For divinatory purposes runes are often arranged in patterns known as "spreads". In a spread the sequence in which runes are drawn determines their position and significance. Each place in a rune spread has a meaning attached to it, so the first rune might represent "past events", the second "that which prevents growth", the third "current situation" etc. Spreads can range from anything from two runes up to a full 24-rune layout. All spreads in use today are modern inventions since we know very little about ancient forms of divination involving the runes. Spreads are a useful divinatory tool. Many people will find one particular spread they like and use this consistently. Others will make use of different spreads depending on circumstances and the type of information they are hoping to obtain.
The celestial spread is a yearly (13 runes needed) spread - starting with the month you are in now. Runes chosen 1 -12 are set up in a diamond shape starting with the right and ending up with rune 12 at the top of the diamond. The last or 13th rune should be placed in the middle. Rune 1 should be month 1 and so on. The 13th rune should be the final and should represent the "influence for the year".
The Celtic cross spread is a ten-rune spread based on the Celtic cross.
The cross spread is used to plot the arc of your life and the forces acting on it. It is the most popular spread, giving a very complete view of the situation. The left rune represents an important element of the past. The middle rune represents a deciding element of the present. The top rune represents a force that works for you. The bottom rune represents a force that works against you. The right rune represents the critical element of the future, at the core of the final outcome.
The diamond spread reveals the dynamic forces at work in a situation. It is the spread of choice for understanding a hidden conflict. The bottom rune represents the foundation that forms the basis of the issue. The left rune represents one of the forces acting on the issue at hand. The right rune represents another of the forces acting on the issue at hand. The top rune represents the conclusion to which your strivings can carry you.
The elements spread shows the four elements and their corresponding qualities. The top rune, earth is lessons to be learned on the physical plane. The right rune; air, lessons to be learned on the mental plane. The bottom rune; fire, lessons to be learned on the spiritual plane. The left rune; water, lessons to be learned on the emotional plane.
The fork spread is used at critical turning points, to understand the dynamics of an important decision. The left rune represents the first possible outcome. The right rune represents the second possible outcome. The bottom rune represents the critical factor that determines what will come to pass.
Medicine Wheel Spread
Medicine wheel spread is a five-rune cast to give guidance to a specific problem when the questioner does not know which path to follow. The left sided rune deals with the past or source of the problem. The right rune represents the present or current influences. The bottom rune deals with the future or the way energies are flowing. The top rune shows the challenge. The center rune represents the power to call upon.
The Norn Spread
The norn spread is used to plot the crucial elements of past, present, and future, and to reveal the evolution of the situation through the arc of time. The left rune represents an important element of the past. The middle rune represents a deciding element of the present. The right rune represents the critical element of the future.
Odin's casting spread is a five-rune cast dealing with the past, present and future. The far left rune is the distant past and the rune next to this (also on left) represents the recent past. The center top rune represents the present. The right rune represents the recent future and the far right rune represents the distant future.
Relationship spread is very useful to get an understanding of the purpose of people who are partners. It shows the role of each person in the other person's life and the potential direction of the relationship. Rune #1: this rune represents the energy or attitude towards the relationship of the person asking the question. Rune #2: this one represents the partner's energy or attitude about the relationship. Rune #3: the third rune shows how the partnership is doing or what the purpose of the people being together is.
Single Rune Spread
Single rune spread is used to gain a quick insight into what drives the situation, or to reduce it to the most concise summary possible. The rune represents the critical factor in the issue at hand.
Three Rune Spread
The 3-rune spread enables you to deal with the subject as it presents itself at this moment in time. The left rune is the past. The center rune represents the present. The right rune is the future.
Variety of rune sets
In addition to each rune having a meaning, the material in which the runes are carved can color the reading. Most people consistently use runes made of ceramic, stone, or wood
· Jade runes - are used for questions about love, friendship, and relationships.
· Ice runes - are used for questions about struggle, conflict, and achievement.
· Spirit runes - are used for questions about mysticism, spirituality, and religion.
· Stone runes - are used for questions about the natural world and things beyond human control.
· Amethyst runes - are used for partnership, protection, love, success and growth.
Using a casting cloth or ground:
This step is as important as the runes themselves. A ground cloth, or casting cloth will determine how each rune is read. Beginners and those doing runes and/or a ground for the first time might consider waiting until you are more familiar with both runes and ground. Others may have a druid ground their runes to a cloth on their behalf. Once the runes are 'grounded' do not use them on any other surface than the ground cloth.
Some ground cloths are very beautiful. Some are quite simple. The four basic circles and the four elements or directions, are present, the ground cloth will work. The more elaborate the drawing on the ground cloth, the more difficult it will be for the reader to determine the true placement of the runes. Even the most minor miscalculation can greatly impact the final results of a reading. For this reason, I always work with a simple ground, so that I may concentrate on the runes.
The basic rune cloth, or ground, consists of material onto which is drawn three circles. Any material may be used so long as it is durable, soft and of natural material. Leather works better than cotton because it will last longer and provides better protection for the runes stones when they are thrown on a hard surface. Cotton backed by quilting or any other insulating material will work just as well. Do not use glue on any item that will come in contact with the runes.
· Circle 1 - the center circle is where the reading begins. This is referred to as circle 1 - the self. The innermost self, representing what is held secret or sacred.
· Circle 2 - the circle of relationships and life path. These are those people who are in your life and effecting your life on a day-to-day basis.
· Circle 3 - the circle of elemental forces and external influences - spirit guides. The symbols within the third circle represent the four elements and the four directions. Air, earth, water, fire and east, south, west, north. These directions and elements are not fixed. This area represents events that effect more than just you, such as; the weather, politics, taxes, etc. The elements will influence everything in life. When we work with these energies, things are not necessarily easier, but they do move along much more quickly and support is more evident.
· Circle 4 - may or may not be in a circle are four rune symbols. These symbols are not assigned. It is what binds the chosen runes to this particular cloth. Once the runes are bound to the cloth they are considered 'grounded' and therefore the cloth is called the 'ground'. This is the circle of karma. The rune symbols that are placed in the corners of the ground cloth define both the cloth itself and the karma of the reading.
When one or more runes are thrown off the cloth entirely they will be read as representing past lives. Anything that is not on the cloth indicates either a lesson learned from a past life, or one that is being repeated here. Which is true depends on the rune and the quadrant of karma.