YOU are about to embark on an incredible journey. The moment you open this deck and unlock Nordic wisdom, an ancient spirit will stir your soul. Suddenly, you’ll find yourself on a marvelous odyssey—one filled with thrills and spills, ups and downs, twist and turns. Odin’s Runes will reveal a monumental fable of struggle and gain, guts and glory, and compassion and wisdom. And YOU are the hero. For this story is about YOU and your quest for self-discovery.
The symbols described by Odin’s Runes once served as an ancient alphabet. Many generations ago, all the way back to 100 B.C., Nordic men and women carved these same letters on stones in Scandinavia, the British Isles, and Iceland. Inscriptions have even been discovered in North America, supporting claims that Vikings arrived in the Americas long before Columbus.
We refer to these letters as “Runes,” which actually means mystery, secret or whisper. Each has a story and esoteric meaning and carries a close relationship to a Norse God. There are 24 Runes, which are also known as the Elder FUThARK, as spell by the first six letters. The alphabet is divided into three aetts (or sets) and reflects the age-old division of nurturer, warrior, and king. The Runes represent your journey through life, and describes obstacles, gifts and vital lessons.
The Fertility Goddess, Freya’s Runes involve family and survival. She insists you become “the nurturer.”
You begin your journey by grasping the concept of Fehu, or “cattle.” This letter describes “moveable wealth,” as livestock can be bought, sold and traded. Fehu beckons you to take “stock” of your life. What do you have? What do you need? You can’t start your adventure until you take inventory. After Fehu’s assessment, you now fuel your voyage with the passion, vitality and reckless abandon of Uruz, or “wild ox.” Energetically, you forge ahead. Unfortunately, your enthusiasm is rudely met with painful resistance. Here, Thorisaz, or “thorns,” teach you that the treasures you seek are fiercely guarded. Worse yet, predators want what you have. So, you learn discipline and prudence. Wisely, you dedicate yourself to study, and learn the lessons of Ansuz. Like the Norse God Odin, who faces the terrifying mountains ahead armed only with his two ravens Muginn (Memory) and Huginn (Thought), you turn to reason and evidence to make wise decisions and become a better leader. Pressing on, you realize that your life is a journey, not a destination, as described by Raidho. Efficient travel only requires a suitable vehicle. With your new-found light brightly shining, Kenaz begs you to lead the way as Gebo rewards your generosity. Finally, Wunjo encourages you to celebrate success and appreciate how far you’ve come.
The Warrior God, Heimdall’s Runes require you to transcend creaturely comforts to become “God-like.”
The second aett of your journey confronts you with three difficult lessons. The first, Hagalaz, or “hail,” wreaks havoc by unleashing an unstoppable destructive force. The second, Nauthiz, slams you with yet another indignity. Hurled into a state of need and despair, Isa, or “ice,” holds you, in frozen suspension, for (what seems like) a very long time. But patience and persistence pay off when, at long last, the “wheel” turns and Jera frees you from bondage. Suddenly, you find yourself back on track, smarter and stronger. Reaching this stage was accomplished not by fighting to escape or railing against an unfair fate, but by learning from experiences and waiting for the inevitable thaw. It is at this point when you understand the restorative lessons of Eihwaz, or “yew tree.” This, the thirteenth Rune, marks the middle of the alphabet, where it spins for all of eternity and epitomizes the mystery and power of life cycles. Enlightened by this concept, you embrace courage, where “the gambler’s cup” of Perthro dares you to take calculated risks. Algiz, or “Angels,” then reminds you that throughout your entire journey, you have been protected. After facing fears and surviving hardships, you are now ready to dedicate yourself to a higher cause as you connect with Sowelu, or “the sun,” and become empowered with self-knowledge and hope.
The God of Justice, Tyr’s letters encourage you to live for a higher cause and become “the king.”
The trials and rewards associated with the first sixteen Runes have forged within you a strong and true spirit. Consequently, you now dare to live with conviction. Here, Taiwaz, or Tyr’s Rune, asks you to make a demanding sacrifice for a greater cause. As a warrior for truth and justice, you willingly surrender something precious, just as Tyr offered his right hand to the wolf Farris in order to save the village. As the sting of the atonement sets in, the healing energy of Berkana, or “birch tree,” immediately rises from within. From this experience, one of the most valuable life lessons is learned: Everything you’ll ever need to find safety and comfort is already within you. Valiant and genuine, true love can finally greet you in sacred Ehwaz, or “horse,” fashion as you begin to forge everlasting partnerships. A true friend, loyal spouse and beloved companion, you become a valued member of Mannaz, or community. Your developing intuition matches that of Laguz, or “the ocean,” as your emotions, which once ruled over you, now serve as a trusted guide. You become a steward as the sacred seeds of Inguz are entrusted into your care. It is only now that you can recognize the new day of Dagaz, and strive to leave behind your legacy, a “heaven on earth,” as your treasures are secured forever in Othalla, or “homeland.”
Using Odin’s Runes for Meditation and Study
Let Odin’s Runes help you reflect on life. Put the cards in order, 1-24, and arrange the deck in three lines of eight. The top line represents Freya’s Aett, the middle represents Heimdall’s Aett and the bottom represents Tyr’s Aett. Notice how the messages progress from simple life-management skills, to surviving hardship, to living for a higher cause. Identify different areas of your life which fall into those three categories.
Where in your own life are you “just getting by” and what tasks and commitments serve loftier goals? Has the hail of Hagalaz recently demolished something important? When, in the past, did hail wipe you out? How did you recover? Are you able to thrive again? Have you experienced the sacred bonds of Ehwaz? Does it seem as if something in your life is frozen? Can the lessons of Isa and Jera help reduce frustration? Could you become more effective by improving your communication skills as suggested by Ansuz? Are you living with unbridled passion and reckless abandon? Would a wild dose of Uruz serve you well?
Odin’s Reading of Enlightenment
With Odin’s Runes, you can read the cards for yourself or for others. If you are reading for a friend, remember to read the cards as they face YOU. Note: Odin’s Runes give messages on all four sides of the square cards and give suggestions about how to improve or maximize good outcomes.
If reading cards for yourself, meditate on a situation on which you would like to shed some light. If reading for a friend, have him/her do the same. Hold that thought while you or your friend shuffles the deck four times. Between each shuffle, rotate the cards in each hand 90 degrees in opposite directions.
Divide the deck into equal stacks. Pick the one that calls to you.
Begin by laying down Card 1, which will be located at the center of the layout. Read and consider each card carefully before moving on to the next. When all five cards have been examined and contemplated, you can then put the entire message together. You will be amazed at the story it tells.
Card 1: Current Situation. This Rune represents an important situation in your life which deserves your attention. The entire reading will revolve around this issue. Contemplate the messages on both sides of the card, and note how the card is turned (straight up, upside down, to the left or right). Consider what action could be taken to improve or appreciate the situation.
Card 2: The Foundation. The Rune in this position represents the issue that supports your current situation.
Card 3: Hopes/Fears. The card overhead depicts how you truly feel about the situation. Remember, no matter the circumstances, you should always have high hopes.
Card 4: The Driving Force. This Rune represents the idea or condition that delivered you to your current situation. Whether the message of this card is positive or not-so-great, this Driving Force is an energy that must be released so you can move on.
Card 5: Ultimate Outcome. This Rune suggests what will happen if major changes aren’t implemented. If the Outcome is desired, hold your course. Ponder the layout and determine whether adjustments in attitude and action will deliver a more desirable result.