There are many nods to the Old Religions in the Elementals Universe. And the Nordic Runes play a huge role in just about every book. Whether you’re reading Chronicles of Rondure, Elementals of Nordica, or the Terrian Chronicles, you will find the runes, plus a plethora of other references to the Old Religions.
From the Witchcraft that’s present in the Terrian Chronicles, to Wiccan main characters in future works, elemental magic, and more, if you’re into the Old Religions, then it gives you yet another reason to indulge in the Elementals Universe.
Today, I want to talk to you about the Nordic Runes and the role they play in the Epic. Since I’m diving into fantasy, I had a bit more fun with them. But they also hold true to their original meanings.
Ready to learn more?
Let’s get after it.
The Nordic Runes and Their Meanings
Okay, so if you have no idea what I’m on about when I talk about the runes, this section will give you a rundown. The runes that I’m referring to stem from the Elder Futhark, comprising 24 symbols. Each symbol stands for one or several meanings and they can be contradictory. Some runes have reversed meanings; others do not.
I’m not about to write a book on the subject, although Lisa Chamberlain’s Runes for Beginners is an easy-to-read guide I used to nail down the runes and their meanings for my Elementals Universe. To make things even simpler, I’m breaking them down into three groups of eight known as Freyr’s Aett, Hagal’s Aett (my favorite group), and Tyr’s Aett.
Without further ado, let’s get started on the runes!
Freyr’s Aett deals with what we need to sustain basic existence. They stem from experiencing things, interacting with others on both the physical and spiritual plane, and even fulfilling life.
Let’s get started.
ᚠ – Fehu
Also known as Fe, Feh, Feoh, and Frey, Fehu is the rune of movable and domesticated wealth, literally translating into cattle, which was a sign of wealth during the old days. Keywords include good health, beginnings, rewards, prosperity, and abundance. I like to think of Fehu as the “Money Rune.”
ᚢ – Uruz
Known as Ur and Urz, Uruz symbolizes the aurochs or the European Ox. It’s the rune of brute strength and relates to Fehu. Whereas Fehu symbolizes domesticated wealth, Uruz is the rune of wild, untamed energy. Keywords include health, strength, power, energy, endurance, and creative forces. I call Uruz the “Strength Rune.”
ᚦ – Thurisaz
Known as Thurs and Thor (think Thursday), this rune represents the thornbush and the God Thor. Its keywords include protection, warning, contemplation, decisions, and luck. I’ve always referred to Thurisaz as the “Rune of Passive Protection.”
ᚨ – Ansuz
Also known as As, this rune of communication translates to the God, often Odin in the Germanic/Nordic tradition. Divine power, messages, communication, and wisdom are keywords for this rune and I often call it the “Communication Rune.”
ᚱ – Raidho
Pronounced as rye-though, it’s also known as Reid and Rad. This transportation rune symbolizes the wagon, and in modern times, the vehicle. Keywords include changes, movement, journey, travel, and reunion. I call it the “Rune of Good Travels.”
< – Kenaz
Also called Keno, Kaun, Ken, and Kaunan, Kenaz is the Rune of Beacon, symbolizing the torch, or fire in the darkness. Other keywords include fire, breakthrough, light, heat, illumination, and creative fire. I call Kenaz the “Breakthrough Rune.”
X – Gifu
Also known as Gebo and Gytu, you’re looking at a rune that symbolizes gifts, hospitality, and generosity. It also stands for harmony, friendships, and talents. I’ve always called Gifu the “Gift Rune.”
ᚹ – Wunjo
Called Wyn and Wynja, Wunjo is the rune of joy, pleasure, and hope. Bliss, harmony, success, well-being, and happy relationships are what this rune is all about. I call Wunjo the “Rune of Pleasure.”
My favorite Aett since it practically symbolizes my life; Hagal’s Aett starts with the Three Great Runes of Delay before more positive runes take center-stage. It ends with one of the Victory Runes.
