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The Tarot Minor Arcana: Introduction and Suit of Pentacles

The Tarot Minor Arcana: Introduction and Suit of Pentacles by W1tchsbrew

Be sure to check her Etsy shop Wood ov Wyrd

Introduction: What is the Minor Arcana?

Of the 78 cards in a Tarot deck, the majority of them belong to the Minor Arcana. However, just because they’re called “minor” does not mean that these cards have a minor or unimportant influence in your life.

The Minor Arcana describe the physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual aspects of the universe. They point out situations, events, challenges, and lessons to be learned in this lifetime. Sometimes, they also show specific people.

These typically have a temporary influence – that is, they represent an energy that is moving through your life right now and that can be easily changed, depending on the actions you take.

Minor Arcana consists of 56 cards within the Tarot deck and is broken into four suits of fourteen cards each: the suit of Pentacles, the suit of Cups, the suit of Wands, and the suit of Swords. Each suit is numbered one (Ace) to ten, followed by four Court Cards which are Page, Knight, Queen, and King.

Each of these four suits represents a different area of your life, so you know where to direct this guidance when one of these cards shows up in your Tarot reading.

Each suit is also associated with an element (earth, water, fire, and air). Some occultists maintain that each suit is also representative of a chakra, picturing the life lessons that are associated with it. Numerologists posit that the numbers on the cards are predictive of their meanings. We believe all such connections hold true, as the deck is replete with mystical connections. 

Get To Know The Minor Arcana Cards: The Suit of PENTACLES

Ace of Pentacles 

Upright: The Ace of Pentacles represents both a gift and an opportunity. This Tarot card suggests that better days are ahead and that the divine source will accomplish this by putting first things first.

Reversed: When reversed, the Ace of Pentacles Tarot card points out an imbalance in the way you are using your resources. This would suggest that your material success is actually enabling you to engage in some very unhealthy behaviors.

Metaphysical Correspondences:

Element: Earth

Zodiac Signs: Capricorn, Taurus, Virgo

Healing Crystals: Amethyst, Bloodstone, Emerald

Two of Pentacles 

Upright: This card says that others are marveling at how you manage to get it all done. The two of Pentacles embodies the principle of balance through constant motion and intuitive awareness. 

Reversed: When The Two of Pentacles card presents itself inverted in a Tarot reading, you’re discovering that there is only so much you can do at a time is a painful but important lesson that you must learn. Constantly living on the edge will burn you out quickly and you need to slow things down.

Metaphysical Correspondences:

Element: Earth

Zodiac Signs: Capricorn

Healing Crystals: Amethyst, Bloodstone

Three of Pentacles

Upright: When The Three of Pentacles card presents itself in a Tarot reading, it’s a beautiful omen that your life is about to enter a self-sustaining rhythm. This card is giving signals that the time has come when you can be trusted with more responsibility.

Reversed: When reversed, the Three of Pentacles warns that the interplay of work, passion, and vision is disrupted. It is also important to acknowledge your own worth and assert yourself.

Metaphysical Correspondences:

Element: Earth

Zodiac Signs: Capricorn

Healing Crystals: Amethyst, Bloodstone

Four of Pentacles 

Upright: If the Four of Pentacles card appears in your Tarot reading, the universe is about to bless you with wealth. There is no shame in taking pride of your accomplishments. As long as you don’t overdo it, this allows others to rejoice in your success as well.

Reversed: This may imply a radical step, such as counting your blessings and walking away, or dropping long standing attitudes and hangups that have been holding you back for too long.

Metaphysical Correspondences:

Element: Earth

Zodiac Signs: Capricorn

Healing Crystals: Amethyst, Bloodstone

Five of Pentacles 

Upright: When this card appears in a reading it’s an urge to stop feeding into your current turmoil, and to take an honest look at your situation. It’s time to  open your eyes and your heart to truth, so that you can truly move forward.

Reversed: When reversed, the Five of Pentacles Tarot card shows that a painful situation is about to end. You’ve been given the tools to dig your way out of that hole. Now, you have to use them.

