Making a Rune Set
Make your own rune set can improve the feeling of your readings and give a “close personal tie” with your rune set. While many people choose to use purchased runes for their castings or runes that were given to them, as you progress you may decide that you want to take this additional step.
Making a rune set can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. It can be extremely ritualized or more informal, depending upon your circumstances. What follows is a foundation upon which you can build your own process for creating runes.
Wood is the most common material used by people when they create their rune sets. Trees give us a sense of life and tie us to the earth. They remind us of Yggdrasil, and also the sacrifice Odin made by hanging on the tree to gain the knowledge of the runes.
The branch of a fruit tree, such as apple, pine, or yew is typically used for runes but virtually any wood will do. Some makers claim that to use “dead wood” (wood already fallen) from the tree is inappropriate for runes, however I think that’s a personal choice. The important thing is that your choice of wood resonates for you. This can range from going out into the woods and cutting down a branch of a tree that you find particularly meaningful (making sure to give thanks along the way), to going to your local art supply store and purchasing wood disks.
There are other materials as well. From glass beads to stones to metal any material that you can mark on is sufficient. Ultimately you are likely to find a material that works well for you. Just remember that with whatever material you’re going to make, you will need to be able to mark it.
Next you need to find a way to put the runes on your set. As with materials, it’s largely a matter of personal preference, both from a practical standpoint, and a spiritual standpoint.
Fine point sharpees are the easiest, and will mark on almost any material. We’re also all used to writing with a pen, so it’s easy. You can also use an exacto knife or a wood burning tool. A Dremel tool also works well. I’ve even done a set of shot glass runes and used the chemicals for glass etching.
One thing to watch out for is I don’t recommend you use anything that’s water soluble to mark on your runes. Whether it be watercolor paint or latex paint, the chance that your runes would get wet (and thus ruin them) makes water soluble marking materials as probably inappropriate. Its not that this causes a spiritual problem, its that it presents a practical one.
Traditionally one consecrates a set of runes by “staining” them with a life fluid. This is normally blood, however also could be saliva, semen, or urine. You’ll need to either provide this fluid when you ritually consecrate the runes, or you’ll need to collect and store it for use in ritual.
About blood collection and safe practices- In modern society the extraction of blood raises a significant number of safety issues, both to yourself (through disease and infection) or to others. If you’re going to use blood, and store it before hand, you’ll want to contact a friend with medical expertise that has blood collection and storage vials. Typically a blood storage vial has a small amount of heprin in it to keep it from clotting.
You’ll need a saw if you’re cutting a branch and sandpaper if you’re working with rough wood. You’ll want Linseed oil or varnish for final treatment, and a bag to store them in.
The question of linseed oil or varnish is one worth spending some time thinking about. Linseed oil is viewed as “more natural” while varnish can give you the ability to give your wood certain colors.
However varnish may create a coating that “seals” the runes in a way you don’t like. Spend some time thinking about it.
Creating the Slips
My experience, particularly when working with a branch, is that the process of creating the slips you are going to carve the runes on is best left to a non ritualized process. Whether you do it with a handsaw, or a table saw, or some other way, it takes awhile, and for me personally, doesn’t fit well within the ritual process.
You’ll also want to create “extras” (I recommend doing 36 slips) for mistakes. No matter how many times you do it, you’ll make a mistake.
After you’ve cut your slips, and have your materials together, it’s time to set up for ritual, and create your runes.
Rune Creation Ritual
Before you go into ritual, take a pencil and “pencil in” each rune on a slip if a pencil will mark the slips. This will make it easier to make the runes during the creation process. If you can’t mark on it (such as with glass), keep a few extra slips around for mistakes. Doing this beforehand will make the actual creation process easier.
Now set aside a ritual space, and do whatever ritual you deem appropriate for your path. I open with a hammer rite, which is simply going to one side of my space, lifting a hammer and stating:
“Hammer of Thor, Hallow and Hold This Holy Stead”
Then move to the opposite side of the space, lift the hammer, and state:
“Odin, bless me as I honor you through the creation of runes today.”
I offer a toast to Odin and place my altar items before me (a horn, and a hammer) to give my process meaning.
Now put down two cloths, one for your “blanks” and another for your finished runes.
Through whatever process you choose based upon your materials and marker, create each rune. As you’re writing or carving, entone (say) the name of the rune, or chant it. Think about the meaning of the rune, and what it means to you. If possible, you want your rune strokes to be downward, into “the earth” (downward meaning towards the bottom of the rune), and across the grain of the wood, showing an affirmative intention to put energy into the slip.
After you’re done with the carving, place the rune on the “finished runes” cloth, and make a hammer sign over it.
Proceed onto the next rune. I recommend you go through all 24 at a setting, one aett at a time. This generally takes an hour or two if you’re doing it for your first time.
After you’ve finished your last rune, you’ll now want to consecrate them with your fluid of choice. I recommend doing this before placing the linseed oil or varnish on them, as the oil or varnish will “seal” the rune.
After you’ve consecrated each rune, galdor (entone) each rune again, as a set, pushing your personal energy into the runes:
Recite the Icelandic Rune Poem:
- Wealth is a source of discord among kinsmen
- and fire of the sea
- and path of the serpent.
- Lamentation of the clouds
- and ruin of the hay-harvest
- and abomination of the shepherd.
- Torturer of women
- and cliff-dweller
- and husband of a giantess.
- Aged Gautr
- and prince of Ásgardr
- and lord of Vallhalla.
- Joy of the horsemen
- and speedy journey
- and toil of the steed.
- Disease fatal to children
- and painful spot
- and abode of mortification.
- Cold grain
- and shower of sleet
- and sickness of serpents.
- Grief of the bond-maid
- and state of oppression
- and toilsome work.
- Bark of rivers
- and roof of the wave
- and destruction of the doomed.
- Boon to men
- and good summer
- and thriving crops.
- Shield of the clouds
- and shining ray
- and destroyer of ice.
- God with one hand
- and leavings of the wolf
- and prince of temples.
- Leafy twig
- and little tree
- and fresh young shrub.
- Delight of man
- and augmentation of the earth
- and adorner of ships.
- Eddying stream
- and broad geysir
- and land of the fish.
- Bent bow
- and brittle iron
- and giant of the arrow.
You may alternatively decide that one of the other poems sings to you.
Then you close your ritual space in whatever method you see fit.
After you’ve closed your ritual space, you should take the time to apply the Linseed oil or Varnish onto the runes, and let them dry. I generally recommend this is done out of space because the fumes of the runes can be problematic and you may need to take frequent breaks.
Congratulations you now have your own personal set of runes