futhorc runes

Runes, Pt. 1

Recently I felt compelled to explore my Irish and Cherokee heritage, and decided to start with learning more about runes! Though this post will focus mostly on runes, I will say that runes aren’t exactly an Irish thing. My research suggests that while Vikings may have brought runes to Ireland, the Irish had their own really cool language called ogham! It involves stoked designs arranged around a medium line, it looks really, really cool!

The runes comprise the first alphabet developed by Germanic people. As they were most often engraved on wood, stone, metal, and other hard surfaces like that, rather than being written with ink on parchment, runes have simple, angular designs that lend themselves well to carving! The word rune comes from the Proto-Germanic word runo, which means “letter” as well as “secret” or “mystery.”

As that etymology suggests, runes were never just letters as we use letters today. Each rune’s name and design has an important symbolic connotation: the Tiwaz rune, for instance, has the same name as the god Tyr once had. The T-rune’s upward arrow points to the daytime sky where Tiwaz was said to dwell, as well as resembling an arrow tip or spearhead, reinforcing Tiwaz’s domain as a war-god.

The different runic alphabets are known as “futharks” or “futhorcs,” named after the first six runes (Fehu, Uruz, Thurisaz, Ansuz, Raidho, Kaunan), akin to how we take “alphabet” from either the first two letters of the Semitic alphabet (Aleph, Bet) or of the Greek alphabet (Alpha, Beta). The three principal futharks are the Elder Futhark, with 24 characters developed from around the first century CE to 400; the Younger Futhark, with 16 characters developed afterwards that eventually replaced the Elder in Scandinavia; and the 33-character Anglo-Saxon Futhorc, which altered and integrated the Elder Futherk to English.

Now, there’s a lot to go over with runes, so I don’t think I can do it all in one post. Keep your eyes peeled for the next one!

How to Vanatru

I’m sick of not being able to give anyone good resources on Vanatru due to prominent Vanatruar being assholes, sources being out of print, or just plain bad information, so here is a concise guide on how to Vanatru:

1) Honor the Vanir in some way, you don’t need to honor them exclusively but you can if you want, most people who ID as Vanatru IME primarily or exclusively honor the Vanir. i used to say “anyone who has one as a fulltrui” but again, IME they tend to ID as Heathen, Norse Pagan, Norse polytheist, etc.

a) Yes you can use other labels

I was going to add more to this list but I started to think about it, and most of what I was going to say falls under the category of “ways your average Vanatru community is different from your average Asatru community” and the main thing that separates Vanatru from other Northern faiths is the focus on the Vanir.

Common things you will see in a community of Vanatruar include:

UPG, and lots of it - Some of us would argue that there’s no such thing as “recon” Vanatru because there’s not that much to reconstruct.

An emphasis on the more magical or mystical aspects of Heathen traditions - I’ve heard from certain Asatruar that magic is like “gravy” and I’ve often found that Heathens (especially outside of tumblr) are allergic to things like magic. I’ve found the exact opposite to be true in Vanatru communities. This doesn’t mean that you have to believe in magic or that every single one of us is chatting up our deities all the time. I don’t and I also lack a godphone. Yes, this includes things like sex magic (but thankfully doesn’t include worshiping horse penis–I think)

Nature-based stuff - Some Heathens would refer to their practice as “gods-based” or “community-based” but I think Vanatruar are more likely to describe their practice as nature-based (although I would also consider my practice to be gods-based) obviously a lot of Heathens are into the homesteading thing, but I feel like if you were to ask, most Heathens would grumble about how being nature-based is a Wiccan thing.

All the deities are queer - all of them, naturally, Vanatru communities tend to be very queer-friendly

Here are some common topics of interest to many Vanatruar (not exhaustive):

Anglo-Saxon Heathenry (particularly the futhorc runes), Celtic traditions and comparisons between, say, Irish and Norse myth (Vanacelt is a label that has been used for some who combine Vanatru with, say, Neo-Druidry), witchcraft, folklore, fairy tales, bioregionalism, weird theories about the origins of the deities, arguing over which deity counts as Vanir

Community issues

Racism, Sexism, Queerphobia, and other oppressive bullshit - IME, most neonazis don’t identify as Vanatru specifically (our communities tend to be full of “degenerates”) but as racism is a huge problem in Heathenry in general and plenty of assholes honor the Vanir. All of us have a responsibility to stand up against oppressive bullshit.

Accusations of “cherry-picking” and the like from other Heathens - We know, Simek said the Vanir are dead, we’re all secretly Wiccan, tru Heathens honor all the deities, we’ve heard it all, you can stop screaming at us

The Aesir are bullies they salted my crops and burned down my house - Some of us have been asked by our deities not to honor the Aesir, some of us have had bad experiences with one or more of the Aesir, but some of us reeeeeeally seem to have a bone to pick with these deities, to the point where some have argued that you can’t be a tru Vanatruar if you poor out one drop of a libation for Thor. 

This is just a small sampling of stuff that goes on in the community. I apologize if any of this came out wrong it is late and I am tired. Sorry this isn’t much of a how-to.

Comparison of Germanic Runes and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Constructed Runic Alphabet

Since I got several positive and enthusiastic responses (thank you!) to whether or not you guys would like to read my paper on comparing Tolkien’s constructed runic writing system with real-life runes, here it is! Enjoy! :)

Comparison of Germanic Runes and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Constructed Runic Alphabet

Guys I’m dead, my literature history professor knows about my mystic ways

He mentioned the elder futhorc runes when talking about the development of alphabets and then,, just absolutely stared DAGGERS into me and said “though I know at least one person in this class knows more about the runes than I do- ahem, nerd.”