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The Elder Futhark: Jera

The Elder Futhark: Jera

The twelfth rune in the Elder Futhark, and fourth rune of Heimdallr’s ætt, is Jera, which corresponds to the “y” sound in the word “year.” This is an interesting rune, and one that evokes the cycle of the year and harvests. It is the rune of planning, waiting, and seeing your plans comes to fruition. Like the oncoming harvest, a lot of what this rune tells you depends on your actions and plans. It is a positive rune in many cases, but it can be very frustrating because it advises waiting.

In Anglo-Saxon, Jera is spelled Ger or Ior, and in Old Norse it is Ar. Jera is the rune of good harvest. As with a harvest, there must be preparations to the fields, seeds planted, and crops tended. But Jera suggests that the harvest will be good, and you just have to be patient.

Like Isa, this rune requires waiting, but like the harvest, it promises good things in abundance. Our Northern ancestors were primarily farmers and understood that they had to wait to receive the bounty of their harvest. Harvest didn’t happen in a day or a week. It started after the last harvest with plans for the next season. Farmers had to save seeds from the current harvest to replant their vegetables and grain crops. They had to prepare their fields to lie fallow over the winter. And then, they had to wait until the ground thawed after a long winter so they could plow and plant their seeds. With each planting, the farmer hoped for a good crop without pests and diseases. But Jera is a rune of good harvest, which means droughts, hailstorms, and damaging weather, as well as pests and diseases, aren’t a factor for this harvest. It means there will be plenty and good times are ahead.

Divination with Jera

When you get this rune in a casting, it informs you that good things will happen, but you must wait. Because Jera is derived from the proto-Germanic word meaning “year” (jēr) and the Old Norse word for year is Ar, it suggests that your waiting for good news may take a long time, quite possibly a year or longer.  Jera tells you that all your preparation and plans will come to pass. That good times are ahead, and that you will reap a bountiful harvest. But it advises patience as well. Good things don’t happen all at once. It takes time and planning for you to succeed in whatever endeavor you are asking the runes about.

Should you get this rune in your castings, you’re going to enjoy good things coming your way, but you must be patient. If other runes around it are negative and it is drawn in the future spot, it means that all your trials and travails will end with something good heading your way. If it is in a past spot, it suggests that you are coming off a time of harvest and new situations may arise. A present spot may suggest you moving into harvest, or maybe a cycle that will bring you towards the good things. Above all, just be patient. Good things come to those who wait.

Some Final Thoughts on Jera

When Jera appears in a spread, you may find that the outcome you are waiting for depends on your preparation and work. Nothing is ever easy with the runes, just as nothing was ever easy for our ancestors. Jera is a signal in many ways to work towards your goal, and if you are willing to work hard, you’ll enjoy the fruits of your success. As always, the position where Jera appears as well as the runes around it will dictate how successful your endeavors are. Good luck!

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The Elder Futhark: Isa

The Elder Futhark: Isa

The eleventh, and third rune of Heimdallr’s ætt, is Isa, which corresponds to the “I” sound in the Latin alphabet (the alphabet we use). This is considered a negative rune, whenever it comes up. It does occasionally have positive sides, but I’ll talk about that later. It is the rune of ice, winter, standstill, and waiting. If you get this rune, you’re going to be frustrated, because it means that everything is at a standstill. Like an ice dam, something is being blocked until you or something else can remove it. It can also point to a river covered with ice: nothing seems to be moving, but there may be an underlying current beneath the ice.

In Anglo-Saxon, Isa is spelled Is, and in Old Norse it is Isa. Isa is the rune of standstill, winter, and waiting. Our Northern ancestors were no strangers to the long, harsh northern winters, and the prevailing ice that accompanied them.

Winter was a time of waiting. Sure, there were feasts, such as Yule, and winter activities such as skiing and ice skating. But our ancestors were waiting for spring, when the animals gave birth, and when the crops could be sowed.

Winter was a time when people had to live off their food harvested in the fall. It was often a time of scarcity and hunger, especially if the crops failed. Sometimes people hunted and fished to bring in food, but often the prevailing ice and snow prevented such activites. Game migrated when the snows got too deep, making it difficult to hunt. So, people waited–and hoped for–an early spring.

