The Power of Inscription

Writing and Magic: The Power of Inscription

The word “rune” comes from the Norse and means not only an alphabetic signary, but also “mystery.” Runes, unlike ordinary letters, such as those in the Roman alphabet, are designed to represent magical powers and to convey those powers when written. The Futhark are the principal Norse runes and it is to these that many recent writers have turned to restore the ancient magical systems of the Norsemen and other Germanic-speaking peoples.

Among the other major linguistic groups in ancient Europe, we may look to the Celtic languages and their speakers for another system of magical writing. This is called Ogham. Ogham is a system of correspondences and symbols, and is unrelated to the Greek and Roman alphabet. It uses combinations of tally marks instead of unique individual letters as alphabetic systems do. It appears to have been adapted for use as an alphabet after the Celtic peoples learned of writing from the Greeks or the Phoenicians.

The Phoenicians were the first to invent an alphabet. Inscriptions in ogham signs are found throughout Ireland and Wales, marking battlefields and boundaries, and memorializing leaders. But the use of ogham letters in druid magic is attested in ancient tales. In such cases, letters symbolize some power or intention on the part of the druid instead of spelling out words and sentences.

Not all runic inscriptions or ogham inscriptions are intended to be overtly magical, but many of the old rune and ogham stones of our ancestors were used for marking boundaries or commemorating individuals, battles, or other events. Such purposes seem mundane to us nowadays, but we do well to consider their magical quality, especially in an age when writing of any sort was extremely rare. The ability to render a person, event, or even the boundaries of a tribe’s land permanent, immortal was a magical act, and really still could be thought of that way if we desired to do so. Writing something down removes it from the fragile and perishable fabric of the human memory to a more or less permanent form.

Egyptian hieroglyphs and Chinese ideograms work in another way, each sign carrying a particular meaning that may be equivalent to a word or phrase when translated to spoken language. It was the Phoenicians who first thought to use signs to stand for sounds and to assemble words by representing their sounds rather than their meanings. For this reason we call units of sound in language phonemes and their study phonetics. The Greeks adapted and spread the alphabet, and after they were conquered by the Romans, the Roman alphabet was likewise spread throughout the Mediterranean world.

In the magical arts, words and signs are used to represent ideas and the intentions of the mage. Words may carry the power of a blessing or a curse. The old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” was talking about insults and not magical words. Or, it may indeed be that the little rhyme was itself a protective spell against magical cursing.

In the case of wand or athame inscriptions, the magical instrument is enhanced by the addition of signs or words that are significant, magically speaking, to the wielder of the instrument. Inscriptions may take the form of symbols, such as a pentagram or awen, which have multiple layers of meaning. It may also take the form of sigils, signs that are constructed with a particular magical power in mind. Sigils are traditionally designed to represent and channel the power of angelic spirits, planetary intelligences, daemons, or particular magical configurations, such as protection, manifestation, fertility, transformation, and so forth.

Futhark or Uthark?

The Norse runes, usually called the Futhark, have a complex history and it is beyond the scope of this presentation to go into much detail. The tables below are based upon a cyclic ordering of the runes beginning not with Fehu, but with Ur. This is based upon the work of Kenneth Meadows in his book “Rune Power.” Mr. Meadows cites Swedish oral tradition for this “true” ordering. For me, it rings true. What appears below does not attempt to reproduce all of Mr. Meadows’ interpretations and runic correspondences (notably not his associations of the Norse runes with the trees and shrubs of the Celtic ogham). His work is nevertheless highly recommended. I have also drawn on the interpretations of the runemaster Edred Thorsson, but I do not attempt to represent more than a smidgeon of his extensive writings on the Norse runes. The set used here (and in my wand inscriptions) is based on the Elder Futhark.
The meanings of the runes are discovered not in the groupings of eights (the “aetts”) but in two groups corresponding to levels of creation and manifestationThe first ten runes (beginning with Ur) correspond in very intriguing ways to the ten Sephiroth of the Jewish Kabbalah, ten phases of creation or emanations from the ineffable, infinite potential of Divinity (Whether that is taken to be God or the Sacred Cow, Audhumbla).
The second group includes 14 runes and can be seen to unfold the creation of the material world and human beings within that world, Midgard, or Middle Earth. Meadows’ idea of the runes arranged in a cycle of recurring creation and fulfillment, is one I use when carving runes on wands. Runes may be selected individually for their meanings, grouped together to form complexes of interplaying forces, or the entire cycle of 24 can be inscribed to symbolize and capture the whole energy of Creation. Here then are the Norse Runes with explanations following. Bear in mind that it would be better to represent these runes in a circular arrangement.

Runes of Creation
Corresponding to the Ten Vessels of Manifestation

Sound Rune Name Meaning and Magical Power
U Ursuz, Ur Potential. Aurochs, Great Mother, Audhumbla Primal void, Kether
Th Thurisaz, Thurs Cosmic Intelligence, Giant Ymir, solitary power, Chokmah
A Ansuz, Ass Creation, Triple Goddess, God-rune, Odin, Breath, manifestation, Binah, Saturn
R Raidho, Reid First Swirlings. Wagon, path, travel, wheel of the seasons, 4 directions, movement, protection of order from reversion to chaos. Chesed, Jupiter.
K Kenaz, Ken Will. Torch, controlled fire, illumination, spiritual creative light. Geburah, Mars
G Gebo, Gifu Beauty. Gift, divine gifts, talents, exchange of two energies in balance: divine and human. Tiphareth, Sun.
W Wunjo, Wynja Love. Joy, hope, delight, sexual joy, friendship, brotherhood. Netzach, Venus.
H Hagaliz, Hagal Energy. Magick. Hail, primal egg, cosmic harmony, crystal, eight directions, all colors. Hod, Mercury.
N Naudhiz, Naud Emotion. Connection. Need, the Norns, need fire, deliverance from distress, friction, “Use your destiny.” Power of friction and resistance. Yesod, Moon.
I Isa, Iss Matter. Ice, prima materia; force of attraction, gravity, entropy, inertia; ego integrity, clarity, solidity, material manifestation. Malkuth, Earth.

The Runes of Midgard
Runes of the World of Material Manifestation

Y Jera, Jara The good year, harvest; life cycle, fertility, cycle of two seasons, summer and winter, mutually feeding each other. Midgard.
P Pertho Stone. Lots, divination of fate, Mineral intelligence, transformational powers of metals.
EE Iwaz, Eoh Plant. Yew tree, life and death, life-giving force, vegetative power of plantlife.
Z Elhaz Algiz Animal. Elk, protection, victory, spirit, striving upwards to the gods. Intinctive protection, determination to survive in animal life.
S Sowilo, Sol, Sig Consciousness. Sun, solar wheel, magical will, chakras or spiritual wheels, spiraling life-force, light of consciousness in higher animals.
T Tiwaz, Tyr Male. The sky god Tyr, favored of fate, victorious, axis mundi, spiritual discipline, masculine power, phallos, spear, the will to succeed, self-sacrifice, justice.
B Berkano, Bjarka, Beorc Female. Birch goddess; presiding of transitions in life and death; becoming and being; feminine nurturing power, female breasts, love.
E Ehwaz, Eh Coupling. Horse; twin gods in equine aspect; Ashvins; harmonious power; vehicle between worlds; loyalty, trust, joining of male and female, couping and combination.
M Mannaz, Man Humanity, human intellect, the holistic cooperation of reason and intuition
L Laguz, Lagu Water. Power of fluidity, a body of water, sea, life energy, organic growth, herbal magick, ebb and flow.
NG Ingwaz, Ing Air. The God Ing, Earth God, consort of Earth Mother; Freyr, Ingvi; potential energy, power to conceive something new, light for communication, dawn.
O Othala, Odal Earth. Hereditary property, ancestral land; wise management of the land. Integrity, husbandry, liberty, past lives, traditions.
D Dagaz Fire. Day; synthesis of day and night, polarity and cycle; new dawn of spiritual realization, health, midsummer.
F Fehu, Feh Fulfillment. Property, cattle, money, prosperity. Accumulated power and control, responsibility, success.

Elvish Runes

THE ALFERIC RUNES or rianar (singular riana, meaning both “carving” and “mystery”) comprise a system of magical writing native to the Elves known as Sarithin. The rianar are designed as a graven system of letters, but are also scribed in ink. Each system of letters is based on a phonetic symbolism, but the rianar runes are — like those of the Norse Futhark and the Celtic Ogham — glyphs that function as ideograms. Each rune joins together (ogmaro) trees, birds, stones, times of the year, herbs, and abstract concepts into a web (ohma).

The term ogham, which I take from the Irish Druidic term, does not simply refer to the “letters” and their phonetic values, but to the whole complex of correspondences which those marks invoke, and so we refer to the Rianar not as an “alphabet” but as an Alferic Ogham (1). This polyvalent quality of word-meanings characterizes Elvish languages at every level. For example, the word riana itself has multiple meanings and can be taken as a verb form as well as a noun form: “mystery,” “treasure,” “hiding,” as well as “carving.”

The Rianar are used for inscriptions of a magical nature and also for writing the languages of the Elves. The phonetic qualities of the set presented here have been adapted to apply to English phonetics as well as Elvish. This makes the Rianar better adapted to writing English than, for example, the Futhark or the Celtic Ogham, which evolved within the phonetics of Norse and Gaelic respectively. Discussion of Elvish languages and dialects is beyond the scope of this paper. Yet to fully understand the Elvish runes, one must have some sense of Elvish cultures and the pantheon of great spirits with whom they have their spiritual relations and practice.

Much of the material presented here is original research derived not from folkloric sources but from interviews with the Elves themselves and the study of their own writings on the subject. It is worth noting that the Elvish cultures and language referred to here are related to those discovered by Professor J.R.R. Tolkien in his researches into the history of Middle Earth. The chief language considered here is called Eranor and has linguistic ties and affinities to Quenya and Sindarin, but it is a separate language native to the Sarith star kingdoms, which are not part of Middle Earth.

ELEMENTS AND IMMORTALS
The beings known as Alfar in Norse mythology and Eldar or Quendi in the mythology of Middle Earth recounted by professor Tolkien are kin to the Sarith races (2). One can trace affinities between the various tribes of Elves in the histories of Middle Earth and the larger history of the Elvish star kingdoms. However, it is beyond the scope of the present paper to pursue that line of inquiry. The author’s own researches have ventured far from terrestrial history into the larger galactic history in which the Sarithin have played such an important role.

