January 21, 2019

Making Rune Sets

The first Rune Set I ever created was made from a piece of scrap wood that I "rescued" (with permission) from the creation of a beautiful handmade conference table. The table was made with such love and skill that I felt the scrap also needed to be turned into something wonderful. The method and ceremony used were lost to time - basically, I didn't write it down and I don't remember much more than that I did perform some type of ceremony. I do remember cutting and sanding the pieces (maybe staining them) and using a wood burning tool to apply the symbols.

It may not be the prettiest set in the world and the tiles may not be exactly the same size, but this set has served me well for the past few decades. Over the years, I have carved other sets of both Futhark and Goddess Runes. I have carved and painted the glyphs/sigils on rocks, polished stones and glass pebbles (which have a flat base for stability when carving). As pretty as they turn out, they are very difficult to produce (carved) or the symbols will eventually wear off (when simply painted). And now that I'm teaching Rune Classes again, I find myself again creating Rune Sets. This time I documenting my process to assist others who may want to create their own set.

The first thing you need to do is make some decisions and create a plan. The first and possibly the easiest decision is which set of Runes you want to create. For my example, I created Elder Futhark sets. The next decision you need to make is the type of material you want to use for the set. In the example that follows, I used a few types of wood. And the final item is the planning of the Rune carving. I normally perform my most special ceremonies on full moons. I noticed that January's full moon also coincided with an eclipse - producing a super blood wolf moon. This is the hardest part because you have to wait, but it's really better to create them on a special day (or night).

Knowing that I would have limited time to create multiple sets, I prepped the tiles prior to my target date. At your local hardware store, you can find 1/4 X 2 X 2 lengths of wood. The set should be cut from a contiguous piece of wood (so they work as a set). I have seen beautiful sets cut from a single branch (if you want rounded tiles) and I have also previously made Rune sets from Sculpey clay. The Sculpey is a bit difficult to work with since you have to take a single block and try to divide it into 24 equal pieces. If you have the large blocks, you can do that but the tiles come out very thin. You can use 3 of the smaller blocks and divide each block into 1/8ths (for each oett) but the 24 may not work well as a set. [To counteract this, you can combine the three small blocks and then divide into 24 pieces.]

Take the 1/4 X 2 X 2 piece of wood and mark one inch intervals. Here's my experience with cutting the tiles which may save you some time and effort. I first tried to use my miter saw to cut the 1 inch pieces. It worked for a few pieces and then caught the piece of wood and split it. I tried to use the cutting tool from the Dremel and the cutting wheel broke apart. Then I tried using the small hacksaw (in the picture) and although effective, it was too much manual work for multiple sets. I finally used a jigsaw to get the job done faster and easier. Once the pieces were cut, I bagged them to keep the sets together. Then I sanded each batch (individually) with the Dremel (using the sanding attachment shown in the photo). Sand and round the four edges - which will make the piece look like a little pillow. Then round the four corners from edge to edge and also from the top of the tile to the bottom. This creates a nice little tile for your glyphs. Be sure to take breaks so your hands don't ache. The vibration can make your hands/fingers ache or become numb if you overdo it.

I bought lengths of oak, maple and poplar. The oak was harder to cut but easier to shape and retained more wood during the shaping process. The poplar was easier to cut and shape but tended to lose more wood during shaping. I cut the Maple pieces but did not yet get a chance to shape them. The oak pieces took much longer to shape than the poplar. I shaped them on the full moon prior to the target date. I was able to produce four sets - one set of oak and three of poplar. While I shaped them, I played various YouTube videos of Norse Mythology, so they had a good magical start. The sawdust created quite a mess so you may want to do this in an area that is easy to clean. Also note that the grain of the wood may present difficulties. Use a light touch until you get a feel for it or it will feel like you're sanding speed bumps.

To prepare for the carving, I made three little signs - one for each Oett. Expect that your tiles may not come out exactly the same size. If you have good workworking skills, you may get more of a uniform size than I was able to produce. But I expected that my tiles would not be uniform and planned accordingly. It was also good to have the symbols in front of me for carving. Measure twice, cut once.

No matter how well-versed you are, it's always better to have the symbols in front of you for reference. You will likely be focusing more on carving than on the angle of the next line. And if you are unsure about the shape of one of the symbols, you don't want to stop in the midst of your project and go look it up. Even worse - you don't want to make a mistake and miss your target date of special opportunity.

