Rune meanings have been handed down through the mists of time since their ancient beginnings in approximately the 1st Century AD.
The Norse runes are part of an ancient Pro-Germanic tradition and the runic alphabet consists of 24 rune symbols – with the addition of one notably blank rune to allow space for cosmic chance – typically engraved on stones, seashells or pieces of wood.
Throughout their early history, the runes were in a constant state of development – with the subtraction and addition of runes undertaking by those who used the runes for divination, protection and other forms of magic.
The runes best known and most widely used today are the Elder Futhark Runes, a version of the runic alphabet completed and taken into use in the 5th Century AD. A set of Younger Futhark Runes also exists, but they are not in widespread use today, perhaps because more uncertainty exists around the proper interpretation of the Younger Futhark runic inscriptions. It is speculated that they are at least partly inspired by the Latin alphabet as it spread through Northern Europe, but not enough is know about this to confirm or deny the connection.
Since their beginnings, the runes have been steeped in history, mythology and meaning. They were considered to be a gift from the gods – specifically from the king of the gods, Odin, the allfather, and for this reason, they were venerated and cast with extreme caution and respect for their metaphysical qualities and divine origin.
Today, the runes are used similarly to Tarot cards, Oracle cards and other divination tools – as a means of tapping into your own inner reservoir of intuition, wisdom and ability to pick up on certain subtle clues in the present that may enable you to foretell the future with some accuracy. A crucial difference, of course, is that the runes are much older than any Tarot or oracle deck of cards.
Would you like to learn more about the runes, their meanings, and how to cast and interpret them? Then keep reading.
What are runes/Norse runes/Elder Futhark runes?
The runes, the Norse runes, and the Elder Futhark runes are all one and the same. Many variations of runes exist, but the Elder Futhark stones comprise the standard runes and rune meanings used to day.
The runic alphabet typically consists of 24 runes, each inscribed with its own magical symbol, and one blank rune called Odin’s rune. The blank rune symbolises that which cannot or must not be known about the future, and when it comes up in rune readings it is the equivalent of drawing a blank. It means that there are certain cosmic curtains behind which you should not look – or maybe it is not yet the right time for looking. When the blank rune comes up, it is important to respect its message, rather than trying to circumvent it by drawing more runes in a desperate bid to wring out an answer.
The runic alphabet divides into three parts – or suits, for those of you who are familiar with Tarot terminology – each consisting of eight runes. These divisions are called Aetts, the Ancient Norse word for families. And so we have Freyr’s Aett, Heimdall’s Aett and Tyr’s Aett. Each of the three Aetts addresses a different stage of life.
The first set of runes: Freyr’s Aett
The first eight runes of the runic alphabet belong to Freyr’s Aett. According to Norse mythology, Freyr was the god of rain, sun, fertility and peace. Thes runes belonging to his Aett deal with the physical plane and with discovering and learning how to master all of the tangible and necessary aspects of life.
The runes belonging to Freyr’s Aett are associated with the formative years of childhood and youth, the stage of life where we are very much still finding our feet in the world and deciding who we are.
The second set of runes: Heimdall’s Aett
The following eight runes belong to Heimdall’s Aett. In Norse mythology, Heimdall was the watchman of the gods.
The runes belonging to Heimdall’s Aett deal with a developing sense of maturity and personal growth, as well as with themes of maturation, harvest, obstacles and fate.
The third set of runes: Tyr’s Aett
The final set of runes belong to Tyr’s Aett. Try was the Norse sky god, and was also responsible for ward and justice.
These eight runes deal with spiritual development as well as legacy, inheritance, community and intuition.
The origin story of the Runes
As befits their ancient nature and metaphysical properties, the runes have an origin story steeped in myth and magic.
It is said that it was Odin, the king of the Ancient Nordic gods, who discovered the runes. Note that he did not invent them – the runes were a revelation and a gift, not an invention.
To obtain the gift of cosmic wisdom, Odin hung himself upside down from the branches of the world tree, Yggdrasil, for a nine days and nine nights. The runes were his reward.
Each rune symbol has a unique energy and meaning
Each Elder Futhark Rune is inscribed with a particular and unique magical symbol. Because the runes are so old and shrouded in mystery, each rune is ascribed a variety of potential meanings, rather than one that is clear and static.
