Ever since I've been looking into my Swedish roots, I've been toying with the idea of illustrating a full Rune deck. The deck would include the 24 runic symbols or the "Elder Furthark" which would be used for divination practices.
Oh, and no, I am not religious or spiritually practiced by any means! But I find myself drawn to mythology and tend to draw parallels from symbols found in ancient lore and abandoned antiquity to current life. The symbols I find in these legends then find their way into my personal work. I tend to fashion them to reflect the mood or intent of my illustrations.
My interests have recently moved to these Runes for these symbolic qualities. It's been a joy learning more and more about the Runic letters - so much so that I would love to construct a full deck! Facilitating a divination historically has consisted of "casting" or throwing the runes and reading the outcomes. The Rune deck would simply convert to a drawing method. Of course, every Rune has it's own meaning.
The first letter in the Runic Alphabet is ᚠ or f. The proto-Germanic title for this symbol is Fehu and has been translated to mean wealth or cattle. Cattle, being a huge trade commodity for it's meat and milk, was a sure sign of ones prosperity. When sketching up a possible card for this rune, I kept in mind the value of the cow as property, thus the heavy usage of rope. I also incorporated a few rings and charms to adorn the cow as a more forward representation of material wealth. In India, bulls are dressed lavishly in celebration of the Pola Festival, and although this ritual takes place in a different region entirely, I kept bringing that festival to mind when conjuring the Rune cow. Lastly, I wanted to portray a less contemporary animal than today's black and white spotted cow so I stuck with a more ridged frame with bristling hairs, large folds, and moley spots.
I sketched away with ink and gouache - and here is the draft! (left) How fun it could be to have a full deck!
Thank you for reading. You can find more process works on Instagram