Thursday, October 09, 2014

Runes - Bad Spelling

HALLOWEEN IS FOR WITCHES - The entire Witches of Galdorheim series will be 99 cents each during October. Available for Kindle and Nook.

Using Runes to Cast Spells [Tweet This]

What is a rune? Besides my second most important character in the Witches of Galdorheim series, that is. Briefly, runes make up the oldest Norse alphabet. Yes, those Vikings were busy writers as well as raiders and looters. The Eddas are Norse adventure novels (okay, they’re generally written in poetry form). But well-known books such as Beowulf weren’t written in runes. Believe it or not, Beowulf was written in Old English, not Old Norse. Or maybe that’s the only translation that lasted through the centuries.

Today, we can see runes written centuries ago on large stones dotting the Scandinavian countryside, but very little on a portable media like paper. The Eddas were more an oral tradition, than written. The Skald (poet) of a Viking Lord’s staff memorized hundreds of stories. Skalds’ storytelling helped people from going crazy during the long, dark winter nights. After all, without any schools, few people could read anything. Runes used as symbols, however, were recognized by everyone. Think about traffic signs. Many today have no words, but are universally accepted signals for concepts. Stop, School Zone, Yield, Train can figure out what they mean whether you can read the language or not.

Some Skalds did record their tales on paper made of very thin animal skins called vellum. From these fragments, scholars (hm, that sounds a lot like Skald, doesn’t it?), could reconstruct the runic alphabet. Often the story is accompanied by pictures. A very early graphic novel perhaps.

Many fantasy novels based on Euro-centric mythologies use runes in their plots, be it a tattooed rune on the hero’s chest, the discovery of a runic tablet that leads a worthy band of heros on a quest for dragon’s gold, or a villain who casts his dark spells in the ancient runic language. All very cool stuff.

Runes are not just fantasy made up by Tolkien. I researched runes and found a few I could use to give some depth to the magical language of the witches.

Elder Futhark is the oldest known runic alphabet. Each rune has a name. Each rune is also a word of power. The Rune markings in the graphic (see below) match the interpreted Elder Futhark (the Runes in spoken form) shown in the excerpt. The name of the language comes from the first six letters that make up the Runic alphabet.

In one sense, Futhark is simply an alphabet like ours. But in terms of magic, runes are like hieroglyphics in that each rune stands for a word or concept rather than simply a letter of the alphabet. They can be used either way. In magic, the runes are used as words of power which enhance or direct a spell. I found a handy phrase chart and used some real runes in the series, but had to use the interpreted spelling in a form one can sound out even if you don’t know what they mean.

The origin of the runic alphabet might have come from early Greek and Roman alphabets called Italics. If you read about Futhark, you’ll see it’s far more complicated than this easy explanation. It’s mostly guesswork on the origins of runes, but the fact is runes appear on stones in the Scandinavian countries, not Italy.

As language developed, written runes were set aside for the more modern Roman alphabet. But the use of runes as words of power survived even Roman conquest thanks to the Druids, the ancient pantheistic religion later smeared by accusations of witchcraft and magic.

Well, witchcraft and magic are fine by me. I wish they really existed. Considering the popularity of fantasy books incorporating magic, I’d say a lot of people wish magic was real.

In the Witches of Galdorheim books, I decided to use runes as the magic language. I call it Old Runish. Kat, in Bad Spelling, just can't get the pronunciation of the runes right, mistaking îgwaz for perßô. The results are often spectacularly wrong. In other words, she is a really bad speller.

Here’s a fun link to a translator. Click on the Launch Interactive link, then type in your name to see it written in the runic alphabet. I typed in Bad Spelling. This is what I got. Click here to try your own:

Aunt Thordis is the top witch on Galdorheim and a master of Old Runish spells. If magic can be done, she’s the one who can do it. In the following excerpt, Thordis seeks information from Kat’s flash frozen father. She wants to know why Kat is such a lousy speller and suspects the girl’s father has something to do with it. Thordis invokes a runic spell to break through to the man’s frozen brain for answers. She must be careful, however, since the spell is used to re-animate the dead. Here's a spell in Elder Futhark and the translation of the spell. It’s pretty creepy.

Þat kann ec iþ tolpta,
ef ec se a tre vppi
vafa virgilná:
sva ec rist oc i rvnom fác,
at sa gengr gvmi
oc melir viþ mic.”

I know a twelfth one if I see,
up in a tree,
a dangling corpse in a noose,
I can so carve and colour the runes,
that the man walks
And talks with me.
--From the Hávamál, an Old Norse Edda (collection of proverbs) from the 10th Century

BAD SPELLING Kindle Ebook  Nook Book  Audio Book
A klutzy witch, a shaman's curse, a quest to save her family. Can Kat find her magic in time?
Follow the adventures of Katrina and her half-vampire brother, Rune, as they chase down an evil shaman. Dodging the shaman's curses on a dangerous trip across the ice-bound arctic seas, they meet both friends and foes. Kat and Rune must find the shaman and stop him before their beloved island home is destroyed.


Tales of a Texas Boy
Missing, Assumed Dead
Bad Spelling
Midnight Oil

No comments:

Post a Comment