There's an old superstition among tarot readers that a deck gifted to you is better than one you bought yourself. Some folks even refuse to buy there own decks for this reason. But given that a deck you choose for yourself is more likely to have art or a booklet that appeals to you, I've never held much faith in that superstition.
On the other hand, when my boyfriend gifted me a set of runestones, I knew I had to try them out, though I was (and still am) a novice diviner at best. However, given that I am learning both, I thought I might as well do a post about the differences between tarot and runes, and how I work divination into my life. Both runes and tarot feature prominently in my practice, but I am beginning to use each for different purposes. I will go over those purposes in detail in the following section.
A disclaimer before I begin: there is no one-size fits all method for divination. This is just my personal methodology, not a prescription. Moreover, I would caution you against seeing any prediction you might do as being set in stone. Doing further draws/runecasts to get more information is perfectly fine, and the future, even a predicted one, is not set in stone. Runestones and tarot cards are only advisors - you are the one who shapes your future. Perhaps divination can help you do that.
Runes: an Advisory Oracle
The runestones I use contain symbols from the Elder Futhark, one of the oldest written alphabets of the Germanic peoples. They were likely derived from a pictorial system of writing, and it is from those pictorial meanings that the modern diviner extracts their readings. Because they are an alphabet, I find that they work best when several are drawn and placed in a pattern, forming a message. Thus, I often use runes to advise on a particular course of action.
To do a reading, called a "runecast" I pour out all my stones, turn them so that I can't see the runes, and pick a number of them at random, placing them in the requisite positions. An example is shown below.
The center rune of this spread represents the present. This is filled by the blank rune, Wyrd, a modern addition to the Elder Futhark, representing fate and unknown forces. The rune on the left represents the past. In the example, this is Hagall, a rune representative of delays. The rune above the center rune advises you on the course of action to take, in this photo filled with Perdhro in a reversed position, a rune of mysteries and secrets, both mundane and occult. The rune below the middle is the rune of what parts of the problem you have to accept, and in this case it is filled by Sigel, a rune of victory and personal power. The final rune on the right is the rune on the future, in this case filled with Kenaz, a rune of positive health and good fortune, and of creativity.
Of course the real work of divination is in the interpretation of the runes. In this case I was asking about a job interview I had recently had, and whether I should try and nudge the result in my favor using magic. The Wyrd rune in the cast, to me, signified that I was feeling powerless, a plaything of fate. The Hagall rune indicated that I was frustrated with the delay in hearing back from the interview. The rune of Perdhro reversed indicated that I should definitely reexamine my methods for using magic, and that I might face unexpected consequences. The rune of Sigel meant that I had to accept that whether or not I would get the job, I had already done a lot to help myself both in the interview and by following up. The rest was up to my prospective employers. The final rune of Kenaz indicated that I had good fortune to look forward to if I followed the advice. Whether that means I'll get the job or have more luck with my creative work, I cannot say. Not until the future comes to pass do we really know what it holds, divination or no divination.
It may seem odd that a magical device would advise against using magic to solve a problem, but becoming over-reliant on spells can often make one into the kind of person who would manipulate others on a whim. I was definitely in danger of doing that, being as I was considering a spell that would essentially manipulate a decision that I had no say in in my favor. This is just one example, but this spread is very good for advising about a particular course of action you already have in mind.
Tarot: a Guide for Meditation and Creativity
I won't go into the anatomy of tarot spreads here as I could easily find myself writing an entire book on them in no time flat. No surprise, then, that so many books about tarot adorn the shelves of libraries and bookstores worldwide. That being said, there is one idea I've gotten from books on tarot that features prominently in my practice: the use of tarot as a guide for meditation.
Oftentimes, when I'm meditating, I draw a single Tarot card at random first. I use it's meaning and the art on the card as a guide for the meditation to follow. For example, if I draw the hanged man, I might imagine myself in the hanged man's position, and contemplate what it means that i am both hanging upside down by my foot while being totally serene. I let my mind wander over the image, and let what other images and thoughts come to me wash over me, without judgement. I've learnt a lot about myself this way.
Another use I have for Tarot is directly tied to my creative work. Sometimes, if I get stuck while writing a story, I ask my deck what should come next, and draw a single card for inspiration. it's a fun way to inject a bit of an unexpected twist in the story, and I often find that it helps the result feel more organic. I'm not the only writer who's used such a method, either. The most famous example is Philip K. Dick consulting the I Ching while writing The Man in High Castle, but numerous other examples abound. I highly encourage you to consider it if you are at all creatively inclined.
One final method of divination with Tarot that I am starting to use is the idea of the daily draw. simply put, I shuffle the cards and draw one card a day, writing down my feelings associated with that card and how it relates to my current existence. Not only is this a good way to familiarize yourself with the Tarot, I've also found that the daily draw oftentimes gives me the right piece of advice for a particular moment. For example, today I was experiencing a lot of anxiety. I did my daily draw and got the seven of wands, a card about perseverance. My deck was telling me to stand my ground, and to continue moving forward. And I'm doing just that, simply by writing this post, which was one of the things I was anxious about. Divination isn't always about the future. Sometimes, it's about what you need to here in the present moment.
These are just a few of the ways I work divination into my life on a regular basis. They are not the be-all-end-all ways to use these tools, and I'm sure I'll find more methods as my practice evolves. But divination is probably my most frequently used magical tool, and it's one that I wholeheartedly encourage others to use.