Rune Meanings ~ A Summary
Rune stones have been used for centuries as a tool for divination. They are based on an ancient alphabet. Each rune stone is inscribed with a symbol, and each symbol holds a special meaning. Each and every runic alphabet possesses a special kind of power and can be used to invoke deities who can help you in dealing with your problems.
You may use your own interpretations for the symbols, based on your studies and beliefs, or you may take the more traditional approach, which is going by the traditional meaning of each. Whichever way you may go about using the rune stones, it is still best to at least have some idea of their meanings.
A short summary of the meanings and interpretations of each Rune stone is shown below.
Uruz, or Ur is the space out of which everything comes into being. It is the release of creative power that brings about sudden change. It is the power that precedes a new cycle of activity. It is helpful, therefore, where there is scope for new ideas, a fresh start, a change of circumstances, or an immediate boost in morale.
Have the courage to let go of things you no longer need. Then you will allow new possibilities to arise.
- Key qualities: Limitless potential, infinite possibilities, sustained strength, renewal, release of energy, untamed power, sudden change.
- Correspondences: Auroch, a wild ox. The High Priestess (Tarot), Taurus, Vanir, Dark Green, Birch Tree, Sphagnum Moss, Letter U
Physical strength and speed, untamed potential. A time of great energy and health. Freedom, energy, action, courage, strength, tenacity, understanding, wisdom. Sudden or unexpected changes (usually for the better). Sexual desire, masculine potency. The shaping of power and pattern, formulation of the self.
- Reversed or Merkstave : Weakness, obsession, misdirected force, domination by others. Sickness, inconsistency, ignorance. Lust, brutality, rashness, callousness, violence.
Thurisaz, Thurs, Thurisa
Thurisaz, Thurs, or Thurisa is the clap of power that heralds new beginnings, and protection that comes from taking the initiative. It is helpful when it is necessary to break down barriers or clear a way through a confusing situation; incorporates the power of both attack and defense.
Cut away what hinders you, but take care to retain what is of permanent value. Don’t make hasty decisions or you may create more problems than you solve.
- Key qualities: Awakening power, initiative, sharpness, aimed might, protective force.
- Correspondences: Thorn or a Giant. The Emperor (Tarot), Mars, Thor, Bright Red, Oak Tree, House leek, Letter TH
Reactive force, directed force of destruction and defense, conflict. Instinctual will, vital eroticism, regenerative catalyst. A tendency toward change. Catharsis, purging, cleansing fire. Male sexuality, fertilization.
- Reversed or Merkstave: Danger, defenselessness, compulsion, betrayal, dullness. Evil, malice, hatred, torment, spite, lies. A bad man or woman. Rape?
Ansuz, or Ass is the creative and mental expression of the Spirit. It is useful for seeing beyond what is apparent and obtaining the help of the innermost Self. This adds a new dimension to any situation and brings in a coincidental quality which some people call “luck.”
Communicate with Nature in order to widen your horizons. Expect the unexpected.
- Key qualities: Communication skills, creative thought, artistic inspiration, perceptive ability, application of knowledge.
- Correspondences: Death (Tarot), Venus, Odin, Dark Blue, Ash Tree, Fly Agoric, Letter A
A revealing message or insight, communication. Signals, inspiration, enthusiasm, speech, true vision, power of words and naming. Blessings, the taking of advice. Good health, harmony, truth, wisdom.
- Reversed or Merkstave: Misunderstanding, delusion, manipulation by others, boredom. Vanity and grandiloquence. (Odin is a mighty, but duplicitous god. He always has his own agenda.)
Raido or Reid is ordered movement like the passage of the Sun. As it is a Rune that changes perspective, it is helpful when you need to find direction and see an overview of things.
Take control of your own life so that you govern its direction.Do not rely entirely on your own power, instead ask what constitutes right action.
- Key qualities: Measurement, control and direction, balance and rhythm, cyclic development, balanced judgment.
