Home H - panel (Right Side) - Magie, Number and value of the runes

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The carvings themselves were meant to work pictographic magic. We now turn to runes and numbers, to see how they relate to the story told by the carvings.

There is no magic 9-rune formula preceding the text. Nevertheless it starts out on the upper edge with a name-like word: Herhos. The first rune at this effective spot is h-Rune hagal, hail, synonymous with 'disaster', alliterating on h as in hærmberge. Thus, it describes the situation pretty well, but as there is no incantation, it does not become magically effective.

The second verse alliterates according to our reading on a-Rune, ac, oak, and e-Rune eh, horse. Both terms relate to sacred area. The oak is the traditional tree of the holy grove and the horse is object of reverence. In Old Norse (ON) it says: marr er manns fylgja, "the horse is man's... fylgja" or fylgjur. Noticeably enough this is also the term for the Valkyrie. Consequently this rune stands for fidelity and reliability, actually for the relation of husband ands wife [actually, according to the understanding of those days , the dark ages (<:= ].

If this is a grove of oaks, if horse and Valkyrie appear at this site, then the mutual relation between the alliterating runes and the elements of the picture (i.e. magic intent) becomes clear. But apart from that, the runes themselves bear magic quality, traditionally seen as "protective" power. They would, in this context avert the harm, brought about by h-Rune, just as the appearance of the Valkyrie and "Sleipnir" at the grave promise.
The picture would be even less ambiguous if the sounds of "A" and "E" - !here in alliteration! - (vowels on this panel are rendered in "rune-like" symbols) can be understood as rune A, a-Rune "one of the Aesir" (German: Ase) and Rune E, e-Rune "horse". According to Marstrander these runes form a unity: Woden and (ON.) Sleipnir,1

It could be mere chance that we have 9 runes on the right edge as a part of the text, but these runes form two words (just as the 9 runes on the left edges of the F- R- and T-Panels). And these two words, drigiþ swa, could be magically meaningful: "(he/she/it) works so". This assumption becomes more likely if we have a closer look at the runic value of this formula, which is (110)in this distress-averting charm, while the three luck-enhancing charms (F, R and T), which have to be regarded as just one life-determining spell, add up to a total of (330). There seems to be a magic pattern basing on the elfish 11.

The magic formula "activates" the stressed runes of the third stanza (Langvers). Here we have three s-runes, s-Rune,sigel, sun, synonymous with light and life, alliterating metrically correct. s-Rune s-Rune s-Rune secure the warrior's life thereafter. Our hero, the owner of the casket, is not to vanish in the realm of shades, but to enjoy the bliss of Valhalla. If we comprehend this as a blessing, drigiþ swa really seems to be a magic formula. So in terms of runic symbols we get this sequence:

h-Rune  h-Rune
a-Rune drigiþ swa e-Rune
s-Rune   s-Rune   s-Rune

To enhance the power of s-Rune the rune master has chosen a very crafty substitute for the fatal vowel rune i-Rune. He carves a zigzag line instead and thus turns the evil into good. This symbol, occasionally used with the Older furþark, is a variant of s-Rune, and according to that alters the spell of death into a charm of life. The symbol takes various different shapes, which all will have their particular meaning.

If we now add up the runes and symbols (including "fake" vowels and one bind rune) we count 74 types. A magic number would be 72; but since this panel has a harm averting function, a function, which is not meant to be effective now - because of that we have these encoded runes -, the score serves a higher concept, which will be discussed in the survey.

But even here a numeric system is plain to see: First, as already pointed out, there are 9 runes on the right edge.
Next there are the "fake" vowel runes , 27 (3 x 9) symbols.
These vowel runes number (top > right > bottom > left) 9 + 3 + 12 + 3. The amount on each edge is divisible by 3. Hardly mere chance!

Remains the runic value. 1008 says my computer. This inconspicuous number is quite a universal genius as it is divisible by 2 (x 504), 3 (x 336), 4 (x 252), 6 (x 68), 7 (x 144), 9 (x 112), 12 (x 84), 14 (x 72), 16 (x 63), 18 (x 56), 21 (x 48), 24 (x 42) etc.

That leads us to an astounding result: 1008 is not only divisible by the values of h-Rune (9) and s-Rune (16), but also by 2 x h-Rune and, even more important, divisible by 3 x s-Rune.

Now there are 2 x h-Rune and 3 x s-Rune, alliterating runes; to which a-Rune (a) and e-Rune (e) are to be added. In runic values: 9 + 9 + 25 + 19 + 16 + 16 + 16 = 110. This again is the magic number we found with that magic formula here on the right edge, and which is reflected in (the total 330) the panels F, R und T.

Again we may conclude with the remark that the one or other constellation might be accidental, but the more regular patterns we observe the less likely ismere chance.


1 Arntz, Handbuch der Runenkunde (1944), S. 278 refers to Marstrander, NTS. 1, S. 76f Horse and Rider on Brakteats and writes: "Das Sonnenpferd kommt ursprünglich dem Himmelsgott zu (t e); in jüngerer Zeit - und gewiß schon im 6. Jahrh. - bilden aber Sleipnir und Odin eine feste Einheit (e a)."
Thus originally the runes t-Rune und e-Rune marked the 'Sun Horse' of Tir/Tiw which was replaced by Woden's Sleipnir, (known as the eight legged horse) identified by the runes for A a-Rune (Ase) and e-Rune (horse).

 

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