In the past 20 years, there has been an active growth of interest in the Old Norse culture in society. Eddic myths, in contrast to the Greek ones - studied even at school, attracted many by the charm of novelty. The fantasy genre also contributed to this interest. In line with the passion for Scandinavian mythology, an interest in runes arose.
Runes are Old Norse writing. The Normans of the pre-Christian era did not know either parchment or, moreover, paper. The letters were applied to wood, stone, metal objects, then they said not to write, but to cut the runes. Associated with this is the angular shape of the runes - signs made up of straight lines located at different angles.
At the birth of writing, the very idea of storing information not in the form of drawings depicting concrete images, but in the form of signs that convey abstract concepts, aroused admiration, mixed with fear. It seemed like witchcraft - any word written was like a spell. So, the letters "turned" into magic signs, runic magic arose.
Runes as a pagan tradition
Runic inscriptions on sacred stones, weapons and other artifacts of the Viking Age are an important part of Old Norse history and culture. The Orthodox Church has never objected to their study, as well as to any scientific research in the field of history or cultural studies. Objections arise when modern people begin to perceive the runes in the same way as the ancient Normans - in their magical aspect, and even those who consider themselves Christians do this.
Some runes directly correlate with the gods of the Old Norse pantheon: Ansuz - with Odin, Inguz - with Freyr, Teivaz - with Tyur. The use of such runes (for example, in talismans) actually means the worship of pagan gods. A Christian should not do this in principle, this is a direct violation of the commandment prescribing worship only to the One God: "May you not have other gods …"
Magical essence of runes
The Church does not accept the very idea of magic. This is directly stated in the Old Testament: "Do not bewitch and do not guess … And if the soul turns to the summoners of the dead and to the wizards, then I will turn my face to that soul and destroy it from its people." This prohibition is not canceled in the New Testament: in the Revelation of John the Theologian, among those who have no road to the City of Heaven, along with "fornicators and murderers" are named sorcerers.
Magic is an attempt to control the invisible world of spirits. Man cannot control angels in principle, they obey only God - therefore, the magician can only control the demons, or rather, think that he can control them. It is unacceptable for a Christian to put the forces of evil at his service. In addition, such an attempt to transcend natural possibilities is a manifestation of pride - the greatest sin that generates all others.
There is nothing good in fortune telling, including runic one. Wanting to know his future, a person demonstrates distrust of God, of His will, and there is no longer any talk of sincere faith. In addition, during runic divination, they appeal to the norns - the pagan goddesses of fate.
The danger of runic magic was obvious even to the Scandinavian pagans themselves. In the sagas, you can find examples of the negative consequences of rash use of runes. In this light, the words from the "Elder Edda" become understandable: "This is what I will answer when you ask about the divine runes … the blessing is in silence." Not a single Icelander or Norwegian of that era would have drawn a rune symbol in the air, the meaning of which was poorly understood. Modern people often wear talismans with the image of runes, about which they know nothing. This attitude towards the runes does not stand up to criticism, not only from the position of the Orthodox Church, but also from the point of view of the Scandinavian mythological tradition.