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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 One

Runic Origins

Runes were once used by the Germanic and Scandinavian people of old as a common writing language, as a tool for divination and as the guardianship of home and land. It is commonly believed by scholars that runes found their origin in Etruscan and Latin alphabets, although there is still uncertainty about their exact origin. Pre-runic symbols, known as hällristningar, have been found in carvings dating back to the Bronze Age. These carvings were mostly found in Sweden, which turned into one of the lands in which the use of runes became highly prevalent. The oldest surviving runic alphabet was conceived some time between 200 BCE and the 1st century AD. This alphabet, known as the Elder Futhark, was primarily used by the tribes of Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Northern Germany.

In later years, from 5th century AD onward, the runes began to change as their use spread and met different tribes of people. The Anglo-Saxon runic alphabet is a prime example of these changes. Runes were altered in shape and more of them were added to the alphabet to compensate for extra sounds found in the languages of the people who began to use them. This primarily happened in areas such as Frisia (northern part of the Netherlands and northwestern part of Germany), in which the Anglo-Saxons were heavily represented. We'll be looking at these 'new' alphabets in the second 'part' of this first week.

The use of the word 'alphabet' in connection with runes has often led to the misconception that the word 'rune' means the same as 'letter'. You might be surprised to learn that this is not the case! Etymologically speaking, the word 'rune' finds its origin in a root meaning 'secret' or 'whisper'. The root can also be found in Baltic languages, where it is transliterated to mean 'speech', and in the Lithuanian language. In the latter, the word 'runoti' has two meanings: 'to cut (with a knife)' or 'to speak'. It is safe to say that the word rune is connected with the spoken word more than it is with the written word. This is also reflected in their practical application, of which we will learn more in the upcoming weeks.

Esoterically speaking, runes originated from an experience the god Odin had while he hung from a tree. This tree is commonly thought to be the very important tree within Northern lore. Yggdrasil is the immense world tree around which the nine worlds of Norse myth existed. It is said to be an ash tree of which the name is sometimes translated to mean "Odin's horse". The gods go to Yggdrasil daily to hold their courts, so it would not be a far stretch to assume that Odin indeed received the runes while he hung from this tree. We will be looking at his sacrifice and journey in-depth in the fifth and eighth week. (One of the reasons why I only mention it in passing today!)

Unfortunately, the runes have also been used for less savoury purposes over recent years. The most important of note is the connection that was formed between the runes and Nazi symbolism. Germanic mysticism produced 18 runes known as Armanen runes, designed by the author Guido von List, and their derivation known as Wiligut-runes. The fascination with runic symbolism within the higher echelons of the Nazi regime was fortunately limited to include only Heinrich Himmler. As a result of this, however, Himmler used the rune Sowilo in the insignia associated with his Schutzstaffel (SS). Sowilo was far from the only rune to become tainted with Nazism. The rune Teiwaz was also taken from the Elder Futhark and used to symbolise leadership in battle and mark the graves of SS-men. To this day, neo-Nazis sometimes use the runes as their symbols and connection with their ideologies. I must absolutely stress that there is little similarity between what these people made of the runes and what the runes actually stand for and can be used for. I do not want to gloss over this part of their history, however, because it is a prime example of what happens when runic power falls into the hands of those who cannot wield it.

Runic power can most commonly be described as "comfort to home, cattle and crop". The tribes who first used the runes wielded them for trade purposes, protection and many more practical approaches. The entire power of the runes centres around the concepts that were important to these people: fire, cattle, home, hearth, produce, wealth, necessity, force of nature, family, honour, loyalty, etc. I have always found it very important to view the runes in this light of old and not make the runes be something they are not. Runes are close to the Earth. They are the tools of the Earth's wealth, given to humans to wield with care, and it does not work to detach them wholly from that earth energy. Similarly, they can never be fully detached from the Norse pantheon. Some runes have meanings that will take us directly into Norse myth and into the worldview of the Northern people. You do not have to work with the pantheon in order to be able to work with the runes, but it doesn't hurt to at least know why some of these runes are connected so strongly with their gods.
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Old 10-10-11   #2
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Default Re: Runework for Week One: Part One

