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Casting record sheets

One thing that I always do when I cast the runes is to record the results so I can look back at each reading at a later date. In order to do this you want to make sure to write down as much information as you can. The best way that I’ve found to do this is to use a rune cast record sheet. They’re so useful to me that I’m sharing them here.

Rune Casting Record Sheets

All downloads listed are PDF files.

Download all record sheets in a ZIP file: All Rune Casting Record Sheets

A little note on the record sheets

At the top of each sheet there are spaces to record the date and time, for whom the rune cast was for, information about the surroundings (or setting) and the question being asked. Next will be a section that will allow you to draw in the rune symbols that you picked for each spot. You are then given an overview of what each space in the rune cast stands for or means in relation to the layout. You can scribble down what each rune means or general notes on what the rune is trying to tell you for each spot. Lastly, there is a section for any additional notes you may have – the weather, your health condition, which rune set you were using

How To Do A Reading

Before you begin casting there are a few things that you may want to do to get yourself in the correct frame of mind. In doing readings and castings the one thing that is necessary is that you are comfortable and prepared before you start. Nothing on these pages is absolutely necessary to do a rune reading (except, obviously, a rune set) so if you feel like you’d like to do something different than the way this page suggests, then please do so. You know yourself better than anyone else and what makes you comfortable will only help you in a reading. Okay with that said here are a few suggestions.

Time of Day

Some people say that castings should only be done during the day, outside, with the sun shining. Others will tell you that the proper time to get the best reading would be near midnight when the veil between this world and the “Other World” is at it’s thinnest, therefore getting help from spirits. I’ve even seen ways to calculate what time of the day to do a reading depending on the question you are asking. This is really all up to you. There is no hard evidence to say that one way is better than the other so try a few castings at different times and see which time works best for you.

Weather

I mentioned above about the shinning sun. Why would this be a better time than a calm day that’s slightly overcast? Well the reason is that the weather can affect our mood and the one thing that we want is to be in the best frame of mind. If you cast on a day when you’re not in a good mood this can affect the outcome. So you may want to hold off to do a casting until the weather and your mood is perfect.

Surroundings

Something that you may want to consider when you sit down to cast the runes is your surroundings. This can be important because of the surrounding energy fields. You don’t want to cast near power lines where the energy given off by the lines could some into conflict with your own power.

Another thing to look out for is the people around you. You don’t want to have people who are skeptical or doubt what the runes can do. If you have people around you doubting this can come into play with your own feelings about the runes. You may even start to doubt yourself and therefore get a poor or inaccurate reading.

Casting Set-up

If you are casting outside the set-up is simple. Face the sun, layout your casting cloth and pillow and take a seat on the pillow. On the opposite end of the casting cloth place your mearmots and the question written on a piece of paper, if you’d like. Gather up the runes, think about the question you are asking and then toss the runes in front of you.

If you are casting indoors there are a few possible set-ups that you can do. First find a room where you can layout your casting cloth where nothing will be in the way, and so it’s not bunched up against the sofa or anything like that. If it’s possible set up the cloth so that you can sit facing east or in the direction of the sun at that time of the day. If it’s at night then you can set the cloth up so that you are facing the moon, or to the east to “await” the rising sun. What happens if you can’t lay your casting cloth to face to the sun? Well you can just cast in whichever direction that the cloth fits in the room. Or you can try to layout the cloth so that the longest side of the cloth is parallel with the longest wall in the room. The choice is up to you.

Casting

You are now ready to start casting. You have your casting cloth laid out in the setting of your choice, you’re in a surrounding that makes you comfortable and everything is perfect. Now gather your runes and have a seat because it’s time to cast. Layout your runes face-up in front of you and make sure that they are all there. If you have a pouch that you use to carry your runes in place them back in the pouch and mix them up. If you have small rune tiles, or large hands, you can mix the runes up in your hands. Concentrate on your question and toss the runes down on the cloth in front of you. Now you’re going to need to choose the number of runes that you’ll need for the spread that you have chosen. To do this you are only going to use then runes that landed face-up. If, by chance, you do not have enough runes to fill the places in the spread you have chosen you can do a few things. You can re-cast the runes that have landed face down, cast the whole spread over, or leave the places in the spread blank. I suggest that you re-cast the remaining face down runes.

