Many people vaguely know about “Viking runes” or “Nordic runes” but few know the mythology and origin behind them. They are often believed to be a writing system, but they are also meant as magical symbols that can imbue objects with their assigned meanings. I am not going to pretend to be an expert as there is a lot of controversy and limited first hand sources-and I am no scholar. I will share with you what I have discovered in my own research…
There are two full rune “alphabets”- Elder Futhark, and Futhark. Although it is less complete, I am going to focus on the Elder. Elder Futhark is thought to be the oldest form of runes discovered. They were used by ancient Germanic speaking peoples and can often be found on ancient artifacts like stone monuments, and weapons. Elder Futhark first appears in literature in a story called the Havamal, in a book called the “Elder Edda”. As most of these texts have been translated there are always discrepancies, but here is a little excerpt:
I know that I hung on a high windy tree
for nine long nights;
pierced by a spear -Odin’s pledge-
given myself to myself.
No one can tell about that tree,
from what deep roots it rises.
They brought me no bread, no horn to drink from,
I gazed toward the ground.
Crying aloud, I caught up the runes;
finally I fell.”
This sacrifice for knowledge is a continuous theme in most of Norse mythology. I think this is a way of thought many can relate to, or aspire to. Everyone feels better after they’ve earned something. I’ve loved Nordic sagas for a good while and discovered very little in the way of rune themed jewelry out there. So…envisioning each rune as a token, or a magical symbol, I’ve made some more affordable pieces of bronze, copper, and silver. I feel these could be great little charms for gift giving, or for oneself for a little push of ambition and aspiration towards something greater. I also love to focus on the sound of jewelry. The runes paired with my jeweler’s tags make a great light clink on the bangle bracelets-like little wind chimes. These bracelets now in the Etsy shop are a lot of fun when stacked! Check them out now:
Along with the Elder Futhark Runes, I have created Odin’s Ravens in silver form. Continuing my “Black Bird” theme, I have paired the birds with faceted gems on half round sterling oxidized bangles. In mythology, Odin has two ravens that fly around Midgard (the world of Man) and listen for information. They then sit on his shoulders at the end of the day for a debriefing. One bird is called Huginn, and represents “Thought”. The other is called Munnin, for “Memory”. These will hit the shop tomorrow, and can be customizable with whatever gemstone you desire that I have in stock…
xx Stray Arrow