Futhark: A Handbook of Rune Magic

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Monographic German house mark: Latin script forming the initials of a person's name.


Stonemasons' signs, merchants' signs, and masters' signs may insome cases be interpreted according to the same rules that governthe formation and reading of house marks. The three-stage historyof house marks is most revealing as to the degeneration of the use ofrunes into modern times, but by retracing the path the rune vitkimay regain some of what otherwise would have been lost.

Heraldic art is an extremely vast topic, and it is beyond the scopeof this book to deal with its runic implications. Let it simply andtentatively be said that the runes may be found in heraldic art in twoways: 1 they may be embodied in the color pattern that composesthe coat-of-arms; or 2 the concept of the rune may be concealed by asymbolic form or figure other than the shape of the runic symbolitself. This mayor may not be true-or there may have been somepoint at which the two systems came into contact.

In any event therunes, of course, have a documented past that goes back muchfarther than documentation for the Tarot.


Appendix 0 providessome conjectural Tarot correspondences, and the commentaries onthe individual runes occasionally give some interesting parallels. Butit is up to each interested vitki to come to his or her own conclusionson this matter. Runic PracticesAs mentioned above, the runes are found carved on wood, stone,metal, and bone objects. Wood is most certainly the favorite mediumfor portraying runes-especially for magical purposes.

Three OldNorse examples of this connection would be the words stafr stave,letter, secret lore , teinn twig, talismanic word for divination , andhlutr lot for divination, talismanic object-on which runes also werecarved. There are also a few stone talismans, but of course the largerunestones for cultic or funeral-ceremony purposes represent themost numerous runic inscriptions in stone.

Metal was extremelypopular for talismanic purposes. The bracteates thin metal disksinscribed with runes and various other designs represent animportant tradition in magical runic practice. Other, more utilitarianobjects made of metal especially swords also were inscribed withrunes in order to impart special magical powers to them so that theymight perform their function with more distinction-or protect theuser.

Bone objects also are not uncommon, and these usually areconnected with magical practices as well. The runes were carved witheither knife points or special pointed instruments dedicated to therunic art. One of the most interesting runic practices is that of furtherconcealing the magical formula with intricately devised codes. Thesecodes were created in order to make the messages more secret-andtherefore more effective magically-and also less likely to beunderstood by the uninitiated.

The basis of all the runic codes is thenumerical value of the runes. The section of this book dealing withtalismanic magic will delve into these traditions on a practical basis. The futharks represented in Figures1.

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Through this system a rune maybe represented by a twofold numerical formula. It andthe second rune from the left. This is the basic principle upon whichmagical runic codes work.

Reading; Futhark, a Handbook of Rune Magic

It should be noted that in the case of theYounger Futhark a curious and uniform alteration in the order of theII! These cryptic runic systems were most highly developed in theYounger Futhark period; however, they most certainly were knownand used in the older period, since ancient representations of theelder row are also clearly divided into II! Two of the mostremarkable methods of making secret runic codes are known by thenames branch runes ON kvistrunar and tent runes ON tjaldrunar. An example of the tent-rune method is shown in Figure 1.

Tent-rune method, used here to spell the name thorvaldr.

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These tjaldrunar should be read in a clockwise direction, begin-ning on the left. Hence, a numerical formula of , , , , ,, , appears. First II! Thekvistrunar work in a similar way, except one may portray a single runewith a single glyph in this system. An example representing themagical formula ek vitki I, the Magician appears in Figure 1. Thestrokes to the left of the vertical indicate the row, and those to the. Rune Knowledge 13Figure 1. Branch runes representing th e magica l formula ek vitki I the M agician. Note that a change of word in theformula is indicated by the upward or downward direction of the a!

The ninth-century St. Gall MS portrays several morecryptographic systems of rune writing.

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Runes may be magically used in a wide variety of ways. The mostcommon method of rune magic in days of yore was probablytalismanic-that is, runes were inscribed into various objects andinfused with psychic power in order to effect some change in the vitkior his environment. A dramatic example of this is provided by theEgilssaga, chapter 44, where we read that the hero, Egill, suspects thatthere is poison in a drink that has been given to him, so he stabs thepalm of his hand, carves runes on the drinking horn, and colors therunic forms with the blood.

