The Big Book of Runes and Rune Magic: How to Interpret Runes, Rune Lore, and the Art of Runecasting - Edred Thorsson 2018
Sitting at the Well of Wyrd
Reading The Runes
RUNECASTING AND RUNIC DIVINATION
To communicate directly with a god, or the gods—that is what divination is all about. The runes on their most mundane level are a writing system. On both the mundane and the cosmic levels they are a system of communication. They are tools for reading otherwise hidden truths. Runes are a sort of traditional code, originally the gift of the god Odin, through which messages can be sent from one level of reality to another, from one world to another. Whether in magic (galdr), where the runer's aim is to cause the objective world to conform to subjective will, or in runecasting, where the runer's aim is to read the hidden truths of his or her own subjective being or of the objective worlds, the runes are used as tools—as media—by which messages may be sent and received.
In reality, of course, the true runes dwell within the soul of the runer—within you. The runestaves are symbolic objects which act as a kind of magical mirror of your soul. When you gaze upon the runestaves strewn on the holy cloth of white, you are truly gazing deep within the Well of Wyrd. As a runecaster, the vitki approaches the level of a priest or priestess (of a godhi or gydhja), someone charged to deal with the gods and to act as a communicator between the worlds of the gods and that of Midhgardhr. Most important, however, is the fact that anyone who takes the time to become skilled in runecasting will open unseen channels between the conscious and unconscious selves.
This “opening of channels” is won only after some effort and willpower have been spent. The would-be runecaster must learn much and work much before great success can be expected. In this book, you will find all that you will ever need to become an effective “runic communicator.”
This part of the book is intended to contain practical concrete indications of exact traditional lore and procedures; but it should not be taken to be overly restrictive. Where the elder tradition is clear, we follow it, but in some technical matters we have had to reconstruct some details. This was done in the spirit of the Germanic and runic tradition. Each detail can be supported by some aspect or interpretation of the older tradition as it has survived in historical or literary sources. However, it is also an integral part of the Germanic and runic tradition to innovate where necessary. The potentially great runecaster will not hesitate to invent new forms or rune readings, casting methods, etc. Most runecasters—and would-be experts on the subject—do not err on the side of innovation, but depend too much on unthinking, rote borrowing from some other (usually later, more “popular”) system of divination. These borrowed elements then are shoved willy-nilly into the runic system.
Another problem often encountered in books on “runic divination” is that the writer is often totally ignorant of the actual tradition—and prefers to remain so. The quality of your runecasts will be greater if you invest the time and energy to learn something before you begin casting (much less writing!).
Runic divination needs to be practiced before you can become skilled. This will require that you make many castings which you will probably undertake with only a modicum of passion. You are urged not to make runecasting a profane form of “play” (for entertainment purposes); to this end the rituals should help. However, from a practical standpoint, how can you expect to become proficient if you only undertake rune casts on important occasions? In the beginning, daily practice should be observed, though it is probably wisest not to undertake more than one casting per day. In this balanced way, a healthy respect for the runes, along with initiated familiarity, will be gained in the shortest possible time.
Sometimes the runecaster poses a question to the runes, but the runes seem to be speaking to another point. The runes (i.e., your personal inner runes) tend to pick up the real question on your mind or in your heart. It is easiest to get accurate readings from these kinds of questions. More refined questions require more direction of the conscious will.
All in all, runecasting itself is perhaps the best method of “getting to know” the runes. Reading—even memorizing—what the elder tradition says is fine, but the direct method of runer to runes is by far the most powerful way of learning about the “mysteries.” Skills in runecasting can be applied directly to all other aspects of rune work and runecraft.
There is a great deal we have already said in part one of this book about the history of runecasting as it is found in literature and folklore. Here we move on to the more current story of the practice of runic divination and its actual applications.
The tide has turned and the time has come for all the kith and kin of Odin to gather at the Well of Wyrd again to read the ordeal of the gods and humanity and to handle the mighty blood-tines.
Runic Divination and the Magical Revival
In this century, many systems of runic divination have appeared in the world. Only one of them, that presented in Rune Games, by Marijane Osborn and Stella Longland,1 has even come close to being a traditional system. However, in Germany, systems inspired by the trailblazing work of Guido von List (1848—1919) became a virtual neo-tradition within various schools of magic in the twentieth century.
Most of the major writers on rune magic in the early Listian tradition did not explicitly address matters of runic divination. The one exception was E. Tristan Kurtzahn, whose Die Runen als Heilszeichen und Schicksalslose [The Runes as Holy Signs and Lots of Fate] (1924)2 included an appendix on specific methods of runic divination—which he indicates he was reluctant to include. After the Second World War, Karl Spiesberger's book Runenmagie (1955)3 included a whole chapter on “RunenMantik” (to a large extent drawn from Kurtzahn's work). A sidelight to runic divination proper also was presented in 1955 by Roland Dionys Jossé in his Die Tala der Raunen (Runoastrologische Kabbalistik),4 the subtitle of which translates: “a handbook of the interpretation of the essence and path of a person on the basis of the runes of fate concealed in his name.” This is a type of rune-numerology based on a modification of the Listian system. The most recent foray into runic divination in this tradition is the comprehensive treatment by Werner Kosbab in Das Runen-Orakel (1982).5
In the English-speaking worlds we have not fared so well. As early as the late 1950s runic divination seems to have been known in occult circles, but since that time, and for the most part, only what can be described as bastardizations of the runic traditions have found their way into print in English. Unfortunately, and perhaps typically, one of the “offenders” in this regard was also the one most widely distributed: Ralph Blum's The Book of Runes.6 Several other “systems” have been generated within the Anglo-American occult mill (see bibliography), but I believe only one, Rune Games, is worth considering by readers interested in tradition or authenticity. Osborn and Long-land present a picture of a system and a culture in transition—from the heathen to the Christian. This may be seen as a reversed image of the present situation as the cultural pendulum swings back. At the Well of Wyrd tries to present a totally traditional, pre- (and post!) Christian system for those who are ready to throw away their crutches.
Although this section contains a complete system of viable runic divination that can be used by persons of differing traditions, it remains a significant part of the work of the Rune-Gild to teach deeper, even more traditional methods of runecasting, and to continue research in this field. Divination is an important tool not only in runework (esoteric self-transformation) but also in runecraft (esoteric environmental engineering).