Using Runes “Just for Fun”

runesJL asks: “I know someone who is really into Runes and uses them to predict the future. What are they and can Catholics use them just for fun?”

Runes are popularly used in the occult arts of divination and magic (aka sorcery). It’s never possible to dabble in this, or any occult art “just for fun” because of the inherent dangers of inviting malevolent spirits into your life.

As for runes, these are derived from an ancient Germanic alphabet that was used through Europe, Iceland and Scandinavia before the advent of the Latin alphabet. The earliest runic inscriptions date from around 150 AD. Once Europe became Christianized, this alphabet was no longer used except for specialized purposes, most notably divination and magic.

This website cites a paragraph from Chapter X of Germania by Tacitus in which he describes a form of divination used by Germanic tribes where pieces of a tree, inscribed with the runes, are scattered and then read by a priest or elder.

“To divination and casting of lots, they pay attention beyond any other people. Their method of casting lots is a simple one: they cut a branch from a fruit-bearing tree and divide it into small pieces which they mark with certain distinctive signs and scatter at random onto a white cloth. Then, the priest of the community if the lots are consulted publicly, or the father of the family if it is done privately, after invoking the gods and with eyes raised to heaven, picks up three pieces, one at a time, and interprets them according to the signs previously marked upon them.”

There are different kinds of runes, but three of the most popular are the Elder Futhark (used from 150–800 AD), the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc (400–1100 AD), and the Younger Futhark (800–1100 AD). Some of these are divided into what are known as “long” and “short” branches of runes, Medieval runes (1100-1500AD) and the Dalecarlian runes (1500-1800AD).

They are used in much the same way today as they have been for centuries.

As this modern user explains, “Runes are an oracle from which one seeks advice. They work best if you detail your current circumstances and then ask a specific question. Rune readings are sometimes obscure. They hint toward answers, but you have to figure out the details. This is when the rune casters intuition becomes paramount. Some times the Runes ‘sing’ to me, and their meaning becomes instantly clear.”

Warnings against the use of divination can be found throughout Sacred Scripture. For example, Leviticus 19:26, Jeremiah 29:8, Ezekiel 13:20, Zechariah 10:2, Deuteronomy 18:10.

The Catechism No. 2116 tells us that “All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to ‘unveil’ the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect and loving fear that we ow to God alone.”

Have nothing to do with runes or any other form of divination. If you want to know about the future, ask the One who created it!


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