Our source of the legend for the discovery of the runes comes from the Hávamál [Hover-mol] (The ballad of the High One), an old Norse poem, words of wisdom from Odin, the father of the Gods. Verses 139-146 tell the tale of how the runes were won. Verses 147-165 allude to a collection of magical charms he made from them. The original text translated into English can be found in the Appendices if the reader wishes to delve deeper but gist of the story is shown below.
The Old Norse universe (Nine worlds)
At the centre of the Norse universe stands the great ash tree, Yggdrasil [ Ig-drazil ]. Yggdrasil’s branches cradle nine worlds including the worlds of men (Midgard), the world of elves (Alfheim) and the world of giants (Jotunheim). In the upper branches sits Asgard, the home world of the Aesir [Ace-seer]. These are the Norse gods and goddesses including Thor, Loki, Freyja and of course Odin their leader, also known as the “All-father”.
Yggdrasil’s roots plunge deep into the Well of Urd (Fate). And here you will find the three Norns, the women who influence the fate of all the worlds; Urd – the Norn of the past, Verdandi –the Norn of the present and Skuld the Norn of what is yet to come. And it is here that they set the course of destiny for all children by carving runes into the trunk. These symbols then carry their intentions up into the branches influencing the affairs of man, the gods and all the other inhabitants of the nine worlds.
Odin’s discovery of the runes
Odin was a very curious fellow and was prepared to do and sacrifice almost anything in return for knowledge and wisdom – he even gave one of his eyes for it but that is another story. This is the story of how he gained mastery over the runes.
Odin looking down from Asgard observed the work of the Norns and their rune carving and as he watched he became more and more curious and obsessed with learning the knowledge of them and the power it would give him if he could only possess it. He quickly realised that the runes wouldn’t give up their secrets to just anyone – he would have to prove himself worthy to wield such terrible wisdom.
Thus he decided to hang himself from one of Yggdrasil’s branches. Not only that he stabbed himself with his own spear and refused all food and drink, not even water. He remained in this shamanic state calling to the runes for nine whole days and nights. The runes, recognising his sacrifice and his worthiness, gradually began to reveal themselves in the murky depths of the well. Slowly their secrets became clearer and once he had fully absorbed all this powerful knowledge he let out a great cry of victory and let himself fall from the branch returning home to Asgard with the runes safely in his possession.
Now fully conversant with the runes he became one of the most powerful and knowledgeable beings in the whole Norse universe. He learned spells to overpower enemies, heal wounds, protect warriors, raise the dead, seduce a lover and many other things.
We may not be quite able to wield the power of Odin but you will learn a little of the secrets of the runes in the following sections.
And more in our available <a href="https://runecastcopper.com/products/elder-futhark-rune-book-norse-viking-asatru-tarot-introduction-to-the-runes-history-mythology-divination-and-magic-x?_pos=3&_sid=f8e55502c&_ss=r">here in ebook format or hand made with parchment paper.