Runes have been used throughout history in every culture for various purposes. Runes which were carved on staves of wood were passed through messengers as letters are mailed today. Swords, standing stones, shrines, ships, armor, have all been marked with runes and combinations of runes. In the old days this took a great deal of time and intricate knot work to accomplish. The more elaborate the more energy was put into the creations and the more the gods would favor the outcome. At the end of the day though, the runes were used for divination, for creating amulets, charms, and spellwork. Runes have not always been just an alphabet and this is why they were outlawed in the Middle Ages, until a more Latin-based form of rune was established and accepted as being less of a threat.
Runes may be used in divination by random draw or random toss. Traditionally, runes were made from antlers, bone, stone, wood, and in some cases ivory. Modern revivals of this traditional divination tool now include runes crafted from buffalo bone, antlers, stone, crystals, gemstones, various woods, in rounds or staves, as dice, clay, and even dichroic glass. Runes are traditionally stored in fur bags that were used as casting cloths. The modern equivalent is to store them in pretty velvet bags, elaborately wood burned boxes, or any combination of the two. Runes were once cast on the ground, on animal skins, or on white cloth. Today they are often cast in much the same way, but there are other options also. Rune boards especially designed to perform readings are becoming a popular option.
When you're choosing your runes, consider what appeals to you and what you connect with. The most popular choices are wood and gemstone or crystal. After you have chosen your runes, whether you have created them yourself or purchased them, be sure to smudge them with an appropriate smudge. You will need a bowl of water, whatever you choose to smudge them with, and sea salt. Be careful if you choose clay. There is a train of thought that assumes if something has been sealed or stained it somehow diminishes the magickal properties of the item. There is no basis to this whatsoever, however some clay artisans do not seal their magickal creations for this reason. As a result if you place them in water they could dissolve. If you happen to purchase a set that have not been sealed there are a lot of good commercial clay hardeners and sealers available.
For smudging, I would suggest a Stargate smudge (rosemary, lavender, wild California mountain sage, and white sage), dragonsblood and white sage, copal and white sage, mugwort, mullein, or mugwort and white sage as a blend. Light your chosen smudge and allow it to smolder. Pass your runes one at a time through the smoke. As you sit them down, place them in a plate or bowl of sea salt. Lastly, cleanse them in the bowl of Spring water and dry them with a soft cloth. Some follow the practice of also making a small prick on the hand in which the runes will be drawn and either adding a drop of blood to the water or to the runes directly. Like most sangomancy, this helps form a strong empathic bond with the runes. In the old days new weaponry, especially blades, were consecrated in the same manner.
Now your runes are ready to use. Two of the more common ways to use the runes are to toss them randomly onto the Earth or cloth or to draw them from their bag one at a time and place them in specific points, much like tarot. If you are using rune dice, the best way to use them is to roll them as a form of Mo and interpret them when they stop rolling. I have found that creating rune dice is interesting because inevitably symbols that would not normally be Merkstave will be. In this case, I would not recommend reading Merstave runes but rather reading them as they roll with their interpretations relying on the surrounding runes.
Merkstave simply means the rune is reversed, much like tarot reversals. Whether you interpret the runes as they fall literally or whether you interpret them with merkstave is completely up to you. Some choose not to. Likewise, the Wyrd or blank rune may appear in some rune sets. You may opt to use it or not and either are correct. Although there is no historical basis for the 25th rune, there are some that feel compelled to use it. It simply signifies Fate or the unknown to be interpreted by the surrounding runes. Most of the runes in Heimdall Aett will do the same thing making this rune unnecessary.
If you choose to use layouts, the same layouts that work for tarot will also work for the runes, although I would stay away from the very long spreads. The longer the spread the more likely you are going to have negative runes that likely would not be there otherwise. Three, five, and nine are all good numbers for rune layouts but no more than 13.
Once you have done a few readings and are more comfortable with your runes you may want to use them for other things as well. Runes may highly effective amulets, talismans, and designs on candles especially when used in combinations called bind runes. Bind runes are simply taking two or three runes that will work well together and form a sigil so they are not separate runes but all of them blend into one form. You may use several from each Aett or from the same one depending upon your intention.
When combining runes to form one symbol, use runes that are compatible and which have Aetts that are compatible. The relationship between the rune and the Aett it belongs to is very important. Each Aett has its own meaning and the way they correlate to each other will effect the outcome of the working. When you're choosing combinations to use, closely consider the motivations behind your work. Are you working the spell for fertility, vengeance, prosperity, love, social standing? What are your motivations behind this and what are you willing to sacrifice to make this happen? Every time you ask for something, the universe will allow you to have it, but there is a cost. When working with the runes, each Aett has a rune of sacrifice, especially the runes of Aett Heimdall. It may be as simple as spending more time with your family, doing volunteer work for your community, or sacrificing something personal (such as clearing out clutter or a closet, changing your diet, NOT a living thing!).
For example if you are casting for money and you want to use runes to bring this into being, consider very closely why you want this money. Do you need it for rent or other living expenses that are necessary? Do you need money for health related issues? Or is this simply to have money and gain social standing? Each one will have their sacrifice. You have several runes in the Aetts that could achieve these goals. Let's say you need money for health related issues and you are suddenly out of work. Let's say you have opted to use this bind rune on a candle. You could use a white candle which is all purpose, or you could use a green candle which is good for healing and prosperity. Now examine your runes. If this is an issue of comfort take a look at Freya's Aett, for justice Tyr's, and for relief karmic debt Heimdall's Aett. Let's say you have settled on Feoh for personal prosperity to be able to have what you need and be happy with your life. You have now chosen your first rune. With your athame carve the first rune into your candle. If you find that strength is needed, especially emotional strength, Ehwaz would be a good second choice. You can leave your bind rune at this or you can add another rune. Perhaps you want prosperity, good health, emotional strength and support while you are healing and looking for work, and you want your family to be happy also. A rune such as Ing would be a good rune to add. Now you have your three runes. After you have carved the first one, look for a way to connect the second to the first and the third to the first and second so it one symbol rather than three. After you have done this you may wish to add a bit of gold dust or gold glitter for Freya, surround your candle with herbs that will appeal to your gods, and anoint your candle from wick to the base.
Another way to use bind runes is to create a piece of jewelry or a bind rune wooden or clay coin that will rest easily in your wallet. If you can't work with wood or clay, draw the symbol on a piece of paper and place it in your wallet.
The sacrifices you may have to make may be something as simple as changing your lifestyle to accommodate your new health, cleaning out your closet to donate items to other families who are having a tough time, or to spend more time with your family.
Other forms of runic magick include creating runes or bind runes in "invisible" ink over doors and windows, on a wallet, or other areas where protection may be needed. Use sidewalk chalk to create symbols and runes for blessings for the home on the porch, on the driveway, stepping stones, and exterior door ways. Charge them to become active when they are washed away by water or worn away by wind. Create spell stones with herbs, oils, flour and water and write runes into them to dissolve and become active. Make garden stones with runes and bind runes to place near the home. Paint selected runes on wooden discs in red and place them on a door wreath with herbs.
Runes literally open thousands of options where magickal practice is concerned. Explore them and see what you can conjure!