Guido von List and the Rúnatal or “Odin’s Rune Song” the Havamal

List explained that these 18 “original” runes or “Ur-Runes” came from his analysis of a section of the epic poem Havamal called the Rúnatal, which has 18 stanzas (of about 2-7 verses each) referring to the different runes. Although the text itself does not say which runes are directly associated with which stanzas, List makes those associations and others authors of the times echoed those associations.

The Rúnatal describes what happened after Wotan/Odin came down off of the “World Tree” and received the Runes:

  #   
Stanza
Comment
List’s Associated Rune
  138   I know that I hung,
on a windy tree
for all of nine nights,
wounded by a spear,
and given to Odin,
myself to myself,
on that tree
of which nobody knows
from what root it arises.
 
   
  139   They dealt me no bread,
nor drinking horn.
I looked beneath,
I took up the runes,
yelling I took them up,
and fell back from there.
 
   
  140   Nine great songs
I got from the famous Son
of Bolthor, the father of Bestla.
and I had a drink of the dear mead
that was drawn from Othroerir.
 
{“mead” or ‘beer’ refers to an intoxicating substance, similar to how the term ‘wine’ is used in Christian symbolism}  
  141   Then I prospered
and was wise
and waxed & gained;
my words from words
obtained words,
my works from works
obtained works.
 
   
  142   You can find runes,
meaningful staves,
very strong staves,
very powerful staves,
which the Great-Thule [Fimbulthulr] stained,
and that the great rulers made,
that Hropt of the rulers carved.
 
   
  143   Odin among the Aesir,
but Dainn for the elves,
Dvalinn for the dwarves,
and Asvith for the ettins.
I carved some myself.
 
   
  144   Do you know how you must carve them?
Do you know how you must read them?
Do you know how you must stain them?
Do you know how you must wield them?
Do you know how you must ask them?
Do you know how you must sacrifice them?
Do you know how you must send them?
Do you know how you must immolate them?
 
   
  145   It is better not to ask,
than to over-sacrifice.
A yeild always looks for a gift.
It is better unsent,
than over-immolated.
So Thund carved
before the history of the tribes,
when he rose up
and came back after that.
 
   
  146   I know those magical songs,
not known to a king’s wife,
nor to any human.
 
   
  One is called Help
and it will help you
with disagreements & sorrows
and all afflictions.
 
 

FA (1)
  147   I know a second:
that is needed by the sons of men,
those who would live as healers.
 
 

UR (2)
  148   I know a third:
if there comes a great need for me
to bind against the opposition.
I dull the edges/blades
of my opposition
so that their weapons and trickery
do not bite.
 
{“bind” or ‘binding’ as well as ‘to bond’ (to tie or fasten something tightly) is an older way of describing magical effects}

THORN or DORN (3)
  149   I know a fourth:
if warriors bear
bonds on my limbs.
Thus I chant
so that I may go [free and]
the bonds spring from my feet,
and the bonds [spring] from my hands.
 
 

OS and OTHIL (4)
  150   I know a fifth:
if I see a speedy shot,
[like] a spear flying into the folk;
it does not fly so boldy
that I cannot stop it,
if I catch sight of it.
 
 

RIT or RITA (5)
  151   I know a sixth:
if some thane attacks me,
with the roots of a wild tree,
he who says he hates me
will get hurt,
but I will be unharmed.
 
{a “thane” is a man who held land granted by the king, ruler or chief}

KA or KAUN (6)
  152   I know a seventh:
if I see a fire high
on the hall around my seated companions,
it does not burn so bright
that I cannot protect it
when I know the chant to sing.
 
 

HAGAL (7)
  153   I know an eighth:
it is useful
for all who know it,
whenever hatred grows
among warriors’ sons,
I am able to quickly remedy it.
 
 

NAUTH or NOT (8)
  154   I know a ninth:
if need arises during storms,
to protect my ship on the sea,
I can still the winds,
and calm the waves,
and put the entire sea to sleep.
 
 

IS (9)
  155   I know a tenth:
if I see hags [or witches]
playing in the sky,
I can work it
that the they fare away,
so their shapes shall fare home,
so their spirits fare home.
 
 

AR (10)
  156   I know an eleventh:
if to battle I must go,
leading long-time friends,
I sing under the shield
and they fare into battle powerfully
and they fare from battle wholely,
they are whole wherever they go.
 
 

SIG (11)
  157   I know a twelfth:
if up in a tree I see
a hanged man swinging high,
so I can carve
and stain runes,
so that the man comes [down]
and speaks with me.
 
 

TIR or TYR (12)
  158   I know a thirteenth:
if I sprinkle a young thane
with water,
[then] he cannot fall,
though he goes to battle,
he will not be cut down by swords.
 
 

BAR (13)
  159   I know a fourteenth:
if I must [with] an army and the folk,
tell them of the gods,
of the Aesir and elves,
[then] I know [these things] clearly,
[while] few of the unwise know so.
 
 

LAF (14)
  160   I know a fifteenth,
which was chanted by Thiodrorir
the dwarf before Delling’s door;
He sang power for the Aesir,
advancement for the elves,
and understanding/intelligence for Hroftatyr.
 
 

MAN (15)
  161   I know a sixteenth:
if I want the heart and pleasure
of a wise maiden,
I turn the mind
of the white-armed woman,
and switch all her reasoning.
 
 

YR or IR (16)
  162   I know a seventeenth:
[I sing it]
so that the youthful maiden
will not slowly forgo me.
 
 

EH or EHE (17)
  These songs
you will, Loddfafnir,
be lacking for a long while;
but will be good for you, once you learn [them],
they will be useful, once you understand them,
and needful once you accept [them].
 
   
  163   I know an eighteenth:
that I let none know,
neither maiden, nor man’s wife;
[yet] it is always better
when one knows about it;
it follows the last of the songs,
unless [it is known] to her alone
who lies in my arms,
or is my sister.
 
 

GIBOR or GIBUR (18)
  164   Now are Har’s sayings
spoken in Har’s hall,
all-needful for the sons of men
un-needed by ettins’ sons.
 
   
  Hail the one who speaks [them],
hail the one who knows [them]
useful to the one who gets them
hallowed are those who heed [them].