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The Elder Futhark: Isa

The Elder Futhark: Isa

The eleventh, and third rune of Heimdallr’s ætt, is Isa, which corresponds to the “I” sound in the Latin alphabet (the alphabet we use). This is considered a negative rune, whenever it comes up. It does occasionally have positive sides, but I’ll talk about that later. It is the rune of ice, winter, standstill, and waiting. If you get this rune, you’re going to be frustrated, because it means that everything is at a standstill. Like an ice dam, something is being blocked until you or something else can remove it. It can also point to a river covered with ice: nothing seems to be moving, but there may be an underlying current beneath the ice.

In Anglo-Saxon, Isa is spelled Is, and in Old Norse it is Isa. Isa is the rune of standstill, winter, and waiting. Our Northern ancestors were no strangers to the long, harsh northern winters, and the prevailing ice that accompanied them.

Winter was a time of waiting. Sure, there were feasts, such as Yule, and winter activities such as skiing and ice skating. But our ancestors were waiting for spring, when the animals gave birth, and when the crops could be sowed.

Winter was a time when people had to live off their food harvested in the fall. It was often a time of scarcity and hunger, especially if the crops failed. Sometimes people hunted and fished to bring in food, but often the prevailing ice and snow prevented such activites. Game migrated when the snows got too deep, making it difficult to hunt. So, people waited–and hoped for–an early spring.

Divination with Isa

When you get this rune in a casting, it informs you that you must wait for an answer. The amount of time is indeterminate but finite, meaning that you could be waiting a long, long time. This is why Isa is considered a negative rune. Most of the time, we can deal with a “yes” or “no” when it comes to an answer. Isa tells us we must be patient and wait.

Isa is an interesting rune, though, because although it suggests everything is at a standstill, there is a finite amount of time before everything frees up again. It may suggest something is blocking your forward progression. You can break through that ice dam, but it may be a serious challenge ahead of you. Then again, Isa may be telling you that nothing appears to be happening, only something really is. Whatever is happening may be hidden from you. In this case, it’s important to pay attention to the underlying motion.

Should you get this rune in your castings, you are more likely to be frustrated in whatever answer you seek. It’s telling you either to wait, or that everything is at a standstill. Either way, you’re going to have a hard time achieving your goal. You may have something blocking you from your goal that you must overcome, or something else is going on behind the scenes that you don’t know about. Or maybe you simply have to wait until something changes before you know the answer.

Some Final Thoughts on Isa

When Isa appears in a spread, you may find that your circumstance tells you to wait. That can be a real source of frustration. After all, you may find yourself at what appears to be an unyielding block to your goal. At this point, you need to decide whether to try to break through or wait it out. Sometimes the best thing to do is to wait. Like an ice dam, it may be holding back a torrent. Then again, that block may be insurmountable, and you may need to wait.

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The Elder Futhark: Hagalaz

The Elder Futhark: Hagalaz

The ninth, and first rune of Heimdallr’s ætt, is Hagalaz, which corresponds to the “H” sound in the Latin alphabet (the alphabet we use).  This is a probably one of the most negative runes you can get, whenever it comes up. It does occasionally have positive sides, but I’ll talk about that later. It is the rune of disruption, hail, natural destructive forces, and uncontrolled chaos. Where Wunjo is an excellent rune to get, Hagalaz is the exact opposite. When I see Hagalaz in a reading, I take a deep breath and know that it’s going to get rough for a while.

Hagalaz‘s Meaning


In Anglo-Saxon Hagalaz is spelled Haegl, and in Old Norse it is Hagall.  Hagalaz is the rune of hail–a destructive and uncontrollable force in nature.  No doubt hail wreaked havoc on our ancestors, damaging crops and homes, and possibly causing injury if you were outside in it.

While today, we understand that hail comes as a results of convective forces in large thunderstorm cells. The water droplets freeze at high levels, fall, and then updrafts carry them upward with more moisture to freeze again, larger and heavier. The most powerful the updraft, the greater the number of times the hailstone is carried higher to gather more ice. Eventually, it gets heavy enough where even the updraft can’t carry it, and it falls to earth as hail.

Our ancestors knew none of this. Instead, they probably understood that dark, violent thunderclouds with lightning sometimes brought hail, though why or how was unknown. Instead, they knew it was unpleasant and destructive. It was an uncontrollable force of nature that would not be denied.

