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Consulting The RUNES

Reading Your RUNES

Because the runes are an ancient guidance (and to some, divinatory) device predating many others, they bring into our consciousness a more grounded, earthy value system.

Too often we are not able to see viable alternatives or solutions to problems, because we are so enmeshed in the situation. The runes allow us to explore alternatives we may not have thought of. They may show the circumstance in a way that can reveal aspects of the issue that could have been previously overlooked. The runes may show simple solutions and insights that were missed because we have become so deeply involved in the issue. Often we are unable to see clear solutions whilst in the grips of a dilemma. The runes show us aspects that we are unable to see due to our emotions being in upheaval. They convey their message, and often their answers, on a subconscious level. The runes show you your most viable options.

Often we are able to see a variety of valid solutions once we are out and away from the situation. This is called 'hindsight'.

The runes point your attention towards those hidden fears, issues and motivations that will shape your future by their unfelt presence within each present moment. Once seen and recognised, these elements become absorbed into the realm of ‘choice’.

The runes will not tell you precisely what to do with a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answer - rather, they will comment on a situation and give you a new perspective from which to view things. This gives you greater objectivity, which in turn, will help with clear, positive decision making.

As the old Norse language had no future tense, these runes were not used for definitive ‘future’ predictions as such. Rather, they were to be consulted for the ‘present’, which in turn lays the path for the ‘future’.

In ancient times, the runes were not kept in, nor drawn from a bag or box. Nor were they laid out in a pattern or spread. When an issue was to be considered or an inquiry made, sticks or twigs would be cut from nearby trees. Fruit-bearing trees were favoured, as this traditionally reflected the notion that one’s intentions and actions in casting the runes would bear fruit in the future. The runic symbols would then be cut or carved into the wood.

If the consultation was to be held by a river, creek or stream, runecasters would often choose stones and pebbles; then with clay, berry juice or whatever they had at hand, inscribed the runic symbols. Twigs, sticks, pieces of wood, stones and pebbles were used for runes as they were considered to embody the sacred.

The runecasters always asked permission and thanked the trees or rivers for their sacrifice in the casting ritual. Once this was done, a sacred space would be prepared.

The runes would then be cast three times to examine the issue. This was done to ensure that no hidden elements would be missed, and to repel any ‘shadow forces’ from the past that may interfere with the outcome.

Once cast, the runes were meditated upon and in time, interpreted. The sticks were then burned with their ashes left to honour the place of casting. Stones, if used, were often scattered back into the river from whence they came, to be cleansed and purified and returned to their natural home.

Later in history, Runecasters, Rune Masters or Vitkis began making sets which they were able to keep with them at all times. For these, small bags or pouches were made, often of rough materials of the era, or of weaved straw and/or reeds. Often, these pouches contained alongside the runes, other talismans, bindrunes, totems or symbols, such as pebbles, feathers, animal bones, crystals and the like. Often the totem or symbol represented the spirit of the Runecaster or Master and offered protection to the runes, the caster, and the ‘inquirer’ or ‘seeker’ if present. Many ancient Runecasters would stain their runes with red pigment to enhance their magical potency.

Runecasters of old would shake their pouch and scatter the runes onto the ground. Descriptions of runic divination in Norse literature refers to the runes as being ‘thrown’, ‘cast’ or ‘scattered’ rather than laid out in an order or spread, like the Tarot.

For some Runecasters, once cast, only those runes falling with the symbols facing up were interpreted. Other casters read theirs from left to right, right to left and sometimes even vertically. Other Runecasters simply used their intuition to choose the runes that resonated with the vibration of the inquiry/enquirer. They then interpreted all runes; those facing up, as well as the ‘upside down’ runes. The ‘upside down’ runes are called ‘reversed’ or ‘merkstave’ and have meanings of their own.

The runes can be cast a variety of ways, all of which are up to the individual Runecaster. Any method one chooses can be considered valid. The simple act of choosing and laying out the runes forces us to separate ourselves from distractions and concentrate solely on the object of our inquiry.

On an inner level, the journey into the subconscious or unconsciousness can involve giving up the power of the conscious mind, in order to gain greater knowledge of the unknown.

Some people like to set aside a time each day at which to cast the runes. Others prefer a more formal approach; by lighting a candle or perhaps a stick of incense, taking time to compose themselves, collect their thoughts and become in-tuned to the energies of the runes before casting.

You are always able though, to consult the runes without formal preparation. When casting in any manner the most important thing is that you feel comfortable with the method you choose. Your ‘need’ is what brings the energy of the runes into play and the runes themselves will teach you how they want to be read.

When in search of guidance, focus your thoughts on the issue whilst holding your rune bag. This will send your energy and vibration, and that of the issue/query into the runes. The more focused your thinking, the clearer the answer. You will know instinctively when it is time for you to choose your rune/s.

