The Runes

Runes are a method of divination similar to the Tarot or the I Ching. The difference is that Runes are a set of 25 stones instead of 78 cards or a set of sticks with patterns. As with the Tarot, most of the Runes may be right-side up, or upside down, the meaning differing with the case. There are also some Runes that can not appear upside down. In practice, the Runes may be made of any material; ceramic, stones, sticks, or drawn on cards.

HISTORY

Before the Germanic peoples of ancient Western Europe possessed a true alphabet, they used pictorial symbols to carve into stones their ideas and thoughts. The earliest of these pictorial writings date from about 1300 BC. They were probably linked to Sun and Fertility cults. Among the signs were parts of the human body, weapons, animals and variations on the circle, square, and swastika. These petroglyphs later evolved into the more abstract glyphs that were composed of lines resembling no particular objects. That there was power endowed to those who were adept at the use of these glyphs is indicated by the name given to the glyphs themselves. These glyphs were called Runes, from the Gothic Runa, meaning ‘a secret thing, a mystery.’

The Runic letter or Runastafr used to foretell the future by Runemal, or the Casting of the Runes. The Runes were inscribed into tools, weapons, rocks, altars, and other personal items. Runes were also used by the clergy as an alternative to the Latin alphabet. It is believed that Runes were derived from a northern Etruscan alphabet used among Italic tribes in the Eastern Alps. They may have been developed by people living in the area of Bohemia.

From the beginning, Runes were used for the casting of lots, for divination and to evoke higher powers that might influence the ‘luck’ of man. There were Runes that influenced the weather, the harvest, curses, the tides, love, and healing. The Practitioner of Runemal was easily recognizable by the very clothing they wore. As the 13th-century author of the ‘Saga of Erik the Red’ said, “She wore a cloak set with stones along the hem. Around her neck and covering her head she wore a hood lined with white cat skins. In one hand she carried a staff with a knob on the end and her belt, holding together her long dress, hung a charm pouch.” As you can also see from this passage, many of the Rune Masters were women.

As time wore on, the Runes themselves became standardized throughout Europe. Although in some places the Runes numbered as many as 36 or as few as 16. Twenty-four of these were the basic Runes or futhark. The name futhark comes from the first 6 Runes. There were 3 families of 8 Runes each, named after the Norse Gods Freyr, Hagal and Tyr. These three aettir, as they were called were:

  • Freyr’s Eight: Fehu, Uruz, Thurisaz, Ansuz, Raido, Kano, Gebo, Wunjo
  • Hagal’s Eight: Hagalaz, Nauthiz, Isa, Jera, Eihwaz, Perth, Algiz, Sowelu
  • Tyr’s Eight: Teiwaz, Berkana, Ehwaz, Mannaz, Laguz, Inguz, Othila, Dagaz.

The Anglo-Saxons are credited with spreading Runes and Runecraft throughout Europe. It is unfortunate that more than 300 years ago the last of the Rune Masters died taking with them the true art of Rune casting. In recent years people such as Ralph Blum have tried to revive the ancient art of Rune Casting through books, casting Runes, and through research into ancient books and manuscripts for references to Runes.

runes-chart

DESCRIPTIONS AND MEANINGS

A. Mannaz: Two vertical lines with a horizontal ‘X’ connecting the top of the two lines so that it appears like a golf flag and its mirror image.

mannaz

Normal: Essence is water. Clarity, willingness to change is effective now. Become right with yourself, then you can be right with others. Be yielding, devoted and moderate. Only then will you have a true direction.

Inverted: If there is blockage now, it comes from within. Look to yourself, not to others at this time. Stop and reconsider. The outer enemy is but a reflection of yourself.

B. Gebo: An ‘X’.

gebo

Normal: A union is at hand. However, do not make this a total union, keep yourself. Let the winds of Heaven blow between you and your partner.

Inverted: This rune is impossible to invert due to its symmetry

C. Ansuz: An ‘F’ with the arms pointing downward.

ansuz

Normal: There is a new life unfolding. Be aware during meetings with others. A connection with the Divine may be at hand. Draw from the well for yourself first, then you will have the strength to draw from the well for others.

