site logo

Nordic Magic Healing:
runes, charms, incantations, and galdr


Inscriptions from the second period
(Viking period), 750-1025
presented by Moltke

This page is a continuation of the runic inscriptions contained in chapter 4 of Howling, I gathered them, by Yves Kodratoff which is Volume two of  Nordic Magic Healing.

It is important to understand that there was a transition period, between 650 and 800, where new and old Futhark forms coexisted. The following inscriptions start from this period of transition. We have already seen many old inscriptions where only the name of the rune master was given, I do not believe that it is necessary to present new inscriptions of the same type.


 
 
Flemlose Stone 2:

ruulfRsis:

the name Roulf followed by the palindorme sis, certainly a magical formula.


Glavendurp Stone:

It carries a long classic inscription that ends with:

şur uiki şasi runaR / / at rita sa uarşi is stainşansi ailti işa aft anan traki

‘Thor hallow these runes! / / Let him become reti the one who damages this stone or displaces it (in order that it stands) in memory of another.’

We shall find four inscriptions using 'reti' or 'retti' as an insult in conjunction with the practice of seidr. We can thus conjecture as Krause does that it means 'sorcerer'


 

Glemminge Stone:

uirşi at missed huuas ub briuti:

‘Let him become reti the one who this monument destroys.’


Gorlev Stone (9th century):

şiauşui / risşi / stinşansi / aftuşinkaur / fuşarkhniastbmlR / niut ualkums // şmkiiissstttiiilll / iaksataru(na)ri(t)/ [written by another hand]: kuniarmutRkru(b)

This inscription is interesting for several reasons. Note that the Futhark now contains two "a" that I said I would confuse (on purpose) for reasons of simplicity. The second is written as I said in the beginning of this chapter, while the "a" of the rune Ansuz represents a sound similar to French "an". This stone contains a classical message of who raised the stone for whom, followed by a Viking Futhark of 16 elements, and then followed by "Make good use of the monument". On the other side of the stone, the following formula is found: thmkiiissstttiiilll. By taking the first three runes and making them the initial letter of the words using one of the following triplets, one obtains the three words thistil (thistle), mistil (mistletoe), kistil (a small box). This formula is also found in all Nordic countries.

The rest of the inscription is more standard: şiauşui = a name (translated as Thjodvi by Moltke); risşi = ‘raised’; stinşansi = ‘this stone’; niut = ‘make good use’; ualkums = ‘of this monument’; iaksataru(na)ri(t) = ‘I placed the runes right’; kuniarmutRkru(b) = two names (translated by Moltke as: ‘Gunne’ and ‘Armund’).


 

 
Gravlev Stick:

kukukuburRikikiki / i(k)a(a)lh(n)i(f)ka : uiRisiiue

This inscription was not interpreted. The two repeated triples are certainly there to release the magic of the whole inscription.


Haddeby Comb (beginning of 9th century):

husut

as read by Krause, but Moltke reads it as ausat. Neither of them interpreted the inscription.


Hällestad Stone 1 (around year 1000):

In the middle of a long standard inscription we find the words:

stin a biarki stuşan runum

‘a stone on the hill, made firm with runes.’

The runes are not only decorating the stone, but they help it to remain standing.


Hemdrup Stick:

uanşikiba . fiukati . asaauaaubi

uan = ‘won’; şik = ‘you’; iba = ‘never’; fiukati = ‘the storming one’; asa = feminine first name, Ase, or genetive plurial of 'Aesir' (= ‘of the Aesir’); The rest of the inscription is hardly understandable, it has been translated by N. A. Nielsen as: ‘has luck in struggle’.


 
Jelling Stone:

Between 950 and 1025 in Denmark, a bit later in Sweden, we find the 'great' period of monumental stones carved with runes. They have an artistic interest and a historical one certainly, but, for the most part, few are of interest for runic magic. Some would say that runic handwriting is a writing system like any other, since the inscriptions contain no magic at all. One of the most famous and most beautiful is the great Jelling Stone that has three sides:

One is dedicated to a long inscription, another to a drawing of Christ on the cross (see the picture given to rune Gebo in chapter 2), and the third a 'monster' surrounded by a snake.

