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The Runes – Elder Futhark – A comprehensive Understanding

The Elder Futhark consists of 24 runes divided into three groups of eight, known as an ætt (singular of ættir), which are said to be ruled over by both a god and goddess. The first ætt is ruled over by Frey and Freyja, the deities of fertility. The second ætt is ruled over by Heimdall and Mordgud, and the third and final ætt is ruled over by Tîwaz and Zisa.

Pronunciation tip – generally the closest modern language we have to old Norse is Icelandic, so common pronunciation is taken from that. “R” is generally rolled, “u” is strong, and “d” is more of a click of the tongue than a lazy d sound.

What is also important to remember is that the letters do not translate a like for like alphabet, rather focus on the phonetics. Where the most important differentials are, we have included in the list below.

Feru ᚠ (F)

Meaning: Cattle, Wealth
What Fehu means in a rune casting: Power and control.
Fehu represents a measure of a man’s worth, meaning your status within your community and family, as well as hard work toward a goal. Fehu is about your independence, self-worth, income earned, and revenue. When it lands upright, it is considered a sign of financial abundance and wish fulfilment.

Uruz ᚢ (U, Long O sound)

Meaning: Aurochs, Wild Ox
What Uruz means in a rune casting: Power we can never own or control.
Uruz is the bearer of strength, health, vitality, personal willpower and masculine energy. Upright, it indicates your strength will prevail and success is near. In a relationship, it indicates strong emotions.

Thurisaz ᚦ (TH, ð)

Meaning: Giant
What Thurisaz means in a rune casting: Resisting unwanted conflict, protection, change that would have come without warning.
Thurisaz provides strong protection and luck. Thurisaz represents the Hammer of Thor, the mighty weapon Mjölnir, protector of man and gods alike. Casting this rune indicates a stroke of luck and symbolises using force to overcome obstacles. Thurisaz represents the masculine force balancing with the feminine to create a third force. It can indicate destruction in order to create something new.

Ansuz ᚨ (Ah sound -nasal a, also used for O and E)

Meaning: God or Diety (usually Odin)
What Ansuz means in a rune casting: Stability and order.
Ansuz stands for communication and knowledge to be had. Ansuz is the rune for the mouth, as it refers to the spoken word and acquisition of wisdom. It can also indicate written communications of all types, including exams, or a chance encounter with someone who has the knowledge you need. It can Indicate parental types of advice or advice that is freely given.

Raidho ᚱ (R)

Meaning: Ride, Journey, Chariot
What Raidho means in a rune casting: Focusing energy toward accomplishing goals.
Raidho represents swift movement and travel. This could mean in travel in a literal sense, like a vacation, or figuratively, such as moving forward with a new venture or relationship. It might even indicate a journey of your soul.

Kenaz (or Kaunaz) ᚲ (K, G)

Meaning: Beacon, Torch, Ulcer
What Kenaz means in a rune casting: Knowledge and understanding.
Kenaz, the Norse symbol for fire, represents the home fires burning where fertility is possible. It’s not the destructive side of fire, but rather the warmth and comfort fire can afford. Kenaz is a protective rune indicating a time of lessening of worries and troubles, as well as heightened creativity, passion, and personal power. As a rune of fertility, it may appear in a casting to indicate a birth, either literal or figurative (such as the birth of a new idea).

Gebo ᚷ (G)

Meaning: Gift
What Gebo means in a rune casting: Honor and the connection between people when they give and receive gifts.
Gebo symbolises the best gifts in life and is almost always indicative of a blessing you will receive. Gebo indicates some type of partnership, maybe even a marriage proposal. Sometimes, Gebo can indicate the issue is of an emotional nature.

Wunjo ᚹ (W/V)

Meaning: Joy
What Wunjo means in a rune casting: Balance even in the midst of chaos.
Wunjo is another of the positive runes, a symbolic representation of joy and happiness. In a rune casting, it indicates a positive outcome for troubles. Wunjo is a rune of success and shows the wheel of fortune has turned in your favor (or will soon). In a love reading, it could indicate a deep and respectful love with a strong potential for lasting happiness. Wunjo can also mean happiness in your work, especially if the work is creative in nature.
Wunjo reverse merkstave meaning: Slow movement, troubles that are burdensome to surmount.

Hagalaz ᚺ (H)

Meaning: Hail
What Hagalaz means in a rune casting: Hard times that will eventually run smooth.
Hagalaz represents forces outside your control. It is one of the primary runes for delays and limitations, as well as a symbol of disruption. Hagalaz can turn up for someone considering taking some type of a risk.

Naudiz ᚾ (N)

Meaning: Need
What Naudiz means in a rune casting: Needing or wanting something that is limiting.
Naudiz means it’s time to slow down, counselling patience, and is considered one of the three great runes of delay. Naudiz advises you to hold back as no amount of haste will speed things up. Naudiz also indicates passing through a difficult learning situation. It refers to a time of crossing the abyss. Emotional challenges of some nature are indicated by Naudiz. You may be called upon to conquer fear.

Isa (or Isaz) ᛁ (I – the ee sound)

Meaning: Ice
What Isa means in a rune casting: Things frozen in place.
Isa is one of the three main delay runes and indicates a freeze of sorts. No movement will be had will Isa at play. Isa forces us to stop action in a certain direction. Isa in a relationship reading could indicate a breach of loyalty. Isa regardless of the type of relationship shows a cooling off.

Jera ᛃ (J, Y)

Meaning: Year, Good Year, Harvest
What Jera means in a rune casting: The cycle of life.
Jera represents the Harvest and indicates a time when you will reap what you have sown. Looking at the surrounding runes will be helpful in determining the type of harvest being referenced. Jera can also represent legal issues and justice of all types. Jera shows that the harvest can’t be rushed and will come in its own time. In a primarily negative rune cast, Jera can mean that all is not lost.

