The Fehu Rune Tree

If this image above looks familiar, it should; this is Gandalf’s rune from “The Lord of the Rings.” It strongly resembles the rune ‘Fehu’ in the Old Norse Futhark (alphabet).


My picture of the tree below looks like the rune ‘Fehu’ to me. I thought seeing a rune shape hiding amongst the trees was appropriate, given I was in Scandinavia at the time. The easiest way to view Viking rune stones (‘stenna’, in Swedish) is usually at a museum, although the stones are also part of burial mounds, which dot the countryside, although the mounds are often on someone’s farm.

The Viking-era rune stone I am most familiar with stands at the rear of Domkyrkan in Växjö, although my pictures of that rune stone are so old, I don’t know where they are anymore, so I have added this link where you can scroll down and see the stone.

I suspect the reason runes are known in America at all is probably due to J. R. R. Tolkien’s use of them in The Lord of the Rings, but we can’t forget that Tolkien was inspired by his love of Old Norse mythology, history, and literature, the Eddas and Norse Sagas.

Tolkien was so inspired by the Eddas and Norse Sagas, he based his entire scholastic and fiction-writing career on them. Without the Icelandic sagas, it is unlikely we would have The Lord of the RingsThe Silmarillion or The Hobbit, amongst all the other tales inspired by Norse myths and lore Tolkien wrote. Tolkien, as a historical linguist, studied the elder and younger Futhark, the runic alphabet.

So it was originally Tolkien who made me aware of the concept of runes, but it wasn’t until later in life I began to research their history and meaning, including using runes for divination, much as they were by shamans or priests in ancient Norse religion.

‘Fehu’ has a few traditional meanings; one of which has to do with wealth; specifically, in the days of Old Norse settlements, wealth through ownership of cattle. It also symbolizes new beginnings and strength. 

Fehu birches watercolor


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