The 13 Witches Runes ~ Part I

One of my all-time favourite oracles is the Witches Runes. Differently from the Nordic Futhark runes, they are not an alphabet in the most literal sense of the word, but rather a gathering of symbols that are a part of the western "collective mind". Love, man, woman, moon, sun, death... all these are present in the Witches Runes. Although apparently simple, these symbols can be used for fortune-telling with incredible accuracy, and some people also use them in magical rituals.

Sadly, there's very little information about this oracle on the web, so I have decided to talk a bit about the 13 symbols here in the blog.  I use the method taught by Susan Sheppard in her book A Witch's Runes. The book is wonderful and very complete - if you like what you see here, I recommend buying it!

It's important to keep in mind is that there is more than one kind of "Witches Runes". One has 8 symbols, the other has 10 symbols and the last one has 13 symbols - this is the one that I use.

I'll split the explanation of all 13 runes in 3 or 4 posts, so I can write more detailed definitions for each of them. Although I have learnt the method from Susan Sheppard's book, the explanations below are my own and come from my own experience - please do not repost them anywhere else without asking first, ok?

I hope you all enjoy it! :-)


The Sun is well-known symbol of good omen and protection. It is the life giver, the light that chases away the darkness and brings the new day. It's masculine and dynamic. In the Witches Runes, it represents the beginning of something new, or a significant change in a situation that was bleak. As a source of light, the Sun can symbolise the disclosure of secrets and the clarification of hazy situations.

Just like the Earth and the other planets revolve around the Sun, this rune indicates that you'll soon be a source of attention for some reason, or that something (or someone) will grab your attention irremediably. It often symbolises the bestowing of an honour or award, or the acknowledgement of a good work. This rune can literally put you under the spotlight and expose you to public scrutiny. Be prepared to deal with a crowd.

Traditionally, the Sun's metal is the gold, and this also reflects in this rune - it's a rune of material wealth and can represent very rich people.

In relationship readings, this rune can indicate that one of the partners has a very strong presence, and may sometimes dominate the relationship. There's a strong Ego whenever the Sun appears, and this can be good or bad depending the nature of the relationship. In negative readings this rune can show that one of the partners is not allowing the the other to grow and shine on their own. But this is not very common - usually the Sun represents a vital and healthy relationship, even if it's not necessarily a peaceful one.


Differently from the Sun, the Moon has more subtle powers. While it can represent changes too - after all, the moon changes it face a bit every day - these are usually much slower and long-term than the ones represented by the Sun. It's feminine and passive.

As the rules of the night time, the Moon often symbolises a transition time, in which things are not yet defined or very clear. It may represents lack of information and bad timing - any action done under the influence of the Moon may not go as expected because of that. Just like the moon influences the tides of our planet, it also influences our inner water - our emotions - causing a bit of emotional instability. This often inspires us to act without pondering.

The Moon works with undercurrents, it shows hidden developments or things done in the shadows. All secrets are protected by the Moon, and it its most negative manifestation this rune can stand for lies, deceit and even self-sabotage.

The Moon is also associated with the female cycles, thus it may represent pregnancy, family, roots and ancestors. When the Moon appears, there's a strong need to go back to your roots in order to find comfort and understanding. It often symbolises that you have to find yourself a safe place to wait, like a newborn in the womb... You have to be patient.

I relationship readings, the Moon can represent a strong sexual attraction (specially with the Romance rune), secret affairs, hidden and contained impulses and secrets. Although it adds strength to the attraction, it does not add speed, so the Moon can often represent that almost unbearable tension that builds between two people during a long period of time. It can also represent a certain instability in the relationship, with moments of closeness and moments of separation.


Also called "The Birds",  this is a rune of movement and communication. Emails, letters, phone calls, news, unexpected visits... all is represented by The Flight.

While the Moon told you you didn't have enough information to act, the Flight tells you the information is coming - if it's not here already. Now you can make informed choices and change your plans accordingly. It's very common for this rune to represent a change in plans, specially those who happen after we get a piece information that we didn't have. This is also a rune of synchronicity - of receiving the information you need exactly when you need it.

On a physical level, the Flight can represent travel, specially by air. With the Waves rune, it can indicate a journey by water. It also represents visits, both the expected and the unexpected kind. Because of its relation to communication, it can represent discussions, exchange of ideas and team work... but its negative side can stand for gossip, rumours and excessive noise. Mental tension, overstimulation, anxiety and lack of sleep are also part of the Flight's dark side.

