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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.

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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.

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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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Understanding the Runes

Understanding the Runes

I’ve been meaning to write about rune castings and rune readings, as well as understanding the runes, but I’ve had no time. Or less than no time. Because of this, I’ve been sort of remiss in my duties as The Rational Heathen, as it provides good content. Nevertheless, I’m going to start off talking about the runes and try to get at least one rune covered every other post.  That’s my intent. I’ll see if I can really talk about the 24 runes and how they came about. Let’s begin.

The Story of Odin Hanging Himself on Yggdrasil

If you haven’t read the Havamal where Odin sacrifices himself to himself to gain the knowledge of the runes, here’s the translation:

137.
I trow I hung on that windy Tree
nine whole days and nights,
stabbed with a spear, offered to Odin,
myself to mine own self given,
high on that Tree of which none hath heard
from what roots it rises to heaven.


138.
None refreshed me ever with food or drink,
I peered right down in the deep;
crying aloud I lifted the Runes
then back I fell from thence.

Wow, pretty powerful stuff there. You might even notice the similarity to Christ’s crucifixion. I’ll touch on that another time, perhaps. TElder futharkhe story, if you haven’t gleaned it from the Havamal is that Odin hung himself on Yggdrasil for nine days and nine nights to get the runes. He offered himself to himself as a sacrifice. When he finally saw the runes, he took them and brought them to the gods and us humans.  Pretty cool, right?

What Scholars Think

The Elder Futhark is the oldest version of our runes (there are other sets, and I will talk about them later) dating somewhere to the first or second century CE or AD. I’ve written about their origin here. It’s believed that the Germanic peoples based their runes on the Italian alphabets, most likely either the Northern Etruscan or Raetic alphabets. They may have been based Venetic Raetic Camunic Lepontic alphabetson the Latin alphabet, but given Raetic has several rune-like characters, it’s likely the Germanic peoples adopted the alphabet and then made it their own, sometime even before the Roman Empire was in full swing.  The similarities between our Latin alphabet and the runic one  is too hard to ignore, so despite the verses in the Havamal explaining how Odin won the runes, we think it was more an assimilation of an alphabet created by someone else. The Etruscans and the Raeticians may have gotten their alphabet from the Greeks and Phoenicians, so it’s all good. Basically we’re dealing with an ancient alphabet founded on an even more ancient alphabet, and so on.

Where’s the Magic in a Derived Alphabet? (Or Understanding the Runes)

At this point, you may be wondering how we could possibly get magic out of a derived alphabet. Understanding the runes requires understanding their origin and what they actual do. The runes are considered sacred not only because of the myth that they were given to us by Odin but also because of what they do. They convey our thoughts and words, allowing us to talk not just to others around us but also to generations to come long after we’re gone. They have a special power to convey ideas across time and space. If that’s not magic, I don’t know what is.

So, what happens when you do a rune casting? I think it is something that connects with your subconscious and gives you advice when you cast them. I also get the feeling that the gods also give advice through the runes. I’ve seen it before, so even though it’s Unverified Personal Gnosis time, I truly believe this. I also know others have had a similar experience.

Casting Runes

You can cast runes anywhere, but it really helps if you have someplace quiet to do it.  You can cast it on anything, but I like using a special cloth–in this case, a bandana with wolves printed across it–to cast on. There are several different spreads to cast on, the most notably being the one rune, three rune, Teiwas shoat, nine rune, and the tarot cast. All work okay, but for simplicity sake, I use the three rune combined with one rune.  I’ll go through that later. The choice of rune casts are really up to you. Just make sure you understand the cast positions and what they mean. before doing the cast. For example: I can never remember what the positions mean in the Teiwas shoat, having not cast it enough. I gives me answers, but not necessarily clear answers because it’s muddled in my brain. That doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. (But you’d think a follower of Tyr would have better luck with it.) It’s better to go with something you know well, if you’re doing a formal cast. Just my opinion; your mileage may vary; not valid in all states; yada, yada, yada.

Stay Tuned Next Week: Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel…

I’ll start in on the runes and tell you both the common interpretations and my own insights. So, hang in there. (Heh! Pun intended, Odin!)

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