Divination with Hagalaz

When you get this rune in a casting, it informs you about destructive events, disruptions in your life or plans, and chaos. If your life is in turmoil and you get Hagalaz in the present position, or the matter being considered, chances are it’s just a reflection of your life or plans at the present moment. Maybe it’s something as simple as you being conflicted over something and it is disrupting your life, because of it. People who pull Hagalaz in the present or past position have been feeling like their lives have been spiraling out of control. If you get Hagalaz in the future position, it suggests your plans and life are going to be disrupted and you’re likely to feel like you have no stability in your life. In other words, hang on: you’re in for a lot of chaos and destruction in your life, physically, mentally, and/or emotionally.

Hagalaz doesn’t seem to have a positive side to it on first blush. Like all runes, the context of the disruption depends on its position and the runes surrounding it. The runes feed off of each other, creating a broader picture for the caster. Should you get this rune in your castings, you may think it is something huge that will disrupt your life. Well, maybe. The runes don’t differentiate between big and little. It’s up to you to determine whether you get pea-sized hail or whopper softball-sized hail when it comes to your disruption. For example, let’s say you get Hagalaz when you cast the runes about your upcoming wedding. Hagalaz may be saying something as simple weather will delay your travel plans. Or, it might say your fiancee will leave you hanging at the altar. See the difference? You just don’t know.

Some Final Thoughts on Hagalaz

When Hagalaz appears in a spread, you may have a sinking feeling. Don’t, even though you may have some rough times ahead, or glitches that show up in your plans. Hagalaz brings change as well as disruption, and change often is for the better.

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The Elder Futhark: Wunjo

The Elder Futhark: Wunjo

The eighth and last rune of Freyr’s ætt is Wunjo, which corresponds to the “W” or “V” sound in the Latin alphabet (the alphabet we use).  This is a positive rune, whenever it comes up. It is the rune of joy, pleasure, kinship, and harmony. I can’t think of a better rune to cast anywhere, so if you get Wunjo, you can feel good about the casting.

Wunjo‘s Meaning


In Anglo-Saxon Wunjo is spelled the same way, and in Old Norse it is Wynn.  Wunjo is the rune of prosperity and happiness. While some interpretations suggest that too much can be a bad thing, in my not so humble opinion we could all use a bit of joy in our lives. In other words, roll with it.

Divination with Wunjo

When you get this rune in a casting, it talks about happiness, pleasure, and joy. If you get Wunjo in the future position, it suggests good things will come to you in the future. Likewise, if it’s the present or the matter under consideration, it’s talking about you being in a joyful place or seeking joy.

Wunjo doesn’t seem to have any negative side to it. Like all runes, the context of the joy depends on its position and the runes surrounding it. The runes feed off of each other, creating a broader picture for the caster. Should you get this rune in your castings, you should be guarded in your reaction, only because there are small joys and big joys. The rune doesn’t differentiate between the two. For example, you may ask if you’re going to win the lottery and you get Wunjo. Okay, that could mean you get the jackpot of $56 million or $10 from a scratch ticket. See the difference? Both are causes for happiness, but getting Wunjo doesn’t mean it’s time to empty your bank account on the lottery.

Some Final Thoughts on Wunjo

I know that this is a short post, but there’s really not a lot to say about this rune when it comes to meanings. When I cast the runes, Wunjo can be rare for me, and I must take into account the rune, its position, and the runes around it. It’s not that I don’t get the rune in castings, but it can appear elusive at times, probably because there’s plenty of chaos in my life. When you get Wunjo, expect something positive, whether it’s big or small.

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The Elder Futhark: Gebo

The Elder Futhark: Gebo

The seventh rune of Freyr’s ætt is Gebo, which corresponds to the “G” sound in the Latin alphabet (the alphabet we use).  Gebo is a positive rune in most cases, suggesting gifts and partnerships that are usually beneficial. When I see Gebo in a casting, it usually influences the casting in a positive way, where even so-called negative runes may lead up to something good, especially if Gebo is in the future or outcome spot.

Gebo‘s Meaning


In Anglo-Saxon Gebo is Gyfu and in Old Norse it is Gar.  Gebo is the rune of generosity and giving. Our ancestors often gave gifts in exchange for partnerships, so Gebo is also the rune of beneficial partnerships. Gebo represents a gift for a gift–whether the gifts are aid, work, or an actual gift. When gifts are exchanged, the gifts create a relationship between the two parties.

