Talk:Odal (rune)

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Attempts at name reconstruction[edit]

Is the Othala Rune the same as this? It looks identical. If so, that article should probably be merged with this one. Gwalla | Talk 29 June 2005 16:20 (UTC)

it is, it's just an attempt at the Proto-Germanic form of the name. I redirected it here. dab () 29 June 2005 16:45 (UTC)
Other variations include othala and othila. I have since added information regarding these variations to the article and fixed the redirect pages to prevent further confusion. :bloodofox: 22:56, 10 January 2006 (UTC)

Removal of "Fascist use" section[edit]

"bloodofox", if you want to add reference to neopagan use, that's fine, but it doesn't explain why you insist on removal of reference to Neonazi use. Use on Neonazi flags is documented via the external link, while we pretty much just have your word for the claim that other neopagans use the symbol without political implications. Care to point us to some sort of reference? dab () 12:26, 22 November 2005 (UTC)

Dbachmann, I absorbed the symbol into a "military use" section, which would institute the broader use of the symbol under military means. Not only did the Third Reich use the symbol, which was fascist-influenced but rather National Socialist - a big difference, but so does the modern German army, which you removed my reference to. Which, since the modern German army shows no fascist influence, at the very least deserves a note next to any Third Reich usage. I'll find the shoulder boards to show you.
Outside of a "Military Use" or "Military Usage" section, this section needs perhaps a subgroup that shows breakaway political groups using the symbol, though there are MANY of them out there, especially with the advent of the religion. What should also be noted is that many of them, even as the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) was forced to admit via-lawsuit. [1] In the mean time, a lot of people really see them as attempting to propagate the symbols as hate symbols instead of being what they are - ancestral symbols recognized by many organizations.
As a primer for Heathenry, which runes are an aspect of, I recommend this well-written article published by the BBC: [2]
From my personal experience, one of the largest, well respected and oldest Heathen organization in the US is the Asatru Folk Assembly: [3] Outside of the US, Heathen organizations have been extremely active, resulting in Denmark recognizing Forn Siðr officially and allowing weddings to be conducted a few years back. I'm trying to dig up an old link about this. In Iceland, Asatru is the second largest religion in the nation.
Regarding "Neopaganism" and "Heathenry," there is a big difference. "Heathenry" is a form of reconstruction, whereas "Neopaganism" refers to amalgamations of pagan religions, such as Wicca, which practice a form of religious universalism, absorbing elements of various religions into a single, modern religion. Heathens and Asatruars rarely consider themselves as "neopagans", whereas a Wiccan largely would. [4]
The Anti-Defamation League[5] once listed all sorts of pagan symbols simply as 'hate' symbols because they had been used by old regimes (while most pagan groups were banned by the Third Reich) or have been sometimes used by fringe groups today largely with little knowledge of the symbol. Eventually, the ADL bent to an avalanche of criticism from Asatru and pagan groups, plus legal action, and created a small disclaimer that still annoys a lot of pagans, particularly Heathens, to this day. [6]
I hope this helps a bit. This rune is a particularly major one these days, with Elhaz/Algiz and Tyr due to the themes they represent amongst Heathens. There's many hundreds of years of history behind these symbols and right now this article plainly does not do any justice to the topic due to the focus on a particular military using the symbol lightly for a few decades.
--Bloodofox 22:08, 22 November 2005 (UTC)
the history and context of the runic alphabet is covered on that article (large parts of which were written by me, so you are hardly telling me anything new). I am also familiar with the "Heathenry" terminology; I have written most of Germanic Neopaganism (which I refer to as "neopaganism" here, Wicca and other "eclectic" currents do not need to be considered in this context), including the "terminology" section and the etymological discussion of "heathen". I am not objecting to the insertion of references to unpolitical neopagan use (just keep things sourced), I am objecting to the removal of sourced statements. I suppose you can do a "Military" section (where exactly in the present German army is the symbol used?), I reverted your edit because you removed reference to (non-military) Neo-nazi use. As the "Troll cross" section shows, the article has been well aware of folkloristic, unpolitical use of the symbol. Maybe neopagan use should be mentioned there? Unfortunately, folkloristic and fascist use blend in neopaganism, which it is impossible to deny includes strong neonazi currents. Neopagan use of runes in general need not be discussed here, just use of the Odal rune in isolation. Btw, the Íslenska Ásatrúarfélagið has some 700 members, which helps put your claim of "second largest religion" in perspective. Many of the organizations lovingly enumerated on Germanic Neopaganism have less than 50 members. Concerning the Odal rune being a "particularly major one these days", I suggest you create a separate "Odalism" section. Note, however, that we do have an Odalism main article, and that even this meaning has been invaded by neo nazis. It is not my fault that the neo nazis jump on anything "heathen", don't shoot the messenger, man. I am simply insisting that these tendencies be documented here, and I don't want to keep you from documenting "nazi-free" use of the rune at all! dab () 22:31, 22 November 2005 (UTC)
I added the military usage section, as we have discussed. A friend also found a small chart regarding the German Armed Forces and their use of the odal rune in the German Wikipedia. I think the military section is obviously relevant, since I am sure it has had some use by Scandinavian armies and probably also other Germanic countries outside of Germany. I guess it's up to us to find out where. I may have mistakenly removed something but nothing was removed intentionally this time. I appreciate your non-combative attitude on this subject. --Bloodofox 02:14, 25 November 2005 (UTC)
of course, I fully support a discussion of use in contemporary armed forces, and I am not under the misapprehension that the symbol is somehow exclusively used in fascist contexts. dab () 07:40, 25 November 2005 (UTC)

