Runes are a tool used in Wiccan magick that come from a long Nordic history. While there are several different types of runes, we are focusing on the Elder Futhark Nordic Runes in this particular article. This will be a brief overview of runes, from history to using them in your current magickal workings.
What are Runes, Exactly?
Runes are the first known system of writing. They were used and developed by Germanic peoples and functioned as much more than just letters. Each rune was carved into a picture, or symbol, that represents a powerful force. When these people would write these runes, they were working with forces to bring about different outcomes – similar to how we witches use spells and incantations to manifest different results.
Each rune has a different magickal significance and visual and audio form that it represents. Each rune alphabet is called a “futharks”, which is named after the first six runes (Fehu, Uruz, Thurisaz, Ansuz, Raidho, and Kaunan).
There are three different futharks, and we will focus on the Elder Futhark, the first fully formed runic alphabet. This particular alphabet was developed around first century CE and completed around the year 400.
By the artist David Weitzman
How to Use Runes
Runes are generally carved into wood, stone, bone, metal, simply drawing runes on paper does not provide the same power. The person using the runes can hold and absorb their energies, and while paper and pen can work with certain methods, runes have been a physical tool since their creation. Many people make their own runes, but it’s perfectly acceptable to use a ready-made rune set – just make sure to cleanse and charge to truly make it yours!
During the time period when runes were created, spoke word held a lot of power. It was thought that words spoke out loud were given a physical form, and words created reality – not reality creating words.
When you use runes, you are invoking powerful magic – and understating which rune to use is important in your spell work. You can use runes as a divination tool and to use as symbols with spellcasting and manifestations.
List of Elder Futhark Runes
The following is a list of runes that you will see when you begin working with them.
FEHU (Feoh) — attracts wealth, initiates prosperous enterprises, brings motivation and activity, circulates abundance and life-force, and invokes the fire of the heavenly bodies. Repeated use of fehu will give you a larger capacity to send and receive energy. Use to advance projects and goals to the next stage, to protect property and valuables, to give your career an added boost, and to increase wealth.
URUZ (UR) — enhances strength, removes weaknesses and self-doubt, and draws earth and oak-strength into the personal sphere. Use to draw new situations to you, to initiate new processes or to divert difficulties through sudden change.
THURISAZ (Thorn) — brings breakthroughs and catalyzes change and regeneration, beginnings, luck, dynamic defense, and protection. Can break barrenness and stimulate fruitfulness.
ANSUZ (Asa) — promotes word power and eloquence, increases spiritual consciousness and wisdom, invokes the hidden divinity within, and strengthens the Magician-Self-Persona. Brings inspiration, ecstasy, trance, increased psychism, and unleashing of divine power. Use when preparing for or taking an exam, giving a speech or presentation, writing a proposal, or when composing any type of written information. Use when working with geneological information to cultivate or remember ancestral power. Ansuz is the rune of hypnotherapists and those who study past life regressions, as Odin (primary god of the Norse pantheon) is the Lord of Death and keeper of this hidden power.
RAIDHO (Rad) — the rune of ritual and astral travel. Establishes rightful order and arrangements, obtains justice, and assists in finding the right way and orientation of the true purpose in life. Brings progress and good counsel, sustains the world order, brings attunement to cosmic harmonies, and helps to right unsteady and wayward situations. Moves or removes energies, and directs them to a specific destination. Inscribe or paint Raidho on your vehicle to carry you safely from destination to destination. Excellent for divination purposes, astral travel, meditation, or hypnosis.
KENAZ (Cen) — the rune of openings. Awakens executive ability, unleashes skills and prolific creative impulses, reveals secrets, finds hidden knowledge, works well in love magick, kindles the flame of knowledge and the cunning of one’s mind, transforms energies onto higher creative levels, and increases artistic craft.
GEBO (Gyfu) — an energy of balance, promotes generosity and exchange, brings gifts and mutual benefits. A powerful enhancer of marriages, partnerships, bonding, and relationships. Establishes mutual giving, brings good luck and abundance, and bridges the human and divine realms.
WUNJO (Wyn) — the Wish Rune, one of the most powerful runes in the entire set. Induces success and harmony with others, heals disagreements between individuals and groups. Brings contact with like-minded people, establishes empathy, fellowship, and friendly interaction. Promotes peace, fruitfulness and sensuality.
HAGALAZ (Haegl) — the rune of protective holism, which turns away storms and evil spells, crystallizes the life-pattern, and facilitates shamanic passage between the worlds. Useful for overcoming obstacles, banishing bad habits, and aiding in decision making. A blessing rune in marriage or partnerships if used in its protective energies.
NAUDHIZ (Nyd) — the banishing rune. Helps turn frustration and stress to one’s advantage. Liberates from constrictions, loosens the bonds of ill Wyrd (karmic destiny). Enables on to turn a bad situation into a good one. Used to bind in curses, considered a war fetter. When the situation is hopeless, use naudhiz. A general magickal rune that can be used for the success of any venture and to free one from all locks and fetters.
ISA (Isa) — a blocking rune which hinders, slows, and stops events. If freezes and obliterates unwanted activity, and can be a bringer of stillness and total stasis. Provides clarity, inward focus, concentration, strength in solitude, and a turning to one’s center of gravity. Helps ferret out your enemies. A binding rune. Can be used to cancel unwanted aggressiveness or to stop someone who is harassing you.
