Anyone who has a familiarity with Tolkien’s work will immediately recognize runic, as this was what he based the dwarven alphabet off of. Anyone who has encountered anything connected with Germanic paganism is going to recognize runes because they are very prevalent. (Which makes sense because this was the alphabet used by these people, with regional variations. Many of which were lost during the era of Christian conversion, sadly, when the written records were destroyed.) A little bit of digging, even the student of the English language is going to find runes. Indeed, they are still present in the English language after going through some transformations over the millennia.
The runes are more than just a system of letters. Or should I say, they are a system of letters that harkens back to the eras before literacy was common and letters carried a sense of magical weight behind them in addition to the common understandings. Some of this is remembered in things like individual runes being associated with specific deities (such as Kenaz/Cen being associated with Loki and Ing being associated with Freyr). The runes have a stronger attachment to magic than their descendant alphabets. Some would say that it is because they are ‘pure’ iconography from the ancient era. Others would argue that it is because they don’t have the modern indifference attached to them as is with the letters of the English alphabet, for example.
It is my opinion that these arguments are helpful but they do not fully encompass the depth of the strength of runes as a magical system. In the next few divination articles, I am going to do my best to detail the history of runes as a magical system and a method of divination. I am also going to give a simple guide to how to use them. I will not discuss bind runes in great detail here, because this is a very specialized form of rune magic that really should be covered on its own. I will also try to present some information on how different regions used runes historically and the influence they had on modern language. This is a very big topic, so please forgive me if I gloss over some details, but my focus is going to show how runes are still very present in modern day languages even though their appearance has changed.
It is my hope that this series of nine posts help make runes a little less intimidating and provide a good starting point to grow as a person who performs divination. It may happen that the techniques of divination that I present are different from how others do this. There is a very good reason for this. My approach to reading the runes is intuitive and based in what I have learned over the years in rather undirected study. I will do my best to present information on how others perform divination using runes, but I apologize in advance for any errors that are in my work. I invite any who are experienced in this specialized system of divination to please contact me when you see any errors in my posts so that I can correct the material accordingly.
Originally Published: 3/27/17