The inscription side carries:

haraltr: kunukR: bath: kaurua / kubl: thausi: aft: kurmfathursin / aukaft: thaurui: muthur: sina: sa / haraltr ias: saR. uan. tanmaurk

The side with the beast has:

ala. Auknuruiak

The side with Christ:

aukt(a)ni(karthi)kristna

Inscription side:

‘Harald the king ordered made / these testimonies after (= in memory of) Grom father his / and after Thorvi mother his this / Harald of-him that won Denmark’

Beast side:

‘whole and Norway’

Christ side:

‘and the Danish made Christian.’


Karlevi Stone (around 1000):

It contains a classical text:

stain sasi ias satr aiftir siba kuşa sun fultars inhans lişi sati at u tausaiş

‘This stone is placed in memory of Sibbe the Good, son of Foldar. And his followers placed on the island this (memorial) of death.'

The following runes constitute a skaldic poem their rhythm and alliterations show. The verses as below make them easier to read.

fulkin likr hins fulkşu Folginn liggr hinn's fylgğu Hidden lies he whom
flaistr uisi şat maistar (flestr vissi şat) mestar - most knew it - the greatest
taişir tulka şruşar dáğir dolga şrúğar virtues, of the warrior,
traukr i şaimsi huki draugr í şeimsi haugi. in this mount.
munat raiş uişur raşa

ruk starkr i tanmarku

a(i)ntils iarmun kruntar

urkrantari lanti

Mun-at reiğ-Viğurr ráğa

rógstarkr í Danmorku

Endils jormungrundar

ørgrandari landi

No warrior will rule

in Denmark a better

stronger in battle sea-warrior

rightly (on this) land

The expression reiğ-Viğurr is understood as 'chariot Odin of the chariot' because Viğurr is one of Odin's names, this alludes to Odin's wild hunt.
'draugr' means 'tree' in the poetical langage, 'dolg' means 'battle', and 'şrúğr' is the name of one of Thor's daughters.
'Endils' is the genetive form of the name of a see-king, 'jormungrund' means 'far spreading land', i.e., the sea.
It follows that "dolga şrúğar draugr" = "tree of the Thrud of the battles" = the warrior.
In the same way, " Endils jormungrundar reiğ-Viğurr" = "Odin of the chariot the sea king of the far-spreading land" = "Odin of the sea king of the sea" = "Odin of the battleship" = "sea-warrior".


Lund Weaving-tablet:

An inscription meaning "Ingemar Sigvor's son (or: Ingemar Sigvors) shall have my misfortune", i.e., a curse from a rejected girl, followed by the magical: "aallatti". This last formula seems to be here to free the magic, in other words to consecrate the curse.


Randbol stone:

This inscription consists of two sentences. The first one with

tufi bruti risşi stin şansi aft lika brutia

is translated by Moltke by ‘Tue the overseer set up this stone in memory of the equal match (his wife)’. The second sentence can be read as three verses of a skaldic poem :

şiR stafaR munu şeR stafaR These staves for
şurkuni şorgunni Thorgun
miuk liki lifa miok lœngi lifa Will live very long.

The first sentence contains the repetition 'bruti', 'brutia' (cf. Old Icelandic 'bryti' = overseer, manager), which is very badly rendered in Moltke's translation. I suggest, for this first sentence, a translation that is closer to the original:

tufi bruti risşi stin şansi aft lika brutia
Tue, overseer, set up stone this after a like (female)-overseer

Ribe cranium (c. 800) :

ulfuR auk uşin auk hutiuR / hialb buris / uişR / /şaima uiarki auk tuiR / kuniu [here a perforation] buur

auk = ‘and’; UlfuR = name of a God containing the root "wolf"; Uşin = Oşin = name of the God Odin; HutiuR = name of a God called Hydyr by Moltke; hialb = ‘help’ (imperative); Buris (a name) [or: hialb = ‘help’ (noun) and Buris = a name, genitive; which gives: ‘the help of Buris’]; uişR = ‘against’; şaima = ‘this’; uiarki = ‘pain’; tuiR = ‘dwarf’; kuniu = ‘knock’ (Moltke first read kunig, but he admits that the interpretation kuniu is more likely); buur = Bur, name of the rune master. There is some discussion about the meaning of hialb because it should be plural since three entities are called. This problem disappears if we accept that it is a trinity of Gods, called as such to help.