The Sarith peoples are composed of three races and star kingdoms, all of which are associated with the Element Air. The three kingdoms are named Randiel, Sarranis, and Palanis. The three corresponding races are the Ran Sarithin, the Sarranxi, and the Valorn. While the calligraphic artorin letters originated with the sages of the Ran Sarithin, the rianar originated on Sarranis where inscriptions on stone, metal, and wood developed to a particularly high art. The poly-elemental characters of the three star kingdoms are as follows:

Randiel: Fire of Air (Lightning)
Sarranis: Earth of Air (Smoke)
Palanis: Water of Air (Rain)

It will be seen that the four elements form the basis of the four major letter series in the rianar. The transcendental element of Spirit or Aether (Kovië in Eranor) is attributed to the vowels.

It should be noted, in the context of Elves’ Airy nature, that Sarithin are quite solid and embodied beings in their adult form, though perhaps not so dull and sluggish as humans. They do, however, undergo two separate metamorphoses in their very long lifespans which begin in an ethereal form known in English as Sylphs (which apparently derives from Eranor sylf ). Sylphs are spirits of the Air and are often attached to plants or trees where they maintain a symbiotic spiritual relationship. They are numbered among the four Elementals and act as the intelligences behind Airy magick and natural forces of weather, communication, and thought, as well as plant flowering and wind-carried seeds.

Sylphs are idealistic and imaginative spirits, but usually appear in diminutive, often scarcely visible forms. Sylphs metamorphose into Elves, but may live in their airy form for many hundreds of years. Thus they are, in effect Elf-children, but often with vast accumulated experience. It was probably Elves in this aerial form that the Victorians called Fairies; however, it should be stressed that Sylfar may take many forms and are inveterate shape-shifters, playing upon the imagination of whoever is glimpsing them at any given moment. Some scholars have even attributed UFO phenomena to the Sylfin sense of humor.

In their adult form, Elves retain the ability to project themselves beyond their material form, and many are expert shape-shifters. Their appearance in this form is familiar enough: a tall, fair, and slender race with pointed ears and luminescent material bodies. However, there are differences among the Ran Sarithin, the Sarranxi, and the Valorn. The Ran Sarithin are almost all gold or silver-haired and fair-skinned. The Sarranxi are often dark-haired or red-haired. The Valorn are characteristically olive-skinned or even swarthy, with a blue cast to their hair, which is often worn short.

The Elves refer to themselves, in Eranor, their oldest language, as Sarithin, signifying “star-children,” a name which expresses their love of the Astral world and Elemental Air as manifest in the sky. The name also alludes to their deep and ancient kinship with the goddess Shava, Queen of Stars, who in Eranor is called Sellë, and in Quenya is called Varda. Those Elves sojourning in our Middle Earth named themselves Quendi, signifying “the speakers” in the Quenya tongue, a name which pays honor to their intense love of language, poetry, and song.

The nature of Elves is such that they have, across cultures and ages, been described in various forms. In all cases, it is agreed that they are immortals and this fact has a bearing on the evolution of their languages. Elvish languages do not change quite in the random way mortal languages do. Change occurs between generations and across vast expanses of space, where one group is separated from another, but in the case of immortals, thousands of years may see only a few generations and there remains a continuity with the eldest Elves forever.

Thus linguistic change occurs far less at random and far more thoughtfully and deliberately through the actions of Elvish bards and scholars. A love of wordplay and the invention of new words and new metaphors has led over the expanse of ages to a language exceedingly rich and subtle. As a system, the writing has remained rooted in the fundamental association of the elements with specific phonetic value.

The four major series of runes in the Rianar consist of twenty consonants divided into groups of five. Each series of five corresponds to a particular phonetic grouping based upon the parts of the mouth used to enunciate its sounds. These groups are the palatal-nasal consonants, the gutturals, the labials, and the dentals. Each group of sounds is associated with, respectively, Earth, Air, Water, and Fire. The logic of this will be seen with some thought and experimentation.

The gutturals, for example rely on the expulsion of air from the mouth, and so are considered the root sounds of the Element Air. The labials are fluid, bubbling sounds and so accord with Water. The dentals are sharp and explosive, so accord to fire; and the palatal-nasal consonants are sounded through the nose or with tongue on palate, which is considered the part of the mouth associated with the Earth or the mystic pantacle — the “plate” of the mouth, as it were.

Besides the four elemental groups of letters, there are two groups of six corresponding to the Elvish pantheon consisting of the Twelve Mellarin or Creators. Six runes correspond to six “mystic,” consonants. Six more correspond to the vowels. These twelve, together, are linked to the Twelve Mellarin. The Mellarin are what we should call gods and goddesses, or great spirits, although the term “gods” tends nowadays to imply a level of “faith” or “doubt” both of which emotions are alien to Elvish experience of the divine and astral existences.

The Elves consider these Twelve to be Emanations of Olan. Olan, who is accounted beyond and above the Twelve, is the ineffable One, the inaccessible divine spirit beyond the manifest worlds. The names and character of the Mellarin will be explained further in the following explication of the rune-complexes.

It should be noted, however, that there is also a thirteenth Mellar — Vaar, Lord of the Void — who is not named and remains unrepresented by the runes. It is maintained by the loremasters that Vaar does have his rune, but it was excised from all records when that Mellar was defeated in the first stages of the Black War, after he had set himself up as chief among the gods and ruled the Primisaad Empire, which enveloped many thousands of worlds. Long a powerful leader, Vaar was eventually overthrown and denounced by the company of Mellarin. He still, however, exists and wields enormous powers in the hearts of those who crave conquest and dominion over others, or who doubt the kinship of all spirits.

Table 1 (below ) delineates the Twelve Mellarin or Firstborn of Olan, their names and attributes. Their primary names are in Hadraash, the language of the Mellarin themselves. Their Elvish names (in Eranor) are also given, as well as a brief indication of each divinity’s realm of influence. I give here some correspondences in Hellenic and Celtic deities, although, as will be appreciated, such parallels are often inexact.

TABLE 1: THE TWELVE MELLARIN

Hadraashic Elvish Realm
Vashaan Valma Sky, Wind, Expansion, Justice
Shava Sellë Stars, Attraction, Love
Islaar Lir Song, Travel, Thought
Abban Aurelen Mountains, the Forge, Craft
Am-mesh Arda Earth, Birth and Death
Obraash Alba Sun, Beauty, Growth
Ambash Tulan Hunting, War, Beasts
Orion Oronwë The Stag, Sacrifice, Healing
Omulan Rianna Moons, Motherhood, Horses
Ulumas Niessa Memory, Joy and Sorrow
Sezh Yavanna Fertility, Herbs, Trees
Olobaal Ulmaren Seas, Rivers, Water

Three pairs of Mellarin form couples who, in Elvish fashion, are always considered to be equal partners. These are Aurelen and Arda, Tulan and Yavanna, and above all others, considered the King and Queen of the Mellarin, Valma and Sellë. Sellë (pronounced “SAHL-yeh”) is also named Sarwen (pr. SAHR-oo-en, meaning “Star Woman”) and Elbereth (Star-Kindler).

LANGUAGES AND TREES

Students of the Celtic Tree Alphabet, as it has been reconstructed by Robert Graves and others, will recognize a certain similarity between the rianar and the ogham. Many of the names of the trees are spelled similarly to the corresponding names in Gaelic. However, their pronunciation is quite different. In Eranor each letter in a word is pronounced distinctly. Thus the old tree-names, which the Welsh and Irish may indeed have inherited from the Elves directly, are spelled in an Elvish manner, even though their pronunciation evolved separately within the Gaelic and British tongues.

Reference to the rune chart will also show that the trees associated with each of the runes are species native to North America, as well as Europe. One limitation of the Celtic Tree Ogham reconstructed by Robert Graves in The White Goddess is that the trees and shrubs are native to the British Isles. Graves himself notes some substitutions, such as the Linden for Heather as the tree of lovers. The Alferic ogham here delineated has been adapted to the region of the American midwest, for the most part. Some of the trees are not natives, but have been transplanted widely in this region, and many of them will be found across the northern hemisphere.

It is the custom of the runemasters to adapt the runes to the native trees of their home region, and the science of associating the elemental characteristics of different tree species is somewhat inscrutable. Elves, Faeries, and many other races from the Otherworlds inhabit nearly every corner of our planet. It is for this reason that the “sacred” trees can vary according to the habitat of the runemaster. In reality, all trees and plants are sacred to the denizens of Faerie, and one might well compose a subtropical ogham as one for the northern hemisphere.

This general discussion of the Elves cannot begin to convey the complexity of their cultures. As an Immortal race (or three races by some reckoning), their history is quite different from that of mortal human races, yet it touches on mortal Earth history in many instances. Some readers may expect an ogham, or system of meanings, very different from that now attributed to the ancient Celtic Druids. This supposition would be to overlook the many exchanges of lore that have occurred between Druids and Elves. It is probable that the Tuatha de Danaan were in fact a tribe of Elves, and indeed we would err if we assumed that Elves and Men have remained separate. As so many legends record, there has been much love and intermarriage between Elves and Men and the similarities between the Alferic rianar and the Druid ogham (as well as the Norse runes) attest to this.

The Elves of all three kindreds have their own wizard class of Druids, who act as lawgivers, judges, healers, diplomats, and teachers as well as masters of the mysteries of the essential patterns. In Eranor these wizards are called Noldaur (fr. nolo “wise one” duir “oak”). Arguably, those wizards we know from history as Druids devolved not so much from the Celts as from the indigenous Elves of Europe and the Isles, who had intercourse with mortal humanity at many points during the Celtic migrations. Be this as it may, the Celtic Druid wisdom and the Alferic treelore ultimately have their common roots in the spirits of the trees and the powers of the Natural world.
This relationship can also be easily seen in the similarity between many of the tree names in the Alferic system and the Celtic ogham. There was, evidently, a certain amount of linguistic cross-fertilization between the ancient Gaelic language roots and those of the Elves; a supposition that is in accord with the belief that the Tuatha de Danaan were of Elvish blood.

CALENDRICAL CORRESPONDENCES

The Celtic Tree Ogham reconstructed by Robert Graves and elaborated by other Celtic scholars is often linked to a thirteen-month lunar calendar, or a soli-lunar calendar such as the fragmentary Coligny calendar. Various arguments have been set forth regarding the antiquity of this method of keeping time linked to the phases of the moon. However, the practicality of the system seems questionable to me. A lunar calendar that does not actually follow the phases of the moon seems of little value. Yet this is what is presented by most writers on the subject: a solar year divided into periods of 28 days and one extra day at the Winter Solstice. The thirteen “months” of this calendar will, as Murry Hope notes, “phase with the new Moon only once every twenty-one years, which is called the Great Lunar Year.”

The Elves have both a lunar calendar and a solar one, quite distinct from each other. The solar year is not divided into “months” or moons — or, to put it another way, the purpose of Elvish “moons” is not to divide up a solar year. The “moons” of the lunar calendar follow the actual cycle of lunations, from one new moon to the next and this cycle is separate from the cycle of the seasons and the sun’s progression through the zodiac. The lunar calendar is a ceremonial calendar linked to the worship of Omulan, Goddess of Moons, and used for magical ceremonies and enchantments. The solar calendar that marks the seasons is the principal Elvish calendar and is structured around the numbers four, eight and twelve.

