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An Architecture for the Runic Alphabets

Joannes Richter

Abstract
The Roman, Greek and runic alphabets (Futhark and Futhorc) have been based on a central
symbolic “I”-pillar. All alphabets also contain an initial “A”-vowel symbol and a terminal “U”- or
“Ω”-vowel symbol. In the course of time the central I-position and/or the terminal vowels may have
lost their unique positions by shifting their locations in the alphabet.
Only the runic alphabets have been equipped with a set of initial key letters ᚠ,ᚢ,ᚦ in the ᚠᚢᚦ-
keyword (“Futh”), whose segments in bidirectional reading may symbolize a number of important
elements such as prominent divine names “Wut” and “Tuw” as well as the personal pronouns “wut”
and “thu”. This initial ᚠᚢᚦ-keyword is located outside the A-I- Ω structure of the Futhark and
Futhorc.
The three initial symbols ᚠ,ᚢ,ᚦ in the Elder Futhark and Younger Futhark (~150–1100 AD) may
refer to the personal pronoun of the 1st person dual (in old-Dutch: “Wut”, → “we two”), the
personal pronoun of the 2nd person singular (“thu” → “thou”) and to 3 deities “Vut” (Woden),
“Tuw” (in English: “Tuw” or “Tue” as in Tuesday) and “Thor” (symbolized by the rune ᚦ named
“Thurs” respectively “Thorn”).
In the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc (400–1100 AD) the 3rd, 4th and 5th runes ᚦ,ᚩ,ᚱ (“Thor”) additionally may
refer to the deities “Thor” and “Rod”.
The initial ᚠ,ᚢ,ᚦ–keyword of the various Futhark and Futhorc suggests the names “Vut” (Wōden)
and the reversed form “Tuw” (Tīwaz) were the first symbols to be represented in the alphabet's
concept.
In Futhorc the name Thor (Þórr or Þur) may have been introduced in a later stage of the alphabet to
compensate the symbolic power of the supreme Roman Jupiter by modifying a vowel “a” in
Futhark to “o” in the Futhorc alphabet.
The pillar concept of the Yggdrasil
The Runic alphabets seem to have been concentrated around a central axis, which is represented by
the vowel I. This thesis may be illustrated by the Hälsinge runes or staveless runes1.
The name "staveless runes" is imprecise, since the i rune consists of a whole stave. The Hälsinge
alphabets may vary some of the runes' shapes, which results in runes consisting of short main staves
such as the f, þ, k, h and the s runes consist of shortened main staves.[1]

1: Hälsingland (Sweden) variant of futhark runic alphabet,


Hälsingerunor. Copied from fr:Image:Futhark Hälsingland 15.png.
(public domain)

The following Hälsinge alphabets also apply a centered main stave i rune and additionally the f, þ
(Thorn) and s runes, but the k and h deviate from the stave concept.

2 Hälsinge runes or staveless runes from Runen-Sprach-Schatz (Dieterich, 1844)

3: Hälsinge runes or staveless runes from Runen-Sprach-Schatz (Dieterich, 1844)

The symmetry is perfect for the central elements (the runes for N, I and A), which may be illustrated
in the close-up of the Hälsinge runes:

4 Symmetry in the center of


the Hälsinge runes

1 Runen-Sprach-Schatz, oder Wörterbuch über die ältesten Sprachdenkmale(1844) ... Udo Waldemar Dieterich
The main stave clearly represents a main axis and seems to be centered to symbolize the center of
the world. In a sense there is a mythological link to the world's pillar and mythical tree Yggdrasil,
which is supposed to carry the sky and prevent the collapse of the 9-layered Norse hemisphere.
The branches of Yggdrasil extend far into the heavens, and the tree is supported by three
roots that extend far away into other locations; one to the well Urðarbrunnr in the
heavens, one to the spring Hvergelmir, and another to the well Mímisbrunnr.

In a strictly graphical symbolism the pillar concept of a world-supporting Yggdrasil may be


represented by the shape of the initial letter Y or the runes ᛉ (R, the terminating "z-rune" Algiz2)
respectively ᛦ (Yr in the younger futhark3). Both ᛉ and ᛦ represent the threefold “tree”-structures,
but the main stave “I” will also represent the pillar concept of a world-supporting column.

Architectural concept of the runic alphabet


The runes had been optimized for quick results in carving the symbols into wooden surfaces or
rocks. Therefore the runic system followed the same optimizing rules as the Morse alphabet:
“apply the simplest designs for the most frequently used elements”
In the alphabets these single stroke staves (N, I, A) had been arranged in the center of the alphabet.
The “I” however also had to be centered for its legendary symbolic impact. This central position
also has been found in the Elder Futhark runic alphabet.

x x x
1 2 345678 901234567890 1234
[ᚠ] ᚢ ᚦ ᚨ ᚱ ᚲ ᚷ [ᚹ] ᚺᚾ ᛁ ᛃ ᛈ ᛇ ᛉ ᛊ ᛏ ᛒ ᛖᛗ ᛚ ᛜ ᛞᛟ
[f] u þ a r k g [w] h n i j p ï z s t b e m l ŋ d o
Table 1 Elder Futhark runic alphabet
In fact the Elder Futhark has been designed to provide us with two runes for the I-symbol, in which
one is supposed to be a short I and the other a prolonged I. The difference has a symbolic impact as
only the long vowels really count as fundamentals.

