This week, I wanted to touch on three methods of fortune telling that are used in reality and fiction. The fictional versions are always more magical and mysterious than the real ones, so there are preconceived notions people have when they try to interact with these things themselves. Will these posts help clear things up? Maybe, but I can’t call myself an expert on this. It’s all opinion and what I’ve learned over the years while dabbling in such things myself. Speaking of dabbling, this post is on runes.
First, here is a site that can tell you a lot and it’s similar to a book I have that helps me use my rune set. At least once I figure out where I put it. CLICK HERE
Now, I should explain the dabbling since I never really put any runes in my stories. This is because I haven’t found the right character to use them. Stephanie Talon comes close, but being a blood worker makes more sense for a vampire. Anyway, I was in college when I was first introduced to runes. This was by accident too. I made friends with a lot of the Pagan Student Association members and went with them to an Earth Day festival that a bunch of clubs put on. I helped set things up and was dubbed the Pack Jew. Lacking a car (or license), I spent the rest of the day sitting behind the table while the members used their tarot decks. I’d found a bag of Nordic runes and a book about them in the boxes, so I was reading about them.
Around lunchtime, the club leaders went to get food for the group and the rest wandered off. Why? Because I wasn’t paying attention and said okay to watching their stuff. Next thing I know, members from the Latin Student Union and Black Student Union came over to see what we were doing since the entire festival had a lull. They wanted fortunes and me being Jewish didn’t make a difference. I wasn’t allowed to touch the tarot decks (explain on Friday), but I had the runes. Everyone was understanding that I hadn’t done it before and we looked at it as a learning experience. By the time the PSA came back, I was getting into it. Here I learned that nobody had figured out how the runes worked since they were new and so I had to explain what I learned. Later on, my wife (a Wiccan) got me my own set of runes and a book. I played around for fun and tried to create a few stories that revolved around them. Still considering one where the main character has to find scattered rune stones to save a kingdom. Might still be a short story collection, but it’s in the pile with my attempt to make a Pokemon-like thing.
Anyway, using runes in fiction tends to be a seer throwing marked bones or stones around then staring at them. They foretell the future in an ominous voice with a surprising amount of accuracy. This is where the magic comes into play, which is why they don’t work that way in reality. If one could focus on the stones and use them to perfectly tell the future then all of us would be doing that in the morning. Betting most people would stay inside afterwards too:
“The runic bones say there is traffic and work will be boring.”
“Eh, I have enough sick days stocked up take an early weekend.”
Although, you’d probably have your boss doing his or her own runic reading to discover if you’re lying or not. My point here is that the fictional clarity that gets used a lot even with giving directions isn’t how it works. Much of real fortune telling involves giving an answer that is clear enough to connect to the question, but vague enough to help the person figure out what it means. This is why runes have specific meanings aside from doubling as the Nordic alphabet. I can’t even give a real example because every person can have their own interpretation depending on their question, mental state, life experience, and current life situation. You can get Uruz, which involves self-healing, but one person will see it as they are on the right path to improvement while another sees it as a sign that they need to change their path.
Runes definitely have a different feel that other fortune telling systems. Instead of a person looking into the stars or working out of a tent in a caravan or marketplace, there’s a more primal feel to these. I might be talking for myself here, so take all of this with a grain of salt. Part of it might be what they are made on. Bone and stone are more natural than paper to me. There aren’t any pretty pictures on runes, so it’s visually simplistic and almost blunter in its display. You can see a person making their own runes a lot easier than a tarot deck or reading the stars. Yet, it seems to be a less common and more difficult system to learn. That might be due to there being fewer practitioners since I remember tarot was the main fortune telling system. Seriously, the only one using it in college was a fantasy-obsessed Jew, which might color my view.
Personally, I suggest that people look into runes if they want to add a fortune telling aspect to their story. It doesn’t have to be fantasy and can even work in science fiction since each one is a solitary symbol. They’re incredibly versatile and have a fun history.