Metaphysical Correspondences:

Element: Earth

Zodiac Signs: Taurus

Healing Crystals: Amethyst, Bloodstone

Six of Pentacles

Upright: Generally, the Six of Pentacles Tarot card announces some kind of financial benefit. However, it is not always in the form of money itself. Whatever this gift may be, it will get you back on track.

Reversed: When reversed, the Six of Pentacles reminds you to focus on your needs rather than your wants. It may also warn that you are overextending yourself when being generous. 

Metaphysical Correspondences:

Element: Earth

Zodiac Signs: Taurus

Healing Crystals: Amethyst, Bloodstone

Seven of Pentacles 

Upright: The Seven of Pentacles Tarot card tells you that the time is now. While growth is always good news, it also means that the old way of doing things doesn’t cut it anymore.

Reversed: When reversed, this card warns you that you have been pushing yourself too hard for too long. If you don’t take some time to recharge your batteries, the universe may decide to pull the breaks for you.

Metaphysical Correspondences:

Element: Earth

Zodiac Signs: Taurus

Healing Crystals: Amethyst, Bloodstone

Eight of Pentacles

Upright: When the eight of Pentacles appears in a reading it is a reminder that you should look ahead in order to see what needs to be done to make your life’s ambition a reality over time. Keeping the big picture in mind.

Reversed: When reversed, the Eight of Pentacles points out distractions or blocks in your energy flow. These may leave you feeling exhausted and restless. Looking for ways to improve your life is a good quality, but it’s easy to lose your way if you can’t see the forest for all the trees.

Metaphysical Correspondences:

Element: Earth

Zodiac Signs: Virgo

Healing Crystals: Amethyst, Bloodstone

Nine of Pentacles

Upright: Besides being a card of wealth and joy, the Nine of Pentacles also speaks of fertility. All things are now in place so that a major life goal can be manifested. Whatever it may be, it can happen at any moment.

Reversed: When reversed, the Nine of Pentacles Tarot card suggests a premature withdrawal from the material world in order to pursue higher goals. Refocus and tap into those hidden reserves. You will need them going forward.

Metaphysical Correspondences:

Element: Earth

Zodiac Signs: Virgo

Healing Crystals: Amethyst, Bloodstone

Ten of Pentacles

Upright: The Ten of Pentacles Tarot card spells good news in all money related questions. This is a good time to think about ways to expand your business or making long term investments – career related or otherwise.

Reversed: When reversed, the Ten of Pentacles is a stern warning that you have lost sight of the big picture. You are viewing life in terms of how lucky or unlucky you are. But you’re not seeing how you are contributing to your own fate.

Metaphysical Correspondences:

Element: Earth

Zodiac Signs: Virgo

Healing Crystals: Amethyst, Bloodstone

Page of Pentacles

Upright: If the Page of Pentacles card is upright in your Tarot reading, the universe is sending you back to school. New information is challenging you to rethink everything you know about a person or situation – perhaps even your place in the world.

Reversed: When the Page of Pentacles appears reversed, it could be a sign that your mind and energies are scattered. It suggests that you need to treat yourself with kindness and patience as you move forward. 

Metaphysical Correspondences:

Element: Earth

Zodiac Signs: Capricorn

Healing Crystals: Amethyst, Bloodstone

Knight of Pentacles

Upright: The Knight of Pentacles is all about reputation, reliability, and results. Whether it be a business plan, your financial picture, or even a specific person, this card predicts success and stability in your future endeavors. 

Reversed: When the Knight of Pentacles Tarot card is reversed, the universe cautions you to look before you leap. Everything must be in the place, and the timing must be right.

Metaphysical Correspondences:

Element: Earth

Zodiac Signs: Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces

Healing Crystals: Amethyst, Bloodstone

Queen of Pentacles

Upright: This card says that the universe is showering you with its generosity because you have been intuitively sending out all of the right energies. The Queen of Pentacles spells extremely good news in all aspects of your life. 

Reversed:Reversed, this card warns that now is not a good time for new beginnings. You need to resolve old issues first, or you will bring them into your new situation.

