How familiar does one have to be with norse mythology to start studying the runes?

I want to use the runes primarily for divination. But before I start with it, I feel like I should, at the very least, know the popular Norse myths. However I do not want to get sidetracked and lose sight of my goal.

I’m currently reading Children of Odin by Padraic Colum. I chose this title because it has a story book feel to it. So my question is how much deeper do I have to go before studying the runes


In my opinion, you do not have to go very deep at all. Most books on the runes that I have read simply tell the myth of Odin hanging on the World Tree to receive them before going into the specifics of each rune and how to use them.

You can learn directly from the runes themselves.


As deep as you feel you need to. I’m a culture geek so I try to go as deeply as possible but it’s all up to you. The runes are gateways to primordial energies.


If you are only using them for divination, you don’t “need” to be familiar although it will help. The book you’re reading is okay but if you want to go deeper read the sagas and the eddas. Specifically Egils Saga since you want to get into divination.

Once you understand the runes more you will see there are 13 of the Æsir and a couple Ásynjur in the elder futhark (some people say all 24 are but… that’s another thread). After you know those æsir stories and their offerings you can draw from a much deeper well of knowledge than the ordinary user. Dive into the sagas.


I agree with the previous posters, you don’t need to go into the mythology at all. In fact, the mythology doesn’t really deal runes in a direct way, they are mentioned, but not necessarily what they are or how to use them. Like @FraterMagni, I’m a culture geek, so I like the connection.

As @runeskribe says, the gods do have a strong connection with the runes, but you don’t have to know that to divine with them.

My suggestion would be to read the rune poems as if each rune has two or three verses. Then meditate on the rune (and it doesn’t have to be very long, a half an hour meditation works to get you started) and then you’ll have a meaning that you can work with. The runes, as a force, are pretty open to wanting you to understand them.

Now, the supercool thing about the runes are all the layers to them. At first, they seem like this simple divination technique (fehu means money, uruz means untameable strength, thurisaz means bad stuff, etc). But as you study them, you find that many are Aesir, many of jotuns, many are Powers that are more chthonic. It’s layers are what them fascinating, and one could study them for a lifetime.

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