Nevertheless, each rune holds a core meaning, a core cosmic truth, which the individual intuitive rune reader is able to interpret and expand on according to the context of the rune reading.
The runes’ names are all based on the ancient Anglo Saxon rune poem, a poem written ostensibly for the purpose of transmitting the rune lore in a convenient and easyp-to-grasp manner.
Runes have been used for divination since their beginnings, and divination is still their primary use today.
A rune casting can be done in a number of ways, but most commonly, it involves the person having the reading drawing runes from the bag in which the rune stones are kept. The number of runes used for the reading can vary from just one or just a few to a handful.
An easy-to-approach rune reading if you are new to the runes consists of just three rune positions: Past, present and future. But just as the case is with the Tarot cards, you can assign the runes any pre-ordained positions you like.
Throughout their very long history, the runes have been used for much more than divination. The runes are inextricably linked to seidr, a type of magic practiced in Ancient Norse society by both male and female practitioners. Not much is known about the original practice of weird, but it is believed and speculated that it was a form of magic which concerned itself with both the foretelling and shaping of the future.
According to Norse mythology it was Odin, the king of the gods, who discovered the runes and imparted the knowledge of them to humanity. As well as being the wise all-father a the ruler of the gods, Odin was also the god of sorcery (as well as poetry and war).
The runes are still use for magic today, by practitioners all over the world. Rune magic encompasses everything from rune readings to spells and hexes. Runic inscriptions can also be used in sigil magic, and in the creation of potent amulets for protection, prosperity, love and more.
It is interesting to note that the modern-day sigil magic is based on inscribed symbols that are then charged with magical energy and intention, with the purpose of affecting or shaping the future. Although no clear connection has been established between sigil magic and rune magic, it is very likely that the former draws its inspiration from the latter, or at the very least that the two share some interesting similarities and purposes.
Runic symbols and their meanings
What are the 24 Elder Futhark rune symbols, and what are their individual meanings?
As you go through this list of rune meanings, you will notice that some of the rune symbols bear a striking resemblance to letters that are familiar to you from the English alphabet. However, their significance and even their names may seem very unexpected.
As you go through the runes, it will make it easier for you to immediately grasp their meaning when you keep in mind that the first eight runes belonging to Freyer’s Aett, and that these runes concern themselves with the physical plane and with learning how to navigate successfully in it. The following eight runes belong to Heimdall’s Aett and concern themselves with the responsibilities and necessities of developing and maturing as a person, and the final set of eight runes belong to Haegg’s Aett and deal with the higher aims in life, including spiritual attainment and legacy. Finally, there is the magical rune, the blank rune, Odin’s rune.
Without further ado, let us get to the core of what you came here to learn.
1. Fehu ᚠ – “Cattle/Wealth”
Keywords: Prosperity, physical possessions, success, abundance, luck, winnings, confidence
The first rune, Fehu, is a decidedly positive rune. Its primary meaning is ‘cattle’ – cattle being one of the most tangible indications of prosperity in ancient Norse society. The more cattle you owned, the more wealthy and secure you were. Cattle were both an important insurance against the hunger brought on by failed crops and the inevitable cold of merciless Scandinavian winters, they were also a status symbol. If you and your family owned cattle, you had power and influence.
The Fehu rune can symbolize any type or form of material prosperity, gain or achievement. Today, the Fehu rune, when it comes up in readings with runes, is unlikely to refer to actual cattle, but its meaning is still the same as always, and so Fehu might appear in ridings when you have just landed (or are about to land) a new and better-paying job, a significant promotion or a promising investment opportunity.
While Fehu primarily deals with tangible assets and wealth, it can also denote the social and mental benefits of status and power, including self-confidence and a sense of being blessed with good fortune.
Fehu reversed has a meaning similar to that of the Tarot’s Major Arcana Tower card – here, instead of material gain and success, failure and downfall are implied.
2. Uruz ᚢ – “Ox”
Keywords: Endurance, stubborn pursuit, good health, strength, hard work, perseverance
The Uruz rune shows a wild ox, a symbol of dogged determination, raw strength and incredible endurance. When the Uruz rune comes up in readings, it indicates that you are making steady progress towards your goal. Like the ox, you possess enormous reservoirs of vigour, life force, determination and strength – in other words, you have what it takes to complete whatever journey you are on, and to achieve whatever ambitious goal you have set your sights on.
