Runes have an ancient history going back almost two millennia. They were a sacred writing system of the Germanic tribes of northern Europe, stones on which the Runic alphabet written. Runes can be used as a form of divination in which you draw them out of a bag, either individually or altogether, and “interpret” their meanings. But the really fun part is that you can make your own runes!
There are basically two methods of making runes, from wood or from stones. Stones, let face it, are pretty much omnipresent except for maybe deep in the big cities. When looking for stones to make your runes, you’ll want to look for pretty much what you look for when looking for stones to skip across water. They need to be relatively flat and thin and smooth. So, therefore, although rocks can be found in many places, the absolute best place to find stones for rune making would be near the water.
Making runes from wood is a bit more work. Traditionally, the favored woods for runes have been ash, yew and birch because those particular types of trees have connections with the original runes. But oak, willow and apple trees are just as acceptable. First thing is to cut a branch off the tree and remember if the tree isn’t yours, ask permission first. The branch should be no more than two inches thick and about a foot long. Next you’ll have to cut the branch into little circular slices, about one-fourth to one-half inch thick. How many of these little discs you’ll need depends on which symbols you decide to use. Various alphabets range from fifteen letters to thirty-three. Once you’ve decided how many you’ll need, all you have to do is get out that old wood-burning kit you surely got buried somewhere in your garage and set to work soldering the symbols of alphabet into it, followed by rubbing a little beeswax into the wood.
An important part of making runes is cleansing them. Not just physically, but spiritually. Some people leave them outside over night during a full moon, others waft smoking herbs over them. But unless you intend to get really serious about runes, you can take them to the nearest running water that doesn’t come from a tap-I’m talking about natural, clean water here-and let the water run over the runes. Cleansing runes will become a ritual, a necessary ritual because not only do want to keep them spiritually clean, but as they start gathering dirt and oils, they will no longer feel as comfortable in your palm.
Storing runes is important as well. Obviously if you’ve gone through all the trouble of making them, you don’t just want to dump them into a baggie. The best place to store runes is in a fabric made of natural materials such as cotton. You will also need a piece of fabric on which to lay your runes when you begin using them.
The actual practice of using runes is interesting, but that’s another article.