What is the meaning of the Odal rune? We explore its origins, usage and meaning after the symbol hit the news.

The Odal rune has become a known hate symbol since it was adopted by the Nazi Party. It is also known as the Othala rune or the Othal rune.

odal rune meaning
Runic stone with the oldest representation of the 24 rune alphabet in Sweden, Pre Viking Runic stone with the oldest representation of the 24 rune alphabet in Sweden.. (Photo by Werner Forman/Universal Images Group/Getty Images)

Origins of runes

Runes are the letters in a runic alphabet, which were used prior to the adoption of the Latin alphabet.

This writing system was used by Germanic peoples of northern Europe, Britain, Scandinavia, and Iceland. Runes were used from about the 3rd century up to even the 16th and 17th century.

The Odal rune did not continue to the Scandinavian runes after the 6th century, but survived in Anglo-Saxon runes.

Odal rune: Meanings

The original Odal rune expressed the Old English œ phoneme.

Its meaning in modern usage has significantly changed.

Throughout history, the rune has become associated with white nationalism and fascism. This association started with the early Nazi Party in Germany. In fact, the rune’s association with Nazism and Neo-Nazism includes it in Germany’s Strafgesetzbuch section 86a. This law bans the usage of right-wing extremist symbols.

The National Socialist Movement adopted the Odal rune in 2016. The South African White Liberation Movement also used the symbol.

The Anti-Defamation League notes:

“Because it is part of the runic alphabet, the symbol can also be found in non-extremist contexts as well, especially runic writing and runestones used by non-racist pagans. Consequently, care should be taken to evaluate the symbol in the context in which it appears.”

Have something to tell us about this article?