Prior to starting the journaling, I was a High Day Diviner. I only broke out my runes at rituals, and only when I couldn't find anyone else to do the job. It was, however, the chance to do divinations for others that this course required that I started to get really into divination.
The thing that struck me most was the way that the questions fell. The kinds of divination requests that struck me most were the questions about Protogroves within ADF and the directions they might take. It said a lot about the desires of Grove Organizers to do the best they possibly can by their Groves that they take any opportunity to seek out advice on the directions of their Grove.
I was also surprised at the number of questions about love, money, and babies, mostly because these are not the kinds of things I often (or, possibly, ever) ask about when I do ritual or divination. The kinds of answers that I generally seek are the sorts that are usually asked in ritual, and accompany a sacrifice.
In thinking about this, the idea of adding a sacrifice to the usual sequence of things I do during divination for others seems to be a good idea. It may be something that I add in the future.
Over the journaled time period, I reduced the omens I took at High Day rites. For the most part, I have almost stopped doing divinations at those kinds of rituals. At the same time, there has been an increase (over the past year since we started doing them) of me taking omens at Druid Moon rites. As such, I generally read for a group about once per month, and we would discuss these omens more than we often have with our High Day rite omens. I would like to make more use of them, however.
A lot of this, I think, has to do with the kinds of questions that we ask. When we are in a high day ritual, we ask the following questions: "Have our offerings been accepted; what do the powers offer in return; and what further needs do the gods have of us?" These questions are very specific to the time and space of the ritual we are doing (with the exception of the last one, possibly), and generally apply to the state that we are currently in. When we ask questions at Druid Moon rites, we ask, "What is our path; what should the Grove focus on until the next Druid Moon; and what should each individual person focus on until the next Druid Moon?" These questions, it seems, appeal more to the wider view of our lives, likely because they discuss what has occurred (and will occur) outside of ritual: the questions speak of where we came from and where we are going, not where we are immediately.
It's clear to me that the more one reads, the more intimate the knowledge of the symbol set is. Daily practice is vital, including some form of working with the symbol's meaning. But what I found is that doing "card-of-the-day" or "rune-of-the-day" pulls wasn't what made the connection the most intimate for me.
It was the creation and carving of rune dice that did the most for me.
As I create rune dice (which started out as a sort of diversion for me, really, and have since become something that I've thought of selling, though I still think of them as very personal), I spend time both chanting and carving, while envisioning that the runes are being called out of those "mists of magic" that I think of them being called from as Oðin hung upon the World Tree.
It was learning the names and feeling the vibrations through every repetition, learning the lines as they fit and fix themselves into the wood that really brought the runes home to me: both their meaning and their living form. The experience of carving the runes over and over again brings you deeper into the myths and legends. What I found is that you cannot carve them and fail to become involved in them. Spending the time to carve each rune also begins to invest the self into each rune that you carve.
As I carved the runes, especially as I did it more and more often, the patterns became more and more clear. I also got more and more into the different media that I was carving on, and noticing the different kinds of views that the media forced me to focus on. I had come to the conclusion some time ago that the runes were likely better served in a 12-rune ætts (based on the base-12 number system inherent in Old Norse) over then 8-rune ætts that are so traditional (based entirely on the distribution of the earliest rune inscriptions, which may have more to do with space limitations than an actual division within the runes). After carving the rune dice, though, I started to notice a 6-rune ætt that continually appeared, starting with the following runes:
Looking at the runes in these new ætts brought me a new perspective, particularly since I started from a standpoint of the runic ætts being "made up" to start with, or at least part of the New Age movement's collective UPG. I'm still not sure where this will lead me, but it's brought a definite dimension to the depth of my experience.
Interestingly, my familiarity with the runes does not lead me to a strong connection with the Norse gods. My interaction with them is actually minimal, and I have found that an intimacy and interaction with the runes themselves has occurred. While I am deeply connected to the symbols and meanings, I find little real cultural feeling toward them. Most likely, this stems from my own early use, in which I felt that the runes were closer to Gaul than the Ogham was, causing me to see them as "Gaulish" in many ways; and also to magical use, where I think of them more as characteres than as a cultural language set.
I learned little about the strengths and weaknesses of the set during this period, though; more, I could say that I learned that the set could do more than I thought it could in terms of discussing issues that affect the questioner (and reader) than I thought before. While I didn't reach any limits of the system (thus making it hard to say what the actual strengths and weaknesses are), I think that I've grown more in comfort relating to the ability of the runes to explain and elaborate on issues I never thought they were good for in the past.
The biggest thing I learned from this experience turned out to be that while I find divination for others and groups to be a vitally important part of divination, it is the intimacy and familiarity with the symbol set that drives me, and I am most likely to find that in carving and writing the runes than I am to find that in doing divination.