Eihwaz ᛇ (E,Ey,Ei,I sounds)

Meaning: Yew tree
What Eihwaz means in a rune casting: Magical protection and facilitation.
Eihwaz shows that protective forces are at play. To the ancient Norse, Eihwaz represented the Yew tree. Eihwaz was a powerful ally to the Norse in their daily life. The Yew tree was the tree of Yggdrasil, the great tree which forms the nine worlds of man and spirit. The Yew was also the best tree for making prized longbows. If Eihwaz is in a prominent place, no matter how bad things seem, they will turn for the better.

Perdhro ᛈ (P)

Meaning: Uncertain meaning — possibilities include cup, luck, pear tree
What Perdhro means in a rune casting: Uncertainties of life and free will.
Perdhro or Perthro indicates deep mystery surrounding the issue. Even experts in runology struggle with the meaning of this rune as a letter, but for divination purposes its meaning is a clear indication of things that are hidden, secrets or the occult. Perthro can show something that was once hidden will come to light. In a relationship reading, it can indicate intense chemistry. Perthro can also indicate that you have a strong connection to intuitive or occult abilities.

Algiz ᛉ (Z,X,Y,R)

Meaning: Elk, Protection
What Algiz means in a rune casting: Great restraint, power and protection.
Algiz is the rune of friendship, and means something new is beginning. It can point to a new friendship or positive new influence in your life. Algiz tells you to go with your instincts and use your intuition.

Sowilo ᛊ (S)

Meaning: The Sun
What Sowulo means in a rune casting: The ability to see things more clearly, light shining on dark times.
Sowilo means victory and power abound. In a rune casting, it shows you have much potential for power to bring beneficial changes to your life. If Sowulo is cast in a reading, swift victory is indicated. Since Sowulo is also associated with health, if its in a mostly positive reading it would indicate recovery or a strong life force.

Tiwaz ᛏ (T, D where D sits in the middle to end of the word)

Meaning: The sky god Tyr
What Tiwaz means in a rune casting: Success without personal sacrifice.
Tiwaz or Tiewaz is a victory in the competition, which can really be anything you hope to succeed in. This rune embodies the competitive spirit. If Tiwaz appears in a casting, you may be looking to take up a cause to fight for. Tiwaz shows you are ready to fight for what you believe in, pointing to motivation and overcoming the odds.

Berkano ᛒ (B, P)

Meaning: Birch
What Berkana means in a rune casting: New beginning.
Berkana, the preeminent rune of birth, symbolises the Mother and Child; It’s considered a rune of fertility. The birth may be an actual one or the birth of an idea. In a rune cast for a new project, it indicates a tangible result and plans should be implemented right away. Berkana shows a positive outcome.

Ehwaz ᛖ (E,Eh sounds)

Meaning: Horse
What Ehwaz means in a rune casting: Relationships.

Ehwaz is the movement of a dwelling place, such as a relocation of home or even work. It signifies change but a change for the better, the type of change that is the result of planning and effort, perhaps of a gradual nature. Ehwaz can point to common sense advice that will aid you in troubles.

Mannaz ᛗ (M)

Meaning: Man, Mankind
What Mannaz means in a rune casting: Achieving your full potential, reminding us of the shared human experience, gaining the upper hand.
Mannaz signals depending on community support, having supportive assistance around you. It is a rune of interdependence. This rune can indicate aid or advice that is honest and unbiased. It can indicate you are too close to the problem and need to step back for a broader view. Mannaz can also indicate problems with women, regardless of your gender.

Laguz ᛚ (L)

Meaning: Water, Lake, Leek
What Laguz means in a rune casting: The power of water and its fluid nature.
Laguz means to trust your gut; intuition is key here. Laguz counsels you to pay attention to your intuition. It may indicate psychic abilities, even if you are not aware of any. Laguz is the principal feminine rune, and will often appear when your dreams should be looked to for guidance. Good memory and success in learning are also a focus for Laguz.

Inguz ᛜ (Ng sounds)

Meaning: The earth god Ing or Inguz
What Inguz means in a rune casting: Protective energy spreads far and wide. Inguz means an end to worry is in sight; resolution and peace are forthcoming. Inguz is almost always a positive rune. It shows relief is at hand and the ability to overcome obstacles is with you. Inguz in a rune casting could indicate a milestone event, such as a birth, a new job or a new relationship. Inguz points to auspicious beginnings and an end to over anxiety and strife.

Dagaz ᛞ (D, Starting letter)

Meaning: Day
What Dagaz means in a rune casting: Stability between opposites.
Dagaz means healthy growth, prosperity and hope. In a rune casting, it shows a time of peaceful gains and portends a period of increase, even in a negative cast. When Dagaz appears with delay runes it indicates a softening of their effects. Dagaz shows you that a new day will dawn.

Othala ᛟ (O – Oh sound)

Meaning: Inheritance, Ancestral property
What Othala means in a rune casting: Wealth that cannot be sold.
Othala represents the valuable things money cannot buy, such as friends, family and loved ones, as well as inherited property and wealth. Depending on the surrounding runes in a casting, it can indicate someone who is stingy with material possessions, or alternatively, a person who works very hard.

The Blank Rune (also known as Wyrd or Odin’s rune)

The blank rune has no meaning in traditional rune casting and generally should not be used.
The blank rune first appeared in the 1980’s and is said by those who use it to represent the element of the unknown, showing areas where clarity is needed.

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