FUTHORK is the name of the runic alphabet. Taken from the first six letters of an original alphabet of 18 letters; "th" is one symbol. The word "Rune" has the same root as "Raunen" to whisper or talk in secret. To the ancient Germanic peoples, the runes were intimate companions, at the same time they seemed indecipherable and ominous to strangers. Many thousands of years ago, the people of nothern and central Europe already drew letter- or rune-like glyphs on reindeer antlers and pebbles, archeologists count these finds among the oldest expressions of the human spirit on earth. The most well known among these symbols are the triskele, swastika, wheel cross, cross and the sun disc. The runes Ur, Wunjo, Odal, Man, Jar, and Yr have all been traced back to the Stone Age.
We can skip over the moronic school of "thought", according to which "nordic Barbarians" received the blessings of salvation and culture from Jews or Phoenicians as a "gift". This contradicts all the findings of archeological research. The more "diplomatic" among the "Ex oriente Lux- boosters" try to convince us with this statement: "The Greeks deserve their fame for introducing the Phoenician letters to Europe. The Etruscans and Italics learned from them." These people would like to cover up the passages (III,67 and V,74) in the chapters about ancient Greek history of the thirty volume historical work by the classical historian Diodoros, where he writes that the Thrakian poet Lionos and his pupil Orpheus "brought writing from the North, to Greece" where it was adapted to Greek. Numerous other evidence plainly shows, that the goat herders of the Levante copied their aspirations to culture from the Northern people that immigrated there long ago.
Our runes did not develop from Greek, Roman, Etruscan, Old-Alpine or other letters; on the contrary, all these alphabets go back to an extremely ancient primorial Rune-alphabet used in the North. This script accompanied the Indogermanic peoples on their conquests and travels and thus reached all parts of the known world. Here it was stripped of its cultic symbolic content and converted into a profane script by the various tribes which had lost the bonds with their old homeland and consequently declined by adopting a materialistic, urban way of life. Jurgen Spanuth has proven this conclusively in his works. Because the Germanic peoples of Central Europe had preserved their kind and mentality, by not mixing with other ethnic groups, the runes likewise survived here in their original, oldest forms.
Around 5000 years ago, the megalith builders from the North Sea and Baltic coasts clashed with the related corded ware ceramists and battle axe people from central Germany. This clash or war has gone down in our history as the "Aesir-Vanir War". This war coincided with an enormous spiritual and itellectual upheaval. After coming to an agreement, both peoples united. This bond created our ancestors, the Germanic people.
Odin rode his white horse Sleipnir until he reached the world ash Yggdrasil. There he saw three women sitting at the well. They were busy spinning threads and weaving the garment of fate for gods and men. Nornes, they were called - Urd - Verdandi - Skuld. Thereupon, the three women revealed to god many secrets of distant past and foretold the far-off future.
But the god was eager to learn even more about the worlds. So the women referred him to the giant Mimir, who dwells at the spring of wisdom, whose nourishing liquids feed the world tree.
Odin rode to Mimir. But the giant did not want to give his knowledge so easily. Therefore, Odin pledged his left eye to the mighty one. Then Mimir showed him the mysteries of this world.
Still, the Allfather was not fully satisfied in his quest for wisdom. On the way back through the desolate heath, he came upon a leafless tree. It was Fogmoon and the frosty twilight permeated the landscape. Suddenly, his coat was caught in the branches of the tree. Odin hung between heaven and earth. In vain, he tried to free himself. His white horse "Sleipnir", also called "Glidehoof", circled around him,whinnying. His ravens "Hugin" and "Munin" - thought and memory - flew around him agitatedly and brought the world's thoughts to him.
Odin struggled with himself for the ultimate wisdom. Nine nights he hung on the windswept tree. His inner being grew clearer and more luminous. Now he finally found the symbols of life's noblest values.
