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There is some evidence that, in addition to being a writing system, runes historically served purposes of magic. This is the case from the earliest epigraphic evidence of the Roman to the Germanic Iron Age, with non-linguistic inscriptions and the alu word. An erilaz appears to have been a person versed in runes, including their magic applications.
In medieval sources, notably the Poetic Edda, the Sigrdrífumál mentions "victory runes" to be carved on a sword, "some on the grasp and some on the inlay, and name Tyr twice."
In the early modern period and modern history, related folklore and superstition is recorded in the form of the Icelandic magical staves. In the early 20th century, Germanic mysticism coined new forms of "runic magic", some of which were continued or developed further by contemporary adherents of Germanic Neopaganism. Modern systems of runic divination are based on Hermeticism, classical Occultism, and the I Ching.
Historically it is known that the Germanic peoples used various forms of divination and means of reading omens. Tacitus ( Germania 10) gives a detailed account (98AD):
- They attach the highest importance to the taking of auspices and casting lots. Their usual procedure with the lot is simple. They cut off a branch from a nut-bearing tree and slice it into strips these they mark with different signs and throw them at random onto a white cloth. Then the state's priest, if it is an official consultation, or the father of the family, in a private one, offers prayer to the gods and looking up towards heaven picks up three strips, one at a time, and, according to which sign they have previously been marked with, makes his interpretation. If the lots forbid an undertaking, there is no deliberation that day about the matter in question. If they allow it, further confirmation is required by taking auspices. 
It is often debated whether "signs" refers specifically to runes or to other marks; both interpretations are plausible and Tacitus does not give enough detail for a definite decision to be made. 
The Ansuz and Tiwaz runes in particular seem to have had magical significance in the early (Elder Futhark) period.[ citation needed ] The Sigrdrífumál instruction of "name Tyr twice" is reminiscent of the double or triple "stacked Tyr" bindrunes found e.g. on Seeland-II-C or the Lindholm amulet in the aaaaaaaazzznnn-b- muttt, sequence, which besides stacked Tyr involves multiple repetition of Ansuz, but also triple occurrence of Algiz and Naudiz.
Many inscriptions also have apparently meaningless utterances interpreted as magical chants, such as tuwatuwa (Vadstena bracteate), aaduaaaliia (DR BR42) or g͡æg͡og͡æ (Undley bracteate), g͡ag͡ag͡a (Kragehul I).
Alu is a charm word appearing on numerous artifacts found in Central and Northern Europe dating from the Germanic Iron Age. The word is the most common of the early runic charm words and can appear either alone or as part of an apparent formula. The origin and meaning of the word are matters of dispute, though a general agreement exists among scholars that the word either represents amulet magic or is a metaphor (or metonym) for it. 
A few Viking Age rings with runic inscriptions of apparently magical nature were found, among them the Kingmoor Ring. The phrase "runes of power" is found on two runestones in Sweden, DR 357 from Stentoften and DR 360 from Björketorp. Runestones with curses include DR 81 in Skjern, DR 83 in Sønder Vinge, DR 209 in Glavendrup, DR 230 from Tryggevælde, DR 338 in Glemminge, and Vg 67 in Saleby. 
The most prolific source for runic magic in the Poetic Edda is the Sigrdrífumál , where the valkyrie Sigrdrífa (Brynhild) presents Sigurd with a memory-draught of ale that had been charmed with "gladness runes" (stanza 5),
She goes on to give advice on the magical runes in seven further stanzas. In all instances, the runes are used for actual magic (apotropaic or ability-enhancing spells) rather than for divination:
The Poetic Edda also seems to corroborate the magical significance of the runes the Hávamál where Odin mentions runes in contexts of divination,[ dubious ] of healing and of necromancy (trans. Bellows):
Other oft cited sources for the practice of runic[ dubious ] divination are chapter 38 of Snorri Sturluson's Ynglinga Saga, where Granmar, the king of Södermanland, travels to the Temple at Uppsala for the seasonal blót. "There, the chips fell in a way that said that he would not live long" (Féll honum þá svo spánn sem hann mundi eigi lengi lifa). 
Another source is in the Vita Ansgari, the biography of Ansgar the Archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen, which was written by a monk named Rimbert. Rimbert details the custom of casting lots by the pagan Norse (chapters 26-30).  The chips and the lots, however, can be explained respectively as a blótspánn (sacrificial chip) and a hlauttein (lot-twig), which according to Foote and Wilson  would be "marked, possibly with sacrificial blood, shaken and thrown down like dice, and their positive or negative significance then decided."
Egils Saga features several incidents of runic magic. The most celebrated is the scene where Egil discovers (and destroys) a poisoned drink prepared for him, by cutting his hand and cutting runes on the drinking horn, and painting the runes with blood. While the motif of blood painted runes also appears in other examples of early Norse literature it is uncertain whether the practice of painting runes with blood is merely a literary invention or whether it had precedence in magical practice. 
In the 17th Century, Hermeticist and Rosicrucian Johannes Bureus, having been inspired by visions, developed a Runic system based on the Kaballah and the Futhark which he called the Adulruna. 
