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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We see in a few of the sagas the mention of ‘lots’ and the act of ‘casting lots’ for many purposes. On each of the saga pages I had said that it was uncertain if these lots were really runes or something else completely. There is some evidence that these lots may in fact have been runes or pre-runic magic symbols that were carved on branches.
In the first century A.D. the Roman author Tacitus wrote his Germania 10 in which he gives an account of some divinatory practices of ancient Germanic people.
For divination and the casting of lots they have the highest regard. Their procedure in casting lots is always the same. They cut off a branch of a nut-bearing tree and slice it into strips; these they mark with different signs and throw them completely at random onto a white cloth. Then the priest of the state, if the consultation is a public one, or the father of the family if it is private, offers a prayer to the gods, and looking up at the sky picks up three strips, one at a time, and reads their meaning from the signs previously scored on them. If the lots forbid an enterprise, there is no deliberation that day on the matter in question; if they allow it, confirmation by the taking of auspices is required.
The different signs that were scored on the wood could have only been one of a few things. First off it’s possible that they had carved magical symbols onto the strips. If this is the case they may have been the runes being used as magical symbols or actual magical symbols that date to a pre-runic time. We have to take into account a few things here. If the symbols were in fact magical pre-runic symbols then why would we find items, such as swords and rings, from this time period that contain magical inscriptions carved in runes. Not the pre-runic symbols, but the actual rune symbols. However, there’s another side to this coin. If the runes were used for magical inscriptions then why would we see so many variations in different rune sets? If they were used for magic then there would be no need to make changes to the design of the symbols. It would be similar to the symbols used in astronomy, since each symbol stands for something specific, like the sun or the moon; there is no need to change the symbol. So the symbol gets passed from culture to culture and through time unchanged. However, using the runes as a writing system would give reason to why there were changes in the shapes of the runes.
There is one other possibility that could lead us to believe the symbols carved were rune shapes. This possibility is that the runes were used for both magical purposes as well as for writing. The magical inscriptions were simply oral commands carved onto an item to give the power of the command to the item it was being carved on. This seems to be the more likely explanation. The runes used as a system of writing would allow someone to add magical inscriptions to something without having to know a separate list of magic symbols.
With all that said is it safe to assume that the terms ‘casting lots’ and ‘lots’ referred to the runes in the sagas? Well without any solid proof the answer would be no, we can’t say for certain. However, the possibility of this happening is greater than the possibility of it not happening. At least that’s what I am lead to believe, still you should try to decide that for yourself.