Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Armanen Futharkh

The Armanen Futharkh is both the newest and the oldest of the four Runic systems. It was officially published in 1908 by Guido von List, the most prominent Rune-master of his generation, and the central figure in the revival of the Germanic pre-Christian esoteric traditions. However the true origins of these runes go back far further, at least as far as the Elder and Younger Futharks, and likely far further to the very beginnings of Nordic civilization before the Migration Age. The Armanen Rune-row is the only one which contains precisely 18 runes, the same number mentioned and described by Odin in the Hávamál. And despite what many ignorant "purist" camps today claim, it is indeed a valid and historically based rune row. The first sixteen runes are simplified versions of the Younger Futhark, many of them identical to their Elder Futhark forms; and the last two are very primitive ancestral "branch" forms of the Elder Futhark runes Ehwaz and Gebo (rendered as Eh and Gibor in the Armanen system). Based on his decades of Runic research and meditation, confirmed by the Runenmeisteren of Clan Lauterer who initiated him formally into Armanenschaft, Meister List considered these runes to be the same 18 Sacred Runes of Odin mentioned in the Hávamál, and that all other Rune-rows ultimately derived from these. From the Armanen point of view, the Elder Futhark were the Runes of the Germanic farmer class (Ingvonen), pertaining to seasons and harvests; the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc (and related local Rune-rows in Frisia and Thuringia) were Runes of the warrior class (Ostivanen or Istaevonen), with their later staves being related to ramparts, spears, ceremonial chalices and oaths of fealty. The Armanen Futharkh, in this understanding, are thus the Runes of the priest or mystic class (Armanen or Irminen), the highest and most elite Rune-row of them all, being also the 18 Runes of the Hávamál mentioned by Wotan or Odin (whose most commonly used title in Germania was Irmin or Arman - the 'strong one', the 'arising one', the 'ideal' - which the priests emulated). The Younger Futhark were thus an incomplete (though still powerful) Viking-age attempt by Norse mystics (Vitkar) and skalds to revive these same 18 Odinic Runes of the Hávamál.

The following are the Armanen Runes along with their corresponding Hávamál verse below, and meanings to the side as elaborated by Guido von List and subsequent Armanen Rune-masters (Rudolf Gorsleben, Karl Spiesberger, Siegfried Kummer, etc.) Keep in mind that the superficial meanings of some Runes, while sometimes omitted by Armanen Masters, are NOT necessarily invalid for the Armanen system. Ur can still refer to the Aurochs, as Thorn and Tyr refer to famous Aesir gods, as they did in the Elder and Younger Futharks - but in a metaphorical sense (as they always did; Asatruars and other followers of the Norse tradition are always quick to point out that they do not take the lore and mythology 100% literally - the Continental Armanen tradition also applies the same fact to the outer, apparent meanings of Runes).  The 18 Runes can be interpreted as positive ("bright stave") or negative ("murk-stave") depending on their position/orientation when cast onto a cloth or drawn from a bag. The positive positions (see chart at the bottom of this post) can be interpreted as either exoteric or esoteric. More advanced rune casting methods which discriminate between these two positive meaning sets are a subject for another time. NOTE: all of the Armanen rune images on this page are my original work. ASK before using them.

Exoteric: Changes, new beginnings, growth, change of residence, travel, animals, movable possessions/wealth, fire.
Esoteric; Original fire, creative father principle, guidance, help, Father-God principle.
Negative: Set-backs, failures, destruction, blockage.

Those songs I know, which neither sons of men
nor queen in a king's court knows;
the first is Help which will bring thee help
in all woes and in sorrow and strife. (Hávamál, verse 145)

Exoteric: That which is permanent, that which lasts, good fortune, money, physician, medical help, healing powers.
Esoteric: Original cause, origin, root of all cosmic and material phenomena, contact with the transcendent, contact with the dead, life after physical death, Mother-God/creative mother principle.
Negative: Instability, bad influence, disease, ignorance.

A second I know, which the son of men
must sing, who would heal the sick.

[It chases disease and all pain,
It cures hurts and all wounds.] (Hávamál, verse 146)

Exoteric: Will to act, setting of goal, power to become.
Esoteric: Return, new emergence from the apparently old and dried-up, formative power of the seed.
Negative: Demonic influence, damage, deception, perishing, enemies.

A third I know: if sore need should come
of a spell to stay my foes;
Then I sing that song, which shall blunt their swords,
nor their weapons nor staves can wound. (Hávamál, verse 147)

Exoteric: Speech, discussion, charm, success as a speaker, Aesir, God-speech, breath which evolves, suggestion, freedom, uterus.
Esoteric: Idea of that which is given, of that which is evolving.
Negative: Ill fortune, failure of the word/work, negative suggestions, misuse of knowledge and wisdom.