On the day of the carving, I performed a ceremony to create a Sacred Space. Then I performed a Rune reading about the process. (Placed from top left to bottom right.) I first asked about the Magic being imparted into these Runes. The answer was Gebo - which has no reverse. I will not do a full delineation of the Runes (you can look them up), however I took it as a sign that these sets will be powerful. Then I asked about the Difficulty of this process. The answer was Othala - ancestral property (upright). Again, you can look this up to get a further meaning, but the most immediate explanation is - well, it depends on your skills. Ancestral inheritance also means the non-tangible things that you inherit. Depending on what I have inherited from my woodworking mentors will determine the difficulty of the task. And the last question was about the Ultimate Outcome of the endeavor. The answer was Laguz (upright). I found these to be good signs and expect that the sets will be special and powerful (regardless of how they look from a woodworking perspective).

I used Dragons Blood incense during the whole process. I opened the door on the side of the house where I could see the moon through the storm door. I used my television to stream a video of the eclipse in progress (on mute) and played Edred Thorsson's Rune Song tape for the Galdor. On this tape, he intones each Rune along with the Rune poems in their original language and then in English. It was like having a second person in the room performing Galdor while I carved the Runes. So you can either do this with a partner or use some recording of your intoning of the Runes while you carve. It's not necessary but not really that difficult to do - so why not?

For each batch, I spread them out on the table and lined them up where I felt each one should go. If you look at the glyphs, you can see that Isa and Laguz do not need as much room as Hagalaz, Raidho or Berkano. Take your thinnest tiles and put them under the thinner glyphs. And take the widest tiles and put them under the glyphs that need more room.

Once you have them lined up, use a pencil to draw the glyph onto the wooden tile. This is going to be more helpful than it first seems. Once you start carving, it will be hard to see what you've already carved and what still needs to be carved. If you use a pencil, you will remove the mark as you carve. And if the pencil marks are too close and you have to carve next to the mark, it can be easily erased.

Also note that carving will produce much less sawdust than the previous sanding preparation. I used the little ball tool on the Dremmel to carve the glyphs. Some of the lines were easier than others. I found that the grain of the tile was difficult to cross. Don't worry if you make a slight mistake here. Sometimes you can hit the grain and the carving point will go off and make a stray mark on the tile. Remember that you are not filling these with epoxy but with paint and can sharpen rounded lines and ignore stray marks when you apply the paint. As you carve each Rune, think of the name and meaning. When you are done with the tile, put it back under the Rune on the edge of the table. Once you carve (and before you paint), you will not be able to see what you carved and you want to make the coloring as easy as possible.

Once you have finished carving all the Runes, you can now start to "color" or paint them. I chose to use model paint (red) for these sets. At this point, you will be very glad that you used a sheet of paper and kept the Runes in order. As you see in the picture, they are not easy to see once carved. But knowing which glyph was carved on the tile makes it easier to see. Use a brush with a very fine point and again, think of the Rune, its name and meaning as you are painting the lines. You do not need to fill the hole with paint, just paint the Rune into the channel you have created - using the edges of the groove to straighten lines and complete the symbol.

I used red paint for visibility. Some sites recommend adding blood to the paint to make it more powerful. [Diabetic lancets are good for this - you don't need to do the dramatic knife across the palm thing. You will not use much paint for this, so IF you choose to go this route - use a lancet.] NOTE: I did NOT use any blood in the paint. I felt that the steps I took to imbue them with power were enough. I may decide differently if I were creating a set for myself, but these are to go to the students of my Rune Course. They should be invested with power but not specifically MY power (my blood). I may make others with different colors later on, but these were colored red.

As you color them, place them on a tray to dry. Keep the order of the Runes and keep them in Oetts. If you leave them out to dry - realize that these are cat toys and you will be looking for them under the couch or behind the radiator. I put mine on trays and hid them in the microwave and toaster oven (both turned off) overnight. This allowed them to dry completely and kept the cats out of trouble. In the morning I bagged them (before I forgot they were there) and they now await the start of the Rune Course.

For more information about the Rune Course and my other Classes: Lori's Classes.

Posted by BlueWolf on January 21, 2019