Inverted: Failed communication may seem to be a block. Remember, what happens now is timely to your development. If the well is clogged, then clean it out.

D. Othila: A diamond shape with the two lower sides extended beyond the point at which they meet to form legs.

othala

Normal: A shedding of old skins is called for. You may receive benefits, but it may require you to give up something else. This may be difficult to do because part of what you may have to give up is a portion of your background.

Inverted: Do not be bound by old conditionings. You may be called upon to take a radical departure from old ways. Be totally honest with yourself now. Flow is the proper attitude at this time.

E. Uruz: A tall vertical line on the left, a shorter vertical line on the right, connected on top by a diagonal line. Similar to a ‘squared’ small letter ‘n’.

uruz

Normal: The life you have been living is at an end. However, this is not a Rune of ending, it is instead a Rune of new beginnings. There may be the darkness of a tunnel leading to the new life, but the light will be brighter at the end. Prepare for the opportunity disguised as a loss.

Inverted: You may fail to take advantage of the moment. It is possible that your strength may seem to be used against you. The seeming failure may come as a minor or major jolt depending on your awareness. Remember, life is a cycle and you will again reach this point to again have this choice.

F. Perth: A vertical line on the left with an elongated ‘v’ connected to the top from the right, and an elongated inverted ‘V’ connected to the bottom from the right.

perthro

Normal: Inner changes are taking place. Surprises may be in store. Nothing external matters here, except as it shows you your inner self.

Inverted: Do not expect too much now. If you repeat the old, expect to suffer. Do not focus on the past or you will neglect the true now. You may have ‘bad luck’ or recognize a specific block, or challenge. It depends on your point of view.

G. Nauthiz: A vertical line with a diagonal line crossing it. The diagonal line runs from the upper left to the lower right.

nauthiz

Normal: There is a definite need for restraint. There will be holdups, and the need to reconsider your plans carefully. If you can not restore harmony at this time, restore balance at least. consider the uses of adversity.

Inverted: Here is the great teacher disguised as the bringer of pain and limitation. Only at the darkest hour do we see just how bright the light is within ourselves. Cleansing is needed to strengthen the character. Only after great darkness will we know and see the true light.

H. Inguz: Two ‘X’s stacked on top of each other and touching.

inguz

Normal: Now is the time of great strength when completions can be finished and as a result, new beginnings started. Difficulties can be resolved and clarified. The butterfly now emerges from the cocoon. The movement may cause you to free yourself from a rut in your life. There is a danger, but like the King on a chessboard, the movement takes you out of check and danger.

Inverted: This rune is impossible to invert due to its symmetry.

I. Eihwaz: A vertical line with a short diagonal line running from the top towards the lower right, and a short diagonal line running from the bottom towards the upper left.

eihwaz

Normal: There may be blockages, but even they help our progress. You may seem to be powerless at this point in time. Patience and waiting are called for. Growth is promoted through inconvenience and discomfort. Wait on the will of the Heavens.

J. Algiz: A cross with both ends of the horizontal bar pointing upward.

algiz

Normal: Control of the emotions is called for. Correct actions are the only true protection you have. If you are in pain, or turbulence, do not try to hide from it, for it is only the pain and turbulence of progress.

Inverted: Health and associations are to be examined now. If persons are ‘using’ you, and you know it in your heart, then know that you are the one responsible for the outcome, not them. Only then will you benefit from it. Winning may not be possible, but in losing there is a form of winning through learning and the progress takes place.

K. Fehu: An ‘F’ with the horizontal lines pointing upward.

fehu

Normal: Clearly define what it is that you desire. Is it wealth and possessions, or self-rule and growth of will? Enjoy the good fortune of now but remember to share it, for the mark of a well-nourished self is the ability to nourish others.

Inverted: Your arrows repeatedly miss the target either by an inch or a mile. Your ship has come in, but you are at the stable awaiting a good horse. Observe the situation, and ask, “What do I need to learn to further my progress?” You now have the opportunity to see where your true nourishment lies.

