Let's Talk About Runes

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27 Feb 2015 02:13 #182667 by steamboat28
Many people consider "norse" or "viking" runes to be divinatory devices, much like tarot cards. They think that runecasting (elder or younger, or sometimes even Cirth) is just another way to tell the future, or deeply examine yourself on a level that allows your subconscious to interact with your conscious. After all, many other divinatory aids are both "natural" and "supernatural" in their use--in addition to legitimate "mystical" uses, pendulums also change their swing based on subconscious muscle motions, tarot cards bring to mind things that you didn't realize you were thinking about once you hear their meaning or see their symbolism, and the I Ching forces you to examine the reading in terms of onesself. All of these things may be co-opted by magical forces or spirits or divinities (should, of course, you believe in those things), but they are also psychological self-examination tools, forcing the deepest recesses of our mind to turn its head and cough.

Runes, however, are not like this.

I was probably ten years into runic study when this point dawned on me, so I'm going to share it with all of you: runes are spirits all their own. Each rune, Fehu to Othala, represents an entire spectrum of ideas, concepts, and forces to the point that some might consider them gods, or at the very least animist representations of Norse ideals. Each rune has a Name, and Odin hanged to give us those Names. We invoke those Names through the Rune symbols themselves, which are spiritual representations of the rune-spirits. The Stones we make and cast are temples to these runic spirits, tying them to a form we can interact with on a physical level. Any time you apply Runes to a surface, you're invoking the power of these spirits on the object, and creating another shrine to these ideas. The modern invention of the "Wyrd" (which only exists in stone form, not in symbol) is an awakening of a touchstone to the non-traditional forces and the Wyrd itself, and bindrunes are literally the awakening of new spirits through the creation of Symbol-Runes and Names to house specific ideas. It is for this reason that bindrunes, once created, are never again referred to by the individual runes that compose them, and also why all runes (traditional or bindrunes) are traditionally sealed in blood and, where possible, the original is burned.

This is why runic magic is very iffy. You'll notice in many texts on the subject that rune magic is anything but precise, calculated, mathematical, methodical, or hermetic. It tends to be rather whimsical. That's because when you craft a rune (the symbol) into an object, you can request a purpose but ultimately you're inviting the Runespirit in to do what it does in the way it feels is best. This is why I recommend caution when tinkering with Runes, because this view of them is one that has been evidenced in my nearly twenty years of working with them, but is very uncommon. I have had to "fix" peoples' runes before (once I "learned" this concept) because they were being a bit cavalier with them, and the Runespirits were doing whatever the hell they wanted rather than what someone asked of them (because they weren't asked properly.)

I do highly recommend runes as a mystical connection, but to see them solely as a divinatory device is risking angering twenty-four of the most powerful spirits commonly invoked accidentally in the modern era, and having all your projects turn out a little wonky.

I'm open to questions, comments, concerns, and other things that being with that /k/ sound.
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27 Feb 2015 05:06 #182680 by Jamie Stick
Replied by Jamie Stick on topic Let's Talk About Runes
D'aww, you honor me by doing this, but I have a follow-up question: How can we know what the runes are associated with? This just may be my inexperience with divination and magickal arts, but like there isn't necessarily a correct association except by what the individual experiences. We have no written record of who or what is working on the other side.

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27 Feb 2015 05:18 #182681 by steamboat28
Replied by steamboat28 on topic Let's Talk About Runes
It has been my personal experience that the Runes seem to be their own thing, all independent (except maybe from the nornir, since even the gods bow to them). I feel like they're kind of free-roaming spirits that came about either alongside the thought patterns that they represent, or once humans started codifying them. I think these are kind of primal, unaffiliated things. That's been my personal experience.

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27 Feb 2015 15:38 #182701 by Kit
Replied by Kit on topic Let's Talk About Runes
Runes have always caught my attention but since I had been using Tarot for so long I never looked more into them. I always figured they were just a mystical alphabet that could be used for divination but after reading this I'm even more interested in learning them and about them.