JERA (Jera) — a bringer of gentle revolution and improvement. Use when material results are expected, especially if you have spent your time, money, or effort. Promotes change for the better. Realizes the natural cycle and manifests true results of one’s own efforts. Establishes peaceful prosperity, brings productive results. Most helpful in legal matters as well as those workings involving fertility magick. Jera can turn any dream into reality, and is considered a luck rune. Draw in indelible ink or waterproof paint on any item for long lasting prosperity. Excellent rune for herbalists, gardeners, farmers, and landscapers.
EIHWAZ (Eoh) — a rune of endurance for hardening one’s self and achieving true aims. A hunter rune for stalking and attaining an objective, and facilitates the ability to survive. A potent magickal protector. Can bring initiation and understanding of fate. A guard against self-destructive behavior, and therefore excellent when dealing with alcoholism or drug abuse. Use to find lost objects, complete a challenging task, or find a new job or home. Gives strength.
PERTHRO (Peorth) — the rune for understanding Wyrd and the hidden roots of past incarnations; and for unlocking ancestral memories. Use in divination, meditation,self-hypnosis, and hypnosis therapy. Provides answers to mysteries. This rune is shaped like a cup. In magick, when the cup’s opening is to the right, it equates to birth; when the opening points to the left, it equates to death.
ELHAZ (Algiz) — the quardian rune of activated higher consciousness, protection, and confident warding away or destruction of harm and inimical forces. An active ward and defender. Increases the field of one’s magickal power. Draw this sigil on anything you want to protect, including your mail.
SOWILO (Sol) — a rune of self-orientation and guidance toward the light. Used to strenthen the magickal will of the Witch. Invokes the solar power of victory and success, and promotes illumination. Promotes spiritual will power. Draws the female energy of the sun into the personal sphere. (In the runic system, the sun is feminine and the moon is masculine). Excellent for promoting self-confidence.
TIWAZ (Tyr) — the victory rune. Brings victory in contests, trials, and legal judgements. An upholder of faith, steadfastness, and honor, and increases loyalty to higher ideals. Strengthens confidence during ordeals and competition; invokes justice; maintains order; sustains promises and oaths; and brings a lawful outcome. In healing, speeds recuperation. Cannot be used to pervert justice. Carve on any weapon to be used for right justice.
BERKANO (Beorc) — promoter of new beginnings, brings ideas and projects to a bright conclusion. A birth rune in matters of femininity and motherhood. The besom rune invokes the energies of the Earth Mother, and brings things safely from conception to birth. Use to heal feminine health problems. An excellent protective rune for young children and teenage girls.
EHWAZ (Eh) — a rune of partnership, marriage, and pact. Binds a pair together toward a mutual end, and facilitates movement over obstacles. A bringer of swift change, progress, and motion. A general good luck charm to pull toward you the protection and safe bonds of friendship. Can be employed to find mundane transportation for the magickal person when needed, and used in astral travel.
MANNAZ (Man) — a thought-rune for increasing intelligence and intellectual power. Brings success in study and mental effort, aid in social integration and career potential, and a bringer of psychic harmony. Helps one to realize one’s full human potential. Gains help from others.
LAGUZ (Lagus) — the rune of the occult. Holds both constructive and destructive power of the lunar tides. Increases intuition, psychic seership, and clairvoyance. Gives access to the realm of dreams. Good for drawing down moon energy. Invokes the mutable energy of sorcery. Use as a magickal net to cast out and draw in needed energies or to put someone gently to sleep,bringing pleasant dreams.
INGWAZ (Ing) — brings focus and centering, invokes inner energy in expansion, promotes fertile opportunities. Very powerful in erotic spells and is an awakener of masculine fertility and phallic force. In health, overcomes illusions and mental illness. Calms domestic difficulties and brings safety to home or work environment. Helps bring about a successful conclusion to any matter, increases fertility, allows one to release energy quickly.
DAGAZ (Dag) — a harbinger of total light and enlightenment. Brings the dawn of a new day and opens doors on all planes to complete realization. Induces cosmic consciousness, invokes perfection, helps situations and matters to flower. A potent protector of portal gateways. Renders a person or thing invisible. Banishes negativity. Use for financial increase, to change another’s attitude, or to assist in launching a new project. A good-luck charm. Comforts those who are grieving, lessens pain, cures sickness.
OTHALA (Odal) — enhances peace, security and prosperity of home and hearth. Draws fortunate influences into a dwelling, aids in putting down roots, protects and screens the house enclosure, safegards monetary investments,and invokes the earth and ancestral tradition.
While you are using these runes in your magickal workings, remember the meaning and the invocation that you are attempting to work with during your practice. Runes are powerful forces, and can become a powerful tool in every witch’s arsenal. To see an example of how to use runes in your magick, check out this rune protection spell.
For more in-depth information about runes, Edred Thorsson’s Runecaster’s Handbook is an excellent source of knowledge!
Kelly has been a practicing witch for over 10 years, and loves educating newbies to the craft! She tends to be drawn to tarot cards, scrying, and candle magick. This interest in Paganism and magick started at a young age – Kelly’s mom always says that she’s channeled Wednesday Addams, even as little girl! Kelly is a proud Ravenclaw, fangirl, believe of superheroes and fairytales, and obsesses easily. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter for more.