Lesson 2) Runecasting Theory
A warmer than usual day finds the students in the Divination Tower wearing their light summer uniforms, with their house ties loosened or abandoned completely. As Professor Cattercorn promised, it is a lovely fall morning, though unseasonably warm. The doors to the balcony -- normally closed and covered with curtains -- are open, inviting the students to file outside and offering them a faraway look at the grounds and the Whomping Willow. Quills and parchment at the ready, the students all settle into a sitting position and await the arrival of Professor Cattercorn. The young woman joins the class in short order, grasping an umbrella to shield herself from the sun.
Welcome back! It is so nice to see you on this beautiful, warm day. It is not very often that we get wonderful weather, and I intend to fully enjoy it. Now, let us get down to business. Last week, we went over an introduction to this year’s topic: natural divination. We also touched very briefly on runecasting and astrology, as well as how those two forms of divination qualify as natural. Today we will flesh out that definition of runecasting to make sure you leave here with a solid foundation on the subject.
Rules of Runes
Runes, in the Germanic or Norse sense, are a collection of symbols that have various sets of meanings. In this class, as you might have guessed, we will be dealing with their divinatory meanings, or meanings associated with predictions, however, these are certainly not the only kind, as there is an entirely separate course about runes, aptly named Ancient Runes. What you may not know unless you have taken that course is that there are multiple kinds, or alphabets, of runes, starting with the Elder Futhark which is covered in your Second Year. Over the course of the next few lessons, we will also be covering the Elder Futhark. If you have already taken that course, however, don’t you worry! There is plenty more new information to cover in Divination!
A set of runes is made up of twenty four or twenty five pieces, usually completely uniform in size and shape, with a different symbol of the Elder Futhark inscribed on it, apart from the twenty fifth rune, if used, which is left blank. As a seer, we use these runes to answer questions about the present, past, or future, of either ourselves or others. When not in use, runes are stored in a bag or box, though bags are much preferred. For best results, the bag should be made of natural fibers such as cotton, hemp, or silk. To do a reading, the runes are pulled one by one from storage, so the seer cannot see the runes and are instead guided by their Inner Eye to choose the correct ones. This is why the runes are preferred to be the same in size and shape, so you are not relying on feeling the runes to choose them, whether consciously or subconsciously.
Right away, you will begin to notice similarities between rune reading and tarot, but I assure you, there are some notable differences that we will outline later. Again, similar to tarot, these runes can be placed in spreads, or can be drawn one by one. As we discussed, each individual rune has a few meanings which are expanded upon when used in concert with others alongside it in a spread. The other runes in a spread will need to be considered together when trying to find the answer to your questions. When you are reading the runes, you must be sure to fill yourself with magical energy and allow your Inner Eye to manifest in something physical -- in this case, the runes, just as you did with the tarot decks last year.
Just as we did last year, I will endeavor to provide you not only with an explanation of how each form of divination works, or the procedure, but also the why of each form of divination, otherwise known as the reason. This portion of the lesson will be complemented by next week’s topic, when you learn how to make your own runes. We will at least go over the basic concepts now, though.
Runes, as has been mentioned, are very weak foci. They act as a way to focus your magic and sight into physical vessels. Then, you are able to interpret the meanings of each vessel your Inner Eye has chosen. You may think of runes (and the tarot) as a sort of “middleman” between you and your developing Inner Eye. Again, as with tarot cards, you will need to use a high level of concentration. I know, I know! It can be slightly exhausting, but there is no doubt that it is very rewarding. You must also have faith in not only your ability, but the ability of the runes to absorb your magic and accurately capture your Inner Eye’s intentions. If you recall, this process is linked to the willpower component of magic use. Lastly, various spreads or questions can be used to narrow the intention of the magic, similar to how we use incantations in Charms or Defense Against the Dark Arts.
Those of you who are paying attention have undoubtedly noticed the extreme overlap between runes and tarot. This overlap, in addition to the fact that they are a natural form of divination, is another reason why I chose to cover runes this year. While there are similarities that can help you acclimate and master the use of runes more quickly than you did with the tarot, there are differences which are equally useful. Firstly, there are significantly fewer runes than there are cards in a tarot deck. Secondly, tarot cards -- while able to operate as weak foci -- cannot be used in spells, curses, or any other kinds of enchantments on their own, whereas runes can, which is covered in Ancient Runes Year Two.
Another, smaller difference between tarot and runes is that while it is much more common to keep your tarot deck in a box, rather than a bag, the opposite is true for runes. Some feel that this is due to the fact that a box is too thick and will stifle the magic and connection between your runes and yourself, whereas others disagree. However, one thing to take away from this is that runes are a far more loyal foci than tarot cards (though still significantly weaker than wands!). Whereas cards may become disloyal to you due to being in the same room with other witches and wizards, let alone being handled by someone else, runes are much more attuned to you and do not require this extra level of caution. This is largely attributed to the materials used in their construction, but also to the fact that most witches and wizards handcraft their own runes.
But, more on that next week! I will leave you for now, but do feel free to stay and enjoy this wonderful weather here on the Divination balcony as I have it on good authority that this will be the warmest day we have until we see the other side of spring. Don’t squander it! A short quiz awaits you all, as well as a extra credit comparison essay between the two forms of divination we have learned so far in this class.
Original lesson written by Professor Venita Wessex
Image credits here