From Proto-Hebrew (Phoenician) to English
Script from Bet HaShem Midrash
The Proto-Hebrew-Phoenician letters (above, on the left side), are the letters with which the Torah was first written. (The square block, Chaldean characters were devised centuries later near the time of Ezra).
The more ancient Hebrew-Phoenician letters (above and below) were transformed into the written language of the Greeks, and used by the Druid scribes and Hebrew prophets of Central and Eastern Europe to embellish and interpret the Law. These oracles were subsequently brought to Egypt in the centuries before the Christian era and translated into the Septuagint version of the Bible (the Tanach...or what is erroneously refered to as the Old Testament...It is very much alive)...
...with which the Gospels were written before they found their ways into Latin...and eventually into English and the King James Version of the sacred Scriptures.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
From 22 letters to 26
King James?...Behold, thou art wiser than Daniel; there is no secret they can hide from thee...
Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord God; THOU SEALEST UP THE SUM, FULL OF WISDOM AND PERFECT IN BEAUTY
Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God...(Ezekiel 28:3, 12,13).
EDEN, IN THE WEST
Ten Sefirot and 22 pathways connecting them. These correspond to the 22 letters of the ancient Hebrew alphabet, with which the Most High inscribed the Law (Exodus 32:15,16) and passed the Ineffable Name down to the world.
From above to below:
The Divine Name YHVH (Y = 10 H = 5 V = 6 H = 5) equals 26. The Four descending sefirot on the Central Pillar of the Oracle, 1 + 6 + 9 + 10 = 26. It requires the full 26 letters of the English alphabet (the unknown tongue in the time of Christ) to interpret the Name in our time.
Orlando J. Smith recommended your expertice to us concerning the paleo Hebrew Alef-bet. The following message was forwarded to us regarding the original text of the Torah. If you have information regarding the validity of the following, would you please enlighten us. Please excuse this intrusion into your time, but we are truly seeking The Truth and need assistance. Todah Rabbah, Susan, William and Darrell.
Following is a segment of a much more exhaustive paper...The most recent revision (9/99) may be found in its entirety at http://ldolphin.org/barrychron.html
THREE MAIN VERSIONS FROM ONE ORIGINAL TEXT:
From the time of Ezra and Nehemiah (about 440 BC) until the Council of Jamnia (around 100 AD) there existed a "Vorlage Text" of the OT in Paleo-Hebrew. This Vorlage was essentially the original complete Old Testament text. With time, the Vorlage gave rise to three "recensions". The first of these was the Samaritan Pentateuch (SP), again in Paleo-Hebrew, about 408 BC. Tobiah the Ammonite allegedly took a copy of the Law with him when he was cast out of the Temple by Nehemiah (13:4 - 9 and Ezra 4:1 - 4). And set up the rival system of worship in Samaria. The SP was essentially a copy of the Vorlage Pentateuch.
The second recension was the Septuagint Greek (LXX) which was translated from the Vorlage Text about 250 BC by 72 Jewish scholars at Alexandria. This version became necessary because of the number of Greek-speaking Jews that
were resident in Egypt under the favourable Ptolemaic Dynasty. It has been noted by most authorities that the LXX translation of the Vorlage Pentateuch was particularly carefully done because of its revered position in the Canon.
Finally, the Masoretic Hebrew Text (MT) was re-written in square "modern" Hebrew characters at the Council of Jamnia around 100 AD, with the vowel points added around 900 AD. In "Our Bible and the Ancient manuscripts", p.49, (Eyre and Spottiswoode, London), Sir Frederick Kenyon commented that this dual procedure could easily be "one considerable source of corruption" in the MT. But let us put this all in its proper context.
The Dead Sea Scrolls And The Council Of Jamnia.
A very important article, that impinges on the question of the best manuscript to use for dating, was written by Siegfried H. Horn, Professor Emeritus of Archaeology at Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan. It appeared in "Ministry" for November 1987, pp. 4-8, and was entitled "The Old Testament text in antiquity." He pointed out that the Dead Sea Scrolls can be clearly divided into two groups. There are 170 manuscripts from the 11 Qumran caves and fragments from Masada, all of which pre-date 70 AD. The second group comprises manuscripts from the desert caves in the Wadi Murabba'at, the Nahal Hever, and the Nahal, Se'elim. The records show that they were hidden there shortly after 100 AD.
Importantly, these two groups of scrolls show two distinct text types. Those pre-dating 70 AD have a text that agrees with both the LXX and the OT quotations used by Christ and the Apostles in our New Testament (NT). These quotes were essentially from the original Hebrew Vorlage. Those post-dating 100 AD have a text virtually identical with the Masoretic Text in our present OT. The dividing line between the two text types came somewhere between 70 and 100 AD. What happened to change the text type? Remember, the original Hebrew (Vorlage) version existed from the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. The Masoretic Hebrew can be traced directly to 100 AD.
.As Professor horn points out, the answer is the Council of Jamnia held around 100 AD. He states that "A unified text suddenly became the standard at the end of the first century and [the fact] that not one copy of a divergent text survived (except the Dead Sea scrolls that had already been hidden when Jamnia convened), indicate clearly that the Council of Jamnia must have taken actions in this matter.
