Runes are ancient keys to inner and outer transformation. Foundation stones for the spiritual heritage of northern Europe and well springs of wisdom and magic. Do you crave authentic and powerful re-connection to the land, your ancestors and yourself but don’t know where to look? Just like Dorothy and the ruby slippers you’re going to find out the runes have always been with you, since you spoke your first word: embedded in the Germanic languages including English, German, Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Icelandic.
Whether you are seeking your own roots or want to become a guide for others the journey starts here. In these pages you will find lots of free resources to help discover and work with the runes. I’ve been working with them for 30 years now and I’m still on the journey.
About 15 years ago I began to write a book on the runes, until I realised they weren’t supposed to be shared that way – because they are energies, not just meanings. So I created a course instead, the course I wish I had had 30 years ago. So go ahead and enjoy everything I am sharing here but remember, if you want to really really know the runes in your bones you’re going to want to join Awaken.
Don't believe me when I say you know them already?
Meet the Elder Futhark - your keys to wisdom, power and transformation
One of the things that differentiates my work is the emphasis on practical experience through voice and body work, story-weaving and energy channeling; but, don’t worry, there’s plenty for the Sages amongst you to dig into. Our knowledge of what was is, of course, the material from which we will weave what is to come.
I work with and teach the Elder Futhark which is the most ancient runic alphabet we know of with inscriptions dating back to 150CE. It has 24 runes and is the set you will most commonly find in the shops. Over time new rune alphabets* developed and the runes accrued poems, healing practices, magical correspondences and deep wisdom practices around them. You can find some of the most common correspondences, plus short commentaries and videos about each of the runes by clicking on the pictures to my rune hoard below.
*’Futhark’ is the literal equivalent of the word ‘Alphabet’, the latter being a combination of Alpha and Beta, and the former being a combination of Fehu, Uruz, Thurisaz, Ansuz, Raidho and Kenaz (the first five letters of the Elder Futhark).
The runes are divided into aettir which means ‘family’; there are three rune families with eight runes in each, each family is known as an aett.
The rune hoard
Go on, dig in. Click on the picture to discover the rune.
Hold on! What about the Wyrd rune? I hear some of you ask. Wyrd is not a rune in the traditional Elder Futhark but many modern sets include it. The Wyrd rune is sometimes said to appear in a reading when you are not meant to know the answer; at other times it is said to contain the energies of all the runes within it. Yet others claim the Wyrd rune is simply a spare. I don’t work with it because the Wyrd rune has no symbol and no sound (so no energy) – I started out using it and developed a ritual to remove it safely and kindly from my rune set once I decided to set it to one side. You’re welcome to email me and ask how I did it.
Where do the runes come from?
Almost 2,000 years ago the Roman Tacitus described the use of ‘lots’ by the Germanic peoples. These were carved with sigils which were thrown by the priest or head of family upon a white cloth and then interpreted. The lots were made from fruit-bearing trees and the interpreter would invoke the wisdom of the Gods to assist him (Tacitus, Germania). The Germanic peoples carved rune inscriptions to name objects, record ownership, memorialize heroes and ancestors, and seek protection and power. By 150CE we can identify a particular set of runes called the ‘Elder Futhark’ used by Germanic peoples across what is now North-West Europe.
That’s the history bit for the Sages; here’s the mythic bit for the Mystics…
Odin discovered the runes during a 9 day and 9 night initiation upon the world tree Yggdrasil. The most commonly cited account is found in the Havamal in the Poetic Edda where Odin tells us in his own words that ‘I peered right down into the deep, crying aloud I lifted the Runes then back I feel from thence’. This is often interpreted as a shamanic ‘journeying’ experience as portrayed in this tenth century poem:
In a wood someone must from a high tree fall wingless – he will be in flight nonetheless, dances in the air until he can no longer be the tree’s fruit. Onto the roots he then sinks in dark spirits, bereft of his soul he falls to earth – his spirit is on its way. ~ The Fates of Men
Rune: the song or sound of the universe coming into existence
Simple lines etched into wood, stone, bone and horn. These are the tangible form our rune heritage takes on ‘Midgard’ (‘Middle-Earth’) as it is known within the northern tradition. The Rune Mistress Freya Aswynn explains the concept of ‘rune’ as the song or sound of the universe coming into existence (Power and Principles of the Runes, 2007). Runes have shape, sound and meaning which we may learn and wield. They exist, deeply embedded within language and consciousness. They go deeper than memory and beyond that which we can explain with rationale intelligence alone. They demand us to act intuitively, to feel with our bodies as well as our minds.
Did I mention that it’s much easier to learn a song when you can hear it? To feel an energy when you are actually channeling it? To work with the body by actually moving it? That’s why I created Awaken.
Futhark: The term ‘Futhark’ is cognisant with the modern English term ‘Alphabet’ (which combines the first two letters of the Latin alphabet Alpha and Beta), and is made up of the first six letters of the Futhark (F U Th A R K: FUTaRk: Fehu Uruz Thurisaz Ansuz Raidho and Kenaz).
Rune: a whisper, a secret, a mystery
Yggdrasil: The World Tree. Yggdrasil means ‘Odin’s steed’ which we may assume relates to Odin’s experience discovering the runes. This is the only title we know for the World Tree but it is likely there were others.
Galdr. The act of working with the runes to bring about magic. I believe that magic of the runes was found in the voice long before they were shaped into symbols. Each is a spirit guide and energetic gateway to lost power and healing.
The runes in song
Do you feel the magic of your wild soul rising?
Seiðr and northern shamanism. Spirit questing upon the northern World Tree, story claiming, spirit rooting, ancestral healing, soul lore. Welcome to Middle Earth…