- Correspondences: Wagon or chariot. The Hierophant (Tarot), Sagittarius, Forseti, Bright Red, Oak Tree, Mugwort, Letter R
Travel, both in physical terms and those of lifestyle direction. A journey, vacation, relocation, evolution, change of place or setting. Seeing a larger perspective. Seeing the right move for you to make and deciding upon it. Personal rhythm, world rhythm, dance of life.
- Reversed or Merkstave: Crisis, rigidity, stasis, injustice, irrationality. Disruption, dislocation, demotion, delusion, possibly a death.
Kauno, Ken, Kano
Kauno, Ken, or Kano is the fire that comes from within to provide illumination. It can help to banish the darkness that surrounds what you may not understand so that whatever troubles you may be brought to light.
The more light you have, the better you can see what is trivial and outmoded in your own conditioning. Make sure that what you endeavor to do is rightly challenged at the outset so that you do not get “burned.”
- Key qualities: Clarity of thought, analytical ability, constructive expression, enthusiasm, intensity.
- Correspondences: Beacon or Torch. The Chariot (Tarot), Venus, Freya, Dwarves, Light Red, Pine Tree, Cowslip, Letter K
Vision, revelation, knowledge, creativity, inspiration, technical ability. Vital fire of life, harnessed power, fire of transformation and regeneration. Power to create your own reality, the power of light. Open to new strength, energy, and power now. Passion, sexual love.
- Reversed or Merkstave: Disease, breakup, instability, lack of creativity. Nakedness, exposure, loss of illusion and false hope.
Gebo or Gifu is the power of giving and receiving. It helps you to make the most effective use of time so that what is expended is returned in suitable reward.
Everything you receive requires something offered in return to preserve the balance of the Universe. Be prepared to accept the consequences of your actions.
- Key qualities: Bonding and binding, compensation, fair exchange, respect of boundaries, generosity and compassion.
- Correspondences: Gift. The Lovers (Tarot), Pisces, Odin, Freya, Deep Blue, Ash Tree, Elm Tree, Heartsease, Letter G
Gifts, both in the sense of sacrifice and of generosity, indicating balance. All matters in relation to exchanges, including contracts, personal relationships and partnerships.
- Merkstave (Gebo cannot be reversed, but may lie in opposition): Greed, loneliness, dependence, over-sacrifice. Obligation, toll, privation, bribery.
Wunjo, or Wynja is right timing for the release of energy. Light pierces the clouds and touches the waters just as something lovely emerges from the depths.
Everything in life is a lesson for your ultimate perfection. Look beyond the obvious. Wunjo can help in ascertaining the best time to take appropriate action and thus reach a satisfactory conclusion.
- Key qualities: Unconditional love, culmination, orgasm, happiness in fulfillment.
- Correspondences: Joy. Strength (Tarot), Leo, Freyr, Elves, Yellow, Ash Tree, Flax, Letter W or V
Joy, comfort, pleasure. Fellowship, harmony, prosperity. Ecstasy, glory, spiritual reward, but also the possibility of going “over the top”. If restrained, the meaning is general success and recognition of worth.
- Reversed or Merkstave: Stultification, sorrow, strife, alienation. Delirium, intoxication, possession by higher forces, impractical enthusiasm. Raging frenzy, berzerker.
Hagalaz, Hgalz, Hagal
Hagalaz, Hagalz, or Hagal is the focusing and control of primal energies into a patterning code in order to provide a way for coming into physical existence. It is helpful for keeping your “cool” when being harassed; an aid for transforming hostile or adverse influences into beneficial results.
Accept the challenge of a seemingly adverse situation. Trust your innermost “Self” to see you through and turn it to your ultimate advantage.
- Key qualities: Dramatic liberation, birthing, bridging, correction of imbalance, advantageous adversity.
- Correspondences: Hail. The World (Tarot), Aquarius, Ymir, Light Blue, Yew Tree, Ash Tree, Lily of the Valley, Letter H
Wrath of nature, destructive, uncontrolled forces, especially the weather, or within the unconscious. Tempering, testing, trial. Controlled crisis, leading to completion, inner harmony.
