Runes and Their Meanings

In my previous two posts on this topic, I explained how to make a rune bag and also how to make the runes themselves. If you followed the instructions given in these posts, you should now have a finished set of runes (cleansed, consecrated and ready for use) and a bag for them right beside you.

This post will also be of some use to you in the process of making your runes because, if you remember, I mentioned that it is recommended to meditate on the meaning of each rune while making it. You can find these meanings in this post so you don't have to go searching around on the Internet. :)

But let us first get acquainted a bit more with the concept of runes.

What Are Runes?

Runes are a writing system which was also used as a way for divination. It was used for writing in actually all the Germanic lands in Western Europe.

Any sort of divination method that includes stones, wooden sticks or bones is called sortilege or cleromancy. It is put into action by mixing and throwing small objects made out of the above mentioned materials onto a surface. The way in which these objects fall, their position when they fall as well as the place in which they fall is all interpreted. I will go into more detail on this later.

The word rune itself can be translated as a "mystery" or "secret". Its roots are in the Germanic word raunen meaning to cut, shape or engrave (runes were primarily engraved into wood or stone).

The eldest form of runes is called the Elder Futhark (which I have dealt with and will continue to do so in all my posts on runes). This system only had 24 runes which were divided into three groups of eight. More letters were added later on so that, by the 9th century, it was popular to use up to 33 letters in some parts of the world. In Scandinavia, on the other hand, this number got reduced to only 16 letters.

Runes as Symbols

I mentioned that the runic writing system was usually composed of 24 symbols, but this number may vary depending on which technique you use. This system was made according to the original Teutonic runes which were also made up of three sets of eight runes. I recommend this system, which you may recall is named the Elder Futhark (pronounced /fuθark/). It got its name from the first six letters of its alphabet: A-fehu, U-uruz, TH-thurisaz, A-ansuz, R-raido, K-kaunaz. Along with these 24 runes, you may also come across a blank rune being used. This rune has the power to change the whole reading, but I'll get to this later.

What will follow is a list of all the runes with their names and meanings. To make things more distinctive, I divided them into the aforementioned three groups:
  • Freya's runes: Freya also has a twin brother (Frey). Together, they are the gods of luck, peace and fertility, while Freya herself is a love goddess.
  • Hagalaz's runes: no firm evidence today of such a god ever being worshiped, but since the other two groups were named after gods, the same is presumed for this one. If this god was worshiped, it is believed that he was similar to the goddess Kali (the goddess of destruction and ruin).
  • Tyr's runes: the god Tyr is a war god who sacrificed his arm in battle to save the other gods. Because of this act, he is associated with sacrifice, devotion, bravery and heroism. He is often compared to the Roman ward god, Mars.

Note: the symbol of each rune (colored green) can be found next to its name and the runes in the photographs are my runes which I made by painting the symbols using white distemper paint on pebbles. The photographs are there to give you a better depiction of each rune symbol.
Some runes also have a reverse meaning (i.e. the meaning which it was if it falls turned around for 180°; not if it falls face down!). Those runes which are completely symmetrical do not have a reversed meaning, of course, because their appearance doesn't change no matter how they fall. For those of them that do have a reversed meaning, you can find this also next to the rune along with the reversed rune symbol.

Freya's Runes

f Fehu

Name: Fehu (cattle)
Letter: f
Meaning: Cattle was the thing that kept tribes alive, so it came to represent wealth, fertility and assets. This rune urges us to protect ourselves and that which we possess, to share with others when necessary and to nurture what we have. 
Associations: assets, profit, earnings
Gender: female
Color: red
Zodiac sign: Aries
Tarot card: The Tower
Animals: cats, cattle (primarily cows), swallows
Plants: elderberry, nettle
Crystal: green achat

Reversed meaning: Frustrating love, absence of initiative, loss of assets or another form of failure, atrophy, greed, discord, cowardice, poverty, slavery

u Uruz   

Name: Uruz (bull/ox)
Letter: u
Meaning: It governs over strength, speed and survival. It is sometimes called the warrior rune because great cunning was needed to tame these wild bulls. It represents our strength and potential to deal with problems of any sort and is often connected with some sort of harvest which is needed for success.
Associations: physical strength, cyclicality, renewal, strength in general
Gender: male
Color: green
Zodiac sign: Taurus
Tarot card: The High Priestess
Animals: buffalo
Plants: birch, moss
Crystal: ruby

