Runes – A Bit of History

Futhark Runes

Runes and their many variations have been around for centuries. In different cultures and times the number of runes in the runic alphabet has varied from as few as 16 characters to as many as 53 as they evolved to what we know today. Hardly surprising as the alphabets we use for creating words today has evolved greatly over the centuries too. Traditionally a set of runes now consists of 25 small pebbles or pieces of wood. In days gone by runes would also have been carved on to personal effects such as swords, chalices, wands and jewellery.

Runes are believed to have derived from the Etruscan alphabet used by the Italic tribes of the Eastern Alps and developed around the second century CE by the Germanic tribes of Bohemia. The earliest runic inscriptions date from the middle of the third century and in the Middle Ages Runes were often used instead of the standard Latin alphabet.

In the old days runes were used, in secret, for magic and divination. Anyone caught in the act of using them could be banished from their communities, imprisoned or even executed. However runes were deemed so powerful people would consult them regarding important life or social happenings. Warriors would consult the runes before going to battle to see if the y would come home safely, farmers on the best times to sow or harvest their crops and combinations of runes would be crafted into talismans for fertility, love, healing protection and curses for an enemy.

Gradually runes were spread over Europe by the Anglo-Saxons and in some languages runes still form part of the modern alphabet – such as Icelandic, Norwegian, and English. Derived from the sounds of the first six letters ( F U Th A R K)the 25 runes are collectively known as the Futhark.

In love and light
Raven }O{

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