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Frequently Asked Questions

How did you get started with the runes?

What is the Futhark?

How many runes are there?

What's the difference between Viking, Norse, Anglo-Saxon and other types of runes?

How can I write English names and messages in runes?

How can I learn about runes?

What is a bindrune and what is it for?

Can you design a bindrune to help with my health, love life, career etc?

I want to make my own runes, can you help me?

What does this runic inscription mean?

Can you help me design a runic tattoo?

Where can I find out about Celtic or Druid runes?

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How did you get started with the runes?

I was about 15 when I first noticed runes on a monument in Cumbria, England. I got interested because it was something my all-knowing father couldn't tell me about. Later an elderly relative from my mother's side of the family revealed to me that she was a runemistress and passed much of her knowledge on to me.  I have been building on that initiation ever since.

About 17 years ago I started learning something of the Anglo-Saxon language and culture, and that is when I conceived the idea for the Runemaker websites.

You can find some information about that on the About Oswald page on the main Runemaker website.
 

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What is the Futhark?

Futhark is the name for the rune row, or full rune set. It does the same job as our alphabet. Due to changes in pronunciation over the centuries, the Anglo-Saxons came to call it the Futhorc, but it's basically the same word. 

How did this name come about? Same way as the name alphabet came about, I guess. The word alphabet is made up of the first two letters in the Greek alphabet, Alpha and Beta. Those were the Greek names for A and B. I guess everybody knows that. 

So naming the rune set follows the same principle. We take the first six runes Fehu, Uruz, Thurisaz, Ansuz, Raido and Kauno - put the sounds they represent together, and they make the word Futhark. (The Th sound is represented by just one rune, Thurisaz.). 

Why are these the first six runes? I don't know. Nobody knows. You might just as well ask why did the Greeks decide to have Alpha and Beta as their first two letters? Why didn't they choose Omega and Delta? I don't suppose anyone knows the answer to that, either. The fact remains that the ancients most frequently wrote the rune set in the order I have put them in, with Fehu, Uruz, Thurisaz, Ansuz, Raido and Kauno as the first six.
 

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How many runes are there?

There are 24 runes in the Ancient Pagan Futhark also known as the Anglo-Freisian Futhark. My rune sets also include a blank rune because some folks like to have a rune representing Destiny or Fate. I don't use it myself. This idea is quite modern and was advocated by Ralph Blum with his "Book of Runes" but, contrary to common belief, he was not the originator of the blank rune which is referenced in research materials in my possession as early as the 16th Century.

The earliest documented rune set is the Elder Futhark, also known as the Norse or Viking Futhark. This rune set originally had the same 24 runes, but with slightly different shapes. Over the centuries Scandinavian users reduced the Norse Futhark to just 16 runes - presumably to simplify the task of writing - so that some of the runes had to do double-duty for two or three sounds. This later adaptation (7th-8th Century) became known as the Younger Futhark.

The runes brought to Britain by Angles, Saxons and Jutes migrating from Scandinavia and Holland were called the Anglo-Friesian runes. As their use spread through Saxon England they became known as the Anglo-Saxon runes. This Futhorc also developed over time, but in the opposite direction; it expanded to a total of 33 (possibly as many as 38 in Northumbria) runes before they fell into disuse.

There are other Futharks of more modern development such as the Armanan runes developed by Guido von Liszt in the 20th Century, and a system of runes invented by J R R Tolkien for use in his books The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. 
 

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What's the difference between Viking, Norse, Anglo-Saxon and other types of runes?

Viking and Norse are both alternative names for the runes of the Elder Futhark, the original rune set as it first appeared in Northern Europe.

Anglo-Friesian runes are almost identical to the Elder Futhark runes (just a few differences in shape). They were in use in Northern Germany and Holland and were brought to Britain by migrant tribes.

The Anglo-Saxon runes are a development from Anglo-Friesian. Although maintaining the 24 original runes for several hundred years, the shape of the runes altered over time. The Uruz rune became an inverted V, the Ansuz rune adopted a new form for the upper branch, the Kauno rune changed to a staved form like a small k with the upper leg missing, Hagalaz gained an extra cross-bar, Jera became a staved rune, and the Ingwaz rune grew 4 tails. The order was changed slightly by the reversal of Othila and Dagaz.

The runes you see on my pages are the Elder Futhark and Anglo-Saxon ones, but I do not go so far as to include the much later additional 9 runes adopted in Northumbria. 

You will also see reference to the Younger Futhark, where the Scandinavian users reduced their Futhark to just 16 runes in the 7th-8th century AD, and the Northumbrian runes - a very much later augmented rune set that grew to 33 (or perhaps even 38) runes.

More modern rune sets include the invented Armanan runes of the Nazis, Tolkein's runes of the 20th century, and a contrived rune order from 1980s author Ralph Blum.

Any reference you may see to "Celtic", "Witch" or "Druid" runes are quite inaccurate - there are no such runes. See the later FAQ.
 

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How can I write English names and messages in runes?

You just substitute runes for each letter of the message or name and put a colon between each word. Don't forget that the runes are phonetic, i.e. you spell things the way they SOUND, not the way they LOOK. For example TH is represented by just one rune, Thurisaz; not Tiwaz with Hagalaz. 

You can find the letter equivalents and a guide to pronunciation on the bindrune introduction page and a much fuller transcription tutorial in the members area.
 

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How can I learn about runes?

A. I'm sorry I can't personally help you with anything more than you will find in these FAQs, the rest of the Runemaker Group websites, and in the  Rune Forum discussion group. There is a lot of information here if you care to look for it.

