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Since ancient times, runes have been used for divination and magic, in addition to writing. The word “rune” actually means mystery, secret or whisper. Each rune has esoteric meanings and properties associated with it, beyond its mundane meaning and phonetic value. Each translates into a word or a phrase signifying concepts important to the early peoples who used them, representing the forces of nature and mind. The Old Germanic Runic alphabet or “Elder Futhark” contains 24 runes. The runes are broken into three sections or groups of eight, called aett. See below the general meanings of each rune. First the rune name is given, then its phonetic value, its symbolic image, and finally the esoteric meaning used in divination.
More detail information is given with the set of 25 and individual runes.
Fehu (wealth) Possessions won or earned, earned income, luck. Abundance. Sign of hope and plenty, success and happiness. Fehu Reversed: Loss of personal property, esteem, or something that you put in effort to keep. It indicates some sort of failure.
Uruz: (wild ox) Physical strength and speed, untamed potential. A time of great energy and health. Freedom, energy, courage, strength, understanding. Sexual desire, masculine potency. The shaping of power and pattern of the self. Uruz Reversed: Weakness, obsession, domination by others. Sickness, inconsistency, ignorance. Rashness, violence.
Thurisaz: (a Giant) Reactive force, directed force of destruction and defense, conflict, vital eroticism, regenerative catalyst. A tendency toward change. Catharsis, purging, cleansing fire. Male sexuality, fertilization. Thurisaz Reversed: Danger, defenselessness, betrayal, dullness. Evil, hatred, torment, spite, lies. A bad person.
Ansuz: (ancestral god) A revealing message or insight, communication. Signals, inspiration, enthusiasm, true vision, power of words. Blessings, the taking of advice. Good health, truth, wisdom. Ansuz Reversed: Misunderstanding, delusion, manipulation by others, boredom.
Raidho: (chariot.) Travel, both in physical terms and those of lifestyle direction. A journey, relocation, evolution, changes of place or setting. Right move for you and deciding upon it. Personal and world rhythm, dance of life. Raidho Reversed: Crisis, rigidity, stasis, injustice, irrationality. Disruption, dislocation, delusion.
Kenas: (torch) Vision, revelation, knowledge, creativity, technical ability. Fire of life, harnessed power, transformation and regeneration. Power to create your own reality and light. New strength, energy, and power. Passion and sexual love. Kenaz Reversed: Disease, breakup, instability, lack of creativity. Exposure, loss of illusion and false hope.
Gebo: (Gift) Gifts, both in the sense of sacrifice and of generosity, indicating balance. All matters in relation to exchanges, including contracts, personal relationships. Gebo can’t be reversed, but may lie in opposition: Greed, loneliness, dependence, over-sacrifice. Obligation, toll and bribery.
Wunjo: (Joy) comfort, pleasure. Fellowship, harmony, prosperity. Ecstasy, glory, spiritual reward, also the possibility of going “over the top”. Wunjo Reversed: Sorrow, strife, alienation. Delirium, intoxication, possession by higher forces, and impractical enthusiasm.
Hagalaz: (Hail) Wrath of nature, destructive, uncontrolled forces, especially the weather, or within the unconscious. Tempering, trial, controlled crisis, leading to completion, and inner harmony. Hagalaz cannot be reversed, but may lie in opposition: Natural disaster, catastrophe. Stagnation, loss of power. Pain, loss, hardship, and sickness.
Nauthiz: (Need) Delays, restriction. Resistance leading to strength, innovation, self-reliance. Distress, confusion, and the power of will to overcome. Endurance, survival, determination. A time to exercise patience. Face your fears. Nauthiz Reversed: Constraint of freedom, distress, toil, drudgery, laxity. Necessity, extremity, wants, deprivation, starvation, need, poverty, emotional hunger.
Isa: (Ice) A challenge or frustration. Psychological blocks to thought or activity, grievances. Standstill, a time to turn inward and wait for what is to come, or to seek clarity. This rune reinforces runes around it. Isa cannot be reversed, but may lie in opposition: Ego-mania, dullness, blindness. Treachery, illusion, betrayal, stealth, ambush, plots.
Jera: (a good harvest) The results of earlier efforts are realized. A time of peace and happiness, fruitful season. Hopes and expectations of peace and prosperity. Life cycle, pattern of the universe. Everything changes, in its own time. Jera cannot be reversed, but may lie in opposition: Sudden setback, reversals. A major change, repetition, bad timing, poverty, conflict.
