Runic divination, "runecasting", is not "fortune telling". Runecasting works deeply with the subconscious. The rune pouch with its runic symbols represents the entire universe. As one poses a question, one's entire conscious and unconscious mind is focused toward that question, so that the runelots selected are not truly random selections, but rather choices made by the subconscious.
Runecraft operates on an ancient form of psychology. Even back in Viking times, there was a remarkable understanding of the human psyche. They recognized cause and effect, and the interconnectedness of all things. The word to describe this interconnectedness was "wyrd", which was eventually perverted into the modern meaning of "weird". It did not originally mean something unusual or strange. Rather, it referred to the far-reaching effects of that which one does. The concept of "fate" was also not as we know it now. Instead of a helpless predestination, "fate" meant a destiny created by one's earlier actions. Wyrd was pictured as a web, like that of a spider. The symbology is excellent. When the spider steps onto a thread (a path) the vibrations affect the entire web and that which is contained within the web, just as our actions affect our immediate world and those around us, and the actions of others affect our lives.
When one does a runic reading, one usually addresses a particular issue, and examines the past, the present and the "future", or rather "what will be if one follows the path one appears to be on". The future is always perceived as mutable, changeable. The runic reading is done as an evaluation process, not as fortunetelling. One has an opportunity to look at what has occurred in the past (regarding the issue being questioned), what is occurring right now, and what direction one is headed.
A runecaster does not see the future. He/she examines cause and effect and points out a likely outcome.
Not exactly occult, is it? It's not supernatural and it's not very mysterious--although the uninitiated considered it a delving into mystery, much like a patient of a psychiatrist might. It's certainly not magical or demonic. Instead it is a methodology for examining the path one is on and what the effects might be, by making use of one's subconscious (i.e. an "intuitive perception"), unfettered by limited conscious belief systems.
Dowsing, or "divination" by bent stick or pendulum is similar. It is not supernatural. It is, again, a manifestation of one's subconscious. All "intuitive perception" is such. Nothing magical about it, merely a means of awakening one's right-brain.
How to do a runecasting
Find a suitable place to do the reading. You do not want to be disturbed. Try to sit facing North if possible, the direction of the Gods in Norse mythology. Place a small white cloth on the surface in front of you. You work with the runes on this cloth. This cloth protects them from getting dirty and also forms the boundary for the casting.
Carefully form a question in your mind. Take your time doing this, as it is very important that you do not change the question midway through the reading. Once you have the question firmly fixed in your mind begin to gently mix the runes in their bag or container. Continue to mix the runes until you feel compelled to take up certain rune lots. (This is why it is important that the rune lots be of the same shape and size: so that you can't identify each rune by shape.)
Continue to stir and select lots until you have the correct number of runes in front of you for the layout you will be using. Keep track of the order in which the runes were pulled, laying them in their proper position in the layout as you pull them. You can use any Tarot layout, or one of the methods described below.
Runes are oracles, and oracles are often obscure. Each rune can mean many different things. It is up to the runecaster to decide how these meanings apply to the question at hand. You may get even deeper interpretations through your own "gut" reactions to the rune's definition. However, don't delude yourself in thinking that you have a completely different understanding of the cast than indicated by the traditional interpretations. Stick to the recognized interpretations, but learn to expand on their meanings through insight and meditation.
Here is one way I do a rune casting. I reach into my rune bag, stir them around a bit and pick up a bunch. I "cast" them onto a white cloth, and see how the symbols land. Some will be face down and I ignore them. If a rune is upright, it has a certain meaning. If a rune is upside down, it has a different meaning. The combination of the visible runes affects the interpretation. Sometimes the runes "sing" to me and the answer to the question is instantly clear. Here are the three non-structured castings I use most frequently. On another page I'll describe some formal "layouts" to be used for runecasting.
Casting the Norns
The Norns are the Norse goddesses of fate. Urdh was the goddess of the past, or what has been. Verdhandi is the goddess of the present, what is. Skuld is the goddess of the future, or what shall be. Fate or wyrd was a very important factor in the psychology of the ancients.
A Norns cast is very simple, consisting of three runes, drawn one at a time from the rune pouch and laid in a row. If face down, flip them over as if turning the pages of a book. The first rune represents the past of the situation in question. The second indicates the present, the path that the querier is currently on. The third suggests the future, a likely outcome if one continues on the present path.
"This method will give a detailed overview of a person's situation, providing insight into where they are in terms of their spiritual path, and clarifying the options and possible outcomes available to them. Nine is a magical number in Norse mythology. Pick nine runes at random from the pouch. Hold them between your hands for a moment, and focus on your question (if you have one). Then scatter the runes on the table, floor, or cloth if you have one. Read the runes which land face up first. These will relate to the current situation and the circumstances which led to it. How the runes are read is largely subjective, but in general, runes lying in the center are the most immediately relevant, while those lying around the edges are less important, or represent more general influences.
"Runes that are close together or even touching often compliment each other, or may even represent a single thing, while runes which fall on opposite sides of the pattern frequently represent opposing influences. Occasionally, a rune will land completely off the cloth or fall off the table. Some people consider such runes to be particularly significant, while others ignore them completely.
"Once you have looked at the runes which landed face up (and remembered which ones they are), turn over the rest of the runes without moving them from their positions. These represent outside or future influences, and will point to possible outcomes. It is up to you to decide what the various positions and patterns in a reading mean, but once you have come up with a few general rules, try to stick with them. As I have said before, consistency is very important. However, rune readings by their nature are very fluid, subjective things. Try not to impose too much order on your readings by inventing set meanings for every triangle, square and tetrahedron. Runes are like people - you never know how they will get along together until you introduce them. Look at the patterns and relationships that appear in each reading and see what interpretations make sense to you." from Runic Journey by Jennifer Smith.
Casting on the Ground
Rune-tines (such as twigs or popsicle sticks on which the rune symbols are inscribed) work best for casting on the ground. I use these simply by tossing all 24 onto the ground and read the runes which land upright, in the positions in which they land. Their relative positions give their relations. For example, if two upright runes are close or touching and lying nearly parallel, then the runes are related. If they cross, then they are in opposition. There are obviously many degrees of this, and you also have to consider groups of runes, and ones which are far away, and the general direction. This technique relies heavily on intuition, since it doesn't have a spread to lay the runes in, like tarot would use. Between 4 and 8 runes generally land upright, which is about right for most inquiries.