When I became interested in runes in late 1999, I wasn't interested in them as anything more than as a different alphabet with which to write English words that would look pretty. I didn't really find any deep, spiritual meaning in the runes at that time, and so, naturally, I didn't do much with them at all, preferring to generally ignore divination.
Then I joined ADF and began attending ritual with The 6th Night Grove, ADF, and I saw what divination could be in a
religious context. My idea of divination changed overnight there, and I saw divination now as more of a communication tool than a way of predicting the future.
Shortly following that, in the early months of 2002, I took a course entitled "Magic, Murder and Mayhem: Early German Literature" at Ohio State. In this course, I was given the opportunity to focus on a topic for a final paper, and I chose the runes. This was my first step in connecting with them more deeply.
In that class and the subsequent paper, I began to delve deeper into the runes, looking up inscriptions, learning the general rules (or lack thereof) for using runes in the ancient world, and coming to conclusions about how they were used. I thus began my connection with a hardcore, scholarly analysis of the runes as they were originally used.
I decided to accompany my paper with a set of hand-carved runes, as well, and so, while watching the Stanley Cup finals with my friend Brian, I dragged an ash tree branch into his apartment and began to carve a set based off the carving instructions in the Havamal. The paper would eventually earn me an A in the class.
By the end of Winter Quarter 2002, I was so deeply involved with runic study that I decided to go a step further. I asked my professor if she could suggest a course of further study, and she offered to enroll me in an independent study course with her to teach me Old Norse in the first five weeks and promised we'd spend the second five weeks reading and deciphering runic inscriptions. I signed up at once and we began work.
The learning of Old Norse brought out many new facets to the runes, and helped me fully understand untranslatable concepts in Old Norse like orlog. By the end of this course, I had learned far more about how runes were used than I had ever encountered (and still have ever encountered) in any book on the subject.
One might think that so far, I had only been connecting with the runes on an intellectual level, not a spiritual one, but this is not the case; rather, I had been finding spiritual connection through
intellectual learning: there is an intimacy involved with translating and unlocking the words in a runic inscription that cannot be gained in any other way: you become more and more deeply affected by the runes, seeing the tricks the vitki pulled and understanding the many variations in the non-standardized alphabet.
Not long after I finished my second class did I start translating rune poems and reading them in depth. I started comparing them and contrasting them, and using the information gathered from them to increase my working knowledge of the symbol set. I also began to carve many sets of runes, and gave several sets away to friends (including my original set, given to my friend who took
Scandinavian Mythology with me in college). I would go on to teach courses on both the rune poems and on carving the runes for sets.
Most recently, I have carved a spear for the Grove, and I am working on a second spear and two shields for the Grove as well, each of which will have runic words carved into them. I have also begun carving rune dice, which is an interesting exercise, and is also teaching me more about the intricacies of the runes and how the interact. I have also expanded out to other forms of runes as well, rather than sticking with just the Germanic ones, but that's a whole other divination system.
But it is the carving, the translating, and the delving into the poetry that has really stimulated my connections. I know the set of symbols very well now, and will often quote rune poems when I draw them. I am pleased with how well I know the lore, but always feel I could do better, so I continue to study, and to think about how to make it better.