Divination 1, #1

Name and briefly describe one method of divination or seership technique common to three paleo-pagan Indo-European cultures. (minimum 100 words each)

I think one of the most common method of divination was through tools with written symbols on them that have specific meanings.  Many of these were used as an alphabet in some ways, so it makes sense that they were a method of communication with the Shining Ones.

Three of the most popular of these are the Elder Futhark, the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc, and the Celtic Ogham.

The Elder Futhark is a 24 character alphabet with a mysterious origin that predates mankind in the Norse lore (Thorsson, 3). Their origins are said to come from Bronze Age priests and magicians, but where the transition came to the Germanic people in terms of language by symbols is unclear.  The actual lore behind the origin of the Runes is the story of Odin sacrificing the sight of one eye to receive the wisdom of the runes.  According to Thorsson, the futharks are divided into three families or groupings, also known as the aettir (Thorsson, 12).  It’s also important to note that they originated from a magical tradition, not just language-oriented, so they have a heavy magical association.

(Word Count: 118)

The Anglo-Saxon Futhorc is very similar to the Elder Futhark, albeit a newer variation.  Physical comparison shows very clear similarities in shape, although the Futhorc are more in number as there are 33 symbols as opposed to 24.  According to Thorsson (Thorsson, 9), the Elder Furthark was was prominent between 200 B.C.E. and 800 C.E., while the Younger Futhark was developed in seventh century C.E. and completed around 900 C.E.  The Futhorc survived Christianization until tenth century C.E.   So while the Futhorc were very similar and clearly were inspired somewhat by the Elder Futhark, there is clearly additional alternative lore to warrant the variant symbols as well as the new additional symbols of Anglo-Saxon lore.

(Word Count: 115)

Ogham is another symbol-oriented divination system, established or utilized in Ireland between 300 and 600 C.E, and is thought to have been used in training poets.  It is comprised of 25 alphabetic characters that are based off of sacred trees of Ireland (Celtic Myth and Religion, 108), and the symbols are a series of spines and dashes that make up the variants.  These trees are divided up into  four groups: chieftain trees, peasant trees, herb trees, and shrub trees.  The history surrounding the Ogham is very consistent throughout the centuries.

A similar trait between Ogham and the Runic Alphabets is that in the manuscripts of the Ogham letters, they were associated with short phrases known as “kennings”.  The Runic alphabet also had kennings, some of which provide practical information and others that are more related to symbols than anything. The tent-rune method has another very similar visual formations with that of the Ogham, showing even more of a potential relation from first glance outside of the original context.

(Word Count: 168)

(Total Word Count: 467)

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