Inscriptions Charged With Occult Force
Odin, father and chief of the Norse gods, passed on his knowledge of magic and rune-lore to poets, sorcerers, sages and other especially favored mortals. The runes in his gift constituted an alphabet for writing. But they were far more than mere symbols: Initiates knew them as actual sources of power—tools and weapons of wizardry.
Those who understood the secrets of the runes knew the proper figures to inscribe on a sword to protect its owner in battle, or which runes to carve on a tombstone to keep evil spirits at bay. The cunning of some runemasters ran so deep that their inscriptions could even control the dead, preventing a restless corpse from rising and wandering, or causing a hanged man to walk and speak.
But men of such prodigious power inspired more fear than admiration in Europe’s dark ages of rival cults and warring tribes. Kings and priests looked upon them with suspicion. In some lands the very possession of a tablet filled with wonder-working runes became a punishable crime. Adepts were burned to death, and their knowledge disappeared with them. In the remotest regions, their carved stones survived as objects of mystery and menace. But the real power of the runes was lost forever.
— The Secret Arts, Chapter 1
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