Little is known about the origins of the Runic alphabet, which is traditionally known as futhark after the first six letters. In Old Norse the word rune means ‘letter’, ‘text’ or ‘inscription’. The word also means ‘mystery’ or ‘secret’ in Old Germanic languages and runes had a important role in ritual and magic.
Here are some theories about the origins of runes:
- The alphabet was probably created independently rather than evolving from another alphabet.
- Runic writing was probably first used in southern Europe and was carried north by Germanic tribes.
- The Runic alphabet is thought to have been modelled on the Latin and/or Etruscanalphabet.
The earliest known Runic inscriptions date from the 1st century AD, but the vast majority of Runic inscriptions date from the 11th century. Runic inscriptions have been found throughout Europe from the Balkans to Germany, Scandinavia and the British Isles.
To read more of this article and see the Runic Alphabets click on this link:
Norse 101, Part 5
Here we are again on Freyja’s Day for our fifth post in Norse 101. This week, I’m going to begin introducing you to some of the more well-known Gods and Goddesses.
Odin is the All-Father and king of Asgard. He’s a God of war, poetry, shamanism, wisdom, and even the dead. As a God of war, He concerns himself with the worthiest of warriors and the berserkers. When these warriors fall in a blaze of glory on the battlefield, He may choose them to become one of the Einherjar in Valhalla, hence the partial association as a death god. He stole the Mead of Poetry by having an affair with a giantess named Gunnlod, which bestowed the gift of verse upon Him, the Gods, and even mankind. As a God of shamanism, Odin hung for nine days and nights from Yggdrasil to learn the runes. He gave an eye in His search for wisdom and knowledge. He learned the art of seidhr, or magick, from Freyja. Some describe Odin as a cunning trickster as well.
Thor, the God of Thunder, is a son of Odin and a giantess named Jord. He possesses a hammer called Mjolnir that He uses to bring lightning and thunder. Thor is the protector of Asgard and humanity, using His hammer against the enemy giants. (Remember that not all giants, or jotnar, are seen as enemies.) His wife, Sif, is a Goddess of the harvest and grain, but He also has a giantess as a wife or consort named Jarnsaxa with whom He has two sons. The Old Norse associated Thor with storms, of course. But they also saw Him as a God of agriculture, since His storms and rain nurtured the crops. He was even called upon to bless weddings! As a protector, many Heathens perform the Hammer Rite to establish ritual space. I’d like to add a small personal note that Thor is a very good God to know. I experience Him to be very kind, encouraging, protective, and most times, in a good mood. I will say that YMMV (your mileage may vary) in the case of any deity, so if you’re interested in getting to know Him, offering a nice beer is a good start.
Loki is a God that can be somewhat controversial in some circles of Heathenry. He has people that love Him, but there are others who will not tolerate even the mention of His name. It is important to note that Loki and Odin are blood-brothers. In the lore, Odin once said that if anyone offers Him a drink that they are to offer one for Loki as well. He is a God of mischief, a trickster, and very clever. He is a master of magick and shapeshifting, and is gifted with a silver tongue. He does cause a ruckus from time to time, but without Loki, the Gods wouldn’t have many of Their tools. It’s because of Loki that Thor has Mjolnir. He brought the hammer to Thor, and He helped Thor get it back after it was stolen. That story is one of my favorite myths. A giant stole Mjolnir and refused to return it unless he was given Freyja as a bride. Well, Freyja had no wish to marry this brute of a giant, so Thor was out of luck. Or was He? To get the hammer back, Thor dressed as Freyja and Loki dressed as a bridesmaid. Thor presented Himself as Freyja to trick the giant into showing Him the hammer. Once the hammer was presented to Him, He proceeded to ‘bring the thunder’ down onto the giant. Again, time for a personal note. Being a godspouse of Loki’s, I obviously love Him dearly. Some people warn against asking Him for help with magick, and I will also, sort of. His style isn’t for everyone, but He can teach you a lot, if you’re prepared not to take yourself too seriously.
That’s all for today, lovelies. Next week, I’ll continue the introductions. And if you have any questions, please feel free to ask. Hope those of you in the U.S. have a lovely Thanksgiving on Thor’s Day Thursday! I’ll leave you with a fabulous rendering of Thor and Loki by captbexx on DeviantArt!
This week’s pronunciations: