Witchy & Pagan Craft: Acorn Runes

Autumn is my favorite time of year. It is the season where I most feel magick in my bones. The colors always seem just a bit brighter as the season turns. And, for those who forage, there’s a treasure trove of materials and food available.

Like spring, Autumn is a season of transition; where various planes of existence–physical, spiritual, astral, etc.–come into close contact with each other. Samhain and Halloween are both traditional times to connect with spirits, and to consult various oracles with questions about the future.

Today’s craft makes use of the foraging and divination aspects of Autumn to create a timely oracle you can use throughout the year: We’re going to make a set of acorn runes.

What are Runes?

Runes are an ancient alphabet that were used by Norse peoples for centuries. The god Odin was said to have received the runes after hanging upside down from a tree for a series of days and nights. There are several variations of the runes, called futharks, that have been used throughout history. One set of runes, the Elder Futhark, has been used for divination, with each symbol assigned a meaning that can be interpreted. This is the set we’ll be working with in this craft.

Gather Your Materials

The most important items you’ll need for this project are acorns. This is the perfect time of year to gather them as they’ll just be starting to fall from the trees. If you wait until later in the year the only ones you’ll find are those that are broken or insect riddled. You’ll need twenty-four acorns to make your runes, but you should gather more than that.

Gathered Acorns
A sampling of the acorns I gathered a couple of years ago while camping with friends.

While you are foraging, keep a look out for oak galls (also called oak apples). These wasp structures were used to make ink for centuries. You could make up a batch of oak gall ink to use in your grimoire or book of shadows.

This step, the foraging, is a great activity you could do with children or coven. Remember to thank the trees for their gift. You can also pour a little water at the roots of the tree as a return gift.

Once you’ve gathered your acorns leave them outside in a bowl for a couple of hours to give any insects that might have come along for the ride a chance to skedaddle. Now you are going to sort through the acorns, discarding any that are broken or have insect holes in them. If the caps have come off of some, that’s all right. The runes will not have caps. Wipe off any dirt.

Preheat your oven to 175 degrees F and place the acorns on a baking sheet. Pop the sheet into the oven and “bake” the acorns for an hour and a half. Open the oven and give the sheet a shake every thirty minutes so that the acorns dry evenly. After you pull the acorns out of the oven and let them cool down on a wire rack before handling them.

Oven Drying Acorns
Due to the acorns’ shape, they will roll around on the tray, that’s okay.

Making the Runes

To make the runes you’ll need your acorns, a pencil, and a wood burning tool. If you don’t have the wood burner, you can use a black sharpie to mark your runes. Be aware, however, that the sharpie will eventually wear off with repeated use.

Go through the acorns and choose twenty-four that are similar in size. This isn’t just for aesthetic reasons. When you are pulling the runes from a bag, you don’t want to be able to tell which is which just by feel. Some rune sets include a blank rune, called the Wyrd rune. If you want to include that in your set, pick a twenty-fifth rune and set it aside.

Decide which is going to be the “top” and “bottom” of your rune. Orientation can be read in some runes (giving a different meaning to the rune depending on whether it is upright or upside down). You could even have the runes situated width-wise on the acorn if you want. The point is just to pick one direction and stick with it across all the runes.

Using a pencil, trace a rune on each acorn. Using a pencil allows you to erase any mistakes. Once you’re happy with your runes it’s time to break out the wood burning tool. Carefully burn each rune into the acorn. This is very fiddly work, so take care. (Honestly, I’m surprised I didn’t burn my fingers when I was working.) Work slowly, and think about the rune that you are engraving, its name and meaning. This is a chance for you to forge a connection to your rune set that will serve you well when you are reading them.

Raidho Rune on Acorn
Right: the penciled rune, Raidho. Left: the wood burned rune.

Once you are done burning your runes you can immediately use them. To further preserve them, you might wish to give them a polish with a wax based product. I used the spoon butter I have on hand (a mixture of coconut oil and beeswax). All that’s left to do, now, is to start using your runes.

Using Your Acorn Runes

I recommend placing the runes into a drawstring bag, one large enough to fit your hand into and fit all the runes, but small enough to be portable. Hold the bag in your nondominant hand and focus on the question you have. Once you have it clear in your mind, reach into the bag and pull out a rune. Don’t fish around for one, or try to tell which rune it is you are choosing, just pick one. The rune’s meaning will give you insight into the answer to your question.

If you want to explore more about runes there are a plethora of books on the subject.

If you made a set of acorn runes from this tutorial, please post a picture in the comments. I would love to see them.

Want more nature crafts? Check out these post : Glycerin Leaves

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