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the dictionary of norse mythology

RUNES


RUNES That Which Is Secret Ancient letters or symbols used in the earliest alphabets of the German tribes of northern Europe, including the norse, from the second to the 12th centuries. Runic inscrip-tions occur most commonly in scandinavia and parts of the British Isles. The characters consisted of perpendicular, slanting, and curved lines, well adapted to being carved on wood, stone, and metal. Magical and mysterious powers were associated with runes.According to Norse mythology, knowledge of runes was introduced by the god odin, who hanged himself from the branches of the sacred tree,yggdrasil, for nine days and nine nights until fallen twigs from the tree spelled out the secrets of the runes.After the establishment of Christianity in the north, runes were looked down upon as pagan. Nonetheless, in Scandinavia their use continued after the Middle Ages in manuscripts as well as in inscrip-tions on stone, metal, and wood.

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