Are the Runes an Alphabet?
Many books have been written about the Runes and indeed there is a great deal of controversy and dissension about them still – how many symbols there are, the order in which they are written, which Rune Stave starts the “alphabet”. Although, of course, it is again a matter of disagreement whether they were even actually what we would today call an alphabet. The “alphabet” interpretation seems to me to be unlikely as they would have been extremely cumbersome and there seems to be very little surviving examples, so I come from one interpretation position rather than another.
Series of Powerful Symbols
I believe that they were, or rather, are a series of powerful symbols which can either be used for good or bad purposes. Even those who maintain the Futhark tradition, i.e, that the Runes were meant to be laid out in a grid fashion starting with the stave which can be pronounced as an “F” starting the sequence, believe that they are not simply a proto alphabet but can be used magically. Magically – that is to say, they, the Runes, can have a far reaching effect on the future and, the Runes, when cast like dice, can tell the future or the past for example.
Not Strictly an Alphabet
Others maintain that the grid fashion was a method of hiding the true sequence so that only those with the proper training could read them, to keep them safe and secure from the use of the unscrupulous, and I think that for many, many years it probably was a successful ruse. After all, it is only in relatively recent historical terms that the interpretation of some of the previously perplexing Runes inscribed on stones have been recognized to be probably what we would now describe as “Bind” Runes – perhaps the nearest I can explain it briefly is to say that a “Spell” was cast in stone to protect or influence the future. Such as perhaps to lay someone in the grave with the dictum – don’t come back! Inscribed on a stone above their heads! Obviously reading runic symbols strictly as an alphabet would not make much sense in such a case and thus the proper meaning would remain hidden from the majority. It is also recognised now that sometimes a Rune or a series of Runes would make up a word as we know it, but would be written backwards or even upside down, again to protect the meaning and make them difficult to interpret in an age when writing was for the elite only.
The Beginning of a Path
Experts in the use of the Runes were called Runemasters and I am certainly not one of those exalted persons. However, I would like to describe myself as able to introduce people to the Runes, their meanings and some of their uses in order to enhance individual lives and bring a greater understanding of this gift to mankind. Such a broad and far reaching subject must be treated with respect but the journey must begin somewhere and I am suggesting that wherever it may lead each one of us, the beginning of that path could be here!