How to read Runes


In this article, we are going to show you how to read Runes, but before explaining some reading methods traditionally used with the Runes is good to keep in mind that you should not use them if you do not know the meanings and what each Rune recalls.

We have seen the meanings of each Rune in the previous article rune meanings in case you haven’t read it I suggest you do it if you want to try your hand at reading the runes.

What Are Runes?

Runes are a set of characters used in writing, divination, and magic. The word “rune” comes from the Old Norse word for “secret” or “whisper.”

Runes were used throughout northern Europe, Scandinavia, the British Isles, and Iceland from about the 3rd century AD until the early 13th century AD. They are an inexhaustible source of suggestions and their power makes them a very effective method of divination.

The runes used for divination are 24 plus the unnamed rune, and are divided into three groups of eight Runes each, these groups are called Aettir. Each Aettir, represents an evolutionary path that develops through the signs. The signs are connected to each other, especially with the previous and subsequent signs.

Elder_Futhark how to read runes

Runes in Norse Mythology

According to Norse Mythology, the runes are engraved by the Norns, on the roots of the tree Yggdrasil.

The Norns are the goddesses of fate, they are the ones who decide the fate of men, continuously engraving the runes on the roots.

For the Nordic people, destiny is not linear, it does not follow a straight line from one point to another, but is seen as a spider web where many threads intertwine. Our actions affect the personal threads, but also the threads of others.

This concept called Wyrd destiny means that our actions affect our present, past and future. The first Norn weaves the Wyrd, the second does the spinning, and the third sets the fulfillment of destiny. The latter often has to undo everything if the first two change anything.


How do You Read Runes?

To read the Runes, we can extract them one by one from the bag (it’s best to store them in a linen bag ) and arrange them according to a particular scheme, there are various schemes according to which to arrange the Runes: the Tree, the Dragon, the Well of the Wyrd and many others.

The choice of the scheme depends, as for the Tarot, the nature of the question that we are doing to the Runes, or we can throw them, in the oldest way, and observe the disposition that they assume once on the ground: according to the position and the relationship between a Rune and the others, they will answer to our doubts (this way of questioning the Runes, certainly more difficult, is very ancient and follows the same principle of interpretation of the flight of birds, the shape of clouds, the lines on the palm of a hand or tea leaves).

The methods of divination must be used with caution and respect, and are considered initiatory knowledge. To cast the Runes means to question the gods, or the Forces operating in the Cosmos, about the energy that characterizes a specific moment.

The Runes show us the energetic configuration in which we are, the active archetypes and their role in our present, helping us to better understand ourselves and what is acting in us, like a candle that illuminates a little the darkness of the unconscious.

They do not predict the future, because the future simply does not exist. There is only an eternal present, made of intertwined energies that mix like currents in the ocean, and the Runes, if wisely questioned, can give us directions on the route, pointing us to the North Star.

The moment of reading Runes must be a meditative moment, of deep connection with the divine in us. Let’s not forget that, questioning the Runes, we are actually opening a dialogue with the most sacred and ancient part that dwells in ourselves, the part that already knows everything and is connected to the knowledge of the Cosmos.

Therefore, we perform the consultation with due respect, devoting all the time, openness and reflection necessary. Once we have consulted the Runes (there are various schemes according to which to consult them, each scheme suitable for a particular type of question or situation), we do not pretend to understand everything immediately.

They speak to us in primordial language, showing us things from a perspective we are not used to considering. Let’s listen with our Hearts to their suggestions and let their message rest in us. To fully understand it may take a few days, or even a few months.

But the process of understanding began the very moment our eyes rested on them and healing is already at work.

There are no rules for the Runemal, but some tips can make it more effective, here are some of them

  • Use a quiet place where you will not be disturbed
  • Keep lights low, the use of candles can serve to create the just atmosphere
  • Face North
  • Use a white cloth, which will be our “field” to delimit the space
  • Formulate a question carefully and avoid changing it during the process. Prefer a theme (work, health, love) to a dry yes or no question. Runes are more effective if they can range, especially since the answer must be interpreted.

After this necessary premise, we come to the reading of the runes and the different methods that can be used to question them.

Reading the Runes, more than giving a picture of particular situations, puts you in touch with your unconscious, allowing you to dialogue with yourself and to know your most hidden thoughts. In particular, they show the ones you refuse to see and recognize in yourself.

For this reason, it can happen that when you read the Runes to other people they refuse to admit what we are seeing, both because denying certain aspects of their personality is easier and because they often fail to see their shadow sides.

I recommend reading the Runes only to those who follow a path of personal growth and therefore know how to get involved.

