What is a magic rune and what do their symbols mean?

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What is a magic rune and what do their symbols mean?


Celtic runes, also known as magic runes, have a rich history. They have been used in divination since the 17th century, making them hundreds of years old. These small stones have an ancient alphabet carved onto them, which are believed to be magic and cast to answer questions and predict the future.

By Imogen Groome | 5th May 2019
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The best psychics have been using physical aids such as magic runes to support them with gaining answers from the universe for centuries. Other equipment includes crystals, coffee grounds and tea leaves. Additionally, if you were to search for ‘online psychics’ or ‘psychics near me’, you would find that many, if not all of them, will use tools such as tarot cards, playing cards and angel cards for fortune telling. Some of the most popular psychic services include Kasamba, Keen, AskNow, Psychic Source and Oranum.

Runes are seen as the first form of physical equipment used by people for gaining psychic insight and casting protection. Let’s take a look at their history and what the symbols mean.

History of magic runes

The word rune is thought to refer to something secret or hidden. Some believe that early runes were used as magical signs. In other words, they featured in magic and divination. Unfortunately, there is no physical evidence to support this theory. It is presumed that the runes came from the Tarot and the Chinese Book of Changes, and that the Vikings used them for the I Ching. In short, the I Ching is a taxonomy which philosophically classifies how people should live an ethical life, how rulers should rule, and also served as an oracle for both a person’s individual future and that of the state. Rune masters and Vikings wore easily recognisable and striking clothes. They were prominent figures in tribal circles, and were simultaneously adored, welcomed and feared. It’s believed that many runes experts were also women. However, when the rune masters passed, so too did their wisdom, and the only remnants were the sagas, assorted fragments of runic history and, of course, the rune itself.

While this era is fairly far back in history, there is also evidence that similar traditions existed in older times, as Roman historian Tacitus reported on similar customs of Germanic tribes in the year 98 AD. A reference here is the traditional Germanic Futhark script, which comprised 24 runes, divided into three groupings of eight. Within these groups, the third and eighth stones were said to have special magic powers. The three groups were named after Nordic gods – Frey, Hagal and Tyr.

Rune stone in swedish winter landscape. This rune stone is located in Karlevi at the island Oland in Sweden. The Swedish island Oland, the island of sun and wind, is located in the Baltic Sea just off the coast of mainland Sweden. The nature and landscapes of Oland is unique with a special light and a wide range of different nature types.
Runes are used in magic and divination practices (Picture: iStock by Getty)

The story of the chief Nordic god is commonly believed to explain the origin of rune stones. Odin’s name comes from the terms for ‘wind’ and ‘spirit’, and he is said to have brought the runes to people through his suffering and self-sacrifice. Legend says that he hung for nine nights on the Yggdrasil tree, wounded by his sword and suffering from hunger, thirst and pain. Alone and without help, he was reaching death when he saw the runes. With a final effort, he reached out and grabbed them.

Magic runes have been around in various eras throughout centuries of history. For example, during the Anglo-Saxon era in England, it’s said that tribal leaders and advisors referred to their secret consultations as ‘Runes’. Additionally, when Bishop Wulfila translated the Bible into fourth century Gothic, he said in Markus 4,11: ‘You are given the knowledge about the secret of the kingdom of God’, where secret was used with ‘runa’.  They have many functions and apply to many areas of everyday life. There were ritual functions, where the runes could be used for divination and to invoke higher powers, that could influence a tribe’s happiness and lives in general. Additionally, there were rune spells for every sector of life – from holy functions to everyday tasks. Runes and spells could impact the weather, the tides, the harvest, health and love. People would use runes for fertility, birth, death and to abolish curses. It was common to see runic symbols everywhere – carved onto weapons, jewellery, drinking cups, houses and the bow of Viking ships.

What do runic symbols mean?


The self

Messages from this rune:

  • Remain modest
  • Don’t take anything in excess
  • Stay on alert for impulses


A partnership and/or gift

Messages from this rune:

  • Unity, union or partnership is on the horizon
  • That being said, don’t throw yourself into it
  • Preserve your independence in the union
A necklace with a rune engraved into it
Runes have been around for a long time (Picture: iStock by Getty)


Property, food and livestock

Messages from this rune:

  • Your ambition will be satisfied, salary received or love fulfilled
  • Be cautious and vigilant, even in happy times
  • Conserve and preserve what you have won


Shedding the old and welcoming the new

Messages from this rune:

  • Outdated relationships should be given up
  • You may receive a profit that you should abandon
  • Abandon the past fluidly, not rigidly


Termination and new beginning

Messages from this rune:

  • You should leave your old life behind
  • Be prepared for possible loss
  • Practice modesty


Concealment and hidden objects

Messages from this rune:

  • Expect surprises and unexpected profits
  • Old habits can’t be repeated without suffering
  • You need to follow a difficult path temporarily in order for good to follow


Facing fears and making plans

Messages from this rune:

  • There will be a period of stagnation where you should reconsider your plans
  • It’s time to face and deal with your demons
  • Keep your anger and impulses under control


Making way for change

Messages from this rune:

  • A time of joyful liberation may be coming
  • You have the strength to complete this stage of your journey
  • This is a time of great change so you must overcome obstacles to clear the way


Managing emotions, practicing moderation

Messages from this rune:

  • Control your emotions and don’t rush into them
  • You will learn from outcomes, whether they are positive or negative
  • Practice moderation, civility and proper conduct


Patience and strength through hardship

Messages from this rune:

  • Be patient and do the right thing
  • Learn to grow despite inconveniences and discomfort
  • Don’t aim for a particular desired result


Receiving gifts, thinking of positives

Messages from this rune:

  • Make extra effort with meetings, visits and even accidental encounters
  • Thinks of the positives behind those who are less fortunate
  • Receive everything as a gift – even a timely warning


Receive blessings, act honestly

Messages from this rune:

  • You have found yourself, to a certain extent
  • It’s time to receive material or emotional blessings or increased wellbeing
  • While acting honestly and with confidence, you cannot fail


Work hard to reap rewards

Messages from this rune:

  • You are encouraged to remain in good spirits
  • There will be time before achieving the results you desire
  • You will have success with the activity or effort you devote yourself to


Opening; expulsion of darkness

Messages from this rune:

  • You are free to experience the joy of giving
  • Practice sincerity, clarity and concentration
  • Take in light in order to see what is outdated and irrelevant


Reflection and perseverance

Messages from this rune:

  • Look inwardly, go down to the foundation of your life
  • Practice perseverance, even if you must endure with patience
  • Ask yourself what your priorities are and how you use your energy


Power and accomplishment; possible distractions

Messages from this rune:

  • You have the power to influence development
  • Scatter resistance in order to accomplish your work
  • Events or character aspects can distract from the growth of new life
divination and prediction on runes and Tarot, mysticism or esoteric isolated on grey background
Magic runes are often used in stone form by mediums (Picture: iStock by Getty)


Steady movement and careful action

Messages from this rune:

  • You will experience gradual development and continual progress
  • Some changes and transformations will only occur slowly
  • Ensure that your action – or inaction – takes place at the right time


Temperance and self-reflection

Messages from this rune:

  • Stay in tune with your inner rhythms
  • Don’t overestimate your abilities or work too hard
  • Tap into your intuitive knowledge to achieve success


Identify damage and work on resolution

Messages from this rune:

  • Your psyche urgently indicates you must free yourself from identifying with material things
  • This is a time of huge awakening
  • Evaluate the damage done in your life and the growth which is required


Careful development; patience and growth

Messages from this rune:

  • There is work to do, both inside and outside of yourself
  • You must reach these goals while practicing contemplation
  • Now is not the time to make decisions – be patient


Big changes and major breakthroughs

Messages from this rune:

  • There is a breakthrough when it comes to the process of self transformation
  • You may be in for a major phase of success and thriving
  • Trust that this point in your life will bring about great change


Entrapment and limited choices

Messages from this rune:

  • You may be trapped in a situation which is more important than you realise
  • The only option is to pass on desires you have held for a long time
  • These times aren’t necessarily your fault and you cannot do anything


Choose actions carefully

Messages from this rune:

  • This rune refers to something with two sides or elements
  • You must ask yourself what the right course of action is
  • It isn’t necessary to rely solely on your own strength
Runic futark. The concept of the ancient alphabet, endowed with mystical properties
Runes are steeped in history (Picture: iStock by Getty)


Recharge and regenerate; stay humble

Messages from this rune:

  • The embodiment of an impulse for self-knowledge
  • There is a time to recharge and regenerate yourself
  • Don’t be too arrogant and remember you need others for true success


The blank and unknowable

Messages from this rune:

  • Take courage and trust in the universe making change for you
  • Surrender some control, although this may be hard
  • Empty is the end and empty is the beginning – rise from the ashes
When should you use runes?

Typically, runes are used during the practice of divination in order to predict the future and guide you to the answers to any questions you may have. These symbols provide insight and can help to predict particular outcomes for situations. Historically, runes have been used for amulets and shields, and also to hide secret messages. The alphabet of runes has also been useful in the past for providing protection and healing, similarly to symbols such as the ankh, eye of horus or tree of life.

How to read runes

Runes are like tarot cards in that they each have a specific meaning, and psychic advisors will interpret them in different ways depending on where they fall or if they are displayed correctly as opposed to upside down. There are multiple rune casting spreads which psychics use to read runes, and the most common are 3, 5 or 9 runes. Alternatively, they can be drawn individually in a reading for specific questions or situations. It can take years to master the art of casting and reading runes.

Written by
Imogen Groome
Imogen is editor-in-chief of Hot5. She is also a lifestyle blogger, author and freelance journalist, with particular interests in music, politics, psychic readings and dating. She is usually found at home with her collection of animals, drinking iced tea. Read more.
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