2 R (Algiz or Elhaz) is the name conventionally given to the "z-rune" ᛉ of the Elder Futhark runic alphabet. Its
transliteration is z, understood as a phoneme of the Proto-Germanic language, the terminal *z continuing Proto-Indo-
European terminal *s.
3 In Proto-Norse and Old Norse, the Germanic *z phoneme developed into an R sound, perhaps realized as a retroflex
approximant [ɻ], which is usually transcribed as ʀ. This sound was written in the Younger Futhark using the Yr rune
ᛦ, the Algiz rune turned upside down, from about the 7th century. This phoneme eventually became
indistinguishable from the regular r sound in the later stages of Old Norse, at about the 11th or 12th century.
Central positions in the Elder Futhark runic alphabet
The original languages even restricted their vowel patterns to three letters A, I, U (in Roman
symbols), respectively A, I, Ω (in Greek symbols). The yellow marked long vowel ï is situated at
the perfect center of the alphabetic row:

12345 678901234567 8901


a r k g [w] h n i j p ï z s t b e m l ŋ d o
Table 2 a-i-j-ï-e-o structure in the Elder Futhark runic alphabet

whereas the blue marked short or simple vowel i and a purple marked j are approximating the
center of the following alphabetic row:

1 2345678 901234567890 1234


[f] u þ a r k g [w] h n i j p ï z s t b e m l ŋ d o
Table 3 u-a-i-j-ï-e-o structure in the Elder Futhark runic alphabet

The Kylver Stone


The Kylver Stone, listed in the Rundata catalog as runic inscription G 88, is a Swedish runestone
which dates from about 400 CE notable for its listing of each of the runes in the elder futhark.
The Kylver Stone row encoded in Unicode reads:
[f] u þ a r k g [w] h n i j p ï z s t b e m l ŋ d o
in which the initial symbol [f] in fact represents a genuine stave, which is “to be interpreted” as an
“f”.

5 The futhark on the Kylver runestone from Gotland, Sweden - Agrell, Sigurd "Lapptrummor och
runmagi" (1934) – public domani

The initial triad fuþ of the Fuþark-alphabets


Most of the runic alphabets share the initial triad fuþ, which seems to be located before the bulk
body a r k g [w] h n i j p ï z s t b e m l ŋ d o of the alphabet. Some languages use a consonant such
as j (Jod) to encode4 a vowel sound i or ï.
In most languages the consonants j and y may be exchanged for other letters such as i, ï.
The fuþ-header seems to be outside body section of the alphabet. The symbolism also seems to be
disconnected from the central i j p ï – section in which the central axis or pillar is located.

4 The letters that do this in Hebrew are <‫ >א‬aleph, <‫ >ה‬he, <‫ >ו‬waw (or vav) and <‫ >י‬yod (or yud). The matres
lectiones correspond closely to what is called in modern linguistics glides or semivowels. (Mater lectionis)
Long and short vowels
The central core of the i j p ï in the u-a-i-j-ï-e-o structure in the Elder Futhark runic alphabet
suggests a difference in symbolic interpretation of long an short vowels.
The Romans used 5 vowels A-E-I-O-U and marked the long vowels with an apex. The Long I ⟨I)
used to transcribe a long i-vowel /iː/ in Latin. It stands in for the apex used on other the long vowels:
á é ó vv /aː eː oː uː/. For Latin an example is documented in Wikipedia's entries Apex and Long I,
which in modern rendition would be lūciī a fīliī, with a macron rather than apex to indicate vowel
length.5
In Greek language the vowels α ε η ι ο υ ω have been used in short vowel versions: α, ε, ι, ο, υ and
long versions: ᾱ, η, ῑ, ω, ῡ. The vowels alpha (A), iota (I), and upsilon (U) are used for both
long and short vowels. The letters epsilon and omicron, are used for short and eta and omega for
long vowels. It must be noted that A, I, U are the archaic triad for the vowels in all languages. The
vowels ε, ο, η, ω seem to belong to later extensions. Probably the introduction of the subset ε, ο, η,
ω had to be initiated by the discovery of new planets.
Also the Tetragrammaton JHVH and YHWH and its Greek translation IAΩ may be correlated to
the archaic triad A, I, U, respectively IAU.

Traces of IAU, IAΩ in the sky-god's name Dyaus


Traces of the archaic triad IAU may be found inside the PIE-sky god's name Dyaus and in the ego-
pronoun for the Jauer (Romansh) population of the Swiss valley “Val Müstair”.
This dialect is closely related to the neighboring dialect of the Lower Engadine, Vallader
as well as Putèr spoken the Upper Engadine. The name of the dialect is derived from a
nickname based on the personal pronoun jau [ˈjaw] 'I', and can be translated as 'the jau-
sayers',[2] as this contrasts with Vallader eu, pronounced [ˈɛː], [ˈɛw], [ˈjɛ], [ˈjɐ], or
[ˈjow] in the Lower Engadine.[3]

In the course of studying the ego-pronouns I discovered the cuneiform old-Persian ego-pronoun
“adam”, which directly correlated Persian ‫“ من‬mæn”, the Turkish ego-pronoun variants “мен”, to
the creation legend in which the first “man” Adam had been created. Due to its vocal similarity the
Sanskrit ego-pronoun aham1 may be correlating to “adam” and to the creation legend as well.
I interpreted European ego-pronouns such as the singular letter Neapolitan, Norsk and English
vowels “i”, Wycliffe's “Y”, the Scottish, Venetian “a”, the Icelandic “e”, the Albanian “u” and the
Danish “æ” as deteriorated versions of the long variants like the Provencal ieu, the Jauers' jau, the
Macedonian jac (jas), the Italic iou and the German ih, which in shortened versions are known as
French “je”, Slavic “ja” and Italian “io” or Spanish “yo”.
These ego-pronouns all seemed to correlate to the creation legend in which a first human being
Adam or Man, had been created as an image “yau” (the basic ego-pronoun) of the divine creator,
the sky-god “Dyaus”6.

5 Apex (diacritic)
6 Etymology for the Name Dyaus (Concept) (2014) – quoted in Proceedings in the Ego-pronouns' Etymology
The etymology of pillar-shaped letters
Asked by Alexander the Great what was the thing they, the Celts, most feared they answered:
"We fear no man: there is but one thing that we fear, namely, that the sky should fall on
us; but we regard nothing so much as the friendship of a man such as thou."