There are four seasons marked by the solstices and equinoxes. Each season is punctuated by a mid-quarter festival which division yields the eight festivals common to the Druidic calendar: two solstices (Alban Arthan and Alban Heruin), two equinoxes (Alban Eiler and Alban Elued), and the cross-quarter fire festivals linked to the agricultural cycle of the year (Imbolc, Belteinne, Lughnasa, and Samhuinn). The traditional Celtic names have been retained in this description, to avoid unnecessary confusion.

The Elves are people of the stars and live by astral forces. The division of the year into twelve Houses corresponds to the ancient constellations of the Zodiac. These are not, called “months” — having nothing to do with the moon’s phases — but rather “Houses” because they correspond to the twelve great star kingdoms of our galaxy. As in traditional Western astrology — much of which was, presumably, taught by the Elves to mortal Men — each of these Houses is “ruled” by one of the Great Spirits or Mellarin and is the sacred kingdom of one of the twelve great star races of Faerie. A detailed discussion of these is beyond the scope of this article but Table 2 relates the Elvish Houses to the star kingdoms and their native peoples. The Elvish names for the houses are the same names presented by Prof. Tolkien’s work on Middle Earth as month names.

TABLE 2: HOUSES OF THE YEAR

No. Elvish House Constellation Star Kingdom People
1 Narvinyë Capricorn Kentari Kaprindi
2 Nenimë Aquarius Palanis Valorn
3 Sulimë Pisces Galactica Merim
4 Viressë Aries Argaan Aretzim
5 Lotessë Taurus Marzanx Rhûzamedi
6 Narië Gemini Sarranis Sarranxi
7 Cermië Cancer Erlaan Kasserim
8 Urimë Leo Talvin Obaratun
9 Yavannië Virgo Isghale Isghalindi
10 Narquelië Libra Randiel Ran Sarithin
11 Hisimë Scorpio Tranis Sur Pan
12 Ringarë Sagittarius Cordan Tsajitarim

In each of the four Elemental series of runes, the first three runes correspond to the three star kingdoms (or constellations of the zodiac) founded in each Element and also to the Houses of the year, thus bearing both a temporal and astrographic association. The last two runes in each series correspond each to one of the eight seasonal festivals. Such temporal associations are, however, subordinate to the primary association of each rune with a sacred tree.

In the magical application of the Rianar, the magical frequency, intention, or color can be invoked through the use of particular runes, or their corresponding birds, beasts, stones, colors, or times. Each riana is actually the complex of all these connected aspects and spirits, so that when one of the Alfar refers tot he riana Luis, for example, she is referring to the entire complex of signification and magical connection, not simply to the written glyph.


The first series of the Rianar is that of the PALATAL-NASAL CONSONANTS associated with Elemental Earth. The first three runes, corresponding to L, R, and N, are linked to the three Elemental Star Kingdoms, Kentari, Marzanx, and Isghali. These in turn are associated in the Zodiac with Capricorn, Taurus, and Virgo, and the Elvish Houses, Narvinyë, Lotessë, and Yavannië, respectively. Beginning with elemental Earth is significant, for it announces that the Airy business of runelore, enchantment, and communication must be grounded in the body. Earth is the element of matter and solidity, practicality, earning a living, mechanisms, the body, and so the physical aspect of healing. Elemental Earth embodies form, beauty, grace, meditation, stillness, slow movement, repose, nutrition, food, bounty, prosperity or dearth, and the psychic function of Intuition, that way of knowing that requires no language or teaching.

Luis (LOO-ees)
Luis, or the Rowan tree (also called Mountain-Ash and Quickbeam), is the first tree in the Alferic rune system because it is the tree of the First House Narvinyë, and the kingdom of Kentari (Capricorn), which follows the Winter Solstice. This turning point of the sun in Midwinter is the beginning of the Elvish year under the House of the Goat ruled by the Mellar Abban, who the Romans knew in Vulcan and Saturn and the Elves call Aurelen and Great Aulë, meaning Craft. (See more on Abban below under God-Runes.) The Rowan or “Quickbeam” is a tree of life energy, quickening. It is a tree of invention, intuition, and protection, particularly useful for sensing and warding off evil spirits. Rowan is one of the highest growing trees on mountainsides, which are sacred to Aurelen as Lord of Mountains. Capricornus also relates to the Greek nature god Pan, source of fecundity in the spiritual as well as physical dimensions. Aurelen, the horned father, is lord of mountains, volcanoes, and caves, craft, invention, gemstones, and high holy places. He, with Arda and their daughter Yavanna, rules over the Wintry North. The bright orange Rowan berries, lasting on the bare tree into the Winter, symbolize the blood of life that sleeps in the womb of the Earth when Sezh descends into the Underworld to abide with her father during the dark half of the year. Rowan’s Elvish name, Luis, comes from the root lu “time” also found in luras “to judge.” Elves frequently hold their judicial assemblies under old Rowans. Astrologically, this rune is related to the planet Saturn and the mythical-hypothetical planet Vulcan. Luis’s sacred stones are diamond and smoky quartz, its birds the turkey and quail, and its totem animal the goat. Its color is gray.
Magical applications especially appropriate to the luis rune include:

  • protection against lightning and the spells of others
  • metal divining and the divining of hidden treasures
  • magick for hunting and the quest
  • protection of property and wealth
  • increase of skill in one’s craft
  • magick related to justice and judgment

Ruis (~ROO-ees)
The second Earth-rune is Ruis, Elder, corresponding to the Dwarf Kingdom of Marzanx and Taurus the Bull. This House (in Elvish Lotessë) is associated with springtime and the month of May in the Roman calendar. It is the fifth house and so its number is five. Its color is blood-red, its bird the pheasant, its totem animal the bull, and its sacred stones red jasper and bloodstone. Ruis is ruled by the Great Earth Mother Am-mesh and Abban her consort. The sign of the bull signifies fecundity, but also great wealth, as cattle were, to the Celts and the early Rhûzamedi of Marzanx, the principal form of wealth. Ruis comes from the Eranor radical ru, meaning stillness, found also in ruella “village”. In Ireland Elder was associated with water and witches, who used its branches as “magic horses” or broomsticks. Elder has been considered an unlucky tree, a harbinger of death, and called the “Tree of Doom.” In Alferic tradition, however, it is associated with sleep, rest, respite, and luxuriant enjoyment of physical pleasures in an evening setting — drink (especially elderberry wine and elderflower cordial), food, flirtation, pleasant games among the familiars of the house. These divergent associations reflect the multiple qualities of Arda herself whose masks include the Celtic Morrigan as well as Cerridwen, Roman Juno, as well as Ceres. Elder is the tree of the Bountiful and Devouring Mother Earth in whom the cycle of life is manifested. (See Luis, above for Abban’s character and domain.) Astrologically, the Ruis-rune is linked to the planet Earth.
Magical applications especially appropriate to the ruis rune are:

  • Death rituals
  • Fertility and Earth magick
  • Exploration of past lives
  • Access to inner advisors and guardians
  • Magick invoking the Earth Mother or Mountain Father
  • Underworld magick
  • Correction of or atonement for mistakes

 

Nwyn (NOO-win)
The third Earth-rune is Nwyn, the Ash, tree linked to the Realm of Isghali (Virgo) and sacred to the Goddess Sezh Yavanna, the corn goddess, lady of trees, herbs, and horses. The number of its House, called Yavannië after the goddess, is nine and it is associated with the end of Summer, the harvest and the turning toward Autumn. Its color is pale blue, its stones zircon and clear quartz crystal; its animal is the badger and its bird the hen. The Ash is sacred in Norse myth as the World-Ash from which all the worlds spring. So too in Elvish songs. In this respect it is the pathway or bridge by means of which the wizard may travel among the worlds. Mystically, Ash signifies the Astral dimension and its myriad doorways. In Norse myth it is beneath the World-Ash, Yggdrasil, that the three Norns or Fates dispensed judgment over gods and men. Greek tradition holds the Ash to be sacred to Poseidon, God of Sea and metamorphosis, who is in the Alferic pantheon called Ulmaren. Contrary to his male Greek form, Ulmoren is, for the Elves, a sexually polymorphous Mellar (see entry on Erun below). In the form of a horse, he pursued the Mellara Yavanna and coupled with her but failed to possess her. This escapade, along with his attempt to swallow Arda in a deluge, is one of the reasons for his enmity with Aurelen, the Mountain Lord. In Alferic tradition it is out of ash-wood that Ulmaren fashioned his scepter and the haft of his magical harpoon. He is generally considered the Mellar of Waters and as such his fertilizing relationship to Yavanna, Mellara of fertile fields and crops and all growing vegetation, is intimate indeed. The Realm of Isghali is composed of many islands and ruled by a female sacerdotal class of wizards dedicated to the goddess Sezh Yavanna. Astrologically this rune is linked to the asteroids Ceres and Isis.
Magical applications especially appropriate to the nwyn rune include:

  • Magick directed towards women’s autonomy and sovereignty
  • Creation of systematic order and ritual
  • Inspiration of the Earth, particularly in late Summer
  • Magick dealing with fate and karma
  • Spells for physical pleasure, feasting, or comfort
  • Magick of horticulture (green magick)
  • Magical working with horses

 

Julara (joo-LAHR-ah)
The fourth Earth-rune is Julara (Juniper) sacred to the fire festival of Samhuinn (the Final Harvest). Juniper, a sweet-scented evergreen, symbolizes the promise of rebirth inherent in Samhuinn, a time when the doors between worlds are open and the Ancestors are honored. This fire festival marks the turning towards the dark of the year and the need to thin the herds for Winter, curing supplies of meat and preserving the breeding stock for the overwintering. Because of this association with death, Samhuinn has taken on the character of a time of evil or danger, when ghosts and goblins can pass across the world-gates. For the Elves it has none of these connotations. As Immortals, their ancestors number only a few generations and this is a time to revere their continued presence in the astral dimension. The Elves have no concept of “death” as mortals do. For them the destruction of the body, by whatever means, implies merely a transition to another state. Ancestors who have passed away are remembered as part of a continuous line of life that links the members of a family, no matter what their form. Thus Julara’s power is related to the continuation of life rather than what mortals usually think of as death, with its skeletons and ghosts. Samhuinn is called Sarwenna, after Sellë, Lady of Stars and so is a celebration of the immortality of spirits reincarnated in the stars. Julara’s number is ninety and its sacred bird is the goose, whose ordered migratory flights in V-formation symbolize a family tree and the spirit’s journey from one world to another on the paths of the great World Tree. Its sacred stone is green sapphire and its totem animal the bat.
Magical applications especially appropriate to the julara rune include:

  • Magick to contact ancestors
  • Rites of Samhuinn
  • Spells of rebirth
  • Spells of ending and returning
  • Spells of transformation and metamorphosis
  • Astral travel, especially to other worlds
  • Magick dealing with preservation of food
  • Spells for brewing and distilling spirits

 

Shorin (SHORE-inn)
The fifth and final Earth-rune is Shorin (Maple), the tree is sacred to Alban Elued (the Autumnal Equinox) because of its fiery red and orange colors as its leaves pass away — a bold celebration of the seasons’ turning. Shorin’s number is eighty; its totem animal is the fox, its stone the tiger’s eye. Its number is 80. Its sacred bird is the great horned owl, who is herald of the coming Feast of Samhuinn with its magick and mystery (see Julara above). The owl is a bird associated with wizards and wisdom, and the bearing of messages in the night. In North America, especially in its northern parts, the Maple often dominates the forest. It has many varieties, including the sugar maple from which maple syrup is made. Because of its syrup, Maple is associated with the life-giving sap of the trees, providing food and sweetness for those who treat it with respect and care. It is also a tree that manifests Nature’s free gift of beauty and joy to all spirits who may consciously see and experience it. Alban Elued is also known as the Feast of Mabon (Oronna by the Elves), dedicated to the reborn son-consort of the Great Mother, who is Oronwë, the White Hart.
Magical applications especially appropriate to the shorin rune include:

  • Spells of sending and communication
  • Spells of binding
  • Celebrations of beauty in transformation
  • Transmutations of all kinds
  • Red and orange magick
  • Cheering charms

 


THE GUTTERAL CONSONANTS — H, G, K, Ch (as in English church), and Qu (KW) — evoke the sacred breath of life. The first three are associated with the Elvish star kingdoms and so bear a particularly magical and sacred quality.

Huath (HOO-ahth)
First of the Air-runes is Huath, the Hawthorn, whose House is the second, Nenimë, or Aquarius associated with the Alferic kingdom of Palanis. The Elves of Palanis, called the Valorn, are famous historically for their interactions with mortal races when other Sarithin withdrew from their destructive greed and violence. The Valorn are particularly devoted to the Mellar Vashaan , the Windlord, the Thunderer, whom the Elves call Valma. The Valorn also call Valma Herulumo, “Lord of Changes” or “Lord of Time.” Hawthorn is a tree of defense with its twisted branches and sharp thorns. Wood and rune may warn of the presence of magick. To the Elves it is a tree in which magical powers enter the manifest world from the astral and its wood is considered powerful for all protective magick and all magick aimed at strengthening one’s magical powers. Its color is violet and it is especially attuned to this band of the magical spectrum with its focus on power over other kinds of magick. Huath’s totem animal is the mouse, its bird the purple martin, and its stones amethyst and tanzanite.
Magical operations especially appropriate to the huath rune include:

  • Spells of control, binding, or warding
  • Spells of protection or amplification of other magick forces
  • Sendings of warning
  • Detection of malefic or dangerous magical forces
  • Spells of Invisibility
  • Spells of secrecy and concealment
  • Animal magick of all kinds
  • Spells of sudden change or transformation

 

Galad (GAH-lahd)
The G-rune is called Galad, the Lilac. Its House is Narië: Gemini, the Twins, the time in which the lilac blooms in the North. This house corresponds to the Sarranxian kingdom of Sarranis, famed for its Bardic College. Though we would not call Lilac a “tree,” the Elves nevertheless count it and many other bushy trees or shrubs among the aldar or “trees.” The written form of this rune is the same as the rune fehu (cattle, property) in the Norse Futhark and Galad partakes of many of the same powers. It is the root energy of expansion and growth (Eranor galo), that underlies material prosperity. It is the burgeoning of Spring flowers, calendrically coming before the Summer Solstice as the Sun waxes to its highest point in the sky. Sarranis is ruled over by the androgynous Mellar Islaar or Lir, whose domain is writing, speech, song, reason, and travel by sea, air, and star. House Narië is sacred to the Elvish bards whose enchanters are famous for their powerful incantations accompanied by harp and pipe, and the time of lilac’s flowering is the traditional time of the annual bardic gorseth. The intoxicating fragrance of the lilac’s flowers bespeaks its erotic power. Galad comes from the root gal, meaning “to shine with life” and relates to galis “gift” from which other words derive: galian “hospitality,” agalla “sexual pleasure,” gaellië “delight,” melengal “mystic union.” All of which suggests the mysteries of gifts and giftedness, talent, life, and the communication of life’s energy through delight. Galad’s totem animal is the red squirrel, its bird the swallow, its stones banded agate and red fire opal.
Magical operations especially appropriate to the galad rune include:

  • Spells of union
  • Attraction, or enhancement of sexual pleasure and coupling
  • Spells dealing with intellectual pursuits
  • Informations of any sort
  • Enhancement of knowledge or mental concentration
  • Spells of travel, astral or physical
  • Blessings for boats, ships, airships, aircraft, starships
  • Magical forms of propulsion
  • Enhancement of wittiness and charm
  • Magical illusions and dissimulation

 

Koll (KOHL)
Koll, the Hazel, corresponds to the tenth House, Narquelië: Libra and the kingdom of Randiel. Its color is midnight blue, its stones lapis lazuli and blue sapphire. Its bird is the crane and its animal the ermine. The Ran Sarithin are the Elves of Randiel, a very proud and regal lineage and the oldest of the Elvish Star Kingdoms. Their chief Mellara is Shava, called by them Sarwen, Sellë, and Fanyatara the White Goddess of Stars and Queen of Heaven. She is named Danu by the Celts, and is called Spider Grandmother because she created the starry net of the night sky. Her web is manifested in the twining limbs of the forest trees as they reach upwards in worship of her. In Roman and Greek myth she is Venus and Aphrodite, goddess of love, but for the Elves she is the goddess not so much of carnal love, but of spiritual love. She is beauty in nature and in the beloved, a type of vision or seeing that infatuates the seer. The rune is related phonetically to the Futhark rune kenaz “torch” signifying the fire of sacrifice, hearth, forge and creation, or more abstractly controlled energy. This idea includes lust and passion as positive qualities to be sought out and revered. In this respect, Shava is linked to the Norse goddess Freya. She is also the Celtic Arianrhod, goddess of stars and the Otherworld. Arianrhod’s castle is the corona borealis a place where the dead sit with the goddess among the bards. Sellë, similarly, is considered the teacher of enchanters and all worthy wizards and bards are summoned to her table. Sacred to Sellë, Hazel wood is imbued with magical power. Its nuts feed the Salmon of Wisdom in its deep pool.
Magical operations especially applicable to the koll rune include:

  • Enhancement of wisdom
  • Enhancement of beauty and charm
  • Finding and strengthening love
  • Star magick of all kinds
  • Navigational enchantments
  • Amplification of creative powers
  • Focus of all magical energies

 

Chakris (CHAH-krees)
Fourth among the Air-runes is Chakris, Cedar, sacred to the cross-quarter feast of Imbolc. This, in the Elvish tradition, is called the Rianna, the Feast of Omulan, the Moon. Evergreen Cedar is sacred, like Juniper, for the promise of eternal life renewing itself at the time of Imbolc, symbolized in the lactation of the ewes and the birth of the lambs at this time of year. Chakris’s number is thirty, its animal the ewe, and its bird the gold finch. Its sacred stone is yellow chrysoprase. Cedars are associated in Terran tradition with the Cedars of Lebanon, the wood from which the great Jewish Temple of Solomon was built. Associations with Solomon are, of course, always magical, that great king being legendary for his powers of magick and ability to bind spirits to his service, especially in the matter of constructing the great temple. Cedar wood is aromatic and sensual, used to line humidors and closets to keep their contents fresh and protected from moths. It is therefore a wood strongly associated with protection and preservation. As the tree and rune assigned to Imbolc, Chakris symbolizes the proverbial seed within the ice, the promise of spring which lies deep in the womb of earth at the time of this midwinter feast. It is also, traditionally, the time of the lambing when the milk of the ewes comes, thus the linkage of the festival to milk, as well as to light. Chakris symbolizes and embodies the light in the darkness, and the brilliance of the Moon Goddess in the inky blackness of the Winter sky. Burned as incense, Cedar is especially powerful for clearing negativity from an area prior to magical work. It is said the ancient Celts used cedar oil to preserve the heads of enemies taken in battle. The tree is also called Arbor Vitae, Tree of Life.
Magical operations especially applicable to the chakris rune include:

  • Preservation of sacred places, forests, and groves
  • Dedication of sacred space for worship and magick
  • Brining of light out of darkness
  • Brining of the germinating seed from deep winter
  • Star magick of all kinds
  • Healing, protection, breeding of sheep
  • Summoning of helpful spirits
  • Blue or green magick

 

Queris or Quenda (KWEER-iss; KWEN-da)
The fifth Air-rune is Queris, Apple, sacred to the Feast of Lughnasa and the Celtic Goddess Rhiannon, who is also one of Shava’s masks, as Goddess of Stars and also of horses. Apple harvest comes on and after the feast of Lughnasa in August, and represents one of the famous foods of the Elves, often associated with Faerie and the Isle of Avalon. Thus the wood and the rune have the power of Avalon and the immortality of the Faerie realms. Queris is also called Quenda, which is the wild rose whose pink and red colors evoke the spirit of light and love in the season of Lugh (Obraash or Alba, Mellar of the Sun). Obraash is the son of Shava and Vashaan (Lady of Stars and Lord of Winds). The sacred number of Queris is seventy; its sacred bird the rose-breasted grosbeak, and its totem animal the wolf. Shamans and ancient poets are often described carrying apple branches as symbols of their office and the famous Silver Branch of apple in Irish legend provided entry to the realm of Faerie. The rose, of course, is one of the most powerful symbols of love, Shava’s domain.
Magical operations linked to the queris rune include:

  • Sustenance during journeys into the Otherworlds
  • Opening the doorways into Faerie
  • Spells to do with horses
  • Spells of illumination
  • Spells enhancing any skill
  • Spells of love, harmony, and beauty
  • Magick of the harvest
  • Magick of divine, shamanic madness or visions

 

THE LABIAL CONSONANTS associated with Elemental Water are F, V, M, P, and B. The use of the lips in forming these sounds is likened to the sounds of water and its incessant motion. Water is the element of feeling, connection, and emotion, femininity, birth, nurturance, blood and sap. It underlies all fluid forms, including dreams and visions of a mystical nature.