Rabbi Akiba ben Joseph was this Council's undisputed leader, though its chairman was Yohannan ben Zakkai. (John, the son of Zachariah? No, a later Yohannan, one who came in the name of the first). In his later years, Akiba endorsed the rebellion of Bar Kokba against Rome, and supported him with his wealth, even endorsing him as the Messiah. Akiba was eventually captured and taken to Rome where he was executed in 137 AD at the age of 82.
The Council of Jamnia rejected the LXX and the original Hebrew on which it was based (Vorlage) because, as Professor Horn points out...it had become the Bible of the Christians..."
Indeed, as textual expert Sir Frederick Kenyon writes (op. cit. p. 56): "In the second century of our Era, this repudiation took form in the production of a rival version." Professor Horn, Sir Frederick, and other textual scholars are unanimous that this "rival version" was the Masoretic Text, which, with some variations, has been used as the basis of most OT translations.
The Council of Jamnia produced this unified text of the Old Testament and ensured that all divergent texts were destroyed. (The original texts are hidden in the Cave of Treasures). This unified version, the MT, was written in so-called 'modern' Hebrew with square Assyrian characters instead of the ancient or Paleo-Hebrew script of the Vorlage. It was also written without vowels. The vowel pointings were added about 900 AD. This two-fold process (a change in Hebrew characters and vowel addition) was, as Sir Frederick Kenyon concluded (op. cit. p. 49), "...one considerable source of corruption." Sir Frederick then went on to point out that around 200 AD, Origen produced his Hexapla or six-fold version of the Old Testament. It had the MT in Hebrew, the MT in Greek, three other Greek versions of the MT (that of Aquila, Theodotion, and Symmachus) and the Septuagint (LXX).
Note that, except for the LXX, all 5 other versions in Origen's Hexapla were simply variations on the MT. Furthermore, Sir Frederick noted that "...Origen's efforts were not directed towards the recovery of the original form of the LXX, but at bringing it into harmony with the Masoretic Hebrew Text then current, and to do this he introduced alterations into it with the utmost freedom." Fortunately, in the year 617 AD Bishop Paulus of Tella in Mesopotamia made a Syriac translation that detailed Origen's alterations, so that the form of the original LXX was preserved for us and is today still in existence.
WHAT WAS IN THE VORLAGE TEXT?
The Vorlage Text is quoted in the scrolls from Qumran and Masada written prior to Jamnia. After that Council, the Jews used the new MT exclusively and destroyed all other versions. But Christ, the Apostles, and Josephus all quote from the Vorlage and its LXX translation, as did the Church Fathers.
From the time of Ezra and Nehemiah (about 440 BC) until the council of Jamnia (around) 100 AD) there existed a 'Vorlage' text of the scriptures. This Vorlage text in Paleo-Hebrew gave rise to the samaritan pentateuch in paleo-hebrew (about 400 BC), the Septuagint Greek (about 250 BC), and the Masoretic Hebrew with square 'modern' characters (about 100 AD) with vowel points added about 900 AD. The Vorlage text is quoted in scrolls from Qumran and Masada written prior to Jamnia. After that the Jews used the Masoretic exclusively. Christ, the apostles, and Josephus quote from the Vorlage as did the church fathers, from their writings, it is apparent that the Septuagint text is largely correct.
Shalom William & Susan,
I've invited Shmuel to comment on the Vorlage, but I wanted to point you back to my comment about history changing perspective. The Bet HaShem Paleo-Hebrew Torah discards the Masoretic vowells and hyphenizations but otherwise retains MT word forms. Though a virtual return to the Vorlage text was within the technical capabilities of the BHM compiler, he decided that those changes ought rather to come by concensus. The Midrash is open to ideas. The BHM Paleo-Hebrew Torah url is http://www.crowndiamond.org. Bora Finton, Administrator
We see no corruption in the work of the rabbis in the first century. Despite the reality--the fact that they could not see fully into the hidden structure of the world above them--they were nevertheless commanded to build a fence around the Torah, and to get inside of that fence themselves. They were commanded to be guardians of the Torah so that the Law would not get lost in its own universal meanings, as it accompanied both Israel and the Gentiles to the ends of the age and the fulness of time.
For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness IN PART is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in...(Romans 11:25-28).
The question: From where, and when, did the Proto-Hebrew-Phoenician script derive? Going directly to the hypothesis, of which we are more than confident, we see that these ancient letters emerged out of Atlantean culture, and were carried to the East by the Phoenicians who not only sailed freely from continent to continent in those ancient times, but who also perfected these letters for their own use in the realm of commerce and trade. The ancient Atlantean-Hebrew adepts (the Levitical Druids), however, were also using these characters and perfecting them for a different use. They were using them to compose those hidden texts we know as the Torah.
These texts were being composed, using those distinctly Hebrew literary methods (the methods of Kabbalah), not in the East but in the center of Europe. Grown out of all the oral traditions of the world that preceded it the Torah took written form after the mind of Israel ascended back up into Europe, after the time of Moses and that epic, and wholly mytho-historical event called the Exodus. The mysteries of Atlantis were returning Westward.
