Runes are ancient symbols used to communicate messages. Each symbol had its own meaning and ability to pass stories and wisdom between people. There are many types of ancient runes, however, the Elder Futhark are oldest and most well-known.
Elder Futhark runes are letters of an ancient Norse alphabet made up of 24 symbols. Each symbol is placed belongs to one of three sets or aettir ruled by Freya, Hagal, or Tyr. Elder Futhark runes are also used for magic and divination through the use of symbols, numbers, and phonetic meanings. Reading runes can communicate messages of spiritual guidance.
That’s a basic overview of what the Elder Futhark runes are, but if it’s sparked your interest then keep reading.
This guide will take you through the basics of how the elder futhark is used for divination. We’ll discuss what the aettir are, the rune symbols and how to use them for insight.
So let’s begin.
Elder futhark Runes
The elder further runes are one of the oldest forms of rune communication we know of. It was a system of communication used by the Germanic people in the 1st to the 8th centuries.
The elder part translates as old and the futhark represents the first six letters of the rune alphabet. You may also see it referred to as:
- Older Futhark
- Old Futhark
- Germanic Futhark
The reason it has different names is that there are other runic alphabets that have derived from the elder futhark runes. The younger futhark is a short Scandinavian version made up of only 16 symbols.
The elder futhark has been used historically as oracles for divination purposes. They carry the energy of the gods since Odin, the god of wisdom, discovered their magic.
Modern systems such as rune stones, rune cards, and spreads are all used as a form of fortune-telling similar to tarot. This is a nice beginners Elder Futhark Rune set.
The merging of many metaphysical practices connects runes with various forms of universal forces. Rune can align with energy such as spirits, colors, numbers and crystals.
There are 24 symbols in the Elder Futhark runes. These are split up into three sets of eight. Each of these sets belongs to a family known as an Aett or an Aettir. The aettir are each ruled by a Norse deity.
Let’s look at what each Aett represents.
Elders Futhark Aettir
1. Freya’s Aett
The first aett of the Elder Futhark belongs to Freya. She is the Norse goddess of love, beauty, fertility, war, and death.
This aett relates to things that we need for survival and day-to-day life. This includes basic needs such as safety, security, shelter, food, and finances. It also includes our interaction with others creating joyful interactions and loving relationships.
Freya’s aett introduces the concept of finding a tribe of like-minded people. It encourages community and working with others a sense of purpose and path to happiness. Realizing life is hard but there are others there to help in your time of need, then replaying the favor when you can.
The first aett represents our journey through life. Starting off new and flourishing through our experiences. It encourages a path of personal growth. We must socialize with others, improve communication skills, embrace creativity and connect spiritually.
Let’s look at the eight symbols of Freya’s Aett
Also known as: Fe, Feh, Feoh, Frey
Translation: Cattle or Wealth
Divination interpretation: Fehu translates to cattle, which was a sign of ‘movable wealth’ in ancient times. This relates to modern-day money or abundance.
As the first letter of the Elder Futhark rune, it also symbolizes new beginnings.
Read more in our guide to the Fehu rune.
Also known as: Ur, Urz
Divination interpretation: Uruz represents the brute strength of an ox. It relates to power, energy, endurance, and force.
It symbolizes the will to create new experiences and work hard to create a new life.
Read more in our guide to the Uruz rune.
Also known as: Thurs, Thor
Translation: Giant or Thorn
Divination interpretation: Thurisaz concerns itself with protection and defense against danger. It reminds you to be on high alert in situations you are unsure of.
It also symbolizes the importance of careful consideration when making big life decisions.
Read more in our guide to the Thurisaz rune.
Also known as: Ass, As
Translation: God or deity
Divination interpretation: Ansuz is a rune related to communication of all forms. It encourages being wise with the messages you give. It also encourages you to gain more knowledge and reason with what you already know.
Ansuz also relates to divine communication and how this can provide guidance.
Read more in our guide to the Ansuz rune.
Also known as: Reid, Rad
Divination interpretation: Raidho is a rune relating to traveling and journeys. This can be on a physical, mental, or spiritual level.
This rune reminds us that life has up and downs, yet things still move forward. We must learn to deal with the good times and bad.
Read more in our guide to the Raidho rune.
Also known as: Kano, Ken, Kaun, Kaunan
Translation: light or fire
Divination interpretation: Kenaz is the representation of light within the darkness. Fire is an energy that provides light and warmth. It represents a spark of creativity and vitality.
Kenaz represents the inspiration you need in life and insight into what needs to change.
Read more in our guide to the Kenaz rune.
Also known as: Gifu, Gytu
Divination interpretation: Gebo relates to giving and receiving between two people. It connects mainly to friendships and relationships.
Gebo is about creating harmony and commitment to a partnership.
