Rune Meanings of Elder and Anglo-Saxon Futhark

By way of explanation, the word “Futhark” comes from the first six letters of the Rune alphabet: Fehu-Uruz-Thurisaz-Ansuz-Raidho-Kenaz. The Elder Futhark consists of 24 shapes, or staves, which configure into a type of Rune numerology. Some Rune masters utilize an “Uthark” instead of the Futhark. This just begins the Rune cycle with the Rune Uruz. I have utilized both methods and find no significant change in the Rune cycle for the purpose of divination. The Anglo-Saxon-Friesian Futhark contains 33 staves, the original 24 with 9 additional figures. The meanings of each Rune can be found below. I have organized the material so that you can find the divinatory meanings of both the Elder Futhark or the Anglo-Friesian Futhark. TOP







FEHU – Rune of Prosperity, Cattle, Moveable Wealth

FEHU is the Rune of Prosperity, Abundance, and Mobile Wealth like cattle, money, or things that can be bartered. Psychologically and energetically it speaks to holding a positive expectation that we are always tapping into a universal source of abundance in all its forms.

When FEHU presents in its reversed aspect, the cause is usually that fear of lack or resistance in another form is getting in the way of receiving what we have requested. Taking a self inventory may prove advantageous if you are getting in your own way.



URUZ – Rune of Wild Cattle, Strength, Vitality, and Endurance

URUZ is the Rune of Strength and Vitality. It represents good health, and the strength, endurance, and vitality to undertake any project. Success is possible.

When URUZ presents reversed, ask questions of physical health. If physical health is not the underlying problem, then there is some underlying difficulty with the structure or foundation of the business or project. Consult neighboring Runes in the draw for further information.



THURISAZ – Thorn, Thor, Protective Boundaries

THURISAZ is the Thorn Rune, and indicates that a difficulty has presented itself or that the circumstances surrounding life at the moment are outside of one’s control. The situation is not without hope, however, as this is also Thor’s Rune, and he is Asgard’s protector. Consider how best to create protective boundaries for the situation at hand.

When THURISAZ presents reversed, it often means that the difficulties presented are arising from within. Possibly repressed emotional issues are arising for examination. With the courage of Thor, step into the problem, examine it, and release the old issues into new lessons and the new strength you have gained.



OSS – the River Mouth

OSS/ANSUZ is the God Rune. It can mean that contact with the numinous is close at hand, or that sound advice, legal or otherwise, is needed. ANSUZ was original to the Elder Futhark, but evolved to OSS in the Anglo-Friesian Futhark. OSS means river mouth. As the mouth associated with the Throat Chakra, are we giving creative voice to something important, or are we pouring from the empty into the Void?

When OSS/ANSUZ shows up in reversal, make certain that you have closely read agreements and contracts and gotten your lawyer’s approval before moving forward with any project wherein the fine print can bind you to consequences you don’t want. Or ascertain that you are not getting caught up in wasteful talking or subject to the gossip mill.


OSS and ANSUZ/AESC- OSS as the River Mouth and ANSUZ/AESC as the Rune of the element of Wind and Air. Both Runes imply movement. Both Runes are linked to the God Odin who gave humanity the Breath of Life (Ond). Relates also to the Throat Chakra.


RAIDHO/REID – the Journey Rune

RAIDHO is the Journey Rune, and may portend travel, or the need for realignment of the self with the “Right Rhythm” of the Universe. In this sense, RAIDHO also portends to natural laws, such as gravity, electromagnetism, science, and relates in its timing to the wheel of the year.

When RAIDHO presents in reverse, it can mean travel that is delayed, or a trip that was not expected, such as a visit to a hospital.



KAUN – See the comparison with the original, KENAZ, below.

KAUN/KENAZ is the Rune of the Fire Torch, and the Rune original to the Elder Futhark. It is the friendly hearth or forge fire. It is craftsmanship, technique, skill, artisanship, learning, and knowledge. Look for new pathways in learning, or new skill sets. In the Anglo-Friesian Futhark, when Kenaz became Kaun, the meaning was added that we learn from the painful things that happen to us.