'Ulfur and Odin and Hydyr help Buris against pain and dwarfstoke'

It is obviously a charm to protect against a kind of sickness. Pain evokes a type of arthritic ailment. Dwarfstroke, in view of the future of the Anglo-Saxon word, dweorh (dwarf) becoming "fever" (see volume 1, chapter 4) can be understood as strokes of fever.


Saleby Stone (Sweden):

Neither Moltke nor Krause give the runes, but they both translate:

‘He shall become a retti (Krause: sorcerer) and an arg woman who breaks it!’

Krause comments on "arg woman" by saying it means ‘a perverted witch’ and Moltke says: "arg in this context means one dealing with black magic, the woman is a witch". It is very amusing to see how these nice scholars cannot take into account elementary facts of our sexual life, facts that must have been true since the beginning of humanity. Remember that in volume one I explained that when Freya "had to fart" after having had sex with Frey, as the Lokasenna reports, it means 'obviously' that they had anal sex, simply because no woman would especially fart after 'normal' sex, while she does usually after anal sex. This is true today, and was certainly true a few thousand years earlier. Similarly, what can an "arg woman" be? From all we said already, it means a woman who practices anal sex. Used as an insult as it is here, and, again, using the 'eternal' knowledge that only sexually very excited women draw a large pleasure from anal sex, it means that the woman alluded to has very strong sexual needs, that she is very excited. A modern equivalent could be: lecherous, or constantly horny, or the like with cruder words. Insulting someone of the male sex in that way, is a way of calling him 'nothing but a lecherous woman', that is, to need and like to receive anal sex. I explained in volume one why I think that a kind of 'feminization' must have been done to the sorcerer before his seidr, by buggering him. Now, the curse says: "not only you will have to do it (for practicing your seidr), but on the top of it, you will like it". Well, this is such a classical 'macho' insult that I hope it does not need more explanation now.

(note: I apologize for insisting on this matter but the prudery (or complete innocence?) of the scholars has been confusing these simple topics so much that I want to show that this kind of insult still exists nowadays. I once overheard a joke told by a Russian who was making fun of the Eskimos. It told of an Eskimo describing the otherwise inexpressible delicious taste of an orange as being as good as the pleasure of being buggered. In other words, in this joke, Russians mock Eskimos by saying that they are all "arg women".)


 
Skabersjö Buckle (buckle itself not later than year 700 but inscription dated c. 1025):

...(RR)RRRRRRRRRRRRR(r)aşi(tu)kfaukafiaRsisinaiakasaşuilaunat ...

Moltke says that there might be up to 24 R-runes here (while he sees only 13 to 15), this set of runes can thus be understood as a representation of the R rune followed by the Futhark (similar to # 22). (r)aşi = a name?; tuk = took; fauka =? 'stroke', 'onslaught' [not translated by Moltke]; fiaR = property; sis = his; in =?? 'to' ; a = 'in'; iak = 'I'; asa = first name 'Åse', or 'of the Aesir'; şui = 'this one', 'that one'; launat = 'paid, rewarded'; Hence, Moltke's translation:

'Rade took fauka of his property and with that I, Åse, have rewarded (someone)'.

Krause sees only 16 R-runes [which does not change my understanding since the Nordic Futhark contains 16 runes], and he translates the sentence as:

‘Vadi took increase of his money. I, Asa, have rewarded (something) with that.’