The horn shatters and the poison flowsaway. Hundreds of runic talismans have survived. Today we maystudy these in order to gain a deeper understanding of the magicaltechniques used to create them.

Futhark: A Handbook of Rune Magic by Edred Thorsson

The use of poetic runagaldrar runicincantations also was quite common as a method. The Poetic Edda, aswell as numerous runic artifacts, speak with the voice of many ofthese ancient runic incantations. The practice of stadhagaldr posturemagic or incantation is evidenced by the drinking horns of Gallehus,which portray a variety of magical formulas, some of them in theshapes of humanoid figures in runic postures. Later Icelandiccustoms confirm this usage: for example, the teaching of the alphabetto young children by having them strike a posture that resembles aletter.

All of these practices will be dealt with in detail in the practicalportion of this book. Another important use of the runes, which falls outside thescope of the present work, is that of divination. The runic formsoften were carved into pieces of wood, cast onto a white cloth, andthen interpreted according to strict criteria. The Roman historianTacitus reports on this practice among the continental Germans inthe first century C.

All of the methods mentioned above are valid and extremelypotent for magical purposes today. The runes and holy signs may be. Runes are especiallyvaluable in magical works concerning victory, success, protection,rescue from restriction, love, and the gaining of wisdom. The Runic RevivalAlthough many runic practices, and much rune lore, continued in amyriad of forms long after the coming of Christianity, the systematictransmission of the sacred rune lore belonging to the ancient vitkarand eriloz slowly disappeared.

Just as the gods and men retreat into abodes in therecesses of Yggdrasill in order to survive the destructive powersreleased at Ragnarok, so too did the runes hide themselves in thepatterns of consciousness, awaiting the time when they might bereborn into a hospitable world that would again know their lore.

The rebirth process of the runes has not been without pain andblood. Until now, it seems the vessels were as yet unfit to receive thewholeness of runic power because these vessels still contained winemade from foreign fruit. Leaders of the first half of the runicrenaissance still contained many of the notions and prejudices of theChristian world in which they found themselves, and in most casesthey were unable to give up these notions.

Therefore, they oftenincorporated these ideas into their runic systems. Sometimes thiswas done in an honest effort, but in some cases it was done in thespirit of malicious manipulation of the sacred symbols. However, it is his runic theories that interest us here. This was the first in a series of workspublished between and his death in List's runic teachings later were incorporated into the racistGermanen Orden, which was one of the esoteric precursors of theNational Socialist movement in Germany. Kummer and Marby are extremely important, since it is with theirpublications and experiments that the foundations of a practical andtraditional system may be laid.

But their ideas generally followedthose of List and were not very traditional as far as the runes wereconcerned. They retained the Armanen system and further reinforcedhis racist ideas, as did another student, Rudolf John Gorsleben. The early thirties seem to be the twilight of the first esotericrunic movement. The runes formed an important part of Wirth'sthinking, but we do not have many examples of practical applicationsof his ideas.

The runic forcesthemselves were used much less than some might have us believe. The Ahnenerbe and the Totenkopf Orden made more practical use ofJudeo-Christian and Manichean techniques and ideas in their magicaltraditions and organizational principles. One briefglance at a book on ancient Germanic and old Scandinavian cultureand religion will show the massive degree to which the Nazisperverted the egalitarian systems of the ancients into a totalitarianscheme.

Runes and holy signs wereabundant in the symbolism employed by the Nazi party, but it is notwithin the scope of this work to delve into this aspect of runichistory. The practical use of the runes as a system of magic other thanstate controlled and personal development virtually died out or wasdriven underground during the Nazi period. In these books Spiesberger synthesizes the work of all the Germanrunic magicians and experts who preceded him, within a pansophicalframework.

This system ofeighteen runes forms a valid and working magical system, and thepresent work in traditional runic system s owes much to Spies-berger's research and synthesizing.

As valuable as Spiesberger's work is, it is still not a traditionalform. Therefore, to some extent it is cut off from the innate powers. Rune Knowledge 17slumbering in the ancient runes and their system.


Futhark : A Handbook of Rune Magic

Whereas theArmanen system has a tradition dating only from around C. Documents of the Viking and pre-Viking ages give us ample clues asto how the runes were used, but Spiesberger is forced to neglect muchof this material because it is the product of a different organicsystem.

We know the elder traditions worked, and worked forhundreds of years, within well-developed cults.