Article 1: The history of magical runes

I have an old set of healing runes that I get out once in a while when I need comfort or words of wisdom during troubled times. I think with all that’s going on in the world, this is a good time to talk about what healing runes are and how they work.

The set that I have is about twenty years old and are faith based. But when I got the set twenty years ago, I didn’t really understand how they worked or where the runes even came from.

I decided to do a little research into the history of healing runes. And I was surprised to learn how far they date back in history.

First of all, what are healing runes? Well, that’s a good question. To answer that, I need to go into the history of runes and what runes have been used for over the centuries.

The following article takes information from a variety of sources including Wikipedia.

What are Runes?

Runes are letters from the rune alphabet which were used in ancient German and Roman languages before the Latin came to be.

Runes have been linked to regions all over the world and date back to the Iron Age. Runes were often used as inscriptions on swords and were believed to be used as protection from enemies. More commonly, the runes indicated “victory” from battles against enemies.

There are a lot of great documentaries on The Iron Age and The Bronze Age on youtube. This is how I’m spending my night.

One of the earliest recorded runes stems from Iceland. The Helm of Awe for example, translates to “To induce fear, protect the warrior and prevail in battle.”


Sounds very Lord of the Rings, right? “The one ring to rule them all.”

What is Runology? The History of Runes

Runes were used among German peoples from the first or second century AD. The term runes is used to distinguish these symbols from Latin and Greek letters. In old Irish Gaelic, the word run, means “secret” which makes one assume that runes were meant to be a secret language. Runes in Ireland and Britain were carved into wood or stone.

Runology, according to Wikipedia, is the study of the runic alphabets, inscriptions and runestones and it forms a specialized branch of German linguistics.

The earliest set of runes came date from 150 AD and later underwent Christianisation in Europe. Yes, that’s right. Even the Christian Romans used runes.

There were many purposes for the runes – Sweden for example used the runes for decorative purposes. Runes were also discovered in Denmark, which perhaps explains my fascination with them. I feel connected to them somehow

Magical or divintory use

The earliest runic inscriptions were found on artifacts and give the name of either the craftsman or the owner. In some cases, the inscription is a complete mystery to scholars.

Because of this, it is believed that runes were used as magical signs to be engraved onto charms for luck or protection from evil spirits and entities. There is no evidence to suggest that the runes were used for divination – calling onto spirits for guidance.

This practice would come later by New Age or spiritual enthusiasts who engage in the practice of divination.

From Wikipedia – here is one example of a stanza:

Þat kann ek it tolfta,
ef ek sé á tré uppi
váfa virgilná,:
svá ek ríst ok í rúnum fák,
at sá gengr gumi
ok mælir við mik.[20]
I know a twelfth one
if I see up in a tree,
a dangling corpse in a noose,
I can so carve and colour the runes,
that the man walks
and talks with me.[21]

A recent study of rune magic suggests that runes were used to create magical objects such as amulets. But the runes themselves, were not magical.

In other parts of the world, runes were found on monuments and were used to describe a person who had died or was celebrated among their people. Runes also were associated with societal classes of rune carvers.

The history of runes is quite complex and vast. Runes have been used all over the world for various purposes.

Are runes evil?

Some people would argue that using the runes for divination purposes makes them evil or dangerous. But I do not agree with this. I think runes were just another way for people to express their thoughts in an artistic and secretive way. Kind of like modern day, emoji’s.

It seems that runes were more commonly used in Germany and Nordic countries like Sweden, Iceland and Denmark which is probably why I love using them so much. I feel strongly connected to my Danish heritage.

But I also feel a strong connection to my Irish – Celtic heritage from mum’s side of the family. I love learning about the different folklore and legends.

Runes in Modern Times

Lord of the Rings and Hobbit fans will appreciate this. The Anglo-Saxon runes were used on a map to emphasize its connections to the Dwarves by author JRR Tolkien.

Runes appear often in movies and video games as magical symbols that are used in spells or rituals associated with dark and unnatural forces. I think these depictions just give runes a bad rep.

I think my fascination with Runes started with a book series I read in junior high by L.J. Smith – the author of the Vampire Diaries. I loved these books – and they are great for teens looking for a good escape.

These books were incredibly well written and I must have read them over and over again. I re-read them a few years ago, and they still hold up in today’s world.

The Hunter (The Forbidden Game, #1)

I hope you enjoyed this article on what runes are. I’m going to be doing up weekly articles on topics that I’ve studied over the years. From ghost hunting, to magical practices like Shamanism.

If you’re interested in receiving a healing rune reading – head on over to my readings page to find out how.

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