Holistic Runes are so much more than an ancient alphabet. Today, we are looking at transformative ways of working with the Elder Futhark runes. Other than using the runes as an alphabet, we know very little about how our ancestors worked with them. ETA 12 August 2023: So the best way to fill in the gaps is to channel information through which is a work I am beginning in the week ahead. The updated runes, with the additional channelled information, will have an asterisk after their name.
You can find the first channelled text HERE. It is an introduction to working with Hyperborean runes.
The runes we commonly use for divination today are the first known version of the Norse alphabet known as the Elder Futhark. There are 24 runes in total. The name futhark is derived from the first six runes (F, U, Th, A, R and C/K). There is also a Younger Futhark with only 16 runes. The Younger Futhark was in use around the time Christianity reached Scandinavia. Hence, there are many Younger Futhark rune stones with Christian prayers, all over Scandinavia.
Elder Futhark Rune Index
Fehu* – Abundance, New Beginnings, Money
Uruz* – Strength, Endurance, Vitality
Thurisaz* – Warning, Breakthrough, Curses
Ansuz* – Intelligence, Communication, Breath
Raidho* – Journey, Progression, Rhythm
Kenaz* – Clarity, Inspiration, Creativity
Gebo* – Gift, Partnership, Exchange
Wunjo* – Joy, Success, Harmony
Hagalaz* – Crisis, Purification, Letting Go
Nauthiz* – Necessity, Scarcity, Restriction
Isa* – Stillness, Immobility, Going Within
Jera* – Harvest, Karma, Cycles
Eihwaz* – Transformation, Initiation, Kundalini Awakening
Perthro – Seership, Wyrd, Mysteries
Algiz – Protection, Higher Self, Cosmic Intelligence
Sowilo – Confidence, Positivity, Good Health
Tiwaz – Self-sacrifice, Loyalty, Male Fertility
Berkano – Female Fertility, Birth, Regeneration
Ehwaz – Trust, Partnership, Marriage
Mannaz – Culture, Society, Connection
Laguz – Imagination, Fluidity, Cleansing
Inguz – Fertility, Sacrifice, Creation
Dagaz – Awakening, Hope, Fulfilment
Othala – Ancestry, Inheritance, Nobility
The Mystery of the Runes
The word ‘rune’ means mystery, secret, or whisper. Runes have straight lines and no curves. This is because they were carved into various materials such as wood, bone and stone. The first mention of what could have possibly been divination with runes was by the Roman historian Tacitus:
“For divination and the casting of lots they have the highest regard. Their procedure in casting lots is always the same. They cut off a branch of a nut-bearing tree and slice it into strips; these they mark with different signs and throw them completely at random onto a white cloth. Then the priest of the state, if the consultation is a public one, or the father of the family if it is private, offers a prayer to the gods, and looking up at the sky picks up three strips, one at a time, and reads their meaning from the signs previously scored on them. If the lots forbid an enterprise, there is no deliberation that day on the matter in question; if they allow it, confirmation by the taking of auspices is required.“
The markings on these wood strips could have been runes but they could have also been other magical symbols – we simply don’t know. We do know that our ancestors used the runes for spellcasting. But we know very little about how they actually did this. Most of the modern books about both magic and divination with runes are pure guesswork. Sadly, some of these books also seek to appeal to white supremacists. Other books in the genre attempt to resurrect Asatru, the old faith of my Scandinavian ancestors.
How Odin Gained the Runes
According to Norse lore, Odin gained the runes after he sacrificed one eye, pierced his side and hung himself upside down on one of the branches of the Cosmic Tree, Yggdrasil for nine days and nine nights. By the end of this shamanic initiation, he reached into the Well of Urd from which the Tree springs forth and retrieved the runes which he brought back to humanity.
Working Holistically with the Runes
There are some really interesting myths and stories about Odin, the Norns who guard the Well of Urd, Yggdrasil and the whole cosmology of my Viking ancestors. However, my aim in working with the runes is actually more to tune into the essence of each rune from a holistic point of view, rather than to tie them to a misty (rather murky) past which has mostly been lost to us (for a reason) – especially when it comes to magical and divinatory practices
There can be no doubt that runes are powerful and divine in origin and there can be no doubt that they have also been misused – We need to look no further back in history than to Nazi Germany for evidence of this. However, if we truly believe that the runes are part of our shamanic past and collective consciousness, we will be able to retrieve them, liberate them from limiting tribal beliefs and make them work for us from a holistic point of view. This is the aim of this series of lessons I will be posting about Holistic Runes.