Obviously, Moltke has been reading an r while Krause read a w as the first letter of the name. Moltke’s reading has the advantage that the name can be linked to the word 'rider' (see, for instance # 105), even though he does not say so. Both choose to translate asa by the female name Åse, and not by 'of the Aesir'. I want to discuss this choice because it is typical of what I call "the religion of rationalism" which leads people to systematically translate by the most casual version, when possible. This inscription begins with a large number of "senseless" Rs. Even if I am wrong about this set being an image of the Futhark, this accumulation cannot have but a magical interpretation, as in the other runic inscriptions that show also these "senseless" repetitions. In this context, and since the inscription is obviously from one hand only (the Rs of the beginning are exactly the same as the R of fiaR, for instance), I claim that not attributing a magical meaning to the whole formula is irrational: the beginning would be magic, and the end casual, supposing a very unstable writer. This is why I suggest translating iakasa by 'I of the Aesir', which might sould a bit strange in English unless you think of it as a kind of ‘I, child of the Gods’, or something like that. One must recall also that, here, the rune R is no longer the Algiz of the Older Futhark, but the rune Yr of the Younger one, thus designating the yew. The Icelandic runic poem says that "Yr is the Farbauti of the arrow" (see detailed description of rune Ihwaz), and Farbauti is a Thurse (a Giant) who is the father of Loki. I am quite aware that I am stretching the thread of logic very thin here, but speaking of Loki and "possessions taken by onslaught" immediately brings forward the famous myth of the otter's ransom, the one upon which the malediction of the Rhine's gold is based. Odin, Loki and Honir wander together, and Loki kills an otter who happens to be Regin's son, and he has to steal a treasure as a ransom to be paid to Regin in compensation of his son's death. Fafnir kills Regin to steal this ransom, and is killed in turn by Sigurdr ('Siegfried' in the German version of this myth). Loki started this long story which ends with the curse attached to the Volsung family. It is not at all contradictory to see this curse as the "reward" of the runic inscription since it fits well with their style to say "reward" meaning "curse".

The whole inscription can thus be understood as:

'Farbauti Futhark. The rider took by violence the treasure. I of the Aesir rewarded (them = the Volsung) with that'


Skern stone 2:

it has a standard inscription followed by:

sişi sa manr is / şusi kubl ub biruti

‘Let him practice seidr the man who this monument destroys !’

Moltke translates sişi by "sorcerer".


Snoldelev stone:

It has a swastika and a triskele made of three drinking horns, that were also seen as the heart of Hrungnir (see chapter 3 of volume2) and it carries the following runes:

kun / ualstain / sunaR // ruhalts / şular / asalhauku(m)

kun / ual = a name (‘Gunvald’); stain = ‘stone’; sunaR = ‘son’; ruhalts = ‘of Roald’; asalhauku(m) = ‘on the Sal-mounds’; şular = ‘thul’. The title carried by Gunvald, "thul" is like the Old Norse word, şula meaning ‘a litany’, and the Anglo-Saxon ule: ‘announcer’, ‘reciter’. The presence of magical signs associated with this inscription leads us to believe that Gunvald was a singer (a skald) specialized in incantations.


Sonder Kirkeby stone:

un şur uik(i) (r)unaR

‘Thor hallow the runes!’


Sonder Vinge stone 2:

sarşi auk siş r[a]ti saR manR ias auşi mini şui

‘Witch and seidr-retti the man who destroys this memorial’

Moltke doesn’t really translate siş, which Krause interprets as seidr, as in Skern stone 2 above.


Sonderby stone:

şuurmutR / niaut kubls

şuurmutR = ‘Thormund’; niaut = ‘make good use’; kubls = ‘of this monument’


Tryggevoelde stone:

On one side it carries a long classic inscription and on the other two faces contain this inscription:

sauarşi at rita isailstainşansi işaişantraki

‘Let him become a "reti" the one who damages this stone or displaces it from here.’


Virring stone:

It has a standard inscription ending with:

şur uiki şisi kuml

‘Thor hallows this monument!’


Winchester stone (Danish runes):

The inscription is not understandable, but it is noticeable that the runes contained traces of red paint. Hence the legend, very popular among scholars, that all runes would have been reddened by paint, instead of blood, contradicting each description found in the texts, sagas and Edda.


Runes of the Middle Ages (1025 - 1300)
Many standing stones bear runic inscriptions that are prayers in Latin, invocations to Christ, etc. and so we will not report all these inscriptions. Moreover, in many cases, it is obvious that the inscription is a normal text, that is, the Futhark becomes a normal 'alphabet', and no magical value is attached to each rune. Some texts are magical, as we shall see, and some others are obscene. The text carries the meaning now, not at all the letters themselves, as it was so often the case in the inscriptions of the first period.