Metaphysical Correspondences:

Element: Earth

Zodiac Signs: Capricorn

Healing Crystals: Amethyst, Bloodstone

King of Pentacles

Upright: When the King of Pentacles appears in a reading, it is time to think about your next step, no matter how comfortable you feel where you are right now. Under your care, people are prospering. You’re a great parent, a wise counselor, and a fair boss. This card encourages you to take the next step and to give the faith that others have in you, to yourself. 

Reversed:When reversed, the King of Pentacles Tarot card challenges you to adopt a more flexible attitude. The good news is that coming to terms with this personal growth will enrich your life immensely.

Metaphysical Correspondences:

Element: Earth

Zodiac Signs: Capricorn

Healing Crystals: Amethyst, Bloodstone

What It Takes:

These are extremely brief descriptions of The Suit of Pentacles tarot cards. To fully utilize the art of Tarot with confidence takes much time and extensive learning. It is strongly advised that you do further personal research and dive deeper into the complex meanings of each Tarot card, prior to practicing this form of divination. 

The Tarot is, a powerful tool for exploring our hidden desires, tensions, and potential. This accessible and stunningly illustrated guide offers a practical overview for the modern seeker pursuing a path of personal development. It includes illuminating and instructive workshops, sample readings, interpretations of the Major and Minor Arcana, and advice on using different decks.
TAROT BASICS: The STORY of the MINOR ARCANA

Further Resources:

Tarot: An Introduction

The Tarot: Major Arcana

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The Tarot: Major Arcana

The Tarot: Major Arcana by W1tchsbrew

Be sure to check her Etsy shop Wood ov Wyrd

The tarot is a powerful divination tool that helps people understand more about their life journey and higher self. A Tarot deck consists of 22 Major Arcanas (also known as Trump cards) and 56 Miner Arcana cards.

What does arcana mean in tarot?

The word Arcana finds its roots in the Latin word “arcanus” which means “Secret.”

The Major Arcana is a 22 card set within the tarot that is considered to be the core and the foundation for the deck. All of the deck is filled with archetypal significance, but this is most pronounced within the Major Arcana. The Major Arcana Tarot cards represent the life lessons, karmic influences and the big archetypal themes that are influencing your life and your soul’s journey to enlightenment.

Major Arcana cards in a Tarot reading ask you to critically examine the lessons and themes you’re now encountering in your life. A Major Arcana card may frequently serve as the starting point for the overall Tarot reading, with the remaining cards connecting back to the central meaning of the Major Arcana.

Tarot cards have two positions: upright and reversed. The way cards appear in the spread can change their meaning, especially because reversed cards do not mean the simple opposite of upright cards.

Get to know the cards:

The World Tarot Card

*The World

Upright: fulfillment, harmony, completion

Reversed: in-completion, no closure

The World symbolizes harmony and unity. Drawing this card means that you’re reaching the end of a period of your life, and to look ahead with your head held high. 

Drawing the reversed World is usually a sign that you’re seeking personal fulfillment or closure, but are having difficulty. The World reversed calls you to spell some time working through whatever issues are preventing you from finding that sense of personal completion. 

Judgement Tarot Card

*Judgement

Upright: reflection, reckoning, awakening

Reversed: lack of self awareness, doubt, self loathing

In the upright position, Judgement reminds you to approach upcoming events with compassion, logic, intuition, and strength. This card could also indicate that a time of “reckoning” is coming.

This card reversed is a call to remember to live your most authentic life without fear of outside opinion. Reversed Judgement could be a sign that you’re being too hard on yourself or those around you. 

The Sun Tarot Card

*The Sun

Upright: joy, success, celebration, positivity

Reversed: negativity, depression, sadness

Drawing the Sun card calls you to bring your enthusiasm and vitality to everything you do. If you do this, you are guaranteed to find happy outcomes at the end.

The Sun reversed could be signaling you to keep your ego and enthusiasm in check. It could also symbolize that you’re struggling to see the bright side, and to trust that you will find a way through. 

The Moon Tarot Card

*The Moon

Upright: unconscious, illusions, intuition

Reversed: confusion, fear, misinterpretation

The Moon may represent anxieties that are preventing you from reaching your full potential or that your subconscious might be harboring memories and emotions that are affecting your potential for happiness and peace.

