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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As far as how the runes were created and how they traveled from one place to the next is unclear to us. They may have been an adaptation of previous alphabets or could have been the result of original work. To get a better understanding of where the runes may have come from we will look at the four major historical history theories on the runes. After each theory we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of each to get a better idea of why the theory may or may not be the correct one.
The four theories that we will cover are as follows:
This theory was first presented in 1874 by L.F.A. Wimmer and states that the runes are a result of the adaptation of the Roman (or Latin) alphabet. It is assumed that the ancient Germanic people, who came into contact with Roman culture through the invasion of the Teutones and Cimbri, were familiarized with the Roman written alphabet as early as the 2nd century B.C.E. They then adapted the Roman alphabet into the runes and put it to use, spreading it by the means of trading routes into Scandinavian countries and then eastward from there.
The one thing that we need to watch in this theory is the fact that there is little evidence of the runes near Roman lands at such a time. However, the spread of the runes into Scandinavian countries and from there eastward may mean that the adaptation of the Roman alphabet wasn’t complete until the runes had begun to spread northward.
First put forward in 1896 by R.M. Meyer and popularized by National Socialist Germany, this theory states that the runes were an original “alphabet.” Not only were they said to be original but they were also said to have been the groundwork on which the Greek and Phoenician alphabets were created.
This theory no longer holds much value to it due to the fact that the earliest Phoenician writings can be dated back to around the 13th or 12th century B.C.E., while the earliest runic inscription dates back to the 1st century C.E.
This theory was first stated in 1899 by Sophus Bugge and talks about how the ancient Germanic people adapted the Greek alphabet to create the runes. The theory goes that the Goths had come into contact with a cursive form of the Greek alphabet. The Goths then adapted the cursive form of that alphabet for their own use allowing the new alphabet to spread with them as they traveled.
There are problems with this theory, which have led it to be abandoned by many people. Again we see a fault in the times for this theory. The earliest the Goths would have been able to adapt such an alphabet is around 200 C.E. and the earliest runic inscription would have been earlier than that.
This theory by C.J.S. Marstrander in 1928 was strengthened in 1937 by Wolfgang Krause. The theory goes that the Germanic people living in the Alps came into contact with the North-Italic (or Etruscan) alphabet and adapted it. Then the Cimbri come into contact with the “new” alphabet and pass it on to the Suevi who carry the runes up the Rhine river to the North Sea, Jutland and beyond.
The only real “problem” with this scenario is that the encounter would have taken place two to three hundred before any runic inscriptions that are already dated. But this doesn’t mean that it couldn’t have happened. Items made of wood may have been carved with the runes and may have long since decayed.
This is only a brief timeline of the runes. I will be adding more as this site continues to grow so please be sure to check back often.
5th century B.C.E.
In the Alpine region the ‘alphabets’ known as North Etruscan, North Italic or Alpine come into existence. Later these ‘alphabets’ will play an important role in the development of the runes.
4th century B.C.E.
The Alpengermanen are thought to have come into contact with Alpine (or North Italic or North Etruscan) ‘alphabets’ and made use of them.
3rd century B.C.E.
There is a fusion between the Alpine alphabets and the pre-systemized runes forming the 24 staves of the Germanic or Elder runes. A bronze helmet found at Negau in Steiermark that was dated to possibly the 3rd century B.C.E. was inscribed in a Germanic language with Alpine lettering.
2nd century B.C.E.
Rome conquered Etruria and brings in the Roman alphabet. However the letters of the Etruscan alphabet may have advanced north through traders.
Near the end of the 2nd century B.C.E. Germanic survivors of the battles of Vercellae (the Cimbri) and Aquae Sextiac (the Teutons) stay in the area. The Cimbri, before crossing the Alps back towards Germany, may possibly have learned the runes and passed them on the Suevi.
1st century B.C.E.
The Cimbri, Suevi or possibly the Teutons advance the runes northwards down the Rhine river. At this same time the Marcomanni move the runes eastward. A goblet found at Vehlingen with a runic formula is dated to the 1st century B.C.E.
1st century C.E.
The Roman author Tacitus writes his “Germania 10” in which he gives an account of the divinatory methods of the ancient Germanic people. Also in this work it is presented that although men carried out the rituals Tacitus may have witnessed, women were held in high regard for their holiness and gifts of prophecy.
A lance tip carved with runes is found at ØvreStabu in Norway and is said to date to this time.
Around this time Rome is looted by people who are familiar with the runes. These people may have taken some Roman letters and incorporated them into rune lore. Also the Kylver stone, a Gothic grave slab in Gotland, shows us the first f-u-þ-a-r-k (f-u-th-a-r-k) order.
A gold medallion found in Vadstena Sweden shows the three families of runes separated by double dots.
Earliest date of a purely Norse rune-stave inscription.
Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem is written.
3rd century C.E.
By this time the runes have made their way to Denmark, Jutland, and Scandinavia by traveling along North Sea costal routes consisting of the Frisian Islands, Heligoland Bay as well as across Schleswig-Holstein.
6th century C.E.
Saxons bring to England the 28 rune-staves of the futhork that was developed in Friesland.
9th century C.E.
Development of the 33 rune-staves in Northumbria.
Early in the 9th century the use of the Germanic Futhark comes to an end. However, after a short transition an entire Scandinavian rune-row comes into existence mainly based on the Germanic runes.
11th century C.E.
Icelandic rune poem is written.
13th century C.E.
Norwegian rune poem is written.
16th century C.E.
Runic inscriptions in Gotland date to as late as the 16th century.
17th century C.E.
Runic inscriptions in Iceland date to as late as the 17th century.