For the purpose of reading is also important what the Rune moves within you and how you relate to the content that expresses that particular Rune.

What Is The Purpose of Rune Divination?

The purpose of Rune Divination is to acquire the information necessary to take responsibility for your life with awareness and help you make choices by giving you a picture of the situation you are facing and that you will face.

Runes will not give exact answers, such as the day you will die or the name of the person you will marry.

They won’t offer advice, such as whether you should quit your job or leave your cheating spouse. But what they can do is suggest different variables and possible outcomes based on the problem as it currently stands.

In other words, runes will give you suggestions that will force you to use some critical thinking skills and intuition.

Reading the Runes: How do you mix the Runes?

Before you start reading the Runes you must choose whether or not to use the White Rune and in case you choose not to use it it should be removed from the bag. The Runes are kept in a cotton bag of black or red color.

In a Runic reading is not necessary a clear and well-formulated question, because what they read is our path, but who wants to ask them for something specific can still formulate it and they will answer to that.

Unusually two methods are used to mix the Runes:

First method: the consultant must shake the bag thinking about the question or not (in case he wants a specific reading), so as to magnetize it with his frequency and when he feels ready he can start the extraction;

Second method: all the Runes are placed on a surface upside down and mixed together with the left hand (the Runologist can choose whether to mix them with the consultant or mix them himself) until he instinctively decides to stop (decides who mixes). The consultant then chooses the ones that inspire him and draws them.

Reading the Runes: 4 Methods

For the purposes of a Runic reading, no special preparation is necessary; all that is needed is one’s own bag, a firm connection with the Gods, and a runic cloth (not mandatory but can be useful).

Traditionally, before starting reading you would fill a glass or a horn, with beer or another beverage sacred to the Norse Gods, to summon their presence during divination, today it is not necessary, but if you do it is a welcome gift.

In this article we will see the four divination schemes most used with the Runes, however, any scheme that you may already use effectively with the Tarot can also be used with the Runes.

First Method: The Eye of Odin or extraction of 1 Rune

This method is the simplest method of all. One concentrates, mixes the runes and extracts a single Rune that will give us information on the specific moment of our life in which we are, then the phase that we are going through.

You can also think of a question that requires a simple answer using this method. It is usually a method that is used on a daily basis to get a picture of what is ahead of us during the day that we are going to face.

For example in the morning, to get an idea of the day, one will ask the Runes, ” what will happen today ? “and you extract a rune from the bag reading the auspiciousness.

Second Method: Huginn and Muninn or Extraction of 2 Runes

This method takes its name from the two ravens of Odin, Huginn and Muninn (whose names translated mean Thought and Memory) that according to the myths went around the world, leaving in the morning and returning in the evening to report to the God Odin everything they had seen, in fact, this method consists of one extraction in the morning and one in the evening.

The first Rune, therefore, should be extracted in the morning and can provide us with indications about the day we will face and the second should be extracted in the evening and will provide us with indications to understand what happened and invite us to reflect on the meaning of events and how to integrate them into our path.

odin with Huginn and Muninn

Third Method: The Three Norns or extraction of 3 runes

This method is used when you want to examine the evolution of a situation over time.

Initially, the consultant extracts 3 Runes, which represent Past, Present and Future (or the three Norns that weave the tapestry of the Wyrd), the times should not be read separately but constitute a fluid continuum, so they should be read as if they were telling you a story.

extract 3 runes by arranging them in a row from right to left and read them in sequence.

the 3 norns

Classic reading

The right rune represents the influence of the past that has led to the present situation, the center rune represents the present and the path you are on, the left rune suggests the future, the most likely outcome if you stay on the present path or accept the advice.

Removal reading

The rune on the right represents the present, the one in the center represents the challenge or obstacle, the one on the left the best result if you manage to remove the obstacle or win the challenge

If all runes are positive we have a yes, if all three are reversed is a no, if we have two positive out of three the answer is still positive. The third rune, the negative one, however, indicates the difficulties and on what we must intervene to have maximum success. Having read the first three we can extract another 2 or 4 Runes to see what will happen in the future. For a total of 5 or 7 runes extracted.

5 Runes: the first Rune tells us about the past and what caused the current situation, the second Rune shows us the present, the problem that exists (or does not exist) at the present time, the fourth Rune shows us the help we can expect to receive, while the fifth one tells us what aspect of the problem must be accepted and cannot be changed. The third Rune exposes to us the final result. Within three months what is revealed will happen.

7 Runes: the first and second indicate an issue, the third and fourth are the past factors that are the cause, while the fifth and sixth are warning runes that help us modify the things on which we must act. The seventh Rune then gives us the result to make us learn how we should move.

