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Spiritual concepts

Runes and the elements

 Despite the degeneration of the old runic system, the link with the elements of Fire, Earth, Air and Water has been preserved.  Unfortunately no one seems to agree on the link and there are differing versions.  I have tried to pull together something of the commonality in various interpretations, but this could be wildly out.  It may be better to simply understand that a link exists.

In the table I have shown the elements, [one of the known] current names for the rune and its current approximate meaning as it is described in the oldest ‘rune poem’ – the Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem probably composed in the 8th or 9th century.  It provides a sort of cipher to the meaning of the symbols. 

I have not attempted to interpret these.  It is easier to leave the description as it is so that it can be compared to later findings

 

Element

Rune name

Anglo Saxon rune poem

Current approximate meaning

All elements

Eihwaz

The yew is a tree with rough bark,

hard and fast in the earth, supported by its roots,

a guardian of flame and a joy upon an estate

Tree of life

Fire

Fehu

Wealth is a comfort to all;
yet must everyone bestow it freely,
if they wish to gain honour in the sight of the Divinity.

‘Mother creator’ ?

Freya

Fire

Thurisaz

The thorn is exceedingly sharp,
an evil thing for any knight to touch,
uncommonly severe on all who sit among them.

Defence/Guardian

Fire

Ansuz

Óss is aged Gautr

and prince of Ásgardr

and lord of Vallhalla.

chief Jupiter [Icelandic]

God

Fire

Kaunaz

Disease fatal to children
and painful spot
and abode of mortification

Illumination/Purification

Fire

Naudiz

Constraint is grief of the bond-maid
and state of oppression
and toilsome work

Need/objectives/

challenges

Fire

Dagaz

Anglo saxon only

Day, the glorious light of the Creator, is sent by the Lord;
it is beloved of men, a source of hope and happiness to rich and poor,
and of service to all.

Day/Creation/Light/

cannot be destroyed

 

 

Element

Rune name

Old Icelandic rune poem

Current approximate meaning

Air

Gebo

Anglo saxon only

Generosity brings credit and honour, which support one's dignity;
it furnishes help and subsistence
to all broken men who are devoid of aught else

Love, generosity gift

Air

Algiz

None

Protection/Guardian

Air

Sowelu

Sun is the shield of the clouds
and shining ray
and destroyer of ice.

Sun/life force

Air

Ehwaz

The horse is a joy to princes in the presence of warriors.

A steed in the pride of its hoofs,

when rich men on horseback bandy words about it;

and it is ever a source of comfort to the restless

 

Angels etc

Air

Manaz

Man is delight of man
and augmentation of the earth
and adorner of ships

Archetypal man

Air

Teiwaz

Tyr is a one-handed god,
and leavings of the wolf
and prince of temples

War

Air and Water

Raido

Riding seems easy to every warrior while he is indoors
and very courageous to him who traverses the high-roads
on the back of a stout horse.

Wheel of life

 

Element

Rune name

Old Icelandic rune poem

Current approximate meaning

Water

Laguz

Water is eddying stream
and broad geysir
and land of the fish.

Lake/water/sea – generic name

Water

Hagaluz

Hail is cold grain
and shower of sleet
and sickness of serpents.

Souls

Water/Air

Pertho

Anglo saxon only

Peorð is a source of recreation and amusement to the great, where warriors sit blithely together in the banqueting-hall

Wheel of fortune, fate destiny

Earth

Wunjo

Anglo saxon only

Bliss he enjoys who knows not pain,

sorrow nor anxiety, and himself has

prosperity and bliss and a good enough house.

Bliss, joy happiness

Earth

Isa

Ice is bark of rivers
and roof of the wave
and destruction of the doomed

Hell?

Earth

Jera

None

Summer cycles of time?

Earth

Uruz

The aurochs is proud and has great horns;
it is a very savage beast and fights with its horns;
a great ranger of the moors, it is a creature of mettle.

Courage? In face of adversity

Earth

Berkana

Anglo saxon only

Birch is a leafy twig
and little tree
and fresh young shrub.

Regeneration

Earth

Inguz

Unknown

Door to spiritual world

Earth

Othila

Anglo saxon only

An estate is very dear to every man,

if he can enjoy there in his house

whatever is right and proper in constant prosperity.

Home

 

 

Observations

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