The History and Art of Ruins

The following sample Anthropology essay is 2745 words long, in MLA format, and written at the master level. It has been downloaded 963 times and is available for you to use, free of charge.

Symbols are of critical importance for the modern person who wishes to live a full and rich life as a member of not only society but also their own internal psyche. Symbols are collectively shared items of design that reflect and intend a desired emotional, ideological, physical, or psychic experience. The Rune system of the Nordic tradition is such a tradition whose apprehension and application, thanks to their simplicity, rich history, and shape, makes them an ideal linguistic set for anyone wishing to expand their vocabulary and expression. The depth of their configuration and use are discussed here to illuminate some basic ways Runes may be activated and/or recognized in daily life.

Rune Beginnings 

Above, you shall see the initial inscriptional letters that are used to designate the Runic Alphabet. These six ruins are both the first sex letters of the alphabet and the word “Runic Alphabet” (McCoy). This pattern of Fehu, Uruz, Burisaz, Ansuz, Raibo, and Kaunaz, the six symbols respectively, is not surprisingly the name for the alphabet for this same naming pattern is found in English in the term ‘alphabet’ a combination of Alpha and Beta, the first letters of the Latin Language. The actual word in Old Norse for rune is usually taken to mean ‘letter, ‘inscription’, or ‘text’, however in some older Germanic languages, the rune may even mean ‘mystery’ and/or ‘secret’ since they were regularly used to communicate and interrelate with ineffable, magical, or private realms of experience (McCoy). Intriguingly, this language is theorized to have originated all on its own rather than spinning off from another distinct alphabet; further discussion regarding even older alphabets will be had later however these languages are similar enough to the style covered here that they are not considered a separate system.  It’s closest counterparts are the Latin and Etruscan alphabet languages, two lettering systems with enough similarity to bear brief mentioning (McCoy). 

The use of these ruins, which shall be shown below, can be traced to southern Europe in their beginnings and later to northern Europe by Germanic tribes (McCoy). Earliest records of ruins point to their use in 100 AD yet their proliferation and success as a lettering system really only picked up at around the 11th century. The rune since have been found across the whole of Europe from the Balkans, Scandinavia, and the British Isles (McCoy). Ruins are increasingly in popularity as people recognize and accept the value and enjoyment of human diversity, especially in the pluralistic day and age where so much culture is mixing and building upon the successes of previous of ones.

Ruin Basics

From just a single glance, one can sense the radiant and stable disposition of the runic language. The ruins are composed of compelling and simple lettering that can be made in and through a wide variety of mediums including inscription into weapons, gear, books, and other items of value to imbibe meaning and power (McCoy). Furthermore, there is Bragi, pronounced BRAH-GEE, is the Norse God of poetry who had runes cut into his tongue, something that helped him to speak quite eloquently (Saint Germain 13). The association between the runes and the Gods is actually very well meshed since each of the runes are commonly attributed to a set of Gods depending on the intended meaning each’s configuration is supposed to have (McCoy). The use of these Runes continues on in the affairs of men as well whenever they are used as decorations and in body art. 

Runes are keenly different from the alphabet of English as each letter is a matter all its own in addition to being an element in a greater word. The alphabet of the Rune stone are known as ‘Futharks’, a term that is derived from the first six letters already discussed. There are however three sets of Futharks that are used to compose the entirety of the traditional Nordic alphabet. In this essay, only the Elder Futhark, the 24 character alphabet coming from the time period of the 4th century is discussed however the later Furtharks, the Younger and Angol-Saxon Furthark expanded to include alternative symbols within alphabetic different orders and meanings (McCoy). 

To this day, the exact application and meaning of runes is somewhat of a mystery for the are frequently in just about any way imaginable. Interestingly, since they are used at times to conceal, amplify, and further secrets and other personal matters, understanding of runes is in ways limited until they are applied by one’s own art (McCoy). Fortunately, lists with basic meanings are available and ready to be used for anyone to pick up and play with in the matters that suit them best.

Runes and their Meanings

 Fehu: Phoneme F. This rune literally means ‘Wealth’ and is fashioned in the shape of cattle horns, one of its alternative and similar meanings. It’s tree association is the Elder with the Gemstone Moss Agate while it is in Astrological connection of Aries (Evansir Entertainment). It is reported that this rune is great for resolving matters and building protection.  

• Uruz: U. This one means “Aurochs” and is associated with Strength of Will, Birch Trees, Carbuncle, and the sign Taurus. It is good for emotional well-being and attracting new possibilities while adapting to life (Saint Germain). 

• Thurisaz: Th.  Meaning ‘Giant” this rune is associated with Blackthorn, the god Thorr (observe the thorn shape), Sapphire, and the planet Mars. It is thus a powerful and assertive symbol that may be used as protection, lust, and ferocity. Using it may help to shrug of bad events and increase faith (Saint Germain). 