In case you have difficulty interpreting some Rune, you can proceed to extract another one that helps you understand it better.

Fourth Method: Casting Runes

The last method of rune reading that we will see is the most traditional and nowadays is used in an elegant way with a special cloth for Runic divination, but in fact, in ancient times it was used everywhere, so you can also use a table without cloth or the floor, the important thing is to create a mental division of the space you have chosen to use.

In general, the classic subdivision of space is into four parts, each associated with an element, which represents various areas of life, specifically:

Earth: represents work, money, and material matters;

Air: represents the intellectual sphere, language, personal culture and ideas;

Water: represents the sentimental sphere, therefore relationships both of couple and friendship;

Fire: represents transformation, instinct, creative energy, and sexuality.

Keeping in mind the subdivision, the Runes should be mixed by shaking the bag, after which the consultant grabs a handful from the bag and drops them on the cloth/space.

The Runes should be read from the center outwards, the center represents the past and as they go outwards they indicate the present, near future, far future etc.

Depending on the element they occupy, they give us information about that particular area of life.

In addition, usually, the Runes that fall outside the space we have chosen to use should not be read. For those who use the cloth, the Runes outside the cloth do not read them.

On the market, there are special clothes for Runic divination, divided not only by elements, but also in many areas of life, from love, work, health and so on, and for those who use these specific clothes, the same rule applies: that is, proceed to the reading from the center outwards, then from the past to the future.

Reading upside-down Runes and horizontal Runes

The extraction of a Rune that is upright or upside down does not change its meaning, in fact, every Rune, whether it is upright or not contains both meanings in light and in shadow. In fact, even Runes that do not have the reverse always contain in themselves a warning (see Sowelu) precisely because of this ambivalence.

What an inverted Rune wants to tell you is to take time with yourself to reflect, because it indicates that the positive quality of the rune is confined in a dark part of our psyche, that you can not see and then invite you to explore your dark sides in order to unlock the inactive energy of the Rune that is hidden inside you.

So, in essence, it points you to blocks that you need to work on.

Should a Rune be drawn with the horizontal direction, you generally rotate it 90° clockwise, so it can become a straight or upside-down Rune.

Sometimes, the rune in the horizontal direction could also indicate a period of transition that you are going through to reach it, this is up to the intuition and experience of the Runologist to understand it, for those who are beginners I recommend the rotation.

What is the most suitable material for divination with Runes?

As we have said Runes can be made of various materials including wood, metal, paper, stone, crystal. If you decide to opt for the Runes in stone or crystal is good to know the properties of the latter.

Below we indicate some of them.


Amethyst in general has many properties but the best-known concern is the opening of the third eye. In fact, for divination, the Runes in amethyst are particularly indicated because they favor prescience and intuition. These ancient and sacred symbols engraved in a crystal with pure energies make it a conductor of these energies going to stimulate the chakra of clairvoyance.

Amethyst runes


The black agate is associated with the element fire, as part of volcanic rock, and its power is linked to the Archangel Michael in fact is used to bring the truth to the surface but also to defeat evil. Even in ancient times, it was used against the evil eye, like many of the darker stones, because it was considered a source of strength and courage against negative influences.

The Runes in black agate are indicated for hidden divination, that is, they are used for those energetic works that need to be protected from prying “eyes” both human and non-human.

black agate runes


The bloodstone thanks to its strong protective properties, chases away negativity by channeling the purest energies.

The runes engraved in this stone help to increase intuition by giving the courage to say what you see …

In addition, the bloodstone encloses the green ray of the heart and the red ray of the root chakra and this combination of energies reinforces the balance necessary to receive the messages of the Runes without being interfered with by one’s ego.

Bloodstone runes


Rock crystal, also called hyaline quartz, is the most widely used in crystal therapy for its high beneficial properties.

During the divination with Runes, this powerful crystal as well as promoting clairvoyance, shields the people involved in the reading by creating a bell of high-frequency energy around them.

The shielding, in this case, protects from various interferences that could disturb the messages of the Runes. In addition, the rock crystal dissolves negative radiations or, rather, automatically transforms them into positive and constructive energies.

rock crystal runes


Moonstone takes its name from its strong connection with the moon. Thanks to this connection it is used for divination, as it strengthens clairvoyance and wisdom. It has always been considered a sacred stone as it is connected to mystery, the unconscious and the feminine.

moonstone runes

Moonstone helps during introspective journeys to bring clarity and bring out hidden truths. Doing divination with runes engraved in these stones facilitates connection with the divine feminine and brings light where there is darkness.

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