Fearn (fay-ARN)
First among the water runes is Fearn, the Alder (17), sacred to the Realm of Galactica or the third House, Sulimë, which is Pisces, the Fishes. Alder is a wood which lasts a long time submerged in water and is often found on river and lake banks. When first cut its wood appears red like blood and so was traditionally viewed as ill-omened but this is an oversimplification. Its bloody appearance may have influenced Alder’s popularity as a wood for warrior’s shields in Celtic tradition. In Eranor Fearn comes from the root feä, meaning “fey” or Faerie magick. This rune invokes astral protection as well as physical and can open the mind to the deep wisdom of the watery element in the form of dreams. It can protect one from the emotions of others, especially warlike anger or bloodlust. It is particularly potent for protection against drowning or disaster by storm or flood. Its use in bridges, half submerged, symbolizes not only its power as a bridge between worlds, but its mentality, amphibiously aware of the conscious and unconscious worlds, the above and below, the overt and the hidden. Fearn’s ruling Mellar is Ulmoren, the Water power. Its totem animal is the otter, its bird the herring gull. Its sacred stones are sea-green beryl and serpentine.
Magical operations most applicable to the fearn rune include:

  • Protection against drowning and death
  • Death curses and shielding against them
  • Shielding against all ill-omens and destructive emotions
  • Cultivation of the double vision of inner and outer worlds
  • Bridging of the above and below
  • Preparation for conflict
  • Shielding against unwanted intrusions from beyond

 

Vwyn (VOO-in)
Vuin, the Chestnut, is sacred to the Kingdom of the witches, Erlaan, and the seventh House, Cermië, which is Cancer, the Crab. Chestnut, like Apple, and Oak, is one of the great food trees, providing abundant nuts edible by pigs and humans. In North America the Chestnut was one of the major trees until a blight imported from Asia effectively wiped out the American Chestnut species — except that the trees have continued to come back in shoots from their dead stumps, only to be attacked by the blight at maturity. Thus the Chestnut has powers of endurance through even the most hopeless adversity. It is not a traditional sacred tree of the Celts, but has powerful associations with witchcraft and blue magick among the Elves. It is sacred to the home, the family, and the Full Moon. The Mellara Omulan (Rianna) is ruler of the Realm of Erlaan, presiding over the powers of the Mothers and the blind Fates. Erlaan is effectively governed by the great matriarchal Witch-Houses, in many ways the rivals and complements of the patriarchal Wizard-Circles of Tranis (See Mor, below). Vuin’s totem animal is the salmon, its bird the swan. Its sacred stones are moonstone and milky quartz.
Magical operations especially applicable to the vuin rune include:

  • Protection of home and family
  • Moon magick, drawing down the power of the full moon
  • Spells of childbirth and maternity
  • Spells of blue magick, dealing with emotions, dreams, and visions
  • Spells of relationship generally
  • Magick for nourishment, abundance, and plenty

 

Mwyn or Mór (MOO-in; MOOR)
The rune Muin (Vine) is also called Mor (the Sea). It refers to the grape vine and its form seems to represent a trellis. Both sea and grape are sacred and ubiquitous in the island Kingdom of Tranis which corresponds to the Eleventh House of the Elvish calendar, Hisimë, or Scorpio. The ten-thousand isles of Tranis are the home of the Trianese wizards, a great mystical brotherhood that has had a powerful influence over all the worlds. The Trianese wizards are grouped into eight Circles, each practicing and teaching a different color of magick. Because of these links, the rune Mor and the wood of the vine Muin have powerful magick in any color of the spectrum, but especially in matters of elemental water and Sea-magick or in matters of viniculture and intoxication of the senses. Thus it is a rune of illusion and delusion among its other powers. Driftwood, of any sort also falls under the power of Mor. The totem animals of this rune are the adder and the scorpion, its bird the bald eagle. Its stone is aquamarine beryl.
Magical operations especially applicable to the muin rune include:

  • Sea-magick such as weatherworking and wind control
  • Protection against drowning
  • Blessing and enchantment of boats and ships
  • Fishing magick
  • Spells for fair seas and good travel
  • Enhancement of swimming or other water skills
  • Spells of intoxication and alcoholic spirits
  • Counter-spells of all kinds

 

Pagis (PAH-gees)
Pagis, the Spruce tree, is sacred to the quarter festival of Alban Arthan (Winter Solstice). Its number is twenty and its color, variegated green. Its sacred bird is the green-headed mallard duck, its totem animal the seal. Its sacred stone is malachite. The traditional Yule Tree, the evergreen spruce symbolizes everlasting life. This symbolic power is even greater by linkage to the Winter Solstice when the Sun is reborn. Thus, the tree and the rune are tied to the rebirth of the Mellar Obraash (the Sun) from the darkness of the Winter and the Void. Pagis is a rune of turning, its name linked to the Eranor paglas “turn.” At a cosmological level this is the power of becoming, the turning from one state of being to another, particularly when a sun ignites into thermonuclear combustion, becoming not only a star, but the center of a system of planets, a Sun shining on a habitable world within the web of worlds. Containing all these ideas, this is a very powerful rune indeed, a rune of creation and re-creation.
Magical operations especially applicable to Spruce include:

  • Spells of creation and transformation
  • Opening the doors between the worlds, especially during Yule
  • All spells of becoming and unfolding
  • Magick of everlasting life
  • Spells for birth and rebirth

 

Beith (BAY-ith)
Beith, the Birch is sacred to the festival of Alban Eiler (Vernal Equinox). Its number is forty and its bird the white egret. Its totem animal is the rabbit and its stone flourite. In the Celtic Ogham Beith is accorded prestige as the first tree, one of the trees that emerges first in the forest, a harbinger of youth and springtime. It is often associated with the beginning of the year, and in the Alferic tradition is linked to the beginning of the cycle of growth and renewal in Spring. It is a tree of beginnings in general and of the Bards, as the first grade of the Druid order. The significance of this in the Alferic tradition is also that the Bards are accorded first honor as the singers of the Creation epics, those who sang the worlds into existence. Birch is also a wood with great powers to purify and discipline, to create the new forest in service to the great trees that will come after, such as the oak and ash and maple. Birch forest is young and so birch is linked to youth and all things new. The equivalent Norse rune, with the same form is Berkana, sacred to the Birch-Goddess of that name.
Magical operations especially applicable to the beith rune include:

  • New beginnings
  • Spells of youth and fresh starts
  • Spells of bardic enchantment
  • Magick of creativity
  • Magick of renewal and rebirth
  • Purifications
  • Spells for discipline and service

 

THE DENTAL CONSONANTS — T, D, Th, S, and Z — are associated with elemental fire. The first three runes are linked to the three fire races, gigantic and red-haired, fearsome warriors and raiders. The fire races are the children of three male Mellarin. First and eldest is Obraash, Mellar of the Sun, who is son of Shava, Star Queen, and Vashaan, Windlord. Second is Ambash, the Great Hunter, God of War and Beasts, who is son of Obraash and Ulumas, Goddess of Joy and Sadness, Memory and Forgetting. Youngest is Orion, whom the Elves call Oronwë. Orion is the son of Omulan, the Moon, and Vashaan, the Wind. Orion is himself called the White Hart and he is both hunter and hunted in some tales credited with creating the first of the fire races, the Cordani. All the fire races are mortal, but long-lived and they also have their wizard castes, yet they are people less of magick than of sheer will to live, seeking conquest, competition, glory, development, growth, rebellion against authority and the establishment of authority in kingship or by force. The fire runes and their attendant kingdoms are especially important for the wandmaker as wands of fire traditionally express and direct the magical Will of their wielder. Fire is the element of desire, passion, lust, life, action, function (as opposed to form), willpower, intention, intervention, heroism.

Tinnë (TEEN-yeh)
First among the fire-runes is Tinnë, Holly, sacred to that sharp-leaved evergreen and the legendary Holly-King. Red is its color, like the Holly berries, and it is associated with the Fourth House Viressë, which is Argaan or Aries, ruled by the Mellar Ambash. Its bird is the cardinal, its animal the ram, and its stones the ruby and fire agate. The Argaanese are ruled by a warrior caste whose heraldic emblems are the Ram and the Tiger. As children of Ambash, they worship not only contest and the hunt, but also wilderness, conquest, exploration, nobility, honor, and the Green World. They tend, however, also to suffer from the vices of arrogance, violence, willfulness, and childish vanity. Thus Holly bears the power of the Holly-King who, in the old fertility plays, defeats the Oak-King at Midsummer, turning the world sunwise away from the solstice toward darkness again. He is, in his turn, defeated at the Winter Solstice by the reborn Oak King when the sun begins to wax again toward the zenith. The rune is phonetically the voiceless dental T, the sharpest and purest dental sound by Elvish reckoning. The rune also signifies the spear, tinya, by means of which the old kings are ceremonially challenged by their tannist, or elected successor in the Argaanese courtly system of honor. The indigenous Elves of the planet Argaan and its attendant worlds have taken on some of the fiery character of the native Argaanese and call themselves Ranin Tinnelastion “Elves of the Holly Leaves.”
Magical operations especially applicable to Tinnë include:

  • Spells of transition of power
  • Spells for success in business or endeavor
  • Magick to dissolve old, outworn authorities
  • Spells to enhance personal glamour or charisma
  • Spells seeking progress and the removal of obstacles
  • Sacrifices offered in order to progress to the next stage

 

Dwyr (DOO-weer)
The second fire-rune is Duir, the Oak, linked to the Eighth House of Urimë, which is Leo and the kingdom of Talvin. Its number is eight and its totem animal the Lion or wildcat. Its bird is the wren or the oriole and its sacred stone is golden amber (petrified tree sap). Oak is perhaps the most sacred of trees among the Druids and the Elves. It is associated with lightning and the most primal of fire’s destructive and creative powers. The Talvinese call themselves Obaratûn and their heraldic animal is the Lion. As children of Obraash they most revere kingship and royalty, the sun as the source of all life and light, and the projection of the individual ego — even its inflation. They value drama and art, law, symmetry, and beauty. As Obraash is the son of Shava, Queen of the Stars, the Talvinese also have special reverence for her. Oak symbolizes all solar heroes, those who venture out from their homelands to achieve great deeds and bring home wondrous treasures. No other wood is more sacred to the Elves and Druids, Oak providing not only one of the most durable woods for construction and fuel, but also the acorn from which the early tribes fed their pigs and indeed themselves throughout the winter. Oak is one of the longest lived trees, thus embodying great wisdom as well as strength. The name Duir is related to dwyn, “door,” or “portal,” the great door of a manor dwelling. It is also, of course, often linked to drwyd, “druid” or “wizard.” Called wizardwood, there is no more magical wood for wandmaking than oak, and it is especially noted for enhancing the endurance of spells against time and counterspell.
Magical operations especially applicable to Oak include:

