Viking Runes History
What we now know as the runic alphabet seems to have developed from two distinct sources - one magical, one literate. Pre-runic symbols, or hÃ¤llristningar, have been found in various Bronze Age rock carvings, primarily in Sweden. Some of these symbols are readily identifiable in the later alphabets of the viking runes, while others represent ideas and concepts, which were incorporated into the names of the viking runes (sun, horse, etc.). The exact meanings of these sigils are now lost to us, as is their original purpose, but they are believed to have been used for divination or lot-casting, and it is fairly certain that they contributed to the magical function of the later runic alphabets.
Linguistic and phoenetic analysis points to an even earlier inception date, perhaps as far back as 200 b.c.e.
When the northern tribes began integrating the Italic alphabets into their own symbolic system, they gave the letters names relating to all aspects of their secular and religious lives, thus transforming their simple pictographs into a magical alphabet which could be used for talismans, magical inscriptions and divination.
The name "futhark", like the word "alphabet", is derived from the first few letters in the runic sequence, which differs considerably from the order of the Latin alphabet and is unique amongst alphabetic scripts. The futhark originally consisted of 24 letters, beginning with F and ending with O, and was used by the northern Germanic tribes of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Northern Germany. This form of the runes is known as the Elder, or Germanic Futhark.
Perhaps the darkest period in the history of runic studies was their revival by German scholars connected with the Nazi movement in the 20's and 30's. What began as a legitimate folkloric resurgence unfortunately became so tainted by Nazi ideology and racism that the research from this period was rendered all but useless to any serious student of runic lore.
After the Second World War, the runes fell into disfavour as a result of their association with Naziism, and very little was written about them until the fifties and sixties. It was not until the mid-eighties, with the widespread appeal of the "New Age" movement and the revival of Pagan religions (especially the Asatru movement) that the runes regained their popularity as both a divinatory system and a tool for self-awareness.
Some books give upright and reversed meanings for the runes (like Tarot cards). This is obviously impractical if one is casting the runes, since many will land sideways or at odd angles. Also, one would think that if this had been the intention of the original creators of the fuÃ¾ark, they wouldn't have designed so many runes to look the same upright as inverted. In addition to these practical considerations, there is also the fact that the Norse don't appear to have seen their world in such black and white terms. Polarizing the meanings of the runes in this way, even if those opposites aren't phrased in terms of 'positive' and 'negative', tends to limit the range of possible interpretations and ignores the complex and subtle relationships between the different runes in a cast.
Viking Runes are tools. In the hands of a skilled or motivated person, they can work very well. However, I can't guarentee that you will get the results you want, any more than the manufacturer of a crescent wrench can guarentee that you will be able to fix your car. It's up to you.
The runic alphabet, used by early Norse peoples including the Vikings, has no clear origins; in fact, the word "rune" derives from the Gothic word runa, meaning "mystery." The runic alphabet is called a "futhark", and gains its name, like the word "alpha-bet," from the first few symbols in the series. Runes had no lowercase, and could be written in any direction, from left to right or right to left.
Runic alphabets first appeared among German tribes in central and Eastern Europe. It is known that the Germanic peoples in Europe used pictographic symbols that were scratched into rocks. By 400 A.D., use of a common set of 24 runes had spread across northern Europe, based on Etruscan and possibly Greek and Latin origins. This alphabet is known as the "Elder Futhark." As time passed, new runes were added on as the need arose, and various versions of the futhark emerged, including up to 38 symbols. The fact that runes consisted of straight lines made them easier to carve into wood or stone
Runic inscriptions of great age have even been found in North America, supporting stories that the Vikings arrived in the Americas long before Columbus.
Tacitus, in Chapter X of his Germania, describes a form of divination used by Germanic tribes:
"To divination and casting of lots, they pay attention beyond any other people. Their method of casting lots is a simple one: they cut a branch from a fruit-bearing tree and divide it into small pieces which they mark with certain distinctive signs and scatter at random onto a white cloth. Then, the priest of the community if the lots are consulted publicly, or the father of the family if it is done privately, after invoking the gods and with eyes raised to heaven, picks up three pieces, one at a time, and interprets them according to the signs previously marked upon them."
Odin, the Norse High God of the Aesir, hung from the world tree, Yggdrasil, impaled on his own spear, for nine days and nights in order to gain the knowledge of runes. When the runes appeared below him, he reached down and took them up, and the runic knowledge gave him power . He later passed on this knowledge to the Vanir goddess Freya. She, in turn, taught him the magic of seidr. Heimdall, the god who guarded the Rainbow Bridge, taught the runes to mankind.
Made from natural oak branches with bark still on them. Each rune is specially burnt with a Futhark Symbol. Only natural stains are used to cure the rune, no varnishs or unnatural substances.
Each branch is harvested with permission during the month of Samhain. Each branch is cured for a year and a day(a year to assure proper drying so runes do not crack or; easily wear and a day to magically imbue them). The branches are tempered by the element of fire, water, earth, air, and time. Each set of runes is cut from the same branch in order to assure continuity. The magic of the oak is well placed in the cultures of Nordic, Wiccan, Druidic and etc. traditions. Furthermore each set includes at least one rune to have a naturally occuring pentagram, evidence of the magic in the tree.
Why are the Viking Runes on Wood?
Oak has been considered sacred by just about every culture that has encountered the tree, but it was held in particular esteem by the Norse and Celts because of its size, longevity, and nutritious acorns. The oak is frequently associated with Gods of thunder and lightening such as Zeus, Thor, and the Lithuanian God Perkunas. This association may be due to the oak's habit of being hit by lightening during storms. Specific oak trees have also been associated with the 'Wild Hunt', which is led by Herne in England and by Wodin in Germany. In general, oak can be used in spells for protection, strength, success and stability; the different varieties will lend their own special 'flavour' to the magic.
A tree is the most perfect of spiritual beings, with its roots buried alive in Mother Earth and its limbs alive and growing in Father Sky.
According to the Song of the Sybil, when the earth was young, Odin and his two brothers found two trees: an ash tree and an elm, faint, feeble, with no fate assigned to them. Breath they had not, nor blood, nor senses, nor language possessed, nor life-hue. Odin gave them breath. Hoenir gave them senses (shape). Blood and life-hue was given by Lothur.
We are the forbears of the trees. One does not just carve runes, one recreates this ritual. By chanting the name of the the viking runes, one give the viking runes breath, the energy of the viking runes name. By carving the viking runes, one gives the viking runes senses (shape). By coloring the viking runes red (blood is optional), one gives it life's hue.
When you carve viking runes you create life!
Viking Runes are a powerful method of divination, indicating direction and advice for any situation you ask of them. Because these viking runes are handcrafted, there is no danger of anyone having a set of runes exactly like yours.
Made by Dragonoak, "one that walks the pagan path". Dragonoak has studied methods of divination for over 20 years and now brings forth handcrafted viking runes sets that are fitting for the field of divination.