Read more in our guide to the Gebo rune.
Also known as: Wynja, Wyn
Divination interpretation: Wunjo is an extremely positive rune related to joy and happiness. It relates to an overall sense of wellbeing and feeling fulfilled.
Wunjo can connect with specific areas of your life where you feel successful or satisfied.
Read more in our guide to the Wunjo rune.
2. Hagal’s Aettir
The second aett of the elder futhark belongs to Heimdall. He is a Norse warrior god of perception and foresight.
This Aett relates to the hardships we face in life. This includes experiences of bad luck, change, slow progress, and disruption. These are forces of nature that we cannot control, including time, mortality, others’ perceptions, and karma.
Hagal’s Aett is the opposing factor to the life forces we were in Freya’s aett. It sets to bring balance to the Joys and progresses we make in life. Hegal’s aett is the challenges we face that make us grow and really experience life.
The second Aett encourages a concept of chaos before the change. When things feel beyond control that when they settle, it gives a chance for renewal. A sense that you have found a new facet of your personality you may never have known without experiencing hardship.
Let’s explore the eight symbols of Hagal’s Aett.
Also known as: Hagal, Hagall
Divination interpretation: Hagalaz represents those sudden and unexpected events that happen in life. These are temporary but can have devastating consequences.
It’s a rune that encourages transformation or adaptation to circumstances. A shift has happened, and old patterns no longer work for you.
Read more in our guide to the Hagalaz rune.
Also known as: Naud, Naudirz, Not, Nautiz, Nied
Divination interpretation: The nauthiz symbol represents the lack of a basic need. This may be money, food, shelter, good health, or support.
Nauthiz can also alert us to our resilience and to be resourceful to get us through hardship. This rune strengthens your resolve and patience.
Also known as: Isaz, Isa, Is, Iss, Isarz
Divination interpretation: Isa symbolizes an obstacle in your way. Prevention of moving forward and feeling of frustration.
It can also represent barriers between connections in relationships. Usually relating to conflict or lack of communication in romantic relationships or friendships.
Also known as: Jara, Jeran, Jeraz
Divination interpretation: Jera is a symbol that reminds us that impatience is not in our best interest. Often we need to wait to see the fruit of our labor.
This rune rewards hard work and perseverance. It also makes you realize that life has ebbs and flows, and you need to learn to master these.
Also known as: Eoh, Eow, Ihwaz, Iwarz
Divination interpretation: The eihwaz represents the idea that when one door closes, another opens. It relates to the death of the old yet starting u something new.
Eihwaz also introduces the concept that you are the beholder of your own destiny. You hold the power to make the necessary changes and don’t need to wait for someone else to give you permission.
Also known as: Perdhro, Pertho, Pertra, Perthu
Divination interpretation: Perthro is one of the most mystical of all runes. It represents sharing of deep secrets and spiritual self-reflection. This can often bring some sobering truths.
Perthro can also relate to taking a chance, which may or may not work out for you.
Read more in our guide to the Perthro rune.
Also known as: Elgiz, Eoih, Elgr
Divination interpretation: The Algiz rune represents the potential to let your guard down too soon. It reminds you to remain alert at all times.
It also introduces the concept of looking after your mind and not becoming too paranoid or mistrusting.
Also known as: Sowulu, Sol, Sunna
Divination interpretation: Sowilo rune represents the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s the realization that good times can be found if you deal with your darker issues.
This rune reminds you not to spread yourself too thin. Focus your energy where you shine.
3. Tyr’s Aettir
The third Aett of the elder futhark belongs to Tyr. This is the Norse god of war and bringer of order and justice.
This Aett relates to our connection with the physical and the spiritual. It aligns with the ideas and concepts rather than worldly issues. This is the aett that connects to spiritual guidance or universal forces.
Ty’s aett opposes the physical and emotional issues that are faced in Freya and Hagal’s aettir. It’s out-of-body energy and connection of experiencing that which is otherworldly and beyond mankind.
The third Aett helps us to experience physiological and spiritual experiences. The ability to meet our full potential when all our physical and emotional needs are met. Exploring self and energy beyond is a privilege of the few.
Let’s explore the eight symbols of the Tyr’s Aett.
Also known as: Teiwaz, Tyr, Tiwar
Translation: god Tyr
Divination interpretation: The Tiwaz run represent courage, bravery, and sacrifice. It relates to putting personal desires aside for the greater good.
Tiwaz connects with male energy and often represents a male in a romantic relationship or friendship.
Also known as: Berkano, Bairkan, Beorc, Bjarkan
Divination interpretation: Barkana is the symbol of new beginnings. It often relates to events such as pregnancy, a new baby, or a wedding.
This rune brings a strong female energy of nurture, family, love, and protection. It helps to strengthen your belonging.