Divination with Gebo

When you get this rune in a casting, it suggests two things. First, it suggests you’ll receive a gift. Gebo is, after all, the rune of generosity. But along with Gebo is a partnership of some variety: whether business, friendship, or relationship. In other words, the person who is giving the gift seeks to make a partnership with you. That partnership may be a simple platonic friendship. It may be a gift from a relative who simply wants to reaffirm their family ties with you. It may be a business relationship. Or it might be a romantic interest.

Gebo doesn’t necessarily mean that the gift comes with strings attached. Or the strings may be of the expected variety, such as a birthday present, a holiday present, or some other giving time, like a wedding shower or baby shower. Sometimes the gift does have strings attached, but it’s up to you to determine if it’s an opportunity you wish to take advantage of. Gebo can also mean a gift from the gods, but it also suggests a partnership between you and the god or goddess who is offering the gift.

The meaning of Gebo can depend on the runes surrounding it. The runes feed off of each other, creating a broader picture for the caster. Gebo definitely means gift and/or partnership, but the other runes around it may dictate how that gift or partnership fits in context with everything else.

Some Final Thoughts on Gebo

Gebo is usually a positive rune that means something good in the ways of gifts and partnerships. It suggests an equal partnership rather than something where one is dominant and the other subservient. So, it’s a rune that suggests the partnership of equals. In Old Norse, Gar also meant spear, so it might be the gift between two warriors. Regardless, Gebo is a rune that I like seeing because it tells me that I may be getting something I want–and a beneficial partnership as well.

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The Elder Futhark: Kenaz

The Elder Futhark: Kenaz

The sixth rune of Freyr’s ætt is Kenaz, which corresponds to “K” or hard “C” in the Latin alphabet (the alphabet we use). When I mean “hard C,” I mean the “C” as in “cat” and not in the word “certain.” I’ve seen at least three different meanings for Kenaz; the one that is the most popular is fire (ember) or torch. I’ve also seen the rune mean “opening” and also “disease.” Such a variety of meanings can be attributed to the different spellings. I’ve seen Kenaz, Kaunaz, and Kaunan.

Kenaz‘s Meaning


In Anglo-Saxon Kenaz is Cen and in Old Norse it is Kaun.  Kenaz is the rune of fire. It means to kindle, to light, and to bring into the light. If you use the word, Kaunan, it means disease or malady. Given how ambiguous most runes are, especially how they can be interpreted, I tend to go with the meaning to kindle or light. Sure, if you feel particularly masochistic, you can add another negative rune to the pile, but I’m not so inclined to do so. More on this later.

Divination with Kenaz

When you get this rune in a casting, you’re looking at enlightenment in the form of education or knowledge that is revealed. It is the rune of learning, which means you may classes or education in the future. It may also mean that through study, you may learn something important. This is usually a positive rune with positive meanings, except when it isn’t.

Yeah, I’m talking that disease interpretation. It exists, but honestly I’m not sure that’s the right interpretation. My UPG tells me it’s not. I would only consider the alternate meaning if the casting pertains to health or disease. Again, it depends on the surrounding runes which way to interpret it.

Kenaz often means you get the answer you are looking for, shedding light in the darkness, revealing, or opening. It can also mean a kindling of will–opening yourself to new experiences and new situations to gain more knowledge. This knowledge is something for you to act on. Knowledge is simply knowledge; it is up to you to respond to it in the best way possible. The knowledge may be good or bad to you, but in it is an opportunity for growth.

You may notice I caveat a lot of rune readings by saying the meaning depends a lot on the runes surrounding the rune in question. The runes feed off of each other, creating a broader picture for the caster. Kenaz is no different in that regard. You may find that Kenaz foretells of education– or it could be the revealing of a secret that was better kept under wraps–depending on the runes surrounding it and the circumstance.

Some Final Thoughts on Kenaz

Kenaz is a useful rune that I don’t mind seeing because it means that I’ll find the information I’ve been looking for. It may be in the form of education or it might be something as simple as reading a webpage or talking with someone. I don’t use the disease interpretation because it’s a weird thing to pair with a torch or light. (You can tell me in the comments if you’re using Kenaz in that way in your divination and how your predictions have been.) Anyway, I hope you find the power of Kenaz to be helpful in your castings.

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The Elder Futhark: Ansuz

The Elder Futhark: Ansuz

Alas! Family visits plus work has put me behind on writing about the runes. So, without further ado, I’m covering the next Elder Futhark rune. The next rune in the Elder Futhark is Ansuz, the fourth rune in Freyr’s ætt.