Reversed meaning: A missed chance, weakness, obsession, other's domination over you, illness, inconsistency, ignorance, desire, brutality, precipitation, aggression, callousness

th,þ Thurisaz  

Name: Thurisaz (giant/thorn)
Letter: th
Meaning: Some believe it to be a symbol of barriers and others of protection. It is necessary to put it into a context (in comparison to the other runes). It is connected to the god Thor and aggression. It represents self-defense and a firm attitude and it reminds us not to believe in first impressions. It often warns us of jealousy and untruthfulness coming from people which we will meet.
Associations: strength, doors between the worlds, calculability
Gender: male
Color: red
Zodiac sign: Taurus
Tarot card: The Emperor
Animals: snakes, porcupine
Plants: thorns, oak, leek
Crystal: sapphire

Reversed meaning: Regretting a rash decision, a destructive opposition, danger, defenselessness, compulsion, betrayal, dullness, evil, malice, hatred, torment, spite, lies.

a Ansuz  

Name: Ansuz (God/mouth)
Letter: a
Meaning: This rune reigns over communication. It is sometimes understood as a blessing (in the form of spiritual communication). It represents Odin and the tree Yggdrasil from which he hanged. It reminds us of learning, communication and dreams. It warns us of an oncoming sudden turn of events (because of Odin's ability to change shapes).
Associations: Odin, his protection, widening your horizons, open-mindedness, learning, understanding
Gender: male
Color: dark blue
Zodiac sign: Cancer
Tarot card: Death
Animals: wolf, raven, firefly
Plants: white ash, St John's wort
Crystal: emerald

Reversed meaning: An older person who will prove to be a nuisance, loss of inspiration, misunderstanding, delusion, manipulation by others, boredom, vanity and grandiloquence.

r Raido  

Name: Raido (riding)
Letter: r
Meaning: It is the rune of the wheel of the year. It represents cycles, changes and action. It brings physical and psychological journeys and transformation. It can also refer to the means by which we travel.
Associations: journeys, foreign countries, encounters, communication
Gender: female
Color: red
Zodiac sign: Leo
Tarot card: The High Priest
Animals: goat
Plants: oak, lavender
Crystal: chrysoprase

Reversed meaning: A journey which will mess with your plans, wrong judgment, crisis, rigidity, stasis, injustice, irrationality, disruption, dislocation, demotion, delusion, possibly a death.

k Kenaz 

Name: Kenaz/Kaunaz (torch)
Letter: k
Meaning: This is a fiery rune that indicates love, passion, human relations and brings artistic expression. It resembles protection and warmth (connection to fire) and enlightenment.
Associations: torches, female influence, sexuality, creativity, beginning of a better period/the end of a bad one, initiative
Gender: female
Color: fiery red
Zodiac sign: Virgo
Tarot card: The Chariot
Animals: owls
Plants: pine, primrose
Crystal: red hematite

Reversed meaning: Loss of something valuable/a friendship (could be you just "misplaced it"), ignorance, disease, breakup, instability, lack of creativity, nakedness, exposure, loss of illusion and false hope.

g Gebo  

Name: Gebo (gifts)
Letter: g
Meaning: It reigns over spiritual gifts and generosity. It resembles our help which others may need, peace as a reward for this, sacrifice, humanitarian work etc. It also implies the connection of people in partnership, friendship and love affairs.
Associations: gifts, partnership (friendly/love-related/business-related), generosity, a strong love omen
Gender: male and female
Color: blue
Zodiac sign: Libra
Tarot card: Lovers
Animals: cats
Plants: ash, St John's wort
Crystal: opal

w Wunjo  

Name: Wunjo (luck)
Letter: w
Meaning: This is a lucky rune. It represents harmony and balance. It indicated attraction to a blonde-haired person, brings happiness into the home but also stability and good news (through a letter or through a person). It can also resemble news that we haven't heard of in a while.
Associations: wind, stability in the home, blonde-haired people, happiness, light, contentment
Gender: male
Color: yellow
Zodiac sign: Scorpio
Tarot card: Strength
Animals: /
Plants: flax, ash
Crystal: diamond

Reversed meaning: Be careful in your business transactions the next three daysstultification, sorrow, strife, alienation, delirium, intoxication, possession by higher forces, impractical enthusiasm, frenzy.

Hagalaz's Runes

h Hagalaz  

Name: Hagalaz (hail)
Letter: h
Meaning: It is known as the rune of time. It represents both outer and inner barriers of various forces. It also represents everything we cannot influence and brings sudden change, it is also thought of as the rune of gamblers.
Associations: winter, ice, overcoming the cold, number 9, change, breaking off with something, caution, a moment when everything can change
Gender: female
Color: blue
Zodiac sign: Sagittarius
Tarot card: The World
Animals: swans, snakes
Plants: yew, lily
Crystal: onyx

