Do you know how to use runes in spells, magic and divination? Most of us who know about magic know a little bit about the runes and at least are familiar with them or may have even have worked with them. For those of you who have not yet been introduced to their magic, runes are usually viewed as a divination tool like the tarot but the magic of the runes does not stop there.
This article is going to give you an amazing, phenomenal, beautiful way to start working with the runes, even if you have had no experience with them. You don’t have to memorize anything. You don’t have to have a long deep relationship with runes to begin your journey, though this technique I’ll teach you doesn’t prevent that from happening. But this is a way to work with the runes even if you aren’t using them as a divination tool yet.
I will start out by saying that I am by no means an expert on the runes. But I do love them and I do love working with them. I love them so much that I have a rune tattooed on each wrist. The two runes I picked are Wunjo and Dagaz. Wunjo means joy, and Dagaz means breakthrough and awakening. So, these are the things I want to bring into my environment. They symbolize what I want to bring into my practice. Happiness, and awakening, and breakthroughs. Who wouldn’t want that? I sure do.
Getting runes tattooed is not a divination practice, but it is a way of bringing the runes into your magic. Divination is only the tip of the iceburg when it comes to what you can do with runes.
The Different Types of Runes
Let’s take a look at the history of the runes. First of all, runes date back to about 100 ACE. That’s the first evidence of runes that we see in our archeological findings. Germanic people, including Norse Vikings, developed this written alphabet. You may have heard the terms Elder Futhark or Younger Futhark. The alphabet of the runes is known as a Futhark, which is the first six letters of the rune alphabet. Much like how the word alphabet contains alpha and beta, The Futhark is the name of the alphabet. And it’s named for those first six letters of the Norse writing system.
Because they are so old, we know very little about The Elder Futhark. The Elder Futhark has 24 characters and was predominantly used from about 100 ACE to 700 ACE. The Elder Futhark is what is most often seen in rune sets. These sets contains 24 runes, or sometimes 25 when a blank one is in the set.
The Younger Futhark has only 16 characters. The Norse people condensed the alphabet down to these characters and abandoned the rest. And this was in use from around 700 ACE, up until the Middle Ages, 1200 ACE.
Now, there is also another Futhark, it’s called the Anglo-Saxon Runes, which have 33 characters in it. They were used mostly in England. However, when we are thinking of rune divination sets, we’re almost exclusively thinking of the Elder Futhark.
Getting to Know The Elder Futhark
While the runes are an amazing divination tool, they were also a useable alphabet. Give that some thought when working with them. Tarot is an amazing divination tool, but isn’t an alphabet. We don’t really use tarot in many other contexts. We might use the tarot for meditation or a spell, but it doesn’t have that quality of being a written alphabet. This makes the runes very special.
The runes, pop up all over these archaeological finds around England, Scandinavian countries, and beyond. These runes would be carved on stones, for example. Oftentimes they would show up on memorial stones for people that had passed on. We also see them on bone, antler, wood, and even on metal!
We can find the evidence of these letters all over the place, and they are quite common. But they are more than an alphabet. Each of these letters has a very specific and special magical meaning. Understanding their magical meanings is easier when you know the legends that the Norse people had about the runes. So, I’m going to tell you the legend of the runes. The mythology of how the runes were discovered shows you how powerful people considered these amazing, magical tools.
The Story of Odin
So, this is the story of Odin and the runes. Odin is the Norse god who is the leader of all the gods. That group of gods and goddesses is called The Æsir, and he was their leader. One of his great qualities was that he was always seeking to have more wisdom. He was always on the hunt for more knowledge. He understood very deeply that knowledge is power. He had many adventures in his stories where he’s trying to find out something or trying to discover something – seeking a magical skill or special knowledge.
Odin was willing to sacrifice for this wisdom and knowledge. In fact, one of the attributes of Odin was that he had one eye. His missing eye was plucked out in exchange for a piece of wisdom. So he had a strong understanding of sacrificing to gain magical wisdom and knowledge.
Yggdrasil: The World Tree
The other thing that you have to know about Norse mythology is the idea of the World Tree. The name of the World Tree in Norse mythology is Yggdrasil. So, Yggdrasil was believed to be this giant tree that held up all the worlds. At the base of the tree was a well, the Well of Urd.
This well was very deep and it’s where the World Tree got its water and nourishment. This enabled it to grow and sprout and protect these worlds. Around the Well of Urd lived the Norns. The Norns were three very mysterious and very powerful women who controlled fate. Not only the fate of the animals and the people, but the fate of the Æsir or the gods themselves. This made the Norns the most powerful beings of all.
Now, one of the ways that they would control fate is by carving runes into Yggdrasil’s trunk. They would carve the runes into the trunk, and then the energy of those runes would go out to wherever they needed to go in that magical tree. To the upper world, the middle world or the lower world. They could control everything with these runes, these mystical shapes. But the shapes were a mystery to everyone. They didn’t understand them. The gods couldn’t decipher them. They didn’t know what the Norns were doing.
Odin Envied the Norns’ Power
Of course, Odin was curious. He watched the Norns and he envied the power that they had to affect the fate of everyone, including the gods and goddesses. So, he decided he needed to know the meaning of the runes.
To get that knowledge, he had to hang himself, some say by the neck, others say by the foot, to get the insights and abilities that the Norns had. He had to pierce himself with his spear and hang from the tree, Yggdrasil, and look into the Well of Urd and the waters below.
We could see this as being a very shamanic act, this act of going between the worlds of the living and the dead. For nine days, Odin hung by his foot between the world of the living and the dead. He wasn’t quite dead yet, but he wasn’t alive. He was in that state of depletion and just hovering there.
