Last Saturday, Dark Reads & Deck Reviews did this review of my Deep Forest Rune Deck, which I'm so grateful for! Having just finished my very own Lenormand Guidebook, I felt now is my cue to put together a Runes Guide for all of you who already have or is planning to get into them and might be considering my cards version.
What are Runes?
Runes are a set of 24 symbols, essentially letters, associated with Northern Gods and symbolizing various forces that be. They have a three-thousand year long history, dating back to ancient use by Germanic and Nordic tribes. Most people who hear the word 'runes' associate it with Vikings or Celtic mages.
For the most part, Runes are used for divinations about the likely future to help guide you through upcoming challenge. They don’t offer exact answers or give you advice — rather they offer different variables and suggest how you could behave if the event does occur. Runes are known for hinting towards answers but leaving you to work out the details, which is where intuition is helpful.
Runic readers acknowledge that the future isn’t fixed and that individuals have the power to follow their own path and make their own decisions. So if you don’t like the guidance that a rune reading provides, you’ve got the power to change your direction or your path, and follow a different route.
But aren't Runes usually stones?
Traditionally, Runic Symbols are engraved into stones or wood, which are then thrown or 'cast' at random to a surface, or pulled out of a bag at random. Meanwhile, I provide them in the form of cards as the Deep Forest Rune Deck due to it being a much more compact, easy to carry alternative, and because not everyone is into throwing loud rocks that might also crack or chip over time.
How to read Runes?
There are various different types of rune castings you can do – which are similar in idea to tarot layouts – but on your very first attempt, you might just like to start by picking out between one rune and analyzing its significance. Once you feel happy to progress, have a go at some of the rune layouts and casts that you can find online!
Meanings of each Rune.
Runes are divided into three groups known as the three runic aettir. One group is called an aett. The first group represents Freya, goddess of love and fertility. This group is thus associated with the cycle of life and forces of creation.
My deck translates it as Wealth. Fehu is thus the Rune of abundance, prosperity and luck. We can also interpret this as the seed of potential, or the idea of Life itself. Reversed, it may mean a loss of income, a decrease in your sense of worth.
Meaning Ox, or the Bull, I tagged this Rune with the keywords 'strength of will'. The ox is an animal of endurance and perseverance, as well as strength, health and vigor! The ox is a hardworking animal, too, denoting training or education. Thing of planting of the seed in Fehu, as oxen are used to plough fields for sowing seeds. In reverse, you ight be misdirecting your force, or losing sight of your health.
Representing Thor's Hammer, sometimes meaning Giant, the Rune Deck associates it with danger and suffering. It's a Rune denoting a challenge of any kind, especially one that tests your strength. Defending, protecting and attacking are also applicable. In reverse, however, it might mean you are defenseless, compulsive, or warn of betrayal.
Meaning Message, this is a Rune of communication, knowledge, revelations and insights of any kind. It might even mean communication from your higher self, as in a sign or a vision; which is why I tagged it with the words vitality and prosperity, because whatever piece of information, it will be a valuable resource in your further decisions. In reverse, we're talking about information that is deceitful, a communication that will harm your prosperity.
Think of the word 'ride', as in going for a ride. This Rune represents the wheel, thus can be translated as Journey. The Rune Deck has the words movement, work and growth associated with it, because we're not only talking physical travel, but also progression of any kind, including climbing the career ladder. In reverse, we're talking about a disruption of this flow.
Representing illumination due to its original meaning of a Torch. This is illumination or clarity that comes comprehension, enlightenment, realizing out purpose. Fire can also represent the fire of life, the way it can burn bright, be extinguished and rekindled again. Fire is thus also inspiration. In reverse, fire can burn. Your fire might be dying out, like a lack of creative inspiration or losing hope.
The Rune if Gifts, it represents charity, generosity, or a helping hand from someone. We can also interpret gift as a gift from the Gods, such as a talent you have or fortune. Gifts may also denote a partnership where you are shown appreciation, or a friendly favor. It doesn't have an inverted meaning, as a gift is a gift, even if it doesn't seem like one at the time. Thus Rune also calls you to think about the balance of taking and giving.
Meaning Joy, this is a Rune of pleasures, celebration, feasting, ale and parties! But festivity can't be done alone, so Wunjo also denotes community, in turn a sense of belonging. In these terms, you might as well be popular, which could denote a form of success, as parties are thrown to, again, celebrate an achievement!
The First Runic Aett
The watchman of the Gods, who guards the rainbow bridge to Asgard. This aett is about chaos or forces that otherwise disrupt those energies of the first Aett.
Meaning Hail or a Blizzard. This is the begging of forces beyond our control, an external challenge, test, destruction or change that foils our plans. It can also signify nature. Think of this as a Rune prompting you to overcome these obstacles and growing through hardship and mistakes. It has no reverse meaning, for wrath is always merciless.