This cannot not be seen as an offense as the formula for the traditional Celtic oath also had been
based on a “crashing sky”:
"May the sky fall on us and crush us, may the earth gape and swallow us up, may the
sea burst out and overwhelm us."7

I remember to have Arthur Bernard Cook's analysis of the pillars' symbolism in early societies. 8 The
antipodal element in the center concept of the Greek world used to be the omphalos (navel), which
had to be seen as the female opposite element to the male pillar.
The Germanic religion does not seem to have introduced an omphalos as an antipodal element to
the pillar.
The generally accepted meaning of Old Norse Yggdrasill is "Odin's horse", meaning
"gallows". This interpretation comes about because drasill means "horse" and Ygg(r) is
one of Odin's many names. The Poetic Edda poem Hávamál describes how Odin
sacrificed himself by hanging from a tree, making this tree Odin's gallows. This tree
may have been Yggdrasil.

In the concept of correlations between the divine names and the ego-pronouns I also considered the
thesis of an “Ich”-drasil, which includes the German “ego”-word “Ich” as a pillar and an image of
the creator god. Of course this correlation “Ich” ↔ “Ygg” in Yggdrasill would perfectly match
“iéu” ↔ “Diéu” (in Provencal) and “io” ↔ “Dio” (in Italian). In English we may correlate the “I”
↔ “Ygg” in Yggdrasill.

The Algiz (R) rune


In 1674 the Hälsingland native Magnus Celsius deciphered all the Hälsinge runes except for the
Algiz (R) rune, which he interpreted as a distinguishing mark.[5].
In the Elder Futhark, Algiz represents the Germanic phoneme *z, which does not occur word-
initially.
The Yr rune ᛦ is a rune of the Younger Futhark. Its common transliteration is a small capital ʀ. The
shape of the Yr rune in the Younger Futhark is the inverted shape of the Elder Futhark rune (ᛉ). Its
name yr ("yew") is taken from the name of the Elder Futhark Eihwaz rune.

7 The Celts in Ancient History in Myths and Legends of the Celtic Race by Thomas Rolleston [1911] quoted in the
blog: The Nuclear Pillars of Symbolism
8 Notes (1) to Zeus by A.B. Cook (1925) -Notes (3) to Zeus by A.B. Cook and Retrospect - Notes (6) to Zeus by
Arthur Bernard Cook (1925)
The digamma and the sonus medius-concept
The huge territories of the Germanic peoples and the Roman Empire required a most flexible
pronunciation of the common letters and words which applied relatively standardized alphabets.
The various languages required adaptations such as the “3 Claudian letters” and the “four letters of
the Merovingian king Chilperic I”.

Additional letters

The Claudian letters


According to Wikipedia's entry “Claudian letters” the Roman Emperor Claudius (reigned 41–54)
introduced three new letters, which included (1) a Ⱶ, a half H for the sonus medius [ɨ] ↔ [ʉ], (2) a
Ↄ or ↃϹ/X (antisigma) to replace BS and PS and (3) Ⅎ, a turned F or digamma (digamma inversum)
to represent consonantal U ([w]/[v]) .
The letter Ⱶ, a half H may have represented a sonus medius (a short vowel sound (likely
[ɨ] or [ʉ]) used before labial consonants in Latin words such as optumus/optimus.

The letter was later used as a variant of y in inscriptions for short Greek upsilon (as in
Olympicus). It may have disappeared because the sonus medius itself disappeared from
spoken language.[1] 9

Originally the digamma represented the wau-sound /w/, the consonantal doublet of the vowel letter
upsilon (/u/). Digamma or wau is in turn the ancestor of the Latin letter F, which as a symbol still
resembles the original digamma letter symbol.

The modification of the Frankish alphabet by king Chilperic I 10


Chilperic I (c. 539 – 584) of Neustria (or Soissons) ruled as a Frankish king from 561 to his death.
He wrote poor poetry, became involved in theological matters, and in analogy of the Roman
emperor Claudius he ordered four letters to be added to the Frankish alphabet. Chilperic I was the
last of the Gothic rulers, who understood the runic symbolism.
In the web I found one specification of Chilperic I's four letters. This description however may be
rather unreliable:11
Chilperic I announces that four letters12 will be added to the Latin alphabet in his kingdom:
Θ as ō, Ψ as ae, Ζ as th, and Δ as w.
This proclamation is met with cries of outrage from the clergy, as it is followed with a
demand to erase all books and rewrite them with the new letters. (13 and 14)
The last letters (Ζ as th, and Δ as w) were most important for the personal pronoun of the 1 st person
ƿit ("we both" or "we two")15 and Futhark's “Futh” (in which the F may be replaced by a “w”,
resulting in “Wuth ”). Maybe Chilperic I intended to transfer the Futhark's symbolism to the
Frankish alphabet.

9 Claudian letters
10 The Digamma-Joker of the Futhark
11 Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Douglas, Sep 13, 2006.
12 The thorn (th) and Wynn (Ƿ ƿ - as w) were two of the runes which, according to Gregory of Tours, Chilperic I
introduced into the Merovingian scripts - Gearwor: Blogging on Old English Literature: Origin of Eth
13 (Commented →): He proposed the same thing in 581, but was thwarted by his grudging respect of Gregory of Tours.
14 A Medieval Project | Alternate History Discussion
15 Old English/Pronouns
The letter “W” (uui)
Another more reliable source specified one letter “W”:
The Frankish king Chilperic I proposed the addition of four letters to the Roman
alphabet, thus showing his knowledge of runes, since one of the four new letters,
described: uui, was shaped after the runic w16.

This half-consonant however also is an important symbol for the dual pronoun “wit”, which in the
meantime, became obsolete and extinct.
The uui also is important as it probably symbolizes the first character “F” (to be understood as a
digamma: understood as a “W”, but written “Fu”) of the Futhark.
For this reason Uirlanti (→ Wirland17 in Estonia) may also be a Futh-symbol, relating to the runic
“W-”, “Wit”- and/or “Wir”-symbolism.