- Merkstave (Hagalaz cannot be reversed, but may lie in opposition): Natural disaster, catastrophe. Stagnation, loss of power. Pain, loss, suffering, hardship, sickness, crisis.
Naudiz, Nauthiz, Naud
Naudiz, Nauthiz, or Naud is the power of coming into being under pressure and constraint. It is in the sudden rush of adrenaline that makes achievement possible under challenge. It is a great help in meditation for it can help you to recognize what is truly needed rather than what seems to be desirable.
You cannot effectively meet the needs of others until you first recognize your own needs and take action to satisfy them.
- Key qualities: Necessary resistance, self-generated power, enduring strength, self-sufficiency.
- Correspondences: Need. The Devil (Tarot), Capricorn, Nornir, Etins, Black, Beech Tree, Bistort, Letter N
Delays, restriction. Resistance leading to strength, innovation, need-fire (self-reliance). Distress, confusion, conflict, and the power of will to overcome them. Endurance, survival, determination. A time to exercise patience. Recognition of one’s fate. Major self-initiated change. Face your fears.
- Reversed or Merkstave: Constraint of freedom, distress, toil, drudgery, laxity. Necessity, extremity, want, deprivation, starvation, need, poverty, emotional hunger.
Isa or Iss is the power to maintain and preserve. Stability and the stillness of inertia. The concentration of single-minded purpose. When the pace of modern life causes concern, Isa can slow things down and enable you to focus on the real issues. It is an aid also to bringing your dreams into “solid” reality.
Just as winter does not last forever, neither does any situation in which you may find yourself. Have the courage to move forward. You need to do in order to know.
- Key qualities: Contraction, cohesion, preservation, stability, inner strength, stillness, suspension, self-containment.
- Correspondences: Ice. The Hermit (Tarot), Moon, Rime Thurses, Black, Alder Tree, Henbane, Letter I
A challenge or frustration. Psychological blocks to thought or activity, including grievances. Standstill, or a time to turn inward and wait for what is to come, or to seek clarity. This Rune reinforces Runes around it.
- Merkstave (Isa cannot be reversed, but may lie in opposition): Ego-mania, dullness, blindness, dissipation. Treachery, illusion, deceit, betrayal, guile, stealth, ambush, plots.
Jera or Jara is natural change, the process of organic development through orderly movement which cannot be hurried or forced because what is taking place on the “inside” must be in harmony with what is happening in the outside environment.
Be patient. You cannot harvest before everything is ready. Make the most of what you have now. It can also be helpful for gathering the benefits of past actions.
- Key qualities: Gradual development, sequential timing, cultivation.
- Correspondences: A year, a good harvest. The Fool (Tarot), Sun, Freyr, Light Blue, Oak Tree, Rosemary, Letter J or Y
The results of earlier efforts are realized. A time of peace and happiness, fruitful season. It can break through stagnancy. Hopes and expectations of peace and prosperity. The promise of success earned. Life cycle, cyclical pattern of the universe. Everything changes, in its own time.
- Merkstave (Jera cannot be reversed, but may lie in opposition): Sudden setback, reversals. A major change, repetition, bad timing, poverty, conflict.
Perth, Pertra, Perthro
Perth, Perthro, or Pertra is the process of cause and effect which manifests that which is hidden. It helps you to get to know yourself for what you are rather than what you are expected to be.
Don’t be afraid of change, but ensure that you are fully in contact with your physical body during any transformational experience.
- Key qualities: Containment, vitality, durability, self-identity.
- Correspondences: Lot cup, vagina. Wheel Of Fortune (Tarot), Saturn, Nornir, Black, Beech Tree, Aconite, Letter P
Uncertain meaning, a secret matter, a mystery, hidden things and occult abilities. Initiation, knowledge of one’s destiny, knowledge of future matters, determining the future or your path. Pertaining to things feminine, feminine mysteries including female fertility, and vagina. Good lot, fellowship and joy. Evolutionary change.