Individual runes can be chosen, drawn out of the bag (or box) and laid out on a casting cloth. The runes can then be meditated upon and interpreted.

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Alternatively, all the runes can be placed on a casting cloth, face down. The intention then is to intuitively tune into the message of the runes, using the energy both you and they resonate with, by passing your hand over them, choosing the rune your hand or fingers feels most attracted to. Once you have chosen the rune, turn it over from left to right and place it in front of you. It can then be interpreted.

Sometimes it is beneficial to hold the runes in your left hand whilst asking for guidance and assistance in meditation. To do this, you may wish to simply draw a single rune from your bag. The rune will give you insight into your issue.

Like both the I Ching and the Tarot (as well as some other Ancient Oracles), the runes should not be consulted too often or repetitively, as time must be allowed to pass so that changes have the opportunity to take place.

The runes are a valuable tool that enhance our creativity and problem-solving capabilities.


A single rune drawn is called the ‘Odin’s Rune’ method. This is the most simple and practical use of the runes, as the singular rune drawn gives an overview of the entire situation in question. Using just the one rune can help you focus more clearly on your issue and may provide you with a fresh perspective. In doing this, you are inviting the mind to function intuitively.

Drawing a single rune is particularly helpful under stressful conditions. The matter at hand may demand action promptly, yet you may not have all the information required to make the best decision or choice. The single rune will give you a quick overview followed by the best solution or answer.

The ‘Odin’s Rune’ can also be used as a singular focal point for intuitive practices and meditation. Concentrating on the runes and interpreting their meanings assists with the strengthening and testing of the intuition and psychic abilities or 'second sight'.

The runes are extremely useful for healing and for establishing contact with loved ones and those emotionally tied to us in our lives. If you are concerned about someone who you are unable to visit or contact, or who is in a distant place, focus directly on that person, then draw a single rune. This will enable your intuition to ‘tune in’ to the energy of the person in question. You may find it possible to know and sense things at a distance as your inner and true vision extends. The rune drawn for the person in focus can be analysed and interpreted accordingly, then either consciously or subconsciously, the message or emotion can be sent to the person in question. This method is often adopted for when ‘healing’ with the runes.

The ‘Odin’s Rune’ is also used to honour significant events such as birthdays, solstices and equinoxes, the birth or death of a friend or family member, anniversaries and the like. The ‘Odin’s Rune’ can be drawn on the eve or morning of an event, giving an overview of the situation or celebration.


As the Tarot and runes are so similar in concept, myth and meaning, it is no wonder that the two should interweave as they do. As of recent times and most customary today, spreads or lays are based on those of the Tarot, rather than the traditional ‘scattering of the stones’ of old. Basic and traditional Tarot spreads can be just as easily utilised with the runes.

‘Spreads’ or the laying of multiple runes can be performed, telling a story or giving added insight to the issue in question.

For more insight into an issue, it is often necessary to draw up to three (3) runes. The number 3 in the practices of the Ancient Oracles, such as the runes, Tarot and I Ching (as well as within Spiritual and Christian teachings) represents the ‘Trinity within’. It also represents the ‘past’, ‘present’ and ‘future’ and has vast spiritual symbology spanning across many different faiths and beliefs.

The first rune represents the factors that have led up to this point. This rune provides the ‘overview of the situation’.

The second rune sums up the situation at the present moment and identifies the ‘challenge’.

The third rune indicates the ‘course of action needed’ and represents the possible outcomes of the situation.

This method allows for the runes to colour and enhance each other with their meanings and add insight. It takes each subsequent rune, then builds upon the picture it started, colouring in the detail.

A lead on to this form of casting is to draw three runes for each of these three positions (nine runes in total).

It also coincides with the Norse mythology concept of the three Worlds, each having another three Worlds within. This method adds complication, but represents a more meaningful and insightful interpretation.

Another basic and simple spread adapted from the Tarot uses five runes. Employing the five rune spread can help you to identify distinctive features of a given situation that may be too complex for the ‘Odin’s Rune’ or three rune spread's simplicity.

There are two effective methods to use with five runes, both of which give added insight. A rune can be chosen, noted, then placed back amongst the other runes. This is done in case that rune in particular needs to reappear further into the reading to give added insight.

Alternatively though, each rune can be chosen and spread as usual. The five-rune spread involves drawing and laying the runes one below the next, vertically.

The first rune represents the ‘overview of the situation’.

The second identifies the ‘challenge’.

The third is the ‘course of action called for or needed’.

The fourth is the ‘sacrifice’.

And the fifth and final rune indicates the ‘new situation evolving’.

* The word ‘sacrifice’ in the context of the spread is intended to represent the choices and options that life offers you. It tells of what is to be shed or discarded in order for the ‘new’ to come about.

