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Elder Futhark VS Other Futharks, Which One of These Runic Alphabets Should You Use?

Updated on October 15, 2012

Lately, a nice lady asked me through Facebook which Futhark should she use if she's interested in learning Norse Runes. It's good question indeed, because as some of you might already know, we don't have just one Elder Futhark... I mean, yes, Elder Futhark is only one, but there are few more Futharks as well...

Short History of The Futharks

The Elder Futhark is the oldest Futhark we know. And most probably, it's the Futhark that all the runes experts all over the world are using, except North Europe countries where some traditions might still be strong. It's most popular runic system because almost every book about runes is focusing on this system.

Enough to say that we have at least two other Futhark systems that need to be mentioned here.

  • Younger Futhark - later version of the Elder with only 16 runes.
  • Anglo-Saxon Futhark - much later version with 29 to 33 letters.

Now, all the Futharks were used as alphabets, but it's mandatory to say that Elder Futhark was primary created for magical purposes, according to Edred Thorsson. Later on, with expanding civilization, the Futhark became more useful alphabet, from which other Futharks evolved. Now, the question is - if we're thinking about runic magick and runic divination, should we stick only to the Elder Futhark?

Magical Use Of Other Futharks

Can Younger Futhark or Anglo-Saxon Futhark be used for magical purposes? It is my belief that yes, they can be used in such manner, because they have evolved from the Elder Futhark, and they evolved not only as alphabet, but also as magical system - after all, they were still used for magical purposes in their changed forms.

With the primary question answered, another question appears - how to use other Futharks for magical purposes? Now to be honest, it's much more difficult, because there are no books available, explaining magical uses of other Futharks. Even if the symbols are similar, they might have slightly different magical meanings, that need to be rediscovered.

Recommended book for beginners

Introduction To Norse Runes & Runic Magick
Introduction To Norse Runes & Runic Magick

A simplified guidebook for those who wish to make first steps on the path of runic divination & magick.


How To Explore Other Futharks

If you would like to pick up such challenge and rediscover the knowledge of other Futharks, you need at least two things:

  • Runic Journey - like shamanic journey, a journey with help of visualization through all the runes.
  • Runic meditation - normal meditation, but with focus on each rune.

With these two methods, you should be able to plug yourself into the intuitive knowledge of other Futharks. Everything else is just experimentation. When you pick up some useful information through your intuitive techniques (runic journey and meditation), you can test it through magical ritual or divination. Be sure to keep a journal of your exploration. Basically, everything you can do with Elder Futhark, you can also test with other Futharks. Good luck!

Futharks on Cards?

There's one more thing regarding Futharks - using paper version of them... Beside runes carved on wood or stones, popular material for Norse magical symbols these days is paper. There are many books on the market that come with additional set of runic cards. Now, should you really use runic cards in your own runic practice? To be honest - I don't like cards...

Sometimes I think that runic cards has been created because some tarot users decided to learn new divination system, but they didn't liked the stones or wood pieces, so they've created another set of cards to mimic their favourite system of tarot cards. My opinion is simple - runic cards are another false invention of the New Age movement.

Against The Tradition

Truth is - runic cards are against tradition. Originally, runes where carved on pieces of wood or on small stones. The reason for this is simple, runes were meant to be casted - throw into air, and read once they land. Obviously, runic cards cannot be casted, they can be only placed on the table according to specific layout - a layout, or divination spread, sources of which we can find in... Tarot system, of course.

Mixing The System

Runic cards have been created in the modern world "thanks to" New Age movement, as I said, most probably because of some tarot fans who wanted to learn something that was not meant for them. Runic cards are mixture of runes and tarot system, and this mixture isn't good for anyone - simple because mixing two different systems can't work :). It's like trying to make your tea sweat by sprinkling it with salt. It just can't work out.

Should You Use Runic Cards?

Runic cards are useful for two purposes, in my eyes - a purpose of learning for one. When you're still learning the runes, you can keep a set in your pocket to help you memorize runes. For same purpose you might have a list of runes' names. Second purpose of runic cards is when you use single runic card as talisman. For same manner, you can write down a rune or runic script on a piece of paper. Otherwise, runic cards are useless. Even more - if you prefer runic cards over normal runes carved on stones or pieces of wood, then I suggest you start using:

  • Tarot cards
  • Angelic cards
  • Classic playing cards

Or any other system based on cards, because clearly, runes are not meant for you. A true runes user is ready to use stones or wood pieces for his own practice. Mixing systems because of the modern New Age movement is not the runemaster path.


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