I don't see much evidence that these shoulderpads are intended to represent runes. Please cite some reference supporting the claim. dab () 09:03, 26 November 2005 (UTC)

at least use Image:GE-Army-OR7.gif, and not your whole bunch of unrelated badges. dab () 09:12, 28 November 2005 (UTC)

Looks better. --Bloodofox 01:52, 29 November 2005 (UTC)


now that I have seen the Bundeswehr shoulder pads, and done some googling, I see no indication that the "Odal rune" is intended with the design (see Ranks and insignia of NATO Armies Enlisted for the full series). German neopagan circles have noted the similarity, of course, but until we get some indication of the intention, we cannot say that the design "is" the Odal rune. It is just a geometrical design of four lines, used in a context totally divided from runes. We can mention the similarity in design of course. Otoh, "Fascist use" clearly intends the rune, and logical grouping lists the SS division with "Fascist use", not as "military" with the entirely unrelated Bundeswehr design. Otherwise you seem to imply that the Bundeswehr design harks back to the SS design, which is quite far fetched, and too serious an allegation without precise quotation of references. dab () 09:58, 28 November 2005 (UTC)

After looking at the whole series (which I liked very much, by the way), please note that it appears no other European army uses this design on their shoulder boards. I don't equate the use of the rune with fascism in any way. I simply see it as a means of the German army recognizing an element of their ancient heritage, as other countries have done and do regularly. I think it must be intentional, though they might not state it openly. I mean, it's not like it's some unrelated country like Mongolia using the rune or something and it is not that common of a symbol. I honestly feel that the person who decided to draw up these shoulder pads was at least familiar enough with the rune to equate it with their nation. A lot of people that went to school during the Third Reich era had some basic education about runes, albeit it was largely Von Listian and thus based off of very little history, they still got a little run down about them. Since nything German or Germanic these days is often equated with National Socialism or fascism, particularly when it's state-sponsored, I'd be surprised if the German government would fess up to this under today's political climate. In the mean time, you are probably right to state 'closely resembles' and limit the image to this page until we are able to get some sort of official comment confirming it... But, especially looking at these other shoulder boards, it's clearly no coincidence. --Bloodofox 02:04, 29 November 2005 (UTC)
I've added that we cannot find commentary by the Bundeswehr regarding the matter to the article. --:bloodofox: 02:17, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