Divination with Isa

When you get this rune in a casting, it informs you that you must wait for an answer. The amount of time is indeterminate but finite, meaning that you could be waiting a long, long time. This is why Isa is considered a negative rune. Most of the time, we can deal with a “yes” or “no” when it comes to an answer. Isa tells us we must be patient and wait.

Isa is an interesting rune, though, because although it suggests everything is at a standstill, there is a finite amount of time before everything frees up again. It may suggest something is blocking your forward progression. You can break through that ice dam, but it may be a serious challenge ahead of you. Then again, Isa may be telling you that nothing appears to be happening, only something really is. Whatever is happening may be hidden from you. In this case, it’s important to pay attention to the underlying motion.

Should you get this rune in your castings, you are more likely to be frustrated in whatever answer you seek. It’s telling you either to wait, or that everything is at a standstill. Either way, you’re going to have a hard time achieving your goal. You may have something blocking you from your goal that you must overcome, or something else is going on behind the scenes that you don’t know about. Or maybe you simply have to wait until something changes before you know the answer.

Some Final Thoughts on Isa

When Isa appears in a spread, you may find that your circumstance tells you to wait. That can be a real source of frustration. After all, you may find yourself at what appears to be an unyielding block to your goal. At this point, you need to decide whether to try to break through or wait it out. Sometimes the best thing to do is to wait. Like an ice dam, it may be holding back a torrent. Then again, that block may be insurmountable, and you may need to wait.

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The Elder Futhark: Hagalaz

The Elder Futhark: Hagalaz

The ninth, and first rune of Heimdallr’s ætt, is Hagalaz, which corresponds to the “H” sound in the Latin alphabet (the alphabet we use).  This is a probably one of the most negative runes you can get, whenever it comes up. It does occasionally have positive sides, but I’ll talk about that later. It is the rune of disruption, hail, natural destructive forces, and uncontrolled chaos. Where Wunjo is an excellent rune to get, Hagalaz is the exact opposite. When I see Hagalaz in a reading, I take a deep breath and know that it’s going to get rough for a while.

Hagalaz‘s Meaning


In Anglo-Saxon Hagalaz is spelled Haegl, and in Old Norse it is Hagall.  Hagalaz is the rune of hail–a destructive and uncontrollable force in nature.  No doubt hail wreaked havoc on our ancestors, damaging crops and homes, and possibly causing injury if you were outside in it.

While today, we understand that hail comes as a results of convective forces in large thunderstorm cells. The water droplets freeze at high levels, fall, and then updrafts carry them upward with more moisture to freeze again, larger and heavier. The most powerful the updraft, the greater the number of times the hailstone is carried higher to gather more ice. Eventually, it gets heavy enough where even the updraft can’t carry it, and it falls to earth as hail.

Our ancestors knew none of this. Instead, they probably understood that dark, violent thunderclouds with lightning sometimes brought hail, though why or how was unknown. Instead, they knew it was unpleasant and destructive. It was an uncontrollable force of nature that would not be denied.

Divination with Hagalaz

When you get this rune in a casting, it informs you about destructive events, disruptions in your life or plans, and chaos. If your life is in turmoil and you get Hagalaz in the present position, or the matter being considered, chances are it’s just a reflection of your life or plans at the present moment. Maybe it’s something as simple as you being conflicted over something and it is disrupting your life, because of it. People who pull Hagalaz in the present or past position have been feeling like their lives have been spiraling out of control. If you get Hagalaz in the future position, it suggests your plans and life are going to be disrupted and you’re likely to feel like you have no stability in your life. In other words, hang on: you’re in for a lot of chaos and destruction in your life, physically, mentally, and/or emotionally.

Hagalaz doesn’t seem to have a positive side to it on first blush. Like all runes, the context of the disruption depends on its position and the runes surrounding it. The runes feed off of each other, creating a broader picture for the caster. Should you get this rune in your castings, you may think it is something huge that will disrupt your life. Well, maybe. The runes don’t differentiate between big and little. It’s up to you to determine whether you get pea-sized hail or whopper softball-sized hail when it comes to your disruption. For example, let’s say you get Hagalaz when you cast the runes about your upcoming wedding. Hagalaz may be saying something as simple weather will delay your travel plans. Or, it might say your fiancee will leave you hanging at the altar. See the difference? You just don’t know.