Also known as: Ehwass, Eih, Eoh
Divination interpretation: The ehwaz is a symbol of faith, loyalty, and trust. It’s related to the partnership between two to be loyal and accountable to each other.
Ehwaz also connects with your commitment to your spiritual journey. Make sure you stay on the path and don’t try to avoid ‘doing the work’.
Also known as: Madr, Madir, Mann
Divination interpretation: Mannaz represents that pull of developing intelligence alongside creativity. Cooperating with others to help you open up to new ideas and experiences.
Mannaz can also relate to family and the support you may need to give those around you.
Also known as: Lagu, Laguz, Lagaz, Logr
Divination interpretation: the Laguz rune symbolizes water in all early forms. Water has a flow and always finds a way. It’s a gentle yet mighty force of nature.
Laguz can also relate to the feeling of being underestimated. It is time to demonstrate talents and abilities to allow you to flourish into your true self.
Also known as: Inguz, Enguz, Ing
Translation: the god Ing
Divination interpretation: The ingwaz rune relates to the god Ing of fertility and male potency. It then brings to life the energy of substantial results.
This is a rune of good fortune and relaxation of enjoying the fruits of your labor.
Also known as: Daeg, Dags, Dogr
Divination interpretation: The dagaz rune represents the emergence of light from the darkness. It’s a feeling of growth, prosperity, and wealth.
This rune indicates spiritual breakthroughs and balance in a challenging situation.
Also known as: Othalan, Othila, Odal, Odhil, Othel
Divination interpretation: This rune relates to the knowledge and beliefs we inherit for our families. This can be the ever-changing pull of what has always been against what you now believe or is morally right.
This rune can relate to present cultural practices. But, also to rid ourselves of destructive generational cycles that no longer serve us.
Rune Cheat Sheet For Beginners
|ᚠ||Fehu||1||F||wealth, prosperity, abundance, reward, good health, beginnings|
|ᚢ||Uruz||2||U||strength, health, power, energy, endurance, creative force|
|ᚦ||Thurisaz||3||TH||protection, warning, contemplation, decisions, luck|
|ᚨ||Ansuz||4||A||communication, wisdom, divine power, a message|
|ᚱ||Raidho||5||R||travel, a journey, movement, reunion, changes|
|ᚲ||Kenaz||6||K||light, heat, illumination, breakthrough, creative fire|
|ᚷ||Gebo||7||G||gift, generosity, friendship, harmony, talents/abilities|
|ᚹ||Wunjo||8||W||joy, happiness, harmony, bliss, happy relationships, well-being, success|
|ᚺ||Hagalaz||9||H||destruction, chaos, interference, misfortune, transformation|
|ᚾ||Nauthiz||10||N||need, necessity, scarcity, absence, restriction, patience|
|ᛁ||Isa||11||I||obstacles, standstill, stagnation, delay, coldness|
|ᛃ||Jera||12||Y||harvest, reward, natural cycles, fruition, fertility, growth|
|ᛇ||Eihwaz||13||E||death, regeneration, rebirth, changes, magic|
|ᛈ||Perthro||14||P||mystery, secrets, revelation, chance|
|ᛉ||Algiz||15||Z||protection, defense, opportunity|
|ᛊ||Sowilo||16||S||light, energy, good health, success|
|ᛏ||Tiwaz||17||T||courage, victory, strength, passion, masculine energy|
|ᛒ||Berkano||18||B||birth, new beginnings, family, growth, regeneration|
|ᛖ||Ehwaz||19||E||changes, faith, loyalty, trust, movement, travel|
|ᛗ||Mannaz||20||M||humanity, the self, support, assistance, intelligence, family|
|ᛚ||Laguz||21||L||water, flow, intuition, the unconscious, psychic ability, the feminine, growth|
|ᛝ||Ingwaz||22||NG||fertility, male procreative force, channeling energy, completion, safety|
|ᛞ||Dagaz||23||D||daylight, success, hope, breakthrough, transformation, balance|
|ᛟ||Othala||24||O||Heritage, tradition, inheritance, ancestral property, family ties|
How to use Elder Futhark Runes
Rune can be used to pass messages from the god, to guide you through challenging issues. The outcome is not set in stone. Its communication of suggestions should never override your own intuitive decision-making.
At the start of each rune casting, it is vital to bring your intention to the forefront of your thoughts. This may be a question, a challenge, or a specific person.
There are two main methods of reading runes for divination. This is by rune casting, or rune spreads. Let’s look at each method and how it works.
The traditional method of reading runes is by casting. This method is also known as a rune toss. The runes selected are completely at random.
This is the most intuitive and random method of casting. It involved selecting and gathering a collection of runes and then throwing them down to scatter randomly onto a rune cloth.
