- Religion and Philosophy»
- Paganism & Witchcraft
The Norse Futhark: A Magickal Alphabet
The 24 Runes of the Norse Alphabet
From Memorials to Magick, Runes Rule!
The Vikings wrote in runes. These runes. The futhark. Economy & elegance are the earmarks of this simple, useful alphabet whose true origins remain obscured by the mists of time. There are a few prevailing theories.
The Scandinavians swear up & down to this day that Odin, when he was just hanging around learning the Cosmos, got them, infusing them with the Wisdom of Everything, & gave them to his people. Since it's their original ancestral alphabet, I'm surely not going to argue with them!
European historians & scholars seem to think that the futhark is an innovation on an earlier alphabet. Some like the Etruscan alphabet used by a war tribe similar to the Vikings & others like good old Latin. Could be either; could be both. We're not sure, but the mystery of the futhark's origins sure lends to its glamour & makes the whole Odin scenario nearly plausible.
The Norse tribes used runes to honor folks who did great big things in times of war, which was pretty much all the time for those guys, & in times of peace, which was rather rare, if the records are correct. I mean, really, how much peace can you have if you're aiming to keep all your guys in human skull mugs brimming with wine & mead? That's a lot of skull cracking & vineyard acquisition!
The Viking raiders also used runes to denote ownership of everything from swords & shoes to "great tracts of land", to quote Monty Python. A more somber use of runes were epitaphs for everyone, although it looks like the soldiering sort were the first to benefit from this noble Norse cultural practice.
All-out warriors used runes all over their weaponry, as much to decorate as to intimidate the opposition with large & small displays of protective, magickal symbols straight from Odin, Mr. Upsy-Daisy himself.
As the Vikings travelled, pillaged, dominated, & infiltrated various cultures all over Europe, the communities in which they waged war & settled began to see the benefits of runes. Those symbols must have some power, since those marauding Norse beat the pants off their own folks, along with everybody in a 100-mile radius. Besides, the futhark is a truly economical, elegant way to engrave, memorialize, & infuse daily communication with a little stylish magick.
To this day, all through Europe you can see runes on Christian & pagan gravestones alike wherever the Norse rubbed shoulders & knocked heads with folks from every possible path & tradition.
Very quickly, witches & educated folks saw the many benefits of the runic alphabet from The North, especially once the neighbors decided that knowing stuff was dangerous & started extending invitations to bonfires & barbecues that one simply could not refuse. Literally.
For witches in particular, the futhark offered great protection for grimoires, family naturopathic recipes, spells, one's Book of Shadows, & the household codex or omnipedia. Individual runes were often used as mnemonic visual cues for witches, while on their healing rounds or collecting herbs or making tinctures & the like. Given the inflamed (ahem) atmosphere in Europe during The Burning Times, witches really needed to exercise caution, committing everything to memory. Simple, elegant visual cues like runes were terrific keys to each witch's Mind Palace, unlocking decades, if not centuries, of knowledge with just a few clean, straight lines.
As time went on, the flames of Europe's big barbaric barbecue died down to a sleepy glow then finally sizzled out with an embarrassed little hiss. Witches weren't going to take any chances in future, continuing to use the futhark as a common magickal alphabet for corresponding within & between their sacred communities. Along with other "mystical" alphabets, the futhark gained prestige in the pagan community as magickally protective, since it brought centuries of knowledge straight through The Burning Times safe & sound, for future generations to practice & enjoy. Yes, the futhark became invaluable to witches all through Europe & the UK, whether used all together to write whole thoughts or used individually to intend or manifest certain outcomes in spellwork.
So, thanks to some warlike Northerners a long time ago, & possibly an inverted immortal, witches today have the futhark to use for a variety of magickal purposes. Runes are gaining in popularity & power every day in the modern pagan community, especially among witches, precisely because of their multiple applications & simplicity.
Kitchen Witches especially love runes for potentizing foods & beverages, healing teas, decoctions, & tinctures. Witches of any tradition can borrow this application, of course. The results are just tremendously encouraging, & will truly boost the loving, protective, healing energy in everything you make for your own well-being & that of your near & dear ones.
If you're feeling curious about runes in the kitchen, grab a tube of dairy case sugar cookie dough, roll it out, & shape the 24 Norse runes of the futhark with your little Vikings & witches. It's a great way to pass a rainy Saturday afternoon. In fact, while those rune cookies are baking, hop onto NOVA's site to spell all of your names the futhark way & learn a little bit more about each of the 24 symbols.
Have fun finding neat-o keen ways to incorporate runes into your daily magick & watch them work wonders, as they have done for millenia.
© 2012 Lady Enchantee for Charmed Life. All rights reserved.