Picking the Runes From the Casting Cloth

When the runes land on the cloth in front of you, how do you know which runes to pick up? There are a few ways to determine that. You could pick a single spot on the cloth before you cast the runes and then pick up the face-up rune closest to it to fill the first spot in the spread. You would then pick up the next closest rune to that spot for the second place, and so on until you’ve filled all the places in the spread.

Another way to do it is to draw an imaginary line down the center of your casting cloth and pick the rune that lands face-up and closest to the line. Start with the rune that is closest to the line first. If there are two that are about the same distance then pick the rune that is closest to you and the line. After you have filled all the places in your spread the next thing is to read them using the meanings of your runes. Which can be found in the Rune Meanings section.

Picking a Rune Set

If you plan to buy a set of runes at some bookstore, like Barnes & Noble, you’ll most likely be buying a set of the Elder Futhark runes unless it says otherwise on the box/set. The reason for this is that the Elder Futhark is a good starter set as well as being a good set for all around castings. If you buy a set from some new age shop (online or at a store near you) you should have a choice of different sets. If you do it this way then it is important that you get the rune set that is right for you and the type of casting that you will be doing.

The first question you may have is “How do I know which rune set is right for me?” Well, take a look at a few things. Do you plan to have more than one set in case you want to do different readings? Is this just a simple interest or do you plan to further your study on the runes? Are you going to be making your runes?

If you plan on making your runes, I strongly suggest that you start by making the Elder Futhark runes. The reason is that this set if good for any cast that you will do. There are 24 runes in this set so you can ask simple, general questions as well as specific, in-depth questions and still get a good reading. If you plan to be asking a lot of more vague questions then you can get by with a smaller set of runes like the Younger Futhork. If the questions you have are going to be more specific then you may want to use a set that contains more runes, like the Northumbrian runes, which contain a total of 33 runes.

The next question to look at is “Will I be using ‘reversed’ runes in my readings?” Like some uses of the tarot cards, the runes can be reversed if you choose to use them in such a way. However, be aware that some runes are always ‘upright’ no matter which way they land. This is because of the shape of the rune. One such rune is Gebo, which looks like a large “x”. Any way this rune lands it will appear that it is ‘upright’. I have not included reversed rune meanings in the rune meanings section because I personally do not use them. If you’d like more information on the reversed meanings of the runes, you’ll have to find a book that contains that information.

You should also look the rune set itself. Do you like the way the runes look and feel to you? Does the material your set is made from matter to you? Do you prefer to have a small set or a large set? Do you care for the history behind the set? Also take a look at the uses of the runes, a set like the Medieval Runes of Healing and Magick Set were not used for casting so you obviously won’t choose to make or buy a set of that type to cast with.

The last and most important thing when picking a set is to make sure that you’re comfortable with it. Make sure you pick a set that you’re interested in and that you know really well (or want to learn really well). The more you use your runes, the more you’ll start to understand what they are trying to tell you. Even experienced rune casters need time to get familiar with a new set. Each set has a different “personality” and it’s up to the caster to figure it out.

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.

Egil’s Saga

In Egil’s Saga we come across quite a few references to the runes and even some references that could possibly be the use of the runes for casting lots. While it’s not positive that the casting of lots was done with runes I have chosen to include such passages so that those viewing this site can find these references in the work and decide for themselves. In all actuality the casting of lots was probably done with sticks or other materials notched with lines or numbers but you can decide that for yourselves when you read the passages.

When reading Egil’s Saga we come to find that Egil Skallagrimsson was not only a powerful warrior, poet and farmer but also very accomplished in the use of runes. At one point he was told about a young woman who had been confined to bed due to a serious sickness. When Egil is brought to this woman he comes to find a whalebone with runes carved on them in her bed. The runes on this whalebone were carved as healing runes by someone not trained properly in rune carving and thus was the reason that the young woman was not getting well but becoming more sick day-by-day. Egil steps in and cuts new runes that help the woman start on her road to recovery. There are other great encounters of the runes in this story so let’s take a look at them so we can better understand the uses and usefulness of the runes.

Chapter 44

Egil took out his knife and stabbed the palm of his hand with it, then took the drinking-horn, carved runes on it and smeared them with blood. He spoke a verse:

I carve runes on this horn,
redden words with my blood,
I choose words for the trees1
of the wild beast’s ear-roots;2
drink as we wish this mead
brought by merry servants,
let us find out how we fare
from the ale that Bard blessed.