The reversed Moon card is calling you to start listening to your subconscious and to trust your intuition. It could be a sign that you’re repressing thoughts and feelings because you’re scared of dealing with them. 

The Star Tarot Card

*The Star

Upright: hope, faith, rejuvenation

Reversed: faithlessness, discouragement, insecurity

The Star is a symbol of self-assurance and healing. If you draw the Star in a reading, it’s a sign that your challenges are almost over. This card could also be calling you to focus on your emotional, spiritual, and mental well-being.

When the reversed Star appears in a reading, it’s often a sign that you’re disconnected from your truest self. Reversed, The Star tells you that now is the time for simple self-care practices and gentle self-nurturing. 

The Tower Tarot Card

*The Tower

Upright: sudden upheaval, broken pride, disaster

Reversed: disaster avoided, delayed disaster, fear of suffering

Drawing the Tower in a reading shows that a shocking or unexpected event is coming. This card challenges you to stay true to your beliefs and values, regardless of what lies ahead.

Drawing a reversed Tower could indicate that you know you need to enter a period of change and transformation, but you’re being hesitant to do so. The Tower reversed is a reminder that change is needed in order for you grow stronger.

The Devil Tarot Card

*The Devil

Upright: addiction, materialism, playfulness

Reversed: freedom, release, restoring control

Drawing the Devil is always a sign that something needs to change. You might be struggling to overcome dark thoughts or negative energies and this card is a reminder that you can take back control.

The reversed Devil shows that you’ve reached a place of strength and control and are ready to move forward into a more balanced future. Now is the time to release yourself and let it go.

Temperance Tarot Card

*Temperance 

Upright: middle path, patience, finding meaning

Reversed: extremes, excess, lack of balance

Temperance symbolizes the long game. You have a plan, but there’s no need to rush—take it slow and stay balanced. The Temperance card is a calling to approach your life with patience and calm. 

Temperance reversed calls you to restore balance. This could also be telling you that now is your time for healing and introspection. Reversed Temperance urges you to find the source of your imbalance and realign your heart, mind, and spirit.

Death Tarot Card

*Death

Upright: end of cycle, beginnings, change, metamorphosis

Reversed: fear of change, holding on, stagnation, decay

Drawing the Death card doesn’t necessarily mean that death and misfortune are on their way. Instead, it symbolizes a period of transition or rebirth. This card could also be calling you to break unhealthy cycles that are harming your growth.

The reversed Death card shows that you’re on the precipice of change, but are resisting it. Or it could be saying that you need to release  unhealthy parts of your past in order to open yourself up to new experiences.

The Hanged Man Tarot Card

*The Hanged Man

Upright: sacrifice, release, martyrdom

Reversed: stalling, needless sacrifice, fear of sacrifice

The Hanged man tells you to pause and think before you do anything else. This card is a sign that you should try to find a new perspective before jumping into anything new. It could also be an indication that you need to take a break and gain perspective or clarity before continuing on your journey.

Drawing a reversed Hanged Man could mean you’re stalling before starting something new and that now’s the time for action. 

Justice Tarot Card

*Justice

Upright: cause and effect, clarity, truth

Reversed: dishonesty, unaccountability, unfairness

Drawing the Justice card is a calling to impartially weigh up all the influencing factors before making a choice. People experience the truth differently, and this card is telling you to have compassion when deciding which truth is “right”.

The reversed Justice card could be a sign that you’ve done something you’re not proud of, and that you need to step up and face the consequences of your actions. It could also be a sign that you’re judging yourself too harshly or that you need to treat yourself with the same compassion and understanding that you try to show others.

Wheel of Fortune Tarot Card

*The Wheel of Fortune 

Upright: change, cycles, inevitable fate

Reversed: no control, clinging to control, bad luck

Drawing the Wheel of Fortune may show that you need to accept that you’re not in control of everything. Instead of constantly seeking stability, you may need to learn to let go and accept that unexpected changes are always on the horizon. 

