Rune Dictionary

written by Professor Wessex

An introduction to the interpretation and usage of Germanic runes.

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Chapter 3: Freya's Aett, Your First Eight Runes

Chapter 5

As mentioned in Chapter Two, the Elder Futhark consists of three aettir of eight runes each.  This chapter will introduce you to your first eight runes, which are also collectively known as Freya’s aett to runologists. 


Rune One – Fehu


Phonetic value: /f/, as in feather and phoenix, the French fabuleuse, and the Spanish fantasma

Proto-Germanic Meaning: Wealth or livestock (cattle)
Schreiber’s Corrections: Fortune (may refer to both material fortune or chance)
Maxim: Fortune favours the bold (audentas fortuna iuvat).

Divinatory Interpretation:
Standard (upright): Abundance, fortune (in both the sense of luck and material gain)
Merkstave (inverted): Loss (of property, or as an emotion), poverty, greed, misfortune

Fehu is an important rune, due to its property of stabilising magical forces, including wandwork and potions. When Fehu is inscribed on an object, charms placed on that object tend to work more ideally, with much less backfiring and virtually no unintended side-effects. It is therefore unsurprising that Fehu is a favourite amongst novices in spell experimentation and potion invention. Interestingly, there are not many famous historical cases of spell invention associated with Fehu. A famous charms experimentalist, Dougford Bricolace, once posited that “the most inventive of spells are only born from wild creativity, tireless labour, and the audacity to face Chance herself.” It is a theory amongst rune enthusiasts, but not academics, that the Felix Felicis potion of luck was invented with the help of Fehu, though potioneers assert that the mechanics and creation of Felix Felicis are far more complicated.

Notable Conjunctions: Fehu can typically be combined with most runes without much unfortunate accident, since the rune has a stabilising magical effect. Fehu-Uruz (details are described under Uruz) and Fehu-Thurisaz combinations are not uncommon, as Fehu serves to stabilise and focus the magical enhancements the other rune provides. Fehu interestingly is sometimes found in conjunction with Hagalaz, the rune for weather and untempered change. In such cases, Hagalaz is rotated on its side, with an upright Fehu above it. Such conjunctions are used in stabilising atmospheric charms such as Meteolojinx Recanto. This Fehu-Hagalaz combination is also rather unique, since an upright rune is rarely combined with a rune rotated horizontally. Nevertheless, a variant with an upright Hagalaz also exists, albeit to slightly different effect.

Rune Two – Uruz 


Phonetic Value: /u/, as English broom and rune, French and Spanish curable

Proto-Germanic Meaning: Auroch (an extinct species of horned cattle)
Schreiber’s Corrections: Graphorn (a magical creature with two sharp horns)
Maxim: A sound mind in a sound body (mens sana in corpore sano).

Divinatory Interpretation:
Standard (upright): Strength, vitality, speed. These are characteristics traditionally associated with the bull
Merkstave (inverted): Slowness, languidness, or misdirected application of the positive traits above

While Fehu may stabilise a spell to reduce unintended side-effects, Uruz may be used in fortifying or enhancing the effect of a spell.  For example, an object imbued with the Flagrante Curse may burn hotter or for a longer duration if inscribed with activated Uruz. Just like Fehu and other runes, Uruz may be carved onto charmed objects, workspaces for magical experimentation, at crucial points in a building, or on cauldrons. However, it is important to take precautions while using Uruz, since enhancing the effect of a spell may also enhance its side effects, or produce unexpected effects altogether. Therefore it is not uncommon to find Uruz inscribed together with Fehu. 

In some early descriptions of a powerful wand, the Wand of Destiny (more recently identified to be the Elder Wand of legend), Uruz ligated with Fehu and other runes were carved into the handle of the stick.  Such account may demonstrate how runes were used since early wizarding history in wand-making to complement wand magic. It is, however, vital that you understand that wandlore is an arcane discipline of immense complexity, and that you should NEVER attempt to carve runes onto your own wand, no matter how long you have studied ancient runes. This may damage the wand core or destabilise any magic cast from the wand, which may be lethal.  Rune-carved wands are only produced by extremely adept wandmakers, who know how to work with wand woods and cores in order to balance them with runes.

Notable Conjunctions: Combinations consisting of Uruz and Fehu are rather common, with its effects described above. Uruz, however, is not so easily combined with other runes, since the magical enhancement it provides may lead to unintended consequences.  One particularly notorious conjunction involving Uruz is that with Hagalaz, a signature of the infamous Scandinavian warlock, Waldmar the Wild. Waldmar carved many Uruz-Hagalaz conjunctions on ten stone statues in the sea around his island (a few hundred miles off the shore of present-day Denmark in the North Sea) with the intention of greatly magnifying the Tempestuous Curse he placed to drive away enemies. Instead of the normal rough seas and winds from the curse, the combination of runes and enchantments created an impenetrable maelstrom around his island, which remained for years.

