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Monday, May 11, 2015

Galdr: Just How Was it Done?

The practice of Galdr, or sacred singing, was essentially the core of rune-magick in ancient times. Without exception, to be skilled in the Runes, one had to be a master of Galdr. It is generally considered that Galdr was a "masculine" art, whereas Seidhr was "feminine" although these were not defined as gender roles per se and there was plenty of overlap with Seidhr-men and Galdr-women.

Galdr can most easily be described as chanting or singing a rune, its associated sounds and concepts, and even the associated lore (i.e. rune-poems). Since only the rune-poems of the Hávamál are true esoteric descriptors of the Runic powers (the later Norwegian, Icelandic, and Anglo-Saxon poems being mainly secondhand mnemonic devices), it is the verses of the Hávamál that should be used if one is going to attempt Galdr with any of the rune-poems in the first place. The words of Odin himself are a far more direct route to the esoteric mysteries of Runelore than any of the watered-down colloquial rune-poems copied down by monks in the post-Conversion era.

As a result, although this is certainly not the only way to do Galdr, one may want to do it using the appropriate Hávamál  verse for each of the 18 Armanen runes, as delineated by Guido von List. The complete set is HERE, with corresponding Hávamál verses and meanings. Traditionally it would be sung in either the original Old Norse, or a German translation as List was citing in The Secret of the Runes. However, in simplified form, Galdr is simply the essence of the very sounds and vibrations of the runes, and does not necessarily require recitation of any poems at all - and thus can be formulated for any and all of the 4 runic systems. Galdr is typically done when carving runes, though it can also be employed for meditative purposes and to strengthen the will and tap into the primal Runic energies. When chanting the Galdr, it is advisable to be in a secluded place, meditate on the rune selected, and envision the rune and its associated properties. An even better action would be to mentally anchor the state of feeling the rune and its raw elemental energy, as one chants it out loud in various forms, and then be able to habitually activate that mental anchor with the visualizing and reciting of that rune. Later on as the student grows more skillful, more advanced Galdr can be learned, including for carving bind-runes and spells of power. There are of course Galdr-curses as well, which should be avoided unless absolutely necessary, as Egil's advice about not carving runes without knowing their full effects is very pertinent here.

What follows below is a modified form of the standard Galdr formulas for the Armanen Futharkh. You can also use the first 16 of these for the Younger Futhark runes (or course) and even expand on them for the "Elder" and Anglo-Saxon systems following similar intonation patterns. This is a framework, not the be-all and-all of Galdr. In fact the subject is actually far too deep and extensive for one post, there are many types and uses of Galdr, and I will have to elaborate later on more complete Galdr practices, but here are the basic formulas:


f f f f f f f f f
fa fe fi fo fu
ffffffa ffffffe ffffffi ffffffo ffffffu
Faaaaaa feeeeee fiiiiii foooooo fuuuuuu
fa far fiu feo fehu feu


u u u u u u u u u u u
u u u u u r r r r r
ur uruz urus uros uras


t t t t t t t t t t t t
ta te ti to tu
d d d d d d d d d d d d
dha de di do dhu
thor thorr thorn thurs thuris thurisaz thyth


o o o o o o o o o
Os Aus Ouss Oss Aass
os ol odh
As ask ast ans ansuz asa asha


r r r r r r r r r
Ra re ri ro ru
Rad reid rit rod raidho ruoth rita rota orta arta


k k k k k k k
ka ke ki ko ku
kien kun kaun kona kuna kena


ha ha ha ha
ha he hi ho hu
All-Hag (All-Hedge)
hag haal halga heil haug


n n n n n n n n n
na ne ni no nu
not nit nyd naut norn nurnen
[aepandi nam]


i i i i i i i i i
i i i i i i s s s s s s s
i i i i s s s s s i i i i s s s s
is iis isa ich


A a r
a a a a a a a a a
a e, a i, a o, a u
e a, i a, o a, u a
ar jar re jera asa erja arya


S i i i i g
s s s s s s s s s s s
sa se si so su
asss esss isss osss usss
sal sel sil sol sul sowilu
sigil si-gi-il
sal und sig


t t t t t t t t t
ta te ti to tu tiu tau
tat tet tit tot tut
tar tur tor
tri tre ter-zer
Tyr Ti Tiu Tu
Tyr-Tyr    Ti-ur Ti-ur Ti-ur Tiuvar
Sig-ta Sig-te Sig-ta Sig-to Sig-tu (Sing quietly and hum)


b b b b b b b b b
ba be bi bo bu
b a r
bar bor bir birk biörk björk bjarkan
beork berche brikal berkane


l l l l l l l l l
la le li lo lu
al el il ol ul
Laf; L-a-f
lagu laguz laukr lögr lagor laas
log lög laug


m m m m m m m m m
Ma me mi mo mu
ammm emmm immm ommm ummm
mam m m m (..... mem, mim, mom, mum)
man mon men
Ma mad madhr mathr
Manna mannaz
Mimir Mamre


y y y y y y y y y y y y y y y
y r
yr irr eir yb
W-ybe Eibe Eihu


e e e e e e e e e
e h e
eh ehe ehu eoh eys ehwaz


ga ge gi go gu
ag eg ig og ug
gibor gibur; gefa gifa gefu; gea geo gebo
gigur geuua
Gibu Auja
Gibur Arahari


  1. I'm pretty sure that Elder Heathens used a rune set made out in 19th century in their magic.
    "Real" galdr hahaha

    1. "Elder" Heathens covers many different eras (Migration age? Vendel? Viking?) and different regions, so there were probably many different forms of Galdr.

