If you’re reading this, you’ve probably ordered one of our sets of incredible Runes, and are now looking for better information on how to read them, and a few tips we have picked up along the way.
Runes are quickly emerging as one of the most popular forms of divination. This is likely to do with their ease to read, but also (at least in the UK) for the connection to our ancestors this ancient alphabet gives us.
Runes – The Alphabet
So firstly let’s talk about what runes are. The word rune comes from the Old Norse word rún (meaning “secret, runic letter”), which comes from the Proto-Germanic word *rūnō (meaning “letter, literature, secret”. Generally, runes are the elder futhark symbols or Germanic Futhark. Futhark was a writing system or alphabet used by Germanic peoples during the Migration Period in approximately the 2nd to 8th century. Runes themselves are symbols that were inscribed on a variety of objects such as weapons, deathbeds, gifts etc, and each rune has its own significant meaning, which we will go into in a bit.
There is a younger futhark and also an Anglo Saxon futhark that some people also rely on, but most rune sets you will find are based on the original symbols, due to the fact that it is believed Odin himself gifted them to us. That’s not to say you can’t use the other writing systems if you find that helps you connect better with your ancestors.
We know with quite a bit of certainty the Old English names of all 24 runes of the Elder Futhark, as they are preserved in the Old English rune poem, which was compiled around the 8th or 9th century. Based then also that they are in agreement with the better recognised younger futhark and gothic alphabet, they remain one of the few primaeval writing systems that have very little guesswork in it.
Where did they come from – an Odin’s tale
So marvel will tell you Odin was the god of war but more importantly to Norse Pagans; Odin was also the god of wisdom. He was a truth seeker, and for a time period where a man’s word was as solid as a phone contract nowadays, that was a big deal. It’s not clear if Odin was always intended to become the allfather, but that’s certainly how it transpired over time.
The story goes that at the centre of the cosmos stands the great tree Yggdrasil. Yggdrasil’s upper branches cradle Asgard, the home and fortress of the Aesir gods and goddesses, of whom Odin is the chief.
Yggdrasil grows out of the Well of Urd, which is this big pool whose fathomless depths hold many of the most powerful forces in the cosmos. Among these beings are the Norns, three maidens (one can note here again the power of three which resonates amongst most old beliefs) and they create the fate of all beings. So when i say fates; the Norse didn’t believe that your story was pre-decided, but rather each person had a death date. Your death was determined, but the route you take to get there was up to you. One of the most common techniques they use to shape fate is carving runes into Yggdrasil’s trunk. The symbols then carry these intentions throughout the tree, affecting everything in the Nine Worlds.
Now, Odin is as Odin does, watched the Norns from his seat in Asgard and envied their powers and their wisdom. Like all wise men, you can never learn enough. But the runes do not reveal themselves to anyone except those who prove themselves worthy. Odin hung himself from a branch of Yggdrasil and pierced himself with his spear. He refused aid, and he hung there for nine days and nine nights, on the precipice that separates the living from the dead. At the end of the ninth night, he started to see shapes. The runes had finally accepted his sacrifice and shown themselves to him, revealing to him not only their forms but also the secrets that lie within them.
Thanks to knowing the secrets of the runes he became the most accomplished being in the nine worlds. He learned chants that enabled him to heal wounds, to bind his enemies and render their weapons worthless, to free himself from constraints, to put out fires, to expose and banish practitioners of malevolent magic, to protect his friends in battle, to wake the dead, to win and keep a lover, and basically absolutely anything he could think up… like superman with no kryptonite.
So in his wise old age, Odin gifted us the ability to read the runes. We assume by not being gods, our “powers” were somewhat limited, but their meaning was not. And when you think about it, the idea that words wield the most power remains true to this day.
We need to remember that runes are a translation tool to the old world magic. They don’t have the power to see the future, as that is yours to create, but they do have the power to connect us to our ancestors, ask for guidance and generally communicate. If you want to get the most out of runes, look at them as a not so secret alphabet that you and anyone can learn, if you’re willing to take the time to learn them.
So, there is no set way to use runes and there are many different methods that people adopt and adapt, as the rune is just the alphabet, not the message itself.
Commonly runes are used in Norse pagan altars, or as Sigils on important items, personal and gifted.
The four most popular methods for reading Runes;
With your runes in their pouch, close your eyes, concentrate on what you want an answer for and choose a rune from the bag as your answer.
Gently toss the runes from the bag onto a soft surface and the runes while thinking of what you want an answer for and the rune(s) that stand out the most to you is your answer. If you use this method with our resin runes, please make sure the surface is super soft, and clean (to avoid damage to the polished surface).
Lay the runes out in grid and let your hand pass over the runes slowly while concentrating on what you want an answer for. Use your left hand if you are right-handed and your right hand if you are left-handed. You will sense the rune that holds the answer to your question.
With your eyes closed and while in a neutral state of mind draw three runes from the bag and line them up. The first rune is an answer to a past situation, the second one is an answer to a present situation and the last is an answer to a future situation.
Finally, it is extremely important that whatever you want, whatever you ask, say it clearly out loud. Gods and ancestors can’t read minds, if you are not saying what it is you want to work out out loud, the runes are nothing more than guesswork. You can’t crack a secret if you haven’t got the key right.