Now and again I stop to marvel at the wonder of the written word. The greatest gift, possibly, is the ability to read, hence to learn. Then I look at the funny little shapes that are letters and the meanings we put to them. It is easy to see how ancient peoples thought that these squiggles were signs from a divine power. None more so than the Norse runes.
I know that I hung on a windy tree
nine long nights,
wounded with a spear, dedicated to Odin,
myself to myself,
on that tree of which no man knows
from where its roots run.
No bread did they give me nor a drink from a horn,
downwards I peered;
I took up the runes, screaming I took them,
then I fell back from there.
(Translated by Carolyne Larrington)
The runic alphabet and possible interpretations.