Rune Reading

Written by: Grace Duong - Updated: Jul 20, 2022


Runes have been used since ancient times and are often found carved into memorial stones, weapons, and talismans. They were even used in ordinary ways to do business and write personal messages. The origins are mysterious and are even claimed to be mythological; regardless of their history, today they are popularly used to conduct rune readings. People seeking intuitive wisdom and insight are turning to runes in hopes of receiving personal guidance or even a glimpse into the future. This guide will walk you through the history and meaning of runes and how a rune reading works.

What is Rune Reading?

Rune reading is one of the oldest forms of divination practices, also called cleromancy or casting lots. People have used this method for millennia to make decisions and answer questions. Today, runic letters are drawn or carved onto small stones or pieces of wood, which are then revealed from a bag or cast down onto a cloth. You can cast and read runes for yourself or have someone do a reading for you. Some people offer rune readings as a professional service for those seeking answers to questions about life, love, work, and everything in between. 

The History of Rune Reading

A rune is defined as a letter of an ancient Germanic alphabet. Although the exact origination of these characters is unclear, history traces the first runic carvings back to around 160 AD. One popular theory is that the tribes of people located just north of the Black Sea created these runic symbols, drawing inspiration from Greek and Latin alphabets. The original collection of letters is called the Elder Futhark and consists of 24 characters. The Elder Futhark was eventually changed and renamed multiple times, letters were added or taken away, and the alphabet fell out of use by the late Middle Ages.

Rune reading as we know it today started to gain popularity in the 1970s with the emergence of Germanic neopaganism. By the 1980s, various books on the subject of runic divination were published. One of the more popular books was by Ralph Blum who wrote The Book of Runes. The book provides a modern interpretation of rune reading in the form of self-help and self-discovery. It comes with a bag of runes so readers can practice doing their own readings with the guidance of the book. Stephen Flowers was another well-known rune reading advocate. He authored books on the subject, diving deeper into the history of runes and their magical influence. Some of Flowers’ books include Runes and Magic and Revival of the Runes

How Rune Reading Works

Most people read runes today to divine information using their intuition. Each rune is inscribed with a symbol that has individual meaning. Depending on how many runes are used during a reading, the symbols can be interpreted on their own or in relation to each other. Rune readings usually follow a three-step method and use between 1 and 24 runes to answer a single question. Although the work that goes into understanding and interpreting runes can be complex, the reading process is fairly simple:

How Rune Reading Works
Question A querent asks a question as they hold the bag of runes in their nondominant hand.
Cast The runes are then pulled out of the bag with the dominant hand and thrown down or laid out into a specific arrangement, often on a piece of fabric.
Interpret Once the runes have been cast, they are interpreted to answer the question asked at the beginning of the reading.

Rune reading layouts and spreads

Now that you know how a rune reading works, we’ll go over some common rune spreads and layouts that act as intentional guides for readers to follow. The easiest to start with is the one-rune draw. The reader focuses on a question to ask and simply pulls one rune out of a bag or flips one over from an overturned pile. The rune is then interpreted to answer the question. This is a great spread to perform in the morning to gain insight into what you can expect for the day. It can also be used for “yes or no” questions: an upright rune is yes, while a reverse rune is no.

Another common layout is a past, present, and future three-rune spread. The reader will ask a question that can be answered concerning timing. For example, “What do I need to know about my career?” Then they will pull or flip over three runes, one at a time:

  1. The first will tell the reader about their career in the past. 
  2. The second will describe the present state of their career. 
  3. The third will be a possible future outcome of their career.

The five-rune cross is a layout that offers a more detailed answer to reveal the influences, obstacles, and outcomes of a situation. A general, open-ended question is asked (avoid yes or no questions), and the reader will draw five runes in a row, placing them down one at a time in the shape of a cross. The first rune is on the bottom, the second on the left, the third on top, the fourth on the right, and the fifth in the middle. The spread is interpreted as follows:

  1. What is presently influencing the situation
  2. Any obstacles that you need to overcome
  3. Positive aspects of the situation
  4. A possible future outcome
  5. What is influencing the future outcome

Rune meanings

Rune meanings
F – Fehu (ᚠ): money, cattle, wealth, fertility, abundance, luck, and movement.
U/V – Uruz (ᚢ): wild ox, water, purity, rapid change, endurance, and energy. 
TH/þ – Thurizaz/Purisaz (ᚦ): giant, thorn, passion, power, anger, and aggression.
A – Ansuz (ᚨ): mouth, river mouth, language, insight, and blessings.
R – Raido (ᚱ): ride, journey, travel, lifestyle change, vacation, and patterns.
C – Kenaz/Kaunan/Cen (ᚲ): ulcer, boil, torch, lamp, inspiration, creativity, and progeny.
G – Gebo (ᚷ): gift, partnership, balances, promises, and reciprocity.
W – Wunjo (ᚹ): pleasure, joy, friendship, recognition, comfort, and reward.
H – Hagalaz (ᚺ): hail, change, destruction and creation, transformation, and disruption. 
N – Nauthiz (ᚾ): need, desire, determination, endurance, and fate.
I – Isa/Isaz (ᛁ): ice, grieving, ego, waiting, risk, numbness, and delusion.
J – Jera (ᛃ): year, peace, harvest, time, abundance, and reaping.
Y/æ – Eihwaz (ᛇ): yew tree, protection, eternal life, motivation, and inner transformation.
P – Perthro/Perþ- (ᛈ): mystery, uncertainty, destiny, femininity, flow, and renewal.
X/Z – Algiz (ᛉ): elk, swan, guarding, defense, guidance, and shielding. 
S – Sowilo (ᛋ): sun, victory, honor, true purpose, navigation, and will. 
T – Tiwaz (ᛏ): Tyr (a Norse god), judgment, justice, divine truth, and competition. 
B – Berkanan (ᛒ): birch, growth, liberation, new beginnings, regeneration, and fertility. 
E – Ehwaz (ᛖ): horse, steed, transportation, teamwork, progress, partnership, and twins.
M – Mannaz (ᛗ): man, integration, awareness, sovereignty, divine spark, and intelligence. 
L – Laguz (ᛚ): lake, water, creation, consciousness, imagination, renewal, and dreams.
ŋ – Ingwaz (ᛜ / ᛝ): Ing (a Norse god), potential energy, sacrifice, rebirth, relief, and rest.
O – Othila/Opila/Opala (ᛟ): estate, homeland, ancestral wealth, legacy, and inheritance.
D – Dagaz (ᛞ): daylight, day, clarity, planning, enlightenment, change, and hope.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • question
    What kinds of questions can I answer with rune reading?

    Rune reading can be used for any kind of question. Although most intuitive divination practices recommend avoiding “yes or no” questions, runes do allow for binary answers. The one-rune and three-rune spreads can be used to get a “yes or no” answer, whereas the larger layouts are great for more nuanced questions. This makes rune reading a great option for both simple and complex answers.

  • question
    How much do rune readings cost?

    If you’re getting a rune reading online from a psychic website, you will most likely be charged on a per-minute basis. Psychics who offer rune readings will charge anywhere from $1 to $25 per minute. You can also look for local psychics or individuals offering rune readings. They will likely have flat-rate pricing, which will vary in range, but you can expect to pay between $5 and $75 for a reading, depending on the length of the session and the number of runes used.