21 May

Elder Futhark

The image on the left spells out my name, Janis. The individual rune names are Jera, Ansuz, Nauthiz, Isa, Sowilo. Notice how a few are very close to our alphabet. Regular disclaimer: There are many variations in names, shapes, direct meanings, and magical meanings.

I’m using the Elder Futhark which is a combination of those symbols most often seen in northern Europe. So, if you’ve seen other symbols or names, I believe you!

Don’t worry, this is not a scholarly piece on runelore. I became interested in runes many years ago because I had a friend who read Tarot cards. I felt that since the reader dealt the cards, it was easy to manipulate which ones were drawn.

When reading runes, the person with the question draws the runic tiles from a bag, which meant the interpreter had nothing to do with the selection of symbols in the spread. I read runes for co-workers at social functions and really enjoyed the experience. A couple of moves later and I lost track of my set.

Last year, I found my precious rune bag in one of those boxes that yield treasures after collecting dust in your garage for years. I knew I wanted to study runelore to relearn the interpretations. Since I look at everything as a writer now, I’m amazed that I missed the language aspects of runelore. Anyone who has read my blogs knows I have a passion for language and how it developed.

Our current language uses letters to form words that create meaning. A letter by itself means nothing.

Runic symbols have meanings in themselves, which leads to rune casting. How rich a language it is! The ISA symbol means ice which binds with fire. A balance is created. When the pattern goes out of balance, the destructive force of fire and ice are unleashed.

Think how the early civilizations made sense of their world. First, they used storytelling to explain phenomena and take comfort in the story. Then, they created a written language that gave them the power to communicate with each other and the modern world that found their etchings all over the world.

With 24 runic symbols, you can imagine how hard it is to become proficient in interpreting casts. I’m studying because I’d like to interpret some castings in a month at a writing retreat. I don’t know if I’ll be ready, because there is so much material, but the subject is fascinating.

As for the similarity of the symbols with our alphabet, linguists call the Elder Futhark alphabet proto-Germanic, which stems from proto-Indo-European.

The thirst to decipher our daily lives continues to astound me. Language is an ever-evolving way to communicate. The more I learn, the more I appreciate even the shortcuts of texting language. And I never thought that would happen.

* Runelore: The Magic, History, and Hidden Codes of the Runes, Edred Thorsson, 2012.


Posted by on May 21, 2012 in Idaho, inspiration, research, writing


Tags: ,

13 responses to “Runelore

  1. Liz Fredericks

    May 21, 2012 at 7:11 AM

    I ALWAYS learn something new on your blogs. This has fascinated me, too! When I was younger I spent an inordinate amount of time studying palmistry and, though science disagrees, I don’t dismiss any ancient knowledge and presume we still don’t understand 99% of our existence and the interplay between water/sky/air/earth/fire

  2. Janis McCurry

    May 21, 2012 at 7:51 AM

    Yes, those who assume all the lore/explanations in early civilization came from ignorant people are staggering in their arrogance.

  3. Meredith Allen Conner

    May 21, 2012 at 8:03 AM

    Ah, right up my alley Janis! I studied linguistics in college. I love language in every single form. It truly is amazing and ever evolving – and although my texts still tend to be spelled out completely and with commas – I find myself fascinated by how texting is becoming almost a language in and of itself! Thanks for the great post and the info!!!

  4. Janis McCurry

    May 21, 2012 at 8:11 AM

    It’s a fine line for me. The purist in me absolutely hates “How R U?” It feels lazy in my heart. But the linguist in me thinks, ah, a new language. SIGH.

  5. stephanieberget

    May 21, 2012 at 9:01 AM

    I haven’t studied Runelore, but you had me at the first sentence. How interesting. Get to practicing so you’ll be ready for the retreat. I can’t wait to hear more.

  6. Janis McCurry

    May 21, 2012 at 10:40 AM

    I hope to be ready!

  7. maryvine

    May 21, 2012 at 1:45 PM

    I don’t remember hearing about Runelore. Very interesting, Janis.

  8. Janis McCurry

    May 21, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    Thanks, Mary. It’s a testament to the thirst for knowledge.

  9. Clarissa Southwick

    May 21, 2012 at 9:17 PM

    Fascinating topic, Janis. I love comparing languages. I can’t wait to see how you use this in your writing 🙂

  10. Janis McCurry

    May 22, 2012 at 7:08 AM

    I have an uncompleted manuscript I can dust off when I’m in the historical mood!

  11. Peggy Staggs

    May 22, 2012 at 9:22 AM

    There is so much that is lost to history. I believe there is truth behind all the folklore. It can’t be by chance.

  12. Janis McCurry

    May 22, 2012 at 10:24 AM

    You’re right. There is a reason.


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