Another dimension of the Uruz rune is its connotations of both physical and mental health, fortitude and vigour. We are all familiar with the saying ‘strong as an ox,’ and this is the case when the Uruz rune appears in a reading.
In cases where the Uruz rune appears reversed, the same rune that indicates strength and good health when upright, can be a warning of sneaking health problems or a loss of strength in some other way. The reversed Uruz rune can also be considered a reminder to take good care of your physical vessel as well as your mental health – together, they are the vehicle that carries you through life.
3. Thurisaz ᚦ – “Mallet/Giant”
Keywords: Conflict, defence, challenge, danger, competition, quarrel
The third rune, Thurisaz, shows either Thor’s hammer, or a giant. In Norse mythology, Thor, Odin’s son and the good of war and thunder, is constantly defending the divine realm from the malicious giants. In other words, there is a sense of two powerful, opposing forces clashing, and the meaning is clear: Conflict is brewing and you are going to have to stand your ground, stand up for yourself, and defend that which you cherish and believe in.
While Thurisaz can be a call to arms, it can also simply be a sign of friendly competition, an indication of competitive spirit.
When Thurisaz appears reversed in a reading, its connotations are also turned on their head. Hear, instead of indicating a defensive stance and hinting at your great ability when it comes to stand up for yourself, there is a sense of helplessness, of failing to set boundaries and getting trampled on as a result.
4 Ansuz ᚫ – “Message”
Keywords: Communicaation, signs, visions, wisdom
Ansuz is the rune of communication. It indicates a strong intuition, and reminds you of your inherent ability to sense and absorb the lessons, messages, clues and wisdom that the universe is always placing right in front of you, when you pay attention.
Ansuz can also indicate that there is a positive flow of communication between you and the people in your life – your colleagues, your clients, your family, your spouse. When Ansuz comes up in a reading with runes, it often indicates that you are a strong communicator, skilled at getting your point of view across and sharing your vision with others.
When, on the other hand, Ansuz comes up reversed, it can indicate a toxic or negative communication – including self-talk – which you would do well to change. Ansuz reversed can also indicate that you are failing to pay attention to your loved ones, or to the promptings of your own intuition.
5 Raidho ᚱ – “Journey”
Keywords: Movement, momentum, progress, new perspective
Raidho represents a wheel and signifies a journey and all of its related connotations, such as change, progress and new discoveries. Raidho can refer to anything from a spiritual or personal journey to a house move or a travel – either way, there is a sense of the known reality shifting, morphing and changing, and your vantage point changing and shifting as result of it. Whenever the Raidho rune appears in a reading, it always indicates that reality as you know it is being shaken up by new circumstances, new vistas, new energies or new encounters.
Raidho can also indicate progress and gathering momentum, making it a particularly welcome omen whenever you have been working hard towards some sort of achievement, whether professional or personal. In this case, Raidho implies a steadily growing momentum, and assures you that you are actually progressing, developing and making headway towards your goals.
When the Raidho rune appears reversed in readings, its energy of change and shifts is often experienced as disruptive and destabilising. Here, instead of hinting at positive change and expanding horizons, Raidho throws you into situations where you feel out of your depth – there is a sense of taking a big leap into the unknown, without being prepared or ready for it. In some cases, the reversed Raidho rune can also imply that you are stuck in your patterns, and are resisting the change and the new perspectives and energies that would help you to grow as a person. The Raidho rune can work as a reminder of the natural cycles of life, and of the fact that change is inevitable. Holding onto what you know doesn’t always serve you, but can halt and stunt your growth.
6. Kenaz ᚲ – “Torch”
Keywords: Understanding, new knowledge, insight, enlightenment
Kenaz represents a torch and embodies all of its metaphorical connotations such as insight, epiphany, illumination, knowledge and even enlightenment. Kenaz is a beacon of light, guiding you towards your true north of personal truth and purpose in life. When the Kenaz rune appears in readings, it often indicates that something that was previously hidden, unclear or hazy suddenly comes into the full light of your awareness – secrets may come spilling out, and hidden truths may be uncovered. This can sometimes be a brutal awakening, or it can seem like a relief when you suddenly have clarity on something which has been an open-ended question for a while. Kenaz also hints at creativity, bright ideas, innovation, hope, vitality and inspiration in all of its forms.