I served for 9 month in the Bundeswehr and there was one lesson hour, in which we got clarified about Nazi Symbolics and also runes. The odal rune that was shown to us has had two endings that were much longer than on the odal rune in this article, which should explained us, that its not the same symbol that the Hauptfeldwebel is wearing but the similarity was quite obvious to me and my comrades and it felt more like a lax excuse. In my humble opinion it wouldn´t matter if it´s the same rune or not, when the odal-rune would be used as a military sign before the nazi´s showed up (just like the iron cross for example)and the Nazi´s aint "own" adapted symbolics like old german runes, the roman salut or the old german mythology but i haven´t seen anything that would support this theory, that the symbol allready was intended inside the german army before the Nazi´s rised. In my opinion its a pretty rank symbol and a logical continuation to the Feldwebel and Oberfeldwebel ranks to make it a bit easier to differ but theres also another side. The Rank of "Hauptfeldwebel" was intended 1938 and replaced the rank "Oberfeldwebel der Truppe" of the German Empire Army (2nd Reich). I´m not for shure if it was changed by the Nazi´s themselves or just as a military reform by the Wehrmacht but it happend definitely in times, when the Nazi´s ruled. So when the creators of the Bundeswehr choosed this rank and symbol, in my opinion it was quite negligent because it could easily be missunderstanded.

I think it was pretty intentional. However, I think it was a wise move - it's an indigenous symbol - they knew it - but due to the restrictions imposed upon them after WWII, they had to be pretty careful. National armies use native symbols, Germany should be no different. I hope in time Germany will be able to face more of their prehistory without viewing it through the Romanization of the Third Reich. Taint doesn't have to exist due to misuse. :bloodofox: 16:45, 1 January 2007 (UTC)

Enough. You either need to cite a source claiming it was "pretty intentional" or drop it. Just leaving in the mention without any reference establishing the connection is pure WP:SYN. --dab (𒁳) 18:40, 13 January 2009 (UTC)

Please note that you're responding to a post from January 2006 as if it were a currently occurring conversation (it's January 2009). Obviously, as with anywhere else on Wikipedia, if something isn't properly referenced it needs to be removed immediately. These rune articles have long needed properly sourced rewrites. :bloodofox: (talk) 18:59, 13 January 2009 (UTC)


This article currently contains a section regarding the obscure trollkors or troll cross symbol. However, reading more into the subject, finding that most of the information is in Scandinavian text and subsequently editing the section further, I have a few questions regarding the inclusion of the symbol here.

  1. How old is this symbol?
  2. Are we just associating the geometry of the symbol with the odal rune? If not, how and where are we deriving this association from?

As it stands, it seems to me like there is a great posibility that this symbol may require a page of its own and that it may not be as closely related to the odal rune as this page would attest. However, this depends a great deal on the age of the symbol itself. --:bloodofox: 02:17, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

The troll cross is probably very old. Here and here you can see Iron Age objects that look very much like the troll cross, at the Swedish Museum of National Antiquities.--Berig 00:16, 23 January 2007 (UTC)
Unfortunately, those links don't seem to work. :bloodofox: 16:14, 5 August 2007 (UTC)

Young BNP[edit]

Whether or not you would define it as neo-nazism or fascism, shouldn't the Young BNP still get a mention? It is still used as their symbol, really. NaiveAmoeba 19:19, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

Yes, I don't see why not - as long as we keep the neutral descriptor. :bloodofox: 16:42, 1 January 2007 (UTC)

As a member of the BNP myself I can say that the symbol isn't use as a means of promoting Nazism or white supremacy. It is used to symbolise our heritage as European people, nothing more. The whole notion that this symbol is used with racist connotations is appalling, the young BNP shouldn't be mentioned along side the Nazism references.(Unregestered user)

The Odal rune is also in use by the right wing white supremacy Boeremag group in South Africa ( ). Members of this group are currently under investigation for terrorist acts ( )in South Africa.

Rune and inheritance[edit]

I don't understand the current opening, which reads:

The Elder Futhark Odal rune (ᛟ) represents the o sound. Its reconstructed Proto-Germanic name is *ôþalan. The corresponding Gothic letter is 𐍉 o, called oþal.

So far, so good.

Odal was a concept of inheritance in ancient Scandinavian property law. Some of these laws are still in effect today, and govern Norwegian property.

Wait a second! What is the relationship between the rune (an element of a writing system) and the "concept of inheritance"? Was the rune used not only phonetically, to write the sound [o], but also logographically, to represent the word 'odal' = inheritance? And why is the article mentioning modern Norwegian property law, even if it descends from "ancient Scandinavian property law"? It's as though the article on the letter 'z' said that 'zzz' referred to sleep, and then started discussing sleep! I'm confused.

