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What Are Runes?
Runes are the alphabet of the ancient northern European tribes, the northern Celts, the Vikings, and ancient Germans. Runes came into usage at least two centuries before the common era, and may have evolved after contact with the "civilized" people of the Mediteranean. The word rune is believed to have it's origins in the Gothic word runa, meaning secret, mystery or whisper, and the old German word raunan, which means to cut or to carve. Carved Runic inscriptions have survived all over northern Europe- Ireland, Scandinavia, the Ukraine, Iceland. There are several different forms of the alphabet, and the one most often used today for fortune telling is the Elder Futhark, which was the Norse version of the alphabet.
From the earliest times, Runes were associated with magick. In his "Germania", the Roman historian Tacitus wrote how the priests of Odin could use the Runes as an oracle; a branch was torn from a fruit bearing tree, and cut into strips. On each strip was painted the symbol of a single rune, and then the lot were cast into a white cloth. A priest of Odin would then pick three at a time, and from the particular combinations, he could divine the future. Runes were also used to carve "cursing stones", to defeat tomb robbers. The partial inscription on one ancient Swedish tomb stone reads, "I hid here magic runes undisturbed by evil witchcraft. He who destroys this monument shall die in misery by magic art". It's little wonder that so many of these ancient monuments have survived!