In reverse, the Wheel of Fortune may be telling you that a run of good luck is about to end or that harder times are coming. It could also signify that you’re breaking out of a bad cycle or situation, and to expect the unexpected.

The Hermit Tarot Card

* The Hermit

Upright: contemplation, search for truth, inner guidance

Reversed: loneliness, isolation, lost your way

Drawing the Hermit is a sign that it’s time to take a step away from your busy life and focus on yourself for a period of time. It could also be telling you to look deep within yourself for clarity or guidance as this will help you find the next step on your path.

If you draw a reversed Hermit, this could be a sign that you’ve isolated yourself too much or need to leave your inner world, lest you fall into a negative mindset. 

Strength Tarot Card

*Strength

Upright: inner strength, bravery, compassion, focus

Reversed: self doubt, weakness, insecurity

Drawing the Strength card is a sign that you’re looking for balance by learning to control some of your more negative attributes and raw emotions. It’s your call to stay in control during tough times, and a reminder to act from a place of compassion, courage, and love.

In reverse, Strength is a signal that you need to tame the unkind voices in your head and perhaps work on your confidence. It may indicate that you’re lacking inner strength or you’re being led by instinct or raw emotion instead of learning to control your feelings and use them more productively.

The Chariot Tarot Card

*The Chariot

Upright: direction, control, willpower

Reversed: lack of control, lack of direction, aggression

Drawing the chariot is a sign that now is your time. Don’t let anything (including your own passivity) stand in your way: take deliberate, focused action to make your ambitions into a reality.

The reversed chariot is a sign to check you’re heading in the right direction. You may need to reassess your motivation and goals before you get started.

The Lovers Tarot Card

*The Lovers

Upright: partnerships, duality, union

Reversed: loss of balance, one-sidedness, disharmony

While the Lovers often signify the sexual or passionate nature of relationships, this card isn’t only about romantic love. It also represents the vulnerability, openness, and honesty required to build a lasting connection whether that be with a friend, family member or partner. This card is calling to you to be honest with yourself. It could symbolize conflicting personalities or ideas. 

The reversed Lovers might signify that you’re out of sync with the people around you. It can also be seen as a call to align your actions with your values and find balance in yourself.

The Hierophant Tarot Card

*The Hierophant 

Upright: tradition, conformity, morality, ethics

Reversed: rebellion, subversiveness, new approaches

Drawing the Hierophant is a recommendation that it’s time for you to start studying again, either professionally or by exploring your religious heritage.

The reversed Hierophant might be a call to leave convention behind and start innovating and creating or to let your inner wisdom guide you confidently onto your new path. 

The Emperor Tarot Card

*The Emperor

Upright: authority, structure, control, fatherhood

Reversed: tyranny, rigidity, coldness

The Emperor tells predicts that you may be someone who naturally commands authority, thrives within a set structure or demonstrates the traits of a born leader. Drawing the Emperor could also be a signal that you need to step up and take control of a situation. 

A reversed Emperor being drawn could signify that you’re abusing the power you have or perhaps affecting those around you in a negative way. It could also be a sign that now is the time to step up and lead.

The Empress Tarot Card

*The Empress

Upright: motherhood, fertility, nature

Reversed: dependence, smothering, emptiness, nosiness

Drawing the Empress is a reminder that while pursuing spiritual growth is admirable, appreciating the beautiful world we live in is just as important. It’s a call to experience life with all five senses, explore your creativity, and enjoy the fruits of everything you’ve worked hard for. 

The reversed Empress might signify that you need to reconnect with nature and the energy that flows through the world. You could also be struggling with self expression or co-dependency. 

The High Priestess Tarot Card

*The High Priestess

Upright: intuitive, unconscious, inner voice

Reversed: lack of center, lost inner voice, repressed feelings

The High Priestess symbolizes an awareness of things that are beyond our standard cognition. This card is a sign that instead of silencing the voices in your mind or relying solely on intellect, you should start listening to what your subconscious is trying to tell you. 

If you draw this card in reverse it may be a sign that you’re pushing down your gut instinct about a situation or perhaps acting in a way that contradicts how you truly feel.