When KAUN/KENAZ presents in reverse, there is a sense of knowledge that is not useful, the shadow of the know-it-all, or the need for coming to something with an open mind unclouded by assumptions or expectations.


KAUN on left and KENAZ on right – KENAZ is the original in the Elder Futhark. KAUN was the modification by the Anglo-Friesian people, and has the added element of what is learned from pain, as through a process of suffering we learn from the consequences of actions, or an ordeal perhaps undertaken in devotion to the Gods.


GEBO, also called GIFU – the Gift Rune

GEBU or GIFU is the Gift Rune. This is mutual exchange of goods or barter, partnership even to the point of marriage, or as a liege to his lord or employer and employee wherein services are exchanged for a living wage. Reciprocity.

GEBO has no reversal, and is usually a beneficial Rune unless surrounding Runes in a layout indicate some need to be wary of what is expected from the exchange.



WUNJO – Rune of Joy, Satisfaction, Accomplishment, Achievement

WUNJO is the Joy Rune. Accomplishment, satisfaction, achievement, and joy in the company of family and friends are all attributes of this Rune. When WUNJO shows up, a time has come to relax and feel satisfied with all you have achieved. Its reversal indicates the complete opposite.

When WUNJO shows up reversed it is absolutely the opposite of joyful. What is causing you to suffer?



HAGALAZ/HAGAL – Hail Stone, Seed Crystal, Sudden Change

HAGALAZ is the Rune of Hail, Seed Crystal, and transformative change. Change can be sudden, uncomfortable, unbidden, and even catastrophic. This is a point that can become an opportunity for empowerment if one can meet the change with presence. Whether one chooses to accept timely intersessions with HAGALAZ or resist overbearing encroachments upon one’s plans, this is a time that demands respect, reaction, or response. A time for decision making and taking stock of circumstances. The power may be out of our hands, but the power of choice is always ours. HAGALAZ has no reversal.



NAUTHIZ/NAUDH – the Need Rune

NAUTHIZ (Need) is the Rune of the Needfire and the Bow Drill. The dwellers of the far North depended upon the bow drill to create fire in the midst of harsh living conditions. NAUTHIZ turns up when one’s back is against the wall and conditions are far from favorable. The only way out of a bad situation is to go through it. One can go willingly or screaming all the way. To those who are able to surrender their will to the necessity of the moment, the trials by fire will pass more quickly. The solution to the problem is also presented at the heart of the problem. NAUTHIZ has no reversal.



ISA – the Ice Rune

ISA the Rune of Ice also represents the building blocks of primal matter. Stillness, slippery slopes, a long period of standing still, danger, and current inability to meet one’s goals are properties of this Rune. ISA has no reversal.

For inner work this Rune presents itself (especially in a Rune toss with THURISAZ) as repressed emotions ready to be faced. Ice is frozen and reflective. Inner stillness and reflection are needed at this time.



JERA from the Anglo-Friesian Futhark compared to JERA from the Elder Futhark. You can see how the small KENAZ shapes have come together around the straight line of ISA, reflecting a new way of seeing the symbolism of a year.

JERA is the Rune of the Year, Harvest, and Justice. Calendar time, lunar time, the cycles of Solstice and Equinox fall within the span of a year. This Rune relates to Ceremony, comings together for celebration, especially around Harvest time.

JERA relates to all activities pertaining to planting, caring for the planting, and the harvest of the foodstuffs against long winters. Because of this JERA relates also to all endeavors which require planning and nurturing to see the project through. It is understood that lawful action brings lawful sequence of actions -as in seeding the ground, pulling the weeds, and harvesting the crop- so in the case of unlawful action, such action brings about lawful consequences. Therefore JERA pertains to justice and complaints being settled lawfully among humanity.



