Runes are ancient alphabetical signs that come to us from Viking times. Each of these signs is a symbol that represents a concept. These twenty four symbols were commonly carved into stone. Unlike our A,B,C's, rune symbols are not just put together to form words and sounds. Each rune symbolizes a different idea, usually related to nature or everyday life in ancient times. For example, one rune symbol looks like the horns of cattle and represents wealth, because in ancient times if you owned a herd, you were wealthy.
There are versions of the runes from different ancient cultures, including the Anglo-Saxon, Northumbrian, The Younger Futhark and The Elder Futhark. The Elder Futhark, the most widely studied and commonly used runes, date back to the Vikings.
In Viking times, runes were used as the voice of an Oracle, providing insight into the present and future. When you get a rune stone reading, your reading will be based on traditional symbols, using modern interpretation.
Rune stones can be purchased at wiccan/pagan shops, or online. A good starter set is available with a guidebook written by Ralph Blum, considered the modern authority on runes. Runes can be made of stone, clay or wood or in mass produced sets, resin (which looks like stone). An Elder Futhark rune set usually contains twenty four pieces, each with an engraved symbol, and a modern addition, the blank rune.
A rune reading is very different from fortune telling. The purpose of the runes is to guide you to connect with your subconscious. When consulting the rune stones, instead of asking a question, you present a situation. Rather than asking "Should I marry a certain person?" you say "I ask for guidance about my relationship with this person." Presenting situations, rather than questions provides insights to find your own answers.
To do a simple three rune reading on your own, place all the stones into a bag or other container. Present your situation, either aloud or in your mind. Then, reach into the container without looking at the contents. Remove and lay out three stones, one at a time. The first rune refers to an overview of the situation, the middle rune is your challenge, and the third rune is your action. To get further guidance, this process can be repeated.
Rune stones can be used with a variety of spreads. One layout based on the Celtic Cross provides guidance about all aspects of your life, covering your emotions, thoughts, lessons, challenges, environmental influences and spiritual path. Another layout uses the Runic Wheel, reflecting the eightfold division of space. A nine grid layout reflects the present, past influences and the outcome. For daily guidance or clarity on a single issue, you can draw just one rune. In ancient times, runes were sometimes cast onto a cloth, either from a container or by hand, and allowed to form their own pattern that was interpreted by the reader.
There is no exact method to read and interpret the runes. Each rune stone reader has a chosen approach that suits individual style. Intuition is the key.