The Armanen runes "revealed" to Guido von List in 1902 were employed for magical purposes in Germanic mysticism by authors such as Friedrich Bernhard Marby and Siegfried Adolf Kummer, and after World War II in a reformed "pansophical" system by Karl Spiesberger. More recently, Stephen Flowers, Adolf Schleipfer, Larry E. Camp and others also build on List's system.[ citation needed ]
Several modern systems of runic magic and runic divination were published from the 1980s onward. The first book on runic divination, written by Ralph Blum in 1982, led to the development of sets of runes designed for use in several such systems of fortune telling, in which the runes are typically incised in clay, stone tiles, crystals, resin, glass, or polished stones, then either selected one-by-one from a closed bag or thrown down at random for reading.
Later authors such as Diana L. Paxson and Freya Aswynn follow Blum (1989) in drawing a direct correlation between runic divination and tarot divination. They may discuss runes in the context of "spreads" and advocate the usage of "rune cards".
Modern authors like Ralph Blum sometimes include a "blank rune" in their sets. Some were to replace a lost rune, but according to Ralph Blum this was the god Odin's rune, the rune of the beginning and the end, representing "the divine in all human transactions". 
In 1982, a modern usage of the runes for answering life's questions was apparently originated by Ralph Blum in his divination book The Book of Runes: A Handbook for the Use of an Ancient Oracle, which was marketed with a small bag of round tiles with runes stamped on them. This book has remained in print since its first publication. The sources for Blum's divinatory interpretations, as he explained in The Book of Runes itself, drew heavily on then-current books describing the ancient I Ching divination system of China.
Each of Blum's seven books on runic divination deals with a specialized area of life or a varied technique for reading runes:
Blum has also written books on the Tao Te Ching, Zen Buddhism, and UFOs.
In the wake of a 1984 dissertation on "Runes and Magic", Stephen Flowers published a series of books under the pen-name "Edred Thorsson" which detailed his own original method of runic divination and magic, "odianism",  which he said was loosely based on historical sources and modern European hermeticism. These books were:
Runic divination is a component of Flowers' "esoteric runology" course offered to members of his Rune-Gild, as detailed in The Nine Doors of Midgard: A Curriculum of Rune-Work. Besides runic divination, Flowers also advocated the "runic gymnastics" (Runengymnastik) developed in the 1920s by Friedrich Marby, under the name of "Rune-Yoga" (also "Runic Yoga", "Stadhagaldr"). 
In 1990, Stephan Grundy, a.k.a. Kveldulf Gundarsson, described runic magic as the active principle as opposed to passive interpretations based on runic divination. He held that runic magic is more active than the allegedly shamanic practice of seid practiced by the Seiðkona. Runic magic, he states, uses the runes to affect the world outside based on the archetypes they represent. 
Most of Gundarsson's runic magic entails being in possession of a physical entity that is engraved with any or all of the individual runes or "staves", so as to practically work with their energies. The individual runes are reddened with either blood, dyes, or paints. The act of possessing the stave in its final form serves the purpose of affecting the world of form with "the rune might" of that particular stave. After use, the staves are discarded or destroyed. 
Gundarsson holds that each rune has a certain sound to it, to be chanted or sung; the sound has in common the phonetic value by which it is represented.  This act of singing or chanting is supposed to have more or less the same effect of using the staves in their physical form. 
Týr is a god in Germanic mythology, a valorous and powerful member of the Æsir and patron of warriors and mythological heroes. In Norse mythology, which provides most of the surviving narratives about gods among the Germanic peoples, Týr sacrifices his hand to the monstrous wolf Fenrir, who bites it off when he realizes the gods have bound him. Týr is foretold of being consumed by the similarly monstrous dog Garmr during the events of Ragnarök.
A sigil is a type of symbol used in magic. The term has usually referred to a type of pictorial signature of a deity or spirit. In modern usage, especially in the context of chaos magic, sigil refers to a symbolic representation of the practitioner's desired outcome.
Guido Karl Anton List, better known as Guido von List, was an Austrian occultist, journalist, playwright, and novelist. He expounded a modern Pagan new religious movement known as Wotanism, which he claimed was the revival of the religion of the ancient German race, and which included an inner set of Ariosophical teachings that he termed Armanism.
Runes are the letters in a set of related alphabets known as runic alphabets native to the Germanic peoples. Runes were used to write various Germanic languages before they adopted the Latin alphabet, and for specialised purposes thereafter. In addition to representing a sound value, runes can be used to represent the concepts after which they are named (ideographs). Scholars refer to instances of the latter as Begriffsrunen. The Scandinavian variants are also known as futhark or fuþark ; the Anglo-Saxon variant is futhorc or fuþorc.
Algiz is the name conventionally given to the "z-rune" ᛉ of the Elder Futhark runic alphabet. Its transliteration is z, understood as a phoneme of the Proto-Germanic language, the terminal *z continuing Proto-Indo-European terminal *s.
The Kylver stone, listed in the Rundata catalog as runic inscription G 88, is a Swedish runestone which dates from about 400 AD. It is notable for its listing of each of the runes in the Elder Futhark.