  • Magick of kingship and wise rule
  • Spells enhancing authority and power of rulership
  • Doorway enchantments
  • Spells of opening and sealing
  • Spells of endurance
  • Invocation of deep wisdom from the forest
  • Protection of houses and portals
  • Spells of fertility and abundance
  • Druid tree-magic generally
  • Prescience and Clairvoyance through tree and ogham oracles

 

Thor (THOHR~)
Third among the runes of fire is Thor, the Redwood, grandest of trees, evergreen, ancient, gigantic. Its color is crimson and its stone the red garnet. Its bird is the thrush and its totem animal the horse. Thor is associated with the Eleventh House, Ringarë, which is Sagittarius and the Kingdom of Cordan. The Cordani are great horsemen and archers, so their mythical guardian is the Centaur. They are deeply religious people and great travelers. Cordan is ruled by Orion, who is the White Hart, the mystic animal hunted by the Great Hunter Ambash, who is, in effect his spiritual twin, the hunter himself hunted, sentient Man as animal. He is, with Ambash, a Mellar of animals and brown magick, but also creator of revolutions — in thinking or in social order. Orion is the mystery behind biological evolution, as well, and as such inspires a deep mysticism in the Cordani. He is considered to be the son of Omulan, the Moon, and Vashaan, the Wind. Astrologically, Orion is associated with the constellation of that name but also with the planet Uranus. This last association ties him to primordial powers of the sky, and some astrologers have likened the planet Uranus to the energies of the Titan Prometheus, more than to the old Greek sky-god Ouranos, father of Cronos, and grandfather of Zeus. As Prometheus, Orion is bringer of fire as lightning, electricity, and machinery — the fire of creative art and science. Through these links one can get a sense of the great power inherent in Redwood. Longer lived than the Oak, evergreen, taller than any other tree, the Redwood aspires toward Heaven as no other tree, while powerfully rooted in the Earth.
Magical operations especially applicable to Redwood include:

  • Drawing down divine power from Heaven to Earth
  • Joining powers of Water and Air through Wind and Moonlight
  • Spells of religious seeking and discipline
  • Spells of mystical union with Nature and especially wild animals
  • Hunting magick (but not war)
  • Magick of martial arts as spiritual disciplines
  • Spells for innovation and sudden revolution
  • Electrical magick of all kinds, including enchantment of electronic devices

 

Sultán (sool-TAHN)
Fourth of the fire-runes is Sultan, the Beech tree, associated with the time of Alban Hefin, the Summer Solstice. Its color is sky blue, its stones azurite and blue topaz; its sacred birds are the bluebird and the indigo bunting, and its totem animal is the dragon or fire-drake. Its number is sixty. Beech is the family of trees to which Oak belongs, thus is Beech sometimes called Atarya Duirion, “Grandfather of Oaks.” It has much the same solar energies as Oak, but Beech is particularly associated with ancient knowledge and guidance from old objects, persons, places, or writing. Perhaps even moreso than oaks, beech trees form vast boles with many exposed roots and a dense canopy overhead. The rune Sultan is the same as the Norse rune Sol, the solar rune which has also been interpreted to mean “victory.”
Magical operations especially applicable to sultan include:

  • Spells of information, especially seeking old wisdom
  • Invocation of ancient guardians
  • Invocation of the Ancestors
  • Research into old writings and the runes
  • Magick of the Summer Solstice, culmination of desires
  • Magick of victory

 

Zallis (ZAH-lees)
Fifth among fire-runes is Zallis, the Osier, or Dogwood, a tree most sacred to Agni, the primordial Fire. Zallis is held to be sacred to the spring fire festival of Beltane (or Agnianna among the Elves). Its number is fifty; its bird the pigeon, and its totem animal the dog. Its stone is the spring-green peridot. Agni, who is not numbered among the Mellarin, may be equated to the Celtic god Belinos (for whom Beltane is named). He is called Atarya Tulkazo, “Grandfather of Ambash,” who is the fire of passion, desire, and will. Agni is often considered to be a mask of Olan, the Great Spirit who goes before all and encompasses all. The Elves sing that Agni is the father of Shava, Star Queen, and also of Abban, the great subterranean Father of volcanic fire and the forge. The red-barked Osier is associated with fertility and sexual attraction. For Agni is not only the sacrificial fire, but also the fire of loins and procreation, the energy of bud and flower. The rune Zallis is considered one of the most powerful runes for magick invoking the protective and creative power of fire, and is often used alone as a sign for banishing disruptive forces and deception.
Magical operations especially applicable to Osier include:

  • Magick of Flowering
  • Sexual magick of all kinds
  • Evocation of one’s Ancestors
  • Renewal of cycles of fertility
  • Consecration of ritual or hearth fires
  • Spells of banishment

GOD RUNES

THERE ARE TWO OTHER GROUPS OF RIANAR besides those given to the Elements; these are the god-runes (mellarianar). The god-runes are sometimes treated as a single group of twelve, subdivided into two groups: six consonants and six vowels. The runes of the first group are called Mystic Consonants (Kisanar Awen), because they often appear in Eranor as markers of changes in grammatical qualities. None of them appears terminally in Elvish words — that is, words cannot end in these sounds.

The sounds included here are designated as NG (as in sing), LM (as in helm), X (as in sex), DH (soft, voiced Th, as in English then — not as in thistle), W (combining the sounds OO in moon with W in window), MM (the doubled M-sound in English swimmer or summer).
Mystic Consonants

Engis (ENG-ees)

First among the mystic consonants is Engis (Pine) bearing the sound NG (as in English sing). It is sacred to Abban, whom the Elves call Aurelen and Beledh Aulë. He is the primordial Earth Father, Lord of Mountains, volcanoes, jewels, the forge, and by extension all Crafts. His is the power of invention and ingenuity, the ability to solve problems in the material world. Gigantic, black, muscular and bearded, Aurulen is the jealous consort of the Earth Mother Am-mesh, whom the Elves call Arda and Kerridwen. His color is black, his stones onyx and black opal; his sacred birds are the Raven or Crow, and his animal is the wild boar. Abban is called the Allfather by the Dwarves, who revere him as the creator of the lands and defeater of the sea’s encroachment and devastation. Abban is noted for being all-seeing and all-knowing and a great keeper of secrets. Engis is thus a rune bearing the power of craft, both in the sense of practical creativity and in the sense of shrewd craftiness. Another of Aurelen’s areas of expertise is gambling, and the rune Engis is often used in spells of good fortune and luck in wagers and calculated risks.
Magical operations especially applicable to the engis rune include:

  • Spells of craft and creativity
  • Spells of secrecy and hiding
  • Enchantment of stones
  • Invocation of the power of mountains
  • Tectonic magick against earthquakes or volcanoes

 

Elma (ELM-ah)
Elma with the sound LM, is the Elm, sacred to Am-mesh herself, Mother Earth, whom the Sarithin call Arda. Its color is green-brown, its stones moss agate and unakite. Its bird is the ruffed grouse and its totem animal is the sow. Elm trees are famed for their size and graceful beauty. Their wood is known for its toughness and resistance to being split. Elmwood is profoundly linked to the energies of the Earth Mother, the dark and mysterious fecundity of female creation and the roots of all matter. It is a good rune and wood for Earth magick or for any works that require especial grounding. The spirit of Am-mesh is that of subterranean tumuli and deep caves or dark forests, not the fertile open field. She is the untamed Earth, not the domesticated corn goddess, Sezh. Although she has a consort in Abban, he is carried inside her womb and so, for all his patriarchal pretensions, does not rule over the Great Mother. Am-mesh may be linked to the Celtic goddess Ceridwen and the Greek Gaia.
Magical operations especially applicable to the rune elma include:

  • Earth spells of all kinds
  • Spells of protection and endurance
  • Spells of invisibility
  • Enchantment of healing amulets and stones
  • Green and Brown magick of all kinds
  • Garden Magick

 

Axara (AKS-ar-ah)
The sound X or KS is born by Axara, the Hickory, sacred to Obraash, God of the Sun, whom the Elves name Alba. His color is golden yellow, his stones citrine and yellow topaz. His sacred birds are the immortal phoenix and the peacock. His totem animal is the tiger. Obraash is one of the principal fire spirits whose domain is kingship, the wise use of power, and wholeness, both of the individual personality and of a society. For the Elves, as for the Celtic Druids, the Sun represents the Center, both of the planetary system and the psyche. The Sun’s waxing and waning as the Earth tilts toward it or away, form the most fundamental movements of energy in the course of the year. Hickory is a hard and close-grained wood, with solar energies similar to those of Oak. It is traditionally used for making bats, sticks, and clubs because of its durability and so is linked to the archetypal wand or baton as a sign of imperium or the power to command others. The Eranor word axara is rooted to axalla “majesty” and lex “crown.”
Magical operations especially suited to the rune axara include:

  • Orange magick of good fortune and abundance
  • Enhancement of personal power and presence
  • Acquisition or giving of gold
  • Spells to restore wholeness and harmony
  • Spells for wise rulership and direction

 

Oadha (oh-AHH-thah)
The soft, voiced DH (as in English that) is Oadha, Cherrywood, sacred to Ambash, the Hunter, Lord of Beasts, protection and competition. Ambash is most closely equated to Roman Mars, but he is not simply a war-god. The Elves call him Tulan or Tulkas, and revere him as the tutelary spirit of forests and wanderers, a hunter and seeker set in contrast to the pastoral herding and planting ruled over by Arda and her daughter Yavanna. Thus he is as much the god Pan as he is Ares or Mars, and his adventures and tempers arise out of exuberant passions as well as out of the more destructive emotions of anger or hate. He is wildness and wilderness, and in the old myths is the Twin of Oronwë, the White Hart. Tulan’s color is burnt umber, his stones obsidian and sard. His sacred bird is the red-tailed hawk, and his totem animal the bear. The sound of Oadha carries with it the aspiration of Thor and the vibratory qualities of Duir, and it is the combination of these two noble woods that one finds in Cherry. Cherrywood is a superb wood for carving and other woodwork, aging to a deep reddish-orange color. It carries the energy of the magical Will through which intentions are directed into the outer world of manifestation. This is the root of the power of Tulan, who is linked to the Celtic god Teutates, the tribal war-god behind whom the intentions of the tribe are united into a single will. Oadha is imbued with the power of making and doing, achievement, and self-assertion over obstacles and critics. It is the longing and tension desire, and the release of action, a kind of fire one can detect in the male orgasm. Because of its intense vitality, Oadha is a powerful rune for healing, as well as for competition or defense. It is perhaps the most common rune used for protection.
Magical operations especially suited to the rune oadha include:

  • Invocations and blessings of sacred fires
  • Spells of finding
  • Spells of protection and guard
  • Hunting spells
  • Spells for or against war
  • Brown magick communication with animals and the wild
  • Spells of unification over groups or tribes

