Blog Post

Should Christians Read the Book of Runes?

TS asks: “What can you tell me about the Book of Runes by Ralph Blum.”

Ralph Blum is one of the world’s foremost authorities on the subject of runes which are used as divination tool.

Educated at Harvard in Russian studies, Blum has authored numerous books on runes, including the Book of Runes, which details the use of these stones or tiles which are inscribed with 24 letters derived from an ancient Nordic alphabet. A 25th stone is left blank to represent the Unknowable.

As this blog explains, there are different kinds of runes, also known as futharks, but three of the most popular are the Elder Futhark (used from 150–800 AD), the Anglo-Saxon Futhark (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).

It's interesting to note that even though runes are an alphabet, these ancient Viking letters are rarely found in manuscripts because the Vikings were illiterate.

“While a runic alphabet can be used for writing a document, that wasn’t their purpose, as the Norse culture was an oral culture. Rather, the futhark was used for memorial purposes, or to identify an object or for magical reasons, for cursing or healing,” notes this article appearing on History on the Net.

Different meanings have been ascribed to the various letters over time, such as wealth, strength, good health, a long journey, etc. The stones containing these letters are typically used in fortune-telling or for guidance in life.

According to this interview with Holistic Networker, Blum received his first set of runes while doing research in the UK but forgot about them until rediscovering them one night while at home in Connecticut. His quest to discover the proper order of the stones led to the subject becoming a lifelong pursuit.

He recommends the use of them as an Oracle similar to the use of the I Ching or how Christians often open the Bible at random to get advice from God.

“I suggest that each of us is an Oracle, and when you consult the Runes you are consulting your own deep knowing,” Blum said.

He claims to never use the runes to tell the future because “the future is God’s business, not ours” but freely uses them to help determine how to act in a given situation, such as how to improve a relationship.

“I am committed to the premise that the Oracle will show me what constitutes right action in literally any situation.”

He also believes that they are useful in communicating with absent friends, including the dead and says he has had several conversations with his father who died just before his 18th birthday.

When asked if the use of runes conflicts with a person’s religion, Blum was straightforward and blunt.

“You bet they do,” he said, particularly for “literalists” who believe in a literal interpretation of Scripture or those who consider runes to be a “tool of the devil” or New Age nonsense.

He goes on to cite Romans 8:28 which says that “All things work together for good to them who love God.”

“I believe that they do, and that the Runes are no exception,” Blum said.

When the interviewer asked why he speaks about the Oracle as if it were a person, Blum admitted that he really thinks of the Runes as a “true and valued friend” who always has time for him and always has something to say that is worth hearing.

The use of runes is a direct violation of the First Commandment and is a form of idolatry.

As the Catechism teaches, “Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship . . . Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God” whether that be money, power, ancestors, pleasure, race, etc. [No. 2113] An idolater is someone who “transfers his indestructible notion of God to anything other than God” which in this case, are runes. [2114]

Even though Blum claims he does not use runes to divine the future, many others do, which is a practice the Church strictly condemns.

“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 owe to God alone.”

Blum’s use of the stones to have a conversation with who he believed to have been his deceased father is also a form of necromancy, an extremely dangerous practice that the Almighty has condemned in no uncertain terms – see Deuteronomy 18:10.

Christians should not read the Book of Runes because it can lead them into idolatry and divination. But also because the guidance we need in life is too critical to be acquired through the random selection of an inscribed stone. Through prayer and the reading of Scripture, Christians can get all the guidance they need in life from the only failsafe Source – their Creator.