They say in conventional scientific circles that we perceive figures and patterns where there are supposedly no such thing. So as they began to discover the runes, the word rune itself roughly translates as “mystery”. It likely felt as if there was a spirit speaking through the figure, even perhaps a god. Some of the rune figures are actually taken as the symbols of their gods, three in particular. Tyr was one such.
I did some research on Mayan books and there are pictures in them of gods coming out of an open book. Yes, indeed. Who’s to say their perception of spirits in words was wrong? It seems pretty miraculous that anyone would just make up words and characters in the first place, don’t you think? Some ancient hunter sitting around after a meal and supposedly thinking, “I will just draw scribbles in the sand and tell people they mean something.”
Socrates bemoans that written language will be the death of memory. Oh indeed, the original skalds retained their cultures history and lore through poems which weren’t for entertainment so much as a memory device.
Runemal was reserved for their wise people which were very often women though runemal may have been more predominantly practiced by males. The reason it wasn’t taught to everyone in the tribe was it was believed the runes held spirits, were the spirit, and their misuse could bring disaster on the tribe. Contemplation of runes was communion with the spirits, and this contemplation wasn’t confined to the casting of lots, but involved ritual sites with markers bearing runic script as well as the recordings on tribal relics. So to speak the name of a rune was to summon that spirit as well, and to sing in the ancient way was to shape reality, and thus bless or condemn those mentioned in the song to the described outcome.
So you could sing a curse on someone? Yes.
I think some rappers do that. Oh yes, and sometimes, though rarely, blessings.
There is a complimentary practice to runemal called seider, translated roughly as fate weaving, and is where we get the imagery of the three fates. The original tribal chants of Africa were more blessings than not, blessings and placation of the spirits. The idea behind weaving was that by making a depiction of a thing, you could create that event or condition. So if you made a tapestry of a successful hunter, your villages hunters would have more success.
Like a voodoo doll? Yes. It did include a large element of image magick. It also showed up in their woodwork, the elaborate carvings that were in their long houses, things like that.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.