When I was thirteen or fourteen years old I stumbled across a young adult book series by author L.J. Smith. It was a trilogy of books called "The Forbidden Game." In the series, from what I can remember, a young girl and her friends meet up with the devil and are given an opportunity to play a game similar to "Jumanji." Using runes that she finds in the game and her uncle's house (forgive me if I get this wrong, it has been a few years since I read these books...almost 25 to be exact) she plays this game of survival with her friends. The author used multiple runes from the Elder Futhark and lent her own views as to what the runes meant. Some of them were not too far off! If I'd been a teen in this era I probably would have gravitated to the Magnus Chase books which offer a more accurate selection of rune knowledge and is more accurate in their meanings.
With the internet in its infancy I eagerly sought out information to learn more. I stumbled upon several rune sites and was surprised to see so many as the book really focused on maybe five different ones...from memory I can recall Isa, Uruz, Kenaz, Nauthiz, and maybe Thurisaz. I printed out some pages and began studying them and their rudimentary meanings that were printed next to each one.
Later on a trip to WaldenBooks I discovered Blum's book on "The Healing Runes" which came with its own set of ceramic runes (including the blank rune.) I read the book, learned their phonetic sounds, and a whole new set of meanings...things were starting to get confusing. I figured rather than learning the aspect of divination with the runes, I should focus more on recognizing them and learning to write with them. And so I did. I re-wrapped all of my text books in that brown grocery store bag and wrote their subject matter on the cover in runes. I would write notes to my girlfriend in them (whom I had taken it upon myself to try to teach them to her.) She bought me my first two rune necklaces. Each had a single rune on it. The one was Laguz because I am a water sign and I always said I was a healer, and the other was one to remember her by, Ehwaz the rune of the horse (she raised horses.)
At some point in time the ceramic set was lost and I felt the next best thing would be to create my own. I went outside and peeled bark off of a tree in the yard. Broke it into small tile sized pieces, and on the smooth side painted with red paint each of the runes of the Elder Futhark. With this set I attempted to work with them on with actual divination. I used notes from the internet and Blum's book. I was terrible at it. I couldn't piece together a reading or truly understand how they worked together. Their bluntness was lost on me and I was looking for more flowery readings like you might find with the Tarot. I kept them around and took them to culinary school with me. I rarely used them as I was immersed in my education and had little time for the esoteric as learning the mother sauces was of way more value.
While at school, I friended some amazing people, one of which invited me to attend a pagan convention at a nearby university and later a meet-up of local pagans. One of the meeting events that evening was to bring a divination tool and read for some people to help hone skills and learn from others. So, I broke out my runes and attempted to read for some people. I was super intimidated and am pretty sure I gave some crappy readings. But people seemed satisfied and thanked me. Maybe someone got something from my jumbled mix of paging through books and trying to remember the names of the runes that I didn't see often when I would pull for myself. That was one of the last times I used the runes for divination for several years. The runes I made vanished, but never left my spiritual side.
I would work with them on occasions. Fiddling with bindrunes, researching them more as I got older, but never moved toward the divination side of things. I focused more on their historical use as written language. I learned of the Younger Futhark, and later the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc, and the Northumbrian Runes (not until later though.) I highly recommend Dr. Jackson Crawford's videos on the runes. They can be found on YouTube and are packed with amazing information.
It wasn't until after the birth of my daughter and me taking my current job that I really started to get pulled back to their call. I began working with bindrunes in full force and really learning what each rune meant and how it intertwined and worked with the other runes. I would make runes of protection for my step-son as he would often have horrible nightmares. I would make them to protect the home and my family. I even went as far as to create one for success and victory in business and creativity which I had buried under the brewhouse during the construction of the brewery I started working at. So far it has been working!
It was recently, maybe within the past two years, that I decided to look up rune podcasts to help me learn. I could listen to them while working or driving. I'm an auditory and tangible learner so this seemed like I might retain information better than via books. I discovered Kenn Edward's podcast "Runewalking In Modern Times" on Spotify and other platforms and was hooked. He uses a unique set of runes which includes the 24 runes of the Elder Futhark, and an additional 9 runes from both the Northumbrian and Anglo-Saxon rune sets which he calls the "giant's runes." I took to this quickly as this made way more sense to me and opened a whole new world. I sought out as much information as I could from his teachings as well as others, and dedicated myself to the runes as well as Odin and Freyja for their guidance and help in learning and working with them on an esoteric and linguistic level. It was a beautiful ritual and my closeness with the spirits of the runes has never been stronger. I walk with them daily, see them places, dream of them, and work with them on a daily basis to help guide me in my day-to-day life.
Shortly after, I took-up wood burning, or pyrography, and began burning sets of runes. The first one I did was on some pre-cut discs I picked up at an arts and crafts store. Others have been on wood that I've found in around my home in the forest, sawed into discs, burned, and sealed. Each set is a little better than the first and I have been pleased with the results. The dedication ritual I completed was using the first set I burned.
So here I am today, constantly learning, embracing these sigils of the ancient Northern and Germanic people. And what is my philosophy of these little characters? I've come to learn, thought my own Unverified Personal Gnosis (UPG) and other studies that the runes are living spirits. They exist because we need them. We needed them long ago for language to teach and help others, we needed them to help give us faith that our crops would grow and the seasons would change, we need them today to help guide us when things seem out of place or when we need an extra push to get us through some rough times.
With some more recent training I'm starting to gain more faith in my ability to work with them as divination tools. I've been working on shamanic journeying and seeing them in my journeys and dreams. The combined efforts have helped me key into my inner self and really understand their meanings and how to interpret them for others. Thank you to all those reading this who have helped guide me on this journey and I look forward to more.