This rune shows that the wheels are already moving, and that the situation is not longer stagnated. The Flight can symbolise a sudden freedom, a feeling of being liberated from the burdens of the past. Good ideas and solutions for problems appear. And because this rune is a fast one, it tells you to do it - and do it now. Don't put it off till later, or you may lose the opportunity.

In relationships, the Flight shows that there will be a lot of communication between the people involved. Any form of expression involving words will be at the centre of this relationship. However, it can indicate some physical distance between the partners. This rune, usually when combined with the Rings rune, can represent important documents and contracts. It's often a sign that you will receive news from (or about) the person you are interested in.


It's important to make a distinction between the Rings and the next rune, the Romance. One is about circumstances that connect people - the other is about emotions that connect people.

The Rings essentially represents the union of two elements to produce something new. Contracts, agreements, associations,  long-term unions, marriage... all this is represented by the Rings rune. Whenever two or more people work together to attain a common goal, this is symbolised by this rune.

While the Rings are a traditional symbol for love connection, the truth is that this rune alone does not represent this - not very strongly. Marriage for love is something fairly recent in history, after all. But it can represent the union with someone you feel that complements you (or your work) very well. When this rune appears, you have the support of a group of people (or the support of the right person). Whatever you do, don't do it alone! Ask for help!

Reunions, meetings, parties, family dinners, religious gatherings... all are within the scope of this rune. The Rings also represent any social groups you are a part of. But this rune can also symbolise anything that binds you, whether you like it or not... agreements that limit you, relationships that smother you, groups that impose themselves on you. With more negative runes, the Rings can indicate a confrontation with the enemy and the people who oppose you. When the Scythe is nearby, a traumatic separation is likely.

The Rings are also a kind of jewellery, thus they are connected to luxury, expensive cars, beautiful clothing, epicurean meals and opulent places. This rune can suggest that one is being seduced by the superficial, and missing the relevant, the core. On a more harmless level, this rune can represent good taste, fun and group cultural activities such as theatres, museums, shows and cinema.

The symbols of the runes were taken from Susan Sheppard's A Witch's Runes © Kesington Publishing CorpNo copyright infringement intended. 


  1. Ah, I have this book and made my own runes. They are a little chipped though so I would need to probably make some more as I didn't seal them properly :(

    I really look forward to reading more about these. The book is really interesting.


  2. Hi PLN!

    My runes were made by another person... I can only blame this on my own un-crafty-ness. LOL! But I am thinking about making myself a set with cold porcelain... I suppose this will have to wait until I take vacations though.

    The book is really really good! I disagree with Susan Sheppard when she explains what a 'witch' is supposed to be... But I like how complete it is when it comes to the runes themselves! It's one of my favorite divination books. I am thinking about reviewing it someday...

  3. I agree. I like the descriptions of the runes and how they work together best. I haven't read any of it in a while but it seemed pretty comprehensive. I will have to take a photo of my runes and show you, but I'd like to make some more too. Might have to think of a different way of doing it to the usual.

  4. Querida Marina,
    Isto parece muito interessante!
    Eu também uso RUNAS ( http://karmictarot.blogspot.com/p/runas.html ), do tipo FUTHARK e OGHAM, mas vejo que estes símbolos são completamente diferentes.
    Essas RUNAS lembram-me os KISMET CUBES (RUNES) da Jenny Pearce (http://www.devine-psychic-spectrum.co.uk/jenny.html#kismet ).
    Querida, eu gostaria de saber se o livro da Susan Sheppard já contém essas lindas RUNAS apresentadas na sua foto.
    É muito difícil criar esse tipo de peças (eu comprei um aparelho para escrever na madeiro; para produzir as peças em OGHAM, mas esse tipo de símbolos são complicados de desenhar).
    Beijos com carinho.

  5. Olá Aquim!
    Tudo bem?

    Também usei o Futhark por algum tempo, porém acho que me dei melhor com as Witches Runes. :p

    Realmente, alguns dos símbolos são similares aos Kismet Cubes, porém parece que os dados também têm alguns símbolos parecidos com o Futhark. Talvez a autora tenha misturado um pouco de tudo para fazer um oráculo mais abrangente?