Are they the kind of spirits you can shelve for a while and come back to or do they require regular attention to keep happy? Is it better to make your own set with your own intent or buy them? Is each individual physical rune a spirit itself or are they kind of like a phone call back to a single spirit each symbol represents?
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05 Mar 2015 04:59 - 05 Mar 2015 05:00 #183154 by OB1Shinobi
Replied by OB1Shinobi on topic Let's Talk About Runes
i have zero experience with runes specifically
i always assumed, as you talked about, that they were similar to the tarot

now im very curious

is there any particular online source youd recomend for someone starting from square one?

thanks in advance for your help :-)

People are complicated.
Last edit: 05 Mar 2015 05:00 by OB1Shinobi.
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05 Mar 2015 05:06 - 05 Mar 2015 05:13 #183157 by RyuJin
Replied by RyuJin on topic Let's Talk About Runes
i actually have a book on reading runes...in high school i used to be able to read and write with runes...

and yes it is better to make your own runes...some people will anoint their runes with their own blood during the process of making them...this forms a stronger bond with the runes...if anyone is interested in the book let me know, it's in pdf form...

i've always viewed all divination items as having a "spirit" of their own...runes, tarot, i-ching trigrams...of course i also view my swords as having their own unique "spirit"...bonding with the spirit increases the effectiveness of the item...

Warning: Spoiler! [ Click to expand ]


Out of darkness, he brings light. Out of hatred, love. Out of dishonor, honor-james allen-
He who has conquered doubt and fear has conquered failure-james allen-
The sword is the key to heaven and hell-Mahomet-
The best won victory is that obtained without shedding blood-Count Katsu-
All men's souls are immortal, only the souls of the righteous are immortal and divine -Socrates-
I'm the best at what I do, what I do ain't pretty-wolverine

J.L.Lawson,Sr Knight, B.div, Eastern Studies S.I.G. Advisor (Formerly Known as the Buddhist Rite)
Former Masters: GM Kana Seiko Haruki , Br.John
Current Apprentices: Baru
Former Apprentices:Adhara(knight), Zenchi (knight)
Last edit: 05 Mar 2015 05:13 by RyuJin.
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05 Mar 2015 07:10 - 05 Mar 2015 07:12 #183162 by steamboat28
Replied by steamboat28 on topic Let's Talk About Runes

Kamizu wrote: Are they the kind of spirits you can shelve for a while and come back to or do they require regular attention to keep happy? Is it better to make your own set with your own intent or buy them? Is each individual physical rune a spirit itself or are they kind of like a phone call back to a single spirit each symbol represents?


In my personal experience (which is all I can speak for, and isn't as complete as I'd like), they don't get mischievous on their own usually. They tend to only try your patience when you're using them. Otherwise, they've tended to treat me very much like a boomerang student. They seem to think that if I were more dedicated I could learn more, but they always pick up the phone when I call, even after long absences. This isn't to imply I've perceived them in an anthropomorphic fashion (because they really do just seem like ideals), but it gets the feeling across, I think.

As far as acquiring some, just like every other magickal or wyrd endeavor, it's always best to make your own. If this is your intention, there are scads of ways to do it easily, from the super simple (buying blank scrabble tiles and using a sharpie) to the more complex (I'm currently procrastinating on a set made from the wood of an elder tree felled by my own hand and carried a quarter mile on my bare back, which will be hand-carved and charged with blood, wine, water, and iron oxide paint, if I ever get off my arse.) This is because it allows you the ultimate control over what handles and influences your set from start to finish. It's worth noting at this juncture that what we call "runestones" today aren't exactly what the word typically means; a runestone proper is a standing stone carved in runes for any purpose, and historically the divining "stones" weren't made of stone at all, but wood, clay, or bone. That said, it's still a pretty kickass name, so that's what I wind up calling them.

However, if you're just starting out, I'd suggest either something like this kit or one of the other inexpensive sets that appeal to your aesthetic. The kit is one I bought in a local Books-A-Million (or did we get them before Borders closed?). The book is...unhelpful (or inaccurate, depending on how honest we're being) but has some interesting insights in the second half even if it teaches you the runes in the wrong order. The runes themselves are clay and feel odd, but I cleansed and sealed them for use as a "teaching" set I can loan out. Which reminds me, I need to remember where I put them...