He told the other gods, the other Æsir, “Don’t help me, don’t try to rescue me, don’t try to save me, I must go through this extreme trial to be able to understand the runes. My deepest desire is to have this knowledge.” As he stared downward for days and days and days, he called to the runes, he invited them in, and he teetered in that real liminal state, between life and death. As you can imagine, this would be a really out there experience. Anyone who has ever been in that state of one foot in the world of spirit, and one foot in the world of the living knows it is an intense place to be.
So, for nine days and nights, he did this, and on the ninth night, at last, he saw the runes in the depths of the water. Because he had made the sacrifice, the runes showed themselves to him. And Urd revealed, not only the form of the runes but also the secrets that they held. He understood them, he could use them and work with them.
The Hanged Man is Odin
If you’ve ever looked at the tarot deck and seen The Hanged Man card, you’ve seen this story depicted in the image. We see a man with a beautiful radiant halo around his head, but he’s hanging upside down by his foot. That is reminiscent of this story of Odin.
When Odin learned these runes and he understood them, he gained all sorts of abilities such as:
- Heal wounds
- Bind his enemies
- Ruin the weapons of his enemies
- Wake the dead
- Win and keep a lover
- Free himself of constraints
- Put out fires
- Expose and banish practitioners of malevolent magic
- Protect his loved ones in battle
So while the runes are strongly associated with Odin, they are about the Norns. They allow us to tap in to these mysterious, powerful women who held this information and allowed Odin to uncover it through sacrifice. We can access the power of the runes just like Odin did. The runes are the world of Norns, and we can be Odin, making a sacrifice to learn the runes and work with them in our magic.
There are lots of ways that you can work with the runes in your magic. The easiest and simple way to work with them is to get a set of the Elder Futhark and get to know it. You can learn about them, look them up in the little booklet, or get a book about the runes and learn what they mean. You can carry one or two that you want to empower yourself with, or you can place them on an altar. Or you can hold them in your hands and feel for their energy. You can also create a Bind Rune.
What Are Bind Runes?
Bind runes are two or more runes placed together, often used for magical purposes to be used as powerful amulets. Bind runes date from about the 1600s and were first seen in Iceland. You can use bind runes magically by writing them on paper, inscribing them in candles, carving them into wood or stone. There’s so many ways that you can create and make bind runes to bring the essence of the runes to your magic.
Overlay Bind Runes
The first method of creating a bind rune is to overlay runes one on top of the other. Imagine you’re looking at two runes on two individual sheets of sheets of clear plastic and you put them over one another. Together they make a new shape. Spells will use these overlaid bind runes to manifest a reality.
The Bluetooth logo is actually a stacked bind rune. Berkana, that ᛒ shape, represents nurturing, protection, support, and creation. The other rune that we see in there is Hagall from the Younger Futhark, which looks like ᚼ and means hail. So, the ᚼ and the ᛒ stacked one on top of the other and blended together make that Bluetooth logo. That’s one way that we can create a bind rune.
Same-Stave Bind Runes
There’s another way that we can create a bind rune, which is to stack them. Almost like stacking vegetables on a shish kebab. If you hold up that shish kebab skewer, you see all the different vegetables. You can stack a series of runic letters in a specific order along a single access. That’s called a same-stave rune. Stave is a word for staff. So, same-stave runes are like arrows, spears, or sticks. We use them to attack a problem. If you’re trying to conquer something, or aim to be victorious over something, that’s when you might want to use a same-stave rune.
Radial Bind Runes
Now, there’s another kind of rune that we often see in jewelry called a radial rune. These are kind of similar to the stave runes, but they’re several staves sticking out like spokes on a wheel. Each of those might have a rune on the end of it, or a rune in the middle.
Now, these radial runes are useful in defense spells, protection spells, or amulets. When we create these amulets or talismans, this design is both beautiful and powerful.
Make Your Own Bind Rune
If you want to make a bind rune, here are the steps to do it. The first thing to do is to think of your magical goal. What would you like to accomplish and what would you like this bind rune to work on? Once you are clear about your magical goal, then find the rune or runes that best fit your purpose. You might, for example, repeat a rune around the radial rune over and over again. Or you might stack the rune up, but pick the ones that are the best fit for the work you’re doing.
Choose Your Runes
You could choose two, three, four runes, it doesn’t matter. Don’t use the whole Futhark, that would be too much. You don’t want to cloud your intention. Choose a few that match the energy of your goal.
Choose Your Design
Once you pick the runes, start playing around with your design on scratch paper. Remember to stick to the design-style that best matches your intention:
- Manifestation: Overlay Bind Rune
- Protection: Radial Bind Rune
- Attack a Problem: Same-Stave Bind Rune
Choose Your Material
Once you’ve worked out your design on paper , then you can choose your material to work on with this rune. Here are a few examples:
- Write it on a slip of paper and carry it with you
- Carve it into wood or stone
- Carve it into the side of a Beeswax Candle
- Get a tattoo of it
You don’t even need to make anything to use your bind rune. As long as you know what it looks like, you could trace it in the air or even just visualize it! Do this whenever you need to summon its power.
Shop Runes at Parlour Of Wonders
We have some beautiful rune sets made out of gemstones at the Parlour of Wonders. These are great for spells because that gemstone energy can bring in another representation of your intention. We also have some amazing books about the runes by some amazing authors! If you feel drawn to working with the runes, but you haven’t learned them as a divination tool, start thinking about working with them as a magical tool. Get in touch with them, invite their energy into your life. It is really powerful, beautiful and old, old magic that is so lovely.