The history of the runes is as wrapped in mystery as the runes themselves. The word rune comes
from ‘Runa’, an old Norse/Germanic word for secret or mystery and versions of them were known right across
Northern Europe. They had a twofold use - as an alphabet and also as tools for divination.
There are rune-like carvings in caves from as long ago as the early Bronze Age, about 1300BC.
The runes are thought to have been in use as a tool for divination since at least 200 years BC and as an
alphabet from about AD200. Although used across Northern Europe, including England, they are generally known
for being closely associated with Scandinavian and the Norse Gods and mythology.
Runes continued in general use until about 1600. Runemasters and Runemistresses were held in
high regard and divination through the runes was used by Kings to decide on favourable times for battles and
communities for decisions about crop planting and general life. In 1693 the runes were banned as part of the
Churches effort to ‘drive the devil out of Europe'. They continued to be used in secret which served to add
more mystery to their use. In 1920-30 they suffered again by being associated with the Nazi movement and it
was not until the 80’s that they began to be more widely used again with the flourishing growth of ‘New Age’
thinking and holistic health.
Today the runes are used as a tool for divination and also as a tool for self
The runes are the symbols that you see at the top of this page. There are several slightly
different forms of them depending on where in Europe they were most used. The 24 runes above are the ‘Elder
Futhark’ which is of Germanic/Scandinavian origin. Some modern sets of runes also contain a blank tile but
this is not in traditional sets so I do not use it in my readings. Each of the runes has a literal meaning
and symbolic meaning which is uses in a reading
The rune symbols are all made up of straight lines. This made them easy to carve. Traditionally
runes are carved into discs of wood from a fruit bearing tree. Early Runemasters and Runemistresses only
needed a branch and a sharp knife and they could fashion a set of runes from these readily available
materials. Nowadays you can find rune sets wade from wood,
stones, crystals and other materials. I have a apple wood set
which I made from a fallen branch of a tree in my garden for personal use. I use a lovely pewter set for readings as they tend to get handled by many
people and pewter is easier to cleanse than wood.
Working with runes can be as mystical or as practical as you wish. I do not class myself as a Runemistress. I am someone who loves the runes
and uses them as a tool for self awareness and self development.
Take a look at my ‘Rune Reading’ page for more details of how I use runes in my readings.