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the runic poems
tarot - rune associations
the ancient alphabet used by Germanic peoples. Runic inscriptions
have been found all over western Europe, on stone monuments and on
such objects as metal spearpoints and amulets; the greatest
concentrations are in England and Scandinavia. The runic alphabet,
called futhark after the sounds of the initial letters, originally
had 24 characters. In English versions the number was eventually
increased to 33, whereas in Scandinavia it was reduced to 16 and
later expanded to 26.It
is believed that runes are derived from a northern Etruscan
alphabet used among Italic tribes in the Eastern Alps, and that
they were developed in the 2nd or 3rd century AD by a Germanic
people living in the region of modern Bohemia. The earliest
surviving inscription is from the mid-3rd century. Runes were in
wide use from the 4th to the 12th century. A form of runes was
used in Scandinavia throughout the Middle Ages as an alternative
to the Latin alphabet used by the clergy, and runes survived in
occasional use in rural Sweden at least until the 17th century.
Runes were also used to augment the Latin alphabet for certain
sounds, notably the thorn (ş, th) used in Anglo-Saxon
England and modern Iceland.
The name "futhark", like the word "alphabet", is derived from the first few letters in the runic sequence, which differs considerably from the order of the Latin alphabet and is unique amongst alphabetic scripts. The futhark originally consisted of 24 letters, beginning with F and ending with O, and was used by the northern Germanic tribes of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Northern Germany. This form of the runes is known as the Elder, or Germanic Futhark.
The Runic Journey'
characteristic which distinguishes a runic alphabet from other
alphabets is that each letter, or rune, has a meaning. For
example, whereas "ay", "bee", and "cee"
are meaningless sounds denoting the first three letters in our
alphabet, the names of the first three runes, "fehu",
"uruz", and "şurisaz" are actual words in the
Germanic language, meaning "cattle", "aurochs",
and "giant", respectively. Runes also have magical and
religious significance as well, thus transforming the simple
process of writing into a magical act. They are also used for
divinatory readings and to create magical spells.
The Younger Fuşark (Danish variation)
In Scandinavia, the Elder Futhark remained in use until some time around the eighth century (the time of the Eddas), when drastic changes in the Old Norse language occurred, and corresponding changes in the runic alphabet were made to accommodate the new sounds. However, unlike the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc, the Younger Futhark (as it is now called) reduced the number of runes from 24 to 16, and several runes came to represent multiple sounds. The forms of the runes were also changed and simplified. There are several variations of this futhark - Danish, long branch, Norwegian, dotted, etc.
This form of the runic alphabet spread from Denmark north into Sweden and Norway, and was carried into Iceland and Greenland by the Vikings. It is possible that they were also brought to North America with the Vinland expeditions, but so far no authenticated inscriptions have been found.
The Runic Journey'
have been rediscovered as a symbolic system and have gained
immense popularity as a means of divination. They are, however,
much more than a curious alternative to Tarot cards for telling
fortunes. They provide a key to understanding the lives and
beliefs of the ancient people who created them, and have much to
teach us about a way of life that was perhaps more intimately
connected to the natural world, and to the realm of spirit, than
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Kensington Rune Stone
discovery of the stone
to the story, the Kensington stone was found on the farm of Olof
Ohman near Kensington Minnesota. In early November, 1898, farmer
Ohman, a forty-four-year-old Swedish-American farmer, discovered
a stone wrapped around the roots of an aspen or poplar tree. The
stone was an irregular rectangular slab of graywacke shaped
somewhat like a tombstone weighing 202 pounds, about 2 1/2 feet
high, 3 to 6 inches thick, and 15 inches wide. Farmer Ohman and
his son exhumed the stone and noticed strange inscriptions
placed on the part which presumably had been intended to stand
the stone's inscription
removal the stone was cleaned and washed. A Norwegian neighbor,
Nils Flaten, was asked to examine the stone, also unable to
decipher the inscriptions. After a few days, Ohman claims that
he took it to Kensington where it was placed in a bank. The find
was announced and given to newspapers early in the year 1899. It
was soon ascertained that the symbols on the stone were of runic
origin, and quickly translated into Swedish, Norwegian, and
English. When translated, the inscription reads:
Swedes and Twenty-two Norwegians on an exploration journey
from Vinland westward. We had our camp by 2 rocky islets one
day's journey north of this stone. We were out fishing one
day. When we came home we found ten men red with blood and
dead. AVM save us from evil. We have ten men by the sea to
look after our ships, fourteen days' journey from this island.
this inscription was startling and created a great deal of
controversy. Professor O.J. Breda of the University of Minnesota
was sent a copy and quickly dismissed the inscription as being a
hoax. Several other professors at Scandinavian and American
universities also claimed that the stone was a forgery.
Consequently, little attention was paid to the stone and it was
soon returned to farmer Ohman where he used it as a door step
before it was rediscovered.
of the first adherents to the stones authenticity was a writer
of Norwegian decent named Hjalmar Rued Holand of Ephraim,
Wisconsin. In 1907, Holand journeyed to the Ohlman farm and
acquired the stone, having it sent to his home. It was Holand
who began the drive to prove the stone's authenticity. With
virtually no other support from the academic community, Holand
started a campaign to prove that the Kensington stone
demonstrated that Vikings made it to Minnesota in the 14th
century. Holand claimed that there was an expedition led by a
Paul Knutson to Christianize the Vikings of the West and that
this story correlates with the dates given on the stone.
According to Holand, the Vikings expedition led them through
Hudson Bay, Lake Winnipeg, and up the Red River to a place near
present day Kensington, Minnesota. It is his belief that the
stone is a remnant of the Knutson expedition. This theory gained
popularity among the Scandinavian communities of Minnesota and
helped perpetuate the tale's validity even after it had been
denounced by numerous academic figures. Today the stone remains
a fascination among the Scandinavian descendants living in
Minnesota and the stone is now on display at the Rune-Stone
Museum of Alexandria, Minnesota.
In Norse mythology, queen of
the Nibelungs, or Burgundians, wife of King Giuki, and mother of
Gunnar, Hogni, and Gudrun.
Grimhild often applied her
knowledge of runes and sorcery to treacherous ends. According to
the 'Volsunga Saga', Grimhild gave the hero Sigurd a drink of
forgetfulness while he was at King Giuki's court. Sigurd forgot
his love for the Valkyrie Brynhild, and married the queen's
daughter, Gudrun. Sigurd was instrumental in the plot to deceive
Brynhild into marrying Gunnar. In the Icelandic 'Poetic Edda',
Grimhild gave Gudrun a potion in a rune-covered goblet after the
murder of Sigurd. Under the potion's baleful influence, the
grief-stricken Gudrun forgot the slain Sigurd and married the
villainous and greedy King Atli of the Huns. The deception led to
the demise of the Nibelungs.
In the Germanic epic 'Song of
the Nibelungs' (Nibelungenlied), Grimhild is called Uote.