The Elder Futhark


A few of my favorites:

    The Well and the Tree: World and Time in Early Germanic Culture, Paul C. Bauschatz

    Helrunar: A Manual of Rune Magick, Jan Fries

    The Poetic Edda, translated by Carolyn Larrington

    Rune Games, Marijane Osborn and Stella Longland

    The Well of Remembrance: Rediscovering the Earth Wisdom Myths of Northern Europe, Ralph Metzner

    Runes: Reading the Runes, R.I. Page

    Taking Up the Runes: A Complete Guide to Using Runes in Spells, Rituals, Divination, and Magic, Diana L. Paxson

    The Prose Edda, Snorri Sturluson

    Futhark: A Handbook of Rune Magic, Edred Thorsson

The Elder Futhark

The Oldest of the Runic Alphabets

Donald L. Engstrom-Reese


    Just a few basics:

    Developing a relationship with the runes is the same as building any relationship. The more quality time one spends with the runes, the deeper the connection becomes. As trust grows strong between the folks involved, they often find themselves recognizing each other as feres on this amazing road of wonder we call life.

    No runic poem survives for the Elder Futhark. Modern runesters are often guided in interpreting the Elder Futhark by using the three surviving rune poems (Icelandic, Norwegian and Anglo Saxon) in combination with their own intuitive arts. For instance, I have paired a Central Mystery that has come to me while meditating and working with each rune. Just to let you know, as I read or listen to other folk’s interpretations of a rune, I always keep the relevant verses in the old poems in mind as I open my mind and heart to possibility.

    I do not use reversals (as in Tarot) when working with the runes.  After all, some of the runes look the same upright or reversed. But, any rune can become a merkstave (dark stick) depending on the reading it finds itself in. Nevertheless, I have found it important to remember that the runes are neutral powers, neither good nor bad. They are simply what they are. I suspect that a core skill of the accomplished vitki (a rune maven, a wise-one well grounded in runic lore) is to recognize and name the atmosphere of any rune reading, not necessarily to judge if the coming winds are good or bad.

It is also good to remember that a vitki does not predict an absolute outcome, a future engraved in stone, a sure thing. A rune maven dwells in bipartite time from which they notice the potential, the possible and the probable. In other words, a vitki can name the odds but not the definitive outcome of any inquiry, situation, action, etc. No matter how likely or unlikely a possibility, choice can always make a difference in how and what is manifested in the now.

    What about the ‘blank’ rune? I do not use it. As far as I can find, there was no such thing before Ralph Blum introduced it in the 1980s. A rune is a symbol that holds meaning, not an unfinished unmarked piece of clay, wood, horn, stone, etc.

    I encourage rune readers to become familiar with all of the surviving rune poems. I also think it is a good thing to make oneself conversant on the cultures from which the runes have emerged, remembering that they are now claiming a significant position in the emerging Cultures of Beauty, Balance and Delight.

    Welcome to the adventure!

Hagalaz (HA-ga-lahz)


hail, ice grain, fractal formation

egg of primal cosmic life

A Central Meaning:

The desolated must be transformed in order to make room for thriving new life.

Freyr/Freyja’s Aett

Fehu (FAY-hu)


Cattle, mobile wealth, abundance


community treasure

A Central Mystery:

Abundance is not measured in monetary wealth alone.

Nevertheless, it is not a good thing to live in dire poverty.

Uruz (OO-rooz)


auroch, bison

drizzle, rain


A Central Mystery:

Aurochs were a powerful force in the natural world. They were beings of majesty and power. They were hunted to extinction in the 1600s.

Thurisaz (THUR-ee-sahz)



the good one, the strong one, giant, monsters

cosmic forces (gravity, centrifugal force, atomic decay, etc.)

A Central Mystery:

The great powers of the cosmos are neither just, nor wicked, good, or evil. They just are what they are, incredible natural powers of the multiverse.

Gravity’s rasion d’etre is not to provide stability for human civilizations.

Ansuz (AHN-sooz)


ancestral god

mouth, message

A Central Mystery:

Listen with your whole being.

Raidho (Rah-EED-ho)


ride, journey

cart, wagon

A Central Mystery:

It is good to remember that it is the journey, not merely the destination, that leads to a life of wonder, beauty and purpose.

Kenaz (KEN-ahz)


        a torch, a cooking flame, a controlled fire

        the hearth fires of a queen of the Dark Elves

        the fires of creation, the fires of passion

        a swelling, sore, boil, internal fire

        the cremation flames

    Central Mysteries (Current Central Questions):

          What are my passions? What are my enthusiasms. What are my obsessions?

        Do I know where they are leading me? When does my fierceness bring forth boils? When does my fierceness bring forth healing transformation? Do I dare to recognize the incredible beauty and danger of flame, decomposition, passion, fiery change? Am I continuing to hone my skills as a fire tender?

Gebo (GHEB-o)


gift, hospitality

partnerships (spouses, feres, etc.)

A Central Mystery:

Both those who give and those who receive incur joyful obligation to the other.

Wunjo (WOON-yo)


joy, pleasure, delight, hope


A Central Mystery:

No matter what the situation, it is up to each person and/or community to consciously choose to live in joy and delight.

Heimdall’s Aett

Naudhiz (NOWD-heez)


great need, necessity, distress, constraint

potential disaster, uncontrollable compulsion, obsession

nyd-fire, a timely call for help

A Central Mystery:

Pay attention!

Ask for help when you need it!

Isa (EE-sa)


ice, glacier, primal matter/antimatter

moving slowly, patience

A Central Mystery:

Move slowly with intention.

The Great Ices are melting.

Jera (YARE-a)


year, the good year


the cycle of beingness, the cycle of the Sol System

A Central Mystery:

Our choices determine the quality of our harvests.

Eihwaz (AY-wahz)


yew, mountain ash

the learned arts

the World Tree, Yggdrasil

A Central Mystery:

Knowledge melded with Wisdom opens all Doors of Transformative Power.

Perthro (PER-thro)


device for casting lots, dice cup

chess man

A Central Mystery:

Taking a chance can be a point of fractal formation in a field of chaos.

Elhaz (EL-hazh)


elk, eel grass, swan

yew bow

A Central Mystery:

One’s best protection is simply to live authentically.

Sowilo (So-WEE-lo)


the Sun

clear sight and understanding

A Central Mystery:

Sunna shines on a life lived in the full light of the sun.

Tiwaz (TEE-wahz)


The God Tyr

justice, honor, right action

the North Star

A Central Mystery:

There is always a choice.   

Tyr’s Aett

Berkano (BER-kah-no)


Birch Goddess

Birch Tree, Birch twig

fertility, creativity

queer reproduction

A Central Mystery:

Beauty and creativity are our birthrights.

Ehwaz (Eh-wahz)


horse, alpha mare/stallion

A Central Mystery:

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Mannaz (MAN-naz)


human being

androgynous primal human being, queer spirit

Two Central Mysteries:

The core mysteries that make a human being a human, dwell deep within  human DNA; physically, spiritually and culturally.

I honor the multiverse in which I dwell and which dwells within me.

Laguz (LAH-gooz)


a body of water; sea, lake, pool, etc.

moving water; river, stream, creek, etc.


A Central Mystery:

Stagnate ponds and stagnate hearts do not allow the Waters of Life to flow freely. Both slowly die a smothering death.

Ingwaz (ING-wahz)


the God Ing, an Earth God, a God of Horticulture and the Balance Between the Domestic, the Wild and the Spaces In Between

A Central Mystery:

We are all co-creators of the multiverse.        

Dagaz (DAH-gahz)


day, the light of day

dawn, dusk, twilight

A Central Mystery:

The liminal spaces of the multiverse are often the pathways between different realms of potentiality, possibility and probability .



            ancestral property


            homeland, native landscape and watershed

            immovable wealth

            inborn qualities

A Central Mystery:

The healthy hearth-hold is a thriving home of abundance, brilliance and fair play imbedded in a living culture of beauty, balance and delight. Without hearth-kin, a human will slowly wither away.