A lot has been written about runes,
and one thing they all have in
common is that no one really
knows what they are, where they
came from, and what you do with
them; instead, everybody has their
own theory, just as I do. There are,
however, some historical facts, and
some common points on the
subject, so let us start by looking at
those, and then go into their
magical aspects.

THE ROOTS OF THE RUNES The runes are an alphabet which probably derived from the alphabet used by the north Etruscans, who came from Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio in Italy, and whose alphabet was used upto about the C4th CE. The runic alphabet as we know it today, was used in the Germanic an Scandinavian countries, and the first actual runic inscriptions have been dated to around 150 CE. There are three different runic alphabets, and these could be seen as the three main groups. These are the ‘Elder Futharc’ runes, used in northern Europe before about 800 CE; the ‘Anglo-Saxon’ runes, used in Britain from about the C5-6th; and finally the ‘Younger Futharc’ runes, which were used in Scandinavia and Iceland between the C8-13th. There are also more local runes, such as ones used inthe Älvdalen area of Sweden – which are still in use. The word ‘Futharc’ comes from the names of the first sixcharacters of the alphabet; feh, ur, thurs, ass, reid and k(c)en. The Elder Futhark had 24 characters,and the Younger Futhark only 16, but each character in that set was given several sounds, which made writing easier. The Anglo-Saxon runes, however, needed more signsfor different sounds, so they added more runes, resulting in a 33 character alphabet.

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