He bent down deeply from the tree, Groaning with extreme exertion, he took up the signs and cut them into the trunk with his sword. Runes he called these sacred glyphs, because they whisper wisdom to the iniated (the word "rune" is related to the German word "raunen" = to whisper). Now Skyfather was possessed by the mighty ability to free himself from the tree. He fell down, jumped up, called his steed and rode back to Valhalla, the castle of the gods.
Odin - Wotan proceeded to initiate his divine companions into the lore of the runes. He also gave this gift to his most loyal men. Men who lived according to his laws and fought alongside him for the cosmic universal order and against the dark forces. Chosen women were also instructed in the runic arts by the god. Now the signs became the sacred writing of the Germanic people, as announced by the Eddic Rune Poem.
Thus ends the Myth - now we attempt an interpretation. In the tale, Odin rides to the world ash. This tree was known as the world axis to our ancestors. We know that our ancestors practiced a highly developed form of astronomy - without the use of telescopes. Their calculations were made by sighting, measuring shadows and comparing the positions of the stars. The connecting lines and fixed points of stars were laid out on the ground on a reduced scale with the help of wooden staves.
Sush staves might have been placed before Odin when he was thinking about the world's workings."His inner being gradually grew clearer and more luminous." What was the cental point in the search for the underlying laws of the universe? And just what was the groundbreaking realization?
Odin took up the staves that gave him this realization and called them runes. Even today we have the word "run" which also points to the circular path of the stars. And indeed, all runic symbols can be derived from a circle, it's diameter, radius and a bow - string.
Odin cut the runes into the trunk of the world ash. In Old High German we have the word "writan" which means to cut, to scratch. On the rune clasp of Freilaubersheim the word to write, "reitan," is still used. In today's English, it survives in "to write". On the other hand, today's German word for to write, :schreiben," is derived from Latin ("scribere"), and has nothing to do with the runes.
For many centuries, the runes now became - in the form of the Common Germanic Futhork - the common cultural property of all Germanic tribes. In keeping with the times, their knowledge to wise women and the learned. Rulers and military leaders knew the runes as well, because they were incised into women's jewelry and men's weapons. The iron helmet found in Negau/Steiermark - Austria dating from the year 6AD is a good example. Understandably no wooden monuments have been preserved but we have numerous finds from the golden age of metalworking (bronze, gold, iron).
In his "Germania" dated around 90AD, the Roman author Tacitus reports that runes were cut from the branches of fruit bearing trees and cast on a white sheet. From their positions toward each other, attempts at predicting the future were made. This was especially practiced by wise women callaed seeresses. The Roman general Drusus who marched through Germania in 9AD with the intention of expanding Roman rule to the Teutons living by the river Elbe, encountered such a seeress. She predicted his imminent demise, which Drusus, laughingly, dismissed as the "foolish talk of a barbarian wench." Shortly afterwards, he fell off his horse and died.¾¼„ Before the current era, the use of the runes for cultic uses predominated. Of course, the communication of thoughts, facts, observations, and messages of mystical and supernatural import was also bound up in this practice. Starting in the 3rd century AD, the runes increasingly saw use as mere letters for writing. A typical example from the 6th century has come down to us: The bishop of Poitiers, Venantius Fortunatus, a native of northern Italy, who grew up in Ravenna, wrote to his chidhood friend Flavius, he should answer him either in Latin or another language. If he did not want to use Latin, he could write using the "barbarian runes" on smooth wood staves. A few centuries later the bishop of Mainz, Hrabanus Maurus (died in 856), labeled a whole Futhork with the note: "This is used by the Markomanni, who we call Normans. He says further: "Those, who we call heathens use these letters to record their poems, magical songs and predictions."
Until approximately the 8th century, the runes were highly respected in Germany. Then the christian zealots undertook their assault on heathendom. Now the runes were despised and forbidden as heathen works of magic. Almost all of Germany's runic monuments were destroyed and with them the men and women that were dedicated to the faith and culture of their ancestors.
