Bure’s Interpretation of The Runestaves - From the Renaissance to the Baroque

Revival of the Runes: The Modern Rediscovery and Reinvention of the Germanic Runes - Stephen E. Flowers Ph.D. 2021

Bure’s Interpretation of The Runestaves
From the Renaissance to the Baroque

Imageis Freyja’s (Fröja) stave. Fröja meant fru (lady) in the older language. This comes from frö (seed), having to do with fertility, and from this the word fröken (young lady) is derived. In the rune-rhymes it is called (beast; cattle; fool), having to do with abundance. This can be compared to Hebrew א (aleph) meaning “ox.”

Image(ur) signifies the force of origin and expansion. It corresponds to: (1) Latin ab or ex; (2) the ur- in urväder (bad weather; hard wind with snow or rain); and (3) the ur- in urverk (clockwork), which signifies motion.

Imageis linked with the name of Thursday and is the most important sign of freedom, because töras (to dare) means to venture out, which is also connected to törna (to turn back to shore). Bure links this rune with many geographical features in and around Sweden showing where borders between peoples change or meet.

Imageis connected with the name of Oden’s day (Sw. onsdag) and is called the Odin-stave (Mercurii litera) or the Öden-stave (stave of fate = fati litera). Otherwise it is also connected to öde (fate), and öud, which indicates “possession.” Bure claims that those who say “Wednesday” or “woensdag,” and so forth, have forfeited their rights to use the rune script.

Imagestands for råda (to advise, rede), ride, rudder (by which a ship is controlled). It is a sign of dominion and justice (rätt = right). Bure identifies the ᛣ as the original form of ᚱ used in final position. The ᛣ shows a straight line descending right down between the two arches. Råda was exiled to the end of the row, outside the fifteen-rune system, and designated with the ordinary name stupmadher (inverted man).

Imageis the sign of sex (kön) or kin. It is the generosæ naturæ litera (stave of noble nature). A shack Image is inverted to Image, which shows the stave’s original kingly character, linked also to the concept of ability (kunna).

Imageis called hagel (hail), that which encloses (Sw. hagar) everything and/or makes everything that is most favorable (Sw. haglek = art and craft) and protected (Sw. hagelig).

Imagebears either the name nöd (need) or nåd (grace). Bure sees the shape of the stave as an illustration of the relationship between the two alternate names and concepts of nöd (need/distress) and nåd (grace; gift), in that grace is shown by the raised stroke on the right side (note the subjective perspective here) and distress by the downward stroke as one moves to the right.

Imageis defined as poententiæ litera (stave of repentance) due to its simplicity, or as the studii litera (stave of pursuits). Bure notes offhandedly that the poems refer to it as “ice.”

ImageBure notes, has a variety of sound values and hence must have a variety of names. Among these he counts ära (honor/glory), år (year), and ari (eagle). He provides a list of Latin glosses: gloria (glory), perpetua requies (eternal rest), littus (shore), aquila (eagle), annus (year), annona (yearly produce, harvest), and sufficientia (plenty). The shape of the stave illustrates its meaning as glory ending in tranquillity, because the stroke is raised forward moving to the right, the reversal of nöd (need).

Imageis the sun-stave, and the son-stave. The sun is named after the light created on Sunday—the sun is linked with the Son of Light. To this stave belong the words sona (to make amends), suna (to be forgiven by the Son), and ransuna (to redeem that which has been stolen). The poems speak of the sun as the highest in heaven. Image is called “hanging sun” because the rune hangs from the back of the serpent Image. This latter form, says Bure, was adapted from the Greek Σ and is called “kneeling sun.”

Imageis the tide-stave (cf. Tuesday). It signifies time and holidays or ceremonial divine services. In ancient times priests were called tidmän (“time men”) and tijar (“godly ones”). The name tak (roof) is used because of the shape of the stave. This is also connected to the tar torch and whip (swingle).

Imagebyrkal = byr-karl is the one who is lord over the farmsteads; or byrgall (byrg-all), which contains everything and is contained in everything. It corresponds to the beginning (börja). As a compound of byr + ger, the name indicates the patron of the home, fatherland, or city. Some translate the name as “son of war,” as we know the ger-man is a “man of war.”

Image= lays, law. The name of Saturday, which Bure calls the seventh day of the week, is lördag (wash day) in Swedish. This comes from lög (bath). Also, law (lex) comes from laga (to arrange), so law is connected to laying. Also note the connection with sam-lag (sexual intercourse) and hjone-lag (connubial union).

Imageis the last rune of the row in Bure’s system. Because it is the runesound [m], made with the lips closed, that “closes the mouth.” It is linked with Monday, and so to the Moon, and to man. The form of the stave indicates a man with two uplifted arms or, as on some stones, a man scratching his head Image.


These interpretations of the meanings of individual runestaves are a mixture of philological evidence, folk etymology, and Bure’s own spiritual insights. It is unknown how many of Bure’s ideas are derived from the lore of the farmers and learned men of Dalarna, from whom he is known to have learned something of the runes. It is also curious to note that some of the more speculative innovations found in the Armanen system of Guido von List seem to have some parallels in the ideas of Bure. These parallels are not likely to have resulted from List and others having read Bure’s works, because the latter were never widely published or translated.