Monday, October 30, 2023

Unveiling the Mysteries of the Celtic Pantheon

 My new book, Gods & Goddesses of the Celtic Realms will be published on the 21st of November - it will be available as both a Kindle and Print version via the Amazon site of your choice. Pre-orders for the Kindle can be taken now, while the print copies will be live from the 21st Nov '23, or thereabouts.  

The book is a 180 page reference guide and introduction to the major concepts and deities of the Celts. This comprehensive guide takes you on an exploration of the divine beings that inspired the Celtic culture. It is both a compelling read from start to finish, but also an invaluable reference for those seeking an introduction into the spiritual ways of the Celts. It is lavishly illustrated throughout. 

As you might notice, I've traded Dave Migman for Dave Stone. It's been a bit of a struggle to divide myself this way, but I feel that Migman is a name that I associate with a kind of negative poetical side of myself. He'll still publish stuff, but Dave Stone  will be the author name I use for Historical non-fiction and fiction. This decision feels right for a number of reasons. 

Pre-order now at:

Gods & Goddesses

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Aion - The Original Satan


He Who Holds the Keys


Having carved variations of this leontocephaline figure, I thought it was time to explore this ancient deity further. Appearing as he does with a lion's head on a human body, girdled by a serpent, this imposing figure is found in ancient Mithraic temples throughout the Graeco-Roman world. His imagery is loaded with symbolism, but before we delve in we need figure out just who he is. 

This deity was known by many names: Aion, Sæculum, Kronos, but these were really just conventions, for he was truly nameless. For the purpose of this post, let's stick with Aion. 

Like the Zoroastrian, Zurvan, Aion isn't just a god of time, he is time; unyielding and absolute. He is the heavenly gatekeeper around whom fiery diadems glow. He stands at the outermost region of the cosmos, that of the aether, seen by ancients as a realm of fire. In fact, some of his statues were constructed so that flames could blast from the mouth. His fearsome jaws tear apart his progeny at the termination of each cosmic cycle. In ways his aspect is formidable, frightening, yet the lion’s head suggests courage and determination. 

As we can see, Aion is often depicted holding a set of keys. Those initiated in his ways  would have known him as a keeper of two gates -  two ways to escape the endless cycle of life, death and rebirth. His silver key would open the Gate of Cancer, beyond which was the path to the ancestors and reincarnation. While the golden key would unlock the Capricorn Gate, revealing the way to escape the cyclic grip of necessity, through gnosis-like transcendence

From Ostia Antica

Aion’s wings represent four-fold time, while the serpent that coils about him, like an ouroboros, is cyclical motion; that of the sun, the planets and of time. While his body is adorned with zodiacal symbols, reinforcing his dominion over time and the process of the ages. He is sometimes attended by chthonic beasts, such as Cerberus, or flailing knots of snakes, all connected with the underworld. Sometimes he is portrayed with an eye on his chest, this 'eye of the soul' was also a symbol of divine intellect. The eye of Aion was used in magic too, inscribed on talismans and objects to bring power. 

In the city of Alexandria, Aion was worshipped under a number of guises, usually in conjunction with other deities: Pschai-Aion, Sarapis-Aion, Aion-Kronos amongst them. This coupling of deities reflects the idea that gods were not seen only as supernatural personages, but as metaphysical concepts. 

Early Christianity, seeking to escape the rigours of endless time via the teachings of Jesus - Aion, the figurehead of boundless time, became ‘Satan’. Indeed many of the trappings of Satan are evident in his imagery: his association with a realm of fire, the serpent and underworld affiliations. 

I haven’t yet managed to lay my hands on a copy of Carl Jung’s work, Aion, which delves into Christianity’s beginnings and associated symbolism, as well as exploring various archetypes. The title perks my interest. But in the meantime, I’ll keep carving him from time-to-time, drawn by the powerful imagery from over two-thousand years ago. 