The impact of new letters on the fuþ-header of the Futhark


Two of the Claudian letters and two of the Chilperic-letters seem to have been aiming at the
symbolism of the fuþ-header.
• The sonus medius is related to the I and U-sounds ([ɨ] ↔ [ʉ]) as suggested by Claudius,
which is related to the U and F in the fuþ-header.
• The inverted digamma (digamma inversum) to represent the consonantal U ([w]/[v]) as
suggested by Claudius, which is related to the U and the F in the fuþ-header.
• Chilperic's letter Ζ as th (þ), which is related to the þ in the fuþ-header.
• Chilperic's letter Δ as w. This is the uui, which had been shaped after the runic w and is
related to the U and the digamma (F) in the fuþ-header.
Both the “F” and the “U” in the fuþ-header of the Futhark seem to be related to the digamma, which
allows the symbols to represent alternatively [u], [w], [v] and of course also the [f].
The second letter “U” in the fuþ-header may also represent a sonus medius between I & U ([ɨ]-[ʉ]).
This allows the sound to range from U to I.
These concepts and mechanisms allow the first character digamma (F) in the fuþ-header to be
understood in a considerable range [u], [w], [v] and [f].
As a sonus medius ([ɨ]-[ʉ]) the second character (U) in the fuþ-header may be ranging from [u] to
[i]. Alternatively we may also use a modern symbol (Y) as a suitable translation for the sonus
medius ([ɨ]-[ʉ]).

16 Runes around the North Sea and on the Continent AD 150-700; proefschrift Jantina Helena Looijenga
17 Estonia disintegrates into the provinces Alentaken, Wirland, Harien, the Wik, Jerven and Odenpö. Archive for the
History of Liv-, Est- and Churlands – translated from: Esthland zerfällt in die Provinzen Alentaken, Wirland, Harien,
die Wik, Jerven und Odenpö. Archiv für die Geschichte Liv-, Est- und Curlands
Symbolic range of sounds in the fuþ-header
The Germanic territory shared “Fuþ” header by flexibility in the interpretation of the symbols,
which seemed to have been understood as jokers.
In the following table the symbolic range of sounds in the fuþ-header may be interpreted as:
1st symbol 2nd symbol 3rd symbol Remarks
1 [u] [u] Þ or t [u][u]þ Uut → Odin
2 [w] [u] Þ or t [w][u]t wut “We both” → (Old-Dutch) personal
pronoun dual 1st person nominative
Wut → Woden, (W)Odin
3 [v] [u] Þ or t [v][u]t vut Vut → Vidvut
Vut → Woden (→ “Mercury”)
4 [f] [u] Þ or t [f][u]t fut Fut → Dutch (vitality, vital energy,
sperm) – related to Latin futuō
5 [u] [i] Þ or t [u][i]þ uiþ
6 [w] [i] Þ or t [w][i]t wit “We both” → (Old-Dutch) personal
pronoun dual 1st person nominative
7 [v] [i] Þ or t [v][i]þ
8 [f] [i] Þ or t [f][i]t fit → Fitness (vitality, vital energy)

9 [u] [u] Þ or t þ[u][u]


10 [w] [u] Þ or t T[u][w] Tuw (Old-Dutch) Sky god
11 [v] [u] Þ or t þ[u][v]
12 [f] [u] Þ or t þ[u][f]
13 [u] [i] Þ or t þ[i][u] Tiu Sky god – in Norway: Tiuz (→ Mars)
Old-German: Tiu → Tiuz → Ziu
Derivatives: Tiu→Ziu→Tuisc; Zio→Cyo;
14 [w] [i] Þ or t þ[i][w] Tiw (Old-Dutch) Sky god (from *Teiwaz,
*Tiwaz); Old-English: Tiw, Tig
15 [v] [i] Þ or t þ[i][v] Tiv Sky god, “Tyr” (from *Teiwaz, *Tiwaz)
Latin: divus
16 [f] [i] Þ or t þ[i][f] Tif Derivative (?): Tif → Tig
Table 4: Symbolic range of sounds in the fuþ-header
These range of the sound combinations of the fuþ-header may be regionally valid and vary from
dialect to dialect. The optional reversal of reading the runes allows us to derive the sky-gods' names
for Tiw, Tig, Tiu, Tiuz, Ziu and Odin, Vut, Woden from one common source: the fuþ-header of the
Futhark/Futhorc alphabet. Although the Romans interpreted these deities as “Mercury” respectively
“Mars” the Germanic peoples may have understood the common roots (fuþ) for these names.
Additionally these sky-gods' names also relate to derived words such as the personal pronoun dual
1st person nominative (“wut”, “we two”). As a white-bearded wise man the sky-god Woden is
related to cooperative couples (“wut”, “we two”) and does not have to be assigned by an attribute of
“raging” (the German interpretation of “Wut”).
Vidvut
Vidvut is the name for the Vodan of the Vides (Lettons), while Vogt 1, 141 makes Wideivud,
Waidewud a Prussian king ... 18

Vut
The Longobards spelt it Wôdan or Guôdan, the Old Saxons Wuodan, Wôdan, but in Westphalia
again with the g prefixed, Guôdan, Gudan, the Anglo-Saxons Wôdan, the Frisians Wêda from the
propensity of their dialect to drop a final n, and to modify ô even when not followed by an i. (1) The
Norse form is Oðinn, in Saxo Othinus, in the Faröe isles Ouvin, gen Ouvans, acc. Ouvan.
Up in the Grisons country---and from this we may infer the extent to which the name was diffused
in Upper Germany----the Romance dialect has caught the term Vut from Alamanns or Burgundians
of a very early time, and retained it to this day in the sense of idol, false god, 1 Cor. 8, 4. (2) (See
Suppl.) 19

