What is Younger Futhark rune writing?
The early runic alphabets of the ancient northern Europeans went through several different stages of evolution.
The earliest form of rune writing was the Elder Futhark alphabet, which is thought to have been influenced by the Etruscan civilization of Northern Italy. Elder Futhark runes date back to somewhere around the 1st century, but some estimates put the origin of runic writing as early as the 1st century BC.
early Scandinavian peoples reduced the total number of 24 Elder Futhark runes to a simplified set of 16 runes
Somewhere around the 8th century, early Scandinavian peoples reduced the total number of 24 Elder Futhark runes to a simplified set of 16 runes, referred to by historians as the Younger Futhark.
The time period of the Younger Futhark runes correspond to the Viking period of Scandinavian history, and gradually disappeared around the 12th century with the arrival of Christianity.
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The Younger Futhark rune set
The 16 runes of the Younger Futhark runic alphabet are for the most part a subset of the Elder Futhark runic alphabet. Two notable exceptions are the new additions Yr and Kaun.
Here are the runes of the Younger Futhark set:
|Younger Futhark||Rune Meaning|
|God / Mouth|
|Ulcer / Wound|
|Hail / Sleet|
|Ice / Frost|
|Thor / Thunder|
|Man / Life|
|Yew / Death|
The Younger Futhark for divination?
If you’ve ever tried divination with runes, then you’re probably familiar with the 24 Elder Futhark runes. Most sets of runes available for rune reading use the more extensive, Elder Futhark alphabet. However, there’s nothing to stop you reading runes with the 16 rune, Younger Futhark set as well.
Although, you’ll probably have to make your own set. Popular materials for crafting a set of runes are wood chips, stones or pieces of bone.
Keep in mind that the Younger Futhark alphabet is considerably smaller than its predecessor, which is likely why the Younger rune set is less popular as a divination tool.
Younger Futhark meanings
If you’re interested in using the Younger Futhark for divination and rune readings, the rune meanings are the same as the meanings for the Elder Futhark runes — with the exception of the additional runes: Yr, and Kaun.
Here are the casting meanings for those two additional Younger Futhark runes, since they’re not usually listed in sets of rune meanings:
Kaun Rune Casting Meaning
The Kaun rune (ᚴ) of the Younger Futhark has a painful and somewhat scary meaning of “Wound“. The rune has somewhat negative interpretations in a rune reading, but it seldom references an actual physical injury. Instead, it references a painful lesson.
When the Younger Futhark Kaun rune appears in a rune reading, it reminds us that negative results and negative outcomes carry valuable wisdom along with the pain. The wound is not a mortal wound. It is a wound from which you will recover. What does not kill us makes us stronger, and the Kaun rune reminds us that the road to victory and success is not a straight one. Setbacks and hardships line the path — and we must learn from these moments in order to succeed.
Yr Rune Casting Meaning
The Yr rune (ᛦ) of the Younger Futhark has a few different possible meanings depending on the nature of the question at hand. Yr represents the entrance to the underworld or the land of the dead.
The simplest interpretation of the Younger Futhark Yr rune is “Death” or “Surrender”, but death is seldom the literal meaning in a rune spread. Yr often signifies the natural conclusion to a cycle. As with the tarot Death card, the Yr rune is not nearly as bad as its symbolism suggests. In many cases, quite the opposite: It may represent a release from a cycle of hardship, and the beginning of a new and very different cycle.
Alternatively, the Yr rune may be read as surrender, or a non-defensive position, similar to a reversed Algiz rune.
NOTE: Was the Yr rune or inverted Algiz rune the inspiration for the iconic 1960’s peace symbol? There’s some evidence that the peace symbol was based on rune symbolism.
Other Anglo-Saxon runes
Because most students of rune magic and rune reading are familiar with the Elder Futhark rune alphabet, they often mistake every unfamiliar rune as being part of the Younger Futhark. Because the Younger Futhark contains only two “new” runes, it is far more likely that unfamiliar runes belong to the Futhorc or Anglo-Saxon rune alphabet.
Like the Younger Futhark rune alphabet, the Furthorc, Anglo-Saxon runes also evolved from the older Elder Futhark, Germanic runes. The Futhorc runes however are a broad class of runes, each with multiple variants.
In many ancient examples of Futhorc runes, the writing is blended with the Latin alphabet due to Roman influence in the British Isles. In the 7th century, the Futhorc runes began to disappear, as they were replaced by the Latin alphabet. However, some inscriptions of Futhorc runes in the British Isles have been found which date as late as the 11th century.
Other Anglo-Saxon runes for divination?
Traditionally, the preferred rune set for rune casting is the Elder Futhark rune set. However, there is an ancient and well established history of using Anglo-Saxon runes for their magical properties.
The pommels of Anglo-Saxon swords were often engraved with the Tyr rune (Or Tiwaz in Elder Futhark) symbolizing victory in battle. In other cases, ancient iron and gold rings have been discovered which were used during ritual blood staunching or possibly blood-letting for healing purposes.
While Anglo-Saxon runes remain popular to this day in occult circles for magical inscriptions and charms, they are less likely to be used for traditional rune casting or rune reading. The difficulty with rune casting using Anglo-Saxon runes stems from the wide degree of written variation in the rune glyphs themselves, and the use of special glyphs to denote doubled-letters.
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