Read the 22 letters from East to West. Read the 26 letters from West to East. The Center of the Mystery is hidden right there between them.
The ancient Paleo-Hebrew script has a definite connection to the shape and configuration of those Runes that have been in use throughout Europe for untold centuries. Whether the Runes grew out of the Phoenician script, or the Phoenician script was a perfection and alteration of the more ancient Runes, others will decide. The point is that they both emerged out of the same ancient Atlantean tradition:
WHAT ARE RUNES
In the most mundane sense, runes are an alphabet much as our own alphabet and others such as the Greek and Cyrillic alphabets. Each rune represents a sound and was/is used to write words with. But that is in the most MUNDANE of senses.
Runes were used long before the concept of writing was around. Each rune is an archetype of a force. People had concepts for such things as Fire, Honour, Birth, et.al. and each of these concepts were given names to make them easier for us to comprehend. In this way, runes are very similar to the Hebrew alphabet. Each 'letter' not only has a sound and a name, but is a complete word with all associated concepts. This similarity with Hebrew extends even farther. Each hebrew word is made of several Hebrew letters, therefore each Hebrew word is made of several Hebrew words. (Such as the word Paradise, PRDS. Psht, Rmz, Drsh, Sod). The initial letters of several words in a sentence, or of the first letters of each sentence or paragraph may be gathered to form a new word that is used to help explain and expand upon what is already written. The same can be done with runes.
Runes lend themselves readily to numerology. The Runic alphabet is properly shown as three rows of eight letters. Therefore each letter can be identified by row:column number. Additionally, each rune has it's sequential number identified by it's placement in the alphabet. Much like us numbering A as 1, B as 2, ... , and Z as 26.
Each rune can be placed in position on a tree pattern much like the traditional Qabbalah. They may represent the different worlds or paths of the tree and can be expanded and expounded upon as much as the Qabbalah itself is. In fact, Runic Qabbalah is quite intriguing and does contain a life of study (as do all other facets of Runework). Runes can be used for fortunetelling. They can be drawn and placed and read much like tarot cards. The can be cast or strewn and the relationship of groupings, distance and angles and patterns formed will tell the caster what he wishes to know.
Runes are also entities in and of themselves. Much like the angels, princes, demons, sylphs, undines and watchtowers of the ceremonial magician. Each rune can be invoked or evoked and the power harnessed to work ones will to enlighten the intellect. They are a fantastic meditation tool and will always increase ones knowledge. Much as the primal elements of Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Spirit, each rune also has it's part in the manifestation of all things manifested. Chaos, grass, people, sunlight, honour, dragons, hopes, and sex are all replete with runes are could not ever exist without the runic force that creates, shapes, releases, destroys and changes them. I have equated runes to many other branches of esoteric, occult, phsycological and intellectual pursuits. This is in the hopes that if you are already familiar or interested in one of these, you will realize that runes are already familiar to you or that you are already interested in them and don't yet realize it.
May you approach the Well of Wyrd and may your sip there only increase your thirst.
Lokrien @ The Sacred Grove
The following is the work of Ingrid Halvorsen at http://sunnyway.com/runes/:
ORIGIN OF THE RUNES
A reader directed me to a wonderful website called "Omniglot, a guide to writing systems", which illustrates examples of various alphabets of the world. By examining some of these we can begin to see the influences which may have led to development of the Germanic/Norse rune alphabets. It is commonly thought that the Etruscan and Latin alphabets were sources, but as you will see below, there may have been others, also. All of the data that follows are from the information and graphics from the Omniglot website.
First, let's look at the major runic alphabets (called "futharks" based upon the first six symbols). There are many other variants, but the Elder, Anglo-Saxon, and Younger Futharks are the most well-known.
Runes were used to write many languages including, Gothic, German, Frisian, English, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Icelandic, Lithuanian, Russian, Hebrew and other Semitic languages (due to trade relations with the Khazars, a Semitic tribe of traders of the Silk Road).
The runes might be read from left to right or from right to left, even on the same artifact. Translation of runic inscriptions is therefore extremely difficult, and complicated by the fact that rune masters sometimes wrote cryptic puzzles or in secret script.
THE ELDER FUTHARK
"The Elder Futhark is thought to be the oldest version of the runic alphabet, and was used in the parts of Europe which were home to Germanic peoples, including Scandinavia. Other versions probably developed from it. The names of the letters are shown in Common Germanic, the reconstructed ancestor of all Germanic languages."
"A number of extra letters were added to the runic alphabet to write Anglo-Saxon/Old English. Runes were probably bought to Britain in the 5th century by the Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Frisians (collectively known as the Anglo-Saxons), and were used until about the 11th century. Runic inscriptions are mostly found on jewelry, weapons, stones and other objects. Very few examples of runic writing on manuscripts have survived. " [The chart that follows is incomplete. There are additional A-S runes, which you can see here.]
YOUNGER (OR SCANDANAVIAN) FUTHARK
"This version of the runic alphabet was used sporadically in Scandinavia, in particular in Denmark and Sweden, until about the 17th century ." [There are variants of the Younger Futhark also, which you can see here.]
