Runes are magic.
Now, I know many people out there use runes with little to know actual knowledge of what they're doing. And I hope and pray that that lack of knowledge means they can't access the energy of the runes. Because to me - to many Heathens - the runes are big, big, powerful energies. They are Mysteries.
You can tap into them, and use that energy, but you should be careful as it's not the same as energy you raise in yourself in a spell or a circle. It's an outside energy. A separate energy. It's not a part of you. But you can tap into it, and direct it, so long as you understand what you're accessing. There are some runes in particular that are very dangerous and very destructive, and even the "nicer" ones can overwhelm you. Carve an inlet and you can direct the sea to a degree, but you cannot hold back the tides.
Oðinn won us the runes. There's a general feeling, I think, that He won the runes for all people, not just Heathens, so there's nothing to say the non-Heathens out there can't use them. But I'm guilty, as are others, of occasionally resenting their use, because.... because of Ralph Blum and Sirona Knight, because of people who don't see that they are sacred, because of people who think "Fehu means cattle" is the end of it. So I get resentful, and wish people would leave them alone. But Oðinn didn't win them just for us.
And sometimes, that.... that bothers me. Non-Heathens can worship Oðinn and many do and fine. But I am always confused, very confused, when non-Heathens with no connection to Oðinn at all pick up the runes. Why would you bother? They're so much work. There's so much study to do. And He won them for us, through His sacrifice. His sacrifice of Himself, hanging for nine days and nights, impaled on His own spear. He won them for us; if you have no connection to Him, no desire to thank Him for that sacrifice, why would you use them?
Some say they are just a writing system. That they're not really Mysteries or energies or anything so who cares. And some don't believe in Oðinn, so they don't care about His sacrifice. And if they're not magic, some will say, who cares if He won them for us or not? They're just a writing system. They're not important.
But the thing about runes. The real thing, really. The thing is, they were a writing system. A writing system, in a place where there hadn't been one. A writing system, for people for whom remembering those who lived before was important. A writing system means everything. With a writing system you can read the name of someone who died a thousand years ago carved into a rock. Someone who died a thousand years ago, of whom every memory has long vanished from the earth - but someone can come along and read his name, and for the first time in a thousand years it can be heard aloud.
And how can you say that's not magic.
This post brought to you by Carl Sagan.