune
passed down to us from the continental Germanic
source is "noble." In this sense it is directly
related to the Anglo-Saxon word atheling,
meaning "prince" or "noble." The German
word adel and the Dutch word edel also mean
"noble." Both derive from the same root.
The god who is most obviously related to
this rune is Odin.
The shape of Othila is a combination of
Inguz and Gebo, and Othila can be interpreted
as the "gift of Ing," which probably explains
why Othila has been related to the concept
of inheritance by some modem commentators.
By comparing the concept of inheritance
to the Inguz rune, the previous rune in
the futhark, it can be established that
it is genetic material that is being inherited
on an esoteric level. On a material level
Othila implies inherited land and the rights
to its possession.
Germanic name: DAGAZ
(Anglo-Saxon: DAEG; Old Norse: none; Phonetic
Traditional meaning: day
This rune has been accepted by most rune-workers
as being the last rune in the futhark. Nevertheless,
the oldest complete futhark, known from the
Gotland stone in Sweden ( 425 C.E.), places
Othila as the last rune. However, examination
of the structure of the futhark persuades
us that the rune should be placed at position
The meaning of the name of this rune is
quite clear: daeg, dag, Tag, "day". All
these words are derived from the name Dagaz.
The associations of this rune are primarily
with either the dawning of the new day or
with the mid-point of the day, when the
Sun is at its zenith. Dagaz can be considered
the counterpart of Jera, since both runes
refer to time. Jera relates to the division
of the year and Dagaz relates to the division
of the day. Dagaz is placed exactly opposite
Jera in a futhark circle. Whereas Jera is
connected with Yuletide or midwinter, Dagaz
is connected with mid-summer, when the Sun
is at its highest point. Thus Dagaz is a
rune of change, but unlike Jera it heralds
dramatic change - the end of an era and
the beginning of the next. It acts as a
catalyst initiating change without changing