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When you think of a psychic, what is the first image that comes to mind? Is it, a deck of tarot cards laid out, and you’re instructed to pick a card, any card? Or is it candles surrounding a crystal ball and a woman wearing a sheer veil and dark eyeliner? Or a child who sees dead people? If you’re like me, you are the kind of person who sits back and watches Hollywood's depiction of psychics with amusement. Whether it’s Whoopi Goldberg telling Demi Moore she’s in danger, or the stereotypical “fortune-teller” traveling with some carnies; Hollywood has had a hand in portraying psychics with Tarot cards, crystal balls, or even the occasional pendulum. While these are some of the most common tools and instruments, we will discuss one of the most ancient forms of divination: Runes!
The Ancient Art of Runes and Their Meanings – How to Read Runes
While at first glance they may not appear as “flashy” as pulling a card with a dramatic flourish or as mystical as gazing into a crystal ball; whether we are discussing Celtic or Nordic; or for use in sigils and protection, the use of runes has extended as far back as early as the 4th century A.D.!
While there are no written records indicating the exact year, the original Norse alphabet, or “The Elder Futhark” as it is often called has been uncovered in a variety of different countries all across the globe! Being traders and explorers, wherever Vikings have landed, you are almost certain to find their writings engraved somewhere nearby. But not only were these runes used as a means of communication, but also for divination purposes.
When a psychic practices multiple modalities, it simply means that they use different tools to focus on their divinatory practice. One tool is not inherently superior to another, it really is apples and oranges, Honda and Volkswagen, AppleiOS/MacOS and PC: it depends on what the psychic’s preferences are, or by their culture and background. While a psychic can be proficient in one modality, they may not be particularly savvy in another, this is why Psychic Source employs a large variety of different psychics to match a customer’s particular need.
As we said, runes are tools to help us focus, much like tarot cards, each symbol of the Elder Futhark has a unique meaning assigned to it based on its ancient origins. Remember, every culture has its own interpretation. Note: much like in Tarot, reversals are just a different way to interpret the data. Context is important.
You might be asking yourself, “why is it called the Elder Futhark? Well, it is named so because of the first six letters of the alphabet! (Fun fact: the common computer keyboard is called “QWERTY” for the same reason!)
Each runes symbol has a name, a meaning, and a spiritual heritage. There is a force applied to each rune that is often used for spells of binding or protection. When using runes for spell work, be sure you do your research.
There are generally 25 runes to a set, however, there are 24 letters of the alphabet are divided into three groups of eight or “Aett.” These three groups are named after Norse gods and because of this, power can be called upon for a particular effect. We will also notice references to other important deities and how they relate to the runic symbol, (such as Thor’s Hammer or Odin’s Staff among others). I will also do my best to provide the common names associated with each Rune as well as their pronunciations. (It’s only polite to refer to anything correctly!)
Now let’s dive into the runes and their meanings! I will provide both Positive (upright) and Negative (reversed) meanings as well as what they would have been classified as during the time of the Vikings, so we can use this to reflect and interpret the meaning today.
The First Aett: The Earth Family
Freya, the Earth Family, representing the Life Cycle, or our Life’s Journey. “What we have left behind and what is to come.”
Fehu or Feoh (FAY-hoo):
Usually represented as a cow or cattle, as to Vikings of old, this was a sign of Wealth. Also considered the Mother Rune as mothers are creators, so does this rune represent; New beginnings, good fortune, or prosperity. In the Reverse, it can be seen as disappointments or loss. Financial problems or even infertility.
Oxen were used often used to build, to expand Viking territories and so it makes sense that they would view the Ox as a symbol of strength and endurance during their conquests. In a reading, Uruz, in the positive, represents health, enduring adversity, and slow movements towards a goal. In the reverse meaning, this can read as illness, failure, or missed opportunities.
Thurisaz (THOOR-ee-saz) or Thorn:
This rune is also seen as Thor’s Hammer or Mjöllnir. While the hammer (or thorn) was a force to be reckoned with, it also invited caution. When we look past the symbolism, we see that the hammer itself, is a tool and when used, it can be used to build, or it can be used to destroy. Destruction is not necessarily a bad thing! Sometimes we need to tear down barriers to allow freedom of movement. So as we examine this rune, keep in mind that this is a sign to use your counsel. The best action is often In-Action. In reverse, think of this as swinging the hammer without much regard. Ignoring advice and acting with uninformed decisions can lead to disaster.