• Ansuz: A. This Rune is an air one with the God associations of God and Loki, presences which help to realize its prophetic and inspirational value. It used to connect and boost communication and is paired with the Ash tree and the Emerald Gemstone (Evansir Entertainment) 

• Raidho: R. Raidho is the sign of the journey, predominately by chariot. It is associated with the Oak tree and the sign of Sagitarius the half-man half-horse. Raidho is used to increase stamina for the ride as well as motivate work and growth in areas of stagnancy (Evansir Entertainment). 

• Kuanan, K. This one is a strange sign meaning ulcer, sores, or boils. This connects it to the idea of inflammation and the whole element of fire. It is a sharp-fire sort of angle that reflects the idea of activation especially in the realm of mental and intuitive clarity (Saint Germain). 

• Gebo, G. Gebo is a rune of generosity. It is however a sign of reciprocal exchange in the sense that what one gives should also be returned nicely. Again, the idea is that of attracting or summoning help and material abundance. Its stone is opal and astrology connection of Pisces (Evansir Entertainment). 

• Wunjo, W. This most auspicious of Runes is the signifier of Joy and even ecstasy. The gemstone diamond, tree of Ash, and race of Elves is connected for Wunjo, characteristics that encourage the overall resounding success of the ruin (Evansir Entertainment). 

 Hagalaz:H. The ruin Hagalaz is often associated with destruction and chaos, the Ash tree and stone Onyx. That is because its original meaning is that of hail, as in the ice that can fall and ruin a harvest. Nevertheless, Hagalaz effect is brief and its appearance is to remind one of the fact that while damage may enter, warnings like Hagalaz may prepare one for the experience and counsel one after words with the knowledge that life goes on (Evansir Entertainment). 

• Naudhiz:N. Lapis Lazuli, Rowan Trees, the sign Capricorn, and the element of fire are all connected to Naudhiz. The ruin is associated with a sort of need that helps to build character and create inventions. It is also a head’s up ruin that can signify an unfulfilled desire but in a motivating way(McCoy). 

• Isaz: I. Cat’s Eye, water, the Alder Tree, and the Moon are each connected to Isaz, a rune that means Ice. Again a somewhat negative ruin, Isaz’s ice is warning yet it also balances the Kuanan’s fire. Changing of seasons, steepness of the mountain, and all things frozen speak to Isaz’s temperament and application. 

 Jera: J. This rune means harvest and is an indicator of ripeness as well as natural law (Eversden 58). The oak tree and the success of growth are paired with the ruin. Its application is one of expectancy for the harvest to come and the next sowing cycle. 

• Eihwaz: E/I. This rune is a very useful one for survival as its application ties it to the ‘World Tree’ Yggdrasil, the pillar of the world the heaven, Earth, and hell realms are stabilized by in Norse Mythology. This rune and tree is represented by the Yew tree, a pragmatic sort of wood that is useful in many endeavors including making bows. It’s animal, the Hedgehog, is an aide to easy, forward moving, and cute transformation (Eversden 61-62).

• Pertho: P. Pertho is most secret rune whose use is traced to gambling games warriors played while on respite. It’s bird is the Heron and it’s use usually means a secret, a windfall, or a synchronicity is at hand (Eversden 62). 

• Algiz:Z. The Algiz rune is either shape of antlers, as in the Elk it is associated with, or the figure of a man standing up in a prayer pose. Both convey the key meaning of protection, persistence, and mysticism, important qualities for fending of evil (Eversden 64). 

• Sowilo: S. Sowilu is the Sun rune and represents all the attributes of the sun. Worship, good health, blessings, wholeness, the lion animal, and unconditional fortune are a part of its uses (Eversden 64).

• Tiwaz: T. Tiwaz means authority, something the erect phallus or spear point shape is meant to convey. The Norse God of war and Justice, Tyr, is given to this rune after he supposedly sacrificed a hand to the wolf Fenrir, to save other Gods. The wolf is associated with Tiwaz, a beast of utmost ferocity and cunningness (Eversden 68). Tuesday, is also ruled by Tyr and this rune. 

 Berkanana: B. The Birch Tree, bears, and Swans, help to realize the ideas meant by Berkanana. This rune is a sort of family ruin that is useful in conveying mother energy, adding new Birth, inner growth, and creative at home (Eversden 70). 

 Ehwaz: E.  Ehwaz is the horse letter and stands for all the characteristics of the horse. Loyalty, trust, faith, companionship, and cooperation come from horses and inscription of this rune points to these qualities. It is very good for journeying and inner progress (Eversden 72). 

