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The Runic Calendar: The Archaeological Evidence for the Heathen Calendar

Updated: Dec 23, 2021

The importance of Runes for Heathens cannot be understated. The Old Saxon Heliand, the most important source on the Historical Heathenry of the Saxons, mentions the Runes in its very first sentence. We have numerous Runic Calendar Staffs from the 9th through 19th centuries. The Rune Calendar is a historical calendar that has survived christian destruction. The staffs themselves are not always the same. Some for example, show christian saints days (especially the later ones). But all Runic Calendar staffs have the following six things in common: 1. The Runic Calendar is an eternal calendar based on the 19-year Metonic Cycle of the Moon, and it proves that runes play a role in calendar calculations. Also the 24 runes of the Elder Futhark show a lunisolar function. It is no coincidence that the Rune called "Yera" (often Anglisized as a Y sounding J-Rune) is the 12th character in the series and is called jera , or in modern English, "year". Remember, in a 19 year cycle, there are 12 years of 12 Runic and Lunar Moons and seven years of 13 lunar moons. The Old Saxon word "uuritan" becomes "to write" in modern English. But in Old Saxon, it literally means "to carve (Runes)." The Latin word (scriban, which is schreiben in Modern German) means "to write with ink on parchment" which was something new to the Germanic tribes. The Old Saxon word "boc" or "bok" literally means "beech (wood) stave." Runes were carved, and had a sense of permanency. Our modern English word "book" comes from this word. Since Staffs had a 'magical runic' element, we have this magical staff idea in our modern tales stemming from earlier Heathen belief.

2. The year begins on the first full moon after the first new moon after the winter solstice. (Jul, disting och förkyrklig tideräkning Kalendrar och kalendariska riter i det förkristna, 2006, Dr. Andreas Nordberg, Uppsala) & (Yule, Disthing and pre-Julian Time-Reckoning. Calenders and Calendric Rituals in pre-ChristianScandinavia. Acta Academiae Regiae, Gustavi Adolphi 91. 169 pp. Uppsala. ISBN 91-85352-62-4) Runic calendars seem to follow Bede's description of a new year starting with the first moon after the solstice, and not Snorri's descriptions of Winter Nights (in October) being the start of the Norse Year. What I am stating, is the Runic Calendar Rods view the beginning of the year with Yule, and not Winter Nights. (See Ynglinga Saga chapter 8, as Winter Nights is a blot for a "great new year." Bede in De Temporum Ratione says Mothers' Night, a different holiday from Yule, is the start of the English new year.) 3. Yule and the Solstice were two different events. The starts of summer and winter, the only two seasons to the Germanic and Norse tribes, started after the equinoxes. Germanic Heathenry has a period of time called "Mid-Winter" and "Mid-Summer" because there are only two seasons in the year. 4. Besides this rule, we have the eight-year cycle. This includes 5 years of 12 months and 3 years of 13 months . This cycle, which also used to calculate bot lfeasts, was easier to observe as it covered a shorter period of time, but was less accurate for that very reason. 5. Later calendars marked saints days, equinoxes, and the fixed Roman Solar-month names. 6. As we would expect with Lunar calendars, the eight-year cycle and nineteen-year cycle corrects the differences between the 354.3671 days of the lunar calendar with the 365.2422 days of the solar calendar. Hence the luni-solar calendar, moons as "months" and the solstice as the marker to re-align the solar and lunar years.

Rune-Staffs at the Museum of History in Lund, Sweden

Runic Calendar with the Anglo-Frisian Futhorc and Norwegian Runes, 1000 AD

Please join us on the Facebook Group Aldsidu:Saxon Heathenry, and visit our page on Facebook "Germanic Heathenry."

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