Bergen Inscription (on a stick of wood, probably beginning of 13rd century):

ion silkifuş a mek en guşormr fuşllaekir / ræist mik en ion fuşkula ræşr mek

One must remember that the first three letters of the Futhark, 'fuş' designate female genitalia. Finding an inscription fuş may thus be interpreted 'innocently' as the beginning of the Futhark, or as an obscenity, as probably happens in this inscription.

Moltke translates: 'Jon silk-fuş owns me, and Guttorm fuş-licker carved me, and Jon fuş-bump reads me.' The 'fuş-bump' is a bit mysterious to me, it might be an allusion to a male sex, which indeed a big bump for female genitalia! Well, this inscription is certainly due to a bunch of joyous friends; whether they are homosexual or not is not very interesting. The point is that it is clear that from the beginning of the 13rd century, the feeling of sacredness for the runes was totally forgotten!


Canterbury Charm:

kuril sarşuara far şu nu funtin is tu şur uigi şik ş(u)rsa trutin kuril sarşuara uişr aşrauari

‘Kuril wound-causer, go now, you are found. Thor hallow you, Lord of Troll, Kuril wound-causer. Against blood-vessel pus.’

Since Thor hallows with his hammer, the "Thor hallow you" must be understood as "Thor strike you with his hammer!", which makes sense in this curse against a sickness.

Moltke cites this charm even though it is found in a manuscript of the 11th century (the runes are in one line, the blanks have been inserted by Moltke).


Högstena Amulet (11th century):

Krause gives this inscription as transliterated in Old Norse:

galanda vişr, ganganda (?) vişr; rişanda viş(r), vişr rænnanda, vişr sighlanda (?); vişr faranda, vişr fliughanda : skal allt fuş (?) anna (?) ok um døia.

Against the magic-making one, against the going one, against the riding one, against the running one, against the sailing one, agianst the travelling one, against the flying one : completely should the scoundrel [the exact word here is, sorry, "the cunt"] be in agony and die.’

This famous curse contains the word fuş which means 'female genitalia' used here as an insult. In English it became very rude to use it, yet the very same word became a strong but casual insult in French; it might well be that it had a use in Old Norse similar to modern French, which would explain why it has been used so casually in several runic inscriptions.

(note: Krause uses a word that means scoundrel but that designated the sex of a bitch until the sixteenth century.)

Instead of "the sailing one", Moltke gives: "against the signing one" which makes less sense than Krause's interpretation; he says nothing about the rest of the inscription.


London Stone (beginning of 11th century):

A classical inscription in Danish runes ("Ginna had this stone laid, and Toke") with remains of black-blue coloring in the runes.


Lund bone-piece 4 (end of 11th century):

bondi ris ti mal runu // arar aeru fiaşrar

‘Bondi cut the speech runes. Oars of eagle are feathers.’

The runes of Speech are studied in chapter 5. Notice that in Icelandic, 'malrunar' takes the meaning of plain-language runes, as opposed to secret runes. In the case of this inscription the runes of speech are "Oars of eagle are feathers" which is certainly not plain language.


Lund bone-piece 21(end of 11th century):

... itonkugi : uratfunti

The first part of this inscription is not interpreted, and the second part must have some sexual meaning: urat = ‘to push’, ‘to wriggle’, ‘to shake’; funti = dative singular of a 'font' (which makes no sense here), or of 'encounter'.


Lund bone-piece 24 (11th century):

fuştramRhnkib

fuş = ‘female genitalia’; tramR = ‘troll’; hnki = haki = ‘arrange in a convenient way’ (present subjunctive); b = beginning of a name (certainly of a girl). This makes up some kind of sexual insult to a woman whose name starts with a B.


Odense lead tablet:

kristus uinkit kristus regnet kristus imperat

‘Christ conquers, Christ reigns, Christ commands’

This is only a portion of the complete inscription, but it is typical of very christianized inscriptions. Although the inscription is in runes, the words are directly from latin. Some other sentences are obvious incantations the meaning of which has been lost. One is still understood, it is found also on several Middle Ages inscriptions, it reads agla (in runes) and is known as being the first letters of the Hebrew words "attah gibbor leolam adonai", meaning ‘thou art strong to all eternity, Lord.’