We cannot say for sure which runes were carved on Egil’s drinking-horn because we do not know which set of runes Egil was familiar with. If it were the elder futhark we might assume that “trees” might mean Elhaz which refers to the elk and whose runic shape appears to look like the elk’s horns. Or we might even assume that it could be the rune Uruz, which stands for the auroch (wild ox) whose large horn may even have been the source for such a drinking horn. However the spread and shape of the elk’s horns would look more like a tree than the horns of an auroch. Also the line that contains “the wild beast’s ear-roots” is more likely to refer to Uruz and we would probably not see a double reference to the same rune in two lines of Egil’s verse. So assuming that the elder futhark runes were used by Egil, it would be safe to say that both Elhaz and Uruz would have been carved on the drinking horn to protect Egil from any sort of poison.

The reason we see Egil cut his own hand and cover the runes he had just carved with blood was a way thought to invoke the power of the runes. Because of this we also see why many runes are colored or associated with red. Red paint, ink or other material would represent blood and help release the power and magick of the runes that we are using.

Chapter 58

Then he thrust the pole into a cleft in the rock and left it to stand there. He turned the head towards the land and carved the whole invocation in runes on the pole.

The head on the pole in this case is the head of a horse. Egil had an encounter with Prince Rognvald, son of King Erik and Queen Gunnhild, as he and his men were approaching Herdla. Prince Rognvald and his crew went to spy on Egil, but when Egil spotted the warship that Prince Rognvald and his twelve crew members were in he steered his ship and rammed the warship. Jumping on board Egil told his crew not to let anyone escape alive and Prince Rognvald and his twelve crew members were killed. After the battle Egil and his companions raided Herdla plundering all the valuables they could find. They then prepared to set sail to make their escape, but before they could Egil ran back inland took a hazel pole and a horse head and cursed King Erik and Queen Gunnhild.

The idea here is that Egil was going to use the power and magick of the runes to make sure that his curse on the king and queen would work. An oral curse is one thing but to add the intensity of the runes would make this curse visible and known to all that did not hear him when he said it.

Chapter 73

‘We had some runes carved,’ said Thorfinn. ‘The son of a farmer who lives close by did it, and since she’s been much worse. Do you know any remedy, Egil?’
Egil said, ‘It might not do any harm if I try something.’

When Egil had eaten his fill he went to where the woman was lying and spoke to her. He ordered them to lift her out of bed and place clean sheets underneath her, and this was done. Then he examined the bed she had been lying in, and found a whalebone with runes carved on it. After reading the runes, Egil shaved them off and scraped them into the fire. He burned the whalebone and had her bedclothes aired. Then Egil spoke a verse:

No man should carve runes
unless he can read them well;
many a man go astray
around those dark letters.
On the whalebone I saw
ten secret letters carved,
from them the linden tree3
took her long harm.

Egil cut some runes and placed them under the pillow of the bed where she was lying. She felt as if she were waking from a deep sleep, and she said she was well again, but still very weak.

Here we see a situation of misused runes. Thorfinn’s daughter, Helga, had been sick and some farmer’s son had carved, what he thought, were healing runes on a whalebone to help her get well. However when Egil inspected the runes carved on the bone he noticed that they were causing her more harm than good. To get rid of the old runes Egil scrapes them off into the fire and burns the rest of the bone. He then cuts the proper new runes and places them under Helga’s pillow in her bed.

Scraping off the runes on the whalebone was a necessary start to help Helga get better. The reason that Egil burns them was to make sure that the power of the runes was no longer there. If he had simply scraped the runes off the chips of the bone would still be in the room. Burning the bone converts the bone into another material – from a solid to a gas if you will. This releases the power of the bad healing runes allowing Egil to cut the proper healing runes. Egil also speaks about how no man should carve runes unless he can read (understand) them well. This is a general warning that if the correct runes are not used in a certain situation that they can have a different result than what we intended.

Chapter 77

The man who had carved the runes for Helga lived close by. It transpired that he had asked for her hand in marriage, but Thorfinn had refused him. Then the farmer’s son had tried to seduce her, but she did not want him. After that he pretended to carve love runes to her, but did not know how to, and what he carved had caused sickness instead.

This is the chapter where we find out why Helga, Thorfinn’s daughter, became sick in the first place. The farmer’s son was in love with Helga and when all other ways had failed him he resorted to carving runes in order to make her fall in love with him. However since he was not skilled in the runes he ended up carving runes that made her ill.