OB1Shinobi wrote: is there any particular online source youd recomend for someone starting from square one?


If I were you, and I wanted to start from scratch, I'd check three places:
  1. The opinions of pagans or runesmiths/casters you trust (specifically, I would suggest asking the fine folks here at TOTJO who dabble or study these things, since they're handy and generally a great bunch of people)
  2. Runes, Alphabet of Mystery , a website that's been around for-effing-ever, and was my primary source of really good information that didn't come from musty old textbooks
  3. Rune Secrets (and the Rune Secrets community ), where you'll be able to check out specific meanings for specific runes in the traditional manner. Also, if you join the community, drop me a PM here--I lurk around there sometimes.

Between those three sources, you should be able to find a lot of other really great sources to begin your personal runic journeys. And anytime I can be a help, do let me know.
Last edit: 05 Mar 2015 07:12 by steamboat28.
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05 Mar 2015 15:44 #183182 by RyuJin
Replied by RyuJin on topic Let's Talk About Runes

steamboat28 wrote:
As far as acquiring some, just like every other magickal or wyrd endeavor, it's always best to make your own. If this is your intention, there are scads of ways to do it easily, from the super simple (buying blank scrabble tiles and using a sharpie) to the more complex (I'm currently procrastinating on a set made from the wood of an elder tree felled by my own hand and carried a quarter mile on my bare back, which will be hand-carved and charged with blood, wine, water, and iron oxide paint


that is the exact method recommended by the book i have...it includes the "scrabble tile" method as well and a few other methods...

Warning: Spoiler! [ Click to expand ]


Out of darkness, he brings light. Out of hatred, love. Out of dishonor, honor-james allen-
He who has conquered doubt and fear has conquered failure-james allen-
The sword is the key to heaven and hell-Mahomet-
The best won victory is that obtained without shedding blood-Count Katsu-
All men's souls are immortal, only the souls of the righteous are immortal and divine -Socrates-
I'm the best at what I do, what I do ain't pretty-wolverine

J.L.Lawson,Sr Knight, B.div, Eastern Studies S.I.G. Advisor (Formerly Known as the Buddhist Rite)
Former Masters: GM Kana Seiko Haruki , Br.John
Current Apprentices: Baru
Former Apprentices:Adhara(knight), Zenchi (knight)
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05 Mar 2015 16:56 #183188 by Kit
Replied by Kit on topic Let's Talk About Runes
I was thinking of making a set from slices of antler of some kind, carving them in and maybe painting. Although I do like the pretty stones ones I think I like the idea of the antlers better. I have a friend of mine who makes dog chews from naturally shed antlers. She can slice some up for me :D I just have to decide what kind of antler I want to use hmm...

I was worried about getting into them and getting distracted for a time lol. My Tarot deck doesn't like it much. They always give me attitude when I start using them after a long absence. :blush:
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21 Mar 2015 19:30 #185017 by steamboat28
Replied by steamboat28 on topic Let's Talk About Runes

Kamizu wrote: I was thinking of making a set from slices of antler of some kind, carving them in and maybe painting. Although I do like the pretty stones ones I think I like the idea of the antlers better. I have a friend of mine who makes dog chews from naturally shed antlers. She can slice some up for me :D I just have to decide what kind of antler I want to use hmm...


The only problem I have with gemstone sets is that they aren't uniform. If you really, really want a "pure" reading, you want something that is shaped the same throughout the set, and without spending a ton of money, you can't guarantee that with pretty stones. Eventually, you might learn that Berkana is a little more oblong than Wunjo, and it'll start influencing you when you draw them from the bag.

If that's not a concern for you, then the gem sets are arguably the prettiest. I vastly prefer any natural material, but that's something that's constant in all my spiritual "toys." I only have a handful of magickal tools that aren't purely, 100% all-natural. And, again, that's preference (since I find it easier to imbue with my own energy to make them "mine"), so you can also make a set out of Legos, if you wanted, I guess.
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