The commonality of symbols of all of the following alphabets makes sense when one considers the migration of ancient peoples from the east to the west. The people and languages of northern Europe are considered "Indo-European" because of this migration. It's not unreasonable that customs, languages, alphabets, mythology, etc. share common origins. Staggering, isn't it!
"The Etruscan alphabet is thought to have been developed from the Greek alphabet by Greek colonists in Italy. The earliest known inscription dates from the middle of the 6th century BC.
More than 10,000 Etruscan inscriptions have been found on tombstones, vases, statues, mirrors and jewelry. Fragments of a Etruscan book made of linen have also been found.
Most Etruscan inscriptions are written in horizontal lines from left to right, but some are boustrophedon (running alternately left to right then right to left).
Used to write: Etruscan, a language spoken by the Etruscans, who lived in Etruria (Tuscany and Umbria) between about the 8th century BC and the 1st century AD. Little is known about the Etruscans or their language."
Archaic Etruscan alphabet (7th-5th centuries BC)
Neo-Etruscan alphabet (4th-3rd centuries BC)
"The Old Italic alphabets developed from the west Greek alphabet, which came to Italy via the Greek colonies on Sicily and along the west coast of Italy. The Etruscans adapted the Greek alphabet to write Etruscan sometime during the 6th century BC, or possibly earlier. Most of the other alphabets used in Italy are thought to have derived from the Etruscan alphabet."
"The earliest known inscriptions in the Latin alphabet date from the 6th century BC. It was adapted from the Etruscan alphabet during the 7th century BC. The letters Y and Z were taken from the Greek alphabet to write Greek loan words. Other letters were added from time to time as the Latin alphabet was adapted for other languages."
"The Messapic alphabet is thought to have derived directly from the Greek alphabet, rather than developing from the Etruscan alphabet. The only known inscriptions in the Messapic alphabet date from the 2nd and 1st centuries BC. The Messapic language was not related to other languages of Italy."
MIDDLE ADRIATIC / SOUTH PICENE
ROMAN ALPHABET for LATIN
"The Romans used just 23 letters to write Latin. There were no lower case letters, and K, X, Y and Z used only for writing words of Greek origin. The letters J, U and W were added to the alphabet at a later stage to write languages other than Latin. J is a variant of I, U is a variant of V, and W was introduced as a 'double-v' to make a distinction between the sounds we know as 'v' and 'w' which was unnecessary in Latin."
But what other alphabets may have influenced runes? Remember that over the millennia there was a great migration of people, spreading from the birthplace of mankind, in the "middle east" to what are now Europe and northern Africa. Ancient people did travel--a lot--and long before the Vikings became known as explorers and traders.
"Hungarian runes (Székely Rovásírás) are descended from the Kök Turki script used in Central Asia. They were used by the Székler Magyars in Hungary before István, the first Christian king of Hungary, ordered all pre-Christian writings to be destroyed. In remote parts of Transylvania however, the runes were still used up until the 1850s. Hungarian runes were usually written on sticks in boustrophedon style (alternating direction right to left then left to right). The runes include separate letters for all the phonemes of Hungarian and are in this respect better suited to written Hungarian than the Latin alphabet. "
The upper rune rows are the Elder Futhark variants. The lower rune row shows the Turkish Runes and their phonetic equivalents.
SOUTH ARABIAN ALPHABET
"The South Arabian alphabet is known from inscriptions found in southern Arabia dating from between 600 BC and 600 AD. Its origins are not known. The South Arabian alphabet, like Arabic and Hebrew, includes only consonants. It was written from right to left in horizontal lines. The top row of letters are written in monumental style, while the bottom row of letters are in cursive style. "
"The Sabaean or Sabaic alphabet is one of the south Arabian alphabets. The oldest known inscriptions in this alphabet date from about 500 BC. Its origins are not known, though one theory is that it developed from the Byblos alphabet. The Sabaean alphabet, like Arabic and Hebrew, includes only consonants. Unlike Arabic and Hebrew, Sabaean has no system for vowel indication. In most inscriptions it is written from right to left, in some it is written in boustrophedon style (alternating right to left and left to right). It was used to write Sabaean, an extinct Semitic language spoken in Saba, the biblical Sheba, in southwestern Arabia. The Sabaeans managed to unite southern Arabia into a single state by the 3rd century AD, but were conquered by the Abyssinians in 525 AD. "
Magical Alphabets: Secrets & Significance Of Ancient Scripts--Runes, Greek, Ogham, Hebrew &...
by Pennick, Nigel
Using the premise that languages and the alphabets that comprise them are metaphorical microcosms of our world, Nigel Pennick demonstrates how various alphahets function as a metaphysical description of reality. Magical alphabets actually enable seekers to experience a transformative process. This inner transformation is one of the main objectives of all esoteric traditions, and it can be accomplished by using any of the alphabet systems described in this book.
Pennick's exciting exploration of Western alphabetical systems includes information about the origins of Hebrew and Greek alphabets, Celtic Oghams, and medieval and Renaissance magical and alchemical alphabets. His examination uncovers evidence of the widespread use of runes throughout northern and central Europe, as well as the use of letter systems for operative and ceremonial magic. From grid ciphers to numerology to modern uses, this book provides an in-depth study of the magic present in a tool we all use every day -- the alphabet.
