Runes are a Norse alphabet developed around 200 BCE, from characters used for magical purposes. According to Norse myth, the alphabet was discovered in a vision by the god Odin as he hung upside down and wounded for nine days on the World Tree Yggdrasil. There are three commonly known runic alphabets: the ‘elder’ and ‘younger’ Futhark (futhark being the transliteration of the first few letters of that alphabet), the Anglo-Saxon futhork, and the Danish ‘short twig’ or script alphabet.
The word ‘rune’ literally means a ‘whisper’ or ‘secret.’ The Elder Futhark is the oldest, and consists of three sets of eight letters; there have been as many as thirty three runic characters, and as few as sixteen at various times in history. Runes have been used as a divinatory device from the beginning, and some scholars believe that at one time, a special class of diviners existed dealing solely in rune reading.
In the present time, runes are created and used by Asatru believers as a device for meditation and divination. One is generally expected to construct their own set of rune stones.
To read more about Runes, and rune divination: The Alphabet of Odin