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Runelore This 8-10 week course will combine runelore with exercises and stories from the runic pathway. Its emphasis lies on reconnecting the runes with the everyday life they were once a part of, using the runes for divinatory purposes and creating small-scale energywork with their presences. Open to all levels of learning."

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Old 10-10-11   #1
SunSister
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Default Runework for Week One: Part Two

The Elder Futhark and other runic alphabets

The Elder Futhark, as we have seen in part one of this week, is the oldest surviving runic alphabet. Its name is derived from the first letters of its six first runes: Fehu, Uruz, Thurisaz, Ansuz, Raidho and Kenaz.

When read in full, the alphabet is as follows: Fehu, Uruz, Thurisaz, Ansuz, Raidho, Kenaz, Gebo, Wunjo, Hagalaz, Naudhiz, Isa, Jera, Eihwaz, Perthro, Algiz, Sowilo, Teiwaz, Berkana, Ehwaz, Mannaz, Laguz, Ingwaz, Othila and Dagaz. (Note: the positions of Othila and Dagaz are sometimes reversed depending on the source you use. It has always made more sense to me to place Dagaz last, because of the meaning associated with this particular rune. By no means is my word gospel, however, and you may feel differently about the matter. Don't let me hold you back from changing this for yourself!)

The spelling of these names may also vary depending on your source, because there is no general consensus about which names to use. This may cause some confusion for you at first when you're trying to learn the names. For the sake of the course, I will use the spelling I have grown accustomed to over the years and add alternate spellings into their respective threads later on. (And yes, you will probably confuse the use of Eihwaz with Ehwaz 24/7 in the first few weeks. Happened to me. That sort of thing is ridiculously common when you're starting out. I'm not ashamed to admit that I couldn't even *write* poor Ehwaz properly!) Learning the runes is honestly like learning a new language of which few 'letters' look familiar and the pronounciations will likely have you tripping over your own tongue. The only comfort I can give is that practice makes it a LOT easier, which is why the exercise of this week will centre around precisely that.

The main 'problem' scholars encounter when they try to decipher the runes is, again, no general consensus on how to write them. Some authors insisted on the common left-to-right approach, whereas others wrote them right-to-left just like you would write languages like Hebrew. Other runemasters created puzzles with what they wrote and mixed various runes together to form different symbols entirely. (This is, likely, a form of bindrunes used in common script. Bindrunes are often a shortcut in writing and contain a lot of runes in a single symbol.) Can you imagine the frustration some people must have felt when attempts to decipher old texts gained nothing? I guess they were not wrong to say that "secret" is one of the origins for the word 'rune'!

The Elder Futhark is far from the only runic alphabet. We will be using the Elder Futhark predominantly in this course, because that's the one I've studied for half my life and feel most at ease with. I have looked into the Northumbrian variant on the Anglo-Saxon runes (are you getting a sense of the scale of their use by now?) and found it beautiful, but I have never studied that one beyond one book. It seems quite awkward to try and teach something I don't know, which is why I'll be sticking really firmly to my Elder-Futhark-guns! (Also, the Elder Futhark probably has the best and most extensive resources for in-depth looks and research of the runes because of its widespread use throughout several ages. Just saying that that sort of thing comes in handy when you're trying to teach a course, lol.)

The Younger Futhark (called thusly because it's, tadaa, younger than the Elder by several decades!) is a reduced form of the Futhark we'll be studying in this course. This reduction occurred roughly around the same time as phonetic changes were made to the spoken language and Proto-Norse evolved into Old Norse. The phonetic changes were the main reason for the Younger Futhark to contain less runes (16) than the Elder Futhark (24) has. The Elder Futhark had always been connected with the literate elite of society, thus forming another "secret", whereas the Younger Futhark had a much larger scale of literacy and became widespread throughout Scandinavia. For this reason, the Younger Futhark was the alphabet known to Europeans as "the alphabet of Norsemen" and became a study within the fields of trade and diplomacy. It wasn't until the use of Latin became more prevalent that the Younger Futhark became less popular, although many northern people continued to use this futhark right until the Middle Ages!

An earlier (probable) offshoot of the Elder Futhark was employed by Goths. (East-Germanic tribe whose language Gothic is the oldest attested Germanic language and whose power extended over several kingdoms. They battled a lot of would-be conquerors, including the Huns, and were pretty awesome for as long as nobody provoked them. Not to be confused with modern-day goths in any sense of the word.) Gothic runes were used until approximately 500 CE when they were replaced by a Greek-based alphabet. One theory actually mentions the possibility of the Gothic runes being used as templates for the runes of the Elder Futhark. This was never proven and evidence for anything of the sort remains woefully small and inconclusive. Still, there are certain similarities between their runes and the well-known runes that are quite fascinating.

Onto the Anglo-Saxons, then, I'd say! Another tribe of conquerors (must be in the water!) that took the runic alphabets much further into Europe than any other variants ever had been. Their runic alphabet was called futhorc instead of futhark, because they made some changes in the first few runes. This futhorc was descended from the Elder Futhark and contained between 26 and 33 characters. It was used from approximately the 5th century CE onward and mainly recorded the Old English and Old Frisian languages. The very early futhorc was almost identical to the Elder Futhark, in which they only split the rune Ansuz into three variants. (Thus creating the 26 runes.) Once the Anglo-Saxons got into England, they expanded their alphabet to included 28 and finally 33 runes. This is mainly because the language the Anglo-Saxons spoke was subject to change once they encountered the English language. It is probably one of the prime examples of an alphabet molding itself to suit the people who needed to use it. It makes the Anglo-Saxon variant of the runic alphabet one of the most interesting, because it was such a vibrantly alive language during the time in which it thrived. It was, of course, replaced by Latin in later years. Such a pity.

There are some other runic variants that were usually derived from the derivations of the Elder Futhark. Anglo-Frisian, Marcomannic, Dalecarnian, etc.. They're not something I will involve in this course, but still interesting to take a look at whenever you've got the time. We've gone through the most important runic alphabets by this stage and spread our wings from the British Isles to my country to Germany to Scandinavian countries. (And probably some others, considering the conquering nature of the tribes who employed the runes..)

To end part two, here is a quick visual recap of the four I've chatted away about most. (There are some varieties of particularly the last alphabet depending on region etc.)

Elder Futhark:

Younger Futhark:

Gothic runes:

Anglo-Saxon futhorc:
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Old 10-10-11   #2
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Default Re: Runework for Week One: Part Two

Happy to hear we'll be using the Elder Furthark, that's what I have and I have one of the books recommended to me. It's at the house though so I won't be able to get it until this weekend for reference.
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Old 10-11-11   #3
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Default Re: Runework for Week One: Part Two

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sacred View Post
Happy to hear we'll be using the Elder Furthark, that's what I have and I have one of the books recommended to me. It's at the house though so I won't be able to get it until this weekend for reference.
That's great! Would love to hear about the book. (You may want to use it as a cross-reference companion in the three weeks to come. I'll be going in-depth about every single rune then, which can be a bit daunting. )
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Old 10-11-11   #4
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Default Re: Runework for Week One: Part Two

Don't think I'm not here.......I'm still away from home and am printing everything .

This is great !
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