Making Your Own Runes
Before deciding what to make your runes out of, it is worth considering which alphabetical system to
use. These follow several forms, but most runes will use the common German Futhark symbols popular use today.
However, if you feel you have an affinity with ancient English, a little alteration will
produce slightly different symbols. As you learn more about runes and read more about their usage,
you may find that you end up with several sets of runes, all using different symbolism. Make sure,
however, that you keep each set of runes separate and do not mix the systems.
There are many substances you can choose to make your own runes. If you want to make them out of
pebbles, try to ensure that the pebbles are similar in size, and be very careful to copy the symbols
exactly if endeavoring to paint them yourself. Also make sure that you use a paint which will not
flake or fade, preferably made from a natural pigment. It is said that the Vikings often used blood to
stain their runes; I wouldn’t recommend this, but I would suggest that a red pigment is used, red
having a strong association with the god Thor. Those who wish to use the colour associated with Odin
should use blue. Traditionally it is suggested that the pebbles used should be gathered from the
seashore during a storm, so bear this in mind should you live near or be visiting the seaside!
People who are keen on pottery or have access to a kiln may like to try to make their runes out of clay
or ceramics. Another possibility is making a set out of card. This is especially useful as a starting set,
or if money is scarce. Each runic card should be around 1″ wide by 2″ long at least.
Those who are able to carve might like trying to make a set of runes out of one of the traditional
woods, such as hazel, birch, ash or apple. Ash is a strongly runic tree, being the tree in which Odin
hung, and birch is also a wood traditionally used for rune-making. Apple wood is often used because
of the connection with the Goddess Idun, who kept apples in a basket which, it is said, kept age at bay.
Some runemasters suggest that it is acceptable to make runes out of yew, but others suggest that, to
the Vikings, the yew was a tree of death, and so should not be used. This stems from the fact that its
bark, leaves, roots and fruit are all poisonous. However, it can also be seen as the tree of life, as it
stays green throughout the year, and can be regenerated by its own daughter-tree growing in the soil
inside the dying trunk. It is therefore up to the individual to decide whether to use yew or not.
Tradition suggests that such wood should be cut from a tree during the waning of the moon, and
chopped into the 25 pieces immediately. It is important to ask permission of the tree before doing this,
explaining the purpose behind your action. The tree is a living thing and should be treated with
respect. It is of course equally important that you ask permission of the tree’s owner, should it not be
in your own garden! Some traditions also suggest that you should leave a silver coin somewhere
within the tree for payment, but this is up to the individual concerned.
Each piece should be flattened and smoothed before the symbols are carved, and sharp tools used.
Any paint put onto the carving to darken or further distinguish the symbols should be made from a
natural pigment. Another way of marking the runes could be burning the letters, but this should be
done with care and by someone who knows exactly what they are doing. Likewise it is important to be
fairly confident, when making your own runes out of wood, firstly that you have enough wood for the
job, and secondly that you are capable of the task.
As it is said that Wednesday connects with Odin (Woden’s day -Woden being another form of Odin),
you may decide to embark upon making your runes on that day.
Cleansing And Protecting The Runes
As with crystals, runes should be cleaned, especially if they are bought from a commercial outlet.
They should be washed in natural water, preferably spring water, or at least mineral water (check the
label to make sure that it has not been irradiated), and left to dry before being put into a pouch or bag,
which traditionally should be leather, felt, silk or velvet. A pouch with a drawstring is ideal. Tradition
suggests that the drawstring or thong should be leather, but those people who are against using animal
products may think otherwise.
Some people who have made their own runes out of wood like to keep them in a box made of the
same wood from the same tree. Again, this is a matter of personal preference. Many runemasters also
use a casting cloth, onto which the runes are cast. This is another matter of personal choice, but it is
worth noting that a casting cloth will help to prevent damage to the runes and keep them clean.