I can recommend the Rune School who offer broad-based courses on the mystic application of runes. Their website address is:
 http://www.runeschool.org/index.htm

There is also a self-help rune student group called the Rune Net that may be able to provide you with more resources. Their website address is:
http://www.mackaos.com.au/Rune-Net/

Freya Aswynn also operates an excellent rune correspondence course from her website at
 http://www.aswynn.co.uk

I do not offer tuition myself for two reasons. First, I am not a very good teacher; and second, a lot of the knowledge I have gained is secret. So I just concentrate on design work and making stuff. I will always try to answer email queries when I have the time, but please check these FAQs, the various search engines (navigation panel, top left), and the Rune Forum first. Your question has probably already been answered.
 

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What is a bindrune and what is it for?

Personal bindrunes are amulets where a design is compiled from your personal initials to form a kind of runic monogram. They are used to reinforce one's personality and emphasize the positive qualities of the psyche.

Practical bindrunes are used as talismans with a particular objective such as improved  health, business or financial success, harmony with a partner, love from a special person, help with weight loss, personal protection, safety and security of your home and personal possessions, etc. They are compiled from the individual runes that represent the qualities one wishes to enhance.

You could easily draw a bindrune on a piece of paper, wood, stone or anything and carry it with you hoping that it will have some effect. But the unempowered bindrune will be so weak that you would probably not notice any difference. For a bindrune to work effectively it must be empowered (some runemasters refer to this process as consecration) in the correct way. To learn more about this subject, take a look at the article on bindrunes in the public area, or the more thorough coverage in the members area.
 

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Can you design a bindrune to help with my health, love life, career etc?

I certainly can. Check out the item on Practical bindrunes in the members area. You may find what you are looking for there.

I do not provide custom-designed bindrunes for free, though. You will have to sign up for one of my design services, check the design services page for details. You can also order wooden amulets and key rings at just $12.95 each (that includes tax, packing and shipping costs) on the main Runemaker website.

If you just want to see the design, I offer services on www.runemaker.com The basic design service is priced at only US$15.95

Just knowing the right runes to use and designing the bindrune is not enough to make it effective. For that to happen, the bindrune has to be empowered properly and you can find out about that on the Empowerment Rite page of the members area.
 

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I want to make my own runes, can you help me?

Sorry, the answer to that is no. If you just want to make a rune set for fun, go ahead and use the information and shapes from the information you will find over the 17 sites in the Runemaker Group.

But if you really want the runes for serious divination work, you have two choices:

First you can learn the necessary skills for cutting marking and polishing the rune pieces, then read about and learn all the requirements for carrying out a successful empowerment rite.

Or second, you can purchase a professionally made set. To work properly a rune set must be empowered by a very ancient and secret process.

Make sure the supplier has carried out the necessary ritual before you buy - many manufacturers are not aware of the need for empowerment and don't bother. You are better off buying from an individual craftsman/woman that knows about runes and the empowerment requirement. The big occult supplies websites buy their rune sets wholesale from factories all over the world.

A lot of the ceramic, glass and crystal runes you see for sale on the www are actually made by a factory in India. The owner of the factory once told me in all innocence that neither he nor any of his staff have any idea what runes are. They just make them to order from drawings sent to them by the American wholesaler. The wholesaler obviously has no idea about runes either because several of the rune shapes are wrong!
 

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What does this runic inscription mean?

If you send me a scan, photo or drawing of the inscription by email I will do my best to translate it for you, if it really is in runes. 

You may find me listed as a rune expert in some websites or reference books because I do research and translation work for some of the big auction houses here in England. But don't worry, I won't charge you any fees! It's a free service.
 

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Can you help me design a runic tattoo?

I sure can, but since it's one of my most popular services I often have to stop taking orders for a while so I can clear up the backlog. I can design rune tattoos, bindrunes, rune scripts and runic triads for tattooing.

I also provide custom designs like Shieldknots and Helm of Awe interpretations, knotwork decals, borders, etc. But those designs take a lot of research and experimenting to get them right. This makes them expensive, and the service is very often 'on hold' while I deal with backlogged orders.

Have a good browse around the website where you will find details of my design services for delivery by email starting at $15.95.

The members area contains a database of over 4000 personal bindrunes for use by private individuals and tattoo artists - plus dozens of pages full of decorative and practical designs.

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Where can I find out about Celtic, Witch or Druid runes?

You will find websites, books and so-called experts out there on the www that talk about Celtic, Witch or Druid runes, but these are quite erroneous inventions of modern origin. There are no such things as Celtic, Witch or Druid runes. In other words, these people are misinformed, or they are just making it up.

Irish Celts did have a strange written form called Ogham (pronounced Oh-ehm) script used for a small number of inscriptions, but Ogham is not related to runes, nor does it bear any more than a superficial resemblance.

The fact is that Celts and Druids, the indigenous population of Britain had no contact with Norse culture or anything to do with runes. When migrants from Northern Europe started to settle the North and East of Britain  from around 500AD they brought their culture and runes with them. By that time the great majority of Celtic tribes had already started to adopt Christianity, so the pagan faith of the invader was assimilated only minimally, if at all. 

In fact the two cultures were constantly at war. The Celts were inexorably driven back and reduced in number by the ferocity of their invaders, their supremacy in military know-how and their weapons. But during the ensuing centuries the Christian faith of the Celts gradually overcame the Pagan beliefs of the Norsemen, so that only remnants of runelore survived.

So if you are looking for Celtic or Witch or Druid runes - forget it. They are modern inventions and have no historical basis in fact. Anyone who tells you different is talking though their hat - or somewhere else rather less wholesome . . . .

So many people ask me about this subject that I maintain a single page website at www.celtic-runes.org.uk explaining pretty much the same as the above answer. The page gets more than a thousand visitors every day.
 

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That was the last FAQ

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