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|Name||Proto-Germanic||Old English||Old Norse|
|Shape||Elder Futhark||Futhorc||Younger Futhark|
|Position in rune-row||16||11|
*Sowilō or *sæwelō is the reconstructed Proto-Germanic name of the s-rune, meaning "sun". The name is attested for the same rune in all three rune poems. It appears as Old Norse sól, Old English sigel, and Gothic sugil.
The Germanic words for "Sun" have the peculiarity of alternating between -l- and -n- stems, Proto-Germanic *sunnon (Old English sunne, Old Norse, Old Saxon and Old High German sunna) vs. *sôwilô or *saewelô (Old Norse sól, Gothic sauil, also Old High German forms such as suhil).
This continues a Proto-Indo-European alternation *suwen- vs. *sewol- (Avestan xweng vs. Latin sōl, Greek helios, Sanskrit surya, Welsh haul, Breton heol, Old Irish suil "eye"), a remnant of an archaic, so-called "heteroclitic", declension pattern that remained productive only in the Anatolian languages.
The Old English name of the rune, written sigel (pronounced /ˈsɪ.jel/) is most often explained as a remnant of an otherwise extinct l-stem variant of the word for "Sun" (meaning that the spelling with g is unetymological), but alternative suggestions have been put forward.
Development and variants
The Elder Futhark s rune (reconstructed name *Sowilo) is attested in two variants, a Σ shape (four strokes), more prevalent in earlier (3rd to 5th century) inscriptions (e.g. Kylver stone), and an S shape (three strokes), more prevalent in later (5th to 7th century) inscriptions (e.g. Golden horns of Gallehus, Seeland-II-C).
The Younger Futhark Sol and the Anglo-Saxon futhorc Sigel runes are identical in shape, a rotated version of the later Elder Futhark rune, with the middle stroke slanting upwards, and the initial and final strokes vertical.
The Anglo-Saxon runes developed a variant shape (ᚴ), called the "bookhand" s rune because it is probably inspired by the long s (ſ) in Insular script. This variant form is used in the futhorc given on the Seax of Beagnoth.
|Rune Poem:||English Translation:|
Elder Futhark Sowilo rune, earlier ("Σ") variant.
The Sig rune in Guido von List's Armanen Futharkh were very loosely based on the Younger Futhark Sigel, thus changing the concept associated with it from "Sun" to "victory" (German Sieg), arriving Týr" in his row, yielding Sigtýr, a name of Ódin.
The Sowilo rune is commonly used by Germanic Neopagans, often without political implications.
The symbol is used as the "s" in the band KISS.
- The Lindholm "amulet" that bears the word Sawilagaz which is interpreted as "the one of the Sun"
- Rune poem
- Sigelwara Land
- Sól (Sun)
- SS unit insignia
- following Jacob Grimm, Über Diphtongen (1845); see also e.g. Joseph Bosworth, A dictionary of the Anglo-Saxon language (1838), s.v. "Sigel"
- Karl Schneider, Die germanischen Runennamen (1956), p. 98; R. W. V. Elliott, Runes: An Introduction (1981), p. 56; Maureen Halsall, The Old English Rune poem: a critical edition (1981), p. 133.
- Original poems and translation from the Rune Poem Page.