When the Kenaz rune comes up reversed in a reading, it can point to false hope, gaslighting, or deception. It can also mean that something has been deliberately obscured or hidden from you, or that you are failing to take note of the obvious. In some cases, Kenaz can be indicative of a lack of creative or personal vision, as well as a distinct lack of optimism and hopefullness – in these cases, the Kenaz rune encourages you to shape a new and brighter vision for yourself and your future.
7. Gebo ᚷ – “Gift”
Keywords: Gifts, sharing, partnerships, collaborations, generosity, shared joy
Gebo represents a gift, or gifts. Gifts may come to you in the form of physical, tangible assets, items or opportunities, or they may come to you in less tangible forms, such as generosity, support and encouragement when you need it the most. The Gebo rune can also work as a pertinent reminder that you have no shortage of gifts in the form of talents, possibilities, love, friendship, and other non-material blessings – and that it is important that you acknowledge and make the most of these gifts.
Although the Gebo rune has no official inverted meaning – as there are no downsides to life’s gifts and blessings – it can nevertheless suggest that you may not be making full use of your considerable gifts. You may be living below your potential, failing to share your true vision with the world. By doing so, you could be depriving not only yourself of the happiness and fulfilment you deserve – you are also depriving others of what you might be able to create and express.
Gebo may also speak of fruitful collaborations, positive relationships and connections, family love and romanic union.
8. Wunjo ᚹ – “Joy”
Keywords: Joy, celebration, feast, victory, triumph, comfort, belonging
The Wunjo rune means joy, and represents the clan’s flag and victory. Wunjo is, beyond a doubt, one of the most positive runes, and carries wide-reaching connotations of victory, celebration, triumph, belonging, comfort and security. There is a sense of gathering with your loved ones to celebrate a particular triumph or accomplishment, or simply the strength of the deep emotional bonds you share with your friends or family. Wunjo often speaks of the accomplishment and completion of a goal, and of the positive feelings that ensure from having attained it.
Wunjo can also point to other forms of joy and victory, and might indicate anything from a successful property sale, to a promotion at work, to the birth of a new family member.
When the Wunjo rune comes up reversed in readings, it can indicate loss, sadness, despair, defeat and alienation. Situations that might be characterised by the reversed Wunjo rune include the death of a loved one, a painful breakup, getting fired from a job you thought was stable and secure.
9. Hagalaz ᚺ – “Hail”
Keywords: Forces that are greater than the self, uncontrollable event, natural disaster, cataclysmic change, test
Hagalaz represents hail, a natural form of disaster which strikes out of nowhere, all of a sudden, and with unstoppable force. For the Vikings, hail could spell true disaster, as hail could damage and strike down the vital crops needed for food and ultimately for survival.
Similarly to the Major Arcana Tower card in the Tarot, the Hagalaz rune represents energies, event and occurrences that are both unpredictable and uncontrollable. We cannot stop the hail from pelting our crops, and however much we try, we can never fully safeguard ourselves against the unexpected.
When the Hagalaz rune appears, it points to sudden or unexpected changes – changes that are, most often, unexpected and unwelcome in our lives. The Hagalaz rune may come up in readings when something truly unexpected and shocking has just, or is just about to, upend your everyday life: A romantic relationship you thought was forever comes to a sudden end, you or someone you love has an accident that leads inevitable to a change of direction, or a diagnosis throws everything in your life up into the air.
Hagalaz can indicate the truly catastrophic, or the merely disruptive. Often, when the Hagalaz rune appears, it suggests that we have, in whatever hardship has fallen into our path, been given an opportunity to practice our ability to weather storms with grace and dignity.
10. Nauthiz ᚾ – “Needs”
Keywords: Needs, self-care, boundaries, restriction, resistance, survival
The Nauthiz rune signifies needs, and raises the questions of what we need to feel and be safe, secure and in harmony within ourselves as well as with our surroundings.
The Nauthiz rune tends to come up in readings when it is time for you to reassess and reestablish firm and healthy boundaries around your time, energy and other resources. Nauthiz asks you to consider yourself and your own needs first, before tending to someone else’s, like you may be prone to doing.