18 Grimm, Jacob - Teutonic Mythology - Volume 4 (1888)" quoted in


19 Northvegr - Grimm's TM - Chap. 7
The divine name “Thor”
Although the name “Thor (→ Jupiter) ” cannot be derived from the fuþ-header there seems to be an
extended root word futhorc (spelled in runes ᚠ, ᚢ, ᚦ, ᚩ, ᚱ, ᚳ) in which the word Thor (ᚦᚩᚱ or þor) is
included20: 21
f u þ o r c ȝ ƿ/w h n i j eo p x s t b e m l ŋ œ d a æ y io ea
Table 5 futhorc alphabet from Wikipedia's entry: Letters (from Anglo-Saxon runes)
1. The names ᚠᚢᚦ (Vut → Woden) and ᚦᚩᚱ → Thor may be read in a forward direction from the
word futhorc.
2. ᚦᚢᚠ (Tuw), and ᚱᚩᚦ → Rod or ᚳᚱᚩᚦ → Krod are to be identified by reading backward in the
word futhorc.

Alternative sequences for the futhorc alphabets


The Thames scramasax (10th century) has 28 letters, with a slightly different order, and eðel
missing:
f u þ o r c ȝ ƿ/w h n i io eo p x s t b e ŋ d l m j a æ y ea
Table 6 The Thames scramasax (10th century) alphabet

Cotton Domitian A.ix reaches thus a total of 33 letters, according to the transliteration introduced
above arranged in the order
f u þ o r c ȝ ƿ/w h n i j eo p x s t b e m l ŋ d œ a æ y ea io cƿ k st g
Table 7 The alphabet in Cotton Domitian A.ix

Comparison of various futhorc alphabets


Basically the futhorc alphabets follow a standard initial sequence which is modified at various
slightly different trailers with a number of additional letters and/or ligatures.

1 f u þ o r c ȝ ƿ/w h n i j eo p x s t b e m l ŋ œ d a æ y io ea
2 f u þ o r c ȝ ƿ/w h n i io eo p x s t b e ŋ d l m j a æ y ea
3 f u þ o r c ȝ ƿ/w h n i j eo p x s t b e m l ŋ d œ a æ y ea io cƿ k st g

Table 8 Various futhorc alphabets (1) futhorc, (2) Thames scramasax, (3) Cotton Domitian A.ix

The core section “fuþor”


The word Thor (ᚦᚩᚱ or þor) is located very close to the fuþ-header and seems to be integrated in a
slightly larger core section “fuþor”, composed by ᚠᚢᚦ (“fuþ”) and ᚦᚩᚱ (“þor”), which also contains
in reversed coding ᚦᚢᚠ (“Tuw”), and ᚱᚩᚦ → “Rod” or inside “fuþorc” ᚳᚱᚩᚦ → “Krod”22.

20 Anglo-Saxon runes
21 Wikipedia's entry: Letters (from Anglo-Saxon runes)
22 The Gods in the Days of the Week and inside the Futhor-alphabet
The Slavic supreme God Rod (or "Krodo") of the universe
The name for an equivalent deity in Saturday is found in Germanic myths. The name Rod in Slavic
mythology is documented as the Saxon king Krodo or Chrodo, whose statue had been demolished at
the Harz Mountain in 780AD by Charlemagne and he may have been an equivalent of Saturn23.
Rod (Polish, Slovenian, Croatian: Rod, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Russian, Serbian Cyrillic:
Род, Ukrainian Cyrillic: Рід) is a conception of supreme God of the universe and of all
its gods in Slavic Native Faith (Rodnovery).

In some old writings the name appears as Hrodo, Chrodo, Krodo, or the Latinised form Crodone.[5]
The 15th-century Saxon Chronicle attests that "Krodo" was worshipped also by Saxon tribes, who
inhabited modern-day northern and eastern Germany together with West Slavic tribes.[6]24

23 “The Saxon Chronicle” (1492) by Conrad Bothes – in German: „Sassenchronik“ („Cronecken der sassen“) (Chrodo)
24 Wikipedia: Rod (Slavic religion)
The dual forms for the personal pronouns of the 1 st person

The vowel cores IAU in Dyaus and the Jauer


The traces of the archaic triad IAU may be found inside the PIE-sky god's name Dyaus and in the
ego-pronoun for the Jauer (Romansh) population of the Swiss valley “Val Müstair”, but this
correlation seemed to be restricted to the Romance regions within the Roman Empire.
Outside the borders of the Roman Empire the archaic triad IAU and its derivations IEU, IOU, IU,
EU, etc. lost their impact on the personal pronouns of the 1st person.
Instead another correlation arose from the Futhark-alphabet, which had been based on the dual
forms for the personal pronouns of the 1st person. This correlation may have been older than the
overruling impact of the Roman Empire.

The þú of the personal pronoun of the 2nd person singular


In contrast to the deviating correlations between the sky-god's name and the forms (singular ↔
dual) for personal pronouns of the 1st person for the Romance and Germanic languages the þú of the
personal pronoun of the 2nd person singular seems to be a constant parameter for all PIE-languages.
The fuþ-header outside body section of the alphabet (in reversed reading direction) contains the þú
of the personal pronoun of the 2nd person singular25.

The dual forms “wut” or “wit”, “vit”, “ƿit” and “við”


In Gothic and Old English (Pronouns) the dual nominative for the 1st person ("we two") is wit,
respectively ƿit.
In Old-Northern or Icelandic language the dual is generally used for the plural in the modern
dialect, and the proper plural employed only in the solemn style. The original dual is specified as
follows:
- The dual nominative for the 1st person singular (“we two”) is vit (við)
- The dual nominative for the 2nd person singular (“you two”) is þit (þið)

In Old-Dutch the dual nominative for the 1st person singular (“we two”) is “wut” or “wit” 26 and the
Old-Dutch sky-god's name is “Tuw” or “Tij”27, correlating to the English Tue (in Tuesday).
Until recently the dual forms “wut” or “wit”, “vit”, “ƿit” and “við” seemed to have survived the
Roman civilization and occupation.
The dual forms “wut” or “wit”, “vit”, “ƿit” and “við” and their reversed forms “Tuw”, “Tiw”,
“Tiv”,”Tiƿ” and “Ðiv” are correlating with the fuþ-header of the Futhark alphabet. However the
deviations have to be checked for plausibility.

