Your Own Set of Runes

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Although the use of runes in magical workings does not require an actual set of runes, having physical representations of each runic character is still helpful for connecting with their energies, and is of course necessary for divination. Traditionally, rune sets are hand-made by the person who will use them, which imbues the symbols with the unique energetic signature of the rune worker for a truly one-of-a-kind divination tool. To make your own set of runes, you can follow the basic processes described above for making talismans. As with traditional runic talismans, the materials you make your runes from should be natural—either wood, bone, stone, or clay. If you’re not equipped for wood or stone cutting, you could work with pre-cut wood chips, or collect small, flat rocks or pebbles. If you’re basing your set on the Elder Futhark, you will need 24 individual pieces. It’s best to use roughly the same size and shape so that you won’t be able to tell them apart when they’re face-down. Also, avoid any identifying marks on the backs of your runes for the same reason. You can find plenty of different approaches to rune-making online, often with detailed instructions for cutting, carving, painting, and sealing or polishing your runes to help keep their symbols bright and visible over time. If making your own runes isn’t feasible, however, you can find pre-made rune sets in many different varieties. Some sets consist of small clay tablets carved with runic symbols, while others use tumbled mineral stones or pieces of wood or metal. (Depending on how you want to approach divination, tumbled mineral stones may not be very practical, since they may not have flat enough surfaces to easily distinguish the runes that land “face up.”) If buying runes doesn’t appeal to you either, you can easily make rune cards instead, which offers the opportunity to practice drawing the symbols, and can help in the process of familiarizing yourself with the runes and their meanings. You can even use rune cards for divination, though it will obviously be more akin to reading Tarot than to traditional runic divination. No matter where your runes originate or the material they’re made from, be sure to do a clearing and consecration ritual before using them in divination. For example, use smudging herbs like sage or rosemary, leave the runes out overnight in moonlight, or place them in a bowl of earth or salt (depending on the material) overnight to clear them of unwanted energy. Then send out your intention for these symbols to serve as your connecting bridge to the divine, in whichever way is most appropriate for your personal practice. Carry your runes with you and keep them near you for at least three days to strengthen your energetic connection to them. Treat them with an animistic perspective—see them as living beings that can assist you in a multitude of ways, as long as they are well cared for. Runes are traditionally stored in a cloth pouch, which may or may not be included with a store-bought rune set. You can often find quality draw-string bags in magical supply shops or online, or you can make your own if you’re handy with a needle and thread. For divination, you’ll also want to have a rune cloth for casting the runes upon, or as a designated space for laying out rune spreads. The traditional color for the rune cloth is white, but the more important factor is that it’s a plain cloth with no visual distractions to pull your focus from the rune cast. A typical rune cloth is 18 by 18 inches, but depending on your preference and the size of your runes, you may opt for something larger or smaller.

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