The ‘Runic’ or ‘Celtic Cross’ spread was inspired by the Tarot and is read accordingly. This spread calls for the selection of six runes, which are then set out in the form of the ‘Runic' or 'Celtic Cross’.

The format is such:


New Situation



3 2 1

Future Past You Now



In the ‘Runic Cross’ spread the first rune represents the ‘Past’ - that from which you are coming or what lies directly behind you.

The second rune represents ‘You Now’; where you stand in the world within the given situation, today.

The third rune, ‘Future’ stands for what lies ahead of you; what is coming to fruition in your life.

The fourth rune shows the ‘Foundation’ of the matter, involving both conscious and subconscious thoughts and emotions, which affect the forces involved.

The fifth rune, ‘Challenge’, shows the force, nature and source of the obstacles in your path.

The sixth and final rune indicates the ‘new situation’ that will evolve as you successfully meet your ‘Challenge.’

This is your outcome.

The ‘Runic Cross’ spread is most complex and requires a great degree of consideration and contemplation. This in turn, requires a lot of time on the caster's behalf. If, after a considerable amount of time, you are still unclear as to the rune’s instructions and solutions, draw a single rune and place it above the sixth position (New Situation).

This rune is the ‘Resolution’ rune and will help you to recognise the essence of the issue, then find resolution.

Many runecasters adopt their own methods and means when both casting and interpreting runes. As each human is individual, so too are their issues, emotions and comprehensions. Again, much like Tarot, the reader or caster becomes familiar with their own tools and uses them as a focal point, therefore sometimes leaving pinpoint accuracy up to the individual.


When reading or casting for others, intuition plays a major role. Not only are you required to know and understand the meanings of the runes, as well as their symbology and traditional interpretation, you are also required to use your intuition, and most importantly, trust it.

When you cast the runes for someone else, ask them to formulate their matter of concern clearly in their mind. Tell them not to state it out loud. This, (as with all forms of using the intuition) eliminates any unconscious personal bias in the interpretation.

On a conscious (and subconscious) level, if as the Runecaster, you know too much, if anything at all, about the person’s dilemma, you may form an opinion or judgement which could cloud your interpretation of the runes. This may not be your intention, but it is often the case. Not knowing any details prior to the reading gives both the reader and the inquirer the opportunity for validation during the reading, as relevant issues are revealed.

Once the reading has concluded, both the reader and inquirer have the opportunity to reflect on the rune’s messages and apply them to finding a solution or truth, whatever the case may be. The inquirer should be able to relate (either consciously or subconsciously) to the message of the runes.


An appropriate or ethical ‘issue’ to consult the runes about is: ‘anything that relates to timeliness and right action’. You may wish for advice on whether or not to make a career or work change, to travel to some far-off destination, or to terminate or initiate a relationship … the list goes on. Your ‘issue’ or situation is something that is taking place within your life at this time.

A ‘question’ is different from an ‘issue’. A question may be something like, ‘should I end this relationship?’ To state the matter as an ‘issue’ rather than a ‘question’, you would state, “The issue is my relationship.” Instead of asking “should I accept this new job?” it is preferable to say, ‘the issue is my job/work/career”.

This small distinction is crucial. If you ask the runes a ‘question’, and the runes provide an answer, then your personal role is a passive one. This does not give you the opportunity to use your talents as a decision-maker - the maker of your own destiny.

If you address an ‘issue’, the runes will comment upon the issue. This allows you to extract your own answer using interpretation and intuition to determine for yourself your best course of action, therefore, paving the path of your journey for yourself.

If you do not have a specific issue in mind, yet feel compelled to consult the runes, simply ask, “What do I need to know for my life right now?”

The rune’s reply will always be appropriate to an issue, instructive in its nature and forthright in its message.


Occasionally, you may find that the answer or counsel you receive does not seem to apply to the issue or situation you need assistance with. The message of the rune may seem totally unrelated to your life and your query.

When this happens, consider the possibility that the runes are addressing a more significant matter that you may be avoiding, or something of which you are not consciously aware. Sometimes we may feel that we need counsel on one issue that may in fact relate to another issue in the larger scheme of life.

Each action causes a reaction - therefore, one issue may need to be dealt with and learned from before you can proceed to the next lesson. You may have attempted to jump ahead a step or two in your life-journey and overlooked an important stepping stone.

Sometimes it is difficult to decipher where the web strands touch and how they affect our lives and everything in it. Often it is not until we sit in a place of hindsight, that we see where the pieces of the puzzle fit in the past, to bring us to this point, today. We can see then, the road we’ve travelled to bring us here, which sets us on a course for the future.

Another example may be if you find yourself caught between two separate issues and are unable to decide which is of the uppermost importance. The runes – your own ‘inner knowing’ – will select the issue of most concern for you at this time.

This ‘runic override’ will tell you what you need to know, rather than what you want to know.


RUNES – The Elderfuthark

The Elderfurthark Runes

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