Earlier today, I updated my End-of-the-book Runestone Guide, which will be included in all future books (except Book I).
This inspired me to create a little blog post to explain the runes further. So prepare for some good old learnin'!
These symbols come from the Elder Futhark alphabet, which was used in ancient Scandinavia. Each symbol acted as a letter, but not just any letters. They had the ability to cast magic.
First, it's important to remember that lots of Pre-Christian societies were primarily verbal. Of course they had a complex writing system and wrote stuff down, but in cases such as the Norse, writing was reserved for special occasions. For one, pencils and paper weren't a common thing yet in the North. There was no major manufacturing process for writing utensils, nor a standardized system of education. Reading and writing in medieval Europe was a pass time for only the few who could afford to spend hours of the day doing stuff (a majority of citizens had farms and chores all day).
If you Google pictures of 'rune stones', you'll fine just that - 'runes' carved onto 'stones'. That was the main method of transcription for the Norse! Chiseling onto stone or carving on wood. Can you imagine how long that must have taken? How much practice and discipline? Not to mention the ever-looming threat of typos and having to start all over again on a new rock. In situations of casual conversation or story-telling it made a lot more sense to just memorize stuff and verbally recite it (this is part of the reason why myths often have more than one version).
Runes found today by archeologists tell about important events, places, or people. After all, if you're going to spend days chiseling a story onto a rock, you better make sure it is a story worth while! The other side of that coin is, if there's a story that important, you'll want to make sure it sticks around for a long time! But like I said earlier, the runes weren't just used for storytelling. Like anyone in the writing/reading community would say; there is magic in reading.
I'll start by explaining the legend of the runes. It is said that the Norse god Odin, in his quest for wisdom, speared himself on the World Tree for nine days and nine nights (the number nine was really cool back then). When he finally came down, he discovered the runes, and their power. Each rune is a letter, but they also are associated with a word or name of a god. So, the runes were used to cast spells, as well as predict the future. Rune casting continues to be used today, similar to tarot cards.
The meaning of each rune changes from source to source. A lot of it is up to interpretation based on the rune's associated word.
Want to learn more about runes and their magic? There happens to be a hidden page on my website. Let me know if you find it! And happy reading!
Ha det bra!