I had no idea about the Nazi's, very interesting, thanks.
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Old 10-11-11   #3
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Default Re: Runework for Week One: Part One

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Originally Posted by Sacred View Post
I had no idea about the Nazi's, very interesting, thanks.
Most people tend to want to 'gloss over' that particular part of runic history. It is not easy to admit that the Scandinavian and Germanic pathways were used in such a fashion, and are still used like that today. I think that it does more harm than good to ignore what's going on in some communities, although I will not dive into it any more than I have done in this thread. I shall mention it when the topic calls for it, but I won't go out of my way to give this 'practice' a place in the course I am teaching.
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Old 10-12-11   #4
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Default Re: Runework for Week One: Part One

Quote:

Unfortunately, the runes have also been used for less savoury purposes over recent years. The most important of note is the connection that was formed between the runes and Nazi symbolism. Germanic mysticism produced 18 runes known as Armanen runes, designed by the author Guido von List, and their derivation known as Wiligut-runes. The fascination with runic symbolism within the higher echelons of the Nazi regime was fortunately limited to include only Heinrich Himmler. As a result of this, however, Himmler used the rune Sowilo in the insignia associated with his Schutzstaffel (SS). Sowilo was far from the only rune to become tainted with Nazism. The rune Teiwaz was also taken from the Elder Futhark and used to symbolise leadership in battle and mark the graves of SS-men. To this day, neo-Nazis sometimes use the runes as their symbols and connection with their ideologies. I must absolutely stress that there is little similarity between what these people made of the runes and what the runes actually stand for and can be used for. I do not want to gloss over this part of their history, however, because it is a prime example of what happens when runic power falls into the hands of those who cannot wield it.
You make an excellent point about misuse of power, and it IS helpful to have this out in the open and explained. Reminds me of the swastika itself; as most here will know IT was co-opted by the Nazis from the orginal Hindu emblem (facing the other way):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swastika

Quote:
Some runes have meanings that will take us directly into Norse myth and into the worldview of the Northern people. You do not have to work with the pantheon in order to be able to work with the runes, but it doesn't hurt to at least know why some of these runes are connected so strongly with their gods.
Agree, this is important to know and understand! Let me know if this course is able to cover some of the religious elements, if not (and I understand you have a lot of ground to cover this next while) I may know someone who could set up a short course on Norse mythology and Asatru.
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Old 10-12-11   #5
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Default Re: Runework for Week One: Part One

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Originally Posted by feranaja View Post
You make an excellent point about misuse of power, and it IS helpful to have this out in the open and explained. Reminds me of the swastika itself; as most here will know IT was co-opted by the Nazis from the orginal Hindu emblem (facing the other way):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swastika
Yes, that's another prime example of symbolism being twisted to suit any end. It still strikes me as somewhat odd that they adopted the Hindu emblem, because there was a huge emphasis on the 'germanisation' of culture all the same.

Quote:
Agree, this is important to know and understand! Let me know if this course is able to cover some of the religious elements, if not (and I understand you have a lot of ground to cover this next while) I may know someone who could set up a short course on Norse mythology and Asatru.
I will cover some of it in the course. I cannot precisely tell the extent of it yet, but it has become very clear to me that the course will incorporate some of those elements. Even now, during my work on week two, I find it impossible to refrain from mentioning some deities and the cultural ideas behind specific runes. I will dive quite deeply into some mythological aspects such as Odin's acquirement of the runes and the role of the Norns in fate's design later on in the course. Norse shamanism, again an element of this, is something that will also be mentioned in the later weeks. (It's one of the reasons why I lovingly call this course The Monster: it has grown exponentially since that first 'yes' I gave you!)
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Old 10-12-11   #6
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Default Re: Runework for Week One: Part One

I hear you on hat last bit - struggling mightily with NOT incorporating Qabalah into the Tarot course. next time...next time.
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