L. Wunjo: Shaped like the letter ‘P’ with the rounded upper portion being made from two straight lines like the ‘greater than’ sign >.

wunjo

Normal: The shifts that were due are completed, the branch now bears fruit, and you can now reap the harvest. Knowledge transforms itself into understanding. Through new clarity existing ambitions, goal, or plans may be seen for the limited undesirables they are.

Inverted: The harvest is slow to mature. A difficult passage is at hand. As seen in its true light, everything is a test. There is lightly mixed with the dark, but of clarity, there is none now. Examine yourself and your motives.

M. Jera: A ‘greater than’ sign (>) above a ‘less than’ sign (<).

jera

Normal: Beneficial outcomes apply to whatever endeavor you have undertaken. It may take time for no quick results can be expected. A span of time is always involved. Not even the farmer can speed the harvest by tugging on the young shoots. At the end of the season, rejoice in abundance.

N. Kano: A ‘less than’ sign (<).

kano

Normal: This is the Rune of the opening. Light now breaks through and dispels the clouds. Through awareness of the light, understanding is now available to you and you may be able to spread the light and understanding to others. You are now the center where harmonic and beneficent forces meet.

Inverted: Clouds are now beginning to cover the sun. A partnership may be passing away. If so, remember that it is then no longer appropriate or valid for you in this stage of development. Remember however that failure to notice this passing away will result in a missed opportunity. Give up gladly the old so that the new can be received.

O. Teiwaz: An upward pointing arrow.

teiwaz

Normal: Look within and delve down to the foundations of your being. Here you will find your deepest needs and most powerful resources. Examine newly formed partnerships, for there may be great works for you both to perform together. This is a Rune of dedication and perseverance. Patience may be called for now. Your real enemy just might be yourself.

Inverted: Danger may arise from hasty or ill-timed actions. Associations may be short lived, but remember that they have served their purpose. Are outcomes your goal, or are you focused on the task for its own sake? Look within for the answer.

P. Berkana: Shaped like the letter ‘B’, except the the two rounded portions are made from straight lines, like the ‘greater than’ sign >.

berkana

Normal: Delve into things deeply, with care and awareness. Resistance must be dispersed first, then work may be begun. If you have dark corners, clean them out now. If you need help to cleanse the corners, seek an expert. Only then can the harvest ripen.

Inverted: There is interference with growth now. If you feel disheartened for not taking the right action, relax. You may have the chance to act again. Examine your motives. Are you putting your wants before the wants of others?

Q. Ehwaz: A large capital letter ‘M’.

ehwaz

Normal: Transitions and physical shifts are occurring now. Steady growth and development slowly accumulate. “As I cultivate my own nature, all else follows. “Face the future with assurance.

Inverted: If movement is blocked, be sure that what you are doing is correct action. There are no missed opportunities; we have to recognize that not all opportunities are not for us. What is yours will come to you.

R. Laguz: The right half of an upward pointing arrow.

laguz

Normal: Reorganize and re-align. Contact your intuitive self, and success will follow. Relate to yourself correctly. Immerse yourself in the experience of living without evaluating or understanding.

Inverted: Do not overreach yourself. Excessive striving can be damaging. Are you really drawing upon your wisdom of instinct? Go within yourself and honor your receptive side.

S. Hagalaz: Shaped like the letter ‘H’, with the horizontal bar at a slight angle sloping to the right.

hagalaz

Normal: There is a need to break free from constricting circumstances. There are some things beyond your control. Though this Rune has only an upright position, it operates through reversal. You may feel as though you are waking from a long sleep and take some time to come to your full senses. There may be a loss before there is a great gain.

T. Raido: Shaped like the letter ‘R’ with the rounded upper portions made of two straight lines like the ‘greater than’ sign >.

raido

Normal: Communication is addressed by this Rune, especially when it has two sides. Inner worth increases, but we must remember that we are not intended to rely on our power alone. Ask guidance from the Powers above, and know that in so doing, you will be doing the right action. Waiting may be just the right action to take. If you wait, remove resistance while waiting.