25 A Compendious Grammar of the Old-Northern Or Icelandic Language - George Perkins Marsh, Rasmus Rask - 1838

26 wut vnw., wit 1 wij twee, wij beide • verouderd Noordfries wat, wët, IJslands við • vgl. °onk1 ‘ons twee’, °jut/°jit
‘jullie twee (onderwerp)’, °ink1 ‘jullie twee (voorwerp)’ - Vergeten woorden | Taaldacht
27 Tuw2 m., Tij2 1 God, Hemelvader, de Heer van Licht en Recht, de oorspronkelijke Hoge God in het Germaanse
volksgeloof, ew. °Dings/°Dijs • Fries Tij (in tiisdei), Engels Tue (in Tuesday), Noors Ty, IJslands Týr • bijzonder
gebruik van °tuw1/°tij1, in °tuwsdag, vgl. °Met4 ‘Beschikker, Ordenaar, Schepper, God’ - Vergeten woorden |
Taaldacht
Jacob Grimm's explanation of the dual indicator “T”
Some of individual Futhorc-characters are explained by Jacob Grimm, who claims that the letter
“T” in “Wit” (“We two”) as the dual for for the personal pronoun for the first person) refers to the
duality of the word “we” (in German: wir as the plural form for the personal pronoun for the first
person).
Grimm's entry is found in the plural “wir” (“we”-section). The dual form for this word “wit” has
only recently been abandoned in the northern Frisian language. In the quotation Grimm's duality
claim has been marked yellow (by myself)28.
In symbolic representations the word “Wit” (“We two”) also includes the plural word “Wi” (“we
all”) by simply skipping the dual element “t”.

28 Neben der pluralform steht im älteren germ. der dual wit (t ist angehängte zweizahl) 'wir beide', vgl. got. ags. asächs.
wit, anord. vit (viþ), der sich auf deutschem boden nur im nordfries. erhalten hat, sonst durch den plural ersetzt und
schon ahd. nicht mehr bezeugt ist; vgl. lit. vèd.
Source → wir, pron. (In the German Dictionary (Deutsches Wörterbuch) by Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm)
The evolution of Germanic religion
Studying the structure of the runic alphabet might enable us to reconstruct the Germanic religion by
deriving the sequence of the initiating dates for the deities Woden, Tuw, Thor and Rod from the
Futhark/Futhorc-structures.
The earliest runic inscriptions date from around 150 AD. The three best-known runic alphabets are
the Elder Futhark (around 150–800 AD), the Younger Futhark (800–1100 AD) and the Anglo-Saxon
Futhorc (400–1100 AD).

Elder Futhark runes


In the Elder Futhark three runes ᚦ, ᛏ, ᛜ have been devoted to dedicated deities (Thor, Tyr, Yngvi):
• The rune ᚦ (Th) is called Thurs (Old Norse Þurs "giant", from a reconstructed Common
Germanic *Þurisaz) in the Icelandic and Norwegian rune poems. In the Anglo-Saxon rune
poem it is called thorn, whence the name of the letter þ derived. The rune ᚦ refers to "the
god Thor, giant". The rune ᚦ is found in the Thorsberg chape inscription, dated to ca. AD
200.
• The rune ᛏ (T), (*tīwaz/*teiwaz) refers to the god Tyr.
• The rune ᛜ ᛝ (*ingwaz) refers to the god Yngvi (→ the older name for the god Freyr).

Younger Futhark runes


In the Younger Futhark one rune ᛏ has been devoted to a dedicated god Týr).The rune ᚦ, ð (‘th’)
refers to Thor, but symbolizes “giant”.
• The rune ᚦ, ð (‘th’) is named ᚦurs (‘thurs’), but symbolizes “giant”
• The rune ᛏ (T) is named Týr (“Týr” (the god), but may be used for any god)29

Anglo-Saxon Futhorc runes


In the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc one rune ᚩ have been devoted to a deity ("[a] god"), but the rune ᛏ may
still symbolize Tiw (Tīƿ). The rune ᚦ is named þorn, but probably still refers to Thor.
• The rune ᚩ (o) is dedicated to"[a] god", also "mouth" (from Latin).
• The rune ᛝ (ŋ) is dedicated to the “hero” “Ing”.
• The rune ᛏ (t) is named Tīƿ (Tiw), but symbolizes “glory”.
Since the futhorc runes are thought to have first been used in Frisia before the Anglo-Saxon
settlement of Britain, they have also been called Anglo-Frisian runes.[1] They were likely used from
the 5th century onward, recording Old English and Old Frisian30.

29 Groeneveld, E. (2018, June 19). Runes. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/runes/
30 Anglo-Saxon runes
The reminiscence of the deities in singular
Obviously the runic alphabets managed to preserve the reminiscence of the deities in singular runes:
• Thor in the rune ᚦ, ð (‘th’)
• Tyr and Tīƿ (Tiw) and “any god” in the rune ᛏ (t)
• "[a] god" in the Anglo-Saxon rune ᚩ (o)

The role of the ᚠ,ᚢ,ᚦ,ᚨ,ᚱ,ᚲ – keyword


The initial ᚠ,ᚢ,ᚦ,ᚨ,ᚱ,ᚲ -keyword “Futhark” allows us to decode a number of divine names from the
oldest runic alphabet (the Kylver Stone, dated c. 400 AD), in which the T-shaped tiwaz already
exists.
The Kylver Stone (400 AD, Gotland) features 8 stacked Tiwaz runes at the end of an Elder Futhark
inscription.