The Nauthiz rune represents turning inwards rather than outwards for the support and strength you need in order to triumph, heal, overcome and survive any situation.
On the flip side, when Nautiz comes up reversed in readings, it can point to depression, loneliness and an unhealthy tendency to withdraw from social interactions or involvement in the world around you – perhaps as a self-protective mechanism. In this sense, Nauthiz has a similar meaning to the Hermit Tarot card. When the Hermit appears in its upright position, it shows self-reliance and a healthy ability to follow inner guidance and set personal standards, but when the same card comes up reversed, the ability to withdraw and set boundaries when necessary becomes too pronounced, too extreme, and ultimately self-defeating.
11. Isa ᛁ – “Ice”
Keywords: Stillness, inaction, suspension, delays, waiting, frustration
Isa represents ice, and its meanings are all strongly related to the connotations of winter. Way back when the runes were invented (or, if we are to believe the Norse mythology, discovered by Odin) and were widely used, winter meant something entirely different than it does today. The Vikings were very much at the mercy of the elements and the seasons governed their lives to a great degree. In winter, you cannot sow or reap anything – in every way, winter and ice mean that your options and possibilities are very much restricted. This sense of limitation, restriction and being held back by forces beyond your control are the core meaning of the runic symbol Isa.
The Isa rune indicates delays, restrictions and setbacks – as well as the feelings of frustration that can arise from these delays. A delay could be minor, such as awaiting the results of an exam or to hear back from a prospective new employer – but delays can also be much greater and less clearly defined. Sometimes, when the Isa rune turns up in a reading with runes, it indicates that you are experiencing a period of standstill, suspension or indecision in your life. You may feel like you are at an impasse, unsure of which way to go or what action to take.
Isa has no known inverted meaning – although it is reasonable to assume that, reversed, the meanings of the Isa rune become underscored.
12. Jera ᛃ – “Harvest”
Keywords: Completion, year, life cycle, closure
The Jera rune means harvest, and it signifies that the time has come to reap what you have sown and tended with such diligence and care. The Jera rune highlights the connection between input and output, cause and effect. It raises the question: What have you sown, what have you created, what are you now able to harvest?
When Jera appears in a reading with runes, it is a positive omen, hinting at incoming abundance, blessings, results or opportunities that you may have been working steadily towards for a long time – and now, finally the time has come to harvest.
Jera is also connected to Moterh Earth and her natural and inevitable cycles. It is literally not possible – and it is certainly not wise – to harvest before the crops are ripe and ready. Jera reminds us of this simple truth, and asks us to consider what we sow, and when we harvest what we have created.
The Jera rune often appears in readings to indicate the positive conclusion of a process or a cycle – as such, it can signify graduation, marriage, promotion, literal birth or any other form of conclusion or result which punctuates a cycle.
Jera is one of the truly positive rune stones and has no reversed meanings.
13. Eihwaz ᛇ – “Yew”
Keywords: Spiritual growth, insight, inspiration, endurance, enlightenment
The Eihwaz rune represents a yew tree. The yew tree has great significance in Norse mythology, as the world tree, Yggdrasil, which forms the connecting link between the nine worlds, is said to be one. It was from the branches of Yggdrasil that Odin hung himself for nine days and nine nights before he achieved wisdom and discovered the runes.
The Eihwaz rune signifies personal growth and spiritual attainment, similarly to what Odin experienced while hanging upside=down from the branches of Yggdrasil. Eihwaz indicates the kind of knowledge that is hard-won and character-building, not the kind of knowledge that anyone might acquire from a book or a tutorial on YouTube.
In some cases, the Eihwaz rune can mean dependability and conviction as firm and solid as Yggdrasil itself.
When reversed, the Eihwaz rune represents chaos, confusion and destruction – here, rather than being the calm eye of the storm, you get swept along by the disorienting and disempowering drama unfolding around you.
14. Perthro ᛈ – “Destiny”
Keywords: Luck, chance, change, fate, mystery
The Perthro rune represents a dice cup. Perthro speaks of destiny, that sense of certain life events, conditions, circumstances or meetings with other people have been written in our stars even before we were born. Certain things seem pre-destined to happen, and it is all of these things the Perthro rune deals with. Perthro also deals with luck and chance, those wonderful instances when the universe seems to open doors and prepare the way for us.
