The Road to Runes

October 1st, 2018

The Road to Runes: Keeping it Balanced

Any divination can be a double-edged sword. And isn’t it interesting that sword is an anagram of ‘words’; our fiercest weapon and most powerful tool. We practice divination through our words, by asking questions of the universe or our deities via tools such as the runes. But it can be hard to ask the right questions, and very easy to attribute meaning in hindsight. How can we be sure that the interpretation of the runes is in relation to what we’ve asked, and that we are not just shaping it around the answer we hope to receive?

False Positives

No, I’m not talking pregnancy tests! Although I do know of situations where the runes have indicated possible future fertility, but that’s quite another story. A false positive is what I call it when someone purposefully takes only the positive aspects of a rune and applies them to their situation or question. It’s so tempting to reach only for the positive outcome, but in divination, we’re looking for accuracy, not platitudes. It’s even harder to avoid falling into this trap when doing readings for others, as who wants to be the bearer of bad news?

Balanced Readings

However, just because a rune or rune spread carries negative connotations, it doesn’t mean a reading is all bad news. It’s important to look at both aspects of the runes; the ‘bad’ and the ‘good’. Many aspects that may seem bad may actually be about cleansing or something negative being swept away or destroyed. Or they could be indicating the tumult of a current situation rather than a future outcome.

Here’s an example. Today I drew Thurisaz in relation to a question about a personal issue I was dealing with. Thurisaz means ‘giants’ and is shaped like a thorn, representative of conflict and pain. It’s associated with both Loki and Thor, particularly the tormenting and aggressive aspects of these deities. Immediately, I started looking for alternative meanings to the rune, and ways it could be viewed positively. Of course, there are positive aspects to Thurisaz. Conflict can lead to resolution, or the rune may indicate that you are being resistant to change. It can indicate a breakthrough or breaking down internal blockages that have been preventing you from progressing.

divination vs. hope

My problem wasn’t that the rune doesn’t have a positive aspect. It was that I immediately began to try and skew the rune’s meaning to a positive outcome for my question. This is not divination, it’s just being hopeful. Reading the runes should come with a balanced approach, and the understanding that the answers received might not be what we were expecting or looking for. But we should take them on board, just the same.

In my situation, once I took a deep breath and stopped grasping for the good, thurisaz means I might have to drastically alter my own view of myself and accept that there are parts of myself that I want to change, and actually do something about them rather than just saying “this is who I am.” It tells me that there is pain, and may be more pain, but that it’s up to me to take responsibility for my own actions and resolve to be the change I want to see; to set an example.

Remember, the runes are sending a message in response to your question, or allowing you to dredge your own answers from your subconscious. Just because these answers aren’t always happy and hopeful, doesn’t mean they aren’t useful. Keep yourself open to all aspects of the reading, and of course, that includes the positive aspects too.

Next month I’ll be talking about how to frame our words and questions in the best way to get the most effective readings. Contact me via Twitter @Mabherick if there’s a particular rune you’d like me to focus on.

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About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways


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