Foreign letters, that were known only to the christian suppressors, were imported. The Roman alphabet was mainly spread in those obscurantist citadels, the monasteries, and thus became the tool of a privileged class of priests. In this way, the Latin Language was introduced into Germany. Only those events which were useful to conversion and the spreading of judeo-christian teachings were recorded in Latin. Using the foreign alphabet the clergy opened the gates to a flood of defamatory lies about our early history and way of life, The Germanic spiritual heritage was widely eliminated and when this was not possible for the christian priests and their trecherous wordly co-conspiritors, it was falsified as the work of the devil.
Justice was not executed under the open sky at specially venerated places anymore. Using the Roman language, laws that were suppopsed to eliminate Germanic law were recorded. Roman law spread across our lands. The death penalty was introduced for those who remained loyal to the faith of their forefathers. The laws of "Charlemagne" against the "Saxons" are a terrible example of this policy.
On the other hand, Charlemagne, in his old age, had all the ancient Germanic poems of the gods and heroes collected and written down, inspite of his christian fanaticism.
His son though, Ludwig the "Pious", so completely deluded by his christian beliefs, had the whole collection burned, so that it was lost forever.
The memory of the runes as letters and magical symbols remained alive much longer among the northern Germanic tribes which were forcibly converted to christianity only much later.
In the north, many runic monuments have survived the efforts of the judeo-christian church to to eliminate them. As in the south, the church used every criminal means at their disposal. When 22 men and women were burned as witches in Iceland in 1626, the first victim was a learned man, among whose writings they had found only one rune.
Around 800 Charlemagne introduced changes to the Roman alphabet, with the "Carolingian Minuskel," the Roman lower case letters. Then, around 1200, this round script was gradually changed into a new slendere, angular script we call the "Gothic." Extraordinary minds like Meister Eckhart, Heinrich Seuse and Johann Teuler - men that had already surmounted christianity, spiritually expressed themselves using this script. When Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, the German language, which had not been spoken by scholars for centuries, won back some of its stature. Along with its rise, the spiritual freedom that is the distinguishing mark of our people, blossomed once again.
A new type utilizing old Greek and Latin letters was developed out of the Gothic script. We call this the "German Script." With the addition of further foreign elements, this type developed into what we call "Fraktur," whose name justifiably means "broken, fractured." These letters signify a break with our sacred writing and therefore correspond to the spiritual and racial break that the German people and Germanic ways -with their past and origin in the intimate relationship with their gods- had suffered. The Fraktur has nothing in common with the runes.
Rome set the Counterreformation as well as the Jesuit Order in motion to suppress the liberal movements arising in Germany. Unfortunately, this effort was partially successful but in general a breakthrough had been achieved. The Age of Reason did the rest.
After the wars of liberation in 1807 -1815, scholars conscious of their Germanity, especially Jacob Grimm, dedicated themselves to researching the runes, following the preliminary work of some Scandinavian researchers. The few surviving monuments were scientifically investigated and their importance recognized for the most part. However, even today not all the secrets of the runes have been unravelled and differences of opinion about some details remain. But by and large we have a thorough knowledge about our sacred writing, even if future research should add to or correct this or that aspect in detail.
Why then do we hesitate to reintroduce the Futhork, our most primordial script, even within our communities as a start? Do we want to wait until others make the move. Is it not even our duty to use it? Let us not forget:
As a community, that has found the way back to the nature religion of our ancestors, that wants to develop and cultivate a common Germanic approach to life, it is our duty to preserve those things that are passed down to us from our ancestors. Our runes are part of this heritage.
The runes are venerable symbols, that initially were found, i.e. invented, for cultic uses and not for writing. Every rune has its own name and meaning and defines given areas of life that seemed worthy of veneration to our ancestors. That is why we speak of the runes as holy signs. That sacredness shall not be questioned!