Awn (ah-OON)
Fifth of the mystic consonants the W-rune, Awn (pronounced ah-oon), the Willow, sacred to Omulan, the Moon. Her color is opalescent and her stones opal and pearl. Her sacred bird is the Snowy Owl and her totem animal the turtle. Willow is a tree of emotion, love, intuition, and poetic inspiration. Awn is rooted to Eranor awë, “inspiration” and hwenwë, “breath.” The compositive singular case of awe is awen, which is pronounced like the Welsh word awen, the sacred word of mystic (as distinct from intellectual, intuitive) inspiration. Omulan has affinities with both the Welsh goddesses Rhiannon and Arianrhod. In Eranor she is called Rianna. She is the daughter of Shava and Vashaan, and sister to Islaar, the androgyne spirit of magick and thought. As the Moon she rules the phases of female life and becoming: menstruation, birth, and menopause. As such, Rianna is depicted as maiden, mother, and wizard (or witch, in the modern non-pejorative sense of the word). By extension she is mistress of hearth, home, soveriegnty, and whatever else is considered the traditional sphere of women. As the great luminary of the night she also is Greek Astarte, goddess of witchcraft and moon magick, which is to say magick that aims at transformation and natural harmony. Awn is a rune of fluid and transformation used in spells of binding, protection, nurturance, and love. It is also the consummate rune of mystical union and connection.
Magical operations especially suited to Willow include:

  • Drawing down the Moon
  • Water magick of all kinds
  • Women’s rites of passage
  • Spells of intuition, dreaming, hearth and home
  • Transformations and blue magick of all kinds

 

Kemmir (kem-MEER)
Sixth and final among the Mystic Consonants is Kemmir, the Aspen, the Poplar, or the Cottonwood tree. All three of these closely related trees are sacred to Ulumas, the Mellar whom the Elves name Nienna. She is the goddess of joy and sorrow, memory and forgetting. Considered to be Goddess of the Dark Moon while Omulan is Goddess of the Full Moon, Nienna is the chief guardian of the souls of the dead, protecting them in their journeys between worlds and into new lives. She is also called Dan Ondil Mother of Compassion and may be related to the Chinese goddess Kwan Yin. She is a spirit of death and dying, but also of birth and childhood. She cares for the old and diseased and is a principal goddess of healing as well as the arts of memory. The name for the graceful Poplar tree, Kemmir, is rooted to the Eranor word kemmor, meaning ” poetic sagas.” As goddess over memory and the joys of entertainment, Nienna is a patroness of Bards and musicians. As goddess of memory, she is also invoked for curses and justice against evildoers. She is often depicted weighing human fates on a balance. Kemmir’s color is dove gray, its stones gray topaz and the blue fire opal. Its sacred bird is the mourning dove, and its totem animal is the unicorn (or some say the narwhal). Aspen is sometimes called “quaking aspen” because of its incessant motion, like trembling. This unceasing motion is like that of water, and does not signify fear so much as incipient potential energy. It is also like whispering speech, the ever-whispering fields of the spirits. Aspen is, among the Elves, a favorite wood for shields and has innate protective powers against fear as well as physical harm. The grand cottonwood is a tree that is related to the aspen but which grows to gigantic proportions similar to the oak and elm. In the early summer it showers all the land around with its “cotton” seeding itself far and wide leaving tides of fluff that look like sea-foam.
Magical operations especially suited to the rune kemmir include:

  • Enhancement of memory
  • Spells of forgetting
  • Spells of revenge
  • Curses against the wicked
  • Informations seeking historical knowledge and understanding
  • Invocations of joy or sadness
  • Banishment of sadness

 

Vowels

THE SECOND GROUP of six god-runes is considered by some wizards to be the most sacred of all: the vowels, those sounds that form the glue which bonds consonants together and at the same time transforms them. Some Ran Sarith sages maintain that vowels are not letters but colors added to the consonants, which are the true letters. Others consider that the vowels represent Spirit, the Fifth Element (prana, chi, aether, dark matter), from which all others emerge into manifestation.

The Sarranxi, who devised the carved rianar rune-forms maintain that vowels are indeed letters in their own right. Thus, the Artorin, the calligraphic pen-script of the Elves, uses diacritical marks to indicate the vowel sounds while the Rianar give them form like other letters but separated from the other phonetic groups.

The vowels delineated in the Rianar are six in number, though variations on the phonetic value of the first five vowels can be formed by combining them with the last, Yuin.
Ailim (ayl-EEM)
A is Ailim, the Fir tree, sacred to Sezh the Lady of Herbs and Trees, whom the Elves call Yavanna. As the creator and patroness of the trees and forests and of herbalists, Sezh is one of the most often worshipped and dearly revered of the Mellarin among woodland Elves. Her color is jade green, her stones jade and green amber. Her bird is the fecund sparrow, and her totem animal the cow. The Lay of Yavanna tells that she is the daughter of Aurelen and Arda, who seduces Tulan when he enters her forest and who is, in turn, captured by the young Hunter. A feud develops between the two fathers, Aurelen and Alba, the Sun. Because of Aurelen’s refusal to give permission for the two lovers to marry, Alba withdraws himself into the south brining on the cold and dark of Winter. In anger, Aurelen demands that the maid Yavanna live in the depths of the Earth with him. Saddened by this eternal Winter and the death of vegetation, the mothers of the two lovers (Arda and Nienna) intervene to end the feud. Yavanna solves the dilemma by saying that she will live with Tulan as her husband for half the year, but that during the other half, she will return to live with her father in the depths of the earth and the Winter’s barrenness will prevail. Alba agrees to shine his light and return to the North while Sezh is aboveground with his beloved son enjoying marital bliss and fertility. It is said that while Yavanna is in the Underworld, Tulan grieves for her and in his sorrow often may be provoked to anger and war.
Magical operations especially suited to the rune ailim include:

  • Spells of growth and fertility
  • Spells of marriage and relationships
  • Invocation of the powers of Springtime
  • Spells for productive fallow times
  • Spells for new birth
  • Herbalism and tree magick of all kinds

 

EDDA (ETh-ah)
E is for Edda, the Reed, sacred to the Mellar Olobaal, whom the Elves call Ulmoren and Brannonnenin, signifying “Lord of Waters.” Ulmoren is one of the two Mellarin who are of ambiguous sex: he/she is as often called Daneär, “Mother Sea.” This ambiguity signifies the nature of water and the seas: aggressive, destructive, relentless, but also the source of all life. Ulmoren thus appears in some tales as a gigantic heroic king, wielding an ash spear, and in others as the mysterious, often devouring mother, one aspect of the Triple Water Goddess with Ulumas and Omulan. The Reed is, of course, a water “tree” whose woody stems are always yielding and unconquerable by Valma, the Windlord. Valma is considered the brother of Ulmoren and together they often quarrel. Ulmoren successfully forced Valma to share sovereignty over the worlds by claiming the watery parts of the globe, leaving Valma with the Sky. Each has had children with Arda, the Earth Mother, though neither is her consort. Ulmoren, in her female form, has born the children of other male Mellarin. It is said that Vaar fathered Omulan on Ulmoren Daneär. In addition to its yielding strength, Reed is the tree of pipes and reed wind instruments. The bagpipes are sacred to Ulmoren and the panpipes are the favored instrument of his daughter the Orfaan Umbriel. Erun’s color is dark sea green; its stones aquamarine and green chrysoprase; its totem animal is the whale and its sacred birds the kingfisher and the albatross.
Magical operations especially suited to the rune erwn include:

  • Water magick of any kind
  • Protection from drowning and floods
  • Fertility spells and rituals
  • Enchantment of boats or ships
  • Musical enchantments and charms
  • Magick of the shore and liminal areas of all kinds

 

Ioho (ee-OH-ho)
The letter “I” is Ioho, the Yew tree, sacred to Islaar, the androgynous god-goddess of intellect, thought, and communication. Most often depicted as an effeminate youth, his color is emerald green, his stones are emerald and yellow jasper. His birds are the hummingbird and the falcon, and his totem animal the griffin. Islaar is called Lir by the Elves. Islaar rules magick as well as words and runes. He is the teacher and god of poets as well as philosophers. He is also the psychopomp, guide of souls from one world to the next and guardian of the rainbow bridge between worlds. As such, his tree the Yew bears powers over death and rebirth, as well as travels between the worlds. Yew is an extremely powerful wood for wands and enchantments as it is the tree of the Ovate, the seer and healer in Druid tradition, opening up visions within the body and the soul and stimulating the mind as doorway to Otherworlds. As the “I” Ioho may also be considered the rune of the ego, and the preservation of the ego through astral travels and transformations. As the rune-wood, Yew is the consummate wood of transformative magick but is also powerful for information of all kinds.
Magical operations especially suited to Yew include:
Spells of transformation, transmutation, and transfiguration

  • Spells of illusion
  • Astral travel
  • Communication with the deceased
  • Conjuration of helpful spirits and guides
  • Information seeking knowledge
  • Enhancement of speaking, persuasion, and expression

 

Oum (OUM)
The O-rune is Oum, the Linden tree or Basswood, and is associated with Heather in the Celtic tradition. It is the tree most sacred to Shava, Queen of Stars and Love, whose color is pearl white, and whose stones are alabaster and tree agate. Her bird is the Turtle dove and her totem animal the hind. Shava is called the Spider Grandmother, whose web is woven with stars. She is the consort of Vashaan, Lord of Winds and Airs, but her celestial nature is as much fiery as airy. The Elves call her Sellë and Sarwen, which signifies “Star-Maiden.” She is also named Elbereth, the “Star-Kindler,” and She is considered to be the daughter of Agni, primordial fire, and the creator of all stars, which is to say, of all matter. She is associated with Venus, Aphrodite, Ishtar and Isis, as well as with the Celtic goddesses Rhiannon and Arianrhod. Her nemesis is Vaar, Lord of the Void, whose rune is secret. Shava and the Linden wood are laden with the power to kindle beauty, peace, light, and love. More generally, Linden carries the power of attraction. Oum is the primordial sound of cosmic creation, the first word that made the stars.
Magical operations especially suited to Linden include:

  • Star magick of all kinds
  • Spells of creation and transmutation
  • Illuminations
  • Love spells
  • Spells of attraction of all kinds
  • Enhancement of beauty and personal glamor
  • Banishments of evil thoughts and feelings
  • Spells of Enlightenment

 

