The Northumbrian Futhark

I have always liked the Northumbrian Futhark more than the Elder Futhark or the Anglo-Saxon Futhark. The extra runes in the Northumbrian Futhark cover some important concepts that are not dealt with in earlier futharks. My own rune set is this futhark.

We had a big sort through of stuff that never got unpacked after we moved from England and I found this rather faded representation of the Northumbrian Futhark, which has 33 runes. I think I made this in around 1991, and had it stuck to a door with BluTack for quite a while (which is how it got faded). Note that in the 1991 drawing, for some reason I incorrectly positioned Os in the last aett, when in fact it’s in the first aett in both the Anglo-Saxon and Northumbrian futharks. Some people call these futharks the futhorc because of the position of Os, but futhark is the generic term for a runic alphabet.

Northumbrian Futhark drawn by Yvonne Aburrow in 1991.

So today I made a new version of the drawing. Each rune has its own colour (different authors attribute different colours to the various runes). Each aett of the futhark is dedicated to a god and a goddess. In the centre is Gar, symbolizing Ódhinn’s spear. The newest aett, developed by the Anglo-Saxons and Northumbrians, is dedicated to the Aesir. In the 2021 drawing, Os and Aesc are in the correct positions.

Northumbrian Futhark drawn by Yvonne Aburrow in 2021

Frey & Freyja govern the more primal and nature based runes: cattle, wild ox, thorn and thunder, river mouth, riding, the torch or fire, giving, and joy.

Heimdall & Mordgud’s aett is more about the elemental forces — hail and hunger and death and birth and the underworld; the cycles of nature, the valley of yews, the cave, the swan, the rays of the sun.

Tyr and Zisu are the day, and humanity’s relationship with Nature. The arch of the heavens, the pillar of the world tree, the birch tree that makes the cradle, the horse (representing the animal part of human nature), water, fertility, home, and the dawn.

The Aesir are all about the mysteries: the connection of the acorn to the mighty oak, the power of the world serpent and death and sacrifice.

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Further reading