n Nauthiz  

Name: Nauthiz (necessity)
Letter: n
Meaning: It warns us to think before we act and not to do something we may regret later. It is often connected to work and represents self-conservation.
Associations: necessity, pain, contemplating, borders
Gender: female
Color: black
Zodiac sign: Capricorn
Tarot card: The Devil
Animals: cats
Plants: beech, common knotgrass
Crystal: lapis lazuli

 i Isa 

Name: Isa (ice)
Letter: i
Meaning: It refers to a period with no action; a cooling-down period in the business and love-life area, short-term separation, refusing help when we need it etc. It strengthens the other runes that surround it.
Associations: ice, iron, patience, stopping, retreat, abandonment
Gender: female
Color: black
Zodiac sign: Aquarius
Tarot card: The Hermit
Animals: /
Plants: alder, ivy
Crystal: cat's eye

j Jera  

Name: Jera (year/harvest)
Letter: j
Meaning: It resembles a reward for past efforts. It marks the end to started affairs, some sort of justice (often connected with lawyers), endings but also new beginnings.
Associations: year, harvest (a fertile time), endings
Gender: male and female
Color: blue
Zodiac sign: Pisces
Tarot card: The Fool
Animals: moles
Plants: oak, rosemary
Crystal: carnelian

ï,ei Eihwaz  

Name: Eihwaz (yew)
Letter: ae
Meaning: The yew tree is a very old and wise tree which is thought to be the guardian of the door to the "other world". This is the rune of shamans and it resembles motivation and transformation. Even though it is a male rune, it is connected with powerful women (they can bring both good and evil), progress and attachment. Because of its connection to horses, it is also connected to speed and movement.
Associations: continuity, movement, readiness, common sense, new projects (as problems)
Gender: male 
Color: dark blue
Zodiac sign: Pisces
Tarot card: The Hanged Man
Animals: horses
Plants: yew, mandragora, apples
Crystal: topaz

p Perth  

Name: Perth (dice cup)
Letter: p
Meaning: This rune was used for both divination and gambling. It is the rune of fate and it motivates people to act according to their wishes and to make their own decisions. It resembles warmth, friendship and comfort, it predicts hidden things and mysteries but also a sudden inflow of money from unexpected sources. It is connected with esoteric and secretive knowledge.
Associations: the female sexual organ, chalice, fate, initiation, secrecy, spiritual strength, estrangement
Gender: female
Color: black
Zodiac sign: Aquarius
Tarot card: The Wheel of Fortune
Animals: eagles, sperm whales
Plants: beech, wolfsbane
Crystal: aquamarine

Reversed meaning: High expectations due to which you may be disappointed, the presence of negativity, addiction, stagnation, loneliness, malaise.

z Algiz  

Name: Algiz (deer)
Letter: z
Meaning: It represents deer antlers and thus protection. It is often used in meditation and healing, but it may also mean that someone will make us do something or make us do something against our will.
Associations: protection (from our own feelings), health, healing, meditation, deceit, support
Gender: male and female
Color: golden
Zodiac sign: Capricorn
Tarot card: The Moon
Animals: elks
Plants: yew, garden angelica
Crystal: amethyst

Reversed meaning: Do not get involved with people who will use you, a delicate and unprotected situation, hidden danger, consumption by divine forces, loss of divine link, taboo, warning, turning away.

s Sowelo  

Name: Sowelo / Sowelu (the Sun)
Letter: s
Meaning: It can be thought of as the life-giving force. It governs over mental and spiritual health, brings victory and fame and is often connected with the male ego and honor. It represents the love of a man for a woman and the protection of a woman. It can be thought of as the rune of good luck, happiness and health. It is definitely a positive rune.
Associations: the Sun, life energy, integrity, the love of a man for a woman, victory
Gender: male 
Color: white
Zodiac sign: Sagittarius 
Tarot card: The Sun
Animals: eagles
Plants: juniper berry, mistletoe
Crystal: ruby

Tyr's Runes

t Teiwaz 

Name: Teiwaz (Tyr, the god of war)
Letter: t
Meaning: Tyr sacrificed his battle arm in a battle once to save the other gods so this became a symbol of sacrifice for a long-term goal. It represents the warrior, winner, heroism, precision and a strong feeling for fairness and a big danger of revenge.
Associations: the god Tyr (and war), heroism, fame, courage, achievements, spiritual battles (with oneself)
Gender: male 
Color: fiery red
Zodiac sign: Scorpio
Tarot card: Justice
Animals: /
Plants: oak, sage
Crystal: corals

Reversed meaning: Do not trust him/her because they will not stay long, deceit, dual moral, blocked energy flow, mental paralysis, over-analysis, over-sacrifice, injustice, imbalance, strife, war, conflict, failure in competition, dwindling passion, difficulties in communication, and possibly separation.

