What Are Runes
In the mystical sense of the word, a rune is any marking which carries significance beyond its surface meaning. The elder futhark rune set is first and foremost simply the alphabet of the ancient peoples of Northern Europe. Each of these symbols was associated to a sound, but also to a concept, similarly to hieroglyphics of ancient Egypt.
It is believed that the elder futhark runes came into being after Odin hung himself upside down for nine days from the branches of Yggdrasil, and then spied them at the bottom of Mimir's well. He scooped up the runes and that is how he became the all-father, the all-knowing. This is also where the runes' association with divination and deep knowledge came from!
Cool Beans. So how do I use them?
Traditionally the runes would be cast upon a clean white cloth, sometimes marked with different regions. Face up runes would be read based on where they landed, with each area having an association.
My favorite way of casting similar to this is to just take all of the runes and cast them away from me. Only reading face-up runes, it's then interpreted almost as a path into the future; with runes that fell closest being challenges or events that will happen sooner and those that landed farthest away being in the distant future or being the outcome of the path.
It's also very common to read runes similarly to reading tarot, drawing pieces individually and placing them into a predetermined pattern with each one having a meaning. Most any tarot spread can be adapted to runes, but since there are significantly less rune symbols than tarot cards, spreads with less placements usually read better. I like the three card past / present / future!
You can also pull just a single rune to answer a question or get guidance for your day!
That's great! I wanna use them! What do they actually mean????
There are a ton of great resources out there for rune interpretation! I definitely recommend cross-checking several references as you're learning. Then, as you get a better intuitive grasp, you can use a quick reference that just has the rune, its name, and a few keywords. If you're really anxious to jump in, you can start off with just a keyword chart but I don't really recommend that because you lose a lot of the nuance to each rune!
Here's a few of my favorite websites to reference!
astrologyanswers - rune dictionary
wishbonix - runestones
But honestly, I really and truly recommend Nordic Runes by Paul Rhys Mountfort.
Seriously. This book is super in depth. For each rune it tells us the literal translation, as well as the divinatory meaning. But the thing that really sets it apart for me is that it gives us a visualization, or a description of what the symbol is supposed to show. Personally this is very helpful in memorizing because it gives me something to tie the symbol to. In tarot I I'm able to tie the interpretations to the artwork; but that's difficult to do with runes since the artwork is just lines. The visualization helps to turn the lines more into artwork!
And to make it even more awesome, he then goes through and tells myths and legends that are associated with each rune. So there's even another level of depth and understanding that you can gain!
What are your favorite resources? Feel free to share below!