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  • Writer's pictureNykos

How to Cast and Read Runes - Rune Meanings and Divination

This guide will show you the basics of how to read runes, explain rune meanings and symbols, and teach you how to cast them and use them for divination.


Runes are letters of ancient Germanic alphabets. They were used by Germanic and Nordic tribes of northern Europe, Scandinavia, and Britain. Runes are letters, but each rune also has an associated meaning and spiritual significance. Traditionally, runes were inscribed on wood, stone, and metal.


Rune casting is a form of divination where the associated rune meanings are used to gain insight into a situation. They can be used to tell the future, learn about the past, or gain clarity into certain situations.


The main ancient runic alphabets are the:

  • Elder Futhark (at least c. 160-700 CE)

  • Younger Futhark (c. 700 - c. 1200 CE)

  • Anglo-Saxon Futhorc (also Anglo-Frisian Futhorc, c. 5th century - c. 1000 CE)

  • Medieval Futhork (fully formed c. 13th century CE)

The Elder Futhark is the oldest runic script, and it also the most commonly used today for rune casting. It consists of 24 runes, and the first six runes spell out Futhark. The Elder Futhark is made up of 3 sets of 8 runes. The sets are Freyr’s Aett, Heimdall’s Aett, and Tyr’sAett. Freyr’s Aett are the first 8 runes, and they have to do to with the material world. Heimdall’s Aett are the next 8 runes, and they are about growth and maturation. Tyr’s Aett are the last 8 runes, and they are spiritual in nature.


Today, runes not only include the ancient alphabets but also contemporary symbols. These symbols can be common representations or they can be personal designs that you create yourself.

Witch's runes are a contemporary set of symbols commonly used for divination. The chart below shows some common witch's rune symbols and their meanings. These symbols are the ones I use for my seawitch seashell runes. You can learn how to make your own set of seashell runes, or you can purchase a set of my hand-made seashell runes here.


You can definitely design your own runes, with symbols and meanings that have personal significance. You can get creative with the designs you choose and be as specific with the meanings as you like. When you make your own runes, you do not need to limit yourself to the traditional wood, stone, or metal. You can be as creative and create a rune set from anything. Some ideas include buttons, charms, beads, shells, or small pieces of jewelry.

The picture below shows my hand-crafted seashell runes.


Much like reading tarot cards, there is no absolute right or wrong way to read and cast runes. The method I use here is my preferred method, but you can modify it in any way that works best for you and allows you to connect the most with the runes.

1. Start by finding a quiet place to focus and relax. Close your eyes, take a few breaths in and out, and think of your question or topic.

2. Lay out a small cloth, known as a rune cloth, to place the runes on top of. Without looking, pick runes at random from your bag of runes and place them in a certain spread to interpret their meanings. There are many spreads (or layouts), and below are some of the most commonly used spreads.

Three Rune Spread / Three Rune Casting

Draw 3 runes at random from the bag and place them in a line left to right so that rune 1 is on the left, rune 2 is in the middle, and rune 3 is on the right. This spread can be used to gain insight into a specific situation that is happening now (the situational spread) or to learn about the past, present, and future.

Situational Spread

Rune 1 is the present situation

Rune 2 is the obstacle or challenge

Rune 3 is a possible outcome

Past, Present, Future Spread

Rune 1 is the past

Rune 2 is the present

Rune 3 is the future or outcome

Runic Cross Spread / Runic Cross Casting

Runic Cross Spread / Runic Cross Casting


Molly Collins
Molly Collins

There is no info on interpreting the symbols, just how to draw and lay them out. Where is a more in depth description of the symbols and how to interpret them into a cohesive interpretation or message?

Holly Blackburn
Holly Blackburn

this is what i came for too

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