EIHWAZ – Rune of Defense, Trunk of the World Tree, connection between Root and Crown

EIHWAZ is a Rune of connection, contiguity, and defense. It is the trunk of the World Tree, Yggdrasil, and as such can represent the coming and going between the two realms of existence – death and life. So it can mean death, but also represents the changing states from an ending to a new beginning. Associated with the Yew tree. EIHWAZ has no reversal.



PERTHRO – Rune of the Mystery, the Well of the Norns, Chance, Luck and Gambling

PERTHRO is the Rune of Mystery, Chance, Gambling, Games, Luck, Fate, and the Norns. It’s shape is like a well turned on its side and pouring out the waters of life that shape fate and circumstance. Because it is associated with the Norns, Norse Goddesses of Fate and Destiny, this Rune may also indicate a choice to be made. Consider such consequences of your actions as you can conceive of before deciding.

When PERTHRO presents reversed, it could mean the creative waters have dried up, no luck is forthcoming, or that you are undergoing some sort of spiritual test and the answers you seek will come to you later. Have faith. The outcome is a mystery, roll with the dice.



ALGIZ – Rune of Protection, Antlers, Crown of Yggdrasil, Elk Sedge

FEHU is the Rune of Prosperity, Abundance, and Mobile Wealth like cattle, money, or things that can be bartered. Psychologically and energetically it speaks to holding a positive expectation that we are always tapping into a universal source of abundance in all its forms. ALGIZ is the Rune of Protection, especially together with EIHWAZ, Rune of Defense.

Originally double ended, ALGIZ stood for the Tree, but as a single ended Rune it now has two meanings. Upright ALGIZ represents the Crown of the Tree or the rack of antlers crowning the Tree. Either way it stands for conscious connection with the higher powers/Enlightenment. Some Rune interpreters have defined ALGIZ in reversal as stagnation and disempowerment, but if one remembers the original double-ended shape of ALGIZ, the interpretation becomes the Root of the Tree instead of the Crown. The message then becomes a call for grounding, centering, and calling one’s energies home to one’s self.



SOWELO – Rune of the Sun, Victory, Shining Light

SOWELO is the Victory Rune and the Sun’s Rune. It’s energy is dynamic, a spiraling, figure-8 type of energy, calling forth the energies of growth and life. If one is in a battle, the win is assured. SOWELO is a good Rune to call upon to make changes for the better during any endeavor. SOWELO has no reversal.

Because of its ties to the Sun/SOL, another name for this Rune, this Rune might show up at a time to take stock on the inner life, the soul purpose, the next phase of moving forward on one’s life path. Receiving this Rune in a reading indicates good fortune.



TEIWAZ/TYR – Rune of the Warrior, related to the God TYR who sacrificed his hand to bind the Fenris Wolf

TEIWAZ is the Warrior Rune. When one is aligned with one’s integrity and personal honor, TEIWAZ becomes the Rune of the Spiritual Warrior. Otherwise this Rune may represent one who is a soldier. Traditionally a masculine energy, but with many women serving in the contemporary armed forces, this Rune is no longer limited to one sex. In this instance may also relate to the Valkyries.

When TEIWAZ shows up reversed, one may not be standing in one’s warrior energy, but avoiding the battle that must be faced. This Rune in reversal may also indicate a “Wounded Warrior” facing trauma, depression, or other debilitating conditions. There is no shame in this, but instead of standing alone, seek those who have understanding of what you have faced, as healing may be found through mutual understanding and group support.



BERKANO – the Feminine Rune, Birch Tree, related to the Goddess Berchtra/Perchtra, and Women’s Initiations and life changes

BERKANO is the Rune of the Birch tree and all things feminine: birth and death, puberty and menopause, motherhood and childhood, and aging, and includes Initiations, rituals and ceremonies related to life events. Its appearance can mean a baby, a project, or a new business. All of these things require time and nurturing.

BERKANO reversed can mean that plans will not be successful. It can also mean a woman who is not taking care of herself as she should be, perhaps from doing so much for others.



