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Healing Rune Origins
by Fire_Opal

There is no firm agreement among scholars as to when and where runic writing first made its appearance in Western Europe. During the centuries millennia perhaps before the Germanic tribal peoples possessed any form of alphabet or alphabetic script, they made ceremonial and propitiatory use of pictorial glyphs or symbols that they scratched or carved onto rocks. Dating from the second Bronze Age (circa 1300 to 1200 B.C.) and from the period of transition to the Iron Age (circa 800 to 600 B.C.), the majority of these prehistoric rock carvings or hallristningar, is thought to be linked to groups of Ino-European fertility and sun worshippers. The most common symbols found in the rock carvings include representations of human and animal forms, parts of the human body, weapon motifs, swastikas, sun symbols, swirls, wheels and other variations on square and circular forms.

The creation of the runic script began when these pre runic pictorial symbols melded with elements of the already existing Latin, Greek, Etruscan and Northern Italic alphabets. Evidence to support the timing of this fusion comes from several related alphabets used in inscriptions found in the Alps and dating from the fourth to the first century B.C..

There is considerable agreement among runic scholars that, from its inception, runic writing was not primarily utilitarian, and that the evidence of its sacred function is found first in the bonding of secular letters with the pre runic symbols employed in pagan Germanic rites and religious practices and, even more dramatically, in their association with the Germanic Gods, thereby situating the runic alphabet at the very heart of the old Germanic religion. To the pagan mind, the earth and all created things were alive. Twigs and stones served for Rune casting since, as natural objects, they were believed to embody the sacred. Over the centuries, Runes have been carved into pieces of hardwood, incised on metal or cut into leather. The most common Runes would have been short sticks or smooth, flat pebbles with the symbols marked on one side.

We have scant information as to who cut the Runes, who was considered a Rune master, how such people learned their craft and about the transmission of the runic lore from master to apprentice. What we do know is that the individual Runes took on sacred meanings and, with the passage of time, became the first abiding Oracle of Western Europe. Writing in 98 A.D., in Book X of his Germanic, the Roman historian Tacitus provides us with the most often quoted and explicit description of runes being used as an Oracle:

They cut a branchfrom a fruit bearing tree and
divided it into small pieces; these they mark with certain
distinctivesigns (notae) and scatter them at random and
without orderupon a white cloth. Then, the priest of the
community...afterinvoking the Gods and with eyes
raised to heaven, picks up three pieces, one at a time,
and interprets them by means of the signs previously
marked upon them. Ibid.