Edging Up to the Runes

I’ve decided to take on the challenge of familiarizing myself with the Nordic runes to the point that I can successfully divine with them, at least in a non-professional way.  I bought Lisa Chamberlain’s introductory book on the subject and have elected to pursue the more traditional approach of Edred Thorsson and Nigel Pennick and not the eclectic and inclusive style of Ralph Blum. Chamberlain’s brief explanations of the divinatory use of the runes aligns well with the way I read the tarot, so I don’t anticipate any major hurdles in adapting to them. I’ve been aware of the runes since the ’70s but the literature available at the time seemed to come down on the light side of persuasive, so I chose not to “bite.” That seems to have changed for the better now.

I have yet to buy a set of runes, but I don’t think I’ll be making my own either. The rune sets carved on semi-precious stones don’t seem to be well-regarded, so I’m thinking of going for a wooden set. However, it seems that many of the runes have reversed meanings, and I can’t see how a round disk cut from a branch and carved can lend itself successfully to deciding whether a symbol is upright or reversed the way a rectangular presentation can. What should we do if it winds up oriented 90 degrees out from either the upright or reversed position? Chamberlain is silent on that possibility.

The process of drawing three runes from a pouch appeals to me since it differs very little from the way I pull stones for geomancy.  I also take to heart Chamberlain’s caution that the runes may be best read for oneself rather than for paying clients, since the results can be intensely personal. I don’t mind having a private oracle at my disposal. The symbols appeal strongly to the graphic artist in me and I’m looking forward to getting to know them. More to come when I get my own set and begin working with it.

11 thoughts on “Edging Up to the Runes

  1. Perhaps round-shaped runes that could be drawn in any orientation would lend themselves to providing a wider degree of meaning rather than the polar-opposite of reversed; the orientation could refer to a degree of certainty.

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    • Perhaps, but it literally becomes a question of “degree;” where on the dial does one interpretation segue into another? I certainly don’t see reversal in tarot as absolute, and I almost always use it in my readings. It’s not presented that way with the runes either, but the “trigger” does seem to be rather narrowly defined.

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  2. I’ll have to look into Lisa Chamberlkain’s book, I’m not familiar with that one.

    The website I offered the link to is a mixed bag; I don’t necessarily know that I agree with everything to be found there, so I’m not offering a blanket endorsement. But the information on aspects is derived directly from Edred Thorsson, whom you mentioned as one of your sources, so I thought you might find it of interest.

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    • Yes, thanks. I don’t have Thorsson’s book (or books yet) but he comes recommended as a traditionalist, and that’s something I can relate strongly to. Right now I intend to draw the runes instead of casting them, so the angularity won’t be a consideration. I haven’t decided yet whether to disregard runes that appear face-down in the draw. If I’m only drawing three runes, ignoring two that are face-down would kind of moot the reading.

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  3. Hmmm…I haven.t been here in awhile. I just noticed I have 2 accounts here. I must have signed up long ago and forgotten the other account and then stumbled back into it by accident in my original comment.

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  4. I don’t know whether you scrolled down all the way, but the third example of working out the aspects is the one suitable for drawing versus casting. It’s an aspectarian, a chart for identifying which runes naturally harmonize or clash with others. It’s what I use most often, since I also almost always draw rather than cast. I’ve found it easily usable and quite helpful.

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    • I went a couple of pages in but will have to go back when I have more time. I tend to latch onto concise reference material, so I’ll be sure to do that when I get my rune set. (By the way, none of the links to the various rune sellers on the web page seem to work.)

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  5. I think the website itself is rather old and likely isn’t being actively updated any more, so I’m not too surprised if the links it offers no longer work. Still, there is a fair amount of useful information to be had there if you’re willing to separate the wheat from the chaff.

    Good luck with your research! I’ll be looking forward to seeing any of your findings which you may decide to offer here.

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