A fourth I know: if men make fast
in chains the joints of my limbs,
Then I sing that song which shall set me free,
spring the fetters from hands and feet. (Hávamál, verse 148)

Exoteric: Right, order, the judge, advice, salvation, money, truth.
Esoteric: Original law, that which flows away, religious feeling, ritual action.
Negative: Injustice, lawlessness, violent act, black magick practice.

A fifth I know: when I see, by foes shot,
speeding a shaft through the host,
flies it never so strongly, I still can stay it,
if I get but a glimpse of its flight. (Hávamál, verse 149)

Exoteric: Art, capability, artist, genius, being favored, that which is established.
Esoteric: Female principle of the universe, as executive power of balancing justice.
Negative: Refused procreation, injustice, decay, incapability.

A sixth I know: when some thane would harm me
in runes on a moist tree's root,
on his head alone shall light the ills

of the curse that he called upon mine. (Hávamál, verse 150)

Exoteric: That which cares for, maintains, preserves, protects; that which is motherly; wisdom, harmony, salvation, blessing, protects from hail and fire.
Esoteric: Eternal change, caring and maintaining principle in the universe, Higher Self, God in us.
Negative: Exposed to ill fortune, not protected, bad weather, destruction by storm, hail, and fire.

A seventh I know: if I see a hall
high o'er the bench-mates blazing,
flame it ne'er so fiercely, I still can save it,
I know how to sing that song. (Hávamál, verse 151)

Exoteric: The Inevitable, separation, stress, karmic debt, karmic need, but with outlook for change of karma, banishing ill fortune/strife by accepting karma & cooperating with karmic law.
Esoteric: Decision of the Norns, karma paid for, cause-effect flow. 
Negative: No hope for change, exposed to fate due to revolt against karmic nature, inevitable fall and decline, ultimate negation.

An eighth I know: which all can sing
for their weal if they learn it well;
where hate shall wax 'mid the warrior's sons,
I can calm it soon with that song. (Hávamál, verse 152)

Exoteric: Self-aware ego, positive attitude, activity, will, self-domination, influence, magick, personal power, to banish evil.
Esoteric: Unity in the universe, duration, magickal powers, action in the cosmos.
Negative: Passivity, lack of will, being dominated, medium and mediumistic activity (being possessed by another).

A ninth I know: when need befalls me
to save my vessel afloat,

I hush the wind on the stormy wave,
and soothe all the sea to rest. (Hávamál, verse 153)

Exoteric: All that which is beautiful and Sun-like, change to good, virtues, honor, glory, rewarding work. Banishes darkness.
Esoteric: Completion, light, Divine spirit, Sun.
Negative: Ugly, sterility, corruption to evil, shame.

A tenth I know: when at night the witches
ride and sport in the air,
such spells I weave that they wander home
out of skins and wits bewildered. (Hávamál, verse 154)

Exoteric: Victory, success, gain, triumph, achieved goal, school.
Esoteric: Salvation by light, inspiration, soul, power of the sun.
Negative: Destructive light, lightning, hopeless fight, defeat, failure, exploitation, blocked soul powers.

An eleventh I know: if haply I lead
my old comrades out to war,
I sing it 'neath the shields, and they fare forth mightily
safe into battle, safe out of battle,
and safe return from the strife. (Hávamál, verse 155)

Exoteric: Beginning, creation, excitation, power, success, wisdom, duties fulfilled, art/act of concealment and hiding.
Esoteric: Re-birth into the light - life of the soul, the power to make situations turn completely around. The phoenix reborn.
Negative: Perverted beginnings, tarnished beginnings, falsified knowledge, failures, dying.

A twelfth I know: if I see in a tree
a corpse from a halter hanging,
such spells I write, and paint in runes,
that the being descends and speaks. (Hávamál, verse 156)

Exoteric: Becoming, birth, being protected, help in birth, son, bread, song, fountain, mountains, Birch tree (layers of safety).
Esoteric: Meaning of life on this planet, in this world.
Negative: Not-becoming, perverted birth, miscarriage, lost son, bitter bread, vulnerablility, outcast, vain wishes, death-bed.

A thirteenth I know: if the new-born son
of a warrior I sprinkle with water,
that youth will not fail when he fares to war
never slain shall he bow before sword. (Hávamál, verse 157)

Exoteric: Life, experience, initiation, test, temptations by life circumstances, water, sea, good management, natures of things.
Esoteric: Test of life, school of the lives, laws of nature, relations.
Negative: Succumb to temptation, deception by mate, failure to learn from mistakes, downfall, emptiness, corpse.

