Odin's sacrifice of the self brought the Runes to humankind. To gain something of value for mankind, he hung himself for nine nights on Yggdrasil, the World-Tree, wounded by his own blade. Unaided and alone he was tormented by hunger, thirst, and pain. Before he fell he spied the Runes and with great effort seized them. During his suffering he lost an eye, but his sacrifice brought the Runes to humanity.
From the Poetic Edda:
Down to the deepest depths I peered
I know I hung on that windy tree,
Swung there for nine long nights
Wounded by my own blade
Bloodied for Odin.
Myself an offering to myself
Bound to the tree
That no man knows
Wither the roots of it ran.

None gave me bread.
None gave me drink.
Down to the deepest depths I peered
Until I spied the Runes.
With a roaring cry I seized them up
Then dizzy and fainting I fell.

Well-being I won
And wisdom, too.
From a word to a word
I was led to a word.
From a deed to another deed.

The Runes are associated with wisdom and self knowledge. Each character is a carrier of energy. It is a vessel of activity within nature and one's self which can be activated. The Runes have the power of divination and healing. They can also put one in touch with their inner self.

Letter: f
Meaning: cattle
Tree: Elder
Summary: Wealth, possessions, nourishment, abundance, divination, prophecy

Letter: u
Meaning: Aurochs(wild bison, now extinct)
Tree: Birch
Summary: Strength, changing form, tenacity, transformation, health

Letter: th
Meaning: Thorn
Tree: Hawthorn
Summary: Gateway, awakening, new possibilities, breaking down of boundaries

Letter: a
Meaning: Mouth
Tree: Ash
Summary: Signals, inspiration, speech, voice of the Goddess, true vision, synthesis

Letter: r
Meaning: Cartwheel
Tree: Oak
Summary: Journey, dance of life, rationality, ordered growth, maze, larger perspective

Letter: k
Meaning: Torch
Tree: Pine
Summary: Opening, power to create your reality, vital fire of life, creativity, transformation

Letter: g
Meaning: Gift
Tree: Elm
Summary: Partnership, gifts of the Goddess, blessings, magickal exchange, power to create from within self

Letter: w
Meaning: Joy
Tree: Ash
Summary: Joy of life, harmony, fellowship, prosperity, secret knowledge

Letter: h
Meaning: Hail
Tree: Yew
Summary: Disruption, wild power in untamed nature, strength, protection

Letter: n
Meaning: Necessity
Tree: Mountain Ash
Summary: Constraint, need, resistance(leads to strength), self-initiated change

Letter: i
Meaning: Ice
Tree: Alder
Summary: Standstill, time to turn inward, wait for what is to come, self-control, unity

Letter: j
Meaning: Harvest
Tree: Oak
Summary: Good harvest, fruitful season, time of peace and happiness, plenty, reward, proper timing

Letter: p
Meaning: Dice cup
Tree: Aspen
Summary: Initiation, determining your path, knowledge of future patterns, evolutionary change

Letter: ei
Meaning: Yew-tree
Tree: Yew
Summary: Defense, release, letting go, enlightenment, endurance, initiation, protection

Letter: z
Meaning: Elk
Tree: Yew
Summary: Protection, awakening, higher life, connection with the gods, continuity and nurturance of life force

Letter: s
Meaning: Sun
Tree: Juniper
Summary: Wholeness, self-knowledge, guidance, hope, goals achieved, power of self-renewal

Letter: t
Meaning: the God Tyr
Tree: Oak
Summary: Warrior, Divine Spinner, justice, self-sacrifice, analysis, rationality

Letter: b
Meaning: Birch goddess
Tree: Birch
Summary: Growth, new beginnings, renewal, liberation, life changes

Letter: e
Meaning: Horse
Tree: Ash
Summary: Movement, teamwork, harmony, trust, loyalty, fertility of ideas

Letter: m
Meaning: Mankind
Tree: Holly
Summary: The Self, female wisdom, knowledge, awareness, intelligence, memory

Letter: l
Meaning: Water
Tree: Willow
Summary: Flow, life, sea of conscious, quickening energy, healing power of renewal

Letter: ng
Meaning: The God Ing
Tree: Apple
Summary: Fertility, internal growth, gestation, sacred power of female sexuality

Letter: d
Meaning: Day
Tree: Spruce
Summary: Break-through, prosperity and fulfillnes, awakening, hope, power of self-change

Letter: o
Meaning: Property
Tree: Hawthorn
Summary: Aid in spiritual and physical journeys, womb of the Goddess, increase and abundance

More on Runes soon...
Runes, Runes, Runes by ShadowChaser
Runes, Alphabet of Mystery
The Runic Journey

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