Ansuz‘s Meaning

Ansuz carried several different spellings in Anglo-Saxon. It could be written as Os, Aesc, or Ac. In Old Norse, it was Oss. I’ve seen several different meanings for it, but the closest meaning as I understand it is “message from the gods (Aesir).” Others have described it as “Signals,” “Mouth,” or “Communication.” It represents the “a” sound. This rune is tied to Odin as it often suggests the message comes directly from the All-Father. Naturally, this makes it a very important rune in your casting.

Divination with Ansuz

Ansuz is an important rune as it suggests where you’re getting your information. If you get Ansuz in a spread, pay close attention to where it shows up in your reading and what runes are around it. For example, if you do a three-rune casting where it deals with the matter under consideration, influencing factors/impediments, and future developments/outcomes and you get Ansuz in the second spot, the runes might be warning you that the gods’ messages might not be what you hoped for. But then again, if you get the rune with positive runes, it might suggest the message is favorable, but pay attention. Negative runes surrounding it may implicate that you need to pay closer attention to what the gods are telling you about your situation.
Like any rune, you need to consider this rune in the context of others. In most cases, it’s a benign and positive rune. Paired with negative runes like Hagalaz or Nauthiz, it can prove to be a trying rune at times. But again, it’s all in the context.

Some Final Thoughts on Ansuz

Ansuz is one of those runes which will tell you to pay close attention to what the gods are telling you. Sort of a wake-up call that may be telling you to spring into action or wait, depending on the other runes. Sometimes it’s an unwelcome rune because it tells you things you don’t want to hear. Pay attention to the message when you get Ansuz. The gods are listening and have given you a direction.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something from these links, I get a small stipend which helps support The Rational Heathen. I would encourage you to support my site.  Thanks.

The Elder Futhark: Uruz

The Elder Futhark: Uruz

I’m running a bit behind on posting the next rune in the Elder Futhark, so let’s get into it. This week, I’m writing about Uruz, being the second in Freyr’s ætt. Uruz is an interest rune with both positives and negatives. So, let’s look at it.

Uruz’s Meaning

Uruz is the rune of the auroch or wild cattle. The auroch was the ancestor to our modern day domesticated cattle. It is now extinct, albeit fairly recently. The last auroch died in Poland in 1627 from natural causes. These suckers were huge — some being nearly 6 feet at the shoulder. Our ancestors were certainly familiar with them seeing as they existed two million years ago until 1627. A shame really that they went extinct due to disease, reduction in habitat, and unrestricted hunting. I could go into their history and the attempts at recreating them, but that’s not really the subject of this post.

Uruz is Ur or Yr in Anglo-Saxon and Ur in Old Norse. It is akin to the “U” sound in English. Because Uruz is the auroch, it is the symbol of wild, untamed power and untamed potential. It means strength, wildness, masculinity, freedom, courage, and even change, often in a sudden and unexpected way. It can mean male sexuality, although that’s usually reserved for Ingwaz.

Divination with Uruz

Uruz is an interesting rune to have in a cast because it is the symbol of vitality and strength. In many ways, it’s a positive rune to have, depending on where it is in the layout and what runes are surrounding it. If Uruz is in a place in the cast which is what obstacles you might face, then it can be an unwanted rune, because it may be saying that the forces against you achieving your goal are powerful and may be difficult, if not insurmountable, to overcome. But in many casts, it suggests a strong force helping you. But be careful, Uruz can bring about some pretty powerful changes that you might not foresee, and your life can become chaotic with such a rune at the helm.

Of course, reading Uruz in a casting depends on the other runes and its placement, as well as the skill of the interpreter. Usually I am quite glad to see Uruz in my casts, but you may have a different experience.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something from these links, I get a small stipend which helps support The Rational Heathen. I would encourage you to support my site.  Thanks.

Runecasting for Recons (not really)

Runecasting for Recons (not really)

Gods, I love alliteration.  So, I couldn’t help myself with the title.  But who knows?  Maybe the recons will learn something when they read this.

Or probably just talk smack on Reddit.  Just saying…

Anyway, I’ve decided to talk about how I do runecastings.  They’re not the only way.  In some heathen circles, they may not even be right.  But it works for me, and if it works for me, I go with it.  So, let’s go through the basic rune cast.