- Reversed or Merkstave: Addiction, stagnation, loneliness, malaise.
Ihwaz, Eoh, Eihwaz
Ihwaz, Eoh, or Eihwaz is the perpetuality that is inherent in transformation and development. It is helpful when you need enlightenment – perceiving how your ideals can be transformed into practical reality – and hope, which sees not an end but a continuity of existence.
Whatever it is you want to achieve, hesitate no longer. Get started and stay with it. This Rune can help you to reach for the stars!
- Key qualities: Supportive energy, endurance, longevity, perseverance.
- Correspondences: The Hanged Man (Tarot), Scorpio, Idhunna, Ullr, Dark Blue, Yew Tree, Mandrake, Letter EI
Strength, reliability, dependability, trustworthiness. Enlightenment, endurance. Defense, protection. The driving force to acquire, providing motivation and a sense of purpose. Indicates that you have set your sights on a reasonable target and can achieve your goals. An honest man who can be relied upon.
- Reversed or Merkstave: Confusion, destruction, dissatisfaction, weakness.
Algiz is grounding power. It can draw power from the spiritual Source and bring it into ordinary reality where it can be grounded into practicality. Defends us where we are vulnerable.
Be aware of your own vulnerability and the tendencies that allow you to become diverted from your chosen Path.
- Key qualities: Instinctive and inspirational protection, ability to defend the aura and strengthen resolve, connectedness.
- Correspondences: Elk, protection. The Moon (Tarot), Cancer, Valkyrjur, Gold, Yew Tree, Angelica, Letter Z
Protection, a shield. The protective urge to shelter oneself or others. Defense, warding off of evil, shield, guardian. Connection with the gods, awakening, higher life. It can be used to channel energies appropriately. Follow your instincts. Keep hold of success or maintain a position won or earned.
- Reversed: or Merkstave: Hidden danger, consumption by divine forces, loss of divine link. Taboo, warning, turning away, that which repels.
Sowilo, Sowelu, Sol
Sowilo, Sowelu, or Sol is illumination and hope. Illumination to see things as they are, and hope to perceive them as they can be. Brings things into the light so they can be seen for what they are. Provides knowledge and strength in times of trouble.
Be as generous as the Sun! Open yourself up and let the light into a part of your life that has been secret, shut away.
- Key qualities: Radiance, activation, zest, enlightenment, rejuvenation.
- Correspondences: The Sun (Tarot), Sun, Sol, White, Silver, Juniper Tree, Mistletoe, Letter S
Success, goals achieved, honor. The life-force, health. A time when power will be available to you for positive changes in your life, victory, health, and success. Contact between the higher self and the unconscious. Wholeness, power, elemental force, sword of flame, cleansing fire.
- Merkstave (Sowilo cannot be reversed, but may lie in opposition): False goals, bad counsel, false success, gullibility, loss of goals. Destruction, retribution, justice, casting down of vanity. Wrath of god.
Tiwaz, Teiwaz, Tyr
Tiwaz, Teiwaz, or Tyr is the power of singleness of purpose, of clear direction. It is penetration and precision with consideration. Tiwaz provides courage in adversity or when facing a difficult situation. Helps to evaluate the price that must be paid to achieve and attain.
Have the courage to take responsibility for the consequences of your own choices. The urge for conquest is powerful here, especially self-conquest, which is a lifelong pursuit.
- Key qualities: Determination, single-mindedness, fortitude, tenacity, fair play.
- Correspondences: Justice (Tarot), Libra, Tyr, Mani, Bright Red, Oak Tree, Sage, Letter T
Honor, justice, leadership and authority. Analysis, rationality. Knowing where one’s true strengths lie. Willingness to self-sacrifice. Victory and success in any competition or in legal matters.
- Reversed or Merkstave: One’s energy and creative flow are blocked. Mental paralysis, over-analysis, over-sacrifice, injustice, imbalance. Strife, war, conflict, failure in competition. Dwindling passion, difficulties in communication, and possibly separation.
