The pupose of the Rune Primer is to provide an easy-to-read survey of the verifiable facts about runes, and a sensible direction for further study. It is not intended to discourage esoteric study. It is intended to encourage folk to get a grasp of the basic facts before looking into the speculations of the various esoteric authors.
With a good foundation in the facts, we can all be as qualified as the popular rune gurus who publish books to fill the New-Age bookstores (in fact,usually more so).
No book can be perfect, or cover everything. New information can come to light to add value or perspective, basic information can be explained in more detail, ideas can be clarified, and useful new source materials can be published.
This supplement is provided to enable readers to get the most out of the Rune Primer by supporting the readers in learning the information in the book, and directing them to further useful information. It will include information, links, and free PDF documents. This supplement will continue to grow & change.
The runes came from a culture. To know about the runes, we need some idea of the culture they come from. However it must be understood that it was not one uniform and consistent culture. The rune using culture was really a fairly diverse but related group of cultures, spanning a thousand years of history, and hundreds of kilometres of territory in Northern Europe. There were many tribes, and many religious & magical traditions that used runes.
The languages associated with these cultures are in the Germanic family. In the early runic period (around 2000 years ago) these languages were more like dialects of one language. By the end of the runic period (about 1000 years ago) there were distict regional languages, although there is evidence that they were still fairly intelligible to each other. It is because the rune using cultures were Germanic Heathen cultures, modern Germanic Heathens, or Asatruar, are most closely in tune with the foundations of esoteric rune studies. Although anyone can study runes, it is only fair to respect their importance to Northern Heathens as a part of their heritage.
There is some debate about the original meaning of the word "rune", and it may have varied slightly at different times. Some academics connect it to an early word for "whisper" or "secret", other researchers trace it to a word for "scratch". Some authors use the word with a connotation of a "spell", this may be fairly recent usage, although the runic inscriptions of Stentoften & Bjoketorp also suggest the possible secondary meaning of "spell".
The 3 main futharks are listed in the Primer: Elder, Younger, and Anglo-Saxon. There were also other local variations as mentioned. There were no agreed standards as there are for modern alphabets. One such less known futhark is the Gothic, although it could be seen as a later variant of the Elder. There were also shorthand versions of the Younger.
A site showing some of the variations: http://www.omniglot.com/writing/runic.htm
Note that the pronunciation of vowels lists an example of Othala having an "o" sound as in "hot". This is the sound in Non-American English (British, Australian, etc) or in German and most other languages. This is not the American "ah" pronunciation of "hot" (like "haht").
Further information on the Elder Futhark & rune names: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elder_Futhark
Some information about the rune poem manuscripts: http://www.runewebvitki.com/Rune%20Poems.htm
The Old Norse R ending (Yr) evolved from the Common Germanic z ending (Elhaz). The rune was inverted and moved to the end of the Younger row. It could be argued therefore, that the Yr poems should really go with the Eolhx AS poem, rather than Eoh.
Some info & pictures: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rune_stone
The best book available on Runic Charms http://www.amazon.com/Runic-Amulets-Magic-Objects-MacLeod/dp/1843832054
Wyrd constrains us as we create it: http://www.wyrdwords.vispa.com/heathenry/whatwyrd.html
Most fundamental layer of Law: http://aelfwer.tripod.com/Lorehoard/articles/wyrd.htm
PDF of the Elder Futhark basics on a single page. This is to help you memorise the more detailed material in the book.
Quick Reference Sheet - Click this link. Save the PDF to disk, or print it out (Size: A4 or US Letter).
As well as the books listed in the Primer, I recommend "Our Troth" for a comprehensive grounding in Northern & Asatru lore.
Further sources on some of the popular myths.
Oxford Dictionary of Etymology
Green, D. H. (1998) Language and History in the Early Germanic World. Cambridge University Press, paperback, ISBN 0-521-79423-4
Mees, Bernard. "Runic erilaR." NOWELE: North-Western European Language Evolution 42 (March 2003), 41ñ68.
Note: *harjaz is sometimes reconstructed *xarjaz. The x in this case is pronounced as a raspy h , made by raising the back of the tongue.