A fourteenth I know: if I must needs number
the Powers to the people of men,
I know all the nature of Aesir and of elves
which none can know untaught. (Hávamál, verse 158)

Exoteric: Man, increase, masculinity, health, plenty, magick.
Esoteric: Spirit, truth, God-Man, male principle in cosmos.
Negative: Demonic spirituality, left path, growth through improper practices, black magick.

A fifteenth I know, which Folk-stirrer (Volkrast) sang,
the dwarf, at the gates of Dawn;
he sang strength to the Aesir, and skill to the elves,
and wisdom to Odin who utters. (Hávamál, verse 159)

Exoteric: Woman, femininity, desire, sensual love, passion, perfection.
Esoteric: Woman, mother, chaos from which creation emerges, female principle in cosmos, God-Woman.
Negative: Perversion, unbounded passion, error, maya, failures as a result of wrong action.

A sixteenth I know: when all sweetness and love
I would win from some artful wench,
her heart I turn, and the whole mind change
of that fair-armed lady I love. (Hávamál, verse 160)

Exoteric: Marriage, wedding, partnership, permanent bond, binding decision, hope, duration, horse.
Esoteric: Permanence and marriage as a law, unity of ego and YOU, sister-souls, soul love, God-Man-Woman.
Negative: Mismatch, unlucky love, ego and you can not find each other due to karma, prevented from finding your partner.

A seventeenth I know: [if the fair maid's love
I have, and hold her to me;
that song I singso that e'en the shy maiden
is slow to shun my love. (Hávamál, verse 161)

Exoteric: Fulfillment, giver, gift, sacred marriage, being ONE with the sister soul, protection against evil forces.
Esoteric: God-all, death-life cycle, seeing of the Divine, Being the Divine, union of Creator and created, deepest cosmic mysteries.
Negative: Vain desires for fulfillment, hopeless search for soul mates, god-less-ness.

An eighteenth I know: which I ne'er shall tell
to maiden or wife of man
save alone to my sister, or haply to her
who folds me fast in her arms;
most safe are secrets known to but one –

Thus comes the end of the songs. (Hávamál, verse 163)


Now the sayings of the High One are sounded in the Hall 
for the weal of mankind, for the woe of Jötuns, 
Hail, thou who hast spoken! Hail, thou that knowest! 
Hail, ye that have hearkened! 
Use, thou who hast learned! (Hávamál, verse 164) 

Interpreting the Armanen Runes  - Positive and Negative Readings:

The modern method for casting the Armanen Runes allows for both positive and negative ("murk") interpretations of any rune depending on its position - this system was codified in writing by Karl Spiesberger, a disciple of List's rune school in the 1950s, though it was allegedly in use as early as List's time. 

Like it or not, EVERY rune-casting system which allows for positive and negative rune positions, even those used by "Elder Futhark-only purists", is ultimately based on the Armanen system and Spiesberger's method (which undoubtedly will shock said purists to the core, when they learn how little is actually known about ancient Norse rune casting methods, and what little does have a link to history was actually rediscovered by Armanen masters!) There is no direct forensic evidence that ancient Norse people interpreted runes as positive or negative based on their orientation, although "murk" runes or rune-staves are often spoken of in the Norse Sagas, particularly Egil's Saga, so the concept does have some theoretical basis in history. 

Some of the runes are symmetric and cannot be reversed or turned upside-down, and thus only are "negative" if they are cast sideways. Others are asymmetric and reversible, and are negative with reversed and when turned horizontally either left or right, but are positive when horizontal in the opposite direction. The reasons why some of the asymmetric runes are negative-left and others are negative-right are multiple and complex, and will be discussed in a later post.


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    1. The only free one I've seen appears to be here:
      That said it's not all that reader-friendly especially with how the Fa and Os runes have the branches extended.

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    1. Actually it's neither forced nor "utterly exclusive" but rather taps into the symbolic meanings behind many Germanic words related to the runes. If you read The Secret of the Runes by Guido von List, you will see he goes into some depth about how the metaphorical meanings relate to the historical meanings. And of course you will note many of the Armanen meanings are also related to the more reductionist ones speculated by modern interpreters of the "Elder" futhark (i.e. Fa refers to wealth and animals same as "Fehu", Os refers to the Aesir and charisma as does "Ansuz" and so on).

      As for Perennial Wisdom behind the runes, List also delves into that in the book (though it's discussed more deeply in his later, untranslated works) , but it's more strictly Indo-European in nature rather than global. I don't think that List (or any serious Heathen author for that matter) ever claimed that all symbolisms or religions or cosmologies are globally connected or related. I would hesitate to put the Aryan (farmer-archetype) ones anywhere near hunter or herder-archetype cosmologies at all.