Equipment for Runecasters 101

I’m pretty simple when it comes to runecasting.  So, when it comes to your runecasting stuff, you need the following:

  • Runes (duh!) — I use Elder Futhark runes.  You can use whatever runes suit you, but I know the Elder Futhark best and I know the meanings (mostly).
  • A rune pouch to keep the runes in.  —  It can be something special or not.  Most people will probably go with special.  Most rune sets come with pouches anyway.  If you make your own, you’re going to want to sew your own rune pouch. Or have someone who sews make it for you.
  • A cloth to do your runecasting on. — It doesn’t have to be fancy.  Hel, I don’t think you need it.  But it is nice to have.  I use a wolf bandana that is a custom design by a woman in this area.  

That’s it, essentially.  You can have candles, incense, offerings, whatever, if you feel it is appropriate.  I don’t worry about such things.

Basic Runecasting

I don’t have a particular casting method, though others may.  Other people may shake runes out of the bag, or even dump the bag and pull out the runes that are face up, or select from those that are face down.  I’ve heard of gythias and godhis using sticks and tossing them down.  The rune patterns that they saw in the crossed sticks were the ones they read.

I don’t do that. I pull each rune from the pouch and place it in its spot where the cast will go. Other runecasters do that too.  If I accidentally pull out extra stones or some other stones come out, I read them as well.  I figure if the stone wants to be read, who am I to put it back?  It might be an extra message.  Or it might be garbage.  Whatever.

I’ve had my cat suddenly take an interest in my reading occasionally and move the pieces.  Apparently I had the runes in the wrong spots, or so she thought.  I don’t argue. When you have a cat name Freyja, you listen to her.

I read my runes right to left, not left to right. I’ve heard that others do it that way, but I’ve seen it done left to right too.  I don’t use blank runes, nor do I read reverse or merkstave.  Those are obvious later inventions, one by Ralph Blum (or someone he knew) and one is too close to tarot.  Runes are not tarot.  Thank you.

The Patterns

There are plenty of patterns to cast and read your stones. I tend to stick with the simpler casts.  The reason is straightforward.  I don’t have to worry or pay attention to complex readings.

The pattern I tend to rely on is the three stone pattern.  It’s a good pattern and on and you can decide which one works for you.

  • Single Rune — This is the easiest cast of all.  Basically it’s the response to the matter under consideration.  Good or bad. It just is.
  • Three Rune Spread — This is a cast that is flexible enough to gain insight while still simple enough to not have a lot of convoluted mumbo-jumbo.  You can cast it the way I do as 1. matter under consideration 2. Problems or situations that may arise 3. Possible outcome. Or you can do the 1. Past 2. Present 3. Future
  •  Five Rune Layout, Seven Rune Layout, etc.  This webpage seems to have the basics of these larger layouts.
  • Tiwaz Shoat — There’s a pattern called the Tiwaz shoat that is in the form of an arrow.  For the life of me, I can’t remember the reading directly and I need to dig out my books on it.  Let’s just say it’s out there and if I find my books, I’ll try to tell you about it.
  • Extra Runestones — Occasionally you’ll have some runes spill out.  If this happens, look at the stones and see if they have some bearing on the situation at hand.  You may find that they do.

Sample Runecast 

Okay, you have your runes, your bag, your rune casting cloth, and whatever else you feel is necessary to get yourself in the right frame of mind to do a cast. For the sake of argument, let’s say you’re doing a Three Rune Spread.  In this case, start by pulling the first runestone out of the bag and look at it.

I pulled: ᚠ ᛒ  ᚱ

Now, don’t forget I read right to left (I pulled the ᚱ first).  So I start with ᚱ which is Raidho, which generally means travel, but can mean movement, journey, or a change. The matter under consideration is travel, for the sake of argument.  Okay. 

The problem or situation that may arise: Berkana or ᛒ.  This is the rune of growth, nurturing, fertility, etc.  Not necessarily a problem, unless it is growth due to pain or loss.  I’m not seeing that in the runes just yet, because

Fehu or ᚠ means wealth or cattle. This rune is associated with fortune and positive outcomes. Usually requires work to achieve them, but what doesn’t?

What the Runecast Might Mean

Here comes the million dollar question: What does the runecast mean?  I wasn’t really asking any questions, I just did a general cast.  What it suggests is that the travel I take in the future gives me an opportunity for growth and a chance at achieving good fortune or wealth, if I choose to take advantage of it.  Overall, it’s a positive spread and I’d be glad to have such outcomes.

I hope this gives you some ideas as to how you can do runecasting for yourself.  Let me know about your own castings.  I’d be curious to hear about them.