      Like I said above, these formulas are not the be-all and-all of Galdr. This is one way to do it, not the "only way". No reason to get too offended that the rune set I used isn't your favorite. You can use the same format with whatever rune row you prefer.

      Also the Armanen rune set isn't "made out in the 19th century". Its first 16 runes are variants of the Younger Futhark of the Viking Age, and the last two have equivalents in the "Elder" and Anglo-Saxon systems. Guido von List simply reverse-engineered the order and esoteric meanings of the 18 Odinic runes mentioned in Havamal (which would have predated even the "elder" futhark) using the existing Lore (i.e. Havamal, rune poems, Teutonic clan traditions like those of Lauterer, Peryt Shou, etc.) The runes themselves were not invented by List, they are thousands of years old and have gone through a few re-shufflings, that's all. You can find all of them in at least one of the other 3 major rune systems, as well as a few medieval rune rows. Read my posts on the Armanen runes and their meanings, you may learn something.

  2. How come can the case of KA rune be such as to mean things like one's own capability, art, being favoured etc., (and controlled flame or torch, in the Elder Futhark, with all its cognate, positive meanings), and yet when it comes to the Younger Futhark, Kreft, as it is called there, signifies the 'wild card' and is connected with pretty much the worst of the worst things, for example Loki and cancer, boils, isn't part of any of the Aetts, or Setts, but is isolated and stands on its own, stigmatized, like it were a scapegoat. Its form doesn't remind one of particularly negative things, nor does its reflex, the AR rune, or such is my beginner's opinion, so where does the stigma come from? How work with Kreft? There must be a way to at least try, if not actually overcome, and win cancer, or to

  3. ...beat the retreat, if not confront him head on, when it comes to dread Loki?
    I understand, I try to, that each rune row is a universe unto itself, but there are always similarities and analogies that help one remember, if nothing else, the sequence of runes, thus serving as a sort of mnemotechnic device, and yet when it comes to Kreft all bets seem to be suddenly off. I find this difficult to understand.

    1. In which system is it called Kreft? The Ka rune is simply called Kaun in the Younger Futhark.

      There's no connection to cancer as far as I'm aware. In the Younger Futhark it's simply related to boils or burns, because one can get burned by a torch, but also because the boil is a common symbol for a curse that fell upon a person (which is what Ka is meant to protect against).

      Sometimes in the Younger Futhark, the meanings attributed to runes (which, remember, are taken from Rune-poems which are largely mnemonic or memory devices, not necessarily literal meanings) are actually referring to what that rune can protect you from, rather than the nature of the rune itself. For example, Hagal is not just Haegl (hail) but also Hag-All, that which hedges the all, against the hailstorms and wildfires of difficult times. So one could say the outer (primary) level of meaning here is the hail. The secondary, higher level of meaning is the All-Hedge which protects against hail, both physical and psychic. This tertiary level is the higher principle of Hagal, i.e. "God in us" or "manifesting the All in oneself" - the essence of the apotheosis present in the Odinic path.

      This is also why ancient Iranian traditions (especially Zurvanite) once said "we do not consider the human Arman to be the God (or part of the God). But be also do not consider him to be totally separate from the God". Thus, all Aryan traditions can be seen in this way, a duality which is never absolute, a distinction which is never razor-sharp, but has two ends of manifestation. Hagal's tertiary level is the apotheosis, becoming "as Odin is". As compared to Gibor's secondary and tertiary levels which are essentially union with the God-mind. Neither nullifies the other.

      Apotheosis does not nullify union, as it would in inverted semitic paradigms "satanism" or "setianism" (i.e. rebellion without wisdom). Nor does union nullify apotheosis, as it does in modern Hinduism (i.e. karmic union without independence, where the only "divinity in you" is the piece yearning to re-join with Atman or Brahman). These extremes are avoided in all Aryan paths.