The Mithras liturgy - Hans Dieter Betz

Magical Practice in the Latin West - Richard L. Gordon &  Francisco Marco Simón 

Mystery Religions in the Ancient World - Joscelyn Godwin

The Mysteries of Mithra - Franz Cumont




Thursday, February 20, 2020

The Hare In Mythology - Guest blog Post by Steph

Hand Carved Hare by Dave Migman of Stone Mad Crafts 

The Names of the Hare in English* 

Dew-beater, dew-hopper,

The sitter, the grass-hopper,

Fiddlefoot, form-sitter,

Lightfoot, fern-sitter,

Stag of the cabbages, herb cropper,

Ground creeper, sitter-still,

Pintail, turn-to-hills,



White womb,

Layer with the lambs

Hare Today…

The hare is everywhere in art these days. However as their habitats are urbanised and become more inhospitable, they are less visible in their natural environment.  Perhaps the popularity of “hare fayre” today speaks to the wildness within us, buried beneath a veneer of societal norms and plastic detritus.

 The hare’s contradictory nature is evidenced by their ubiquity in folklore. They feature worldwide in stories of the moon and fantasy and were also anthropomorphised into everyday folks. They are comfortable in the company of rude mechanicals and divinity alike. Often confused with rabbits, their gentler cousins, we are drawn to their beauty and grace which can seem otherworldly and has inspired many legends.

The Nature of the Hare

Why then are there so many legends across the world surrounding hares? They are indigenous to every continent excluding Antarctica, yet they remain stubbornly unfamiliar. They are solitary in nature, and even leverets born in the same litter are separated at birth. Yet they are known to congregate on mountainsides and even airfields in vast numbers… and nobody knows why.

In researching this post, I encountered so much contradictory information. So little is known about their habits. In fact it was only in recent years that it was discovered that “boxing hares” are not males competing for mating rites, but females rejecting potential mates. They are rarely visible out-with springtime, when they can be seen trying to outrun cars on country roads or sitting sentinel in fields. 

Hares differ from rabbits in several key ways – a hare has no home to retreat to, resting in forms above ground which makes them entirely reliant on hiding and running for survival. Their massive hearts power these high speeds. This is why they make lists of fastest animals on the planet with top speeds of up to 60km per hour. They are small prey animals with a reputation for being feisty.

Beast of Venery

As prey animals, hares have long enjoyed an elevated status and a reputation for scrappiness. In Medieval Britain, the hare was designated one of four “Beasts of Venery”. Hares were for the landed gentry only, not for peasants and poachers. Laws were passed to forbid the common man from poaching hares, as they were revered alongside the deer, boar and wolf. The unlawfulness of eating hare may have been adopted by conquerors from Celtic customs. Perhaps this status as food fit for a king only is in part responsible for the anthropomorphic interpretation of the hare as arrogant.

Whether full of bluster, like Aesop’s Hare and the housemate of Alison Uttley’s Little Grey Rabbit, or full of cunning like Brer Rabbit, hares are culturally elevated to a higher status. It is possible to see a correlation between this and their aloof, solitary nature.

Celtic and Anglo Saxon Tradition

Hares have been revered across many cultures in mythology. Both the Anglo-Saxons and Celts treated the hare as forbidden flesh excepting a ritual hunt (Celts at Beltane, Anglo Saxons at ‘Easter’ time)**. Celts viewed hares as creatures of divination. There is a well-known story of Boudicca releasing a hare as a portent during a speech. It is said that hares can shape shift, or that women (often, defined as witches) could change into hares. The Celtic warrior Oisin chased a hare and found a beautiful woman with identical injuries. There are stories too of witches, under the guise of hares, stealing milk from cows in the field. 

‘I shall go into a hare,

With sorrow and sych and meickle care;
And I shall go in the Devil’s name,
Ay while I come home again.’ 

 1662, Isobel Gowdie’s confession.

Hand carved stone pendant by Stone Mad Crafts

Moon gazing hares

The most common image by far we see of hares in art is that of the moon-gazer. The hare’s association with the moon spans across many cultures and seems to derive, in part, from their nocturnal habits and tendency to stillness. However it could also be attributable to the shape of a hare perceived in a full moon.

To Be or Not To Be…

The ancient Greeks used hares to represent both homosexual and heterosexual love. Gender fluidity is attributed to the hare in legend and they are associated with fertility in many different legends. They are associated with the god Eros and the goddess Aphrodite. It may be this reputation, along with their speed and dynamism, which led to them being used as a symbol of regeneration as well as a messenger of the gods. In Egyptian hieroglyphics, hares were most commonly used to mean ‘to be’. 

