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How to Use Runes: 8 Ways to Read Runes for Divination

INSIDE: Wondering how to use runes? This powerful spiritual tool can help you shape your life once you learn some of the ways to read runes for divination. Read on to do just that!


In various Pagan traditions, casting runes represents the divinatory art of reading one’s future and predicting events and their potential outcomes.

Much like reading Tarot cards, rune casting is a tool that can be used to unlock the subconscious mind and help us solve problems for which we cannot seem to find a solution. 

One of the most common ways to read runes for divination is casting a three stone draw, which represents the current situation, the challenges, and the action needed to address the challenge.

Inside this article, we'll explore this method and some others.

What is the Origin of Runes?

Throughout history, runes have been used for more than just divination. For example, many Scandinavian sailors of the Viking era used runes as their writing system, which have evolved over time.

Since the very beginning of the 2nd century, all the way until the late 1800’s, the runic system has evolved, and new runes have been perpetually added.

Today, let's look at the main 24 runes that are most commonly used for divination.

Spiritual Gifts

What Are Runes?

Pondering what runes are and how to read runes for divination? We must begin by taking a look at the Younger and Elder Futhark, the runic alphabet of the Old Norse language and try to understand the general meaning of each rune.

To have a better grasp at reading runes, we can also compare other famous writing systems, such as ancient Greek, used by many seers and oracles to communicate messages between gods and humans.

Runes, in this case, represent spiritual guidelines for understanding the progression of time and how to shape events in our favor. 

How to Use Runes: 8 Ways to Read Runes for Divination

To learn how to read runes, there are a few simple sets of rules to be followed.

In each reading, the past is always represented on the left, the center is the present moment, and the future is on the right. This form of divination is not the only one, but is instead the simplest one.

The more advanced and complex rune divination methods are the two-rune draw, the four dwarves, the five-rune layout, the runic cross, the nine grid, among others.

Begin each reading with a clear mind, a calm environment that enhances concentration, and your chosen set of runes. It’s helpful to keep a copy of the Futhark on hand for easy rune reading.

The Three Rune Draw

We begin the tri-rune reading by pouring out three randomly selected runes from the pouch and then placing them on a cloth or a table. For this rune casting, consider each individual rune, starting from the left.

The left rune represents the past, the middle rune represents the present, and the right rune represents the future. Based on the meaning of each rune, you can determine if their message is positive or negative.

You can also read all three runes together. Think of all the questions you seek answers to, but mainly focus on the “yes” or “no” type of queries. Try to imagine yourself and your situation from an objective perspective. You can also choose to align your tri-rune reading vertically (past, present, and future).

What Are Runes

The Dual Rune Draw

For a dual rune reading, extract a pair of runes from the pouch and allow them to fall freely onto the designated surface in any pattern. This reading may need a bit more concentration and practice to successfully understand it.

If both runes landed right side up, the meaning is positive and uplifting, however if they landed upside down, it can be a negative sign. If you look at the pair of runes and notice that they contradict one another, you can choose to redraw or consider that your question has not been asked properly.

The Four Dwarves

The Four Dwarves rune casting is not about a simple “yes” or “no” question, but rather about how you see yourself and where you are right now, as well as what your aspirations for the future look like.

Once you are calm and receptive, begin by drawing out four random runes from the pouch and placing them onto the surface in the shape of a circle, starting at the top and reading them clockwise.

In this rune reading, the top rune represents past desires, the one to the right represents present feelings and the emotions related to it, the bottom rune is your heart’s unfulfilled wishes that are about to manifest, and the last rune to the left represents how others feel about your choices and desires.

The Five Rune Layout

For the Five-Rune layout, with the runes still in your pouch, begin by closing your eyes and focusing on the question that you need answers to the most. The question can be related to any past, present, or future situation.

Begin your casting by gently tossing the runes out of the pouch and, with your eyes still closed, passing your hand over them, selecting the ones that you sense contain the answer to your question. For left-handed people, it’s best to use the right hand, and vice versa.

To begin reading the five layout, start at the bottom, which represents the basic influences that impact your question, working your way up to the far-left rune, which represents the problems that might influence your question. The top rune indicates the positive changes that may influence the question, the middle rune shows future influences, and the far-right rune shows you the immediate answers.

Gemstone Collections

The Runic Cross

The Runic Cross reading consists of a group of up to seven runes that show the guidance you need and all the negative and positive opportunities you can use in the present to influence a future outcome. They are laid out in the shape of a cross.

For this rune reading, begin with the first and second rune at the bottom, which represent the problem and the past situation that it has evolved from. The third and fourth rune show past influences that contributed to the present situation we are in. The fifth and sixth runes represent the guidance you seek and the most likely outcome. The seventh rune shows the possible outcome, as well as positive (upright) or negative (upside down) results.

The Ve

The Ve rune reading also requires seven runes, laid out in a V-like shape. Use the same casting method described above and begin your reading at the bottom, working your way upwards.

The bottom rune represents the present and your view of the present situation. After that, follow the right line stemming from the bottom rune and then the left line, paying attention to each individual rune.

In the Ve reading, the first rune on each branch represents an action and a solution, followed by the motivation to pursue it, and the potential outcome if we choose to do so.

An alternative way to read the Ve is top left run, down towards the bottom and then up towards the top right rune as follows: past, present, future, actions to be taken, feelings and emotions, possible problems and final outcome.

The Nine Grid Layout

The Nine Grid Rune Reading consists of three individual groups of 3 runes each that you'll pour out of the pouch in smaller circular groupings. This reading should be a fairly simple and straightforward one and may provide insight into  your future.

Place the three individual groups onto the surface in a vertical formation and begin reading at the bottom, learning about past hidden influences, past proven influences, and past events. The middle group represents present hidden influences, present proven influences, and present events. The top three runes represent future hidden influences, future proven influences, and future results.

how to read runes

The Futhark Layout

For the Futhark reading, start at the top, working to the bottom, and decode how to use the runes. As this is a much more complex reading than the aforementioned ones, it is typically casted around New Year’s Day to provide an entire year’s layout.

The Futhark layout contains a total of 24 Runes as follows. The first row contains the following runes laid out from left to right:

  1. Money and prosperity influences
  2. Physical wellbeing
  3. Defenses and obstacles
  4. Wisdom and inspiration
  5. Lifepath
  6. The future
  7. The skillset we must achieve
  8. The peace and happiness we seek

The second row contains the next set of eight runes from left to right:

  1. Future changes
  2. Goals
  3. Obstacles that might hinder your goals
  4. Successes
  5. The choices you make
  6. Inner peace
  7. Threats
  8. Guiding energies

The third row contains the last set of eight runes from left to right:

  1. Legal affairs you might be involved in
  2. Growth and beauty
  3. Friendships and relationships
  4. Social status
  5. Emotional wellbeing
  6. Desires
  7. Strength and balance
  8. Gifts and gains you'll be receiving throughout the year

Final Thoughts

Runes are used in many spiritual practices. They can be used as a tool for personal growth and for developing our spirituality, or they can signify a transformation of self or even others.

Runes can help us make decisions in our everyday lives or actions. They give us access to our subconscious mind and allow us to hear our own inner voice (the real self). Now that you've learned how to use runes and some of the most common ways to read runes, you have a tool for self-awareness and growth.
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* Crystals and stones should not be used as a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Please read our full disclosure notice here. 


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