Later, the article says "The Odal rune is often associated with property and inheritance, wealth and prosperity." In what way is it "associated" with property? Is this just a pun on the name? Is it used as a symbol for property? Is it used as an abbreviation for the word 'odal' (= property/inheritance/etc.)? --Macrakis (talk) 03:25, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

The opening is pretty garbled and does need some sources. I'll restructure the article a bit and tag the section. I can tell you that this association with property can be seen in the Anglo-Saxon rune poem as presented here, for example. However, this could use some more fleshing out too. :bloodofox: (talk) 11:20, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
The idea of the rune being used to refer to the concept is rather well established in the literature. Take a look at Ring of Pietroassa for an example of runic interpretation assuming exactly this kind of use as a frame of reference. Aryaman (Enlist!) 19:51, 6 May 2008 (UTC)
Although property laws have no open bearing on the Éðel rune, they help reinforce its meaning when they share the rune's name. I wonder if i should say as much in the article. If this section were stricken that would be understandable, but i think it does some good. I might also mention the Frankish-derived, Latin word allodium. --Leif Runenritzer (talk) 19:50, 28 July 2008 (UTC)


Odal rune.svg

I fail to find any historical occurrence of the "variant" rune with serif-like additional strokes. The only evidence of use we have is from the Nazi era. Maybe it originated earlier, with von List & friends, I don't know. In any case, we will need evidence if we're going to claim that this is a bona fide "variant" occurring in epigraphy. --dab (𒁳) 19:18, 13 January 2009 (UTC)

I have looked again and couldn't find anything. I must assume that the "serifs" are a Nazi design element. --dab (𒁳) 14:01, 14 January 2009 (UTC)

I think some authors call it an Ethel rune rather than an Odal rune, and it denotes more protection of homestead rather than just homestead. I believe it was attested to in Anglo-Saxon rune rows, I know it was written about as such: by Edred Thorsson (Stephen Flowers) or Nigel Pinnick. I forget which, but it was written about in one of their books; it just was not called an Odal but an Ethel/Aethel (or the like). (talk) 03:45, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

Troll Cross[edit]

How old is the Trollkors symbol?-- (talk) 18:51, 27 January 2010 (UTC)

Good question, and one which has been asked several times before, all with no luck in coming up with an answer. I'd like to know more about it, particularly about its age, but I can't find anything from a RS on the symbol. There are numerous reference to "Swedish" or "Scandinavian Folklore" as a source of info on the symbol, but I haven't seen a single actual source which records this particular bit of lore. Perhaps there is an alternate name of which we are not aware? --Aryaman (talk) 19:30, 27 January 2010 (UTC)
The trollkors is a very obscure tradition. It seems that its modern popularity blossomed when the Swedish and Scandinavian blacksmith community started to smith these for sale. Apparently a woman named Kari Erlands started making these based on trollkors she had seen in her childhood home in Lima, Västerdalarna in Dalarna. ([7]) It is not known whether any other smiths made these before her in our time. There also appears to be a trollkors carved into a rock by Abborrtjärnsberg in Värmland. (see e.g. [8]). A picture of this would have been handy.
Trollkors are mentioned in three or four books on Google Books, but all the entries are restricted. However, all the books are available in many of the big Swedish libraries. Maybe Berig could have a look at that if he felt like it. (LIBRIS entries: [9], [10], [11]). There is an interesting mention of the trollkors in a Swedish article from 1935. It says:

"Sveriges kanske märkligaste bord av denna typ är bevarat i Uplandsmuseet: det har vad man kallar "grenbensbock", två böjda ben på varje bock, och på bockarna har man inskuret trollkors, nio på varje bock, för att skydda bordet och dess håvar från ont."

Roughly translated this means:

"Probably the strangest of these tables is in the Uppland museum: this table has what is called "grenbensbock", two bent legs on each base, and on the bases there are carved troll crosses, nine on each base, to protect the table and its owners from evil." (Upsala Nya Tidning, PDF, HTML).

