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Making Your Own Rune Set

You have decided to make your own rune set and now you need to know what you should use to make them. First off let me say that by making your own set of runes you will find that you will get more accurate readings. Why? Well because you are putting your own energy into the set and filling them with a personal power that will help you in your readings.

When making your runes the material that you use is up to you. You could use stones that you have gathered along a lake front, cut small wooden tiles from a fallen tree branch, or use clay and then bake them to harden them. The choice is up to you. I will first talk about the few methods that I have used and how I went about making them, then I will show you how to add more power to the runes before you cast them. Some call this consecrating the runes. It is not necessary, but will help your runes to become more personal to you.

Stones or Small Rocks

One of the easiest ways to make a set of runes is to gather small rocks or stones that are all nearly the same in size. Then get some of your favorite color paint and paint the runes on the face of the rock. If you can’t decide on which color to use for the paint, red is a great color. It seems to have been the color of choice for rune casters (and carvers) in the past. If you’d like to have the color associated with a reason for casting check out this color association chart. After you have painted the rune symbols on the rock you may want to coat or seal the rock. You’ll find out that if you don’t the paint may begin to chip off the rocks. You can get a coating glaze at any hardware store. If you are having trouble picking a coating glaze ask someone at the store for help. They’ll be able to tell you what will work best for the paint and material that you are using.

Wood Tiles

If you prefer to use a material other than stone, wood is probably your next best choice. It’s easy to work with so you can make the tiles into just about any shape that you’d like. Probably the easiest way to make runes from wood is to take a fallen tree branch and cut some circular disks. Then you have the choice to mark the runes anyway you’d like. You could use paint, ink, burn them in the wood, or even carve them out. Once you’re done putting the runes on the wood, you can stain the wood to decorate it more. I suggest that if you paint the rune symbols on the wood that you do it after you have stained the wood. If you carve, burn or use ink to make the rune symbols you should do that before you stain the wood. Of course there’s no rule that you have to stain the wood, you can leave it natural.

Clay Runes

This is one way that I have not yet tried. The reason is that I’m not too sure just how to “fire” the clay once I have made the runes. If you know someone that does ceramic work then you could ask them to “fire” your runes in a kiln. That or find out how to “fire” the runes on your own.

Clay will be very easy to work with. Buy some clay at a hobby shop and mold it into the shapes that you will be using for your runes. Then simply carve the rune symbols into the clay and then “fire” them in a kiln or over a fire. Like I said I have not tried this method, and I do not work with clay so I’m sure there are more ways to decorate the runes that you are making than I’ve listed here.


If you hunt, know someone who does, or can get your hands on some animal bone, this is another option for your runes. I know some people who would never use bone because of the way they feel about animals. The choice, however, is up to you.

Working with bone will be a hard thing to do. If you know someone with a bone-saw you can have them cut the tiles for you. Otherwise you may have to go to a hardware store and buy a hacksaw and blade that can cut bone. You may have to ask for help on this one, and you might get a few odd looks from people when you tell them you need a saw to cut bone. When you paint on the rune symbols you may want to coat/seal the bone so that the paint will not chip off, much like with the rock. Carving may difficult to do on bone, and to be honest I can’t even begin to tell you how to go about it.

Consecrating Your Runes

After you have made your runes, the next thing that you may want to do is to consecrate them. This is like a small dedication that will add your personal power to your runes. If you’re using these runes for religious purposes then design a small ritual and consecrate them the same way you have with other tools that you may have consecrated before. If you’re just using these runes for casting – non-religiously, then you may want to do something like the following.

Gather your runes, a small bowl of water and a candle. Light the candle and place all of your runes on the left side of the candle. Take each rune and dab a little water on it with your finger as you say the name of the rune. If you don’t have the names of the runes memorized have a sheet next to you with the names on it. Then pass the rune over the candle flame and say it’s name again. Then place the rune down on the table on the right side of the candle and say the rune name one last time. Repeat this with each rune until you have completed consecrating each rune. You are now ready to use your runes.

Swedish National Heritage Board

The Swedish National Heritage Board has some excellent old images of rune stones posted in their flickr photostream. I highly suggest that you have a look at these fantastic shots which show great details of runes carved into stones.

The Swedish National Heritage Board are members of The Commons which state that there are “no known copyright restrictions” to their images. As shown on their website they state:

The photographs are available free of charge if you download them for private or non-profit use.

Seeing as, at this moment, this is a non-profit website, I feel the images are safe to share.

Saga of the People of Vatnsdal

In the Saga of the People of Vatnsdal we do not come across too many mentions of the runes, but we do find that magic and witchcraft are mentioned a lot in the story. Whether this magic and witchcraft is rune related in anyway is not known. It is quite possible that some of the magic weapons, staves and other items may have been inscribed with runic symbols. However since there is no evidence to back this up the passages that mention magic and witchcraft have been omitted from this site.