The Magician Tarot Card

*The Magician

Upright: willpower, desire, creation, manifestation

Reversed: trickery, illusions, out of touch

This card represents manifestation and inspired action. The Magician shows that you have all the resources and willpower you need to make your dreams come true. When you draw this card, it means that now is the time to put your plans into action and make your intentions a reality.

The reversed Magician symbolizes illusion. If you draw it, it might mean you’re struggling to take action to bring your dreams to life or that you’re unfocused and have let go of something you were working towards.

The Fool Tarot Card

*The Fool

Upright: innocence, new beginnings, free spirit

Reversed: recklessness, taken advantage of, inconsideration

This card wants you to embrace the open, free, carefree parts of yourself and see the world as a wonderful, beautiful, curious place. It’s an invitation to bring more fun and freedom into your life, especially as you undertake a new adventure.

In the event of drawing a reversed fool, it would be seen as a warning that you’re displaying some of his more negative traits. For example, you might be so busy living joyously in the moment that you’ve forgotten to plan ahead for the future. It can also be cautioning you to be aware of the people around you, as someone may be trying to take advantage.

BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS FOR TAROT CARD INTERPRETATIONS:

When it was first published nearly 40-years-ago, Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom was an instant classic and inspired generations of tarot students. Often referred to as the “bible of tarot books” it has now helped to launch the “tarot renaissance” we’re seeing today. Drawing on mythology and esoteric traditions and delving deeply into the symbolism and ideas of each card, the book offers a modern psychological interpretation of the tarot archetypes rather than a system of esoteric symbolism.
Joan Bunning’s “Learning the Tarot—An Online Course” has helped hundreds of thousands of people worldwide discover the personal value of the tarot. Drawing on the material offered in this popular online course and from her previous books, Joan has created a complete guide to tarot for beginners, which serves as a handy and in-depth resource for more experienced tarot card readers as well.

Sum up:

The Major Arcana cards are the most recognizable and impactful cards in a tarot deck.  Their story-line is a great description of the accomplishments, setbacks, and lessons we all learn as we go through the trials and tribulations of our lifetime, growing into whole, complete beings by the end of our  journey.

All 78 Cards of the Tarot and their Meanings. Tarot deck is the Golden Universal Tarot.
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Ogham: The Mysterious Ancient Irish Script

As much as known by modern scholars, academics and others regarding the ancient Irish script called Ogham, much of it is still shrouded in mystery including a definitive origin. I have been fascinated and studied Ogham for years and still learn more regarding it the more I dig into books and websites I find. I eventually became confident enough with Ogham to not only make divination sets but to actually write in Ogham. So I felt a post about Ogham was definitely needed and I hope you enjoy this one.

Origin Theories

There are four popular theories discussing the origin of Ogham. The differing theories are unsurprising considering that the script has similarities to ciphers in Germanic runes, Latin, elder futhark and the Greek alphabet.

The first theory is based on the work of scholars such as Carney and MacNeill who suggest that Ogham was first created as a cryptic alphabet designed by the Irish. They assert that the Irish designed it in response to political, military and/or religious reasons so that those with knowledge of just Latin could not read it.

The second theory is held by McManus who argues that Ogham was invented by the first Christians in early Ireland in a quest for uniqueness. The argument maintains that the sounds of the primitive Irish language were too difficult to transcribe into Latin.

The third theory states that the Ogham script from invented in West Wales in the fourth century BCE to intertwine the Latin alphabet with the Irish language in response to the intermarriage between the Romans and the Romanized Britons. This would account for the fact that some of the Ogham inscriptions are bilingual; spelling out Irish and Brythonic-Latin.

The fourth theory is supported by MacAlister and used to be popular before other theories began to overtake it. It states that Ogham was invented in Cisalpine Gaul around 600 BCE by Gaulish Druids who created it as a hand signal and oral language. MacAliser suggests that it was transmitted orally until it was finally put into writing in early Christian Ireland. He argues that the lines incorporated into Ogham represent the hand by being based on four groups of five letters with a sequence of strokes from one to five. However, there is no evidence for MacAlisters theory that Ogham’s language and system originated in Gaul.