Uru or Uruin (OO-roo; oo-ROO-een)
The U-rune is called Uru, meaning Acorn, and also Uruin, meaning Ivy. The Acorn is sacred to Orion, whom the Elves call Oronwë, the White Hart. His color is light brown, his stones alexandrite and chrysoberyl. His sacred birds are the Lark and the Sparrowhawk, and his totem animal the stag. Much has already been said of Orion in the preceding notes. He is the sacrificial king who, like the Greek Titan Prometheus, brings knowledge and salvation from darkness, but who is himself sacrificed on the mountain by the forces of ignorance. The Acorn, his emblem, symbolizes the great potential in the small seed, for in a single acorn lies the potential for an oak forest across the work of time. Thus the Quest of Orion the Hunter is qualitatively different than the Hunting of Ambash. Orion’s quest is the Arthurian search for the Holy Grail, the deep heart’s desire and inward fulfillment of the acorn-character. His is the power to overturn old orders and create social order out of chaos and violence. Oronwë is also named Melmellar, the “good god” and is usually depicted carrying a stout staff of oak. In this, he is similar to the Celtic Dagda. Ivy holds the power of its spiraling growth and its adaptable nature, first growing plantlike and then treelike once it has climbed as high as it may along another tree. Contrary to popular belief, Ivy is not parasitic, but symbiotic and so it bears the power and wisdom of symbiosis too. The symbolism of Ivy evokes the Celtic god Esus and the Christian Jesus, both of whom were hung upon trees. Another hanging god is the Norse Odin, who hung from the World-Ash to gain the knowledge of the runes, which is to say the knowledge of all-knowledge.
Magical operations especially suited to the uru rune include:

  • Magical quests
  • The search for enlightenment
  • Spells of revolution and transformation of thought
  • Spells to open potential
  • Acts of sacrifice against darkness
  • Spells creating order out of chaos
  • Spells of intertwining and binding
  • Rituals of redemption and salvation

 

Yuin (YOO-een)
Last of all, the Y-rune, Yuin, is associated with the Ginkgo tree because that tree is one of the oldest species on Earth. It is also associated with the Walnut tree, which is held to be sacred to Vashaan, the Lord of Winds and Storms. Its color is turquoise blue, its stones turquoise, blue topaz, and sardonyx. Its sacred bird is the Eagle, particularly the Bald Eagle, and its totem animal the Pegasus. Vashaan is called by the Elves Valma, Sky Father, and First Maker. The rune itself depicts the “First Swirlings” of the universe after the manifestation of the stars through the creative act of Shava. It is the centripetal force of outward movement or expansion that complements Shava’s powers of attraction. Thus Yuin has power over all magical acts of expansion: expansion of wealth, horizons, the mind, the feelings. Its scope is limitless and its age unfathomable. The fan-shaped leaves of the ginkgo tree symbolize the moving winds of Vashaan. The nut of the walnut tree is linked to the Windlord’s creation myth, in which his tempests shake the walnut tree so that the nuts fall to earth and are buried by the squirrels. From these nuts spring forth the race of Elves. So the war-helms of the ancient Sarith knights, the Shazarin, are shaped like the half of a walnut shell. Valma is cognate with the gods Zeus, Jupiter, and Vishnu.
Magical operations especially suited to the rune yuin include:

  • Wind and weather magick
  • Spells to avert (or create) hurricanes or tornadoes
  • Spells of expansion generally
  • Enhancement of the powers of breath
  • Spells to cast or avert lightning
  • Spells of teleportation and astral travel
  • Spells of inspiration

 


NOTES
1. I use the term Alferic, from the word Alfë (plural Alfer) to distinguish the tradition I have studied personally as a galactic historian from the Eldarin tradition and history so consummately described by J.R. R. Tolkien. All Elvish scholars who follow in Tokien’s footsteps are inevitably indebted to him and are like dwarfs (or perhaps Hobbits) perched on the shoulders of a giant. Alfer is a term used by the Sarithin as the most general word for Elf-kin.

2. Eldar, technically, is a name confined to a particular group of Elves who, in Tokien’s histories, journeyed to Amman, the Undying Realm of the Valar, or Great Powers dwelling within the circles of the world in that Age. Eldar, however, came to be a term generally applied to Elves in Middle Earth. It may be translated similarly to Sarith in Eranor, that is “Star-Children.” Sindar, the Gray Elves, form the other major group of Elves described by Tolkien. Their language is Sindarin. See the Quenta Silmarillion for the full details of these Elvish tribes and their early history in Middle Earth.

3. N.B. that the word sylf is also related to Eranor sylva, which is a tree-spirit or dryad. The linguistic connection reflects the close spiritual relationship between Elves and trees. The capital region of Randiel is called Mara Sylvia.

4. It is worth noting that many of the elves and faeries encountered by persons in folklore and in gardens are likely to be sylphs. But on this see the argument started by Prof. Quendin Proscenium in his article “Sylphs and Victorian Flower Faeries” Proceedings of the 179th Meeting of the Royal Society of Elvish Arts and Sciences (Bohemian Press, 1902) pp. 46-48; and also Plendin Grammercy MacLisson, “Pope’s Sylphs and the Rustication of Prepubescent Sarith Games: Fact or Fiction?” in Alfengehiemsgelleschaftblatt No. XCXXII: (Spring 1903) pp. 4-37. See also: Dr. John Albus Elfwoort, “Autogestation and Sylphic Dialects,” Proceedings of the Dutch Guild of Folklorists 1222 (Amsterdam: Vanderhoost & Raastin, 1905) pp. 26-30.

5. Caius Quivius Gracchus, Alpinian Hamilton, and Bulbous Mumblemore, editors. Flying Saucers, Little Green Men, and Silferic Apparitions. London: Quilby and Teacosy Publishers, 1965.

6. On the many names of Shava Sarwen, see Lignis O’Lavander’s Queen of Heaven, Queen of Air (York: Jarndyce and Jarndyce, 1724).

7. On this the reader may be confidently referred to the extensive researches of Prof. Tolkien, particularly The Lost Road and Other Writings. (New York: Del Rey, 1987).

8. These remarks apply to the High-Elven tongues of court and college. Colloquial Elvish, especially as mispronounced, misspelled and riddled with puns by the Sylfin is another matter altogether. See, Prof. Cornish N. Macmillan, Colloquial Elvish: Madness at Liberty (Alexandria, Egypt: Thoth & Co., 223).

9. I am indebted to Dr. Kyra O’Sullivan for pointing out the significance of the linguistic form taken by the word Mellar, which is in its singular form already apparently plural with the -r ending. The word mella means “fair or lovely” in Eranor and also “young girl.” But mellar, the normal plural of mella, has become a singular word of its own, meaning essentially “one who creates by means of beauty or love” (mel being one root for love) and takes its plural using -in. Dr. O’Sullivan has pointed out that the nature of a Mellar is essentially plural because of the many different forms each takes, their avatars as well as their immanent presence in the natural world. So what at first seems to be a linguistic curiosity is actually the eloquent wedding of philosophy and grammar, typical of the Elves.

10. With the exception of the thirteenth Mellar, Vaar, who is considered the First of all in some ancient tales. He is known to the Elves as Melkor (“Beloved of the Night”) and Naharad (“Nameless One”).

11. Robert Graves, The White Goddess (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1948) p. 193. Some scholars have noted that the Celtic or Irish Tree Alphabet draws no clear distinction between what we would classify as trees and other woody plants. The Elves, on the other hand, have over a dozen separate classifications of woody plants, trees being considered the highest and most noble class. These classifications have been the source of serious argument and even warfare among the Sarithin. See Lady Morgan Koll, The Warre of the Trees (Edinburgh: MacMillan, MacGonegal & Sons., 1688). Graves notes and discusses at length the classes of trees under medieval Irish Brehon Law: the “Chieftain” trees, the “Peasant” trees, seven “Shrub Trees” and eight “Bramble Trees” (White Goddess p. 202 ff.). Though Brehon law and Elvish law may have some kinship, the Elvish attitude towards cutting down trees, shrubs, or brambles has tended to be more personal, trees and plants often being viewed as kin not merely kindling. Such an attitude and the conflicts that have arisen because of it are not surprising when one remembers the connection between Sylfs and dryads, and the tendency of the eldest Elves to retire to incarnation as trees. On the other hand, perhaps that kinship quality is what was intended by the Brehons when they classified the trees with what seem to be terms for social class.

12. See, among others, Kanning Foote “The Origins of Druidry among the Elves” Quivesil No. MMXII (Autumn 1723), pp. 30-42; and Madam Madeleine de la Tour de la Monde, “Les Druides et la Philosophie des Sarithin,” Enchanté: La Journal de la Socièté Française des Etudes Elfiques 529 (Spring 1948): pp. 23-45.

13. Murry Hope, Practical Celtic Magic. Wellingborough, England: Aquarian Press, 1987, p. 140.

14. The solar festas have Elvish names similar to the traditional Welsh: Alba Arthion, Alba Eilerion, Alba Heruinwa, and Alba Elvedh. The fire festivals, in chronological order, are called by the Mellarin who are celebrated in each: Arianna, Belanna, Oronna, and Rhianna.

15. It has been argued that the English name “elder” may actually derive from the elvish word eldar. See Vaccarius Tink, “Elder, Alder, and the Eldar: An Etymological Rumination”Ephemera No. 352 (Summer 1812): pp. 4-5. Prof. Tink suggests that this etymology explains elder’s close associations with witches. I find his arguments on the whole rather tenuous.

16. The name Cerridwen is, incidentally, also an Elvish epithet of Arda, from Eranor kerrid “leader” and -wen “woman.” It is a title often translated “lady” or “queen.”

17. Just as the English name of the elder tree is thought to have derived from Eldar, so the name alder is thought by some etymologists to derive from the Elvish plural for tree, aldar. See Margaret Maplebeam, Two Hundred Trees: An Etymological Excursion (Hart Whiby and Sons, 1523), pg. 19.

18. See Richard Tarnas, Prometheus the Awakener: An Essayon the Archetypal Meaning of the Planet Uranus. Woodstock , Connecticut: Spring Publications, 1995.

19. Sarranx and Randiel were involved in no fewer than three wars over this runic issue, which gives a clear idea of the importance of the runes to Elvish culture, as well as an inkling of the jealousies among Elfin sages. See: Kronreich Wellington-Boot, Wars of the Runemasters. 3 vols. (Hallstadt University Press, 1266); Quentin C. B. Charpentier, Les Guerres Elifiques(Nouvelle, 1788); and P. Passepartout duBoeuff, “Les formes des Rianar et la battaile de la troubadours elfique,” in Etudes Elifiques Ancièn, XXXIV: 3 (Autumn 1811)

20. The letter ioho does not serve in Eranor as the first person pronoun, but it does often serve as the definite article, a sign of integrity and singularity. See: Barnabas Nudgeworth, “The definite article defined” in Alferic Notes and Queries, vol. MLXII (1960), pp. 12-31.

21. The term “Informations” is a used here in its technical sense: that is, magic intended to seek out information of some kind or to fix it magically in some object. If you must, see Randall Spangler, A Child’s First Primer in Magical Arts (Wee Willy Winky Press, 1898), p. 2.

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