Rune Three – Thurisaz


Phonetic Value: /θ/, as in the English thorn
/ð/, as in the English then and the Spanish dedo

Proto-Germanic Meaning: Jötnar (giants of Norse mythology)
Schreiber’s Corrections: The giant race
Maxim: Those who cannot learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.

Divinatory Interpretation:
Standard (upright): Propensity for change, conflict, and consequent emotional growth. Sometimes directed destruction or defense
Merkstave (inverted): Danger, unresolved conflict, relentless and uncontrolled destruction

Thurisaz has been used extensively by the early Norse people (Muggles and wizarding folk alike) to indicate regions inhabited by giants on maps or signposting runestones. In a few ancient runic inscriptions, Thurisaz came to signify danger, since relations between humankind and the giant race were fraught with violence. Thurisaz is one of the few runes that wizarding populations use more for linguistic purposes (as an ideogram) as compared to its magical properties.

Due to its geometric properties, Thurisaz specifically enhances spells of destructive force.  Spells of this class include the Reductor Curse (Reducto, which blasts a targeted object into pieces), the Blasting Curse (Confringo, which is used on larger targets like walls), and the Expulso Curse (Expulso, which creates a more localized, but equally destructive explosion).  Since carving runes on wands is dangerous, and destructive spells are rarely placed onto objects, Thurisaz is rarely used for enhancing exploding spells. One notable exception to this is the archaeological find of fragments of magical bombs found near ancient village sites in Sweden – stones carved with Thurisaz and charmed with a timed exploding spell. Some historians believe that this development inspired the creation of bombs and cannonballs much later.


Thurisaz is rarely used upright for spellwork, and instead is more commonly used in its inverted form in conjunction with defensive spells. One may inscribe reversed Thurisaz in critical points of a building to reduce the damage caused by blasting spells. When coupled with area-specific Shield Charms like Protego Totalum, merkstave Thurisaz prevents easy breakdown of the Protego shield by intrusive curses, thus fortifying protection of the area.


Notable Conjunctions: The inverted Thurisaz is also more commonly used in conjunctions as compared to its upright version, especially with runes with properties of magical defense. A notable example of such application was the magical barrier around Hogwarts during the Second Wizarding War in 1998, where joint effort by the professors integrated complex protection charms such as Protego Horribilis and Fianto Duri with the pre-existing runes placed around the building, including the inverted Thurisaz along with Algiz and Eihwaz. 

Rune Four – Ansuz


Phonetic Value:  /a/ as in the English, stock, the French patte, and the Spanish madre

Proto-Germanic Meaning: Aesir (deities of Germanic religions)
Schreiber’s Corrections: The Nordic magi
Maxim: Knowledge lies in the answer, wisdom in the next question.

Divinatory Interpretation:
Standard (upright): Advice, insight, communication especially with a higher source or inner self
Merkstave (inverted): Delusion, misguided motivation, misunderstanding, manipulation

Like Thurisaz, Ansuz functions more as an ideogram for the lay wizard, where Ansuz is a symbol of the Nordic magi councils.  The Nordic magi were ancient councils of powerful wizards which governed early wizarding societies in Northern Europe. It is believed that they are perhaps a precursor of the Wizard’s Council (formed circa 11th century) and its modern counterpart, the British Wizengamot. Ansuz resultantly also became associated with great wisdom, magical proficiency, and power, which are all traits of the Nordic magi sorcerers.  To Muggles, the Nordic magi inspired part of their mythology, and thus Ansuz also came to mean aesir (gods of Germanic religions) in Germanic languages.

According to magic historians and runologists, Ansuz is actually a rune of powerful magical properties that could only be utilised with great magical knowledge and experience.  Consequently, sorcerers of the Nordic magi claimed to be able to exclusively tap the full potential of Ansuz and used it as an emblem of their council.  Thus, these claims cemented the lay people’s association between Ansuz and the magi.

Knowledge of using Ansuz in spellwork has not survived much until today, since the Nordic magi were particularly protective of their arcane knowledge to maintain their position in early wizarding society.  However, archaeological research and experimental runology has given us some hints as to how Ansuz may be able to be utilised.  By inscribing Ansuz in a workspace used for divination, or on divining tools themselves, Ansuz may be used to increase the accuracy of divination practices.  Although some disagree with such usage as it may potentially confound the divinatory readings, it is difficult to truly assess the impact of using Ansuz for divination.