EHWAZ – Rune of Movement, Emotion, and Horses

EHWAZ is the Rune of Movement. Emotion is motivating energy. MANNAZ originated with the horse and rider partnership, and extends to other human relationships with animals. For those knowing horses, who are such emotional beings, this is really appropriate. So what are you feeling and what will motivate you to start action on it?

EHWAZ reversed can mean a slowing down of forward motion until time is more favorable. The stave is the mirror image of the LAGUZ Rune. How do we mirror life’s flow? Are we resistant or accepting?



MANNAZ/MADHR – the Rune of Humanity

MANNAZ is the Rune of Humanity. The self, marital relations, kinship relations, and social relations are covered by this Rune, supported by the stave’s mirror image of WUNJO, so taking Joy in one another’s company. This Rune can also portend business relationships and partnerships.

When MANNAZ falls reversed in a Rune cast, it can portend lack of cooperation or feeling in relationships. The success or failure of a business can be interpreted by the surrounding Runes.



LAGUZ/LAUKIZ – Rune of Flow, Water, Lake or Leek. Leeks grow beside water and so this Rune picked up the double meaning by the time of the Anglo-Saxon people.

LAGUZ is the Rune meaning “Lake,” and therefore associates also with Water, Flow, and deep emotion. By the time of the Anglo-Friesian Futhark, the Leek had been added. Leeks grow by water and were thought by the Norse to have protective powers. As this Rune relates to deep water, it can be said to represent also the flow of emotions and the Moon. The Moon pulls the tides and its affect can be felt upon the waters within the body. This may be time to go within to look at what is emerging from the depths of the soul to discern if one is out of balance. We are most protected when we are in balance within and in our own flow.

When LAGUZ presents in its reversed aspect, flow is blocked in one form or another. Perhaps a person is out of balance within them self, having gotten too intellectual. Perhaps life situations are blocked. The Runes surrounding LAGUZ in the Rune cast should shed light on unblocking the flow.



INGUZ – the Rune of Fertility, Sacrifice, Endings and New Beginnings

INGUZ is the Rune of Fertility, Sacrifice, Endings and New Beginnings. According to one source, ING is also the Rune associated with the hearth fire in the home, being found carved into the hearthstones on ancient Indo-European dwellings. The Rune is also associated with the Vanir God Freyr, a God of Potent masculinity, fecundity, growth, agriculture, and the dying away of the old to make room for new growth.

INGWAZ has no reversal.



DAGAZ/DAEG – Rune of the 24 hour Day, includes the Night-time

DAGAZ is the Rune of the 24-hour period of Day and Night. In ancient times, it was regarded that Day began in the evening. The twilight times are special, liminal times to experience a point of balance between the waking mind and the sleeping mind, like the point between the two triangular shapes. In fact, there is a meeting point in our own brain that holds the liminal meeting point where opposites meet.

DAGAZ therefore becomes a Rune where we can experience increased conscious awareness between the meeting points of the waking consciousness and the higher consciousness. Regarding outcomes, this is a very beneficial Rune, and can mean a breakthrough of one form or another.



OTHILA – Rune of Homeland, Ancestors, Family, and genetic lines of descent

OTHILA, like FEHU, is a Rune of wealth and prosperity, but instead of dealing in mobile or earned wealth, its richness lies in land. This Rune can mean real estate, homeland (and consequently patriotism), inheritance, family, ancestors, and what comes down to us from family in the form of genetic material. Land has value also from the sustenance it can provide (agriculture, gardens).

When OTHILA presents in its reversed aspect, the Runes accompanying it in the Rune cast may be necessary to interpolate its meaning. On a material level, there could be trouble with real estate negotiations or contracts (MANNAZ or OSS/ANSUZ), or perhaps some type of home repair issue. Or in the way of the Ancestors, troubles which may have come down through the DNA, or traumas which have clouded the family legacy, might need resolution. Should OTHILA turn up with URUZ, there may be inherited physical problems.



