The Runic Calendar: The Archaeological Evidence for the Heathen Calendar

Updated: Feb 21, 2020

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. When it comes to the calendar, the Runes and the Moon are almost always forgotten in modern Asatru, which focuses only on solar events (an 8 point solar year popular in Wicca.) Only historical Heathens pay attention to the historical Luni-Solar calendar used in Historical Heathenry. 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) This is pretty interesting, as the Runic Calendar lines up more with Bede and his attestation of "Mothers' Night" in his De Temporum Ratione in 725 AD. Snorri in the Sagas on the other hand, has Winter Nights, or the start of Winter in Mid-Late October as the start of the year. (See Ynglinga Saga chapter 8, as Winter Nights is a blot for a "great 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 sacrificial feasts, 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

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