Some Final Thoughts on Hagalaz

When Hagalaz appears in a spread, you may have a sinking feeling. Don’t, even though you may have some rough times ahead, or glitches that show up in your plans. Hagalaz brings change as well as disruption, and change often is for the better.

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The Elder Futhark: Wunjo

The Elder Futhark: Wunjo

The eighth and last rune of Freyr’s ætt is Wunjo, which corresponds to the “W” or “V” sound in the Latin alphabet (the alphabet we use).  This is a positive rune, whenever it comes up. It is the rune of joy, pleasure, kinship, and harmony. I can’t think of a better rune to cast anywhere, so if you get Wunjo, you can feel good about the casting.

Wunjo‘s Meaning


In Anglo-Saxon Wunjo is spelled the same way, and in Old Norse it is Wynn.  Wunjo is the rune of prosperity and happiness. While some interpretations suggest that too much can be a bad thing, in my not so humble opinion we could all use a bit of joy in our lives. In other words, roll with it.

Divination with Wunjo

When you get this rune in a casting, it talks about happiness, pleasure, and joy. If you get Wunjo in the future position, it suggests good things will come to you in the future. Likewise, if it’s the present or the matter under consideration, it’s talking about you being in a joyful place or seeking joy.

Wunjo doesn’t seem to have any negative side to it. Like all runes, the context of the joy depends on its position and the runes surrounding it. The runes feed off of each other, creating a broader picture for the caster. Should you get this rune in your castings, you should be guarded in your reaction, only because there are small joys and big joys. The rune doesn’t differentiate between the two. For example, you may ask if you’re going to win the lottery and you get Wunjo. Okay, that could mean you get the jackpot of $56 million or $10 from a scratch ticket. See the difference? Both are causes for happiness, but getting Wunjo doesn’t mean it’s time to empty your bank account on the lottery.

Some Final Thoughts on Wunjo

I know that this is a short post, but there’s really not a lot to say about this rune when it comes to meanings. When I cast the runes, Wunjo can be rare for me, and I must take into account the rune, its position, and the runes around it. It’s not that I don’t get the rune in castings, but it can appear elusive at times, probably because there’s plenty of chaos in my life. When you get Wunjo, expect something positive, whether it’s big or small.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something from these links, I get a small stipend which helps support The Rational Heathen. I would encourage you to support my site.  Thanks.

The Elder Futhark: Gebo

The Elder Futhark: Gebo

The seventh rune of Freyr’s ætt is Gebo, which corresponds to the “G” sound in the Latin alphabet (the alphabet we use).  Gebo is a positive rune in most cases, suggesting gifts and partnerships that are usually beneficial. When I see Gebo in a casting, it usually influences the casting in a positive way, where even so-called negative runes may lead up to something good, especially if Gebo is in the future or outcome spot.

Gebo‘s Meaning


In Anglo-Saxon Gebo is Gyfu and in Old Norse it is Gar.  Gebo is the rune of generosity and giving. Our ancestors often gave gifts in exchange for partnerships, so Gebo is also the rune of beneficial partnerships. Gebo represents a gift for a gift–whether the gifts are aid, work, or an actual gift. When gifts are exchanged, the gifts create a relationship between the two parties.

Divination with Gebo

When you get this rune in a casting, it suggests two things. First, it suggests you’ll receive a gift. Gebo is, after all, the rune of generosity. But along with Gebo is a partnership of some variety: whether business, friendship, or relationship. In other words, the person who is giving the gift seeks to make a partnership with you. That partnership may be a simple platonic friendship. It may be a gift from a relative who simply wants to reaffirm their family ties with you. It may be a business relationship. Or it might be a romantic interest.