Nigel Pennick is an authority on ancient and modern mysteries, an expert on northern European geomancy, a runemaster, and a practicing geomant. He lectures worldwide and is the author of Secret Games of the Gods.
By Catherine Kerr
The runes have been friends and travelling companions for some years now, and this site would not be complete without a brief section on them. These few introductory paragraphs are only the beginning of what I hope will be a detailed study someday.
The runes of the Elder Futhark are an ancient Norse or Teutonic system of writing, and they are also oracular devices which have been in use in Europe and Iceland since about 400 CE. During the period from 400 CE to 1600 CE they also served as a system of communications, a way of writing and relaying information. There is a wealth of runic inscriptions surviving from ancient times, including many inscriptions in North America, and this lends support to historical theories that it was the Vikings who really discovered North America, and that they traveled widely on this continent centuries before the arrival of Columbus on our shores.
The word "rune" means variously, "tree", "secret whisper", "mystery" or "hidden", and it can be applied to a whole group of Norse or Teutonic alphabets which were probably developed for divination and magic - we know that the runes have been used for arcane purposes since ancient times. Each rune has a unique pattern, an intrinsic meaning and characteristics above and beyond its ordinary significance just as one character in an alphabet. Singly or in groups, the runic patterns are a way of unlocking and understanding the invisible or hidden realities of one's existence. Each runic name is a unique term embodying philosophical concepts which were of profound importance to the ancient people who first used the runes. The runes represent elemental or fundamental forces of nature and of the spirit; each rune with its own tale and its own association with a god of the Norse or Teutonic pantheon.
The mythological origin of the runes is significant, and Teutonic mythology and folklore speak of the sacrifice of Odin, highest of the Aesir, to acquire them. All Father Odin understood instinctively that true wisdom and second sight may only be attained through sacrifice. For nine nine days and nine nights he hung on the world tree (Yggdrasil), impaled on his own spear. On the ninth day, a raven sent by the three Norns plucked out one of his eyes, and he was transformed, seeing and taking up the runes when they were revealed to him lying at the bottom of the World Tree. In so doing, he was gifted with true wisdom and power. The cost of acquiring the knowledge had been enormous suffering and physical death, but through the force of his will and the strength of his committment, Odin was reborn, returning to life with the knowledge of the Other World which the runes conveyed. Afterward, he transmitted his knowledge of the runes to the goddess Freyja in return for learning the magical secrets of Seithr from her. It was Hagal or Heimdall, the "watcher" god, eternal guardian of the Rainbow Bridge, who later gifted humanity with the secrets of the runes.
The Elder Futhark is the oldest of the existing runic systems, and it consists of twenty-four characters. The letters of the first six runes of the runic alphabet, (F)eu, (U)ruz, (TH)urisaz, (A)nsu, R)aido, and (K)enaz give the system its name, Futhark. A blank twenty-fifth rune called Wyrd is often used today along with the runes of the Elder Futhark, but this is a fairly new development. Wyrd is a name which is associated with the three Norse sisters known collectively as the Norns, and individually as Urdhr (the past), Verhandi (the present) and Skul (the future) The three sisters are responsible for tending the world tree Yggdrasil, and they are also the weavers at the loom of destiny. Together they represent the source of all knowledge and of all powers of divination. On their loom, the Norns see everything which transpires in the Nine Worlds, past, present and future, and with their considerable vision and their formidable power, they could certainly meddle in the affairs of gods and humanity, but they allow the gods and humanity to follow their own paths and work out their own destinies.
As the knowledge and use of the runes spread across Europe, carried by the invading Teutonic tribes, other runic systems began to develop from them. When the Angle, Jute and Saxon tribes invaded Britain in the fifth and sixth centuries, they brought their rune system with them, and significant changes occurred to the runes after they arrived in Britain. Several runes were changed to fit in with the British language, specifically the runes for A/O, C/K, H, J, S, and Ng, and new runes were added to represent different sounds in the British tongue. The new alphabet, which was comprised of thirty-three characters rather than the original twenty-four characters, was known thereafter as the Anglo-Saxon Futhark.
The Origin of the Runes
There has been much speculation about the origin of the runes, but the runic alphabet is ancient indeed, and scholars have yet to reach an agreement about where it all began. It has been speculated that the runes originated in the Greek alphabet of circa 600 BCE. It has also been suggested that the runes were actually derived from an early Latin alphabet. There is a theory is that the runes originated in the ancient Etruscan culture of Italy, and this theory was substantiated somewhat by archaeological discoveries at Negau in the early nineteenth century - the remarkable bronze helmets which weree unearthed at Negau bore Germanic inscriptions which had been rendered in Etruscan script, and the inscriptions on the helmets are invocations to the war god Harigast. There is another theory which holds that the runes evolved from the Hallristningar rock pictographs carved during the later part of the Stone Age or early Bronze Age in Europe. Examples of these pictographs have been discovered in Sweden, Germany, Italy, Austria and other parts of mainland Europe. Whatever their origin, the runes and runic folkore were an important part of the ancestral inheritance of the northern Teutonic tribes who originated in the Scandinavian countries and migrated southward. Like the Hebrew language, the runes were written from right to left, and this would seem to indicate that the runic alphabet is at least as ancient as the Hebrew language.
