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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 (Gorgani translation), and the Rune meanings to the side, largely based on Larry Camp's 2009 book A Handbook of Armanen Runes, which includes the most common accepted Armanen Rune meanings compiled from the primary Armanen authors (Guido von List, Rudolf Gorsleben, Siegfried Kummer, Karl Spiesberger, 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,
that no King's Queen knows,
nor any man's son:
Help, the first is called,
which will [bring] thee help,
with all woes and sorrows
and certainly all strife.  (Hávamál, verse 146)

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.

I know the second,
which is needful for men's sons,
in those who would live as healers;
-------------------------]  (Hávamál, verse 147)

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.

I know the third:
if my need becomes great,
for a chain to halt my foes;
The edges I blunt
of mine enemies' [swords];
leave no bite to their weapons nor staves!  (Hávamál, verse 148)

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.

I know the fourth:
if men burden me
[with] shackles on the joints of my limbs;
Such do I sing,
that I may go free,
[it] springs the fetters from my feet,
and the halter from my hands.  (Hávamál, verse 149)

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.

I know the fifth:
if I see, by foes shot,
a shaft speeding through the folk;
Fly it never so strongly,
yet I can still stop it,
if I see but a glimpse of its flight.  (Hávamál, verse 150)

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.

I know the sixth:
if a Thane would harm me
with the root of a moist tree,
and that man
upon me curses speaks;
Then their harms eat him rather than me.  (Hávamál, verse 151)

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.

I know the seventh:
if I see on high, blazing,
a hall over the bench-companions;
Burn it never so brightly,
yet I can still save it -
I know how to sing that song.  (Hávamál, verse 152)

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.

I know the eighth,
which all can
likewise find useful to take:
Where hatred waxes
'midst the warrior's sons,
with that [song] I settle it soon.  (Hávamál, verse 153)

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).

I know the ninth:
if my need does arise
to save my ship afloat;
The wind I calm
upon the waves,
and soothe all the sea [to rest].  (Hávamál, verse 154)

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.

I know the tenth:
if I see witches
ride and sport in the air;
I so make it
that they madly flee,
home from their own hides,
[and] home from their own minds!   (Hávamál, verse 155)

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.

I know the eleventh:
if I shall to war
lead my long-time friends;
Under the shields I sing it,
and they, with power, fare forth -
safe to the battle,
safe from the battle,
they come [back] safe from wherever.  (Hávamál, verse 156)

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.

I know the twelfth:
if I see up in a tree
a corpse in a noose, hanging;
Such [a song] I carve
and paint in Runes,
that the man descends
and speaks with me.  (Hávamál, verse 157)

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.

I know the thirteenth:
if I shall, a warrior's young son
sprinkle with water;
He will not fall,
though to him, battle comes -
never will the man sink before sword!   (Hávamál, verse 158)

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.

I know the fourteenth:
if I shall to men's folk
tell of the gods, 'fore them;
Aesir and elves,
I know all their nature
such as none know, if untaught.  (Hávamál, verse 159)

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.

I know the fifteenth,
which Folk-stirrer (Volkrast) sang,
the dwarf, 'fore the doors of Dawn:
Strength he sang to the Aesir,
and courage to the elves,
and wisdom to the Roaring-God.  (Hávamál, verse 160)

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.

I know the sixteenth:
if I wish from a witty maid
to have all love and delight;
The heart I turn
of the white-armed woman,
and I change her entire mind.  (Hávamál, verse 161)

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.

I know the seventeenth,
that my [love], none will coldly shun,
even the shy maiden.  (Hávamál, verse 162)

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.

I know the eighteenth
which I'll never teach
to maid, nor man's wife;
- all is better
if one doth know it;
thus follows the songs' end -
Except to her alone
who holds me in her arms,
or else my sister be.  (Hávamál, verse 164)


Now are the High-One's words
spoken in the High-One's hall,
all-needful to the sons of men,
woeful to the sons of giants;
Hail to him who spoke!
Hail to him who knows it!
Use, thou that took it in!
Exalted be they that listened!  (Hávamál, verse 165)

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.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    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

  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?

    2. very compelling and well worth the read and work you got going on here would love to learn more about wether or not that the people of these old world ages in Scandinavia had been tought a system of yagic practices back then? and also that the runes were conveying the shapes they made that would resemble yogic postures?

  14. Hail Cyrus, your work is fascinating. I've started working with the Elder Futhark over the last year and found tremendous power in the Galldr and incorporating the runes into my artwork.

    Now you've introduced me to the Armanen Runes, I'm excited to allow these to reveal deeper mysteries to me and use them to purify my Will further.

    I have some questions about differentiating between the runes, as it looks to me like Os and Fa ... Ka and Ar ... Man and Yr ... are basically the same pattern flipped on the vertical plane. For creating a set of staves, I'm guessing it's just necessary to just mark which side is up, or are there other differences?

    This also gives a very different interpretation to the "peace sign" rather than just seeing it as "algiz merkstave". Thank you for your remarkable scholarship and dedication to the pathwork.

    1. Thank you Jon! You don't need to mark which side is up on your Armanen Runes set. For Armanen divination, you will need your rune tiles to be square, rather than long staves. This way, all sides of the tiles are of equal length and you have precisely a 50-50 chance of pulling a positive or negative meaning for each Rune.

      Even without directional markings on the tiles, there will be no confusing one rune for a similar but opposite-pointing Rune... the reason why is that all possible positions are accounted for, even horizontals, without any ambiguity or confusion, in Casting Positions chart in the post "Casting the Armanen Runes":

      All the rules of Armanen divination and the reasons for the diversity in positions' interpretation are detailed in that post.

      Also consider joining the MeWe and Facebook "Real Rune Magick" groups.