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Runology, Part 1

One Man’s Futhark is another’s Futhork

By Joseph Bloch

When they think of “the runes”, most non-Heathens will immediately think of a set of 24 runic symbols, each of which has a set form (perhaps with very minor variations) and a “meaning”. These runes are used for divination and decoration mostly, and as such are one of a large number of divinatory tools including tarot cards and the like.

The reality is a lot more complex.

Taken as a whole, a runic system is referred to as a futhark, a word that is derived from the names of the first six runes (in much the way that the word “alphabet” comes from the first two letters of the Greek alphabet; alpha and beta). What many people don’t realize is that there is no single “correct” futhark, that most of them have a number of runes other than 24, and that the meanings that are commonly attributed to the 24-rune futhark come, in fact, from other futharks that are found much later in history.

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