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    2. What do the Armanen sounds not conform with? They are essentially the same as what you find in the "Younger" and most of the "Elder" futhark runes, only with a southern Germanic pronunciation rather than Danish, Icelandic, or "reconstructed proto-germanic" (which is nothing but modern guesswork, despite so many rune books treating it like dogma).

      Honestly you seem to be overthinking things. When you start by referencing Hollander (arguably the most literalist, pedantic, and disjointed of all the Poetic Edda translators) things can only go downhill from there. Hollander isn't some sort of heathen gospel. Honestly he jams so many speculative footnotes into his translation that the thing sometimes seems like 90% personal commentary, and even the core translation is so hackneyed and lacking in flow that it makes no sense to an English-speaking reader. Then you talk about "working" to "bring something to pass". What exactly are you trying to bring to pass? Why do you think that only a few conceptual carryovers between Armanen and other rune rows?

      Are you hanging yourself over the actual meanings, or mere pronunciation? Why is Bar/Berkana one of only "a few" runes that seem to transpose between systems in your view? Fa, Ur, Thorn, Os, Rit, and practically all the other Armanen runes share the same basic exoteric meanings with their equivalents in the other rune systems. It's only the esoteric meanings that set Armanen apart, but there are no esoteric meanings known for the other systems anyway so how can you say what "doesn't carry over" with any certainty? What exactly are you trying to use runes for?

      And then you go into Golden Dawn, astrology, angels (*gasp!*) and (kabbalah?) squares. My goodness please read the disclaimer! ... this isn't ceremonial alchemy and it isn't Wicca. This isn't about summoning and herding demons or a "guardian angel" to do your bidding, it's not a "ritual working" with circles and "quarters" or athames and pentacles to exploit spirits like a shepherd with his flock. That goes against the entire ethic of Nordic magick. Nor is this blog some attempt to syncretize Germanic heathenry and runes with unrelated traditions, or force them into the same shaped hole. The ancient Indo-European cosmology of runes and related practices evolved and thrived for millennia completely independent of semitic, kemetic and pelasgian systems, let alone their medieval syncretist crypto-magickal dilutions, let alone modern fanciful re-inventions of those dilutions. Please be a bit clearer instead of jumping all over the place.

    3. Have no idea what dear Marc said, but I can certainly extrapolate by your replies; your words are concise, beautiful, and respectful. Haters be gone! Please find something better to do than troll websites you don't like... It's a bid "world wide web" out there, seems like Marc would be better served elsewhere.


    4. Have no idea what dear Marc said, but I can certainly extrapolate by your replies; your words are concise, beautiful, and respectful. Haters be gone! Please find something better to do than troll websites you don't like... It's a bid "world wide web" out there, seems like Marc would be better served elsewhere.


    5. You're exactly right. Marc indeed would probably be better served elsewhere. Basically Marc was trying to CHANGE runes and Norse/Germanic Lore to fit his own hyper-eclectic whims. He was insisting that runes be mixed with a bunch of things from various "occult" sources which have no relation to runes at all ("ceremonial" hermeticism, kabbalah, etc.) ... and acting like his own rather bizarre and highly selective personal impulses are somehow "the truth". As if somehow to say that Germanic runology is "lacking" or "wrong" and needs a huge tottering pile of quasi-Roman, quasi-Egyptian and quasi-Jewish demonology rituals forcibly dumped on it to make it "whole" or "acceptable".

      What utter nonsense. Runes are a stand-alone tradition with a very rich history of their own. Even if he wants to argue some need for outside cultural inferences to clarify gaps in the Lore, he's still insisting on looking in all the WRONG places. Based on having seen this arrogant attitude before, his rhetoric reeks of bigotry against all things Indo-European.

      Maybe somewhere he either overdosed a psychoactive substance or simply got confused as to what is Real Rune Magick and what is merely the work of syncretist fraudsters spreading "be all things to all people" disinformation to make a quick buck. Or maybe he just didn't bother to read this blog's Disclaimer page. Some of his comments made no sense at all.

      Trying to force Runes and Germanic heathenry to fit into into "guardian angel" rituals (I suppose he is channeling Crowley or Regardie there) just proves he doesn't have a clue what Runes are or what they do. It's an entirely different type of magick with totally different aims and methods - an entirely different worldview as well.