The Rune of Need. We are dealing with a lacking of some kind, an unfulfilled desire, or not being able to give balance to all aspects of your life. Perhaps we're talking survival or 'being in need'. Some times it is resistance or restrictions against that which you are craving. Other times, you are invited to truly consider necessity versus wants. In reverse, we are talking distress, exhaustion, even a mental or spiritual lacking like feeling empty. You might be needing soul-care.
Representing Ice, when crops freeze over. It's a time of pause and frustration. Things are delayed and still, and you you are waiting for the ice to thaw in order to clear this block. I can also mean psychological or spiritual blocks, especially ones caused by annoyances.
The Rune of Harvest. In Nordic cultures the point of Harvest symbolizes new beginnings, a new year or the ending of a cycle. It's time to collect our abundance, reap what we have sown, and start over. It might also be calling you to appreciate what you already have.
Meaning Yew, or The Tree Of Life. It's an intricate Rune the meaning of which is hard to grasp, but it represents sacred knowledge, divinity, and connections. We can expand connections and divinity to mean companionship, trust and faith. Reversed, it's a sense of isolations from someone or something, like being isolated from information, or even feeling like you're missing out on life.
The Rune of Destiny or Dice, it represents luck but in a 'game of chance' kind of way. However the dice may roll. It's the mysteries and secrets of one's fate, unknown. In reversed can mean a lack of faith in your own destiny.
Denoting the Elk, a guardian spirit of the woods, Algiz represents protection, guardianship and defense. Though do not rely on the Elk's protection too much, for gods only help those who can help themselves, in other words it's a group effort to ensure your safety. You are also called to have courage to move forward, knowing the Elk has your back. Reversed, it might mean you are unguarded and aren't seeing the threat already under your armor.
Literally the Sun, it's a card of happiness and victory. Which, surprisingly, is the meaning for the Sun in both Tarot and Lenormand. How interesting to see these common associations across cultures. It also has connotation in justice and honor. In other words, joys connected to warrior virtues, but you can make your own non-Viking associations too.
The Secind Runic Aett
God of the sky, he represented war and justice. His aett is all about the divine and the gifts of the gods.
This Rune represents Tyr himself. A symbol of masculine energies, things like leadership and justice, battle and logic, bravery and, above all, it's a card of great, honorable victory! Reversed though it may denote a lack of passion, or over-suing your logic to over-analyze a simple situation.
Birch, as in the tree, is a Rune of birth, fertility and growth. It is thus associate with feminine energies, as well as new projects, personal growth, restorative force and spiritual awakening. When it is reversed, it might indicate you are locked up, unable to liberate yourself. Another reversed meaning is tension within your usually loving circle.
Also known as Horse, it is a Rune of stability, a loyal friendship, trust and harmony. And, of course, this is the kind of loyalty and trust you take into battle with you, as the Horse also talks about transportation, movement, progress. But for the most part it talks of friendship! Reversed, it indicated distrust and disharmony, or the feeling like you just want to runaway into the sunset!
Denoting Human, it represents humanity as a collective. Thus Rune could represent your community and relationships. With human society also come common values and virtues. This card invites you to consider morality and what is right, or appropriate. In reverse, we talk about being self-centered, loneliness or manipulations instead of comradeship.
Translated as Lake, water is tied to our subconscious i.e. the formlessness yet potential of our intuition, imagination, dreams. Water is also connected to healing and renewal, the flow of our emotions. Reversed Laguz talks about fear and the unknown, thus unclarity as well as blocked healing.
Also known as Fertility, it represents the Earth God Ing and speaks of male fertility and inner growth. Along with that it represents family, common familiar values and common peace. Thing of the enclosed diamond shape as your comfort zone or safe place, which is usually the home.
Inherited Land and Ancestral Heritage, it represents your or someone else's contribution to the bigger picture. This can also mean possessions and thinking about what you legacy would or could be. You're invited to reconsider your lifelong growth. Reversed it indicates prejudice and intolerance.
Meaning Dawn, it represents awakening, as in the dawn of a new day full of hope, security, and the clarity of a new cycle. The morning is wiser than the evening they say, and there's always hope in the new upcoming day.
The Third Runic Aett
Runes have a strong connection to Nordic cultures and the concept of warrior-hood. But a pro-tip would be to journal your own associations to these concepts like Victory, Honor, Joy and so forth as in what they mean to your own identity, or your culture.
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Month of Alternative Divination Methods
This October my blog posts will be looking into divination tools outside of Tarot and even Lenormand, as I too update my knowledge and provide you with more ways to practice soul-care.
- Check out the post about Pendulums.