 Mannaz: M. Man, the Hawk, Dark Red, the Holly Tree, and Heimdall, the Norse god of perception, protection, and order rule this Rune. The Rune of Man is a reminder to the social system that man lives within. Charity, transcendence, friendship, and communion are relate to Mannaz (Eversden 74). 

 Laguz: L. Laguz is the formless and watery Rune whose inscription bears the meaning of all the properties of Water. The emotional stability of the Duck, the slipperiness of the seal, the fluidity of life, and creation are balanced with Laguz (Eversden 74). 

 Ingwaz: Ng. Potency of the boar, blessing of the apple, and mystery of the Cuckoo are found in Ingwaz, a rune for boosting fertility, unity, and even sexual appetite (Eversden). Using it may boost happiness and hope (McCoy). 

 Othalan, O: This rune really means Home and is near the end of the alphabet to stand for the completion of the journey. Ancestral inheritance, nobility, tradition, and family’s responsibilities each correlate to the rune (McCoy). Salmon, Deep Yellow, the Raven, and the Father God Odin are connected (Eversden 72). 

  Dagaz: D. This rune actually means Day, a time of clarity, destiny, higher consciousness and beginning. Their shape is that of two pyramids joined at their summit suggesting the idea of a balanced day between dawn and dusk as well as man and God (Eversden 72). The Deer, Skylark, Spruce, and color light blue each are associated with Dagaz. 

• Wyrn. end of the alphabet is of ‘fate’ or space whose function is to signify the unknown aspects of life and the blackness that encompasses much of experience (Eversden 72). It has a formless or empty shape that gives it these important meanings. The Ermine, Ash tree, Magpie, and are all tied to the a ruin that was supposedly given by the Norse ‘Wyrds’ or ‘Fates’, witches that are seen in McBeth. This rune is a helpful reminder to the concealed nature of things and the Grace that brings (Eversden 74). 

Uses of the Runes 

One of the most basic uses of ruins is to spell one’s own name out in ruins to marvel at their shape as well any possible. Although looking up the alphabet of Ruins and transcribing the letters name by name could be done, the internet provides a wide range of services that easily translate names into ruins with complementary and corresponding ruin dictionaries for immediate discovery. For example, Write Your Name in Runes, an article by Nicole Sanderson of PBS’s NOVA, shares an interactive ruin flash program that will rightly give names, 20 syllables or less, in their classic rune lettering and syntax. 

The right to use Runes is a free one that can be exercised in just about any way imaginable. The Runes given by the Nordic and Germanic culture have carried on for so long thanks to their comprehensive and insightful manner for understanding the activities and rhythms of life in man and nature. Simply inscribing the ‘R’ of Raido, for instance, is a great way of connecting to the idea of travel and journey, key concepts it stands for. This ‘R’ may be placed in the car, on a homework project, or on a tennis shoe in tandem with similar Runes for long term success and inner growth. 

There is also the art of rune palmistry, a reading technique that entails looking at the shape, length, and inscriptions on one’s hand to ascertain past (left hand) and present (right) influences. Briefly, one may examine the size of each finger to determine which Nordic God and power they are predominant in. Loki, god of mind and tricks is the pinky figure, the ring finger is Bragi, god of poetry, the iddle figure is Hoenier, God of Peace, the index is Odin, Warrior and Leader, while the thumb is Thor, the God worker and weather master. 

Example Rune Formulas

While anyone can mix and match formulas, the Runes have been used in specific combination by Rune carvers to generate even greater meaning. Here, a few samples of such formulas are given. The list is not exhaustive and anyone wishing for more can look in a book or on the web. These runes are courtesy of Evansier Entertainment.

(Figures omitted for preview. Available via download). 


Using runes is as easy as can be. Although each rune letter is a mystery, complete with its own back, middle, and fore meaning, collaging them together helps to create complex and powerful meanings that can activate and tap into the ideas they represent. Gods, animals, colors, planets, and even trees are given to each rune which means that any time one sees or draws a ruin, a whole lot is being said in a very simple way. To find out more about the enjoyment and practice of rune making, several different books, some in the bibliography, are available. For those who are considering such efforts, good luck and happy ‘running’.

Works Cited 

Ager, Simon. Runic Alphabet. Omniglot, 2016. Web. July 30, 2016.

Evansir Entertainment. Runic Formulas. Sprint Play Store, 2016. Web. July, 30, 2016. 

Eversden, Lona. Rune Oracle Book and Card Pack. Quantum Books, 2015. Print

McCoy, Dan. Runes., 2016. Web. July 30, 2016., Nicole. Write your Name in Runes. NOVA, 2011. July 28, 2016. 

Saint-Germain, Jon. Rune Palmistry. Lewellyn, 2001. Print.