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  7. Hi Cyrus
    Just found your site, excellent work

    1. Thanks, be sure to check back for more updates!

  8. One of the most informative esoteric Runic blogs on the Internet. I look forward to reading more of your fine work. Kind regards, Wotans Krieger

    1. Thanks! Check back for more updates. The pace is slow these days, but hopefully well worth it.

  9. I have been looking for more infomation on the runic systems and this blog has been the most well written and infomative i have found. Thank you for your work and i hope that the universe keeps you healthy and wise.

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Logan. I look forward to posting more research on the Armanen Futharkh and the other runic systems in the near future :-)

  10. What Edda translation are you using? I only have Hollander, so I know this isn't...

    1. The translation used here is Olive Bray. Generally much easier to use than Hollander's.

      No translation is perfect, but for the Havamal, Bray's is the one that flows the best.

  11. Excellent work!!! Thank you... Regards from Argentina.

    1. Thanks! I will be posting more, so keep checking.

  12. Hi there.. congrats on a really informative blog... Is there any kind of lore in the armanen rune row concerning the aetts? A lot of the Elder Futhark lore seems to divide the three rows into nurturer, warrior and priest/king classes. This can add an extra dimension to their interpretations. Are there comparable divisions in use with the 3 rows of the armanen system?

    1. Yes, there are indeed "aetts" for the Armanen rune system. While it's not explicitly pointed out in most of the written Armanen Lore, it's a well-accepted fact in the oral tradition of Armanen masters. They're aetts by a different name (Halbdutzends, or "half-dozens") but they are still three divisions just like you see with the "Elder" Futhark aetts. The Halbdutzends represent not classes so much as processes. The three cosmic processes for all things in esoteric Germanic worldview (including Armanism) are Arising, Being, and Passing Away towards new Arising. These three phases are also represented by the three Norns, the three forms of Odin, the three roots of Yggdrasil, as well as the three Halbdutzends in the Armanen rune row. So each Halbdutzend corresponds to one of the Roots of Yggdrasil.

      In fact even the modern practice of using "aetts" for the "Elder" Futhark is though to be an Armanen-derived practice, since it's not documented in any of the Edda poems or any Migration-age artifacts (which leads some "strict reconstructionist heathens" to dismiss it as fake, but that's a bit extreme in my view). It's an esoteric tradition passed down among Rune-masters but probably not well-known to the public in ancient times. Since the Armanen (priest class) used such "aetts" for the Armanen runes, then it's possible that the Ingvonen (farmer class) who used the "Elder" Futhark, also divided them into aetts. The Ostivanen (warriors) from whom we get the Saxon Futhorc, may have also used aetts, as some forms of their Futhorc had either 30 or 33 runes, so is divisible by 3. But other versions had an irregular number of runes (29 or 34) and so were not divisible into Aetts.

      The aetts don't correspond directly to classes in any of the Rune systems, rather the different Rune Rows themselves correspond to different classes. They share many of the same runes, but interpret them differently based on the needs of that class. The Armanen or Odinic Futhark was used by the priests/mystics, hence its heavy esoteric meanings set and frugal use of stave-forms. The "Elder" Futhark evolved from these among farmer class (not "nurturer"), which is why many of their meanings and extra runes relate to harvest, seasons, plants, animals, etc. The Anglo-Saxon Futhorc contain runes for new sounds and concepts related to migration and conquest by the warrior class in general (and not just among the warriors of Angles or Saxons). The Younger Futhark of the Viking skalds was an early attempt to revive the Odinic runes based on the Havamal poems, but they weren't in agreement about the last two runes.

      In the Armanen runes, the first Halbdutzend (comprising FA, UR, THORN, OS, RIT, and KA) is known as Yggdrasil's Root of Arising. It is the beginning of the Runic cycle.

      The second Halbdutzend (comprising HAGAL, NOT, IS, AR, SIG, and TYR) is called Yggdrasil's Root of Being (or Becoming). It deals with maintaining and sustaining the apex of karmic energy.

      The third Halbdutzend (comprising BAR, LAF, MAN ,YR, EH, and GIBOR) is called Yggdrasil's Root of Passing Away (to new Arising). This "root" deals with life's lessons, reproduction, generations, legacy, and finally death and reincarnation to a superior Garma.

  13. Hello, I have been reading and re-reading your posts for a few weeks now. Thank you for these posts. Your knowledge and information has helped me through year long search and struggle. I would appreciate your permission to use your runes and meanings for personal growth.


    1. Thanks Kelly! It means a lot to hear that my work is helping you and others who have read it. You can always meditate on these Runes any time. The Armanen Runes are Odin's gift. However as regards permission, please clarify - are you referring to using my images/graphics of the Runes, or the meanings listed on this article, or something else?