Runic Categories

In the mythic lore of the Runes, there are three main sources that people look to. The most often quoted is the Havamal “The Words of the High One” which is often seen as the sayings of Odhinn. The next popular one is Sigrdrifumal “The Words of Sigridrifa” which comes from the saying of the Valkyrie Sigrdrifa to Sigurd, the dragon slayer, where she educated him in runes and magic, so that he might win. The third source, although read by some, by seeming often over looked it the Grogaldr “The Spell of Groa” in which Svipdagr goes to the gates of Hel, to meet his mother Groa, who was a seeress, so that he might learn what magical aid he can get in wooing Mengloth, an etin-maid. In the course of these writings, the speakers (Odhinn, Sigridrifa, and Groa) describe various runes to their audience that they know, or should learn, or use to reach their goals. These runes have a variety of names, and they number listed has never really reached anything close to the length of the alphabets, or the types of runes mentioned, except by the intellectual reaching of authors on the subject.

In other books, you come across various names of runes, signs, and staves for other purposes as well. Some seem to be inspired by the mythic lore, some from sagas, and others existing in Icelandic galdrboks that have been preserved. I made it a point to compile a little list of some of these types of runes, just to give the readers a look at what is present. I have to apologize for lack of accent marks; I just don’t know how to make that happen.

Malrunar- speech runes

Blodhgar runar – bloody runes or blood runes

Leo-runa – song rune (also used to refer to witches, sorcerers and such)

Brimrunar – sea runes (typically for calming the sea)

Bjargrunar – birth runes (for helping in childbirth)

Wyrdstaef – Staff of Wyrd or Urd

Likn-stafir – health stave

Gaman runa – Joy runes

Audh-stafir – Staves of Riches

Sig-Runar – Victory Runes

Myrkirstafir “Murk staves” or “Murk” Runes
Myrkrunar (a lot of writers have used this term to refer to the inverted meanings of runes in a reading, I personally think it refers to runes that deal with visibility

Bol-stafir – Evil staves

Beadu-run – conflict rune

Flaerdh stafir – Deception stave

Valrunar – death runes

Nidhstang – ok, this doesn’t really refer only to runes, but to a certain type of curse spell, where a pole, carved with certain runes, and mounted with the head of animal (typically a horse) is the anchor for a curse spell, used in saga lore to drive a king and queen from the land. I have also seen this spell nydstand or nythstang, which often connected the curse to the rune Nyth or Nauthiz ( Need or Necessity is often how it is translated). It is or was a popular thing for many European northern traditionalists to have on their websites, cursing neo fascist groups who use runes.

Svartrunar – Black runes

Olrunar or alrunar – ale runes

Limrunar – limb runes often considered runes that heal sickness or that bring healing

Hugrunar – mind runes

Helliruna – Hell or Hel runes (helrunar is one of the names that are translated “witch”)

Burgrunan – guarantee runners (used to refer to supernatural beings, especially feminine ones)

Galdrastafir – spell stave

Heidrunar – bright runes

Ginnrunar – cosmic runes

Draumstafir – dream staves (for having prophetic dreams)

Svefnthorn – sleep thorn (a type of magical symbol that causes people to sleep, and not wake until it is removed, or in the case of Sigridrifa, until certain events occur) Interestingly enough, in German folklore that has survived, thorns are a means of delivering curses, by leaving them where people will step on them, the thorn can send a curse to the victim.

Lukkustafir – Luck staves

Thjofastafir – thief’s stave (for catching thieves)

Aegishjalmur – Helm of Awe (or terror)

As you can see, there are a lot of different types of runes, staves, signs, and marks within the body of possible rune focused magic. None of these are mentioned all together, and some come from different historical periods, or are named in the Eddas and sagas. Interestingly enough, only Odhinn ever mentions magic that can be used to draw love or lust. However, if you peruse that list, the one thing I can see in a generic way, is that a lot of what people sought to do with magic is still what is sought in this day in age. Health, Wealth, healing, power, magic, victory, respect, all possibilities are present, even the suggestion of harmful magic, made to cause conflict, to deceive, and conceal, and even working with spirits of the dead (helrunar, and often svartrunar are added to this category). Not much as changed in terms of what people want, or seek, or try to understand or do, with the strange, only once mentioned, exception of love magic. Although love magic does figure quite well into galdrboks, so it is not lost, and the sage of Egill perhaps mention some love magic gone awry (although it seems as though it could have also been healing magic also gone awry, my readings on it seem mixed).

Unlike other authors, it is my contention that all of these various names are probably more likely to be more like bindrunes, combinations of runes worked to various ends. Even in the Eddas, those runes described by the High One, by Sigridrifa, and Groa are separate spells that are formed by the coming together of runes. They might be staves or signs, which would also be empowered by a galdr that is sung or spoken over them. What those are, I don’t know. But I intend to find out. I intend to ask the runes, and to go seek audience with those who gave them, and ask them directly just what it is.

As for the other types, I will be mainly working with the runes to create the stafir. I have started working with one method, rather then intellectually using runes; I do a reading, asking for runes that I should use to create the bindrunes. I have done this a few times before, and I was very satisfied with the results. From an intellectual perspective, it is surprising what runes will come to work various magics, but when you look at it from what you are intending, what they give makes perfect sense.

The most recent bindrune I did was for a galdrastafir, which can be a term used generically for all of them, can also be used to refer to specifically magical acts that relate to magic, and not results. In this case, it was a for a general empowerment stave, that will aid me in charging my magical tools (like candles, wood pieces for charms, to more ritual tools) and the runes I was given were Eihwaz, Ethil, and Iar ( I use the Anglo-saxon runes, with the additional runes that do not have stanzas.) From a purely intellectual viewpoint in dealing with the runes, this may not make sense. If you consider the runes being used, Eihwaz (the yew tree, tied to Yggdrasil as it connects the worlds and realms together) it shows the reach of all the types of energy I could work with, and be connected to them. Ethil (the ancestral homeland) it has to do with marking it with my energy, setting it aside from other items, and focusing it into power for me. Iar (the river fish, considered by some to be tied to Jormungand, the world serpent) deals with binding the energy to the items, and securing it to the object. So, really, the runes know quite well how to aid you with your goal, if you just ask them.

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