We just released our new handmade Runes set and have been getting loads of questions, so we wanted to introduce you to runes and how you can use them in your practice!
Much like Tarot and oracle cards, runes are a form of ancient divination. They are yet another tool to assess situations and discover our true selves and paths.
Runes are stones, crystals, wooden coins or other small objects that have been engraved with runic symbols and kept in a small bag or pouch. To interpret them, a question is held in the mind while ‘casting’ the runes, or throwing them on a cloth. The patterns created from the runes determine the questioner’s outcome.
Read on to discover the origin of runes, the meaning behind them and even how to create your own!
What are Runes?
Runes are ideas expressed symbolically through scripts that predate our Latin alphabet by hundreds of years.
While there are several germanic runic alphabets, the oldest and most common of these is The Elder Futhark, sometimes called the Common Germanic Futhark. It consists of 24 runic letters, each of which represent words and ideas with a symbol for its energy. The first six runes spell out the word ‘futhark’.
Writing itself has magical and mystical connections. Carving runestones evokes divinatory powers and accesses the ancient Germanic connection to the elements.
There is some disagreement amongst runemasters about what some of the runes represent as there is no literature from the time to tell us specifically what they mean. Modern rune practitioners base their interpretations on knowledge and tradition as well as intuition.
History of Runes
It’s unclear where runes originated, as evidence has shown them to appear across a large geography. However, they came to be part of Norse tradition around 2,000 years ago. The word ‘rune’ may have derived from the Germanic root word ‘run-’ meaning secret, whisper, or mystery.
Nordic Mythology says Odin, the chief god of Norse mythology, discovered runes during the Viking period. Part of Viking legend says that Odin's horse, Sleipnir, had runic symbols engraved upon its teeth. Modern scholars believe they appeared prior to the Viking era. Regardless, they were common in the first and second centuries by Germanic peoples.
All the characters of the runic alphabet are in straight lines. This is probably because it made them easier to carve. Runes were first carved into rocks, metal, bone and wood. Later, they became part of the culture, being etched onto everything from belt buckles to Viking ships.
The Runes and their Meanings
The runic symbols each represent a useful concept in life. Some runes were based on Norse legends and tree spirits. Others represent spirituality and the range of human emotion.
While runes are often thought of as a fortune-telling device, they are much better suited for showing present patterns in a person’s life, and discovering and communicating with the inner self.
Here is a list of the runic symbols, their pronunciations, and meanings:
How to Read Runes
Begin your reading by holding all of your runes in your hands. You can also keep them in the bag and mix them within the bag, using your hands to pass your energy to the runes.
Hold a question in your mind, and when you’re ready, cast the runes out onto a rune cloth. A rune cloth is a piece of fabric that is used to cast the runes on when reading them. White cloths are ideal, but specially designed rune cloths may be a better fit for you. If you’re just starting out with runes, don’t worry too much about investing in a special cloth.
The cloth prevents the runes from getting dirty or damaged and acts as a form of boundary for the rune casting. In ancient Rome, rune-casters would draw a sacred circle on the ground, and cast the stones into this circle. Suffice to say, your cloth or circle need not be perfect.
Once you’ve cast your runes, take note of where they lie. Think of the cloth as hosting three rings: an innermost ring that represents the Inner Being; a middle circle representing the Ego Realm or manifestations, and an outer circle representing the wishes and desires of the questioner.
The runes in the innermost circle represent the questioner’s personality, essence, and character. A casting without runes here may mean the questioner is not in touch with their inner self or that it’s already clear of issues.
Next, move on to the Ego Realm, where the stones cast here represent the querent’s ego and how they manifest themselves within the world.
Finally, the Wishing Ring stones should be taken into consideration based on the stones in the first two rings. How do they relate to one another? How do they compare to the questioner’s wishes?
It’s important to note when runes are clustered together; these runes should always be read in conjunction with one another. You will find many runic patterns overlap with astrological patterns, such as triangles, squares, bowls and buckets.
Charts & Spreads
There are many other charts and spreads you can utilize with runes. These are similar to Tarot spreads, in that each rune has a place in the chart and each position has a unique meaning. Then, you can draw the runes from their bag one by one (as opposed to casting them all at once) just as you would a Tarot spread.
You can also use a Ouija board and cast the runes onto the board. Runes that fall onto letters may represent the first initial of ancestors available to help you in the moment. Runes that fall on ‘yes’ or ‘no’ may be indicating their advice. And runes that fall on numbers can indicate dates or other numbers.
You can also create your own chart to help interpret your own runic questions.
Making Your Own Runes
Once you’ve become familiar and comfortable with runes, you may choose to make your own! You could carve them out of a branch that fell in your yard (or that your pup brings you). You could visit a crystal store and select unique stones that speak to you. Or you could find various stones in the wild - just do your best to collect ones that are about the same size and shape for uniformity.
Once you’ve determined your materials, you can choose to carve the ancient runic symbols directly into your runes. You can also use paint, marker, etc. - any material that is durable and adheres well to your rune will do.
If you do choose to make your own runes, you may decide to make a stone or two of your own sigil - a unique marking of your own meaning. These stones will be deeply personal and make your readings even more meaningful.
Regardless of what runes you choose, the true secret to using runes is to infuse your readings with your intuition. After all, you are the conduit between an otherwise ordinary piece of stone and a magical, mystical world that is available to those who seek it.
About the Author
Dayna Schmidt-Johnson (Leo Sun, Scorpio Moon, Virgo Rising) is the resident astrologer for Writual Society. A writer by trade and a life-long learner, she has been studying astrology for nearly two decades and combines her passion for the stars with an easy understanding of what all that astro-speak really means. Dayna lives in Chicago with her husband and teenage daughter. Her Gemini Midheaven ensures she's never out of projects to work on and is currently a freelance writer for multicultural agency TEN35, reads astrology charts, and speaks publicly on the topics of salary negotiation and vocational astrology.