Runes Are Magical Symbols Used to Provide Insights and Answers

February 8, 2019


A rune is a letter of a set of ancient Germanic alphabets related to the Roman alphabet prior to the adoption of the Latin alphabet. Early runic inscriptions date back to 150 AD as a derivation of the Old Italic scripts used in antiquity. The oldest inscriptions discovered to date are located in Denmark and northern Germany. Although distinctions between long and short vowels were present in the spoken languages of the time, no such distinction is found in runic lettered or printed forms.

The runic alphabet was divided into groups (called aettir) and the first six letters were "f", "u", "th", "a", "r" and "k", giving the alphabet its name. The three most commonly identified runic alphabets include:

  • Elder Futhark - Existed around 150 to 800 AD and contained twenty-four runes that are arranged in three groups of eight and contained five vowels. The oldest sequential listing of the full alphabet is found on the Kylver Stone in Sweden.
  • Anglo-Saxon Futhorc - As language changed and more groups adopted it, Futhark changed to suit the requirements of the new written language. Anglo-Saxon Futhorc existed 400 to 1100 AD and gradually evolved to consist of 33 runes.
  • Younger Futhark - Existed 800 to 1100 AD but developed into the Medieval runes used from 1100 to 1500 AD. The alphabet uses only sixteen runes and often uses a single symbol to represent multiple sounds. Phonetic changes of the time led to a greater number of phonemes as Proto-Norse evolved into Old Norse.

In Scandinavia during the Middle Ages, the Younger Futhark was expanded, so the runic alphabet contained one sign for each phoneme (or sound) of the Old Norse language. The largest group of surviving runic inscriptions are Younger Futhark from the Viking Age.

In various languages, the root word of rune means secret, hidden or mystery, which suggests a rune stone has special powers. There is evidence that the complex history of the use of runes likely led to handheld mystical stones used by psychics to draw answers from the universe. Much like reading tealeaves, crystals or Tarot cards, mediums would use rune stones to provide a deeper insight into life's true purpose by connecting with the magic of the universe. Rune symbols also appeared on amulets and shields as well as to conceal secret messages. Most recently, runic alphabets were added in 1999 to the Unicode Standard's Official Consortium Code Chart preserving the magical inscriptions as a computing industry standard for writing systems.

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