For centuries, Norse runes have been present in the life of Germanic peoples and pagan witches. There are diverse stories about how they came to be: some believe that it was Odin who created them after having an epiphany, some others say that these symbols pre-date humanity, and from these derived many other theories and hypotheses. If you’re interested in reading further on runes, don’t miss out on our posts about Mythology and Background of Norse Runes and Havi, the Father Deity in Norse Mythology.
No matter which version you decide to take in, what everyone can agree on is that runes are an ancient endless source of knowledge that, like Tarot, can help us tap into the secrets of the Universe. Actually, the word “rune” has its origins in the Norse word runa, meaning “whisper” or “secret”1. Moreover, author Lisa Chamberlain adds that the etymology of the rowan tree also has its roots in the word runa, as this sacred and magical tree is known for providing protection.
Before they were used as a linguistic system in ancient Germanic culture, Norse runes ―also called the Futhark alphabet― were used as symbols of power. It is said that warrior Vikings would carve runes (or a runic formula) in their weapons and shields so as to attract their energy and welcome success in battle. Furthermore, in the sagas, runic inscriptions were presumed to aid in predicting the future, protection, and infusing an object or a person with health or good fortune. Other uses include incantations, spells, curses, divination, talismans, rune yoga, and more.
In this post, I’ll be diving a bit deeper into the magical aspect of runes, that is, I’ll be exploring which runes are somehow related to witchcraft, in what way they are important for practitioners, and how they can use them in their practice.
Gifu (also Gebo or Gytu)
This rune means “gift” and “generosity”. It represents the feeling of gratitude and joy when receiving an unexpected gift or blessing. Along those lines, it can be a message from the Divine. Moreover, Gifu can be interpreted as the sensation of discovering something unique and wholesome, as if saying “Eureka!” It is also said that this rune aids in boosting your natural talents (gifts) or in making hidden skills come to light. Whenever you want to attract something, Gifu is your go-to. If you’re just starting in your practice, this rune is perfect to help you find your way and your talents. It’s the cross that shows where to find the treasure on a map. You can draw Gifu on a piece of paper and stick it to the sole of your shoes (or even paint it on your feet) in a symbolic way of having it lead your spiritual path. You can also stick it to your mirror as a reminder to thank the Universe for all the good things it has provided you with.
Wunjo (also Wyn)
This is the rune of happiness and harmonic bliss. Tune into the power of Wunjo whenever you have a project that you need to go well, as this symbol is associated with a positive state of mind which will result in attracting a positive outcome in life. It also calls for happy relationships and a harmonious environment, assisting in making sure that everything runs smoothly and collaboratively. In its magical aspect, Wunjo helps you raise your vibration and be more attuned with the Universe and the Divine. Draw this rune on your body with your finger (or a pen, if you want) whenever you feel stressed, sad, or upset. Remember that if you let negative thoughts take over, you’re likely to manifest a negative outcome.
Algiz (also Elhaz)
This is, in my opinion, one of the most important runes for witches, as its name translates as “protection.” Not only does it deflect negative energy coming your way, it also raises your awareness about potential enemies. Algiz invites you to trust your intuition whenever you feel something feels off. Draw this rune on your veil with rosemary oil or your protective amulet for an extra boost. Alternatively, due to its glyph resembling a man holding his arms up pointing to the sky, this rune is also associated with the connection to the Divine. You can place this rune on your altar or carve it on your deities’ candles to represent your devotion to them and reinforce your bond with them. Author Lisa Chamberlain shares an important disclaimer about Algiz: not because this rune keeps you safe should you be neglectful in your practice or actions. This rune won’t prevent you from breaking your bones if you jump off a rooftop, it will only alert you about energies that’ll potentially cause you harm.
Ingwaz (also Inguz)
This rune is associated with Ing, also known as Freyr, god of fertility. Masculine sexuality and potency are also related to Ingwaz. In a holistic sense, this rune represents procreation and the birth of a new project or renewal of the self. Ingwaz will assure you that any venture you embark on has fruitful and successful results. After painful situations, this rune encourages relief and healing. Similar to The World card in Tarot, Ingwaz represents both completion and rebirth, bringing lots of positive energy for you to start a new cycle. Draw this rune in a piece of paper and stick it to the object or item related or associated with your project. For instance, if you’re trying to start a new business, you can put it on the cover of the notebook you write all your ideas in or in the folder where you store the financial records. This way, you will be welcoming blossoming energy for your business.
Othala (also Odal or Othel)
Othala is the final rune in the Futhark alphabet and it translates as “inheritance” or “heritage”. I decided to include it in the list as it represents an aspect that every witch should take into account: inherited traits and ancestral connection. This rune invites you to look within and reflect upon what behavioral patterns you’ve inherited from your ancestors. Even if those traits are positive or negative, it’s important that you observe them so you can get rid of what doesn’t serve you, in a spiritual sense, which in a way keeps you from reaching your highest potential. Alternatively, Othala signifies a past life or communication with ancestors. Place this rune on your altar, if you have one, or carve it on your ancestors’ candles or heirlooms so as to deepen your bond, connection, and means of conversation with them. You can also meditate with this rune to boost past life regressions.
Engaging in the art of runes can be wonderful and as insightful as Tarot. Regardless of which rune you decide to incorporate in your practice, don’t forget to focus on your intention. You can repeat an affirmation over and over while you draw or carve it so as to bind your intention to the symbol. I should warn you, though, that having them tattooed, to my knowledge, could be dangerous, as runes are so powerful that they may start to affect our lives, causing adrenaline rushes or making us feel lethargic. Just in case, I would suggest only drawing them on your body, like a temporary tattoo, and then retouching it when you need it.
Have you heard about these runes before? What other runes would you incorporate into your magical practice and how? Let us know in the comments!
1 Chamberlain, Lisa (2018) Runes For Beginners: A Guide to Reading Runes in Divination, Rune Magic, and The Meanings of The Elder Futhark Runes. Chamberlain Publications, United States.
Fottson, Robert (2018) Las runas y su signficado. TirNanOg, Buenos Aires, Argentina.