Armanen runes are 18 pseudo-runes, inspired by the historic Younger Futhark runes, invented by Austrian mysticist and Germanic revivalist Guido von List during a state of temporary blindness in 1902, and described in his Das Geheimnis der Runen, published as a periodical article in 1906, and as a standalone publication in 1908. The name seeks to associate the runes with the postulated Armanen, whom von List saw as ancient Aryan priest-kings. The Armanen runes continue in use today in esotericism and in Germanic neopaganism.
Stephen Edred Flowers, commonly known as Stephen E. Flowers, and also by the pen-names Edred Thorsson, and Darban-i-Den, is a former American professor and runologist, and proponent of occultism, Odinism, Germanic mysticism, Asatru, and Mazdaism. He helped establish the Germanic Neopagan movement in North America and has also been active in Left-Hand Path occult organizations. He has over three dozen published books and hundreds of published papers and translations on a disparate range of subjects.
The Troth, formerly the Ring of Troth, is an American-based international heathen organization. It is prominent in the inclusionary, as opposed to folkish sector of heathenry. The organization was founded on December 20, 1987 by former Ásatrú Free Assembly members Edred Thorsson and James Chisholm. Chisholm remains associated with the organization as an Elder Emeritus. The current Steer is Lauren Crow.
A galdr or gealdor refers to a spell or incantation in Old Norse and Old English respectively; these were usually performed in combination with certain rites. It was performed by both women and men. Some scholars have proposed they chanted it in falsetto.
A runic inscription is an inscription made in one of the various runic alphabets. They generally contained practical information or memorials instead of magic or mythic stories. The body of runic inscriptions falls into the three categories of Elder Futhark, Anglo-Frisian Futhorc and Younger Futhark.
The t-rune ᛏ is named after Týr, and was identified with this god. The reconstructed Proto-Germanic name is *Tîwaz or *Teiwaz. Tiwaz rune was an ideographic symbol for a spear.
Sigrdrífumál is the conventional title given to a section of the Poetic Edda text in Codex Regius.
Stephan Scott Grundy, also known by the pen-name Kveldulf Gundarsson, was an American author, scholar, goði and proponent of Asatru. He published more than two dozen books and several papers. He is best known for his modern adaptations of legendary sagas and was also a non-fiction writer on Germanic mythology, Germanic paganism, and Germanic neopaganism.
Karl Spiesberger was a German mystic, occultist, Germanic revivalist and Runosophist. He is most well known for his revivalism and usage of the Sidereal Pendulum for divination and dowsing and for his anti-racialist stance and revivalist usage of the Armanen Futharkh runic system after the second world war, removing its negative connotations. During his involvement with the Fraternitas Saturni Spiesberger was also known as Frater Eratus. Under this name he published several articles in the Blätter für angewandte okkulte Lebenskunst.
Friedrich Bernhard Marby was a German rune occultist and Germanic revivalist. He is best known for his revivalism and use of the Armanen runes. Marby was imprisoned during the Third Reich, which may have been due to a denunciation by Karl Maria Wiligut. According to the Odinist magazine Vor Trú, Marby "was one of the most important figures in the realm of runic sciences" with an impact felt not only by contemporaries but "among today's researchers and practitioners."
Elizabeth Hooijschuur, known by her pen name Freya Aswynn, is a Dutch writer and musician, primarily known for her activities related to modern Paganism in the United Kingdom. She was an early exponent of a form of Germanic neopaganism centred on women and has influenced the international modern Pagan community through her book Leaves of Yggdrasil. Aswynn was involved in the early neofolk music scene in London in the 1980s, when several musicians of the genre lived in her house in Tufnell Park.
This is a list of magical terms in Germanic mysticism dealing with various occult practices, traditions, and components of magic within Odinism or Germanic Neopaganism. This list is not intended for topics like stage magic, illusion, or other entertainment-based definition. It is also not for strictly paranormal topics, such as those dealing with UFOs, aliens, ghosts, near-death experiences, ESP, or other such articles. This list should also not include terms not specific to German mysticism.
The Seax of Beagnoth is a 10th-century Anglo-Saxon seax. It was found in the inland estuary of the Thames in 1857, and is now at the British Museum in London. It is a prestige weapon, decorated with elaborate patterns of inlaid copper, brass and silver wire. On one side of the blade is the only known complete inscription of the twenty-eight letter Anglo-Saxon runic alphabet, as well as the name "Beagnoth" in runic letters. It is thought that the runic alphabet had a magical function, and that the name Beagnoth is that of either the owner of the weapon or the smith who forged it. Although many Anglo-Saxon and Viking swords and knives have inscriptions in the Latin alphabet on their blades, or have runic inscriptions on the hilt or scabbard, the Seax of Beagnoth is one of only a handful of finds with a runic inscription on its blade.
Runic alphabets have seen numerous uses since the 18th-century Viking revival, in Scandinavian Romantic nationalism (Gothicismus) and Germanic occultism in the 19th century, and in the context of the Fantasy genre and of Germanic Neopaganism in the 20th century.