The individual hare representing existence flows nicely into some of the theories about the triskele of hares. Three hares appear in a circle formation, sharing ears so that between the three ears  they each have a pair. Three as a number represents community (where individuality and duality precede it). It is often associated with worship – trinities of gods or triskele patterns form a triangle of dependence and interconnectedness. A circular image appearing along the silk path, from the Far East to the south of England,  is known as the “Tinner’s rabbits”. It appears carved in Romanesque churches and painted in Buddhist caves.

Hieroglyph from Saqquara, Egypt, 2400 BC (Photo - S. Johnson)


The Private Life of the Hare by John Lewis-Stempel ISBN 9781473542501

The Way of the Hare by Marianne Taylor ISBN 9781472942265

The Leaping Hare by George Ewart Evans and David Thomson ISBN 9780571336050

Foot notes:

 *Middle English poem, circa 13th Century, first published by ASC Ross in Proceedings of Leeds Philosophical Society, Literary and Historical Section, in 1935 (p347-77)

Translation into modern English is largely my own, Seamus Heaney has his own sweary and inaccurately translated version if you like that kind of thing!

**Easter is often referred to as having had its origins in the celebrations of the Germanic goddess ‘Oestre’ who had a hare for a companion – in reality we know very little about the extent of worship to Oestre before being referenced by Bede in 725ad and theoretically, there may well have been a host of goddesses of the spring and fertility, localised, who all became generic and celebrated under one banner… however we can readily recognise the hare’s symbolism of fertility and spring from their habits.

***oral traditions in Africa seem to make it hard to pin down an origin for this story, but there is a tradition generally of smaller, prey animals being tricksters who outwit larger creatures. There is another typical type of pan African tale which explains the origins of different animals – both aspects are present in this particular story.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Wondrous Head

Stone Head dated between 500BC and 500AD  from Wentcliff Beck near Earby

The Celts had a well known and documented  reverence for the human head. The head, as the seat of the soul, was considered sacred. Ancient historians, such as Herodotus, described Celtic headhunters displaying their victims craniums with pride. To these iron-age tribesmen the  power of the slain was appropriated by the collecting of heads.  In this manner it is believed  that Celtic warriors honoured their victims. 

The idea of the head as the seat of the soul is reflected in many Celtic legends. The myth of Bran The Blessed is told in the Mabinogion, a collection of ancient tales in the Welsh language, and is just one example*. In this tale the seven survivors of the war between Matholwch and Bran bear the latter’s  severed head back to Wales from Ireland. There they lived in a fort on an island off the coast for four score years and were known as The Assembly of The Wondrous Head.  Bran’s severed head regaled them with tales, poems and songs,  until one of their number opened a forbidden door and reality rushed in. The myth  hints at the power assumed to reside within the head, even when it was no longer attached to the body. 

Stone Mad Crafts
This is one of my carvings - see the link below

Indeed this idea isn’t restricted to bloody tales of head hunters and singing severed heads prophesying the fates of lands and peoples. Stylised  heads, carved in stone, were probably used as a focus for reverence. The symbolic head also appears on much metal work from the  iron-age period throughout Europe. Such images often portray stern countenances, with large eyes and pronounced brows. They are thought to have been magical devices and were used to protect against evil. 

Wells, springs and lakes are associated with severed heads, and lingering remnants of ancient traditions involving human skulls and curative springs were still in use during the last century in Scotland and Wales. Old traditions often continued, even after the conversion of most ‘pagan peoples,’  albeit under the thin veneer of Christianity. Thus the head of Saint Fergus, who died circa 730 AD, was said to possess curative powers. In the 1400’s James IV had a silver case made for the skull.   The head of another Saint, Marnoch,** also possessed healing powers and oaths were sworn by it, testament to the lingering notion that the head contained great power. 

Stone head from York Museum. 
As you might have noticed I carve rocks. Please visit and like my FaceBook page where I post more pics of my work and give folks the head's up (ho-ho) of events I'll be attending. 