Mythical theories for the origin of Ogham also appear in texts from the eleventh to fifteenth centuries. The eleventh century Lebor Gabala Erenn tells that Ogham was invented soon after the fall of the tower of Babel, as does the fifteenth century Auraicept na n-eces text. The Book of Ballymote also includes ninty-two recorded secret modes of writing Ogham written in 1390-91 CE. Source

Ogham also is used for divination much like the use of the Elder Futhark Runes with of course their own unique meanings and purpose. This is a source I use and refer to quite often. Ogham Divination

The Ogham Alphabet

The Mysterious Ogham

The Ogham writing system

What is Ogham? A look at the ancient Irish alphabet

Ogham writing

Book Recommendations

Two books I have in my library I highly recommend are below with links to get yourself a copy.

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Runes – Types, Meanings, History and more.

A collection of information and references

The first systems of writing developed and used by the Germanic peoples were runic alphabets. The runes functioned as letters, but they were much more than just letters in the sense in which we today understand the term. Each rune was an ideographic or pictographic symbol of some cosmological principle or power, and to write a rune was to invoke and direct the force for which it stood. Indeed, in every Germanic language, the word “rune” (from Proto-Germanic *runo) means both “letter” and “secret” or “mystery,” and its original meaning, which likely predated the adoption of the runic alphabet, may have been simply “(hushed) message.”

Each rune had a name that hinted at the philosophical and magical significance of its visual form and the sound for which it stands, which was almost always the first sound of the rune’s name. For example, the T-rune, called *Tiwaz in the Proto-Germanic language, is named after the god Tiwaz (known as Tyr in the Viking Age). Tiwaz was perceived to dwell within the daytime sky, and, accordingly, the visual form of the T-rune is an arrow pointed upward (which surely also hints at the god’s martial role). The T-rune was often carved as a standalone ideograph, apart from the writing of any particular word, as part of spells cast to ensure victory in battle.

The runic alphabets are called “futharks” after the first six runes (Fehu, Uruz, Thurisaz, Ansuz, Raidho, Kaunan), in much the same way that the word “alphabet” comes from the names of the first two Semitic letters (Aleph, Beth). There are three principal futharks: the 24-character Elder Futhark, the first fully-formed runic alphabet, whose development had begun by the first century CE and had been completed before the year 400;[4] the 16-character Younger Futhark, which began to diverge from the Elder Futhark around the beginning of the Viking Age (c. 750 CE)[5] and eventually replaced that older alphabet in Scandinavia; and the 33-character Anglo-Saxon Futhorc, which gradually altered and added to the Elder Futhark in England. On some inscriptions, the twenty-four runes of the Elder Futhark were divided into three ættir (Old Norse, “families”) of eight runes each,[6] but the significance of this division is unfortunately unknown.

Runes were traditionally carved onto stone, wood, bone, metal, or some similarly hard surface rather than drawn with ink and pen on parchment. This explains their sharp, angular form, which was well-suited to the medium.

Much of our current knowledge of the meanings the ancient Germanic peoples attributed to the runes comes from the three “Rune Poems,” documents from Iceland, Norway, and England that provide a short stanza about each rune in their respective futharks (the Younger Futhark is treated in the Icelandic and Norwegian Rune Poems, while the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc is discussed in the Old English Rune Poem).

Continue on to Part II, The Origins of the Runes.

Part III: Runic Philosophy and Magic

https://norse-mythology.org/…/runic-philosophy-and-magic/

Part IV: The Meanings of the Runes

Part V: The 10 Best Books on the Runes

https://norse-mythology.org/…/the-best-books-on-the-runes/

Further Resources:

Types of Runes

http://www.therunesite.com/section/rune-meanings/

The Runic Alphabets

http://www.omniglot.com/writing/runic.htm

How to Write in Old Norse With Futhark Runes: The Ultimate Guide

http://www.vikingrune.com/write-in-futhark-runes-old…/

Runic Magic and Divination

http://www.crystalinks.com/runes.html

Runes – Alphabet of Mystery

http://sunnyway.com/runes/

Which Runes go with which language

The names of runes (Elder Futhark)