I recently have researched runes to get a better understanding of them for possible use in future novels. I had believed they were somewhat like the tarot card wherein they could be used in divination. Often I would read in old texts about someone throwing the bones or drawing lots to discern fate and had assumed the items were something with runes etched on them. But there is a lot more history to the runic symbols than that.

It is said that runes were actually the European alphabet up until 700 AD when Christianity dubbed Latin as the new alphabet. But the use of runes still prevailed in some countries until well into the 1200s. Although it is uncertain where the alphabet stated, it is thought to believe the word "rune" is from the Gothic word runa- meaning secret. This struck an interesting cord with me because during this time, people were forced into Christianity and would be scrutinized for being anything less. If someone wanted to use the runes - and hold onto their old beliefs-- it would have to be done in secret to escape persecution. So- did the creation of the word/name "rune" come after the fact?

Aside from being merely an "alphabet" or means of communication, it is said that runes were used for magical purposes- or charms. An amulet would be forged with the runic language inscribed on it and therefore bear whatever properties it was instilled with. But is this any different than having a magical trinket made with Latin or Greek lettering? What would make the runic charm any more mysterious or enchanted? So did this mean that runes were more than a means of writing but perhaps set aside as something holy or magical? And if the name rune -or runa- meant something hidden or secret, could this mean that only certain people could use them? Were the runic symbols set aside for a more privileged group of people?

The ancient language is still a mystery, but it is clearly believed to have been something unique.

2 comments:

I know EXACTLY what you mean. I found you on Twitter. Glad you are climbing back on that horse.

:) Thanks for the comment Elizabeth! It's never easy, though, whether it's a physical or metaphorical horse.

About Us

We have a diverse, combined writing experience. I am a middle school English teacher and an administrator and co-administrator for various writing groups. Trisha is a freelance writer, editor, and online educator whose fiction appears in FANTASY GAZETTEER. Together we co-authored "Party Crashers” for the EPPIE award winning anthology BAD ASS FAERIES 2: JUST PLAIN BAD.

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