The lesson attached to the Perthro rune is to learn how to play the hand you have been dealt, and play it well. Even if some of your life conditions have been predetermined – for example, by your genetic makeup – you still have agency when it comes to how you choose to express everything you have been given, both in terms of the challenges and the blessings. In this sense, the meaning of the Perthro rune is somewhat similar to that of the Wheel of Fortune Tarot card, which juxtaposes your individual agency and the great cosmic powers of the surrounding universe.
In some cases, the Perthro rune can indicate hidden truths and secrets coming to light, as well as inevitable change.
When the Perthro rune appears reversed in readings, it indicates stagnation, a failure to take personal responsibility and make use of personal agency (often in the face of adversity), or a loss of faith.
15. Algiz ᛉ – “Elk”
Keywords: Courage, power, protection, guardian, awakening
The Algiz rune shows a great elk, a symbol of personal power, protection and fortitude.
When the Algiz rune comes up in a reading, it is often an indication that your spirit guider ancestral god is watching over you and watching out for you, while subtly guiding you towards your highest potential. The Algiz rune is a powerfully protective rune and the Algiz runic symbol often features on protective amulets and in magic designed to shield, protect and ward off all manifestations of negative energy.
The Algiz rune can sometimes hint at a spiritual awakening and a heightening of your intuitive and psychic abilities.
When it appears reversed, the Algiz rune can point to unexpected and hidden threats and dangers. When reversed, the rune still serves its protective function by warning you and asking you to pay close attention to anything which might be out of order in your surroundings.
16. Sowilo ᛋ – “Sun”
Keywords: Success, victory, recovery, accomplishment, vitality, inspiration, divine justice
Sowilo represents the happiest of symbols known to man – the sun. In many ways, Sowilo holds the same meanings as the Sun Tarot card, such as luck, joy, celebration, vitality, renewal, victory and success.
The sun is a clear and uncomplicated symbol. For the ancient Vikings in particular, the sun was quite literally synonymous with life. The sun represents all that is good, healthy, joyous, warm, happy and care-free. When the sun breaks through the cloud, whether literally or metaphorically, we know that all is well.
The Sowilo rune may appear in readings to indicate that a difficult chapter has just ended, and that a new, lighter and easier one is just beginning. Sowilo can also represent victory or relief, and may indicate anything from emerging triumphant after a battle with disease, winning a lawsuit, recovering from addiction or depression, or simply being in a positive place in your life where energies, opportunities and monetary rewards seem to find their way to you easily.
Sowilo is one of the few purely positive runes and has no inverted meaning.
17. Tiwaz ᛏ – “Victory”
Keywords: Victory, honor, leadership, decision-making
The Tiwaz rune symbolises the god Tyr’s arrowhead, a symbol of the kind of leadership and rational thinking which leads to victory. When the Tiwaz rune appears, it indicates that you are approaching challenges with a clear head and a steady hand. Tiwaz also reminds you of the importance of knowing your true strengths and having the willingness to sacrifice to achieve your goals.
Tiwaz reversed can indicate inaction, blocked energies and lack of motivation.
18. Berkana ᛒ – “Birch“
Keywords: Renewal, rebirth, growth, fertility, fruitful endeavors
Berkana represents a birch tree. The birch tree is a significant symbol within Norse mythology, as this tree was sacred to the divine brother and sister, Frigg and Freya. The birch tree stands for growth and regeneration on every level.
When reversed, the Berkana rune indicates family feuds, squandering one’s gifts, and an overall lack of direction.
19. Ehwaz ᛖ – “Horse’“
Keywords: Progress, momentum, harmony, trust, dependability
The Ehwaz rune represents a work horse and all of its associations – trust and loyalty, steady and harmonious progress, strength and determination, dependability and an incredible work ethic. When the Ehwaz rune appears, it encourages you to keep going, keep making incremental progress towards your goals. You may not be seeing quick results, but results are underway. In some instances, Ehwaz can point to collaborations and projects realized through joint effort.
Ehwaz reversed can indicate scattered energy, a lack of focus and determination, as well as conflict and tension between yourself and professional co-workers, clients or collaborators.