    O livro de Susan Sheppard não vem com as runas prontas - mas a autora ensina detalhadamente como fazê-las. Claro, existem alguns sets à venda no eBay, foi onde eu consegui o meu.

    Eu tenho planos de criar as minhas próprias runas com porcelana fria. Posso fazer os símbolos em baixo relevo enquanto a porcelana está mole, e depois que ela endurecer, passar uma mão de tinta para reforçar o desenho. :o)

  6. Thanks for sharing this Marina! I know very little about this system although I expect some of the symbols correspond quite closely with those in other systems such as Lenormand and maybe also the Elder Futhark runes.

  7. Hi Helen!

    I am happy for sharing more information about these runes here at the blog. :-) Almost all western divination methods have similar symbols... I think it's because of the cultural influences that are behind what we identify as "western thought". Of course, each culture will color it according to its own mythology, reality and experience, but ultimately these symbols will connect to the ones of other cultures because they come from a similar... social mind?

    I am no student of anthropology of social psychology, so I cannot know for sure. But the coincidences are quite surprising... and pleasant too. It makes the oracles feel familiar to you, even though they are different. :-)

  8. Good post Marina. I too have this book, but was a bit turned off as I started to read in the first few pages her rather sexist idea of a witch and what one is, but then I began to realise she's probably trying to cater to the dizzy teenager with an identity crisis LOL.

    I carved my own Elder Futhark Runes into deer antler (naturally felled by the deer who breaks them off by rubbing against a tree), but I haven't gotten very far with this book just yet. Maybe I'll read through it a bit further tonight.

  9. Hi BenVee!

    Ugh... the only thing I dislike in this book is Susan Sheppard's drivel on "what is a witch". It makes me roll my eyes. I completely ignore this part of the book and only read about the runes themselves. I am not witch and I don't want to be one, and I don't care about Susan Sheppard's opinion on the subject.

    Your deer antler runes must be SO gorgeous! How did you carve them? I imagine this material must be very hard, is it not?

    I want to make my own runes... I think about picking real stones, just like she describes in the books, but I imagine this would make the runes kinda heavy to carry around. I think cold porcelain could still be my best option. :)

  10. Whenever I come here, I end up ordering something! I've just ordered the book by Susan Sheppard about how to make your own runes. I am a witch, but I don't care what she has to say about the subject. I just really like the look of these runes. :) Don't have any idea yet what material I want to use. Like you, I think a bag of rocks would be a bit heavy. I like the idea of doing them on crystal tumblestones...maybe I will choose the crystal I think best matches each rune? Who knows!

  11. Hi Carla!

    I am sorry for the constant enabling, lol! Perhaps we have a similar taste! The Witches Runes are VERY nice, and the book is wonderful too, as long as you don't give too much importance to the chapter about witches. Read it just for the information, and then leave it. The part about the runes is so much better!

    I think the runes can be made in almost any material, as long as it is resistant (so the runes won't break easily). Wood, crystals, rocks, clay, sea shells, nacre... the possibilities are endless. And because the set is made of 13 symbols only, you won't spend a lifetime carving and painting the designs. ;-)

  12. I wrote A Witch's Runes long ago and at the time, there was no agreement anywhere on what exactly a witch is. It is an early book of mine and I am sure mistakes were made. I hope you enjoy the creativity.

    1. Hi Susan!

      Thank you so much for commenting! Oh yes - I absolutely LOVE your book, my copy is totally worn already from being much used! I think that the definition of a witch depends very much on time and culture, so how can we know whether we are right or wrong... In any case, it's such a minor part of the book that it doesn't bother me so much. The runes part is perfect.

      Your "A Witch's Runes" has made a big difference in my journey, so I thank you a lot for writing it. :-)

  13. Greetings,
    I was on a search for witches runes and came across your blog.I liked it so much I wanted to share with my friends viva facebook page share.

    I had already and when I saw I needed to ask first I deleted it and came to ask.I am sorry I didn't first but I am now.I plan to get the book,I really liked what I read here.


    1. Hi Laura! It's okay to share on the Facebook. I just have to make a disclaimer because the runes were not created by me. The theory behind them was developed by Susan Sheppard in her book "A Witch's Runes", which is essential for a deeper understanding of this great oracle. :)

      But feel free to share the link to my blog, it's no problem!