b Berkana 

Name: Berkana (birch)
Letter: b
Meaning: The ability of this tree for fast regeneration is a symbol of reincarnation. It represents new beginnings, is connected with the birth of children and new jobs, regeneration, purification and female fertility. It is not connected with anything material.
Associations: growth, development, family, fertility, purification
Gender: female 
Color: green
Zodiac sign: Libra
Tarot card: The Empress
Animals: swans, bears
Plants: birch, common yellow woodsorrel
Crystal: moonstone

Reversed meaning: Concerning news regarding your family, barriers, anxiety about someone close to you, carelessness, abandon, loss of control, blurring of consciousness, deceit, sterility, stagnation.

e Ehwaz  

Name: Ehwaz (horse)
Letter: e
Meaning: It is considered the Goddess' rune. It represents collaboration and progress. It is strongly connected with horses and thus with journeys, but it often represents a higher degree of education or highly-educated people and strong emotions.
Associations: science, higher education, progress, movement, transition
Gender: male and female 
Color: white
Zodiac sign: Virgo
Tarot card: Lovers
Animals: horses
Plants: oak, ragwort benweed
Crystal: iceland spar

Reversed meaning: Travelling by sea, disharmony, quarrels, discomfort, a change is perhaps craved. Feeling restless or confined in a situation, reckless haste, disharmony, mistrust, betrayal.

m Mannaz  

Name: Mannaz (man)
Letter: m
Meaning: It represent us, the way in which we see ourselves and the way in which others see us, humanity and the fate of an individual. It warns us about health issues and other's motives and often represents a danger from stress and problems with the law.
Associations: man, individuality, the essence of an individual, accomplishments in relationships, goals, preparations, new knowledge
Gender: male and female 
Color: red
Zodiac sign: Leo
Tarot card: The Magician
Animals: falcons
Plants: holly, arrowroot
Crystal: garnet

Reversed meaning: An enemy - the next rune will tell you how to behave in this situation, alienation, bad achievements, depression, mortality, blindness, self-delusion, cunning, slyness, manipulation, craftiness, calculation, expect no help now.

l Laguz  

Name: Laguz (water)
Letter: l
Meaning: Water represents emotions and intuition. This rune signifies psychological and spiritual improvement and also foretells over-seas journeys. It is a very strong indicator of future pregnancy but also of gaining/losing material possessions due to another person's decision which we cannot influence.
Associations: water, instability of material possessions, invisible forces
Gender: female 
Color: green
Zodiac sign: Cancer
Tarot card: The Star
Animals: bears
Plants: willow, leek
Crystal: pearl

Reversed meaning: Stay in your borders, insensitivity, lack of feeling, an indication of a period of confusion in your life, you may be making wrong decisions and poor judgments  lack of creativity and feelings of being in a rut, fear, circular motion, avoidance, withering, madness, obsession, despair, perversity, sickness.

ŋ Inguz  

Name: Inguz (Ing, the god of fertility)
Letter: ng
Meaning: It is strongly connected with male fertility and energy, it represents creativity also (of ideas) and contacts with close relatives. It is a reminder of a needed vacation.
Associations: the god Ing, male fertility (or fertility in general), new projects and beginnings, new tidings, astral travel
Gender: male and female
Color: yellow
Zodiac sign: Gemini
Tarot card: Judgment
Animals: bees
Plants: apple, garden heliotrope
Crystal: amber

o Othila  

Name: Othila (belonging)
Letter: o
Meaning: It is the rune of the household and can also represent ancestors and successors. It usually predicts soon-to-be engagements and marriage and is closely connected with possessions. It represents something constant and unchanging and brings inheritance, but it also warns us that we mustn't forget about the spiritual heritage of our ancestors.
Associations: the home, possessions, inheritance, freedom, abdication, goals, retreat
Gender: male 
Color: yellow
Zodiac sign: Taurus
Tarot card: The Moon
Animals: lions
Plants: hawthorn, clovers
Crystal: ruby

Reversed meaning: Be careful around mechanical appliances, a possibility of accidents or damage, lack of customary order, totalitarianism, slavery, poverty, homelessness, bad karma, prejudice, clannishness, provincialism.

d Dagaz 

Name: Dagaz (day)
Letter: d
Meaning: It brings clarity, awakening and enlightenment. It represents new beginnings and chances that we must take. It tells us that we need to put a lot of effort into something but also that this effort will be worth it.
Associations: day, dawn, new beginnings, progress, transformation, effect
Gender: male
Color: blue
Zodiac sign: Aries
Tarot card: Temperance
Animals: /
Plants: fir, lavender
Crystal: diamond

I hope that this was enough information and that it will prove useful. In the next post, I will explain how you can use all of this knowledge practically (in divination) by explaining a few techniques of rune divination.

Until next time. Yours,
Witch's Cat

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