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What are Runes?

Runes are tools used for divination and opening up psychic awareness. They are a set of 24 tiles or stones that contain primitive carvings of characters or letters.

Like the Tarot or I-Ching, you can use Runes to gain messages and spiritual insight. Although not as well- known as some divinatory methods, using Runes can provide you another alternative for conversing with your Higher Self and the Universe.

The Runes actually come from letters of early Germanic alphabets. Many Northern European countries used these runic alphabets in the early centuries AD until the Latin alphabet was adopted. The origin of the word rune is believed to come from an old European word “ru” meaning secret as well as the Old Germanic word “runa” meaning whisper.

Like the Tarot or I-Ching, you can use Runes to gain messages and spiritual insight.

There were several versions of the runic alphabet with variations among different areas including Norway, Sweden, Denmark and the Anglo-Saxon areas of the British Isles. The rune symbols used for present day divination purposes were derived from the Elder Futhark runic alphabet used between 150 and 800 AD. The name Futhark came from the beginning letters of their alphabet: F, U, Th, A, R, K. It's similar to our referencing the English alphabet as the A, B, C's.

A modern rune set includes the 24 letters of the Futhark and one blank tile. The blank tile is known as the Wryd or Odin. This is in tribute to the ancient Norse God Odin who is credited with gifting the alphabet and its wisdom to his people.

Runes were originally used for writing among the ancient Northern Europeans. Even today their remnants can be seen as inscriptions on large stone markers throughout Sweden and other parts of Scandinavia.

While known today for divination, there is little evidence that the Runes were used for magical purposes during the early centuries AD. There is reference to their power in old folk tales and poems about the mystical God Odin, but not much more. In terms of divination instructions from these early times, evidence is yet to found. Today however, the New Age community treasures the Runes as a form of divination.

Reading the Runes - Much like the Tarot, Runes are placed in a spread or pattern of several tiles, and then read. Each symbol has a particular meaning and is interpreted as part of the spread. Inverted symbols also have reverse meanings much like Tarot cards.

Some popular spreads include the Single Rune, The Norns (past, present, future), the Diamond, the Cross, the Circle and the Well of Wyrd. Each spread focuses on a different type of reading or insight.

The Single Rune reading helps to answer a simple question. The Norns refer to three sisters in Norse mythology that decided mankind's fate. This reading focuses on past, present and future. The Diamond reading refers to the shape of the spread and is good for gaining insight into immediate outcomes.

The Cross spread is also named for its shape and is more of a life path reading. The Circle reading tells about romantic energies between two people. Finally, the Well of Wyrd comes from Norse mythology. The Tree of Life receives its water from this well and it was said that Odin discovered the Runes here. This reading is quite complex giving insight into many questions and possible fates.

The Symbols - The 24 symbols each have a particular meaning and interpretation. Most Rune sets come with a booklet containing descriptions of each character. There are also Rune books available that give detailed meanings and interpretations. Here are sample descriptions of the first letters or symbols of the Elder Futhark:

F - Fehu, which means wealth, abundance and success.
U - Uruz, meaning power and strength.
Th - Thurizas, which means force, defense, potential conflict.
A - Ansuz, meaning magic, creative energy and wisdom.
R - Raidho, which refers to a journey.
K - Kenaz, symbolizing illumination, transformative energy.

The Runes are just one more form of divination to help you on your life's journey. You may find that you resonate with this method. Try getting a Rune reading or buying your own set.