FEHU – Rune of Prosperity, Cattle, Moveable Wealth

AC is the Rune of the Oak tree. Oak trees are a beautifully grained hardwood that in the times of our Viking ancestors were useful for building reliable ships to withstand the dangers of ocean travels. This Rune can point to a strong, reliable individual who in some form has taken up the burdens of others and had to “go it alone.” I’ve given many Rune casts where AC has turned up in relation to mothers made single by such circumstances as widowhood or those coming out of abusive relationships. The Oak tree has a deep taproot, through which it can always draw up the waters nourishing to life, but because of that deep tap root, it is also susceptible to drawing the lightning.

When AC presents in its reversed aspect, the person may be undergoing the “lightning” experience. Look to the other Runes in the cast to guide one through.



ANSUZ/AESC – the God Rune of the Elder Futhark that has been replaced by OSS in the Anglo-Saxon Futhark.

ANSUZ/AESC is the God Rune. It can mean that contact with the numinous is close at hand, or that sound advice, legal or otherwise, is needed. ANSUZ is also the Rune associated with the element of Air and Wind.

When ANSUZ shows up in reversal, make certain that you have closely read agreements and contracts and gotten your lawyer’s approval before moving forward with any project wherein the fine print can bind you to consequences you don’t want.



YR – the Rune of the Archer and the Artist, focus and single-minded concentration

YR is the Rune of the Archer and the Artist due to its potency of single-minded concentration. You can see in the stave shape how it descended from URUZ, so we might also assign it needful qualities of strength and endurance. Now is the time for focused intention.

When YR presents in its reversed aspect, consider whether the energies in response to your inquiry are scattered and drifting, or else perhaps too tightly focused so that you are missing some of the important details. Now may not be the time to push forward with such empowered force. Consider the surrounding Runes.



EAR – the Rune of the Gallows, Death, and Deep Water.

EAR is a very grim Rune of the Gallows, Death, and Deep Water. In giving Rune interpretation I never approach this Rune lightly, and I always approach it tactfully, given our culture’s near avoidance of the topic of death and dying. Through its symbolic connection to the Gallows, EAR links us to Odin, who hung on Yggdrasil to bring us the 24 Runes of the Elder Futhark. Through its connection to Death, EAR links us to the Death Goddess Hela, who can facilitate communication with our loved ones who have passed. Through its connection to Deep Water, EAR links us to Aegir and Ran the Norse God and Goddess of the Ocean. EAR is a very direct Rune, speaking to us of endings and our own mortality. When it turns up in a reading, I ask if someone near the client has passed recently. I mention the presence of the Death Rune, which can also mean a harsh and severe transformation of some type is going to or is taking place in the client’s life. It has turned up for the death of a marriage or a business, so it is good to keep the interpretation broad here to find out just what it portends to. Meditation on our own personal death can have positive ramifications for our own life if we utilize its symbolism to live more purposefully and with greater meaning.

When EAR presents in its reversed aspect, there is some form of stagnation going on in the client’s life. They may not be moving forward meaningfully on their own life purpose, or they are stuck in a negative situation they may not see a way out of. The surrounding Runes should offer some answers.



IOR – Rune of the “River Fish” or the Midgard Serpent, Jormundgand

IOR is the Rune of the “River Fish” in the old Norwegian Rune poem. I interpret this as its relationship to Jormundgand, the Midgard Serpent, who both protects and buffers Midgard/Middle Earth from the powers dwelling outside of it. While much is to be said about the Midgard Serpent, for the sake of short space here, when this Rune turns up it could relate to a way of seeing the world that keeps one asleep to reality, it could relate to regeneration and healing (as a serpent sheds its skin), and it could relate to matters of protection. Is one seeking to protect one’s self from seeing too deeply into an emotion or emotional pattern?