In the context of spellwork, Ansuz may be used for enhancing complicated charms pertaining to information or detection, such as the Homonculous Charm (which charts the movements of people), the Intruder Charm, or the Caterwauling Charm. More famously in history, Edgar Stroulger was documented to have integrated Ansuz into the invention of the Sneakoscope in the 18th century. It was also speculated that the Diadem of Ravenclaw bore the rune Ansuz, which thus contributed to the apparent ability of the tiara to enhance the wearer’s wisdom.  This is a particularly attractive theory given Rowena Ravenclaw’s expertise in ancient runes amongst many other magical disciplines.  Unfortunately, the diadem was reportedly destroyed in the Battle of Hogwarts, and thus the use and wisdom-enhancing property of Ansuz cannot be confirmed.

Notable Conjunctions: Ansuz and Laguz both possess divination-enhancing properties, so it is not too uncommon for them to be found in conjunction with each other. The similarity between the shapes and geometry of Ansuz and Laguz also explains the similarity between their functions. Interestingly, Ansuz-Laguz conjunctions may have side effects similar to that of the Daydream Charm.

Rune Five – Raido


Phonetic Value: /r/, as in Spanish perro or similarly, the English robe

Proto-Germanic Meaning: Journey
Schreiber’s corrections: Transformation (additional meaning) 
Maxim: The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Divinatory Interpretation:
Standard (upright): Positive changes, journey in physical or psychological senses, possible opportunities
Merkstave (inverted): Stagnancy, chaotic changes, incapacity to deal with rapid change or dilemmas that hamper progress, delusion

Raido, just like its Proto-Germanic meaning, is associated with journeys and can be used in stabilising magical transportation.  Travelling using Portkeys inscribed with Raido can be beneficial for wizards prone to Portkey-sickness.

 In 1821, prominent explorer and runologist Diana Walpole discovered small runestone pillars in her excavation of early Scandinavian wizarding villages. The pillars were predominantly inscribed with Raido, and were usually found in front of the villages. Serendipitous tinkering with one of the runestones resulted in Walpole being transported to another yet undiscovered ancient wizarding village. Walpole had inadvertently made a huge archaeological discovery of an early precursor to modern Portkeys.

Some wizards erroneously believe that if they carry an amulet carved with Raido, the chance of splinching during Apparition is reduced. Such an object is merely another useless magical trinket made popular during the late 19
th century by riding on Walpole’s famous discovery and by exploiting the ignorance of the wizarding community. Sadly, some peddlers still sell this amulet today because a large percentage of witches and wizards (and sometimes even the peddlers themselves) are still unaware of the scam.

 Notable Conjunctions: Raido as an individual rune has limited functions, as it has an almost exclusive role in transportation.  However, when ligated with a mirror-image of Fehu to form Raido-Fehu, Raido seems to gain properties of enhancing transfigurations.  This is an extremely popular example of how rune ligation can drastically expand the properties of individual runes. Raido-Fehu is a very common rune ligature, given its utility in the tricky art of transfiguration. For objects inscribed with Raido-Fehu, the effect of transfiguration is much longer-lasting, and the chance of incomplete or unsuccessful transfiguration is much lower. The downside, however, is the practicality of inscribing the rune on your target object: rune writing requires time and magical focus, and writing the rune on objects or animate beings can be downright impractical. Variants of Raido-Fehu ligatures are pictured to the left.

Rune Six – Kaunan (Kenaz)


Phonetic Value: /k/, as in the English killing and curse, the French cabinet, and the Spanish casa

Proto-Germanic Meaning: Ulcer or disease
Schreiber’s Corrections: Disease (including magical maladies)
Maxim: (from Kenaz) There’s none so blind as those who choose not to see.

Divinatory Interpretation:
Standard (upright): Vision, inspiration, creativity, revelation, traits that are metaphorically represented by the light of the torch
Merkstave (inverted): Confusion, illusion, lack of the traits above

For this rune, it is important to realise that its divinatory significance deviates from its practical use and magical properties. This is the only rune in the Elder Futhark with such disparity. This stems from the opinions of some seers, who believe it is more accurate to interpret the Elder Futhark rune for /k/ according to its Anglo-Saxon name, Kenaz, which means torch. Consequently, the meanings for its upright and inverted forms are as follows: 

Like Thurisaz, Kaunan is one of the few runes where the inverted form is arguably more important and more widely used than its upright form.  Its use in potions also interestingly exceeds its functionality in wandwork. In its standard form, Kaunan does not necessarily exacerbate health or inflict injury or disease. However, Kaunan’s opposite (leftward) directionality facilitates entropy and progression to a lower energy state, which is occasionally interpreted as weakness. Therefore, Kaunan may be used for ignoble purposes, such as enhancing the toxicity of poisons. Conversely, inverted Kaunan can elevate energy states and promote vigour and, in many cases, health. Consequently, rightward Kaunan is therefore frequently used in hospital wards, which may boost the restorative effect of healing potions and spells.  Historically, renowned healer, Gunhilda of Gorsemoor, developer of the cure for dragon pox, was famous for inscribing invisible reversed Kaunan runes on her cauldron and potion vials to boost the efficacy of her potions, a trade secret that was only discovered posthumously.