* These texts relate the tales of the Brythonic speaking tribes who once inhabited Britain, up to the Forth Clyde isthmus
** He gave his name to Kilmarnock


Druids - Anne Ross
Folklore of Lochs - MacKinlay

The Head Cult Tradition and folklore surrounding the symbol of the severed head in The British Isles - David Clarke.

Friday, February 8, 2019

The Mysterious Kelpie: A Vestige of Older Beliefs?

Manannan's Bride, By The Author

The side was steep, the bottom deep 
Frae bank to bank the water pouring; 
And the bonnie lass did quake for fear, 
She heard the water-kelpie roaring."* 

A page from my Sketchbook showing waves depicted as sea horses. 

White  horses racing across the ocean, white manes flaring.  Tolkien used the image in the Lord of The Rings, when the river sweeps away the Dark Riders at the Ford of Bruinen. The imagery has been used in art,  myths and poems for thousands of years. It is more than mere allegorical musing, as images from Greece testify. The sea horse, or hippocampus, was  a chimera that had the head of a horse and body of a scaled fish, it is seen accompanying Triton, a sea god, as well as sea monsters such as Scylla.

I have long been intrigued by this design and references to Sea horses and Kelpies in old tales. Much Scottish folklore was documented by various folklorists back in the 1800’s, such as J.F Campbell. He travelled around the country writing down oral traditions and  stories, which bear testament to an oral tradition sadly lost. Old tales that were  themselves are like beads of sea glass found on a beach, their worn surfaces clouded. These fragments once belonged to a clearer, fully formed piece. This is how I regard much folklore. Tales were added and amended through the generations, sometimes in line with the religious and political  needs of the community, thus adding, or subtracting  elements to each tale. However, key elements persist and they are vital to the telling. Some even appear to reference pre-Christian deities. This is what I believe the folklore of the Kelpie myth refers to. 

Many lochs and pools, rivers and streams had their Kelpie, or water horse. They were also known as Each Uisge, Voughans/Vaicghs and in the Shetlands as the less threatening appellation of Nuggles - these were said to look like Shetland ponies… so no threat there!  The Kelpie/Kelpy were equated also with the Norse Nikr (Nix/Nixie and where Ole Nick comes from).  

Some of the designs that the Picts left us that date from the  6-7th c. AD. Do these images relate to the Kelpie? Are there any references to these images in earlier Celtic art? Well yes, here are a few I’ve found over the years of collecting designs to carve. 

A page from my Sketchbook, including the 'elephant' 
design mentioned below. 

This is one of my carvings - Please check the link below :>

The  so-called ‘Pictish elephant’  I believe  is a representation of an early form of Kelpie. It appears to be much more benign, or passive. The positioning suggests this motif was  powerful, and it often hovers above scenes of hunts, wars, kings and queens. And yes, perhaps the symbol came to represent a certain leader or tribe or clan,  the same way  Capricorn was adopted by the Legio II Augusta. Yet in the myths of Kelpies and sea horses, creatures that inhabit lochs and rivers, there suggests a belief in this image as a deity/spirit of associated with bodies of water.  Christianity frowned upon such beliefs, so we have the all too familiar process of ‘demonisation,’ in which the original ‘genus locii,’ or spirit, becomes an evil thing that will only bring bad luck, a creature that would drag people into the depths, lurking in boggy lochs and fast flowing rivers, or ready to pounce on the unwary in the muddy banks. 

In many tales and legends the Kelpie was a creature to be feared and sometimes it appeared as a magnificent horse, saddled and bridled, but whoever tried to ride the beast would find themselves stuck fast to its flanks, crying in terror as the beast dove into the dark cold waters of the loch.

However there are glimmers of an older, less malign version of the Kelpie, for example there was once a tale told that the materials for the building of St Vigeans, Forfarshire were brought there by a Kelpie. And beneath the church, which rested on foundations of iron bars, was a deep lake. 

Another sketchbook page, this one depicting aquatic creatures, some a bit less friendly, others, the paired examples, possess an air of tranquility and affection about them.


