Wednesday, 15 February 2012
The Hedgewitch Approach to Making Runes
The runes come from the Norse traditions, they are symbols that can be etched into a material, for empowerment of an object, or for use as a divinatory tool. They are also easy to make ourselves, unlike the Tarot or Oracle decks, but possibly one of the harder tools to use when reading, as all we have in front of us are a whole heap of symbols.
Since I began using the runes, I tried to turn the symbols into little pictures. Learn what the runes mean, then look at the rune, feel the rune, what does it remind you of? What images and emotions does it evoke? What would the keywords belonging to the rune have meant to our ancestors all those centuries ago? Now you begin to build up your own picture, your own interpretation of the runes, your own bond.
There are some lovely sets of runes out there - etched into crystals - but they are expensive. The hedgewitch tends to go for the cheap and cheerful, but no less effective options. A rune set doesn't have to be expensive to be powerful, with practice and attunement, you can get some really good results from a plastic set that weren't really even intended for the "serious practitioner" (he he he, how little they knew ;) ). It's another example of not having to throw money away on expensive "witch endorsed" tools - hedgewitches, kitchen witches, we use what we can find and spend the money on something nice for the family instead.
Making runes couldn't be simpler, and there are all sorts of things you can use to make them out of. Traditionally they are made from wood, and you will see all sorts of opinions about "live wood" or "dead wood" out there on the Internet. Personally, I have no problem with using pre-cut wooden disks from a craft store or DIY outlet, or from cutting up a curtain pole, or something similar. We use our inventiveness, and in that we are already creating a bond to our runes.
I've seen it said that only a branch from a fruit bearing tree can be used, that it must be before the tree has fruited, as afterwards the branch is dead. I find this rather restrictive, and I don't like anything that cuts down my options for improvisation.
However, I've also seen Master Runemakers use just the fallen branches they find on forest walks. I like this option the best. The number of times I will go for a walk and be called to pick up a certain stick or rock. If you go out into the woods with the express purpose of finding a suitable fallen branch with which to cut rune disks, then you are bound to find just the one. Probably lying in the middle of the path seemingly shouting "Take Me!!!"
The runes can be carved into the wooden disks, or burned with a wood burning tool, they can be drawn or even painted (though these will definitely need varnishing). Again I've seen conflicting opinions about these methods too. Go with your gut instinct, as it will be giving you all the direction you need.
You can use anything as a rune. I have a set that were made from beach pebbles (they are in the photo above). Try to find ones that are of a similar size, and it's a personal choice as to whether their colours have to match or not. Then simply draw or paint the runes onto each stone, but make sure that you varnish them afterwards to protect the runes.
Another alternative is to make rune cards. These will be similar to Tarot cards, but it is entirely up to you as to how you present them. You can choose to keep them fairly blank, just have the individual rune on each one. Or you can decorate them with colours, pictures and symbols of what each rune means. In this way, you are creating something extremely personal, but which has more of a visual trigger to help you read their meaning.
Cleansing and consecrating methods are entirely personal. Do what you would do for any of your other magical tools. My personal favourite is to carry my runes (or whatever) around with me for a while, to touch, to play, feel them and to USE them. This way they become imbued with my own energies - or it strengthens the bond that we have already begun in their creation.