IOR has no reversal, so further interpretation must come from the surrounding Runes in the cast. This Rune stave is the same as the snowflake pattern for HAGALAZ, which interprets as the Seed Crystal for new beginnings. So if IOR turns up, take heart that if one identifies an old wounded emotional pattern it is a healing release for a new beginning.



CWEORTH – Rune of the Funeral Pyre

CWEORTH is the Rune of the Funeral Pyre, although it probably has less to do with cremation than during the Viking Age. Other writers have compared it to a mental house cleaning, and I have found this to be true. If you don’t do the work of that, life circumstances are certain to take a hand in creating the circumstances that you do. This is not an easy Rune to work with but a necessary one. I have learned from my own work with CWEORTH that the work demanded of me has always been on the level of the Soul. Given this Rune’s connection to Fire, and Fire to the Sun, and the Sun that calls us to Soul growth, this makes a lot of sense.

CWEORTH has no reversed aspect; it remains in general a challenging Rune. As with some of the other challenging Runes such as HAGALAZ and NAUTHIZ, be mindful that adjusting one’s attitude toward going into turbulent times with acceptance and willingness generally brings a measure of grace into the ordeal, and it may not prove as difficult as it otherwise might. The events that arise to adjust our souls are sometimes needful breaking down of our hard edges and things that have crystallized in us that are detrimental to our soul’s evolution.



CHALC – Rune of the Holy Grail, Chalice

CHALC is the Rune of the Holy Grail, Chalice, and Drinking Horn. All that is holiest, all that is inspired by the highest in each of us, all that we expect will bring us true happiness. CHALC’s evolution from ALGIZ seems obvious to me. Like the Crown of the Tree, Yggdrasil, reaching the highest heavens of the Gods, most of us seek our highest happiness. It helps to remember that happiness is a state of being that does not rely upon material goods or wealth, although these may feature into what we imagine we want. Sometimes we reach as high as we can to try to attain that level of bliss and it is always just out of reach, but like the Fisher King of the old Arthur tales, sometimes we recognize that our bliss has been with us all along in our life’s work, in our families, in the blessings from our Gods.

When CHALC presents in its reversed aspect, there may have been a major life disappointment or happiness eludes one no matter how much one tries. Guidance should be provided by the surrounding Runes.



STAN – Rune of the Stone

STAN, for me, has many connections. There is the idea that stone is the foundation of many building processes, and so can relate directly to construction projects, or allegorically to something one is building – a project, a business, a family, a lifestyle.

As a person who has worked with healing stones and crystals, and as a Mesa Carrier, I have used stones as communicators and messengers for healing and aspects of soul growth. Stones are long lived, they carry their own level of consciousness. Once a person gets past the social conditioning that other forms of being other than humans DO possess consciousness, stones become useful tools.

Then there is STAN’s obvious resemblance to PERTHRO, which makes me think of dug wells lined with Stone, and therefore, Urd’s Well. Urd’s Well is where we learn of the consequences of action and reaction, consequence of choices and behaviors. Stone, a being of Earth, also possesses some of Earth’s qualities of stubbornness. Perhaps a client is behaving as “stubborn as a stone” and a visit to Urd’s Well to learn of the lawful consequences of behaviors would be useful.



GAR – Rune of Odin’s Spear

GAR is the Rune of Odin’s Spear. In times of battle, the Vikings would ask Odin to cast his spear over the heads of their enemies, and thus grant them the win. This is a Rune to call upon the favor of the All-Father if one finds one’s self in a competitive situation. Also to consider here is that those people whom Odin calls often report being touched by his Spear.

GAR is composed of one version of the ING Rune that looks like a diamond and the Rune GEBO, the Gift Rune. ING is the Rune of Fertility, Sacrifice, and the home hearth, so inherent within GAR’s structure is a reciprocal exchange for which one must sacrifice something in order to gain benefit. As Odin is the God of highest consciousness, He supports conscious order in the Cosmos, from which we all benefit.

I have found GAR a useful Rune to call upon during Shaman Journeys.