The number of runes is decided by what the user feel is intuitively right for the reading. Generally, less is considered more in rune reading.
Runes that land face down are not read. The symbols shown are then left for you to interpret depending on your intention.
You can interpret the combination of symbols, overall arrangement, or the shape or pattern you see in the cast. The beauty of rune reading is that it is subjective to the caster.
You can also use a rune cloth with a chart to help to guide you in your rune interpretation. This is usually helpful for a more general rune reading.
Rune spreads are much more of a modern way to use elder futhark runes for divination. It’s a method that offers a set sequence for the rune to be interpreted by the caster. Spread tend to focus on sequences of odd numbers.
There are several popular rune casting methods.
The single draw
This is the most simple rune cast when one rune is selected at random. The rune symbol will bring a message to you regarding the intention you held before the draw.
Three rune spread
The three-stone tune cast involves drawing three random stones and placing them in a sequence. The first stone represents your past, the second your present, and the third your future.
This cast can also be used to answer yes or no questions. If the symbol is the right way up it signifies yes. If the symbol is reversed it signifies no. Since you have three symbols one will represent more heavily than the other in the cast.
Five Rune spread
The five-rune cast is similar to the three-rune cast. The first three runes symbolize the past, present, and future. In addition, the fourth rune represents advice, and the fifth is for the outcome.
Spreads of 6 or more runes are generally considered more advanced. There are various layouts and methods of reading a rune spread. Using more runes can give you more detail to your question or challenge.
It’s important to be mindful that too much information can cloud the core message on your issue. Beginners should stick to simple spreads until they become more attuned to reading the runes.
Once you feel you are ready to move on to more advanced spreads, there is plenty of inspiration out there. You may also wish to develop your own intuitive rune spreads.
How to Read Elder Futhark runes
Traditional runes have a specific way of being read. When you look at a rune, you’ll see that the symbol is on one side and blank on the other.
This means that when a rune is cast or spread, it can show a symbol or not.
In addition to this, the symbol may not always be placed the right way up.
To a beginner, this may not seem important; however, these details change the divine message of each rune.
Let’s take a closer look.
The upright, or standard rune, is read as the symbol is intended (e.g, the first rune above).
Any runes cast out with this are subjective, depending on the rules you use for readings.
Some will read any position as upright.
Others may consider a rune upright unless it specifically falls at 180° flipped from the upright position. This is known as a reversed rune.
Some assign an upright position to symbols angled to the left. If a rune falls at an obscure angle, it is rotated in a clockwise direction until it reaches an upright or reversed position. This is shown in 3 further example positions above.
Upright runes generally bring the purest form of the symbol. They signify the light and positive aspects of a symbol’s message. For a rune spread, it can be considered as a yes to a question.
The reversed rune is one flipped 180° from its upright position (e.g the first rune above).
Again runes cast out with this are subjective, depending on the rules you use for readings.
Some do not consider a reversed rune potion at all.
Some assign a reversed position to symbols angled to the right. If a rune falls at an obscure angle, it is rotated in a clockwise direction until it reaches an upright or reversed position. This is shown in 3 further example positions above.
Reversed symbols are known as Merkstave, which means the ‘dark stick’. They signify the negative or opposite aspects of a symbol’s message. For a rune spread, a reversed symbol can be considered a no answer to a question.
Some runes cannot be reversed as they look identical at any angle.
Some Rune sets may come with a blank rune. It is not to be confused with a rune symbol that shows a blank side up during a cast. In this case, these symbols are not interpreted as part of the reading.
A blank rune is blank on both sides. It is highly debated as to whether it should be used in reading or not.
It’s believed it originated from Ralph Blum’s lack of understanding of using his first rune set. Yet he set the precedence for the blank rune being named Odin’s rune or Wyrd.
It’s been interpreted as signifying zero or nothing. A symbol that you are not supposed to know the answers to yet. It’s unclear if it’s a positive or negative result.
Whether you choose to use the blank rune in your casting is up to you. Choose what you feel is instinctively right.
As a beginner, please be mindful that you should overuse your runes as a form of divination. Too much communication with the runes will send mixed messages. You’ll likely increase your anxiety and be unable to think with a clear head.
Take time out from your runes if you feel you are relying on them to answer any simple challenge in your life.
For best results, try to use them with the most pressing issues in your life. Take the time to interpret the result you have been given. Remember, the message may take weeks or months to filter through, so be patient.
The Elder futhark runes are an ancient alphabet that can be used for divination. Each symbol represents communication from the gods to help guide you through life.
Have a question or intention in mind, and the runes will send you a message. These messages can be interpreted as you wish.
Rune casts and spreads are the most common ways to use runes for forecasting. You can gain insight into your next steps or even closure for a situation.
Take your time and enjoy learning the art of rune casting. I hope this guide had helped to get you started.