The expansion of the runes was one result of the decline of Imperial Rome's influence in Europe and the ascendancy of the Teutonic tribes. By about 410 CE, the Visigoths had conquered Rome and parts of Spain, and they had established an empire of their own - their influence in Spain wwould endure uuntil the Moorish conquests of the eighth century. By the end of the sixth century Britain had been invaded by not one, but three seperate tribes, the Jutes, the Angles and the Saxons, and several kingdoms existed in Britain, notably in Mercia, Northumbria and Wessex. As they moved westward, the invading tribes took their runes with them, and the use of the runes took hold wherever the tribes settled.
Early Christianity abhorred divination in general and the runes specifically. The expansion of Christianity into mainland Europe seriously threatened the survival of the runes in any form and for any purpose whatsoever, but they managed to survive, even in the twelfth century when the Vatican decreed them to be dangerous and soul destroying devices and forbade their use on pain of death. The runes also survived a second papal decree in 1639, and in fact, they continued in use as an alphabet right up until the nineteenth century. Some Runic characters have been integrated into modern Nordic languages, but from the nineteenth century on, the runes (in their entirety anyway) have been in use solely as oracular devices. The last known Rune Masters or runic shamans of formal affiliation were probably those in Iceland during the seventeenth century.
The real beginnings of the runes lie within the ancient heroic epics of the Aesir and the dark and icy climes of northern Europe. Today, the seemingly random fall of the stones onto the rune cloth represents the distilled essence of an ancient, magical and powerful tradition.
The runes in non-scandinavian litterature · In about 100 A.D. the roman historian Tacitus wrote in his book Germania about the teutonic peoples. He tells us that the teutons used to cut BRANCHES OFF FRUIT BEARING TREES, cut them into pieces and carve signs on them. These pieces were spread out on a piece of cloth AND FROM THE PATTERN THEY FORMED ONE COULD READ THE GODS' WILL. There is no way to know, though, if the signs that they carved were runes. According to Caesar the celts too seem to have used a similar divination method.
Hymiskviða in the old icelandic Edda says that the gods themselves "shook twigs" and "looked into blood" to see who would be a suitable host for a party, but no signs are mentioned on the twigs. Elsewhere too drawing of lots are mentioned when decisions must be made, but that can very well be done without signs. 500 years after Tacitus the poet and bishop Fortunatus of Poitiers (later S:t Fortunatus) wrote to a friend of his that if he wouldn't write to him with roman letters, he could in stead use persian, hebrew, greek or teutonic letters, which he said were painted on ash tree tablets.
In the 9th century the frankish abbott Hrabanus/Rabanus Maurus of Fulda in Germany (later bishop of Mainz) says that the heathens in the north wrote poems, spells and prophecies with their letters.
The runes in scandinavian literature · A little later the scandinavians themselves tell us about the runes. In the edda, which was written in the 13th century but is believed to have been composed in the four previous centuries, the word rún 'rune' is mentioned in several places, for example in Rúnatal in Hávamál where we are told that Ódinn sacrificed himself to himself by hanging himself pierced by a spear. He hanged in the tree Yggdrasill for nine days without eating and drinking, and that way he could "take up" runes, with which he could cure sorrows and suffering, heal wounds and cure diseases, paralyse enemies and make their swords blunt and stop their arrows in their flight, damp hatred, clam waves, make witches get lost, make warriors invulnerable, make the dead talk, afford success in battle, knowledge and strength, awaken and keep women's love, and other things. Similar qualities are ascribed to the runes that the valkyrie Sigrdrífa (Brynhildr) taught Sigurðr Fáfnisbani in the eddic poem Sigrdrífumál. Here the word rune can hardly mean 'letter', but must have kept its older meaning 'secret'.
In a story in which Sigurðr is one of the main characters - Völsungasaga - Sigurðr's widdow Guðrún carves runes on a ring to warn her brothers Gunnarr and Högni of an ambush. The messenger Vingi changed the runes, and the brothers were ambushed and captured. Here rune means 'letter'.
In Gesta Danorum the danish 12th century historian Saxo Grammaticus writes that the ancient danes wrote down the deeds of their forefathers on rocks using the letters of their own language ("linguae suae litteris"). Saxo also wrote down the story about Amled (whom Shakespeare called Hamlet) and says that a message from Amled's uncle to the king of England was carved on wood, which he says was a very common writingmaterial in ancient times ("litteras ligno insculptas nam id celebre quondam genus chartarum erat").
