Rune Dictionary

written by Professor Wessex

An introduction to the interpretation and usage of Germanic runes.

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Chapter 11: History and Characteristics of the Younger Futhark

Chapter 13
History and Origins

Just as with the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc, the Younger Futhark developed from the original runic script of Scandinavia. In comparison to its sibling, the Younger Futhark has a slightly less complicated history and development. While the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc traveled many miles to foreign locations, the Younger Futhark was used right in Scandinavia as well. However, because the period of time during which this script was in use -- roughly 800 to 1200 C.E. -- coincided with the age of the Vikings, it was also brought with them to all the areas they explored and conquered, at least in some form. And, as is the way of things, each area the Vikings explored and conquered also contributed slightly to the development of this new script.

While there is not a lot of diversity in the 16 runes that made up the Younger Futhark, particularly when compared to its sibling’s 33, the Younger Futhark made up for it in the number of variants it possessed. Among other, less common variants, there existed both “short twig” and “long twig” alphabets -- also occasionally called “short branch” and “long branch” -- the former variants being used in largely Norway and Sweden and the latter being used in Denmark. This means most of the runes have at least one, equally common variant.

The following three chapters will go over the 16 runes that make up this alphabet along with details about them that are pertinent to your study. Something you may wish to note beforehand is, due to the fact that some of the original 24 runes of the Elder Futhark were lost or absorbed in the transition to the Younger Futhark, the system of grouping by aett -- though still useful -- is slightly incomplete. As with the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc, it is a commonly-held belief that this script is non-magical, though on the rare occasion a rune does have some suspected importance to magic, it will be noted.

A Brief Author’s Note

To aid ease of comprehension, a guide explaining each entry follows below. Each entry consists of these general categories, though some of these categories may not apply to certain runes and will therefore not be included in that particular entry:

(Rune image(s)) EF Name --- YF Name
Phonetic Value:
Magical Uses:
General Notes:

“Rune Image” – Simply an image of the rune as it is represented in the Younger Futhark. At times there will be multiple variants shown, particularly when those variants were roughly equal in popularity or widely different in appearance from each other.

“Phonetic Value” – Which sounds the runes represented and an example of those sounds as used in words from various languages. If you do not know French or Spanish, ignore those guides, as some are likely to ascribe incorrect sounds to the runes due to incorrect pronunciations. Each line of the pronunciation guide, no matter what language, should be pronounced the same way.

“EF Name” – The name of the rune as applied to the Elder Futhark.

“ASF Name” – The name of the rune as applied to the Younger Futhark.

“Meanings” – Here the book will list the meanings ascribed to the runes as per the rune poems.

“Changes” – Any characteristic about the rune (meanings, phonetic value, etc.) that changed from its transition from the Elder Futhark to the Younger Futhark will be noted here. See final note below for more specifics.

“Magical Uses” – While this script is not noted to be inherently magical, this area is designated to discuss the runes’ usage in conjunction with anything magical at all. That is, if the rune is a representation of a magical plant or animal, used in a potentially magical way, or there are theories that surround its hypothetical magical use.

“General Notes” – Any other interesting tidbits that do not fit elsewhere will be included here.

Final Note:
The focus of these chapters is to highlight the differences between either the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc or the Younger Futhark and their parent, the Elder Futhark. However, some differences that will not be overtly noted in each entry are as follows: the change in name and the reduction of meanings. The names of each rune changed in all circumstances; as each script was used with an entirely new language, this is to be expected. Secondly, partly due to the research of Sofia Schreiber, and partly due to the Elder Futhark’s use in both magic and divination, there were significantly more meanings discovered for the Elder Futhark. The younger runic scripts, on the other hand, were not subject to the complex nuances of runic magic, nor have they been studied as in-depth as the Elder Futhark. Because of this, there are far fewer meanings for these runes. Therefore, changes in rune meaning that will be addressed in the portion titled “Changes” will not note the general reduction each time, but instead if the eventual meanings have any relation to the original.

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