The role of the ᚠ,ᚢ,ᚦ– and ᚦ,ᚩ,ᚱ-keywords


The three initial symbols ᚠ,ᚢ,ᚦ in the Elder Futhark and Younger Futhark (~150–1100 AD) may
refer to the personal pronoun of the 1st person dual (in old-Dutch: “Wut”, → “we two”), the
personal pronoun of the 2nd person singular (“thu” → “thou”) and to 3 deities “Vut” (Woden),
“Tuw” (in English: “Tuw” or “Tue” as in Tuesday) and “Thor” (symbolized by the rune ᚦ named
“Thurs” respectively “Thorn”).
1. ᚠ,ᚢ,ᚦ in forward reading from left to right as “Vut” or “Wut”
2. ᚠ,ᚢ,ᚦ in reversed reading from right to left as “Tuv” or “Tuw”
3. The rune ᚦ is named ᚦurs respectively þorn, but probably still refers to Thor.
In the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc (400–1100 AD) the 3rd - 5th runes ᚦ,ᚩ,ᚱ additionally may refer to the
deities “Thor” and “Rod”:
4. ᚦ,ᚩ,ᚱ in forward reading from left to right as “Thor”
5. ᚦ,ᚩ,ᚱ in reversed reading from right to left as “Roth” or “Rod”.

Three gods encoded in three runes


The header section ᚠ,ᚢ,ᚦ in the Elder Futhark and all following Futhark and Futhorc versions
carried the symbols for 3 main deities encoded in their alphabets:
1. Woden (as Wut, respectively Uþin),
2. Tuw and
3. Thor (as a rune ᚦ).
Additionally the Wends worshiped their supreme God Vid (Svetovid) and named the runes “vitha”.

Woden
In an interpretatio romana Tacitus refers to the god Odin as "Mercury", Thor as "Hercules",
and Týr as "Mars", and the identity of the "Isis" of the Suebi has been debated.[7] 31
The earliest written runic evidence for Woden is “uþin” (on a skull fragment dated 725
AD)32.

31 Roman era to Migration Period


32 Der früheste Beleg für den Götternamen Odin aus der Zeit um 725 n. Chr. fand sich in der Form uþin auf einem mit
Runen beritzten Schädelfragment.[5] (Etymologie )
Vid (Svetovid)
In east-Germany the Wends also worshiped Woda (the Germanic Wotan-Odin) was also
associated with rune wisdom and with Vid (Svetovid), as the supreme God, the "moving
force behind all things";[39] runes were called vitha by the West Slavs, which is a genitive
of *vid or *vit meaning "image" or "side", "facet" (referring to the multifaceted essence of
the supreme God).[163]
Vid (Svetovid, Sventovid, Svantovit[1][2][3] or Sventovit[4] is a Slavic deity of war,
fertility and abundance primarily venerated on the island of Rügen into the 12th century.

Týr
Týr in origin was a generic noun meaning "god". In the late Icelandic Eddas Týr is
portrayed, alternately, as the son of Odin (Prose Edda) or of Hymir (Poetic Edda).
Tiw was equated with Mars in the interpretatio germanica. Tuesday is "Tīw's Day" (also in
Alemannic Zischtig from zîes tag), translating dies Martis.
It is assumed that Tiwaz was overtaken in popularity and in authority by both Odin and Thor
at some point during the Migration Age (around the 4th to 6th centuries AD).

Thórr
Odin is attested as having many sons, most famously the god Thor.
Beginning in the Viking Age, personal names containing the theonym Thórr are recorded
with great frequency. Prior to the Viking Age (793–1066 AD), no examples are recorded.
Thor is frequently referred to—via a process known as interpretatio romana (where
characteristics perceived to be similar by Romans result in identification of a non-Roman
god as a Roman deity)—as either the Roman god Jupiter (also known as Jove) or the Greco-
Roman god Hercules.
The Anglo-Saxon runes (400–1100 AD), which reveal the names Thor and Rod by defining the
“O”-symbol in futhorc may have introduced the rune ᚩ (o) as a dedication to "[a] god" and to
include the written name ᚦ,ᚩ,ᚱ (“Thor” and “Rod”).

Rod
Rod is a conception of supreme God of the universe and of all its gods in Slavic Native
Faith (Rodnovery). During the Saxon Wars king Charlemagne destroyed a Crodo statue in
780 AD33.
As attested by Helmold (c. 1120–1177) in his Chronica Slavorum, the Slavs believed in a
single God. Rod (→ Crodo) has been compared to the Latin time god, Saturn.[11] 34
At an early stage of Slavic history "Rod" replaced "Deivos" as the conception of the
supreme God. Deivos, "Heaven", was the name of the God of Heaven in the earliest Slavic
religion, cognate with the Proto-Indo-European *Dyeus (cf. Sanskrit Deva, Latin Deus, Old
High German Ziu and Lithuanian Dievas).[9]35
"Deivos" however was soon abandoned[4] to be replaced by the concept of Rod36.

33 Saxon tradition
34 Hanuš, Ignác Jan (1842). Die Wissenschaft des Slawischen Mythus im weitesten, den altpreussisch-lithauischen
Mythus mitumfassenden Sinne. Nach Quellen bearbeitet, sammt der Literatur der slawisch-preussisch-lithauischen
Archäologie und Mythologie (in German). J. Millikowski. (Hanuš 1842, pp. 115–116. )
35 Gasparini 2013; Rudy 1985, pp. 4–5.
36 Rudy 1985, p. 4.
The names for the days of the week
Other evidence for the interpretatio germanica exists in the Germanic translations of the Roman
names for the days of the week37, in which obviously names for planetary symbols are mapped from
Germanic to Roman names:
• The (female) sun to a (male) Sol Invictus
• The (male) moon to the (female) Luna
• Wōden (Óðinn; Wōden; Wuotan) to Mercury,
• Tīwaz (Týr, Tīw; Ziu) to Mars,
• Thor (Þórr or Þur) to Jupiter,
• Freya to Venus
• and an undetermined symbol to Saturn
The names for the days of the week may have been assigned to this pattern around the 1st century
AD.