ᚺ – Hagal
Also called Hagalaz. This is the rune of hail and destruction. Outside forces are taking over and they’re beyond one’s control. Chaos, interference, and misfortune are taking over. But transformation is another keyword for Hagal. I call Hagal the “Rune of Destruction.”
ᚾ – Nied
Commonly called Nauthiz, Nied is the need rune that also symbolizes scarcity, necessity, patience, restrictions, and absence. Note its shape, which symbolizes two firesticks being rubbed together; symbolizing a need for warmth during those harsh winters. I call Nied the “Need Rune.”
l – Isa
Also called Is, Iss, and Isarz. This is the rune of ice, symbolizing standstill, stagnation, and delay. Think of when it ices outdoors and you’re delayed from going somewhere; that sums up Isa. I call it the “Ice Rune.”
ᛃ – Jera
Called Jeraz, Jera is the rune of harvest and it also symbolizes the year’s natural cycles. Think of Thanksgiving when you see Jera, and it will help you remember the meaning. It’s also a rune of fertility, fruition, and growth. I call Jera the “Rune of Harvest.”
ᛇ – Eihwaz
My favorite rune, which translates to the Yew Tree. This rune symbolizes death; however, it’s a symbolic death. As symbolic death is nothing more than a new beginning, it also stands for regeneration, new beginnings, rebirth, changes, and magick. I call Eihwaz the “Rune of New Beginnings.”
ᛈ – Perdhro
You can respell it as Perthro, which better reflects this rune of chance’s pronunciation. To this day, there is debate about what this rune translates to, but we know it’s the rune of mystery, chance, revelation, and secrets. And many relay its shape to the dice cup. I call it the “Rune of Mystery.”
ᛉ – Elhaz
Also known as Eoih and Algiz, this rune symbolizes the elk and the sedge plant; hence, the rune’s antlered shape. It’s another rune of protection, defense, and opportunity. I call it the “Rune of Protection.”
ᛋ – Sowilo
Also called Sol, Sowilo is the rune of the sun that also stands for good health, victory, light, success, and energy. The last rune in Hagal’s Aett, Sowilo gives a lot of hope if you go back and look at where we were at the beginning of the Aett. For that reason, I call it the “Rune of Victory.”
Tyr’s Aett connects the runes to ancient deities, the connection between the physical (visible), and invisible realms, natural forces, and even humanity.
ᛏ – Tiwaz
Commonly known as Tyr, since it represents the Germanic god, Tiwaz is closely related to Sowilo above it in meaning. Except, in this case, victory comes with sacrifice, courage, strength, and passion. It also relates to masculine energy. I call Tiwaz the “Rune of Sacrifice,” as Tyr sacrificed an arm to Fenrir in the ancient Germanic texts.
ᛒ – Berkana
Also known as Beorc and Berkano, Berkana is the most common fertility rune that symbolizes the birch tree, as the birch was the first tree to bloom in the spring. Keywords include birth, fertility, regeneration, family, feminine energy, and growth. I call Berkana the “Fertility Rune.”
ᛖ – Ehwaz
Also called Ehwass, this is the trust rune that also represents travel (both physical and astral), loyalty, sudden changes, faith, and movement. It’s shaped like a horse, which symbolizes the trust necessary between the horse and its rider. I call Ehwaz the “Rune of Trust,” and the “Rune of Astral Travel.”
ᛗ – Mannaz
Also called Mann, Mannaz is the rune of humankind, humanity, self-sufficiency, and intelligence. It’s another family rune, and also the rune of assistance. I refer to it as the “Rune of Humankind.”
ᛚ – Laguz
Some call it Lagu and Lagaz. This rune translates into water and also symbolizes intuition, flow, psychic ability, feminine energy, and growth. Another good one for astral travel, Laguz also symbolizes unconsciousness and psychic ability. I call it the “Go With the Flow Rune,” which is important in astral travel, especially if you’re trying it for the first time!
ᛜ – Ingwaz
Also called Ing or Inguz, this one symbolizes the god Ing and it’s another rune of masculine energy. It’s also good for channeling energy, using for procreative force, safety, completion, and success. I call Ingwaz the “Rune of Completion.”
