Nine of the Rune Kinds  - The Runes in Song


The Gambanreiði Statement knows of at least eleven kinds or classes of runes or rúnar, as we originally spoke of them.    In addition to the nine cited by Viktor Rydberg, Ćgishjálmur and Markarandi comprise two other important classes of runes.    Both are used in binds: one for traveling and the other to ward properties. The ultimate test of the honest return of our sacred understandings of the Runes will be when people again, OUR people, start using such systems properly within their original (or as close as one may get in modern days) context. Then the users will discover experientially what works and what does not, what resonates and what does not. It must be kept in mind that new agers are taught to assimilate everything, losing their own heritages in the process. This dilutes and distorts the sacred pathways of many cultures as the drive to become ONE obliterates all. The Runes are practiced in many worlds besides this one. Please enjoy the below studies.

Here are the presently known and remembered rune kinds:
1    Ćgishjálmur was the one used by our Norse ancestors to travel with.
2    Markarandi was used to bless an enterprise and protect its owner. A purely magical one might seek the help of landwights, or dis in keeping competitors from fouling the stream with their cattle, and ensure harmony with neighbors, or invite in travellers or wayfarers who only had good intentions.
3    In addition to the runes of victory of which Rydberg writes eloquently, he specifically mentions ...
4    ... another class of runes (brimrúnar), controlled the elements, purified the air from evil beings, gave power over wind and waves for good purposes — as, for instance, when sailors in distress were to be rescued — or power over the flames when they threatened to destroy human dwellings.
5    A kind of runes (málrúnar) gave speech to the mute and speechless, even to those whose lips were sealed in death .
6    A kind of runes could free the limbs from bonds.
7    A kind of runes protected against the black magic type of witchcraft.
8    A kind of runes (ölrúnar) takes the strength from the love potion prepared by another man’s wife, and from every treachery mingled therein.
9    (Bjargrúnar and limrúnar) helps in childbirth and heals wounds.
10    A kind gives wisdom and knowledge, i.e. hugrúnar.
11    A kind extinguishes enmity and hate, and produces friendship and love.

One must keep in mind that, contrary to the Hollow-Wood BS, the Norse were a trading people who ranged all over the place and that travel in ancient times was far more fraught with danger than today. So the complex pattern would often be made on the section of a log, sawn about a hand's thickness, two holes atop for mounting onto a wagon if overland (yes, our goodly peoples traded overland, too) or beneath the crossmember of a sail on a knorr, or deepwater vessel. On a drkonboote, it might be smaller and mounted just behind the prow, facing the crew, but not those outside, the crew, onto whom it bestowed its protection.

It was called Ćgishjálmur, although it is not incorrect to use an "er" ending here, as it is the usual Norse "r" terminal nominative. The figures of runes, often intricately done, were painted on with boiled blubber mixed with lampblack, as the end-grain of the coniferous woods is quite open and anything water-based would smear. The end piece was then covered with fir or hemlock resin which runs in low viscosity in the spring, to waterproof it, after the initial figure had been dried in the sun.

Such an Ćgishjálmer could also be mounted over the North doorway entrance to a home, warding the entire house. Usually, it would be a cubit for a ship and smaller for other uses, down to a foot.

The other class of deployed run binds is Markarandi. These were sometimes hung on or nailed to a tree at a border, marking the edge of a property. Now this was a magical operation, so it differed from the Eyktamark in that the latter was, actually a legal AND religious posting, e.g., a 3' birch stave, with two sides (North and South) above ground shaved and painted and/ or engraved by knife and part beneath ground driven into a pilot hole prepared by a "punch" made by a blacksmith, basically a pointed rod, hammered into ground to soften it to take wooden rod with minimal damage to latter. The rod was removed using overwrapped leather thong about 2" X 24" for gripping, normally of steerhide.
"This be Helga's nut orchard, blessed by Frigga and Frey, watered by Thorr.
(followed by three runes important to Her)"
This would bless the enterprise and protect its owner. A purely magical one might seek the help of landwights, or dis in keeping competitors from fouling the stream with their cattle, and ensure harmony with neighbors, or invite in travellers or wayfarers who only had good intentions.

So, these, then, might be considered two other classes of runes, both used in binds, one for traveling, and one to ward properties: Ćgishjálmur and Markarandi.

Below is the complete surrounding text of this article extracted from Viktor Rydberg's Teutonic Theology: Gods and Goddesses of the Northland, volume 1, Part 3, Section 26, Pages 160 - 165.


The sacred knowledge of runes, the fimbul-songs , the white art, was, according to the myth, originally in the possession of Mimer. Still he did not have it of himself, but got it from the subterranean fountain, which he guarded beneath the middle root of the world-tree— a fountain whose veins, together with the deepest root of the world-tree extends to a depth which not even Odin’s thought can penetrate (Havamál, 138). By self-sacrifice in his youth Odin received from Beistla’s brother (Mimer; see No. 88) a drink from the precious liquor of this fountain and nine fimbul-songs (Havamál, 140; cp. Sigrdr., 14), which were the basis of the divine magic of the application of the power of the word and of the rune over spiritual and natural forces, in prayer, in sacrifices and in other religious acts, in investigations, in the practical affairs of life, in peace and in war (Havamál, 144 ff.; Sigrdr., 6 ff.). The character and purpose of these songs are clear from the fact that at the head is placed “help’s fimbul-song,” which is able to allay sorrow and cure diseases (Havamál, 146).

