Distilling any divinatory tool down to its essence is difficult, and it is both a historical and practical undertaking. Runes, Plain and Simple aims to inform the reader about both areas, while adding a few new wrinkles that I really liked.
The book is a small volume—less than 200 pages, measuring 8 inches by 5 ½ inches—and it provides a quick glance at runes as a whole: The history, the runes and their associated interpretations, as well as different spreads and how to use runes. They present the runes in order in their respective Aett—one of the three sets of eight runes. A final chapter discusses using runes in magickal work.
The descriptions are short, and there’s no doubt the others had a tall order to put something you could spend days talking about in “25 words or less”. But what I did like is that each rune’s interpretation started with a paragraph about the origin of the rune. I really enjoyed this because it gives you something to remember when learning each one.
What made this book an excellent reference for me was that at the beginning, one of the first chapters discussed making your own runes—how to do it on a practical level, how to cleanse and consecrate them, and how to decide to choose one particular material over another. While doing so would have its challenges, especially if the rune caster decided to use bone, it would forge a connection between the reader and their tool that could only benefit the reader in the future.
While most runes come in sets of 25, I did like that the author discussed “the blank rune”. It is not part of the three Aetti, and while it does come in most sets, it’s not “traditional”. Thanks to this book, I finally understand what it is: Destiny, fate, or some sort of change. The author likened the blank rune to the Wheel of Fortune tarot card, but reminded us that whether or not it is “good fortune” is totally dependent on the rest of the rune casting.
My concern with this book is the price; I suspect that some folks may balk at $14.95 for what does not appear to be a lot of information. Let me assure you that there is a lot of useful information in here, and if you’re a reader with a short attention span—as many are—this book may be just the thing to launch you into the study of an amazing, life-changing divinatory tool.
I liked this book, mainly because the title says it is “plain and simple”, and the content matches it well without losing the effectiveness of the message. I would recommend it to people who are beginning their study of runes, or for those in complementary disciplines (tarot, astrology, etc) that might need a quick look at a particular rune interpretation without too much fuss; I could see keeping this book with my tarot cards as a reference.
~review by John Marani
Author: Kim Farnell
Hampton Roads Publishing, 2006, 2016
pp. 155, $14.95 US