Represents Odin Allfather’s staff and is, therefore, the rune of Wisdom. As we look at the rune, we see that it looks similar to Fehu, but the marking is face down, instead of up. As Odin is the God of wisdom, we visualize his staff blessing the reader/querent with enlightenment to the situation. The meaning of the rune is communications, wisdom, and inspiration. But in reverse, we see this as deception, trickery, and illusions.
Raido or Raidho (RYE-thoh):
Being the chariot of the gods, this rune represents the Wheel. A journey, expect movement or travel, possibly a change in a career. A decision to carry out a goal. In reverse, expect delays, directionless, or loss of momentum.
Kaunaz or Ken or Kenaz (KEHN-ahz):
Often represented as wood or a torch, we view Ken as a sign of renewed energy. Like a lighthouse ushering a lost ship towards safe harbors, we look to this rune as a sign of hope, to continue to persevere through trials. Fire is the source of life, it is passion and the gives us the ability to create and transform. In reverse, we can almost imagine the flame dying out: a sign of giving up or letting go. Again, it’s important to remember that this does not mean a bad thing. The biggest lesson in life knows when to let go of a situation that is no longer benefiting us.
Gebo or Gifu (GHEB-o or GIFF-o):
This represents Unity. Love, in all its forms, both physically and emotionally, romantic and Platonic. Gifts whether material or spiritual. Positive opportunities blossoming. There is no negative meaning to this rune.
Joy, happiness, Success! The winds are in your sails! In the reverse; dissatisfaction, fear, disappointment.
The Second Aett: The Warrior Family
Hagal is the Warrior Family, representing the forces of nature, things outside our control.
Hagalaz or Hagal (HA-ga-lahz):
This rune is a force of nature. Think hail, and havoc. Delays, limits, and upheavals. Look for alternate routes or outcomes to the situation because the current path leads to a dead-end. There is no reverse meaning.
Naudhiz (NOWD-heez) or Nauthiz, or Nyd (NYED):
Need or necessity. Overcoming the challenges, manifestation. The scales tipped in favor. In reverse, not getting your needs met, jumping to conclusions. Indecision.
Isa or Is (EE-sa or EEs):
This rune is associated with ice. Stillness, stagnation, Unbendable will. Stalemate. One's resistance to change. However, ice can be transparent and so this rune could also represent seeing the uncovered truth. There is no reverse meaning.
Life cycle, beginnings, and endings, to reap what was sown, Harvest time. Abundant rewards. Prosperity. There are no negative interpretations of this Rune.
Eihwaz (AY-wahz or eee-Wahz):
Yew Tree. Symbolizes Life & Death. Passage through the gateway. Spiritual enlightenment. Mysteries and truth. Similar to the Death card of Tarot, this rune does not mean the “physical” death, but more the ending of a period of your life. The closing of a chapter to transition to the next phase in your life. Winter to Spring. In reverse form, we can interpret this as a kind of resistance to this change. Stagnation. “Sunk-cost fallacy” is an example of this.
Perthro (PER-thro, sounds like, “Pear throw”):
Shaped like a cup for dice, this rune represents luck, divination, secrets, and destiny. In reversal, it means secrets are revealed, taking a break from the situation or accepting the consequences of our actions.
Protection, a guardian. Think of this rune as an Elk, its antlers, a symbol of intimidation, while also providing safety to its keeper. This rune tells us to proceed with caution or to retreat to a safe location. Keep your defenses up and maintain your boundaries. Follow your gut instinct. In reverse, this rune reminds us that we need to try to keep our heads in stressful situations. Do not act impulsively. Stay grounded and look at the situation objectively.
S for Sun! Victory and revelations! The clouds have cleared and illuminated the path forward—positivity energy and the willpower to use it. Ambition and success will follow any goal. There is no negative meaning.
The Third Aett: The Heaven Family
Tyr, of the Heaven Family, represents the inner workings within us all, how we handle the external forces of the second Aett as we continue our journey by the first Aett.
Arrow or spear, often representing the warrior’s honor and bravery. Tyr reminds us that we must face adversity with courage. However, in reverse, we are reminded to hold back. Sometimes it’s better to step away from the fight and instead try out different tactics.
Berkano or Berkana (BER-kah-no or BEAR-kah-nah):
Birth, or rebirth, and new beginnings. Often symbolizing breasts, pregnancy, or motherhood. Seen as the representation of divine feminine energy. In reverse, we are reminded that all endings are the start of new beginnings. To have hope when all seems lost. Also, to be aware of tempers flaring up within families.
Horse, teamwork, working together, travel, adventure. To work with horses, it’s important to build trust and bond with them. They look to you for guidance and protection and in return, they do what they can to help you arrive at your destination. In reverse, Ehwaz tells us to learn to trust ourselves, to follow our instincts regarding if we should trust another person or people due to past experiences. This could also remind us to be wary of traveling, frustrations, or delays in progress.