Along with the tales of Kelpies there are also those of water bulls, mermaids off the coast, and the selkie. All these are associated with watery places. We know that pools and lochs were often revered by the Celts. In fact the beliefs of our ancestors, across the globe, infer that everything had its spirit or essence. The Romans named local spirits Genus Loci. In Scotland many of the major rivers were named after local spirits and worshipped, or honoured in some form or another. 

Could it be that in these images we are seeing the lingering refrains of a spirit form, something that the peoples refused to relinquish, even in the early days of Christianity? Perhaps this in itself reveals why the Kelpie became so often a thing of malevolence. As  Christianity became less tolerant of other beliefs, the church denounced the old ways the peasantry clung to. By changing their nature, warping the old deities, spirits and Genus loci wretched demonic beings best feared. 

The Rodney Stone depicts two types of Aquatic creature.

STONE MAD CRAFTS - I carve rocks! Please check out my FACEBOOK PAGE

* From a Southern County Ballad (Quoted in Folklore of Scottish Lochs and Springs - James A. Mackinlay


Folklore of Scottish Lochs and Springs - James A. Mackinlay
Popular Tales of the Western Highlands - J.F Campbell

Thursday, November 9, 2017


News - Added 11/05/20

a lot has changed since I originally wrote the following post. In the time since then I explored the runic origins and their use in early magic. The result of this research is my book, Stone Mad Runes; Drinking at Mimir's Well.

It goes into some depth about the history and use of the futhark runes, and each symbol is pared back to its origins. It is also filled with my illustrations from various sketchbooks. 

Available here:

Reviews are encouraging :>

"A thorough and enlightening journey through the runes, this has revived my interest in these symbols. While most people think of the runes as a divination system and modern interpretations have been layered onto the symbols, this book provides the older, deeper, broader meanings, allowing for greater understanding of the symbols, and their power."

And now, after the hard sell,  back to the post :>

One of my carved rune sets - see link below for more details

I know that I hung on the wind battered tree
Nine full nights,
Pierced with the spear
And given to Odin,
Myself to myself

On that tree which no one knows
Whence the roots come.
They did not comfort me with the loaf
Nor with the drinking horn,
I glanced down;
I took up the runes,
Crying out their names,
I fell back from there.
Nine mighty songs I took*

This is how the discovery of the sacred runes is described in the Havamal, an ancient poem that tells of Odin’s self sacrifice on the world tree and how, in a state of religious ecstasy, he ‘discovered’ the runes. But what is a rune?  Etymologically speaking runár was an  old Germanic and Celtic word that designated magic secrets, while Gothic runa indicated a sense of a secret decision,  rūn is old Irish for  mystery, secret purpose, and Finnish runo refers to epic and magical chants. These appear to stem from the Proto  Indo-European Reu - to roar and to whisper.

Orkney futhark

There is little doubt that before they were transcribed runes were linguistic tools. The earliest records of symbolic runes, as we know them today, come in the form of runestaves that were in use from about 50 CE. Though the runic system mutated considerably, it was still being used in Iceland in the 1700's (The Icelandic book known as the Galdrabok details various spells and charms featuring the use of runes and runic talismen).

Page from the Galdrabok

However there are different versions concerning the origin of the runes - one is that it developed via Roman trade routes in Germanic tribal locations, and was a system based upon Latin - another is that it developed during a period of Hellenic influence, or that it developed in the north of Italy, via  Etruscan and Italic tribes, and went north. Each theory is valid, and each has its drawbacks, but I’m not going to go into them as all are fairly speculative. Perhaps the myth of how Odin hung on the world tree for nine days and nights is sufficient enough. *

Etruscan alphabet

The Roman author Tacitus wrote about the Germanic tribes and wrote :

“Augury and divination by lot no people practice more diligently. The use of the lots is simple. A little bough is lopped off a fruit-bearing tree, and cut into small pieces; these are distinguished by certain marks, and thrown carelessly and at random over a white garment. The public questions the priest of the particular state, in private the father of the family, invokes the gods, and, with his eyes toward heaven, takes up each piece three times, and finds in them a meaning according to the mark previously impressed on them.”

We cannot be sure if the marks were runes but the passage is certainly evocative of such. 