I will describe each rune with traditional meanings and then I will use my own intuitive ability to tune into chakra, Tarot and other correspondences for both healing and divinatory purposes. As always, keep that which resonates and simply let go of the rest. I also encourage you to do your own rune experiments and find alternative correspondences.
Using the Runes for Divination
When we use the runes for divination, we take the same approach as with other divinatory tools and steer away from fortune-telling as much as possible. The future is not set in stone. The runes suggest rather than compel, just like the stars and the Tarot cards. Always consider free will and make your rune readings as empowering as possible, whether reading for yourself or for someone else.
I like to think of the runes showing us the current climate, as well as the balance of energy within the Seeker. A rune reading takes in outer and inner influences and then suggests the best way forward. You can make predictions, of course. This is no different to predicting a change in the weather based on current systems at work. But we should ‘divine short and spell long’ as the saying goes. We must never lock ourselves or seekers we read for in with fatalistic statements about the future.
You can use the runes in many different ways. For example, it can be useful to consult the runes when you’re in a situation where you have limited information, or can only see an incomplete picture.
How to Choose Your Runes
Many runologists make their own runes from fallen branches or pebbles they find on a beach. The process of making the runes is sacred and helps you integrate the energy of each rune. However, many prefer to buy a set at the start of their learning journey. I recommend using runes made from natural materials (wood or stone) as they tend to have a more organic and communicative energy about them. Personally, I love to work with self-cleansing amethyst runes which double up as all-purpose healing runes. Just holding them makes me happy – a good sign they are right for me. Trust your intuition!
How to Ask a Question of the Runes
You can as the runes any sort of questions but try to avoid psychic spying which has karma attached to it. Focus on yourself and what you need for clarity in order to move forward in life. Questions that begin with ‘How can I…?’ or ‘What do I need to know about…?’ are better from a holistic point of view than questions that begin with ‘Will I…?’ You can absolutely ask yes/no questions of the runes and for this purpose, I find that a three-rune draw will pretty quickly tell you if what you have in mind is a good idea or not.
I’m not a great fan of the traditional spreads that many people use, such as the past-present-future. You may wish to experiment with different spreads you find online. See what works for you. But in my opinion, pulling 1-3 runes from the pouch is all that is needed to answer most questions succinctly.
Storing and Casting Your Runes
I recommend storing your runes in a drawstring pouch, big enough to get your hand in it for the draw. This keeps your runes together and protects them from dirt/unwanted energies. It also makes it easy to ‘shuffle’ the runes by gently shaking the pouch.
For casting or laying your runes out, I recommend using a special cloth – or the one you normally use for card readings. The main purpose of using a cloth is to protect the runes and keep the clean. However, you may also find that a particular colour (such as black, white, purple or indigo) enhances your ability to read the runes intuitively.
Some people prefer to cast all the runes and read only the central, upturned runes. Again, experiment to see what works best for you. The pattern the runes form can be a reading in its own right.
Be patient with your ability to read the runes. Give yourself plenty of time to study and meditate with them before you begin casting them. You will improve with time and you will master the runes completely when you can feel their energy in your body. You will probably find that as you dive deeper into your rune studies, you will start seeing rune shapes everywhere.
The Blank Rune
The blank rune is a symbol that is sometimes included in modern runic sets, although it is not part of the original 24 runes of the Elder Futhark. Its inclusion and interpretation vary among runic practitioners.
The blank rune is often depicted as a completely blank, white stone or tile. Some runic practitioners choose to include it because they believe it represents the unknown, Wyrd, or that which is beyond our current understanding. It is possible that they don’t know that there is already another rune that represents Wyrd and the unknown and that is Perthro.
When using the blank rune in divination, some practitioners may interpret it as a sign that the question being asked cannot be answered at the present time, or that more information is needed before proceeding. It can also be read as a symbol of protection, indicating that the answer to the question is being intentionally obscured or withheld for the seeker’s best interest.
However, it is important to note that the blank rune is not universally accepted or used by all runic practitioners. Its use is a matter of personal preference and belief. If you choose to work with the blank rune, it is essential to develop your own understanding and interpretations based on your personal experiences and intuition.
Personally, I do not use the blank rune as it completely disrupts the energetic symmetry of the three rows of eight.
How the Runes Can Be Used for Energy Healing
For each of the runes I will cover in future lessons, we will look at Tarot, angelic and chakra correspondences. If you are already familiar with how I work with the Tarot for vibrational healing, this will not be new to you.
We will look at how to meditate with and sound the runes to balance the chakras. We will also look at making rune essences, as well as how to lay out runes when giving someone energy healing.
Click HERE to read about my name change.