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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Runes and Magic

A lot of 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.

In my Witches of Galdorheim books, I decided to use runes as the magic language. Kat, the teen witch introduced in Bad Spelling, just couldn’t get the pronunciation of the runes right. The results she got were often spectacularly wrong. In other words, she was a bad speller.

I researched runes and found a few I could use to give some depth to the magical language of the witches. Runes are like hieroglyphics in that each run stands for a word or concept rather than a letter. I found a handy phrase chart and stole what I could. Elder Futhark is the oldest known runic alphabet. Each rune has a name. Each rune is a word of power.

My Mashup

In Bad Spelling, Kat’s teacher listens to the misspelling witch as she attempts a simple transformation spell:
Kat held her wand over the pentagram and repeated the spell, omitting the spell’s finishing word. Miss Mariah shook her head. "Katya, you said îgwaz instead of perßô."
Later, Kat’s aunt Thordis uses a runic spell to enable her to speak with Katya’s dead father. I found this spell to raise the dead on an Icelandic runic stave site (how cool is that!).
When she felt her magic to be at its peak, Thordis opened the book to the chapter titled Speaking to the Dead. She zipped through the incantation:

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.

But nothing happened. She slowed down and spoke the spell with precision, putting as much magical force as she could into it. Finally, she felt the spell break through the barrier.


Bad Spelling (Book 1 of the Witches of Galdorheim)
A klutzy witch, a shaman's curse, a quest to save her family. Can Kat find her magic in time?
Amazon Kindle (only $0.99 right now)
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Audio at Audible.com

If you’re a witch living on a remote arctic island, and the entire island runs on magic, lacking magical skills is not just an inconvenience, it can be a matter of life and death–or, at least, a darn good reason to run away from home. 

Katrina’s spells don’t just fizzle; they backfire with spectacular results, oftentimes involving green goo. A failure as a witch, Kat decides to run away and find her dead father’s non-magical family. But before she can, she stumbles onto why her magic is out of whack: a curse from a Siberian shaman.

The young witch, accompanied by her half-vampire brother, must travel to the Hall of the Mountain King and the farthest reaches of Siberia to regain her magic, dodging attacks by the shaman along the way.

2 comments:

  1. Did you intend to use eszett in the first quote? I am used to seeing it with an eth, i.e. perðo.

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  2. Thanks for reading, Dave. I was going by the shape of the runes rather than the meaning. The chart I had shows those two looking similar, like minding your Ps and Qs.

    I found the Rune picture and the quote from another source. I copied and pasted, of course.

    ReplyDelete