In Norse lore it is told that Yggdrasil (the world-tree) holds all nine worlds and grows out of the Well of Urd. In this well live three female entities called Norns, who use runes to carve the destiny of every individual being into the ancient bark at the base of the timeless tree. Odin - king of the Norse Gods - impaled himself with his own spear, hanging from Yggdrasil for nine days and nights in order to discover the true significance of the runes and the secrets that they hold.
Odin made this painful sacrifice because he knew that runes held deep meaning and that understanding them would bring upon him profound wisdom. After the ninth night, Odin found the runes among Yggdrasil, reached out for them and in turn earned back his life, grasping within his hands the power, wisdom and responsibility of the written form; all their secrets, all their mysteries, all their intent, all the magic that they hold.
Runes were used in Viking religion and magic, carved into weapons to imbue them with power and worn by many as a form of luck, faith, meaning and protection.
Meaning of the Runes
Name: Fehu, “cattle.” Phoneme: F. Meaning: wealth.
Name: Uruz, “aurochs.” Phoneme: U (long and/or short). Meaning: strength of will.
Name: Thurisaz, “Giant.” Phoneme: Th (both soft and hard). Meaning: danger, suffering.
Name: Ansuz, “an Aesir god.” Phoneme: A (long and/or short). Meaning: prosperity, vitality.
Name: Raidho, “journey on horseback.” Phoneme: R. Meaning: movement, work, growth.
Name: Kaunan, “ulcer.” Phoneme: K. Meaning: mortality, pain.
Name: Gebo, “gift.” Phoneme: G. Meaning: generosity.
Name: Wunjo, “joy.” Phoneme: W. Meaning: joy, ecstasy.
Name:Hagalaz, “hail.” Phoneme: H. Meaning: destruction, chaos.
Name: Naudhiz, “need.” Phoneme: N. Meaning: need, unfulfilled desire.
Name: Isaz, “ice.” Phoneme: I (long and/or short). Meaning: unknown (the rune poems are ambiguous and contradictory).
Name: Jera, “year.” Phoneme: Germanic J, modern English Y. Meaning: harvest, reward.
Name: Eihwaz, “yew.” Phoneme: I pronounced like “Eye.” Meaning: strength, stability.
Name: unknown. Phoneme: P. Meaning: unknown. (Note: the theory that this rune’s name was “Pertho” is just speculation. No one really knows, because the Viking Age and medieval sources are too vague.)
Name: unknown (the rune poems are contradictory). Phoneme: Z. Meaning: protection from enemies, defense of that which one loves.
Name: Sowilo, “sun.” Phoneme: S. Meaning: success, solace.
Name: Tiwaz, “the god Tiwaz.” Phoneme: T. Meaning: victory, honor.
Name: Berkanan, “birch.” Phoneme: B. Meaning: fertility, growth, sustenance.
Name: Ehwaz, “horse.” Phoneme: E (long and/or short). Meaning: trust, faith, companionship.
Name: Mannaz, “man.” Phoneme: M. Meaning: augmentation, support.
Name: Laguz. Phoneme: L. Meaning: formlessness, chaos, potentiality, the unknown.
Name: Ingwaz, “the god Ingwaz.” Phoneme: Ng. Meaning: fertilization, the beginning of something, the actualization of potential.
Name: Othalan, “inheritance.” Phoneme: O (long and/or short). Meaning: inheritance, heritage, tradition, nobility.
Name: Dagaz, “day.” Phoneme: D. Meaning: hope, happiness.