iFate Questions & Answers

What Do “Aetts” Mean in a Rune Reading?

3 rune aetts header image

Short Answer

The 24 Old Futhark runes can be divided into three groups of 8 runes each. These 3 groups are often referred to as the First Aett, Second Aett and Third Aett. Each Aett has its own underlying meaning.

If you’ve ever done a rune reading, you’ve likely come across the term “Aett”. Last week, an iFate reader wrote in, asking us to explain why the aett in a rune-reading matters, and how to interpret it.

First, the simple definition:

Aett, is an old Norse spelling of the modern English word “Eight”, and it’s pronounced phonetically — rhyming with “wet”.  The 24 Old Futhark runes can be divided into three groups of 8 runes each. Each group of 8 is called an “aett”.

The 3 “Aetts”, or groups of 8, are referred to as the First Aett, Second Aett and Third Aett, as shown in the diagram below:


runes three aetts


Each of the aetts has an underlying meaning which is shared somewhat by all 8 runes within it. This additional layer of meaning can clarify interpretations during rune readings. Knowing this additional meaning can also help you to understand how any specific rune applies to you, or to better understand how a rune relates to the question you’re asking.

The First Aett

The First Aett represents the cycle of life. These are the core aspects of human existence, and the phases that each of us go through. These phases can be taken literally, or they can be understood metaphorically to represent current forces and events.

The first Aett consists of the runes:



The Second Aett

The Second Aett represents external forces, or forces in the world which act upon you. These can be both beneficial forces and negative forces. When you see a rune in the Second Aett, there’s a good chance it represents something outside of oneself which is somehow acting directly upon you, or upon the situation at hand.

The second Aett consists of the runes:



The Third Aett

The Third Aett are the most interesting and the most nuanced. These runes indicate internal energies and resources that we can utilize to combat external forces acting upon us. They represent everything from our resolve to personal creativity. They are the strengths we call upon to overcome hurdles and manifest our ambition.

The third Aett consists of the runes:


Using Aetts in Rune Readings

Do you have to pay attention to which aett a rune belongs to when performing a rune reading?

No, you don’t.

Many rune readers will simply pay attention to the meaning of each rune, and disregard which group of 8 that rune comes from. But memorizing and understanding which of the three Aetts a rune belongs to can help you add nuance to your rune readings. The meaning of each aett may also imply a subtle, second meaning to each rune in some cases.

Have you ever tried a rune reading? Try one free online now, and see how easy it is to do yourself.

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