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The Art Of Pyrography, Part 2: Rune Sets

Updated on January 10, 2012

Click here to go back to part 1

Because of my Norse ancestry (and the Viking imagery I’ve always associated with wood-burnt art,) the first thing I found myself creating with pyrography were rune sets.

What are the runes?

The runes that are classically used in divination and magic are the glyphic symbols of an ancient Germanic alphabet. In the past, they were used throughout northern Europe, Scandinavia, the British Isles, and Iceland, and they persisted as an alphabet for almost two thousand years. The Germanic tribes who used them left them pretty much everywhere they went (even North America!) and even today they find use in a number of neo-pagan traditions throughout the world.

A set of runes, like the one pictured above and to the right, consists of 24 runic glyphs and one blank rune. Some sources believe that the blank rune is a more modern addition to the classical rune set, so consider it optional. (it usually indicates a random, unclear or undecided result anyways, like the wheel of fortune in tarot.) As a set, the runes are a tool of divination that many people believe can be used to see into the future and receive divine guidance in trying times.

I myself have used the runes as a means of divining the future many times in the past, and have received invaluable guidance that has kept me on the path to becoming who I am now. Be warned– sometimes the accuracy of the rune readings can scare you, especially if you’ve never experienced something like this before! You can’t hide anything from yourself, from the spiritual dimension of reality or from the runes, so prepare to have your inner baggage called out if it is getting in the way of your success and happiness as a human being!

How to make your own rune set:

First, make sure that you’ve read The Basics of Pyrography and remember to work safely! Secondly, you need something to create your rune set on. As a pyrographer, I’ve achieved the best results with softer woods (like cedar) but I have also created rune sets on small slices cut from the branches of local trees. (Be safe when using a saw to cut slices from branches!) You can also create your rune set using flat wooden beads found on Ebay, at your local thrift store, or at a local bead shop. Be careful when using polished woods because the hot tip of your pyrography tool can slip and it can burn you!

For best results, I recommend using a wood that has a certain special meaning to you. You can use slices cut from the branches of a favorite old tree, bits of an old, loved piece of furniture that you no longer use, or anything else that you can (and are allowed to) burn the runes into. If possible, use pieces that are nearly identical in shape and only write on one side, so that when you draw the runes from the bag you don’t immediately know a rune by the feel of the wood it is cut into.

Once you have twenty-four or twenty-five pieces of nearly identical, blank, light-colored wood (light colored wood provides the best contrast for the dark burn etchings) you can begin to cut your runes into them. Long, hard, careful strokes are best, and watch your fingers! If you are gripping the runes at the edges like a coin while you work, it can be easy to slip and burn yourself. Try to cut each line away from yourself as you work, and remember that it is usually best not to press so hard that you burn a line all the way through the wood. This can effect the stability of the wood and, for some runes, make them difficult or impossible to read.

Once you have your full set of runes crafted and laid out, check to make sure you have no doubles, then place them in a bag or other receptacle to make sure they stay together and none get lost. If you create a rune set as a gift for a friend or a family member, make sure to provide a note (or instructions) on how to read the runes! If the recipient has no idea what a rune even is (or thinks it is just something from Runescape or Diablo 2,) the real meaning and power of the gift you have bestowed upon them might be lost.

Feel free to link in the comments to rune sets that you’ve created (especially by pyrography!)


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