Priorities in introducing divine names


The initial ᚠ,ᚢ,ᚦ–keyword of the various Futhark and Futhorc suggests the names “Vut” (Wōden)
and the reversed form “Tuw” (Tīwaz) were the first symbols to be represented in the alphabet's
concept.
In Futhorc the name Thor (Þórr or Þur) may have been introduced in a later stage of the alphabet to
compensate the symbolic power of the supreme Roman Jupiter by modifying a vowel “a” in
Futhark to “o” in the Futhorc alphabet.
The three deities “Vut” (Wōden), “Tuw” (Tīwaz) and Thor (Þórr or Þur) represent the main sky-
gods' representatives of the Germanic peoples.
In the runic alphabets the runes for the combinations “Vid” (Svetovid) and “Rod” may have been
absorbed by the Slavic mythology, in which “Vid” seems to be an alternative expression for “Vut”
(“Woden”) and “Rod” may be a reference to “Saturn”.

37 According to Rudolf Simek, this occurred around the 1st century of the common era, when both cultures came into
closer contact. (Interpretatio germanica)
Abstract
The Roman, Greek and runic alphabets (Futhark and Futhorc) have been based on a central
symbolic “I”-pillar. All alphabets also contain an initial “A”-vowel symbol and a terminal “U”- or
“Ω”-vowel symbol. In the course of time the central I-position and/or the terminal vowels may have
lost their unique positions by shifting their locations in the alphabet.
Only the runic alphabets have been equipped with a set of initial key letters ᚠ,ᚢ,ᚦ in the ᚠᚢᚦ-
keyword (“Futh”), whose segments in bidirectional reading may symbolize a number of important
elements such as prominent divine names “Wut” and “Tuw” as well as the personal pronouns “wut”
and “thu”. This initial ᚠᚢᚦ-keyword is located outside the A-I- Ω structure of the Futhark and
Futhorc.
The three initial symbols ᚠ,ᚢ,ᚦ in the Elder Futhark and Younger Futhark (~150–1100 AD) may
refer to the personal pronoun of the 1st person dual (in old-Dutch: “Wut”, → “we two”), the
personal pronoun of the 2nd person singular (“thu” → “thou”) and to 3 deities “Vut” (Woden),
“Tuw” (in English: “Tuw” or “Tue” as in Tuesday) and “Thor” (symbolized by the rune ᚦ named
“Thurs” respectively “Thorn”).
In the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc (400–1100 AD) the 3rd, 4th and 5th runes ᚦ,ᚩ,ᚱ (“Thor”) additionally may
refer to the deities “Thor” and “Rod”.
The initial ᚠ,ᚢ,ᚦ–keyword of the various Futhark and Futhorc suggests the names “Vut” (Wōden)
and the reversed form “Tuw” (Tīwaz) were the first symbols to be represented in the alphabet's
concept.
In Futhorc the name Thor (Þórr or Þur) may have been introduced in a later stage of the alphabet to
compensate the symbolic power of the supreme Roman Jupiter by modifying a vowel “a” in
Futhark to “o” in the Futhorc alphabet.
Contents
Abstract............................................................................................................................................1
The pillar concept of the Yggdrasil.................................................................................................2
Architectural concept of the runic alphabet................................................................................3
Central positions in the Elder Futhark runic alphabet.................................................................4
The Kylver Stone........................................................................................................................4
The initial triad fuþ of the Fuþark-alphabets...............................................................................4
Long and short vowels................................................................................................................5
Traces of IAU, IAΩ in the sky-god's name Dyaus......................................................................5
The etymology of pillar-shaped letters.......................................................................................6
The Algiz (R) rune......................................................................................................................6
The digamma and the sonus medius-concept..................................................................................7
Additional letters.........................................................................................................................7
The Claudian letters................................................................................................................7
The modification of the Frankish alphabet by king Chilperic I ............................................7
The letter “W” (uui)...........................................................................................................8
The impact of new letters on the fuþ-header of the Futhark.......................................................8
Symbolic range of sounds in the fuþ-header...............................................................................9
Vidvut...................................................................................................................................10
Vut........................................................................................................................................10
The divine name “Thor”............................................................................................................11
Alternative sequences for the futhorc alphabets...................................................................11
Comparison of various futhorc alphabets.............................................................................11
The core section “fuþor”...........................................................................................................11
The Slavic supreme God Rod (or "Krodo") of the universe ....................................................12
The dual forms for the personal pronouns of the 1st person.........................................................13
The vowel cores IAU in Dyaus and the Jauer...........................................................................13
The þú of the personal pronoun of the 2nd person singular......................................................13
The dual forms “wut” or “wit”, “vit”, “ƿit” and “við”..............................................................13
Jacob Grimm's explanation of the dual indicator “T”...............................................................14
The evolution of Germanic religion...............................................................................................15
Elder Futhark runes...................................................................................................................15
Younger Futhark runes..............................................................................................................15
Anglo-Saxon Futhorc runes......................................................................................................15
The reminiscence of the deities in singular ..............................................................................16
The role of the ᚠ,ᚢ,ᚦ,ᚨ,ᚱ,ᚲ – keyword.........................................................................................16
The role of the ᚠ,ᚢ,ᚦ– and ᚦ,ᚩ,ᚱ-keywords.................................................................................16
Three gods encoded in three runes............................................................................................16
Woden...................................................................................................................................16
Vid (Svetovid)......................................................................................................................17
Týr........................................................................................................................................17
Thórr.....................................................................................................................................17
Rod.......................................................................................................................................17
The names for the days of the week..........................................................................................18
Priorities in introducing divine names......................................................................................18
Abstract..........................................................................................................................................19