Berkanan, Berkana, Bjarka
Berkanan, Berkana, Bjarka is nurturing maternal energy, related to the concept of Mother Earth who brings into being, feeds, nurtures, and protects. It is helpful for focusing on partnerships and close personal relationships, calming the mind when troubled, and nurturing new ideas.
Get close to Nature and the natural way of things. Modesty, firmness, and generosity are called for here.
- Key qualities: Care and compassion, conservation, protectiveness, ability to form close relationships, blossoming, fruitfulness.
- Correspondences: The Empress (Tarot), Virgo, Frigg, Nerthus, Hel, Dark Green, Birch Tree, Lady’s Mantle, Letter B
Birth, general fertility, both mental and physical and personal growth, liberation. Regenerative power and light of spring, renewal, promise of new beginnings, new growth. Arousal of desire. A love affair or new birth. The prospering of an enterprise or venture.
- Reversed or Merkstave: Family problems and or domestic troubles. Anxiety about someone close to you. Carelessness, abandon, loss of control. Blurring of consciousness, deceit, sterility, stagnation.
Ehwaz or Eh is the power that makes communication possible at any and all levels. It is a carrier of knowledge and a bringer of “togetherness.” It attains harmony and balance, and strengthensbonds of friendship.
Keep your balance at all times. Find more fruitful ways to achieve what you set out to do. Prepare to share the good fortune that comes your way.
- Key qualities: Balance and control, communicative skill, adjustment.
- Correspondences: Horse, two horses. The Lovers (Tarot), Gemini, Freya, Freyr, Aclis, White, Oak Tree, Ash Tree, Ragwort, Letter E
Transportation. May represent a horse, car, plane, boat or other vehicle. Movement and change for the better. Gradual development and steady progress are indicated. Harmony, teamwork, trust, loyalty. An ideal marriage or partnership. Confirmation beyond doubt the meanings of the runes around it.
- Reversed or Merkstave: This is not really a negative rune. A change is perhaps craved. Feeling restless or confined in a situation. Reckless haste, disharmony, mistrust, betrayal.
Mannaz or Madr is the power that strengthens your awareness as a co-creator with Nature and enables you to take control of your own life through self-knowledge. It is a striving for perfection. Awakens potential and identifies your special gifts.
Get to know yourself – the good, the bad and the indifferent – so you can become what you have the potential to be. Strive to live the ordinary life in an extraordinary way.
- Key qualities: Motivation, cohesiveness, co-operative endeavor, kinship.
- Correspondences: Man, mankind. The Magician (Tarot), Jupiter, Heimdall, Odin, Deep Red, Holly Tree, Madder, Letter M
The Self; the individual or the human race. Your attitude toward others and their attitudes towards you. Friends and enemies, social order. Intelligence, forethought, create, skill, ability. Divine structure, intelligence, awareness. Expect to receive some sort of aid or cooperation now.
- Reversed or Merkstave: Depression, mortality, blindness, self-delusion. Cunning, slyness, manipulation, craftiness, calculation. Expect no help now.
Laguz or Lagu is the primal water, a fluidic power that rises from the Well of the Unconscious and cleanses and refreshes as it flows through all layers of existence. It is the carrier of the Life-force.
Laguz helps you to understand your feelings and emotions. Listen to those feelings and learn from the message they have to convey.
- Key qualities: Fluidic power, cyclic and rhythmic flow, sensitivity of experience.
- Correspondences: Water or a leek. The Star (Tarot), Moon, Njord, Balder, Deep Green, Willow, Leek, Letter L
Flow, water, sea, a fertility source, the healing power of renewal. Life energy and organic growth. Imagination and psychic matters. Dreams, fantasies, mysteries, the unknown, the hidden, the deep, the underworld. Success in travel or acquisition, but with the possibility of loss.
- Reversed or Merkstave: An indication of a period of confusion in your life. You may be making wrong decisions and poor judgments. Lack of creativity and feelings of being in a rut. Fear, circular motion, avoidance, withering. Madness, obsession, despair, perversity, sickness, suicide.