Mankind or humanity. The Self. Divine connection. Rational thought and the representation of the quest to find perfect balance within oneself. In reverse, we are being reminded that we need to find balance and acceptance with ourselves and others. Take time alone to reacquaint ourselves with our own company and counsel.
Water, energies within, inner journeys, intuition, emotions, psychic gifts. Laguz reminds us to allow ourselves to be open to new experiences whether emotional or psychic. When we this rune upright, we are being called upon to go with the flow in life and to see where the current takes us. To follow our instincts and listen to our intuition. In reverse, we are being reminded that we, as humans, must continue to grow and evolve. We have been ignoring our own growth for the sake of others, and therefore we need to be reminded that our own mental and emotional wellbeing should be our top priority.
Inguz or Ingwaz (ING-ooze or ING-wahz):
True love, union, harmony, sexuality, divine Masculinity. This rune represents a rebirth of sorts. Think of a freshly tilled garden, ready for the seeds to be planted. This is the seed of limitless potential! There is no reverse meaning.
Day and night, cycles, transformation, change over time, creativity and enlightenment. The ending of a phase of your life and the beginning of a new: graduation, getting a job, starting your career, getting married, seeing children off to start their lives. This rune emboldens us to prepare for the next stage in our lives and to always have a plan. There are no reversed meanings.
Othala, Odal or Othila (OH-tha-la or OH-thee-la):
Home, community, inheritance, family, and ancestry. When we see Othala, we are being shown to get back to our roots. Speak to family or even your Found family. We may also feel emboldened to join a community that advocates for a common cause. In reverse, we are being shown to heal the rifts in our connections with others. (Though care should be taken in regard to abusive relatives, partners, community members, etc.) It also could be said to be wary of being pulled into disagreements. Always be aware of the intentions of others!
Since we have named each of the alphabets based on their positions in the Aetts, the last run is the “blank” rune, as it’s some call the “Odin” or “Wyrd” rune. This rune is a reminder that it is the destiny of the Querent to discover what the mystery the future holds.
Now that we know the meanings of each rune, how do we read them? There are many ways to the divine; it all depends on the reader!
For Beginners, it’s always a good idea to start simple. Drawing a rune from its pouch with the question, “What should I expect today?” is a great way to practice! I, myself, keep my runes in a little bag and when I have a question, I will shake the bag as I focus on it and pull one out when I’m ready.
The Three Norn Spread
In Norse mythology, the Three Norns are the Goddesses of Fate, Urd, The Past, Verdandi, The Present, and Skuld, The Future. They are often depicted as spinners, sitting beneath the Tree of Life, Yggdrasil, always spinning the thread of Fate: One spun out the thread, another measured its length, and the third decided when the thread should be cut. All three represent destiny and dictate the flow of time.
The Three Norn spread is an easy one for new beginners and a good way to practice how to read and interpret the runes. As before, I shake the bag, pick out three runes, and lay them face up. Going left to right, I lay them out as Past, Present, and Future, (you can also interpret these as Present, Action, and Result, depending on the situation.) If all the runes are upright, then the answer is YES, but if all the runes are upside down, the answer is NO. However, if they are mixed, then this means the situation can go either way. It’s up to the querent (the one asking the questions) to decide on the next step. The Norns are suggesting you weigh out the pros and cons and asking for you to show discretion.
Another way to read runes is by the Wheel Method. On your reading table, draw out two circles, a small one inside a larger circle. The first circle represents the Querent and the most immediate to present situation. The second circle is the external influences surrounding the Querent. Outside the second circle are the influences that will be coming into the Querent’s life.
There are so many ways to read and interpret runes, and it’s a fun hobby to get into!
If you are interested in working with runes, you will find that they are made of various materials: wood, clay, glass, stone, and even bone. If you’re a DIY-er you can even find helpful guides on how to make your own set. This can even be a fun activity to do with your little ones over the summer or on a rainy day!
So cast those runes and see what the future holds!
Phoebe is a Psychic Advisor with a passion for the spiritual arts. Her gifts manifested from a young age, resulting in the abilities that range from finding lost treasures to predicting outcomes in relationships. By the age of 15, she began to practice harnessing her gifts seriously, reading for friends and family. She graduated with an Associates in Arts degree, but plans to return to school for a bachelors in Botany. While also practicing with pendulums, crystals, Phoebe's primary tool is the Tarot and uses them almost exclusively to reveal the current situation and its possible outcomes.