Tag Archives: Ac

Stanza 25: Oak

byþ on eorþan.         elda bearnum.
flæsces fodor         fereþ gelome
ofer ganotes bæþ         garsecg fandaþ.
hwæþer ac hæbbe         æþele treowe

It is on earth for the children of elders
Fodder of the flesh. It ferries frequently
Over the gannets bath. T
he violent sea finds
Whether the noble oak holds true.


Translating Ac

The Ac stanza is a bad riddle because the answer to the riddle is right there in the wording. Since when does an Old English riddle include its answer? I’ll tell you when. Never. That’s when.

The Ac stanza is a good riddle because if it’s not Ac, then what is it? Hwæt? And if it does mean oak why does this riddle get to be so transparent? Let’s see if we can shine a light on it.

Clue: A line of Old English poetry starts with three alliterating stresses, three words that start with the same letter, and ends with a fourth stress that does not alliterate. The answer to the Rune Poem’s riddles is always the missing first word, so the first clue is always to be found in the beginnings of the next two stressed words: eorþan (earth) and elda (age). The answer to this riddle must be a word … More

Rune Casting: Ac

Provision yourself, because Ac says you are going on a journey and it won’t be smooth sailing. You’re already gone, you know that? Warning: these choppy waters might shatter you into matchwood. You’re about to find out what you’re made of. What were you made for? This. You were made for this so hold true.

The ᚩ rune (O, Os) and the ᚪ (A, Ac) both started the same way, as new shapes of the ᚫ rune (Æ, Æsc) which once made the sound of the letter A, stood in the fourth position of the alphabet, and meant God. The A sound changed very early in the lifetime of Old English, vowels are shifty, and this one changed into O and Æ, so new runes were made with new meanings to represent the new sounds, and appropriate places were found for them in the alphabetic line up. Æ, sounds like the A in ash tree, which is its meaning, this is one of a whole grove of trees in the Rune Poem. It kept the original rune shape ᚫ while the others are derived from it, and was moved opposite it’s original 4th position to the 26th place. They put it there so it can … More

Vowels are slippery things. They shift around and we have to learn which sound differences to ignore as another person’s accent and which ones change meaning. In the earliest times of Old English history the sound of the letter A changed so much it became three letters, A (ᚪ), O (ᚩ), and Æ (ᚫ). The ᚫ rune was the original rune shape for the A sound and stands in the 4th position in the Norwegian and Icelandic runic alphabets where it makes the sound for the letter A and means God. In the Old English runic alphabet, ᚩ (Os) holds the 4th position where it still means God, but here it makes the sound O. Smote. Lot. That God that smote you is a lot. The O sound was once made by the ᛟ rune, Eþel, but by the time they wrote down the Rune Poem, Eþel was already slipping … More