Ribe healing stick (carved around 1300):

It is one of the last inscriptions except those found in books. After that, until the 16th century runic inscriptions seem to go underground since no finds have been made. The flow of runic inscription restarts after the year 1500.

I will not give the runic form of this very long inscription. It begins with a poem in which the healer asserts him or herself.

Earth I pray guard
and the heaven above,
sun and Saint Mary
and himself the Lord God,
that he grants me hands to make whole
and healing tongue
to cure the Trembler
when treatment is needed.
From back and from breast, from trunk and from limb, from eyes and from ears; from every place where evil can enter.
A stone is called swart; it stands out of the sea. On it lie nine Needs. They shall neither sleep sweet nor make warm until you are better of it; for whom I have caused runes to utter words. Amen. And so be it. [ends with a sign of cross].

The Trembler is the 'shivering sickness', i.e., the malaria which was quite well known at the time. From the language used in this charm, it seems that the author copied an older Norwegian model.

Note: in modern Iceland there is a "kvennagaldur" (a women's spell):

Risti eg şér asa atta
nauğir niu
şussa şrettan

‘I cut for you eight aesir, nine nauğir, thirteen thursar.’


Sigtuna Amulet (end of 11th or 12th century):

Moltke gives only part of it:

şurXsarrişuXşursa trutin fliu şu nu funtin is

‘Troll of wound-fever, Lord of the Troll, flee now, you are found.’

Krause does not give the original text, but notes that its meaning is not certain. As already seen in Volume 1, he translates it as: ‘Demon of the fever of wounds, Lord of the demons, Now you must flee. You have been discovered. Three kinds of pain on you, wolf. Three times the misery, wolf. |||, the rune of Ice. These ice runes will be your only joy, wolf. Enjoy the seidr well.’ It can be compared with the Canterbury Charm, also explained in chapter 4 of the first volume.


Slesvig bone-piece 3 (12th century):

fuşarsb - fuik

The second part of the inscription is not interpreted. The fist part can be interpreted in two ways. It can be either a very badly spelled futhark, or it can be read as fuş-ars-b which is given by Moltke as meaning "cunt and arse, as would still be said in free speech today."

The rune ‘r’ is written as and the ‘k’ of ‘fuikk’ as such : . This quite stylized form of the upside-down ‘r’ might well be also a way to writing an upside-down bound rune ‘rk’ This hypothesis avoids to interpret the runes as an insult to some person whose name starts with a ‘b.’ It would rather be a way to dedicate the Futhark to ‘sb.’ It is also quite possible that the ambiguous way of writing would be a kind of bad joke played on this ‘sb.’


Slesvig bone-piece 5 and 7 (12th century):

These pieces provide good examples of the medieval Futhork.


Slesvig rune stick (end of 11th century):

It shows a grotesque poem

runaR iak risti

a r(i)kiata tre

sua reş saR riki mogR

asiR a artakum

hulaR auk bulaR

meli şeR ars sum magi

‘Rune I wrote

on the driving tree

so proposed the mighty son

Aesir in early days

'hurlar' and 'burlar',

may they say for you, your bum is like belly’

The words 'hurlar' and 'burlar' are visibly invented for the occasion, and the word 'rikiata' is also here in order to keep the rules of the poetical form used.

The last sentence obviously expresses that the person addressed makes little difference between what goes in his belly, and what goes out of his bum.


Inscriptions from Derolez

back to the top

runic inscriptions rune pages references ancient lore ÞÓRSDRÁPA(Français) - in English
buddha-bøtte healing galdor charms links etymology of rune HRAFNAGALDUR ÓĞINS
Français- - - English
lithuanian folklore nordic magic healing rovás email lists feminine magic - Français NMH home

Mystical side
English --- Français

Reports on the Heathen past ---
Témoignages d'un passé paien
Mabinogion      

Ring of the Niebelung This Ring of the Niebelung WebRing site is owned by Next site
Nordic Magic Healing
Click for the [Next Page | Skip It | Next 5 | Random site]
Want to join the ring? Click here for info.
copyright © 1998 Yves Kodratoff