Gebo doesn’t necessarily mean that the gift comes with strings attached. Or the strings may be of the expected variety, such as a birthday present, a holiday present, or some other giving time, like a wedding shower or baby shower. Sometimes the gift does have strings attached, but it’s up to you to determine if it’s an opportunity you wish to take advantage of. Gebo can also mean a gift from the gods, but it also suggests a partnership between you and the god or goddess who is offering the gift.

The meaning of Gebo can depend on the runes surrounding it. The runes feed off of each other, creating a broader picture for the caster. Gebo definitely means gift and/or partnership, but the other runes around it may dictate how that gift or partnership fits in context with everything else.

Some Final Thoughts on Gebo

Gebo is usually a positive rune that means something good in the ways of gifts and partnerships. It suggests an equal partnership rather than something where one is dominant and the other subservient. So, it’s a rune that suggests the partnership of equals. In Old Norse, Gar also meant spear, so it might be the gift between two warriors. Regardless, Gebo is a rune that I like seeing because it tells me that I may be getting something I want–and a beneficial partnership as well.

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The Elder Futhark: Raidho

The Elder Futhark: Raidho

The fifth rune of Freyr’s ætt is Raidho, which corresponds to “R” in the Latin alphabet (the alphabet we use). If you haven’t noticed the similarity between the other runes I’ve shown and our own alphabet, you probably will see it in Raidho and our letter R. Whether our runes were based on an older form of the Latin alphabet or whether they evolved from an older Indo-European alphabet is up for conjecture.  If you want to read about the origin of the runes, you can do that HERE.

Raidho‘s Meaning


In Anglo-Saxon Raidho is Rad and in Old Norse it is Reid.  Raidho is the rune of travel. It means a wheel, cart, chariot, or journey. Our ancestors considered travel very important because it required a fair amount of effort to go someplace. When you’re limited to walking, snowshoes, carts, travel using animals, or ships, you had a fair amount of effort involved, both physically and mentally. You left your safe confines of home to journey into less safe territory and unknown lands. Like any travel, it could be good or bad.

Divination with Raidho

When you get this rune in a casting, you’re looking at movement, whether physically, emotionally, or mentally. It can mean something like business and vacation travel when dealing with physical movement. It could mean an actual move or change in residence. Or it could mean changes in perspective when it comes to a situation, relationship, or point-of-view.

Raidho often means leaving something that you know for somewhere you aren’t necessarily familiar with. It can be scary, if you’re not ready for it, or it might be a welcome change you’ve been looking for. Regardless, Raidho means movement, and that means it can provide either good or bad, depending on the matter under consideration.

You may notice I caveat a lot of rune readings by saying the meaning depends a lot on the runes surrounding the rune in question. The runes feed off of each other, creating a broader picture for the caster. Raidho is no different in that regard. You may find that Raidho foretells of a job opportunity–or it could foretell of a layoff–depending on the runes surrounding it and the circumstance.

Some Final Thoughts on Raidho

Raidho is one of those runes I actually like. Not because I hate being in the spot I’m in, but more because it can provide opportunities I would normally miss if everything continued to stay the same. Sure, it can bring negative consequences, but the times I’ve seen Raidho in a cast, it usually indicates physical travel for me–and usually something I’ve been expecting. You may find Raidho to be like that, or maybe it speaks more to your mental or emotional state. Regardless, it is a rune of change, both good and bad.

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The Elder Futhark: Ansuz

The Elder Futhark: Ansuz

Alas! Family visits plus work has put me behind on writing about the runes. So, without further ado, I’m covering the next Elder Futhark rune. The next rune in the Elder Futhark is Ansuz, the fourth rune in Freyr’s ætt.

Ansuz‘s Meaning

Ansuz carried several different spellings in Anglo-Saxon. It could be written as Os, Aesc, or Ac. In Old Norse, it was Oss. I’ve seen several different meanings for it, but the closest meaning as I understand it is “message from the gods (Aesir).” Others have described it as “Signals,” “Mouth,” or “Communication.” It represents the “a” sound. This rune is tied to Odin as it often suggests the message comes directly from the All-Father. Naturally, this makes it a very important rune in your casting.

