Rune Dictionary

written by Professor Wessex

An introduction to the interpretation and usage of Germanic runes.

Last Updated






Chapter 7: Freya’s Anglo-Saxon Aett

Chapter 9

Fehu --- Feoh
Phonetic Value: /f/, as in English feather and phoenix, French fabuleuse, and Spanish fantasma
Meaning: Cattle and wealth
Changes: Shift towards the more metaphorical meaning of cattle (wealth), rather than literally representing various animals.
General Notes: Similar to its earlier function as the rune Fehu in the Elder Futhark, Feoh commonly stands for both the /f/ phoneme as well as the /v/ phoneme, though it does not make the /v/ sound as we modernly understand it. There simply was little to no differentiation between the two when written. NOTE: This is not noted in previous chapter concerning the Elder Futhark due to inability to edit, but this is correct for Fehu as well.

Uruz --- Ur
Phonetic Value: /u/, as English broom and rune, French , and Spanish curable
Meaning: Aurochs
Changes: None, apart from the contested broadening of meaning discussed below.
Magical Uses: Some scholars propose that when the rune made the jump to the geographical region that now coincides with Great Britain that more meanings came into popular use. Common theories include its possible reference to kelpies, or even other mythologically referenced, but yet unproven creature, the Each Usige. This cryptologic creature has been described in literature and oral tradition as similar to a Kelpie, though unique in its preference for salt water and human flesh.

Thurisaz --- Thorn
Phonetic value: /θ/, as in the English thorn
/ð/, as in the English then, and the Spanish dedo
Meaning: Thorn
Changes: While the sound values of this rune did not change, the meaning shifted quite dramatically, covering none of the old meanings of giants, gods, or conflict. It is believed that Thorn’s new meaning (and also name) came from the simple fact that the rune itself looks like the object.
Magical Uses: Some have proposed that this rune would be a good fit for magic involved in bloodletting, such as in ancient precursors and variants of the Severing Charm, as well as alongside Nied in preparation for sacrifices. However, since the magical community at large remains still unconvinced of these runes’ usefulness in magic, these remain merely theoretical ideas, or “what ifs.”
Overall Notes: The /ð/ sound has also been expressed, when written, as “dh.” Additionally, the “þ” sound is also a phonetic value, but it does not exist in the English language, and has been approximated by the two other sound values listed for this rune.

Ansuz --- Os
Phonetic value: /o/, as in the English low, and the French réseau
Meaning: Mouth / God
Change: Ansuz went through significant changes to become Os. Not only was the shape of the rune tweaked slightly, but there is no real remnant of its original sound value. The initial /a/ of the Elder Futhark was replaced with another vowel, /o/. Additionally the specific meaning of “Aesir” was broadened to simply mean “gods” in general, and the meaning of “mouth” was added, though this bears a certain relationship to the meaning of “god” when the cultural importance of the Aesir (their prominence as leaders and knowledge-holders) is taken into consideration.

Raido --- Rad
Phonetic value: /r/, as in Spanish perro
Meaning: Journey / Riding
Change: None, apart from those noted in the introduction to this chapter.
General Notes: There is no technical equivalent in modern English words for the sound made by Rad, however, we can come close enough to approximating it. If you are aware of the “trilled R” in Spanish (known technically as a voiced alveolar trill), this is a correct approximation of the sound. If you are unaware of this phenomenon in the Spanish language, the sound equivalent can be found here. Note: the “a” sound is not part of the pronunciation, it is used as a break between the first and second repetitions of /r/.

Kaunan (Kenaz) --- Cen
Phonetic value: /k/, as in the English killing and curse, the French cabinet, and the Spanish casa
/tʃ/ As in the English leach, the French caoutchouc, and the Spanish chocolate
Meaning: Torch
Changes: An additional phonetic value of /tʃ/ appeared during the shift from one script to the next. Cen also bears a stark contrast to the shape of its parent rune, Kaunan or Kenaz. As far as meaning, “torch” is not among the original meanings for Kaunan, but can be found in the possible divinatory interpretations of that same rune.
Magical Uses: Rumored to be used in fertility rituals of a secretive sect of witches and wizards in parts of Great Britain, but as the group will not allow the objects to be examined, nor reveal just what exactly the runes are inscribed on, very little credence is given to this claim.
General Notes: Interestingly enough, this is the only rune whose meaning went backwards. That is to say, the Anglo-Saxon meaning “torch” retroactively influenced the accepted meanings of the Elder Futhark, particularly with respect to divination, rather than the norm, which is for the original meanings to influence the ones that came after.

Gebo --- Giefu
Phonetic value: /g/, as in the English goblin, the French gain and the Spanish gato
/y/ as in the English you, the French yeaux, and the Spanish ayer
Meaning: Gift
Changes: While the rune’s meaning is shared with its Elder Futhark counterpart, Giefu acquired a new phonetic value, /y/.
General Notes: This rune was frequently used to denote stones and other artefacts that were built in someone’s honor either before or after their death.

Wunjo --- Wyn
Phonetic value: /w/, as in the English wizard, the French oui, and the Spanish cuanto
Meaning: Joy
Changes: None, apart from those noted in the introduction to this chapter.
Magical Uses: While no magical powers have been discovered to be attributed to this rune, even after the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc came about, Wyn was still used superstitiously as a way of increasing happiness, particularly in the home. It was common to see this rune covertly inscribed on doors, windowsills, in hearths, and other places around the home.
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