The gift of the runes was given to humanity by the Teutonic/Germanic god Odin. In an act of shamanistic self-suffering, Odin hung from the world-tree Ygdrassil for nine days until the secrets of the runes were revealed to him. Encoded within them were all the patterns of the universe.
I know I hung on that windswept tree,
Swung there for nine long nights,
Wounded by my own blade,
Bloodied for Odin,
Myself an offering to myself:
Bound to the tree,
That no man knows
Whither the roots of it run.
None gave me bread,
None gave me drink,
Down to the deepest depths I peered
Until I spied the Runes.
With a roaring cry I seized them up,
Then dizzy and fainting, I fell.
Well-being I won
And wisdom too.
I grew and took joy in my growth:
From a word to a word
I was led to a word,
From a deed to another deed.
From: The Poetic Edda (circa 1200 A.D.)
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