The original 24 runic symbols became known as the elder futhark (the name futhark/futhorc deriving from the first letters of the runic sequence). However younger futhark developed around the  7th c. AD from the elder. The Anglo Saxons also had their own runic alphabet too, but obviously runes  mutated depending on region. In the megalithic tomb known as Maeshowe, on the island of Orkney, there is some brilliant examples of runic graffiti. Some are carved in a form known as ‘twig-runes’. 

In Northumbria the runic inscriptions that survive are mainly of Christian subjects, such as the Rood poem on the sandstone cross at Ruthwell, Dumfries and Galloway. So even though their origins are most certainly pagan, they were used by Christians too. 

Orkney twig runes

Runes were also carved on more perishable material that no longer survives. They also  appeared on weapons such as the spearheads from Dahmsdorf and Kovel - early examples of the symbolic power associated with the runes: just as one might engrave a wolf onto a sword to invoke the power of the wolf, so too runes invoked different meanings.  They were used to protect, to give power and to curse. 

Runes were often carved into staves and then reddened with sacrificial blood, thus enhancing the potency of the device. This is evidenced by certain inscriptions that appear to be meaningless barrages of repeated letters: the repetition of a particular rune was meant to enhance its power.

Kovel spearhead

A scatter of runic poems survive to this day. Some are pretty cryptic. Sometimes they agree with each other, but not always. Below I have provided the verses of these  poems beneath each rune. 

1 - OE - Old English rune poem
2 - OI - Old Icelandic rune poem
3 - ON - Old Norwegian rune poem


Wealth is a comfort to any man
yet each person
must share it out well
if he wants to win
a good name before his lord


Wealth is kinsman’s quarrel
the flood-tide’s token
and necromancy’s road



Money/wealth causes kinsen’s quarrels;
the wolf is reared in the forest



Aurochs are fierce and high-horned
the courageous beast fights with its horns
a well-known moor-treader
it is a brave creature


Drizzle is the cloud's tears
and the harvest’s ruin
and the herder’s hate



Slag is from bad iron;
oft lopes the reindeer over the frozen snow



Thorn is painfully sharp to any warrior
seizing it is bad,
excessively severe
for any person who lays among them


Giant is women’s illness
and a cliff-dweller
and Vardhrun’s husband



Giant’s cause women’s sickness;
few are made cheerful by adversity



God (Odin) is the origin of all language
wisdom’s foundation and the wise man’s comfort
and to every hero a blessing and hope


God (Odin) is progenitor
and Asgard's chief
and Valhalla's leader



Estuary is the way for most onward journeys:
and the scabbard is the sword’s



Riding is for every man in the hall
easy and strenuous for he that sits upon
a powerful horse along the long paths


Riding is sitting joyful
and a speedy trip
and the horse's toil



Riding they say is for horses worst;
Reginn hammered out the best sword



Torch is known to each living thing by fire
radiant and bright
it usually burns where nobles rest indoors


Sore is children’s illness
and a battle journey
and putrescence’s house



Sore is the disfiguring of children;
adversity renders a person pale



Gift is an honour and a grace of men
a support and adornment
and for any exile
mercy and sustenance when he has no other



Happiness he cannot enjoy who knows little woe,
pain and sorrow
and has for himself
wealth and joy
and sufficient protection too



Hail is whitest of corn
from heaven’s height it whirls
wind blown 
it becomes water after


Hail is cold seed
and a sleet shower
and snake’s illness



Hail is the coldest of seeds;
christ shaped the heavens in fore times



Need is hard by the heart
yet for men’s sons it often becomes
a help and healing if they need it before


Need is a bondswoman’s yearning
and a difficult circumstance
and drudging work



Need renders little choice; 
the naked will freeze in the frost



Ice is too cold and extremely slippery
glass clear it glistens most like gems
a floor made of frost
fair in appearence


Ice is a river’s bark
and a wave’s thatch
and doomed men’s downfall



Ice is called a bridge road;
the blind need to be led



Harvest  is Men’s hope when god allows
- holy king of heaven
the earth to give up
fair fruits to warriors and to wretches