In the hands of Odin they are a means for the protection of the power of the Asa-Gods, and enable them to assist their worshippers in danger and distress. To these belong the fimbul-song of the runes of victory; and it is of no little interest that we, in Havamál, 156, find what Tacitus tells about the barditus of the Germans, the shield-song with which they went to meet their foes — a song which Ammianus Paulus himself has heard, and of which he gives a vivid description.

When the Teutonic forces advanced to battle the warriors raised their shields up to a level with the upper lip, so that the round of the shield formed a sort of sounding board for their song. This began in a low voice and preserved its subdued colour, but the sound gradually increased, and at a distance it resembled the roar of the breakers of the sea. Tacitus says that the Teutons predicted the result of the battle from the impression the song as a whole made upon themselves: it might sound in their ears in such a manner that they thereby became more terrible to their enemies, or in such a manner that they were overcome by despair. The above-mentioned strophe of Havamál gives us an explanation of this: the warriors were roused to confidence if they, in the harmony of the subdued song increasing in volume, seemed to perceive Valfather’s voice blended with their own. The strophe makes Oðin say:
Ef ek skal til orrostu leida langvini, undir randir ek gel, en their med ríki fara heilir hildar til, heilir hildi frá
“If I am to lead those to battle whom I have long held in friendship, then I sing under their shields. With success they go to the conflict, and successfully they go out of it.”
Völuspa also refers to the shield-song in 47, where it makes the storm-giant, Hrymr, advancing against the gods, “lift his shield before him” (hefiz lind fyrir), an expression which certainly has another significance than that of unnecessarily pointing out that he has a shield for protection. The runes of victory were able to arrest weapons in their flight and to make those whom Odin loved proof against sword-edge and safe against ambush (Havam., 148, 150). Certain kinds of runes were regarded as producing victory and were carved on the hilt and on the blade of the sword, and while they were carved Tyr’s name was twice named (Sigrdr., 6).

Another class of runes (brimrúnar, Sigrdr., 10; Havam., 150) controlled the elements, purified the air from evil beings (Havam., 155), gave power over wind and waves for good purposes — as, for instance, when sailors in distress were to be rescued — or power over the flames when they threatened to destroy human dwellings (Havam., 152).

A third kind of runes (málrúnar) gave speech to the mute and speechless, even to those whose lips were sealed in death (see No. 70).

A fourth kind of runes could free the limbs from bonds (Havam., 149).

A fifth kind of runes protected against witchcraft (Havam., 151).

A sixth kind of runes (ölrúnar) takes the strength from the love potion prepared by another man’s wife, and from every treachery mingled therein (Sigrdr., 7, 8).

A seventh kind (bjargrúnar and limrúnar) helps in childbirth and heals wounds.

An eighth kind gives wisdom and knowledge (hugrúnar, Sigrdr., 13; cp. Havam., 159).

A ninth kind extinguishes enmity and hate, and produces friendship and love (Havam., 153, 161).

Of great value, and a great honour to kings and chiefs, was the possession of healing runes and healing hands; and that certain noble-born families inherited the power of these runes was a belief which has been handed down even to our time. There is a distinct consciousness that the runes of this kind were a gift of the blithe gods. In a strophe, which sounds as if it were taken from an ancient hymn, the gods are beseeched for runes of wisdom and healing: “Hail to the gods! Hail to the goddesses! Hail to the bounteous Earth (the Goddess Jord). Words and wisdom give unto us, and healing hands while we live!” (Sigrdr., 4).

In ancient times arrangements were made for spreading the knowledge of the good runes among all kinds of beings. Odin taught them to his own clan; Dáinn taught them to the Elves; Dvalinn among the dwarfs; Ásvinr (see No. 88) among the giants (Havam., 143). Even the last-named became participators in the good gift, which, mixed with sacred mead, was sent far and wide, and it has since been among the Asas, among the Elves, among the wise Vans, and among the children of men (Sigrdr., 18). The above-named Dvalinn, who taught the runes to his clan of ancient artists, is the father of daughters, who, together with dises of Asa and Vana birth, are in possession of bjargrúnar, and employ them in the service of man (Fafnism., 13).

To men the beneficent runes came through the same god who as a child came with the sheaf of grain and the tools to Scandia. Hence the belief current among the Franks and Saxons that the alphabet of the Teutons, like the Teutons themselves, was of northern origin. Rigsthula expressly presents Heimdal as teaching runes to the people whom he blessed by his arrival in Midgard. The noble-born are particularly his pupils in runic lore.

Of Heimdal’s grandson, the son of Jarl-Borgar, named Konr-Halfdan, it is said:


Old Norse at left
The fundamental character of this rune-lore bears distinctly the stamp of nobility. The runes of eternity united with those of the earthly life can scarcely have any other reference than to the heathen doctrines concerning religion and morality.

These were looked upon as being for all time, and of equal importance to the life hereafter. Together with physical runes with magic power — that is, runes that gave their possessors power over the hostile forces of nature — we find runes intended to serve the cause of sympathy and mercy.

Carman, the Webmaster's note:
The Gambanreiði Statement Site is dedicated to the heroes of our Folk.
Over many dark centuries the Vitkar have worked in the shadows to keep alive our knowledge in the face of theocracies and state terror.

Oðin, Balder, Frey, Thor,
Lords of the Wind, the Sun,
The fertility of Earth, and of the Rains,
we salute the fruits of Frigga's womb for man


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