Odal rune meaning explored: Symbol's origins and usage in history

Eve Edwards February 27, 2021
Odal rune meaning explored: Symbol's origins and usage in history
Photo by Sobli/RDB/ullstein bild via Getty Images

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.

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?
Let us know
Eve Edwards is a staff writer for The Focus who has been with GRV Media since April 2019. Having gained a BA (Hons) in History from the University of Bristol, Eve joined GRV starting out as a writer for Reality Titbit before making her way over to HITC. With a passion for music, TV, and cultural news, Eve eventually found a home at The Focus. Eve spent 2021-2022 freelancing for GRV Media while she completed a Masters in Music Performance, and brings her wide array of interests to the company in her written work. In Eve's spare time you'll find her working her way through the day's Wordle, Heardle, and Quordle, or struggling to complete The Guardian's cryptic crossword.