Inverted: Personal relationships are accented now. Breakups may be more plentiful than unions now. Keep a sense of good humor no matter what happens. Even failures may be re-routed opportunities.

U. Thurisaz: A vertical line with a ‘greater than’ sign attached to the middle. The line extends above and below the > sign.

thurisaz

Normal: There is work to be done, both within yourself and without. You may be ready to contact the Divine. You can now see that which is hidden inside and know that in so doing, you will be doing the right action. Waiting may be just the right action to take. If you wait, remove resistance while waiting.

Inverted: Personal relationships are accented now. Breakups may be more plentiful than unions now. Keep a sense of good humor no matter what happens. Even failures may be re-routed opportunities.

V. Dagaz: An elongated ‘X’ with both the left and right sides being close into triangles by vertical lines.

dagaz

Normal: A major breakthrough is at hand. The right outcome is inevitable, but not predictable. Timing is correct. If followed by the blank Rune, the transformation may be so total as to portend a death, a successful conclusion to your passage. The dawn has given way to full daylight. But remember not to collapse yourself into the future, for that would be reckless.

W. Isa: A vertical line.

isa

Normal: Winter has come upon you. You seem to be frozen in ice and can not move. Positive accomplishment is unlikely now. A cold wind is reaching you over the ice flows of outmoded habits. Try to discover what it is that you are holding onto that prevents the spring from arriving. Shed the outdated, and the thaw will follow. It may be that you have no control over the conditions causing the winter. In this case, remember that this is the way of Heaven and Earth; winter follows autumn, but spring will always follow winter. Watch for signs of spring.

X. Sowelu: Shaped like a single vertical bolt of lightening.

sowelu

Normal: What you are striving to be, you already are. This is the time for recharging and regenerating yourself. You may have to retreat from pressing situations, but make it a retreat in strength, not weakness. Let the Sun illuminate the secrets you hid even from yourself. Always remember, however, that by yourself you can do nothing. Only when you rely on the Divine can you accomplish anything of greatness.

Y. Odin: This is the blank Rune.

Normal: The unknowable and unseen is active in your life at this time. In the beginning there was nothing, and in the end, nothing remains. Control can not be used on that which does not yet exist. As with the Fool in the Tarot, you may have to leap over the precipice into the void. But do so empty-handed and with utter faith. What becomes is the creative power of the unknown.

LAYOUTS USED FOR DIVINATIONS

  1. Odin’s Rune: Place the Runes into a cloth pouch, and shake them up. Reach into the pouch and draw out a single Rune. Make sure when the Rune is pulled out, and you turn it over that you do not accidentally do not invert the Rune. This Rune will reveal the crux of your present situation or the basic answer to your question.
  2. Three Rune Spread: Place the Runes into a cloth pouch. Draw out three Runes and place them in a horizontal line in front of you. Reading from the left to the right, the positions represent; 1) You now, 2) the Challenge ahead of you, and 3) the Best Outcome. Read the Runes and interpret them relative to their position.
  3. Runic Cross: Place the Runes into a cloth pouch. Now draw out 6 Runes and place them in the following order. Place the first Rune in the center of your work area. This represents you now. The second Rune goes to the right of the first Rune. This represents your past. The third Rune goes to the right of the first Rune. This Rune represents the future. The fourth Rune goes below the first Rune. This Rune reveals the foundation of the situation. The fifth Rune is placed above the first Rune. This Rune is the challenge ahead of you. The sixth Rune goes above the fifth Rune. This rune represents the best outcome.
  4. Three Life Spread: This spread is useful for exploring past incarnations. There are five runes involved in this spread. Place the Runes into a cloth pouch, and remove five of them, placing them in the following order. The first Rune goes on the right side of your work area. This Rune is your birth and childhood of this life. The second Rune goes to the left of the first. This Rune represents your present. The third Rune goes to the left of the second. This Rune is your future in this life. The fourth Rune goes below the second Rune. This Rune reveals your past incarnation. The fifth Rune goes above the second Rune. This Rune is your future incarnation. Interpret the Runes relative to their position and also relate them to what must be gained in each incarnation.
Advertisements