If you're looking for instruction in Runecraft there are countless books that promise to teach you how to use the Runes to predict your future. All you have to do is buy this expensive book and the unique Rune rocks that come with it and you will be a genuine Runemaster in a week. If this is where you are starting, and you don't mind having wasted a week of your life, continue reading.
The FUTHARK that we use today is a compilation of scattered information and lore gathered by the Victorian Mystics of the 19th century and probably has very little relation to the actual Runes that we read of in the Eddas. There are scholars who tell us that the actual "genuine Runes" still in existence today probably number only around nine. The others are made from Neolithic inscriptions, derived later by Anglo-Saxon practitioners or fabricated by a Victorian writer. If you want to be a purist you can eliminate all the questionable ones and work with only what we know as the real thing. You will have to derive all your meanings from Runes that represent bad weather, disaster, war, land wealth and wealth you can run away with. This makes for fairly mono-maniacal and bleak readings but, you can do it.
I find that the meanings are sparse enough already. I also find that the "newer" Runes work perfectly well in their own way and are as valid a tool as their predecessors. Remember the Allfather gave Runes to each of the races so, some of our newer ones could be from those other sets. To not prejudice you toward any of the Runes or their meanings no mention of what those original Runes are will be listed here. Do yourself the favor of working with the full set until you can judge for yourself their efficacy, then read about the origins if you are still interested.
Use of the Runes
I will prejudice you though, on one major area concerning Runes. This is an area that is at the heart of their use and is misunderstood and often ignored by their practitioners. The Runes are not for predicting the future. They are for predicting the present.
The pre-Christian Germanic people had a very unique cosmology, at least to the Christian Missionaries. They lived in a world without a future. Till the missionaries ventured into the regions of Germanic speech there wasn't even a future tense in the language. What exists today is a clumsily cobbled together form which was built on the Greek structure of Past - Present - Future. ( For further reading on this subject reference: Paul E. Bauschatz. 1982. "The Well and the Tree", World and Time in early Germanic Culture, Amherst mass., The University of Massachusetts Press. )
Early Germanic language has three distinct tenses: the past, the present and (the one we are interested in) the present imperative. The present that must be.
We don't have an equivalent for this is modern English. We try with ideas like predestination, which assumes the celestial puppeteer is writing the script that we merely live, but our ideas are too much based upon thought that contains future. The closest I have found is to think of "History" as a flowing river, a very fast flowing river, you are in a race on this river and in order to finish first (or near the front) you have to stay in the current. That current is the present imperative. The Runes show us how to stay in the current.
By using the Runes we can sneak a little bit of information on how to stay in the current of history. We can maintain our place in the great story for as long as possible. They show us the road to take but not the destination. remember, the future hasn't happened yet, it's still a dream. It isn't real. The past was real. Now is real and the flow of history is real. If you can keep this in mind when reading the Runes then you are that much closer to the original usage.
The Runes are not the latest New Age Fluff, they are a gift from the Gods, a very old and powerful gift. Use them with respect and gratitude. They are not for casual use. Treat them as though they burn you every time you touch them if you have to. Anything it takes to keep these things in mind.
Enough of this. The tirade is over. Watch this place for further information and irregular updates. You can also let me know what you think at email@example.com.
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