Physical remains · Most inscriptions that have been preserved, and those that are most known, are the runic stones. They are hardly mentioned at all in the contemporary literature, though, eventhough there are thousands of them, so one has to assume that the old scandinavians wrote quite a lot of poems and letters on wood. For a long time there was no physical evidence for this everyday rune carving, but in the 50s hundreds of pieces of wood and bone with runes on them were found at Bryggen in Bergen in Norway (see the MEDIEVAL RUNES page), and since then pieces of wood and bone are examinated more thoroughly at archaeological excavations, and lots of inscriptions on bone and wood of an everyday nature have been found in other places. Birch-bark was probably a common metarial for letters; in the Russian city of Novgorod, that was founded by swedish viking, about 700 letters have been found, written on birch-bark, the oldest from the mid 11th century, the youngest from early 15th century. All are in russian, though, and none are written with runes. The shape of the runes also tells us that they were created to be carved on wood. Their staffs are all straight and carved either vertically or diagonally. Horisontal lines would be difficult to see because of the grain of the wood, and round shapes are more difficult to carve on wood than angular ones. Round shapes do occur, though, on other materials.
The origin of the runes · The oldest runes were used in the entire germanic language area. The oldest found inscription is a spear head with the name (?) "raunijaR" carved into it. It's believed to be from the late 2nd century, and was found in Øvre Stabu in southern Norway. Eventhough most other inscriptions from the following centuries are also from Scandinavia, THIS DOESN'T MEAN THAT THE RUNES WERE CREATED HERE; THE ORIGIN OF THE RUNES IS SHROUDED IN FOG, AND THERE ARE LOTS OF THEORIES ABOUT IT
Several of the runes can be read with no certain previous knowledge, for example the r-, i- and b-runes, since they look almost exactly like the corresponding roman letters. The latin alphabet is one of the alphabets suggested to be the ancestor of the runic alphabet, together with etrurian and greek alphabets, and others related to them (the hebrew alphabet has also been suggested, and some have even claimed that the other alphabets HAVE SPRUNG FROM THE RUNIC ONE).
The order of the runes is not at all like the order of the latin, etrurian or greek alphabet. They all begin with the letters a and b, and are therefore called alfabets (a is called alpha in greek, b is called beta), whereas the runic alphabet begins with f, u, þ, a, r and k, and are therefore called the "futhark". Eventhough the 16 runes of the younger futhark where used a long time after the viking age the exakt order of the 24 runes of the older futhark was forgotten, but it was rediscovered in 1903 when the Kylver-stone (G88) was found on Gotland. It made out one of the walls in a 5th century grave. Since then other futhark-inscriptions have been found, with (almost) the same rune order.
ORIGIN OF THE RUNES
Scholars have yet to agree on a generic source of the Runic alphabet. Some advocate that the Greek alphabet, c.600 BCE is a prototype, while others have proposed that the Latin alphabet is the source, although neither claim has been proven. Another theory suggests that the Runes may have originated in the ancient Etruscan cultures of northern Italy. To support this theory, scholars point to the discovery of 26 bronze helmets, that were found in 1812 at Negau in the Austrian Empire. these helmets, dating from the 3rd century BCE have a Germanic inscription engraved in the Etruscan script on them that includes the words "Harigast I Teiva". Translated, these words are an invocation of the war-god Harigast.
Other scholars propose that the Runes developed from the Hallristningar rock carvings. The symbols were carved in the latter part of the Stone Age or early Bronze Age and have been discovered in parts of northern Italy, Austria, and southern Germany. these Runes, their pictorial symbols, and associated song names and lore, were the ancestral inheritance of the North Germanic peoples migrating south from Scandinavia.
One historical fact is certain, that the earliest inscriptions so far found were written from right to left, indicating an alphabet at least as old as Hebrew language. The shape of the Runic letters, based on vertical and diagonal strokes, and avoiding horizontals and curves, suggests that this was an alphabet designed for carving in wood. ATHENA'S ENCHANTED GROVE.
THE PHOENICIAN CONNECTION
The shapes and sounds associated with the letters we used today stretch back 5000 years into the past. The direct link is to the Northern Semitic writing system that was spread throughout the Phoenician trading empire.
More than one Northern Semitic Writing system was invented around 1200 B.C. in the land between the Akkadian and Egyptian empires, the two great empires of the late bronze age . By 1000 B.C. the maritime Canaanites or Phoenicians were the lords of the Mediterranean sea routes and beyond. They reached Ireland, the Atlantic coast of Africa, and perhaps Brazil.
The Phoenicians shipped lumber to Egypt and borrowed many aspects of Egyptian culture including burial practices and the knowledge of hieroglyphics. They wanted something simpler than the cumbersome hieroglyphics and when they found it, they shared it with the world.
The 22 character consonant alphabet could be taught in a week to those in every Phoenician port of call. Within a few years similar alphabets reworked to match the phonemes of the native tongue appeared in many of the lands where the Phoenicians traded. The Phoenician alphabet was an important stimulus to the development of a writing system suited to the Greek language. [see from phoenician to ancient greek to modern greek]
The Story of Mankind
by Hendrik Van Loon
THE PHOENICIANS (The Atlanteans Who Gave Us Our Alphabet)
THE Phoenicians, who were the neighbours of the Jews, were a Semitic tribe WHICH AT A VERY EARLY AGE HAD SETTLED ALONG THE SHORES OF THE MEDITERRANEAN. They had built themselves two well-fortified towns, Tyre and Sidon, and within a short time they had gained a monopoly of the trade of the western seas. Their ships went regularly to Greece and Italy and Spain and they even ventured beyond the straits of Gibraltar to visit the Scilly islands where they could buy tin. Wherever they went, they built themselves small trading stations, which they called colonies. Many of these were the origin of modern cities, such as Cadiz and Marseilles.