ᛞ – Dagaz
Some call it Dag, since it’s the rune of daylight. It’s another rune of transformation, hope, breakthrough, and balance. Brothers of Metal have a song called Kenaz Dagaz, and it always helped me remember its meaning. I call Dagaz the “Rune of Daylight,” and the “Rune of Hope.”
ᛟ – Othala
Also called Othal and Otheel, most consider this one the final rune in the Futhark, though some consider Dagaz to be last. Anyway, Othala is the family rune that also stands for tradition, inheritance, ancestral ties, and heritage. Like Fehu, it is a money rune. But it’s IMMOVABLE WEALTH, as opposed to Fehu’s movable wealth. I call Othala the “Family Rune.”
Nordic Rune Symbolism in the Elementals Universe
Chronicles of the Elementals is the first work where we meet the runes.
The Nordic Runes also symbolizes specific tasks in the Elementals Universe. For example, in Chronicles of the Elementals, Valkyrie notices the delay runes of Nied and Isa, which point to needs and standstill. In divination, Nied means to think twice before acting, while Isa tells you to stop and look inward to see if you’re on the right path. Valkyrie takes this as it is a bad idea for her and her twin brother Mikko to have ventured into South Nordica, and her fear is later proven correct.
Runes also symbolize ways to break through into a secret room or area. You will see this happen often in Wind Master, as our main characters realize that the rune meanings are telling them to evoke a specific action. The runes can also symbolize access to specific places, such as military bases, prisons, and even top-secret locations when applicable. You will notice that some in the Tamurian Military are wearing a specific rune that grants them such access with no consequences.
Runes also tell elementals if something is warded. Sometimes, a group of runes are used which will allow any elemental to break through the wards if they are strong enough (at or above the level of the elemental who created the ward). Other times, only one or two runes are shown, meaning only certain elementals can break them.
How the Nordic Runes Relate to Elementals
Each rune or runes correspond to one of the nine elements present in the Elementals Universe, with the four classical elements of earth, water, air (wind), and fire, plus the Fifth Element of spirit, and the four “niche” elements of wood (forest), metal, blood, and vape (smoke).
I basically stuck with each rune’s meaning listed above and magickal properties, which correlates to each rune’s meaning. Anyway, each rune also pertains to a different element, so here’s how I drew it up in Elementals of Nordica:
Each elemental can use runes that pertain to their element to ward off enemies, keep certain locations locked, and, in certain cases, increase their own power when in combat.
The runes for each elemental are:
Ansuz, Raidho, Perdhro, Laguz, Eihwaz, Elhaz, Ehwaz, Sowilo, Tiwaz, Ingwaz, Dagaz, Othala, Nied, Wunjo, Gifu, and Fehu. Spirit Elementals can use any rune in the Futhark that pertain to anything on the astral plane. Spirit Masters, those at a level high enough to have manifested a Sword of Spirit, can also use any of the runes that pertain to the other elementals listed below, as you will discover in Wind Master. They can also use Wyrd to their advantage.
Thurisaz, Kenaz, Nied, Sowilo
Fehu, Ingwaz – A niche element of Fire and Earth, Metal Elementals’ elements must pertain to both fire and earth.
Jera, Othala, Berkana
Mannaz – Mannaz is the only rune for this niche element of Air and Earth.
Ansuz, Raidho, Eihwaz, Tiwaz
Gifu – A niche of Air and Water, Gifu is the single rune that matches the description.
Hagal, Isa, Perdhro, Laguz
Elhaz, Dagaz – A niche of Fire and Water, Elhaz and Dagaz are associated with both elements, along with Air.
More Explanatory Posts to Come!
I know some of us aren’t familiar with the Nordic Runes, even I’m seeing them often in works from other authors. That said, I placed them into my work because for one; I’m descended from the Scandinavians (hence the Nordic flags in my house), and for another, they made for the perfect code to use among elementals in the Elementals Universe.
Again, this is not a huge introduction to the runes, so again, check out Lisa Chamberlain’s work for more information on the Nordic Runes if you’d like a greater background on the subject.