How to do a Rune Reading — Part 1

After another unscheduled sabbatical from blogging, I’ve decided to launch a return with a series of posts that covers my own approach to performing a Rune reading. I should state up front that this is my own method — I find it to be useful and helpful in practice, but I don’t pretend that “My individual preferred way” is the same thing as “The Only Right Way.” Please take the following for what it is: one methodology employed by one practitioner. You should feel free to adopt anything in this series that resonates with you, and to cheerfully chuck the rest over the back fence…

One of two sets of wood Runes I own, this one carved from the great Yew tree.  Please also note the two texts -- the Prose Edda and the Poetic Edda -- which serve us today as Ye Olde Runic Gospel, more or less...
One of two sets of wood Runes I own, this one was carved from the great Yew tree. Please also note the two texts — the Prose Edda and the Poetic Edda — which serve us today as Ye Olde Runic Gospel, more or less…

So first: what are these “Runes” that I keep yammering on about…? They’re actually letters that form an ancient alphabet that we today refer to as “the Elder Futhark.” There were a few sequel Futharks that evolved later on, but the one featured herein is the earliest one, and the one that I personally favor. It consists of 24 separate letters, or “Runes,” each of which corresponds to a sound in the spoken language that the Runes represented, and each of which also bears a literal meaning, plus a range of associated meanings that can apply in the context of a reading.

A Rune reader will make use of the Runes in many of the same ways in which a Tarot reader makes use of Tarot cards: they’re all fantastic tools for divination, meditation, visualization exercises, introspection… The Runes are probably a bit less popular and less well-known overall than a few other divinatory systems, such as the aforementioned Tarot (and also disciplines like Astrology, Numerology, the I Ching, and Palmistry), but the Runes are still a hallowed and long-accepted comparable system. They date back to the Northern European, seafaring, Germanic tribespeople whom we today often lump together under the heading of “Vikings.” Some familiarity with Norse Mythology will help when learning to use the Runes, as that lore does more or less permeate the entire system.

Norse Mythology: here, the Thunder-God, Thor, engages in a bit of light-hearted fishing, but reels in more than he bargained for, in the form of Jormungand, the immense Midgard Serpent.
Norse Mythology: here, the Thunder-God, Thor, engages in a bit of light-hearted fishing, but reels in way more than he bargained for, in the form of Jormungand, the immense Midgard Serpent. “You’re gonna need a bigger boat…”

This series of articles will be focusing on the use of the Runes specifically in the context of performing a divinatory reading.  So again, let’s dispose quickly of an important definitional question here: what exactly does “divination” mean, as I’m using the term…??

Very simply, it means putting a thumbtack into the regular logical analysis of some issue or other, and instead using our intuitive mind to petition the Divine for answers that might not otherwise come through to us via those usual, everyday channels.  You can use whatever definition of “Divine” you like here, but I mean it as a synonym for anything along the lines of “the Universe” or “your Higher Self” or whatever the word “God” captures for you in the privacy of your own psyche and spirit.  You’re asking some power greater than yourself for help and counsel as you try to work through some matter that’s maybe confounding you a bit.  Some of the most popular areas of inquiry for virtually all forms of divination — Runes definitely included! — are romance, money matters, health, home, and spirituality…

To begin, you will obviously need a set of Runes.  As the above photo shows, I like wood Runes — to me, capturing Runes in wood dovetails beautifully with the fact that Norse Mythology posits a great World Tree called Yggdrasil that links the Nine Worlds together.  Furthermore, the Runes themselves were brought into existence by the preeminent Norse God, Odin, after he endured nine days and nine nights hanging wounded and suffering on that Tree in a self-imposed ritual of sacrifice.

Never one to shrink from self-sacrifice in the pursuit of wisdom, Odin stabs himself with his own magic spear, and then hangs himself on the World Tree for nine days and nights without food or water...and at the conclusion of this trial, the Runes appear on the ground beneath him, bringing written language and symbology into the cosmos...
Never one to shrink from self-sacrifice in the pursuit of wisdom, Odin stabs himself with his own magic spear, and then hangs himself on the World Tree for nine days and nights without food or water…and at the conclusion of this trial, the Runes appear on the ground beneath him, bringing written language and symbology into the cosmos…

It’s not necessary that you stick strictly to wood-based Runes, though!  You can find lovely Rune sets carved from all manner of materials: many different types of crystals are used for this purpose, not to mention things like bone, horn, seashell, and even acorn.  You should choose whichever medium most appeals to you personally!

Once you’ve gotten yourself a set of Runes to use, you’re ready to try a reading!  Next up, we’ll get into the actual nuts and bolts of carrying out that process…

Intrigued by the Runes?  Purchase a Rune reading with me here!

4 thoughts on “How to do a Rune Reading — Part 1

    1. Thanks for reading! Please do stick around for the entire series, too, as I feel optimistic there will be some great and helpful hints in the mix…and for anyone out there reading along, also check out Victoria’s site, Eternal Athena Tarot, of which I am an enthusiastic fan!

  1. vickietarot1212

    Any thoughts on wood runes versus crystal runes? My runes are made out of little smoky quartz pebbles, but I was thinking of purchasing a second set of wooden runes. WWOD (What Would Odin Do)??

    1. WWOD almost spells WOOD! Maybe that’s a sign in favor… But really, I’d say start up with the set you have, as using virtually any set will help just with learning the Rune-symbols. One thing to consider for longer-term, though, is that (at least in my own experience) wood Runes are usually a lot closer to being uniform in shape and size than the crystal ones tend to be. I always suspected that over time, someone could get familiar enough with some of the more distinctive pieces in a crystal Rune set that they’d become able to ID the Runes just by feel. Personally, I’d rather not know which piece I’m drawing (I don’t want to be tempted, even subconsciously, to let my own personal desires influence which Runes might come forth)…

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