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Hello and welcome to Kids' Runes! My name is Jordsvin. I thought that meant "Groundhog" when I picked it for my Heathen name. It really means "Aardvark" but that's OK! You might have seen me at Trothmoot sometime! I'm the guy that runs and plays a lot with you young folks there. I like joining in the fun.
Last year, while I was on vacation, I finished a series on runes for grownups. Then I got to thinking: I'd never seen anything on runes for kids! I've decided to do something about that. It's going to be fun, I think. I hope you'll join me for a journey through the runes! We'll travel thousands of years and through the Nine Worlds, but we won't be gone for too long!
The first time I ever saw the runes I was about ten or eleven. They were in an encyclopedia. I thought they looked pretty cool. I liked Vikings and I knew they used runes to write their language, Old Norse. It is still spoken, almost unchanged, in Iceland. The Anglo-Saxons also used runes to write their language, Old English, before they had the alphabet that we use today. Although Old English turned into Middle English and then into the English we speak now, we can still write our language in runes!
The second time I saw them I was a teenager. They were in the book The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien. It was a fun book. I read all four in the series. They made three cartoon movies out of them, and soon there will be a big movie! Tolkien got a lot of his words and ideas from Norse mythology! I started to learn to read the runes to figure out things in his books' illustrations. Eventually I got pretty good at it.
Then I started writing notes to myself in them. Runes make a great secret code. I found out that one of my friends knew them too, so we wrote things to each other in runes! Much later I started to do rune readings and rune magic. But first things first!
What are runes? Well, they're an alphabet! However, they not only have different shapes and different names from the "ABC's;" they are in a different order, too! The runic "alphabet" is called a "futhark," (pronounced FOO-thark) after the first six letters, which in the "regular" alphabet, which came to us from the Romans, would be "F-U-TH-A-R-K" (TH is a separate letter in the futhark).
The names of the first six runes are Fehu, Uruz, Thurisaz, Ansuz, Raidho, and Kenaz. There are eighteen more runes after that for a total of twenty-four (or "four-and-twenty," just like the blackbirds baked in a pie)! The runes we'll be having fun with are called the "Elder Futhark," and are the oldest form of the runes that we have.
When we ask the question, "Where did runes come from?" we get more than one answer. Some people think they came from the Greek alphabet, or the Roman one, or maybe from the North Italian alphabet, almost forgotten today, which was used about two thousand years ago in, you guessed it, northern Italy. It's hard to be sure. All those alphabets were somewhat similar to each other.
There is a myth that Odin hung on Yggdrasil, the World Tree, for nine nights, pierced with a spear, to win the runes. Then he shared them with others. While the story about the Greeks and Romans and their alphabets speaks to our heads, Odin's sacrifice speaks to our hearts and our imaginations. So, both can be true, but in different ways!
Well, that's enough for the history lesson! Time to tell stories, take trips, and have fun!
last modified 07/21/2003