They bought and sold whatever promised to bring them a good profit. They were not troubled by a conscience. If we are to believe all their neighbours they did not know what the words honesty or integrity meant. They regarded a well-filled treasure chest the highest ideal of all good citizens. Indeed they were very unpleasant people and did not have a single friend. Nevertheless they have rendered all coming generations one service of the greatest possible value. They gave us our alphabet...
(Van Loon has traced the Phoenician alphabet from the East. We have turned it the other way around. The Phoenicians brought it into the Meditteranean area with them. Nevertheless)...
In due course of time, this alphabet travelled across the AEgean Sea and entered Greece. The Greeks added a few letters of their own and carried the improved system to Italy. The Romans modified the figures somewhat and in turn taught them to the wild barbarians of western Europe. Those wild barbarians were our own ancestors, and that is the reason why this book is written in characters that are of Phoenician origin and not in the hieroglyphics of the Egyptians or in the nail-script of the Sumerians.
The name Jesus (or Hesus) in Greek.
"Thus philosophy, a science of the highest utility, flourished in antiquity among the barbarians, shedding its light over the nations, and afterward it came to Greece." Stromata I.XV.71.3. History and Religion of the Druids, p.106.
The Greek Myths, and the Children of Dan
The Straight Path, the Mysteries of Europe
Notes From Europe
May 2, 2004
Babel, a New Capital for a Wider Continent
By ALAN RIDING
PARIS One lesson offered by the Book of Genesis is that when "the whole earth was of one language and of one speech," things got done. And when the Lord disapproved of the grandiosity of the resulting Tower of Babel, his way of scattering those engaged in the project was to "confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech."
Now, with 10 new members adding 9 languages to the European Union's existing 11, Babel is back in the headlines. Would the 25-nation bloc be more effective working in "one speech," or at least only in its three principal languages - English, French and German? Will the need to turn millions of documents and thousands of voices into 20 languages become a Babelian impediment to getting things done?
In Brussels, these questions are not welcome. The problem of managing a cacophony of tongues is thought far less daunting than having to silence any individual language. After all, if Dutch, Greek and Danish are used, why not Estonian, Hungarian and Maltese? The 191-member United Nations may tick along just fine with six languages, but in Europe the right of officials and legislators to work in their own languages is now enshrined as a democratic imperative.
As the union's executive commission puts it: "The citizens of Europe should not have to be represented in Brussels by their best linguists - they can send their best experts."
Anticipating the union's enlargement this weekend, officials have scrambled to find translators and interpreters able to work in the new languages. The number of language combinations for interpretation - Hungarian to Latvian, for example - will jump to 380 from 110, although in practice "relay languages" like English and French will serve many people as a bridge between less-spoken languages.
As for the extra expense, European officials respond that the union's linguistic services cost less than 1 percent of the total budget, or just $2.40 (2 euros) per citizen per year - the equivalent of a cup of coffee. "It is a small price for insuring that everyone has a right to communicate with, and hear from, those institutions in their own language," says Neil Kinnock, the commission's vice president.
So linguistic democracy has won out. Or has it? In reality, a different - less legalistic, more intense - battle is also taking place over what languages European officials and politicians actually use to talk to one another and to reach a wider public. And here the outcome is different. "In this context, the enlarged Europe will not be Babel," Le Monde's Arnaud Leparmentier wrote recently. "It has found the gift of tongues: it is English."
It was not always like this. As the traditional tool of diplomacy, French long dominated European affairs. But after Sweden, Finland and Austria joined the European Union in 1995, the balance began to tip toward English. Now, with a fresh enlargement, English is increasingly preferred over French.
The adoption of English as everyone's second language is of course a global phenomenon. But a look at language teaching in Europe also explains why French and German officials often communicate in English. While more than 90 percent of high school students in Europe are learning English, French is studied by only 29 percent in Germany, 27 percent in Italy and 24 percent in Spain. German is studied by only 31 percent in France, 8 percent in Italy and 1 percent in Spain (Central Europe is the exception).
Thus, having a voice in Europe - tiny like Latvia or powerful like Germany - does not automatically mean that a country's language will be more widely studied or spoken. A language's use in Brussels may improve public perceptions of the European Union, but this acceptance is more likely to influence how a country sees itself than how it is viewed by others.
A larger question looms over Europe's minority languages, which are spoken by some 40 million people, about 8 percent of the region's population. While, say, Fresian in the Netherlands and Sami in Finland reinforce cultural identities, many such languages are struggling to survive. Often rooted in rural areas and spoken by older people, they have been weakened by migration to cities and the exposure of younger generations to national media.
Governments intent on defending national languages often deem regional tongues costly nuisances. They probably deserve better. Even more than the European Union's 20 official languages, they offer sparkling evidence of Europe's cultural diversity.