Notable Conjunctions: While Kaunan as single rune is typically used inverted for its energetic characteristics, Kaunan upright is surprisingly found in quite a number of curses based on rune Kaunan conjunctions, where Kaunan mostly supports a rune of delay (The three runes of delay are explained in the following chapter: Hagalaz, Naudhiz and Isa).  One of its most potent combinations is with Isa, a rune of obstacles and ice.  Curse-breakers have also found traces of a powerful curse in ancient castle ruins in Scandinavia, which seem to involve an Isa-Kaunan conjunction.  Since the curse has worn off over the centuries, not much is known of its effects except that it induces extreme languidness and enveloping cold.  This curse has been dubbed to be the Curse of the Snednorringen (or Curse of the Snow Queen).

Rune Seven – Gebo


Phonetic Value: /g/, as in the English goblin, the French gain and the Spanish gato

Proto-Germanic Meaning: Gift
Schreiber’s Corrections: None
Maxim: It is better to give than to receive.

Divinatory Interpretation:
Standard (upright): Generosity, sacrifice, partnership
Merkstave (inverted): Greed, loneliness, over-dependence or loss

Of all the Elder Futhark runes, Gebo is the most mysterious, and quite possibly one of the most powerful if used properly. Unfortunately, the magic involved in Gebo has eluded magical research thus far, and runologists are unsure how its power can be used for enchantments or potions.

Some magical theoreticians postulate that Gebo may have been used in powerful magic that involves sacrifice and extreme devotion, akin to that of sacrificial protection. Others believe that it is part of a more ancient system of magic of immense raw power, and cannot be understood in relation to the modern system of spellwork we use today.

Notable Conjunctions: Gebo is not typically found in conjunction with other runes, but when it is, the result is usually surprising. There is a peculiar magical site, known today sometimes as the Chiasma, which is a plain covered with many small runestones, each engraved with single runes accompanied with a small cross by its side.  Some runologists take the crosses to be minuscule Gebos while others think that the entire thing an ancient wizarding joke by Uric the Oddball.  But what is undisputed is the high level of magic in the area, which may be the cause of many unexplained phenomena visitors sometimes experience, including apparitions of strange creatures, floating balls of fire and water appearing mid-air, then colliding into each other to disappear, and visitors’ objects falling apart and then mending themselves again.

Rune Eight – Wunjo


Phonetic Value: /w/, as in the English wizard, the French oui, and the Spanish cuanto

Proto-Germanic Meaning: Joy
Schreiber’s Corrections: None
Maxim: A joy shared is made double.

Divinatory Interpretation:
Standard (upright): Happiness, fellowship, emotional reward
Merkstave (inverted): Sorrow, discord, cognitive dissonance, delirium or extreme ecstasy

Wunjo is more prominently associated with elation and joy due to its Proto-Germanic meaning, though Wunjo is able to enhance emotion-sensitive spells in general.  Wunjo can reinforce the Boggart-Banishing Charm, Riddikulus, for example, while some medieval documents point towards its application in learning the Patronus Charm for novices, given the tremendous difficulty of the spell.  Both Riddikulus and Expecto Patronum draw on positive emotions: laughter for the former and great happiness for the latter.

The inverted form of Wunjo however is most infamously associated with the work of Morgan Le Fay, an undisputedly powerful dark witch of the Middle Ages. Some maintain she was a maniacal despot who ruled her city with tyranny, while others paint her as a benevolent healer and still others imply the truth lies somewhere in between. There are many sources that recorded the witch’s exploits, and unfortunately, we remain unsure to this day which are accurate. These problems stem from general issues with record-keeping during this period of history, as well as the fact that Morgan’s mythical personality and history actually comes from a number of historical sources, some of whom may have even used her name to lend themselves more prestige. Whatever the case may be, in one source Morgan has been recorded to have specialised in a class of spells that induced depression in her citizens, so that they would lack the drive to oppose her monarchy. These spells were later documented as the Melancholic Maledictions in literature from the Renaissance era. Most of these spells were found to have been used in conjunction with the inverted Wunjo rune, thus resulting in “an aura of gloom over Avalon” according to the accounts of her citizens. Her mythical reign ultimately came to an end, however, when several wizards fighting for justice, possibly led by Merlin himself, used powerful Patronuses and the upright Wunjo (ironically) to dispel the curses and enchantments over Avalon.


Notable Conjunctions: There is a peculiar rune conjunction in which Wunjo is conjoined with Berkano, the rune for regeneration.  Wunjo-Berkano can be used somewhat like a mental restorative, enhancing spells like the Reviving Spell, Rennervate. It is also worth noting that Wunjo-Berkano ligature is what some arithmancers term as quasi-symmetrical (near symmetrical), just like the Fehu-upright Hagalaz ligature.


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