Like Egil’s Saga we do come across the idea of casting lots in this saga. Again I have decided to put those passages onto this page so that the readers can come to their own conclusions if the runes may have been used in the lot casting. There is only one mention of the word ‘rune’ in this saga so I have started with that passage, after that I have put the few other passages that might be somehow rune related. Again that is for you, the reader, to decide.

Chapter 34

Jokul carved a man’s head on the end of the post, and wrote in runes the open words of the curse, spoken of earlier. Jokul then killed a mare, and they cut it open at the breast, and set it on the pole, and had it face towards Borg.

In this passage we see that Jokul uses the runes as a way to make his oral curse into a written one. This is much to the same effect as we have seen Egil do in chapter 58 of Egil’s Saga. Take into consideration the similarities between the passage of Egil’s Saga and the one here with Jokul. Both of the men after speaking and oral curse carve the curse in runes on a pole. Also both men use a horse (or a part of a horse in Egil’s case) and set it on the pole. Why this is done I cannot say for certain. It may have something to do with the power and status of the horse. If we look at the Gothic rune Egeis/Eyz we see that the gods used horses in divination, shamanism and royal pageantries. So quite possibly the horse could bring the gods attention to the curse. The only other reason that I could think of why a horse may be used would be because of Sleipnir, Odin’s horse. It was said that this eight-legged steed had the runes carved on his teeth. There may be a connection then that a horse on a rune carved pole would carry the message to the gods in a manner similar to the way Sleipnir carried Odin.

Fate and Magic

Although I had said that I was not going to make mention of the magic and witchcraft involved in this saga I have decided to include one passage that may possibly be linked to a rune casting. The section talks about determining the fates of men that have gathered at a feast. Traditionally this sort of thing is done by a woman casting the runes and reading a man’s fate from the runes. However, there is no mention of the word rune but there is talk of ‘a magic rite in the old heathen fashion’.

Chapter 10

Ingjald and his men prepared a magic rite in the old heathen fashion, so that men could examine what the fates had in store for them. A Lapp enchantress was among those present. Ingimund and Grim arrived at the feast along with a large retinue. The Lapp woman, splendidly attired, sat on a high seat. Men left their benches and went forward to ask about their destinies.

The use of the runes to ‘examine what the fates had in store’ for people was not an uncommon practice. However, the one thing to look at is the fact that the readings were done by a Lapp enchantress. Would she cast runes for this ritual or would she go into a shaman-like trance to see the future? It may be safe to say that this is a reference to a rune casting. If she were to enter into a trance to see each man’s destiny she would possibly have to jump in and out of such a trance for each fate that she was looking at. That’s a very exhausting thing to have to do, but casting the runes for each man wouldn’t require her to do such a thing and might be a more likely a situation.

Casting Lots

There are several mentions of the use of lots in this saga. The following chapters and quotes are where this is mentioned. Feel free to have a look at them and decide for yourselves if these “lots” might have been runic symbols or not. I will not explain the situations in which the quotes take place in the story since that has no bearing on whether or not the “lots” could be runic symbols or not.

Chapter 42

Thorgrim was considered best suited for the chieftain’s role because of his kinship with the Vatnsdal people, but it was to be settled by lot, because many others thought themselves well suited.

Chapter 42

The lots were then places in a small cloth and it was always Silver’s lot which came up, because of his magic powers.

Chapter 42

Silver’s lot had secured the godord.

Again we have to determine if the lots used here were some form of the runes or something else completely. It is possible that bindrunes1 may have been used to represent each person that was in the running for the godord. But is just as possibly that each man was assigned a number or symbol that was drawn on some material and then drawn from the cloth.

Odin Discovers the Runes

The Elder Edda is a book of mythological stories of the Norse gods and goddesses and it is in here where we first see Odin learn about the runes. A story called Havamal1 or “Sayings of the High One2” tells us just how Odin first learned the runes.

Odin said:
I know that I hung on a high windy tree
for nine long nights;
pierced by a spear -Odin’s pledge-
given myself to myself.
No one can tell about that tree,
from what deep roots it rises.

They brought me no bread, no horn to drink from,
I gazed toward the ground.
Crying aloud, I caught up the runes;
finally I fell.

We see that Odin, in a shaman-like self-sacrificing ritual, deprives himself of food and drink as he hangs upside down on a tree. In some translations we are told that this tree is Yggdrasil, the Norse World Tree. As the days drag out longer and longer for him, nine nights pass and it is then when Odin sees the shapes of the runes. Crying out, he catches up the runes and falls from the tree.

The poem goes on talking about the runes and how Odin knows how to carve them for magickal uses. There are a total of eighteen runes that are listed but we never are told the names nor hinted at what they may look like. However if you believe the stories and tales of Guido List then you would tend to accept the Armanen Runes to be the runes that Odin discovered. Of course there is no evidence to even come close to supporting List’s claim as his rune set being the very first and original rune set.

If you are looking for the section in the Hávamál where it talks about Odin and the runes, it starts on the 138th stanza in the poem. Or if your poem doesn’t tell you the stanza number look for the section “The Lay of Loaddfafnir” (which starts on the 111th stanza). Skim a little ahead and you should see it.