If you really want to get to know the Runes, rather than buying a set that is already made, it is much better to make your own, as it gives you a much more intimate relationship with the Runes. Runes are more commonly made from either wood or stone, although other materials such as crystals, glass beads, or clay can also be used.
The Nordic and Celtic people believed that every stone has a spirit within it, which needs to be honoured if it is to work well for you – so it is important to leave a small offering at any place where you take something from creation. The traditional offering is sea-salt, as it is said to be formed by the fusion of the four primal elements: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. Alternative offerings include: coloured ribbon, tobacco – which is sacred to the Native Americans, and, corn – which is sacred throughout the Old World.
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The three favoured types of wood for Rune-making are: Ash (the World Tree), Yew (the Rune Eihwaz), and Birch (the Rune Berkana) – because they have direct connections with the Runes. However, the following trees are also used for making magical tools – I have listed them with their principal symbolic meaning: * Rowan – a protective tree * Willow – a tree connected strongly with the Moon * Oak – symbolic of strength * Hazel – preferred tree of diviners throughout the ages * Apple – linked to love * Blackthorn – masculine symbol of spiritual authority, and, * Hawthorn – Blackthorn’s protective sister tree.
Once you have your branch, use a hand-saw and carefully saw it into 24 slices about 2-5cm across. Next, using a poker, pyrography, or soldering iron, carefully burn the Runic inscriptions into each Rune. Finally, dip a soft cloth in natural beeswax, and rub over each Rune to protect the wood.
Stones will always be found wherever you choose to look, however, some of the best stones for Rune-making can be found on beaches and in stream beds – I actually collected mine from my garden! Collect 24 stones for your Rune set, and give them a wash to clean off any mud or dirt. Then, using a fine paint-brush, and some natural coloured acrylic paint, paint the Runic inscriptions on each stone. Once the paint is dry, varnish over the stones to protect the paint.
Cleansing your Runes
Once you have completed your Rune-set, it is important to cleanse them spiritually. This can be done in a number of ways: they can be laid out under a full moon for a night; you can waft smoking herbs over them – also known as smudging; or most commonly, you can use naturally flowing water from a well, spring, or stream – do not use tap water, as it is full of man-made chemicals.
Empowering your Runes
Once you have cleansed your Runes, you need to empower them. As with cleansing, this can be done in a number of ways. Some Runemasters lay their Runes out in the midday summer sun, while others bury them in the earth for nine days. I will show you the more common way, using the four elements to empower your runes.
1: Place your Runes on a cloth, and sprinkle them with sea-salt to empower them with Earth.
2: Pass each Rune through incense smoke and ask the element of Air to empower the Runes.
3: Pass each Rune individually through a candle flame to empower them with Fire.
4: Finally, sprinkle spring-water over the Runes to empower them with Water.
Care of your Runes
Runes can be powerful and helpful allies, provided you look after them, and treat them with the care and respect they deserve. Remember, once you have cleansed and empowered your Runes, they are imbued with your own unique energy, and you should never lend them to anyone else for them to use. As you work with your Runes, and especially if you do a lot of readings for others, you will need to cleanse them regularly – you may also wish to perform an annual re-empowering ceremony. As you get to know your Runes better, they will let you know when they need to be cleansed, because they will begin to feel uncomfortable when you are handling them – if this happens, simply re-cleanse them. Also worth noting – if your Runes haven’t been used for a while, you will need to re-energize them with the energies of the Sun and Moon by laying them outside for 24 hours.