Today in our divination series we’re talking about runes, one of the most ancient systems of writing and divination. The runes are letters and alphabets that were used to write Germanic languages prior to the use of the Roman alphabet. The dictionary definitions of runes describe them as “a letter of an ancient Germanic alphabet, related to the Roman alphabet…a mark or letter of mysterious or magic significance…small stones, pieces of bone, etc., bearing runes, and used as divinatory symbols.” Today we’ll be talking about the latter definition of runes for divination.
While there are several different myths about the origin of the Runic alphabet, we know that the runes originated around 160 A.D. and have probably been around longer than that, which makes them one of the most ancient forms of divination. There are a variety of different runes you can use, but we’re only going to be discussing the Elder Futhark because it is the oldest and the one with which I’m most familiar.
Within the Elder Futhark, there are 24 runes, each assigned a specific meaning, symbol, and letter. Take the rune Hagalaz for example, which represents hail, and the letter ‘H’ and means chaos and destruction, which hail tends to cause.
So where can you get your runes? Runes can easily be made by hand and are probably more powerful if done this way. This former statement isn’t said to discredit purchasing them, but a handmade set of runes will connect you to them on a deeper level. However you go about acquiring your runes, remember your runes should be made of either wood, stones, or crystals.
You don’t need any other tool when working with runes besides the runes themselves and the bag you’re casting them from. Casting them is a pretty simple process that I’m going to walk you through now. First, you’ll want to cleanse the space you’re casting them in, then lay down a white cloth for you to physically cast your runes upon. Next, you will ask or think your question and channel your energy into this question and grab a handful of runes from your bag. You’ll then shake them around a bit and toss them onto the white cloth. Now that you have all your runes cast, you can refer to your guidebook to provide you with answers to your question. However, you do need to know a few more things first. The runes that land outside or off of the cloth should not be read. If runes land upside down, they should also not be read.
Runes can come out reversed (like the tarot cards), and it is your decision if you choose to read reversals or not. The meanings can also differ depending on the other runes present in your reading. Runes located towards the center of your cloth represent the present and further away represent later in life, the future. The further away they are, the more far off the issue is. You can also use a pendulum when you read the runes to guide you towards the message you most need to hear (more on that coming in our article about pendulums). Runes can be cleansed, if you’re using them on others, through the purifying smoke of incense.
Remember, when casting your runes, you should always ask them basic questions because that is how they were designed to function. They’re not going to go as in-depth to your problems as the tarot may, but they will give you an honest, straightforward answer. They tell you what will happen if the current situation doesn’t change.
Runes have magical and protective properties as well, and you can use them in your daily routine and spell-work. You can use the rune Sowilo (shaped like an ‘S’ or lighting bolt) by placing it on your altar when you’re manifesting or performing spells to bring something into your life. You can put Laguz under your pillow at night to help bring prophetic dreams and important messages through the dream world. These are just some examples of how you can work with runes outside of the traditional methods. I’d encouraged everyone to look deeper into runes if they’re interested.
The Elder Futhark runes are a very cool, simple divination tool that I think more of us should learn about and use in our lives. The runes can offer guidance and advice in your situation and show you what the future holds along your current path. If this is something you feel a call to learn more about, please check out these great resources listed below!