Friday, July 1, 2011

Use of the Elder Futhark Vs. Younger Futhorc?

In Chapter 2 of Northern Lore I explored Runes and the variants of the runic staves. In my exploration of the use of runes for divination, I work with the Elder Futhark. Some may wonder why I chose the Elder rather than the Younger, which has a more recent history and more numerous extant inscriptions etc. There are a few reasons for my preference, and that’s all it is, simply a preference. People around the world work successfully with all the families of runes, but the Elder Futhark seems to resonate with me.

In the book I describe how the runes are divided into groups called aetir – literally eights. The Elder Futhark are divided into three groups of eight runes; other families are organized into three groups, but not necessarily of eight runes. To me this seems an inconsistency with the Elder Futhark. If our ancestors divided them into groups of eight, and we still use the term aetir, then why the change?

When contrasting the Elder versus Younger runic rows, I also noticed a significant difference in the scope of their interpretations that seemed to signify to me, a shift in the world view, or attitudes of our ancestors. For example the rune Kenaz in the Elder Futhark means Torch, and can symbolize light, learning and inspiration. It can also signify the energy of fire, in both negative and positive aspects. This description feels balanced to me. If we now look at the equivalent rune in the Younger Futhorc, Kaun, we see a marked difference in its meaning – Cancer, Ulcer. It seems to me to be a very negative rune; It’s lost its balance in my view.

Other changes include the removal of Gebo, the rune for Gift, and of Wunjo, the rune for Joy. I’m speculating that perhaps due to the changes in conditions that drove our ancestors to go a-viking in the first place, they also began to have a more negative, and less balanced view of the world. In my own search for meaning, I’m looking for balance. To me, the Elder Futhark feels right. Let me add that I recognize that systems evolve, as the elder futhark did into the younger and others; perhaps for me choosing the elder runes, this is simply closing the loop on that evolution – coming full circle if you will.

Please don’t let my preference dissuade you from using any of the different runic rows in your own work, I simply want to highlight my own rationale for choosing one over the other.

I'd be very interested to get your feedback on this, and hear what may have made the decision for you - or perhaps you work with all of them?

Best wishes,

Eoghan Odinsson

Other Excellent books on the runes:

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