Chapter 79

Then Thorgerd said, ‘What will we do now? Our plan has failed. Now I want us to stay alive, father, long enough for you to compose a poem in Bodvar’s memory and I will carve it on a rune-stick. Then we can die if we want to.

In this chapter we see Egil’s daughter, Thorgerd, trying to get Egil’s spirits up. Egil’s son, Bovar, had died and Egil had retreated to his bedchambers in hopes that his life would not continue much longer. However, Thorgerd comes to his room and tells him that she hopes that Egil will make a verse in Bodvar’s memory so that she can carve it into a rune-stick. The thought of doing such a thing was enough to pull Egil out of bed and get him back on his feet. He proceeds to write twenty-five stanza verse in memory of his son.

In this saga this is the one time we see the use of the runes simply as a writing system. The runes in all the other chapters are used as powerful symbols for magick or curses. The reference to the runes in chapter 58 might possibly have been used in the same manner, but it’s not clear. The reason I say that is because the curse that Egil sets on King Erik and Queen Gunnhild is rather long and if Egil and his crew were trying to escape odds are that he would not take the time to carve the whole curse on the pole. More likely he would have carved a few runes that would set such a curse making sure that there are enough runes carved to make it clear, to anyone who saw the pole, just what the curse was intended to do.

Casting Lots

I had mentioned that Egil’s Saga had also contained the act of casting lots. 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 7 – According to custom they cast lots every evening to decide which pairs would sit together and share the drinking horns.

Chapter 48 – Before the time came to put away the tables, the earl said that they should cast lots to pair off the men and women who would drink together, as far as numbers allowed, and the remainder would drink by themselves. They all cast their lots into a cloth and the earl picked them out.

As you can see the casting of the lots could or could not be rune symbols. On the one hand they could simply be dice as they would not be too uncommon at such a time. However in chapter 48 we see that they cast these lots onto a cloth, a practice that would not make sense for throwing dice, but would make sense for casting the runes. There is a third possibility that the lots were neither dice nor runes but some other form that would allow you to pair a lager group of people up.

Rune Casting

It is still unknown if the runes were first developed for the use of a writing system or for the use of divination (or casting lots). Either way, in the past, the runes were used for casting, we even see evidence of that in mythology and sagas. Recently there has been a new found interest in new age items and we have see a revival of using the runes for casting and divination. You can now buy a set of runes almost as easily as you can buy a deck of tarot cards. However, if you want your runes to be special to you there’s no better way than to make them yourself.

Once you have your set of runes, what do you do? Well there are many fine books out there to help get you started. If you buy your runes, a lot of sets come along with a small starter book that will introduce you to the history, myths and meanings of the runes as well as how to cast them. If you would like to make your own you can follow the guides below and then use the rest of this site to find out the meanings and images.

So let’s get started…

Picking a rune set – Decide which rune set is best for you to use for casting.

Making your own rune set – Find out how to make your own personal set of runes.

What you need for casting – A list of item that are good to have for casting.

How to do a reading – Find out how set up a reading and where and when to cast.

Casting layouts and spreads – A list of casting spreads and layouts to choose from.

Casting record sheets – Here are a few PDFs for you to use to download, print and record your rune casts on.

Improve Your Casts Through Meditation – Learn how to improve your rune casting through meditation in this 4 page article.

* Layouts that were created by Dan Gronitz for this website. If you wish to use any of these layout ideas in any media please contact me.

** – Indicates a rune cast adapted from a tarot card spread.

Runes in Mythology and Sagas

An important part of runic knowledge can be learned by examining the mythology, sagas, and folklore of the people of Northern Europe, Iceland and even Greenland. By doing so we start to get an understanding of where the runes may have come from, how there were used and even some of the mystery and magick behind them.

For this section I have broken down the stories or myths and have given my input on how the runes come into play in that story or myth. A good place to start is to take a look at how the runes are said to have come into existence in Norse mythology. After we examine the runes in mythology we can begin to learn and understand more about how the runes were used by the people in the saga tales.

Mythology

Odin Discovers the Runes
Runes of the Hávamál

Sagas of Iceland

Egil’s Saga
Saga of the People of Vatnsdal

Other Sagas

The Saga of the Volsungs

Miscellaneous

‘Casting Lots’ in Sagas