The History behind Runes
A BIT OF BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Norse Mythology (or Scandinavian mythology) is the body of mythology of the North Germanic peoples, stemming from norse paganism and continuing after the Christinization of Scandanavia and into the Scandinavian folklore of the modern period. Norse mythology consits of tales of various deities, beings, and heroes derived from numerous sources from both before and afer the pagan period, including medieval manuscripts, archaeological representations, and folk tradition.
The 9 Realms
In Norse mythology, there are nine realms (worlds):
1. Asgard (home of the Aesir gods):
2. Vanaheim (home of the Vanir gods)
3. Alfheim (home of the light Elves)
4. Midgard (home of humans) The rainbow bridge (Bifrost) connects Midgard and Asgard. Midgard is in the middle of the realms
5. Svartalheim (home of the dark Elves)
6. Nidavellir (home of the Dwarves).
Dwarves were master craftsmen. They forged Thor's hammer and Odin's spear
7. Jotunheim (home of the giants): Even though the giants from Jotunheim were sworn enemies of Aesir, the gods would take giantesses are lovers and have children with them.
8. Niflheim-the coldest and misty region in the north. Somewhere under the ground in Niflheim in Hel
9. Muspelheim-Home of fire giants and demons. It is way south, it's hot with volcanic activities.
All nine of these Realms center around a cosmological tree, Yggdrasil. Yggdrasil is thought to be in the shape of the tree, giving it the nickname "The Tree of Life" or "The World Tree."
The Vanir and Aesir
WHO ARE THEY?
The Aesir: Generally, the Aesir are deities of consciousness and are more associated with fire, air, war, power and the passionate mechanical aspects of being; They include many of the major deities, such as Odin, Frigga, Thor, Balder and Tyr.
The Vanir: Associated with earth, water, the natural and organic, the Venir are mainly connected with fertility, joy and peace, although these are by no means firmly set boundaries; They include Njord, Freyr and Freyja, who live among the Aesir since the end of the conflict between the two clans of gods (traded for Mímir and Honir).
In Norse mythology, gods and goddesses usually belong to one of two tribes: the Aesir and the Vanir. Throughout most of the Norse tales, deities from the two tribes get along fairly easily, and it’s hard to pin down firm distinctions between the two groups. But there was a time when that wasn’t the case.
The War of the Gods
The Vanir goddess Freya was always the foremost practitioner of the art of seidr, a form of magic principally concerned with discerning and altering the course of destiny. Like historical seidr practitioners, she wandered from town to town plying her craft for hire.
Under the name Heiðr (“Bright”), she eventually came to Asgard, the home of the Aesir. The Aesir were quite taken by her powers and zealously sought her services. But soon they realized that their values of honor, kin loyalty, and obedience to the law were being pushed aside by the selfish desires they sought to fulfill with the witch’s magic. Blaming Freya for their own shortcomings, the Aesir called her “Gullveig” (“Gold-greed”) and attempted to murder her. Three times they tried to burn her, and three times she was reborn from the ashes.
Because of this, the Aesir and Vanir came to hate and fear one another, and these hostilities erupted into war. The Aesir fought by the rules of plain combat, with weapons and brute force, while the Vanir used the subtler means of magic. The war went on for some time, with both sides gaining the upper hand by turns.
Eventually the two tribes of divinities became weary of fighting and decided to call a truce. As was customary among the ancient Norse and other Germanic peoples, the two sides agreed to pay tribute to each other by sending hostages to live among the other tribe. Freya, Freyr, and Njord of the Vanir went to the Aesir, and Hoenir (pronounced roughly “HIGH-neer”) and Mimir went to the Vanir.
Norse gods used magic. Vanir gods used incantations, sorcery and charms.
Goddess Freya taught the Asgardians this kind of magic when she moved to Asgard. The knowledge was passed on to worthy human to fight evil. To learn more about Incantation magic, go here.
Odin was the first to get runes and used them to do magic. He taught the other gods runic magic, which were passed on to worthy humans. To learn more about Runic magic, go here.
Runes have been used by Germanic people before the Dark Ages. People used runes for writing, messages, inscriptions on amulets and charms, as an oracle for use in divination and for ritual, in magic and spells.