This table, although not the carvings, can be seen on the pages of Digitalt Museum: [12]. The description says that there are "a number of crosses carved on the table", just as described in the article. The table comes from Vendel parish in Uppland. It would have been very interesting to get some pictures of this.
That's only some research I did just now. I'm sure it should be possible to find solid ground somewhere here. My guess is that the best step now is to go to the books and see if they contain anything valuable. As to the age of the trollkors, I have no clue. Berig posted some links to iron age finds in Sweden that resembled the trollkors, but the links have died now, unfortunately. It would have been very helpful to find those items in Historiska Museet's databases again. My guess at the moment is that it either has pre-Christian roots, or that it spawned during the 18th or 19th centuries. Alternative names might be an issue, but so far I have not seen anything that indicates that there are any. –Holt (TC) 04:40, 28 January 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for looking into this - and for the links. After browsing through the image archives of the Historical Museum to which you linked, I started to wonder whether these crosses actually started life as iron rings from a ceremonial rattle ([13], [14], [15], [16]). Provided the rattle was used - as it is in the rituals of other cultures, though often replaced by the bell - to frighten off evil spirits, one could see how the rings themselves could be attributed with this power. Of course, pure speculation on my part, but the pictures are interesting to look at all the same. Thanks again. --Aryaman (talk) 05:42, 28 January 2010 (UTC)
Very good! Those links are very helpful, how did you get to them? I was trying to find these rattles in the database for way too long without any results. Your thoughts about the origins are insightful and interesting. I wish we had more original research with accounts of traditional usage and beliefs. Maybe someone has conducted some ethnographic studies including accounts of the trollkors. The problem is finding them - hidden in local history groups' amateur publications in dusty shelves of tiny libraries... –Holt (TC) 06:52, 28 January 2010 (UTC)
The rattle from Oseberg.
I know exactly what you mean. These ceremonial rattles have fascinated me for some time - ever since I came across a picture of the great rattle from Oseberg in Schultz's 1934 Altgermanische Kultur in Wort und Bild, the most ornate example I've ever seen. I was surprised to see so many images in the archive you linked to. If you'd like to find more images of different rattles, use the search parameters Föremålskategori > Religion och kult and Sakord > Amulettring in the image search function. --Aryaman (talk) 08:05, 28 January 2010 (UTC)

[indent] You will find many Norwegian results at Oldsaksamlingen by searching for "rangle" under Gjenstandstype. There are some nice images there that are public domain, we can upload them to Commons. –Holt (TC) 23:57, 28 January 2010 (UTC)

interesting. I would conclude that the trollkors has nothing to do with the Odal rune, or any other rune, and its discussion should certinly be split off to a standalone article. --dab (𒁳) 06:23, 28 January 2010 (UTC)

Although I do not object to letting the trollkors have a standalone article, I would just like to note that the origins of the cross are yet to be explained. It does not seem too unlikely that a symbol that is supposedly meant to protect the farm and its people, creatures and items, could have a connection with the actual rune meaning "heritage, estate". Only our persistent research will prove or disprove this. I do not yet know what to think. It will probably be appropriate to let the trollkors have its own article as soon as we can flesh out a bit more of the source material. –Holt (TC) 06:41, 28 January 2010 (UTC)
I understand the supposition, and obviously this can be mentioned if we find a quotable proponent, but I think this is EXTREMELY unlikely, because
  • unlike t and a, I am not aware of any historical inscription where o can be argued to figure as an ideogram
  • the odal rune didn't survive into the Younger Futhark, and you would need to postulate survival of a tradition from the proto-Norse period into modern folklore, and a tradition that isn't even tangible in the proto-Norse period at that.
--dab (𒁳) 15:00, 28 January 2010 (UTC)
Yes, you have very good points. It seems highly unlikely that there is any connection. (By the way, isn't l used as an ideogram on the Bülach fibula?) –Holt (TC) 23:57, 28 January 2010 (UTC)
at least this was suggested in the 1970s. I think it is mostly discredited now, but at least you will be able to cite literature claiming ideographic use of l. Fwiiw, you will also be able to cite speculation on ideographic use of othala on the Ring of Pietroassa, but this is just that, speculation. There isn't any real evidence for any of this, and the runic "alphabet magic" that we do have seems disappointingly random. Strings like "aasrpkf" or "ærkriufltkriu" don't really amount to anything if you try to insert meanings associated to the rune names. --dab (𒁳) 08:54, 30 January 2010 (UTC)