20. Mannaz ᛗ – “Man”
Keywords: Community, social structure, humanity, the people in your life
The Mannaz rune deals with the people in your life; your family, your community, everyone who makes up your social structure. Having a network, a family, a sense of community and belonging is just as important today as it was to the ancient Vikings. Thousands of years ago, the survival of the individual very literally depended on the group and the idea community. Human beings belonging to the same family, the same village, the same community relied on each other for everything in a very direct way. Today, some of this dependency and interconnectedness has become more decentralized, but it is nevertheless still true that we need the emotional support, the skills and expertise, the services and the approval of others in order to navigate in life with any degree of success. The Mannaz rune reminds us of this simple and age-old truth.
When the Mannaz rune appears reversed, it indicates isolation, a failure to connect with others, selfish or anti-social behaviour, or self-delusion.
21. Laguz ᛚ – “Lake”
Keywords: Feelings, intuition, emotional intelligence, dreams, imagination, visions
Laguz represents the water element which, just as it is in the Tarot, is connected to deep feelings and emotions, emotional intelligence and the ability to embrace and nurture others emotionally, as well as everything which resides and occasionally emerges from the depths of the subconscious. Laguz is also the rune most connected to the underworld and to occult mysteries.
When Laguz appears in readings, it guides you to follow your intuition, pay attention to your dreams and trust in your innermost feelings. The Laguz rune also tells you that any dilemma or obstacle you are currently facing cannot be solved with logic, but requires intuition and calls for following your gut.
Laguz reversed can signify difficulty connecting with or trusting in your own intuition, an inability to tap into emotion, creativity and imagination, or misjudgement.
22. Ingwaz ᛝ – “Fertility”
Keywords: Pregnancy, inner growth, gestation, virtue, peace, rest, balance
Ingwaz is the rune of fertility and gestation. It can sometimes point to literal pregnancy, but more often than not, it is other forms of growth and development that are indicated. Just as a human pregnancy takes nine months and cannot be rushed or speeded up, there are many other processes that also, inevitably, take a certain amount of time and require significant patience, including the growth of a business and the process of personal development. The Ingwaz rune deals with any and all of these different processes.
Although there is no direct equivalent, the Tarot card most similar in meaning to Ingwaz is Judgement.
Ingwaz has no reversed meaning.
23. Othala ᛟ – “Heritage”
Keywords: Inheritance, legacy, intergenerational wealth and customs, heirlooms
Othala represents heritage, and includes everything that is handed down to us by our ancestors and predecessors, whether it be physical objects, money, property, values, customs, beliefs or traditions. Othala reminds us of some of the core values that hold a family and a wider society together.
When Othala appears reversed, it indicates bad faith, bad karma and family drama.
24. Dagaz ᛞ – “Dawn”
Keywords: Hope, reassurance, positive outcomes
Dagaz represents dawns and bring reassurances of positive energies and favourable outcomes and solutions when it appears in readings. It indicates hope, optimism, renewal.
Dagaz has no reversed meaning.
25. Odin’s Rune/the Blank Rune (optional)
Keywords: Cosmic forces and influences, fate, chance, the unknowable
Finally, we have Odin’s rune, the blank rune, the rune of mystery. When this rune comes up in a reading, it is the equivalent of encountering a mysterious cosmic curtain, behind which you are not allowed to peek. Odin’s rune reminds us that there are some mysteries and answers that cannot and should not be revealed.
How to read the runes
There are many different ways of reading the runes. Just as with the Tarot, you can read the runes intuitively or use a spread/layout. Although this article focuses mainly on the meanings of each individual rune, here are a few examples of how to do a simple reading with the runes.
When you are just starting out reading the runes, start by using just one, two or three runes.
Shake the bag in which you keep your runes, and draw runes without looking. Place the drawn runes on the rune cloth or directly on the table surface in front of you.
When you are seeking one clear and concise answer or piece of advice on a specific question or topic, draw only one rune. Use two runes when you are looking at two different options or are facing a dilemma – or when you are trying to look at a situation from two different angles. You can assign the two rune positions any meaning you like. A few examples could be: ‘Option A and option B,’ ‘If I go vs. if I stay.’
A reading using three runes gives you greater scope for customization. The three rune positions could be ‘Past, present, future,’ ‘Option A, B or C,’ or anything else that is appropriate for what you want the runes to help you shed light on.