Runic alphabets were first developed by the Germanic people. They used runes the way we use letters to form words. However, the runes held much more symbolism than our letters. Each rune was a symbol of some principle or power. When a rune was written, the force behind it was summoned. Runes were traditionally carved onto stone, wood, bone, metal, or some similarly hard surface.
Runes were symbols of faith. Icelandic, Scandinavian, Anglo-Saxon, and Germanic people used runes in their everyday lives. A single rune etched on a stone marked a sacred place, a grave, or a place where a significant event took place. Weapons, jewelry, buildings, and wooden objects had runes engraved on them to convey power or to identify the craftsman. During the Middle Ages, runes became a simple alphabet. Shamans and lay people alike used bones, pebbles, and even sticks marked with runes as tools of divination.
The Elder Futhark (also called Elder Fuþark, Older Futhark, Old Futhark, or Germanic Futhark) is the oldest form of the runic alphabet. Futhark, the name for the runic alphabet, was made by combining the first letter of the first six runes (Fehu, Uruz, Thurisaz, Ansuz, Raidho, Kaunan). Each rune had a name that hints at the philosophical and spiritual significance of its visual form and the sound for which it stands, which was almost always the first sound of the rune’s name.
Performing a Runecasting
Today - along with cowrie shells, tarot cards, and crystal balls - runes are used for divination. The Viking Runes consist of twenty-four stones, plus a blank stone. Runes may be consulted for any question. Runecasting works by calling upon ones subconscious. The pouch that holds each rune is symbolic of the universe as a whole. A question is asked of the runes, and one's complete and total energy is meant to focus on that question. The runes that are pulled from the bag are believed to be chosen by the person's subconscious.
Runes are most powerful when cast facing the sun or on an east-to-west axis. Lay a white handkerchief on your altar. Focus on the question in mind and draw a stone out of a bag or pouch. Once the stones have been dropped on the cloth, read the ones that have fallen right side up. The direction in which the rune falls is significant and affects the reading. Look at the symbol. Is the symbol right side up or reversed?
A situation spread will to determine a course of action. The easiest way to do this is to draw one stone at a time and write down on a piece of paper which stone (and if it is right side up or reversed). The stones are placed horizontally 3, 2, and 1. Stone 1 is the overview of the problem, stone 2 is the challenge, and stone 3 is the action one must take.
A more in-depth consultation for a problem can be done using five runes placed vertically starting from the top and working down, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. The 1 stone represents the overview, the 2 stone represents the challenge, the 3 stone is for the action to be taken, the 4 stone is the sacrifice to be made, and the 5 stone is the new situation.
If you are seeking answers about your past or future lives, then try a three-times spread. Put a 2 stone in the center representing the present. Directing on top (north) place the 5 stone representing the future life, on the left of the center (west) place the 3 stone representing the future in this life, on the right (east) representing birth & childhood put the 1 stone, and finally below the center (south) put the 4 stone representing the past incarnation.
The Elder Futhark consists of 24 runes divided into three groups of eight, known as an ætt (singular of ættir), which are said to be ruled over by both a god and goddess. The first ætt is ruled over by Frey and Freyja, the deities of fertility. The second ætt is ruled over by Heimdall and Mordgud, and the third and final ætt is ruled over by Tîwaz and Zisa. Below is a list of the runes and a description of their meaning.
FEHU - F: Cattle. Prosperity through effort, self-love, material gain, and improved income. Happiness, wealth, and success. Reversed: Disappointment, loss, and frustration.
URUZ - U: Brute Strength. Strength, love all around you, health, change for the better, a forceful masculine influence. Reversed: Lack of willpower and motivation.
THURISAZ - TH: The seeing of the future. Door opening and divination. Introspection and truth-telling. Reversed: Stubbornness and disregard for information being presented to you.
ANSUZ - A: A reference to Odin, the ancestral God. Tuning in to the messages from within, advice from others, a chance encounter. Reversed: Deceit by those you trust.
RAIDHO - R: Journey. A spiritual or physical journey is heading your way. Reversed: Disruption in travel plans. Lack of communication.
KENAZ - K: Beacon or torch. A beacon of light during the darkest of times. Reversed: Depression, anxiety, loss of someone close to you.
GEBO - G: Gift of Harmonic Relationships. A connection with our deepest self. Cannot be reversed.
WUNJO - W or V: Bliss and Glory. Independence and self-worth. Prosperity, joy, and serenity. Reversed: Disappointment, enmeshment, and dependence.
HAGALAZ - H: Destructive Forces. Nature at its worst. Destruction and damage. Cannot be reversed.
NAUTHIZ - N: The Negatives of Human Needs. Personal restraint or constraint. Looking at the parts of yourself that you do not like. Personal reflection. Reversed: Impulsive or improper decisions.
ISA - I: Ice. Stagnation. A search for inner truth and a release of ego. Cannot be reversed.
JERA - J or Y: The Cycle of One Year. Unexpected gain during a time of perceived bad luck. The reality is that things happen for a reason and at the time when they are meant to. Cannot be reversed.
EIHWAZ - EI: Yew Tree. Patience and endurance. Making the right decisions at the right time. Cannot be reversed.
PERTHRO - P: Initiation, Things Unexplained, Something Hidden. Hidden information and unexpected truths. Unconscious mysteries are revealed. Reversed: A push to action to clear negative energies.
ALGIZ: Z. Protection from your spirit guide. Cannot be reversed.
SOWILO - S: The Sun. Self-awareness and knowledge. Complete recognition of your positive and negative attributes. Cannot be reversed.
TEIWAZ - T: Tyr, the sky god. To be successful on the path to finding spiritual and transcendental peace. Reversed: Lack of enthusiasm and depression.
BERKANA - B: Birch-goddess. An awareness of all factors related to a big decision. A connection to home and family. Reversed: Unrest at home.
EHWAZ - E: The Sacred Horse. Stability and balance with the universe. Proceed with caution. Reversed: Unwanted and unexpected personal change.
MANNAZ - M: The nature of humanity. The collective conscience of humanity. The way you treat others and the way they treat you. Cannot be reversed.
LAGUZ - L: Water - Emotions. The moon and all bodies of water. Spirituality, feminine energy, healing, and cleansing. Reversed: Ignoring your inner voice. Making bad choices.
INGWAZ - NG: Fertility. The connection of humans with each other to create new life. The start of something new. Cannot be reversed.
DAGAZ - D: Daylight or Dawn. The dawning of a new day. Insight and creativity. Cannot be reversed.
OTHALA - O: Ancestral property - Inheritance. The freedom that comes from releasing ideas that have been handcuffing you. Inheritance. Reversed: Holding on to misguided ideas or outdated beliefs.
BLANK RUNE: Sometimes called "Odin's Rune". The knowledge that anything is possible. The sum total of who you are, what you have done, and what you have become. The blank Rune was added to the others in the 1980s. It shows that as humanity has evolved, the possibilities exceed what was believed in the original Runes.
When doing a runic reading, one usually addresses a particular issue and examines the past, the present, and the future. The runic reading is an evaluation process, not as fortunetelling. It provides us with an opportunity to look at what has occurred in the past (regarding the issue being questioned), what is occurring right now, and what direction one is headed. A complete Bone Rune Set is available for purchase right here on our website.