What Is Runes?

The runes were in use among the Germanic peoples from the 1st or 2nd century AD. This period corresponds to the late Common Germanic stage linguistically, with a continuum of dialects not yet separated into the three branches of later centuries: North Germanic, West Germanic, and East Germanic.

No distinction is made in surviving runic inscriptions between long and short vowels, although such an award was certainly present phonologically in the spoken languages of the time. Similarly, there are no signs for labiovelars in the Elder Futhark (such signs were introduced in both the Anglo-Saxon futhorc and the Gothic alphabet as variants of p)
The term runes is used to distinguish these symbols from Latin and Greek letters. It is attested on a 6th-century Alamannic runestaff as runa and possibly as runo on the 4th-century Einang stone. The name comes from the Germanic root run- (Gothic: ????, runa), meaning “secret” or “whisper.” In Old Irish Gaelic, the word rún means “mystery,” “secret,” “intention,” or “affectionate love.” Similarly, in Welsh and Old English, the word rhin and r?n respectively means “mystery,” “secret,” “secret writing,” or sometimes in the extreme sense of the word, “miracle” (gwyrth). Ogham is an older Celtic script from Ireland and Britain, similarly carved into stone or wood. The root run- can also be found in the Baltic languages, meaning “speech.” In Lithuanian, runoti means both “to cut (with a knife)” and “to speak.” According to another theory, the Germanic root comes from the Indo-European root *reu?- “dig.” The Finnish term for rune, riimukirjain, means “scratched letter.” The Finnish word runo means “poem” and comes from the same source as the English word “rune”; it is an ancient loan of the Proto-Germanic *r?n? (“letter, literature, secret”).

The runes developed centuries after the Old Italic alphabets from which they are probably historically derived. The debate on the development of the runic script concerns the question regarding which of the Italic alphabets should be taken as their point of origin and which, if any, signs should be considered original innovations added to the letters found in the Italic scripts. The historical context of the script’s origin is the cultural contact between Germanic people, who often served as mercenaries in the Roman army, and the Italian peninsula during the Roman imperial period (1st century BC to 5th century AD). The formation of the Elder Futhark was complete by the early 5th century, with the Kylver Stone being the first evidence of the futhark ordering and the p rune.

Specifically, the Raetic alphabet of Bolzano is often advanced as a candidate for the origin of the runes, with only five Elder Futhark runes (? e, ? ï, ? j, ? ?, ? p) having no counterpart in the Bolzano alphabet. Scandinavian scholars tend to favor the derivation from the Latin alphabet itself over Raetic candidates. A “North Etruscan” thesis is supported by the inscription on the Negau helmet dating to the 2nd century BC. It is in a northern Etruscan alphabet but features a Germanic name, Harigast. Giuliano and Larissa Bonfante suggest that runes derived from some North Italic alphabet, specifically Venetic: but since Romans conquered Veneto after 200 BC. The Latin alphabet became prominent and Venetic culture diminished in importance; Germanic people could have adopted the Venetic alphabet within the 3rd century BC or even earlier.

The runes’ angular shapes are shared with most contemporary alphabets of the period used for carving in wood or stone. There are no horizontal strokes: when cutting a message on a flat staff or stick, it would be along the grain, thus both less legible and more likely to split the wood. This characteristic is also shared by other alphabets, such as the early form of the Latin alphabet used for the Duenos inscription. Still, it is not universal, especially among early runic inscriptions, which frequently have various rune shapes, including horizontal strokes. Runic manuscripts (written rather than carved runes, such as Codex Runicus) also show horizontal strokes.

Runic inscriptions from the 400 years 150–550 AD are described as “Period I.” These inscriptions are generally in Elder Futhark, but the set of letter shapes and bindrunes employed is far from standardized. Notably, the j, s, and ? runes undergo considerable modifications. In contrast, others, such as p and ï, remain unattested altogether before the first full futhark row on the Kylver Stone (c. 400 AD).

Where is it used?

One of the oldest and first recorded uses of runes came from German tribes in central and Eastern Europe. These `1early uses of runes show that they were not meant to be a language for everyday speech, but were used as a symbolic alphabet system. Each rune letter or shape had its sound, and saying each rune represented a deity or so-called God, that gave it it’s extraordinary power. People of old believed that by carving runes into their personal property or other items, the God or deity over that rune would protect the thing, they even thought that a sword could be made more potent for use in battle by carving runes into it.

The Runes are an Oracle. That means that they will not tell you what to do next in your life. They will point out the hidden motivations and personal choices which must be addressed to make progress with the situation. Sometimes the information is quite direct. Sometimes, you have to reflect on what you’ve read to understand and undertake the solution thoroughly.

How is it used?

Runes divinations give readings to the client through the messages conveyed on each rune. These messages can appear cryptic and nonsensical at first and so, many people who practice the runes, suggest that asking specific questions will give a more detailed, definite answer.

The runes divination readings can be complicated, especially when you consider how many interpretations there are. Some suggest keeping a record of the readings and outcomes in a journal so that the messages received can be easily understood.


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