Runes Made Easy

The following is extracted from Runes Made Easy by Richard Lister

From the outset, I want to make it clear that this book is guidance based on my own study, practice and experience. Take what I say and work with it, grow with it in a way that feels good to you. Fill the void with your own experience and power.

What I want for you to get from this book is a relationship with the runes that will let you use them – the runes that have been used for thousands of years to communicate, divine and heal. Use them as a modality to access your power, creativity and joy. Use them to realize that it’s simply social conditioning that leads us to behave in certain ways, and that you are completely allowed, in fact, actively encouraged, to bend and form the rules and empower yourself to be the awesome and sovereign human being you were born to be.

First, I’d like you to know me, where my bias is, what has led me here and why you would benefit from putting your trust and energy into what I have to say in this book.

I’m a man, born and raised in Kent in England. I’m 6 feet 7 inches and big. I have a beard and have spent a lot of the last 15 years dressed as a Viking. ‘Vikingness’ literally runs in my blood and bones. My ancestry goes back to the Normans and then further back still to the Norwegian Vikings of Gongu-Hrolfr.

I discovered ‘Heathen paganism’ at university, and it felt good – a remembrance, as it were. This led me to the runes.

One night I was at a pagan camp in a field in the middle of an ancient forest. Most people had gone to sleep and the diehards were the only ones left around the fireside.

This next bit is going to sound weird, but it’s true. 

I had a vision, a full-blown deity-standing-in-the-fire vision, telling me to go and learn ancestral medicine and healing techniques, so I could serve better. The deity had one eye and a spear: Odin, Nordic king of the gods, god of war and shamanic healing.

I was shaken to the core. I stood staring into the fire for what felt like hours before taking myself off to my tent.

This was to be the first of many visits from Odin, and since that first vision, two crows, Huginn and Muninn, have often made themselves known to me as well, to make sure I’m heeding the call.

Let’s be clear: when Odin speaks, I listen.

So, over the last decade and a half, I have dedicated myself to healing. In all its forms: I’ve worked in a hospital Accident and Emergency Department, trained as a nurse, trained as a yoga teacher, learned the ancient practices of Ayurveda and massage, and studied NLP, psychology and trauma, and throughout that time, I’ve worked with the runes and their guidance, wisdom, medicine and magic daily, in both my personal practice and my work with clients.


Because they hold medicine for these times.

The runes aren’t fortune-tellers, they’re way-showers, and in a world where we are feeling stripped of our power, they give it back to us; the power to look into the mists of the future, to support and heal ourselves, and/or have the self-insight to seek the right direction/people/help.

So, you could say that Odin made me do it. Odin made me write this rune book to support you so that you too will remember, in the same way that I did, the magic and medicine and personal power held in the runes.


*  *  *


In a time before Christianity came to the north, a time when people clung to a precarious existence on the harsh, sparse soil of the frozen fjords, power was etched into stone.

This power was gifted from the gods and goddesses to the people to help them communicate, cast spells, divine the future and memorialize their lives.

This power came in the form of runes.

Runes are a series of lines carved in rock, bone, metal or wood to convey meaning and energy. These ancient sigils – mystic lines and symbols – are found all over Scandinavia, and their use was so prolific that they extended their reach down through France to the Mediterranean, all over Britain, and even, according to some, to Canada.

They started off relatively basic, with concepts drawn from their users’ surroundings: beasts that stalked the lonely woodlands, thorns that ripped flesh, wood that grew. Community, family, seasons and elements are all held within the shapes and symbols of the earliest runes, the Elder Futhark, that were used 1,700 years ago.



Just as we call our series of letters ‘the alphabet’, so the series of runes is called ‘the Futhark’. 

Our alphabet has this name because the first letter in Greek is Alpha, ‘A’, and the second is Beta, ‘B’. Alphabet. 

Futhark is exactly the same – a word built out of the sounds of the first runic symbols.

F, U, Th, A, R and K: Futhark.


As time rolled on, people changed, and the runes changed too. Different parts of Europe had slightly different versions, which grew from the different peoples’ interactions with nature, the gods and cosmic energy. Different languages brought the need to make the rune names fit the sounds that people were hearing and speaking. In Scandinavia, the Elder Futhark became the Younger Futhark, a smaller set of runes with more abstract ideas. In Britain, the Saxons, Angles, Jutes and Northumbrians had their own songs of the runes, and Northumbria even had extra runes. Denmark and the people around the Balkans also had their own take on the message of the runes. But the runes were still used for communication, for divination, to provide guidance and support, and were also bound together to make runic spells.

Then, as Christianity spread, the ways of worship changed, the ways of making letters changed, and the mighty rune stones began to grow moss. Their energy lay dormant for hundreds of years. 

Now, people are beginning to work with the runes once again and their power is reawakening. Their energy is beginning to flow through the land, the people. 

In this book, I cover the ancient names, sounds and energetic patterns of the Elder Futhark. I’ve chosen this pattern of runic energy because its sounds resonate with modern Anglophone people and there are lots of examples of rune stones from all over Norway, Sweden and northern Britain that we can go and see and even touch.

The runic energies you will encounter are old and they are desperate to become part of the world again. They have a hunger to be used, to be active and to pulse, as they once did, with the vital energy of life. They desire, no, they require us to bring our current view and perspective to their energy, and to use that energy in a way that is helpful and supportive in these times. 

This is the challenge for us: what do the runes mean in today’s world?

The tree of the runes is rooted, strong and stable, ready to grow and support the needs of the world. It’s time for us to connect and work with the ancient wisdom of the runes and use their power, medicine and guidance to navigate these times.


Why runes are my favourite thing, and why they could be yours too

From moss-covered stone carvings in Denmark and Norway to etched steel in London and Paris, even the hallowed building of the Hagia Sophia in Turkey, runes have fascinated people throughout history. What makes them so special for me is that they evoke the primal energy and magic of the ancient people of the north and the land they inhabited, from the ancient aurochs moodily stalking the moors to the great god Thor flashing lightning across the night sky to slay the ice giants, to the laughter of children around the hearth fire on a cold winter’s night.

The runes are some of the most powerful divination, communication and support tools available to us, and when we learn how to work with them and their connection to the energy of the Wyrd, the universe, they can provide much-needed support and guidance in our daily lives.



RICHARD LISTER is a holistic coach specializing in self-regulation, reconnection, resourcing and rest. His roots are in the Norse Tradition and he’s been using and working with the runes for over 20 years.


On the web



RUNES MADE EASY: HARNESS THE MAGIC OF THE ANCIENT NORTHERN ORACLE BY RICHARD LISTER, published by Hay House, illustrated paperback (257 pages).

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