In the early 1980's, the Runes became popular among many New Age and occult groups. Unfortunately, very few actually study the system in any depth. Most use runes as a simple divination system without any knowledge of their history, cultural context, or deeper magico-religious meaning. Many adherents of the northern traditions see this as an erosion of their heritage.
Looking on the positive side, the awareness of the Runes in New Age circles has led some to look further, and to realise that those of us of Northern European heritage do in fact have a native magical tradition.
The Runes are part of the Germanic heathen magico-religious heritage known as Asatru, the veneration of the old gods. The Runes are specifically the territory of the god Odin, dark and mysterious lord of knowledge, magic, and battle. Perhaps if modern folk realised this they would be a little less carefree, or careless, in their approach to the Runes. Odin and rune magick are not quite the innocuous fun often implied by many popular manuals. We only need to read the sagas to see the ambivalence, fear, and respect felt toward Odin and rune users in heathen times.
Central to the Odinic/Runic path is the concept of Wyrd. Similar to Karma, but without the moralistic connotations, Wyrd is the subtle web of interaction existing between all things. No deed, word, or thought is free of some repercussion however small. Over time, an object or even a symbol can collect a powerful wyrd of its own, usually connected to the wyrd of the system to which it belongs. The wyrd of an object can interact with the wyrd of a person in extreme and unexpected ways.
The Runes date back at least to 150ce for physical evidence, and as this shows a fully developed and stable system, so it was certainly around for a couple of centuries before that (it was mostly used on wood which has not survived).
The Runes are an old and sacred system to those of the Northern Traditions. Many feel that the runes have been exploited, even corrupted, by writers who have invented "tradition" in their books in order to spice up the story for the sake of sales, or to cover the fact that they have not really researched the subject, or to set up their own personality cults.
We are part of a growing number of rune students who aim to re-democratise the runes, by making the historical sources more available to the public. We wish to put the knowlege, and the means of gaining it into the hands of any who are interested, bypassing the New Age "gurus" and cult leaders who currently dominate the bookshelves, with their invented systems and agendas.
It is for these reasons that Rune-Net was formed, and why we have made
the Rune Primer publicly available.