Ingwaz, Inguz, Ing
Ingwaz, Inguz, or Ing is the power that stores for the future. It is akin to the moon, the intuitive part of our nature. It brings access to another reality, and is helpful for exerting influence and strengthening persuasion.
Open up new areas of self-realization, accept your power – your own “medicine.” Do those things you were “made” for.
- Key qualities: Gestation, regeneration, continuity, renewal.
- Correspondences: Judgment (Tarot), New Moon, Ing, Freyr, Yellow, Apple Tree, Selfheal, Letter Ng
Male fertility, gestation, internal growth. Common virtues, common sense, simple strengths, family love, caring, human warmth, the home. Rest stage, a time of relief, of no anxiety. A time when all loose strings are tied and you are free to move in a new direction. Listen to yourself.
- Merkstave (Ingwaz cannot be reversed, but may lie in opposition): Impotence, movement without change. Production, toil, labor, work.
Othila, or Odal implies the right of possession. It is the power of accomplishment. Useful for acquiring property or material goods; encourages practical organization.
Don’t be afraid to look back, for what has been earned in the past is the seed of future abundance.
- Key qualities: Inborn talent, acquisition, accomplishment, security, law and order.
- Correspondences: Ancestral property. The Moon (Tarot), Full Moon, Odin, Thor, Deep Yellow, Hawthorn Tree, Goldthread, Letter O
Inherited property or possessions, a house, a home. What is truly important to one. Group order, group prosperity. Land of birth, spiritual heritage, experience and fundamental values. Aid in spiritual and physical journeys. Source of safety, increase and abundance.
- Reversed or Merkstave: Lack of customary order, totalitarianism, slavery, poverty, homelessness. Bad karma, prejudice, clannishness, provincialism. What a man is bound to.
Dagaz is the power that is in the Dawn and brings new light. It is the Rune of self-transformation and ecstatic conclusion. It brings about spiritual advancement, and recognition of new beginnings.
Don’t be afraid to bring things into the light. Awaken to your own true reality. Get in touch with your own Spirit. Become a good finisher as well as a keen starter.
- Key qualities: Transformation, self-fulfillment, completion, one-ness.
- Correspondences: Day or dawn. Temperance (Tarot), Half Moon, Odin, Ostara, Light Blue, Spruce Tree, Clary, Letter D
Breakthrough, awakening, awareness. Daylight clarity as opposed to nighttime uncertainty. A time to plan or embark upon an enterprise. The power of change directed by your own will, transformation. Hope/happiness, the ideal. Security and certainty. Growth and release. Balance point, the place where opposites meet.
- Merkstave (Dagaz cannot be reversed, but may lie in opposition): A completion, ending, limit, coming full circle. Blindness, hopelessness.
Fehu or Feh synthesizes the process of birth, life, death and rebirth. It is fulfillment. It is useful for ascertaining the true cose of any endeavor.
Recognize your true wealth. Be sure what it is you want out of life. Draw down the power of the Sun, the Moon, and the Stars into your own personal universe.
- Key qualities: Culmination, exchange and distribution, generated wealth.
- Correspondences: Domestic cattle, wealth. The Tower (Tarot), Aries, Aesir, Light Red, Elder Tree, Nettle, Letter F
Possessions won or earned, earned income, luck. Abundance, financial strength in the present or near future. Sign of hope and plenty, success and happiness. Social success. Energy, foresight, fertility, creation/destruction (becoming).
Reversed: Loss of personal property, esteem, or something that you put in effort to keep. It indicates some sort of failure. Greed, burnout, atrophy, discord. Cowardice, stupidity, dullness, poverty, slavery, bondage.
The blank Rune, or the Odin Rune represents a power that exists outside the organic process of orderly arrangement. Selecting this Rune is an indication to expect the unexpected, and a confirmation that self-change is working in your life.
This Rune is a newer addition to Rune divination, and is not always included in or accepted by every Runic tradition.
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