From Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers
Runes are letters of the old Norse alphabet, called the futhark.
Although like any alphabet, the futhark can be used for writing ordinary texts, as well as for creating talismanic bind-runes, when considered solely for divination purposes, individual runes are futhark letters that have been engraved or incised on small tumble-polished semi-precious stones, disks of bone, wood, or metal, or ceramic tiles.
In 1982, the modern usage of the runes for answering life's questions was apparently originated by Ralph Blum in his divinatory treatise, “The Book of Runes,” which was marketed with a small bag of 24 rune tiles plus one blank tile. Since that time, the term "runes" has come to signify any set of runes engraved or marked on ceramic tiles, bone disks, tumble-polished semi-precious stones, or wooden disks.
Blum's interpretations of the futhark runes drew heavily on the ancient I Ching divination system of China, but it immediately became popular among Neopagan and eclectic magic-users. Runic divination is thus a fairly new style of working in hoodoo conjuration, and the gifted rootworkers who use it have probably learned the system through contact with Neopagan practitioners.
When psychic readers use a set of Norse runes to find answers to a client's questions, to predict future trends, or to tell fortunes, the runes may be cast by the diviner on behalf of the client or, if the reading is performed in person, the client may be asked to close his or her eyes and then select one or more runes for interpretation from a cloth or leather sack. As with many of the sacred tools of divination, the runes may be kept on or near the worker's altar when not in use.
By creating a "layout" or "spread" of three or more runes, a rune reader can build a coherent future narrative for the client from the literal and symbolic meanings of the futhark letters, much in the same way that a cartomancer does when laying out card readings.
- Divination and Fortune Telling by Norse Runes or the Futhark