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Divination, the practice of looking into the future using spiritual tools, is a part of many metaphysical systems. While not all spiritual paths believe in or use divination practices, there are many that do. Reading runes is one of several methods that can be employed by a spiritual practitioner to gain insight into future events.
Like many things in the spiritual field, rune reading can be done in a variety of ways, and different traditions will have their preferred methods. This article is offered to enlighten you on some of these ways, in case you want to use runes, but your religious path hasn’t taught you a specific method. I’ll also add that even if you have been taught a specific method, many people have better luck trying a variety of reading styles, then choosing the one that resonates best with them. Divination, like any part of spiritual practice, needs to be done not in the way you’re told is “right,” but in the way that you feel most connected with.
One method for reading runes is to sit quietly, clear your mind of mental noise, then focus on your question. Draw three runes from your bag and lay them in a line in front of you. The stones, from left to right, represent the past, present, and future.
Another method is to again quiet yourself, clear your mind, focus on a question, then pour the runes from your bag out onto a surface. Look at the stones. The one or ones that stand out most will represent the answer to your question. This method does not necessarily provide a past-present-future response.
A third option is to lay out all of your stones in front of you. Calm and clear your mind, then focus on your question with your eyes closed. Using what you feel is your receiving hand or more sensitive hand, move slowly back and forth a few inches above the stones. Pick up the stone that you feel the most from, and this will be the answer to your question.
Yet another method is to clear your mind, focus on your question, then, with your eyes closed, place your fingers into your rune bag and draw out the stone that offers the most intense sensation. This will be your answer stone. You may also draw three stones if you prefer.
When drawing stones, if you draw two stones with like meaning, they are usually complimentary and represent a good coming to you or a solution. If they are different in meaning, they may indicate a problem and how to resolve it. A three stone reading is sometimes called “The Three Norns” or the “Fates reading.” In a Norns reading, the stones represent past (what has already happened relating to the issue), future (the likely outcome of the situation) and present (what is influencing you right now). In a Fates reading they represent past, present and future.
Another kind of three stone reading is the Body-Mind-Spirit reading, in which the stones represent your current physical, mental and spiritual state. There are many other types of rune layouts that can be used as well, such as Futhark Layout, Nine Grid, Tree of Life, Seven Rune, V layout, Insight, Runic Cross, Four Dwarves, Five Rune, and others. If you are serious about using runes as part of your spiritual practice, you may want to research the various styles and layout in order to find the ones that are most useful and most resonant to you.
Another part of using runes is, of course, understanding the meaning of each stone. Most rune sets use the Elder Futhark runic alphabet, which is 24 stones. Many sets include a blank stone and/or a solid stone. There is extreme debate over whether the two additional stones have any meaning or not, but many sets will have one or two extra stones for those who choose to use them. Those who hold to the use of only the 24 symbol-bearing stones will simply get rid of the others. In addition to Elder Futhark there is Younger Futhark (16 symbols) and Futhorc (28-33 symbols), but these are rarely seen on rune sets openly available to the public.
The exact meaning of each stone can be tricky. I have seen dozens of charts of meanings for Elder Futhark stones, and most of them insist that they are the “real” meanings. The simple fact is, interpretations changed over time. Different paths kept or discarded different things. It’s probably near to impossible to find an absolutely accurate interpretation of the meanings of each of the characters. I recommend that you do what one should always do: Research the various possibilities and use the one that feels true for you. Below is the chart that I drew based on my own studies in the past, as one possible reference.