Eihwaz: (Yew tree) Strength, reliability, dependability, trustworthiness. Enlightenment, endurance. Defense, protection. The driving force to acquire, providing motivation and a sense of purpose. Indicates that you have set your sights on a reasonable target and can achieve your goals. Eihwaz Reversed: Confusion, destruction, dissatisfaction, weakness.
Perthro: (cup or vagina) Uncertain meaning, a secret matter, hidden things and occult abilities. Initiation, knowledge of one’s destiny and of your path. Pertaining to things feminine, feminine mysteries including female fertility, and vagina. fellowship and joy. Evolutionary change. Perthro Reversed: Addiction, stagnation, loneliness.
Algiz: (Elk) Protection, a shield. The protective urge to shelter oneself or others. Defense, warding off of evil, shield, guardian. Connection with the gods, awakening, higher life. It can be used to channel energies appropriately. Follow your instincts. Algiz Reversed: Hidden danger, consumption by divine forces, and loss of divine link. Taboo, warning, turning away, that which repels.
Sowilo: (Sun) Success, goals achieved, honor. The life-force, health. A time when power will be available to you for positive changes in your life. Contact between the higher self and the unconscious. Wholeness, elemental force, sword of flame, cleansing. Sowilo cannot be reversed, but may lie in opposition: False goals, bad counsel, false success, loss of goals. Destruction, justice, casting down of vanity. Wrath of god.
Tiwaz: (the sky god) Honor, justice, leadership and authority. Knowing where one’s true strengths lie. Willingness to self-sacrifice. Victory and success in any competition or in legal matters. Tiwaz Reversed: One’s energy and creative flow are blocked. Mental paralysis, over-sacrifice, injustice, imbalance. Conflict, failure in competition. Dwindling, difficulties in communication, and separation.
Berkano: (birch-goddess.) Birth, general fertility, both mental, physical and personal growth, liberation. Power and light of spring, renewal, promise of new beginnings and growth. Arousal of desire. A love affair or new birth. Berkano Reversed: Family problems and or domestic troubles. Anxiety about someone close to you. Careless, abandon, loss of control. Blurring of consciousness, and stagnation.
Ehwaz: (two horses) Transportation. May represent a horse, or other vehicles. Movement and change for the better. Steady progress is indicated. Harmony, teamwork, and trust. An ideal marriage or partnership. Confirmation beyond doubt the meanings of the runes around it. Ehwaz Reversed: This is not really a negative rune. A change is craved. Feeling restless or confined. Haste, mistrust, betrayal.
Mannaz: (Mankind) The Self; the individual or the human race. Your attitude toward others and their attitudes towards you. Friends and enemies, social order. Intelligence, forethought, skill, ability. Divine structure, intelligence, awareness. Expect to receive some sort of aid now. Mannaz Reversed: Depression, mortality, blindness, self-delusion. Cunning, slyness, manipulation, craftiness. Expect no help.
Laguz: (Water) Flow, water, a fertility source, the healing power of renewal. Life energy and organic growth. Imagination and psychic matters. Dreams, fantasies, mysteries, the hidden, the underworld. Success in travel or acquisition, but with the possibility of loss. Laguz Reversed: An indication of a period of confusion in your life. You may be making wrong decisions and poor judgements. Lack of creativity, feeling of being in a rut. Fear, avoidance, withering. Madness, despair, perversity, sickness.
Ingwaz: (earth god) Male fertility, gestation, internal growth. Common virtues, common sense, simple strengths, family love, caring, human warmth, the home. Rest stage, a time of relief. A time when all loose strings are tied and you are free to move in a new direction. Listen to yourself. Ingwaz cannot be reversed, but may lie in opposition: Impotence, movement without change. Production, toil, labor.
Dagaz: (dawn) Breakthrough, awakening, awareness. Daylight clarity as opposed to nighttime uncertainty. A time to plan or embark. The power of change and transformation. Hope/happiness, the ideal. Security and certainty. Balance point, the place where opposites meet. Dagaz cannot be reversed, but may lie in opposition): A completion, ending, limit, coming full circle. Blindness, hopelessness.
Othala: (Ancestral property) Inherited property or possessions, a home. What is truly important to one. Group order, group prosperity. Land of birth, spiritual heritage, experience and fundamental values. Aid in spiritual and physical journeys. Source of safety, increase and abundance. Othala Reversed: Lack of customary order, slavery, poverty, homelessness. Bad karma, prejudice, and clannishness.
Blank Rune: There is no historical support for a “Blank Rune” in runic divination. It was invented in the 1980’s. It should not be used in a rune casting. Save it in case you lose a rune piece, but don’t use it in rune casting.