Runes were the characters of the Anglo-Saxon language dating from the 8th-century CE, although some claim they are of early Gothic origin and others date them to the 1st century.
The characters gradually took on divinatory and mystical significance as they spread from southern Europe to Britain and Scandinavia.
Not unlike modern interpretations of the I Ching, which adapt ancient Chinese commentaries, today’s Runes are said to be based on runic inscriptions as found on swords, stones and bronze pendants.
Also like the I Ching, Tarot and other divinatory systems, the runes have been commercialized on a grand scale.
While some may think this invalidates their divinatory and mystical significance, others don’t make such a sharp distinction between God and commercialism.
In fact, some believe that God can work through any vehicle, be it one traditionally construed as “sacred” or another branded as a “sellout.”
This issue touches on the unresolved idea of making cosmological and ethical distinctions between the sacred and profane, discussed by Mircea Eliade and others.