On the other hand, it must be admitted that with their expansion the runes were used to communicate ordinary messages early on and until today. A special example of the profane use of our heritage should be mentioned here:
The famous Arne Magnussen Cllection of Icelandic Manuscripts in Copenhagen not only contains the "Law of Schonen" written in runes, but also a small fragment of an old nordic folk song, written in runes with accompanying musical score. This is the text:
Until a few years ago, the melody of this song was the signiture song of the Copenhagen FM radio station. Other evidence also tells us that the runes never completely dissappeared as a utilitarian script. A 1543 diary of the Swedish general Mogens Gyldenstjerne has been preserved, for example. It is written in runes so fluently, that we can presuppose a great deal of practice on the part of the author. While serving Gustav Adolf, the Swedish general Jacob de la Gardie wrote all his secret instructions to his commanders in runic script. Among the peasants of Dalrnes and other nordic areas the runes survived until our time.
In Germany, we also have a piece of runic writing dating from the beginning of the Thirty Years War. In1893, a manuscript with runes originally from the Doberan monastery in Mecklenburg was found in the archive of the Haseldorf estate in the Elbmarshes. It is the "Song of Anthyr" and was probably written around 1521. The poet is unknown.
The runes define vital archetypes of life, similar to Japanese and Chinese characters. The runes themselves are nothing less than pictorial glyphs. Roman letters are merely components of a word. But today it is not really possible to express oneself by way of a pictorial alphabet. Right now, the japanese and Chinese have great difficulties in converting their almost 70,000 characters (pictures) into a contemporary way of expression, inspite of using computers in their efforts. They are in the midst of reducing the meaning of their characters to syllables and later to letters.
This should not happen to the runes! As singular characters, they should keep their names and old meaning completely. However, lined up together they should form words and sentences, which we shall use for our written communications, just as our ancestors did.
Nobody wants to do away with the Roman alphbet, but is it not the right of our people to recognize it as a foreign property forced upon us and to question its use, at least within our community? If we really want to reach the wellsprings of our being, we not only have to swim against the stream of this age, we also have to uncover our buried heritage and take it back into use. In the religious arena, we have already made good progress. Likewise, we should further develop the literary means of expression left behind our ancestors when they had to enter into christian servitude.
First the runes have to be "learned." But which ones? Several rune rows exist.
On the one hand, the cultural variety of Germanic intellectual and spiritual life is delightful and gratifying. On the other hand, a gulf opened up between the Northern and Southern Germanic people that has not been closed again to this day.
Since we stand at a new beginning today and think and act in a unified "Germanic" manner, the runes that were limited to a certain area, i.e. the dotted runes, the Old English Futhork or the Younger Futhork, are out of the question for modern use. It is much better to revive the Elder Futhork, which is already in place and which once before has been the common property of all Germanic peoples.
There are numerous approaches to learning how to read and write the runes. One only has to memorize three characters a day to know the entire Futhork in a week. All that is necessary is continued practice to be "fluent."
It is really quite easy to learn and use the Elder Futhork and fun as well. And finally, an ancient cultural treasure of our own is brought back to life by their use.
The runes are counted among the oldest achievements of the human spirit. They came into being here in Central Europe many thousands of years ago and were spread into all parts of the known world by the Indogermanic migrations. They were inspiration and model for the writing efforts of the peoples that came into contact with them.
At first, the runes were invented as cultic symbols, which take a central place in Germanic mythology. Every rune describes a whole archetypal area of life, as it existed for our ancestors.
Each rune in itself had a magical significance, especially for protection. That is why they were cut into weapons and jewelry. In later times, the runes were formed into words, senteces and written documents. In Germany, songs and poems, magical formulas and predictions were written in runes before the violent christianization occured around 800 AD. After the invasion of christianity, the use of the runes was outlawed and the collected documents were destroyed. Roman law, alphabet and thinking were forced upon the Germanic people.
The scientific investigation of the runes only began in the 19th Century. But until today the runes' utilitarian value as a written means of expression has not been adequately researched and discussed.
In the computer age, it is no problem to write any given piece of writing with runes; one simply has to have the desire to do so.
In conclusion, I would like to dedicate this quote from Thorolf Wardle, to all those who have promoted our sacred writing:
Once with the Aesir they arrived
Once with the Aesir they vanished
Today they return, Aesir and Runes
Dr. Wieland Hopfner