      Thus there is this balance between becoming God-like and at the same time still having a connection to the higher God-form, without being subsumed into it. It seems strange to us, given the recent past of indoctrinations, but to our ancestors it made perfect sense. Hagal and Gibor are this balance. The former is hedged to guard its Asha-maturing individuality, the latter exposed and uninhibited and fully Asha-active. Hagal is the hedge, the security, Gibor is the arisen and invulnerable soul no longer in need of a hedge. Both must be in balance, for the human cannot sustain a state of manifesting either rune indefinitely. But higher incarnations like the Aesir and Vanir can. Allfather is both Surtur and not Surtur. He becomes more of Surtur when he recreates the form of Buri, bu joining with "the artful wench" as he puts it, in the secret in which "she holds me fast in her arms". Yet as Wotan or Grimnir or other such forms, he is far more distinct form Surtur. Thus one is also part of their folk or meta-folk, and yet an individual with unique personality.

    2. Also to my knowledge, the Ka rune has nothing to do with Loki. The cancer interpretation is bad enough, the idea of somebody associating this rune with Loki is simply deluded.

      I am not sure where you get his interpretation from. Simply because it has fire-imagery in the Younger Futhark, does not mean every "fire-rune" is associated with Loki. Fa is a fire-rune, but the obvious connection is with Freyr, not Loki. Loki doesn't have a rune to represent him. The runes are not Jotun-sigils, remember the last verse of the Havamal.

  4. Alex Pidd: "Stav Runes notebook." Found it online.

  5. Every rune in that notebook has a Norse deity ascribed to it, a type of tree, a healing herb etc.

  6. I just verified, the Stav master Graham Butcher uses the same terminology as Mr. Pidd, same attributions. Why should Loki even have a rune ascribed to him?
    Not that his existence is wholly without function, far from it, but with respect to humankind he is worse than the giants, in a sense, so why honor him this way?

    1. If Stav uses a system of ascribing a deity to every rune, that may be a bit simplistic. Some runes are related to more than one.

      Not, for example, is the rune of the Norns - all three of them, not just one. Then we have Hagal, which can be related with Frigg, but also with Heimdall depending on how you interpret its poem and energy flow. Other runes don't seem to fit easily with any deity (for example Ur - unless you consider Audhumla a deity - or Man, which is the general masculine principle in the cosmos - or Eh, which again could encompass many entities).

      If Pidd and Butcher ascribe Ka-rune to Loki, it seems strange why they would do this. If anything, Ka's nature is closest to that of Freyja, or at least one aspect of her. Loki doesn't deflect curses, he creates them. Thus, Ka isn't even a good fit for him (though I doubt any of the Odinic runes could be).

      The other thing is, if you look beyond the Lore itself, to the historical artifacts, there really isn't any proof of a Loki cult. It's like all Heathen cultures, whatever the time and place, generally didn't trust him or honor him. No temples, no hofs, no statues, no ritual sites for Loki, ever. There are a few small carved stones of a curly-haired face with the lips sewn shut, and pendants of a thin, twisted body that are alleged to be images of Loki, but again this is speculation, there's no way to be sure. More recently there have been some individuals (not the crazy sado-masochist "Rokkatru" clowns, but actually some serious Odinists) who speculate that Loki's original form in early Lore may have been more positive than in the current form of the Edda.

      They try to connect Loki with the rather obscure deity Loptr, and thus to Lodurr (also known as Ve or Thridi), Odin's latter brother and possible hypostasis. Indeed, even Meister Guido advanced this as one *possible* form of the three-phased "Second Logos" of Wotan (though he didn't get dogmatic about the idea, as he guessed two alternative sets of names for the "Odinic trinity", and hardly even addresses the name of Loki like an actual deity anywhere in his books). But even this is a problem in many ways. First of all, claiming that Loki, Loptr and Lodurr are the same being is not reliable, because even though the names sound similar, and all relate to fire, there are yet other beings in the Lore whose names mean fire, and are far closer in structure to Loki's.

      There is a Jotun called Utgarda-Loki in the Elder Edda. He is mentioned as having challenged Loki to a contest with Logi (yet another Jotun with the same sort of name) as to who can devour more corpses (supposedly animal, but who knows...) So it seems that Loki, Logi, Loge and other derivations of the name were very common among at least the most vile of the Jotnar (that is to say, the Utgarders, which are deceitful and coercive even by the standards of other Jotnar tribes). There were several giants with this same name Loki. So realistically, the case for Loki being the same being as Loptr or Lodurr is not very good. What is interesting is that in many parts of the Edda, tribes of giants other than the Utgarders, do not think very highly of Loki at all; they treat him like an intruder or a slave, not like kinfolk. Thjazi and Skadi basically wanted him dead. So it is possible that Jotnar are of many races themselves, and have rivalries.

      No Jotnar, however, are associated with specific Runes in the Lore. Indeed, Runes are said to be woeful to them (although another part of the Havamal mentions that Runes were taught from Odin, through the obscure messenger Asvidhr, to some Giants nonetheless).

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  8. How have you come to accumulate such vast knowledge of galdr? I've only recently started looking into it and am very unclear on a lot of things. Just curious where I should look for information in conjunction with this blog. So far I've gotten basic rune descriptions and pronunciations from, they seem reputible enough but I want as many sources as possible to compare and contrast.