Reading Runes

by Kim Farnell

Before you even begin a reading for another person, you need to put your client at ease and assure him or her that you are reliable and trustworthy. You must inspire confidence by being able to recognize, name, and describe the meanings of runes with­out referring to books. In addition, you must remember that this is the client’s reading and it should address his or her needs. Advice offered by the runes can be frank and may not always be what the client wishes to hear. You should offer your interpretation as diplomatically as you can, but also guard against the tendency to “sugar coat” the message; in this case the meaning becomes lost.


Even if you are doing a reading for practice only, you should still take your reading seriously and think carefully about the way you word your information. Some people may claim they don’t believe in the runes, but what you say will still have an effect on them. The best way to present yourself is to imagine how you would feel in the client’s position. It is all too easy to inflict unintended emotional damage, and you won’t want your clients to leave feeling worse than when they arrived!

Rune reading is tiring so it isn’t a good idea to undertake a reading when you are feeling less than your best. People can be demanding, and some will ask you to give them a reading no matter how bad you feel or how late the hour. Few matters are so urgent that they cannot wait a short time. When someone is in distress, it can be very difficult to stand back from them, but it may be necessary for the preservation of your own mental health. What you are aiming to do is to offer information, reassurance, and grounds for hope, but if a client is in desperate straits, unless you are a trained and skilled counselor, there is a limit to what you can do.

Tolerance is essential for any reader. You may have views completely different from your client on any number of matters, but the reading is for them and it is only their views that matter. You also owe your client complete confidentiality. If you want to discuss your reading with another practitioner, you should seek permission from your client and then make sure that his or her identity isn’t revealed.

There is nothing wrong with accepting payment for your work. Interpretation of the runes is a skill requiring study and practice, and just like anyone else providing a service, you are entitled to payment. It is best to set a rate for the job when making the initial appointment.


Although any surface can be used for your runes, many peo­ple prefer to have a special cloth, and some like to have separate cloths for each spread, with the spreads labeled on them.

Additionally, many rune casters like to put symbols of the different elements on the table with them. A candle may be used for fire, a bowl of water for water, a feather for air, and a crystal or stone for earth. These symbols can be purely decorative or used in your reading by passing the runes over each in turn before laying them out. Earth is usually placed to the north, air to the east, fire to the south, and water to the west.

Before you begin a reading you should wash you hands. Not only will this help to protect your runes but it will also show respect to them. Your washing can be turned into a ritual act of purification. While washing away the dirt on your hands, you can visualize your fears and doubts being washed away.

You may wish to ask your spiritual guide or deity for help with the reading and also ask your guide to offer good advice and to give spiritual healing to your client during the course of the reading.

Casting the Runes

Reading the runes is referred to as “rune casting.” This term applies whether you are throwing the runes, or placing them by hand into a spread. If you are casting (throwing) the runes out rather than laying them out in a spread, you will need to select a rune that embodies the question to stand as the significator of the question. Don’t take the rune out of the bag; leave all the runes in place but jot down the name of the rune or make a mental note of it. If the client’s question refers to a matter of business or money, choose a rune that represents this, or if the questioner wishes to know about a health matter, select an appropriate rune. If the significator rune shows up in the reading, things are unlikely to change.

A question about love, life, and happiness belongs to Freya’s Aett so the significator rune should be chosen from that Aett. If the question concerns intellect, understanding, and spiritual growth, it belongs to Hagal’s Aett. If the question is about daily life, work, house moves, family problems, and so forth, it belongs to Tyr’s Aett.

It is natural to want to read each rune in isolation but if you do so you are likely to miss out on a whole level of information. The runes in a spread interact with each other. Sometimes two runes have very similar meanings, and this emphasizes the importance of the message.

Some runes act as “power” runes, dominating those around them and modifying the tone of surrounding runes. Those that relate to gods or start one of the Aettir demand such attention. These are Fehu, Ansuz, Thurisaz, Hagalaz, Tiwaz, and Mannaz. The presence of one or more of these runes in a spread shows that the gods are taking a particular interest in the situation. Wunjo can moderate the tone of surrounding runes, and while it cannot change the meaning of any runes nearby, it may reduce any prob­lems indicated by other runes.


Excerpted from Runes, Plain & Simple by Kim Farnell


Kim Farnell has been a professional astrologer since 1990 and has taught astrology and lectured extensively in the UK and overseas. She was previously the Vice Chair of the Astrological Association of Great Britain and has been the editor of its newsletter, Transit, in print and online. She has also written sun sign columns for a number of magazines and websites and has published articles in numerous astrological periodicals all over the world. Kim has an MA in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology and is the author of several books.