Year/harvest is men’s bounty
and a good summer
and a full grown field



Year/harvest is men’s bounty;
I guess that generous was Frodhi*** 



Yew is an unsmooth tree outside
hard, earthfast, fire’s keeper
underpinned with roots
a joy in the homeland


Yew is a bent bow
a fragile iron
the arrow’s Farbauti ****


Yew is the winter-greenest wood;
and is found wanting, when it burns, to ignite



Gaming is always play and laughter
to proud men… where warriors sit
in the beerhall happily together



Elk-grass most often dwells in a fen,
grows in water, harshly wounds,
marks with blood any warrior
who tries to take it



Sun to seamen is always a hope
when they travel over the fish’s bath
until the sea-steed brings them to land


Sun is the cloud’s shield
and a shining ray
and ice’s old enemy



The sun is the land’s light;
I bow to holy judgement



Tyr is one of the signs, holds faith well
with noblemen, on a journey is always
above night’s gloom, never fails


Tyr is a one-handed god
and the wolf’s left-overs
and the temple’s chief



Tyr is the one-handed god;
oft will a smith be blowing



Birch is fruitless, yet bears
shoots without seeds, 
is pretty in its branches,
high in its spread
fair adorned
laden with leaves
touching the sky


Birch is a leaf covered limb
and a slender tree
and a spritely wood

fir tree


Birch is leaf-greenest of limbs;
Loki bore treachery’s fortune



Steed is nobleman’s joy before heroes
a hoof-proud horse
where about it warriors
rich in stallions
exchange words
and is always a comfort to the restless



Man is clear to his kinsmen in mirth
yet each one must fail the others
since by his judgement the lord wishes
to commit the poor flesh to earth


Man is man’s pleasure
and mould’s increase
and a ship's embellisher



Man is mould’s increase;
great is the grip of the hawk



Water is seemingly endless to men
if they must fare on a tilting ship
and sea-waves frighten them mightily
and the sea-steed does not heed the bridle


Sea is a welling water
a wide kettle
and a fish’s field



Water is, when falling out of a mountain, a cascade;
and costly ornaments are of gold



Ing was first among the East Danes
seen by men until he later eastwards
went across the waves
the waggon sped behind them
thus the hard men named the hero



Homeland is very dear to every man
if there rightfully and with propriety
he may enjoy wealth in his dwelling generally


This list is not exhaustive, but the main runes are covered in all these poems. 

You should also keep in mind that  runic symbols have often been appropriated by less savoury elements of the political spectrum. The Nazis famously used the Sowilo symbol, just as they staked a claim on the swastika and perverted its  significance. Today right-wing groups still like to think that Norse mythos bears something in common with the dumb racial doctrines they aspire to, but these ideas are a throw-back to Germanic nationalism of the 1800's - equally as blind and untrue as they are nowadays. 

Runes also feature in loads of fantasy, and were  brought into the public imagination by the fantasy author J.R.R Tolkien, who used a form of runic script for the Dwarfs. He borrowed heavily from Norse and Germanic literature for Lord Of The Rings.  

Personally I like the runes, I find that they work for me. Like any form of divination or augury  I use them with caution, sometimes skeptically, and never too often. I have carved them for years and they always feature at my stall as wee charms. I find many people identify with them, from all cultures and all ages, and that's the way it's meant to be. 

I recommend the books  below and that you check my FaceBook page, like it and have a look at what I do.


(or in Larrington’s version)
I took up the runes. screaming I took them
Then I fell back from there.

Nine mighty spells I learned from the famous son**
Of Bolthor, Bestla’s father
And I got a drink from the precious mead

Poured from Odrerir

** it is interesting to note that, in the poem quoted above, Odin takes nine mighty spells from the giants. It was also another giant, Alsvidr, who knew the secrets of the runes. 

***One of great knowledge - might refer to Christ at the time but was used in relation to older pagan deities originally.

****Loki’s father - a ref to the action of the bow’s flinging the arrow.


Gods Of The Ancient Northmen - Geoges Dumèzil  
Runelore - Edred Thorsson 
The Rune Primer - Sweyn Plowright
Rudiments of Runelore - Stephen Pollington
Runes - Martin Findell