Divination with Ansuz

Ansuz is an important rune as it suggests where you’re getting your information. If you get Ansuz in a spread, pay close attention to where it shows up in your reading and what runes are around it. For example, if you do a three-rune casting where it deals with the matter under consideration, influencing factors/impediments, and future developments/outcomes and you get Ansuz in the second spot, the runes might be warning you that the gods’ messages might not be what you hoped for. But then again, if you get the rune with positive runes, it might suggest the message is favorable, but pay attention. Negative runes surrounding it may implicate that you need to pay closer attention to what the gods are telling you about your situation.
Like any rune, you need to consider this rune in the context of others. In most cases, it’s a benign and positive rune. Paired with negative runes like Hagalaz or Nauthiz, it can prove to be a trying rune at times. But again, it’s all in the context.

Some Final Thoughts on Ansuz

Ansuz is one of those runes which will tell you to pay close attention to what the gods are telling you. Sort of a wake-up call that may be telling you to spring into action or wait, depending on the other runes. Sometimes it’s an unwelcome rune because it tells you things you don’t want to hear. Pay attention to the message when you get Ansuz. The gods are listening and have given you a direction.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something from these links, I get a small stipend which helps support The Rational Heathen. I would encourage you to support my site.  Thanks.

The Elder Futhark: Uruz

The Elder Futhark: Uruz

I’m running a bit behind on posting the next rune in the Elder Futhark, so let’s get into it. This week, I’m writing about Uruz, being the second in Freyr’s ætt. Uruz is an interest rune with both positives and negatives. So, let’s look at it.

Uruz’s Meaning

Uruz is the rune of the auroch or wild cattle. The auroch was the ancestor to our modern day domesticated cattle. It is now extinct, albeit fairly recently. The last auroch died in Poland in 1627 from natural causes. These suckers were huge — some being nearly 6 feet at the shoulder. Our ancestors were certainly familiar with them seeing as they existed two million years ago until 1627. A shame really that they went extinct due to disease, reduction in habitat, and unrestricted hunting. I could go into their history and the attempts at recreating them, but that’s not really the subject of this post.

Uruz is Ur or Yr in Anglo-Saxon and Ur in Old Norse. It is akin to the “U” sound in English. Because Uruz is the auroch, it is the symbol of wild, untamed power and untamed potential. It means strength, wildness, masculinity, freedom, courage, and even change, often in a sudden and unexpected way. It can mean male sexuality, although that’s usually reserved for Ingwaz.

Divination with Uruz

Uruz is an interesting rune to have in a cast because it is the symbol of vitality and strength. In many ways, it’s a positive rune to have, depending on where it is in the layout and what runes are surrounding it. If Uruz is in a place in the cast which is what obstacles you might face, then it can be an unwanted rune, because it may be saying that the forces against you achieving your goal are powerful and may be difficult, if not insurmountable, to overcome. But in many casts, it suggests a strong force helping you. But be careful, Uruz can bring about some pretty powerful changes that you might not foresee, and your life can become chaotic with such a rune at the helm.

Of course, reading Uruz in a casting depends on the other runes and its placement, as well as the skill of the interpreter. Usually I am quite glad to see Uruz in my casts, but you may have a different experience.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something from these links, I get a small stipend which helps support The Rational Heathen. I would encourage you to support my site.  Thanks.

The Elder Futhark: Fehu

The Elder Futhark: Fehu

As I’ve promised, I will go through each of the Elder Futhark, hopefully once a week. I may write about other runic alphabet variants, should there be enough interest in both the runes and my understanding/interpretation/insights in them. This week, I start with Fehu, being the first in Freyr’s ætt. The runes are traditionally split up into eights or ættir. Those ættir are Freyr’s (Or Freyja’s) ætt, Heimdall’s ætt, and Tyr’s ætt. So, let’s talk about Fehu.

Fehu’s Meaning

Fehu means “wealth,” “cattle.” In Anglo-Saxon the word is Feoh and in Old Norse it is Fe. It’s meaning is along the lines of acquired wealth, cattle, or livestock.  In the past, our ancestors considered cattle and livestock as wealth that was acquired and made, not inherited wealth from the family or clan. This was wealth one would earn due to one’s hard work. In the alphabet, it corresponds to our letter “F.”

