I’ll be talking about Runes and Rune Divination.
In my opinion, Runes are not Tarot Cards. That said, I do accept that any system of divination that works – works. You can make up systems from scratch. You can incorporate bits of different systems together, and they will work. There is an amazing story (sorry, I don’t remember the source) about a cliff face in Scandinavia where it looks like there’s a long strip of runes cut into the rock, and when I say long, I mean a half mile. Someone copied them and translated them from Old Norse which resulted in a lovely poem in an ancient style. Except that later, it turned out that the “runes” were just the natural, random fragmentation of the rock. I’d say this is sort of a “if a hundred monkeys bank on a hundred typewriters for enough years…” situation. Something in the soul of the transcriber saw poetry in the marks, and the poem was there, even though no one wrote it, and no one else had seen it. Divination sometimes works like that.
A rock that has an inclusion shaped like a Hagal that you trip over has been there for millions of years, maybe dozens of people have even tripped over it. But if YOU see it, and see the hagel, and it feels like that’s a message for you that day, there probably is. You might not trip on it tomorrow, or might not see the hagal even if you trip on it on another day. That’s how omens work. The runes are just the symbol set- the vocabulary your subconscious is using to talk to your consciousness. Another person might see kanji or an astrological symbol. We see what we need to see.
Even so, I don’t like reading runes as if they were tarot cards. I think the “Myrkrune” (reading any rune that’s “upside down” as the darker, or more negative aspects of the symbolism) as being borrowed straight from Tarot cards, and inappropriately. I love the Tarot. I think reading reversals is a great way for a more nuanced reading (if you want me to do a show on tarot reversals, let me know) but that’s tarot. The lesser arcana are symbols using numbers and elemental qualities, and the major arcana draw on assorted archetypal symbolism from Western Ceremonial Magic which has evolved over the past few centuries. But Runes don’t have reversals. They were written backwards, frontwards, upside down, and around the freaking dragon! It’s historically inappropriate, and besides which, there are other ways to get a nuanced reading!
I learned to read runes from Jane Sibley in the SCA (in the Soothsayer’s Guild), over 30 years ago, and her technique, learned from her Norwegian grandmother, uses Rune sticks. There are two ways of making rune sticks- one is to take a branch (I used pieces from our orchard about the size of my wrist) and split them with a knife & mallet. Jane uses twigs. I use the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc, Jane uses the Younger Futhark. Either way the runes are marked on each stick or “tine”. Use the symbol set that speaks to you. You can also make a quick starter set with simple popsicle sticks or coffee stirrers. I’m hoping Jane calls in, and we can talk about Runes and Divination, but I also plan to talk about the history of runes and how they were used for communication and magick more than divination. I or we’ll talk about Ralph Blum’s rune tiles and whatever else comes up.
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