|Rune cards provide for those accustomed to the visual imagery of tarot a wonderful opportunity to find a stronger connection with the meanings of what are, by contrast, the much more abstract meanings of runic symbols. I have always loved the tactile appeal of runes, especially since acquiring a beautiful set of crystal runes from The Tarot Chest a few months ago, but it is the imagery on rune cards rather than the several books I have read on runes that have really helped me to connect more meaningfully with runes.|
So far, I have found three sets of rune cards and have been delighted by how different all three decks are from each and how the rich images from all these cards are now coming readily to mind when I handle my crystal runes. This deck has strikingly vibrant colouring, and often very dark backgrounds. All the cards have an ornate border of intertwined knots on all four sides and feature dragon heads in the top left and right sections of this border, an amazing contrast to the much softer and gentler colouring in Sylvia Gainsford and Howard Rodway’s The Rune Vision Cards (also produced by AGMüller, and also available from The Tarot Chest), and, of course, nothing like the exquisitely detailed and beautiful black and white line drawings of the Anglo-Saxon Books’ Rune Cards. The cards are also numbered, with just a small discreet number within the knotwork in the middle left of each card, which makes them easier to locate if you are looking for a particular card; and the runic symbol is in the knotwork on the bottom of each card; and the phonetic value appears, again within the knotwork to the right of each card. Several runic symbols appear in this same position at the top of each card.
This deck comes with a 44 page LWB, all of it in English (translated from German). The first thirteen pages include an introduction where the author-illustrator Thomas Vomel explains how he came to create this deck, some historical background, a discussion of The Runes as States of Consciousness, a discussion under the heading What Do the Cards Represent?, then advice about Shuffling the Cards, followed by The Interpretation of the Cards, then details of four Casting Systems (what most tarot readers would call spreads or layouts) – The Single Card, The Three Norns, The Simple Cross (using four cards) and the Runic Cross (using six cards). This is followed by about ¾ of a page on each card, which provides very basic meanings – both positive and negative – for each card.
To look at the same three cards that are shown on The Tarot Chest page for The Rune Vision cards, the visual representations here couldn’t be more different! In this deck, for Berkana which the LWB tells us “symbolises the two breasts of the Earth Mother”, we are shown an image of “the goddess of the birch tree”, a vibrantly green naked goddess kneeling on the ground in a forest, suckling a human baby (it’s a pinkish colour) at her very large left breast, watched from behind the trees and some distance away an elderly cloaked figure of indeterminate sex but probably the goddess Urd as shown in The Rune Vision Cards. Ansuz again depicts Odin, here represented as a rugged individual of Viking appearance playing a harp. Behind him are mountains and icy-looking water. Again, his two ravens make an appearance, one is in the sky, the other sits on this back. Kaunaz is here called Kenaz and the image is of a god-like male figure before an oven set in a wall. He is holding what appears to be an iron rod, the top half of which is glowing red with heat. The LWB tells us that this rune symbolises “the light of the torch”.
Which deck will appeal to you most will really depend on which artwork you like best. As I always love the richness of learning that comes from seeking knowledge from a variety of sources, if you are serious about wanting to learn about runes, I’d strongly recommend that you seek out all three decks. Whether you decide to stay with the cards themselves or you use them as a way to build your confidence in using crystal runes – or runes that you make for yourself – this is something that you will only be able to decide further down your runic pathway. But if you were to use your crystal runes in a reading, then to offer the person for whom you are doing the reading the appropriate card, this could undoubtedly enrich the reading.