Divination with Fehu

Since Fehu is associated with acquired wealth, it’s actually a nice rune to show up, especially if you are looking to earn more money. Of course, that depends on where it shows up in a casting, but it is usually a good rune to see. For example if the cast combines Fehu with Wunjo (joy), it can mean success in earning money, a new job that will bring about success, or a payoff in investments. However, when the cast combines Fehu with Hagalaz (disruption), it can mean destruction of acquired wealth or loss of a job, again, depending on where the runes sit in the casting. Or it may suggest that you will have a sudden disruption in your finances, either good or bad.  (A lot is finesse here when it comes to interpretations.)

Reading Fehu depends on what your life situation is as well as the runes around it. But when you see this rune, you can assume it is something having to do with your career or investments.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something from these links, I get a small stipend which helps support The Rational Heathen. I would encourage you to support my site.  Thanks.

Which Runic Alphabet Should You Choose for Casting?

Which Runic Alphabet Should You Choose for Casting?

With all this talk about runes here, at this point you’re probably thinking you’re ready to make or buy some runes and begin casting. Well, maybe. Which runic alphabet should you choose for casting, exactly? Elder Futhark? Younger Futhark? Anglo Saxon? Danish runes? Norwegian-Swedish runes? Something else?

Okay, maybe you have heard that there are different versions of the runes. But which one will you use to cast? Let’s talk about them and see which makes sense for you to use.

The Elder Futhark

The Elder Futhark are the oldest runes we know about, having been around between 150 and 800 CE or AD. These runes were first used by Germanic tribes in Northern Germany, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Called the Elder Futhark because the first letters of the alphabet are F U TH A R and K. (There’s your answer for Trival Pursuit, Norse Style. You’re welcome.)

Not surprisingly, these are the runes we see the most of when it comes to rune sets. A lot has been written on divination with Elder Futhark runes. These are the runes I use to cast, mainly because they are the ones I was first introduced to.

The Younger Futhark

The Younger Futhark is actually two different types of runic alphabets. You can choose either the Danish runes or the Norwegian-Swedish runes. The Danish runes are called the Long Branch runes while the Norwegian-Swedish runes are called the Short-Twig or Rök runes. These runes came into being around the 8th century to about the 12th century, when the Latin alphabet took over.

Anglo-Saxon Runes

The Anglo-Saxon runes or Anglo-Frisian runes are collectively known as the Futhorc because those are the first letters of that runic alphabet. The earliest form of the Futhorc looked almost exactly like the Elder Futhark with three more runes in the 5th century. By the 7th century, most of the Anglo-Saxon runes had been replaced by the Latin alphabet, but it was still used occasionally up until the 12th century.

Marcomannic Runes

These runes appeared in a treaty called De Inventione Litterarum which attributes these runes to Marcomanni, hence the name. It’s a merger of Elder Futhark and Futhorc runes. The manuscript was drawn up in the southern part of the Carolingian Empire, around Bavaria. These runes are supposedly in use in the 8th and 9th centuries.

Medieval Runes

Although Scandinavia was now Christianized, people still used runes, blending them with the Latin alphabet. They were used between the 12th and 15th centuries.

Dalecarlian Runes

In some isolated areas in Sweden, particularly Dalarna, people used runes to transcribe Elfdalian from the 16th up until the 20th century. Also called Dal Runes, it’s unknown if the runes in Dalrunorthe 19th and 20th centuries were in common use or if they were learned from books and used in scholarly writings.

Which Runic Alphabet Should You Use?

With so many versions of the runes available, it may be difficult to decide on which one works for you. At this point, my advice is to look at the runes and decide which one actually calls to you the most. Maybe try making your own runes on index cards or Popsicle sticks and play around with them a bit to see if you want to make some more permanent runes with them.

Obviously, if you want to go with the Elder Futhark, you’re in good company and there is a lot written about that runic alphabet in terms of divination. But you can find information about the Younger Futhark, Futhorc, and other runes around. If this becomes particularly popular, I may just cover them after I cover the Elder Futhark.

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