The Website of PMH AtwaterOne of the internet's most comprehensive sites on the near-death phenomenon!

One of the internet's most comprehensive sites on the near-death phenomenon!

Stacks Image 33



At a "Welcome to Boise, Idaho" party arranged to honor a troupe who had just moved into town from California, one woman said she practiced rune casting and, with our permission, would demonstrate what runes were and how they worked. No one at the party knew anything about runes, so we readily agreed to what seemed like a new form of entertainment. The woman sat upon the floor and produced from a velvet pouch a handful of small, soft-black pebbles, each graven with a strange, sharp-angled glyph. She invited several people to ask questions of the stones, and said she would seek for answers by casting them. I remember most clearly the awe I felt as stones flew from her hands with each cast. In falling, they formed the most fascinating patterns - patterns that sprang to life for me in multiple textures of image, sound, smell - as if they possessed the vitality of pulse and breath. I was spellbound by their aliveness.

The woman's voice rambled past my awareness as I concentrated privately on each cast, interpreting for myself their meanings, correcting what seemed to be her mistakes, and adding additional insights. When she finished with the demonstration, she turned abruptly in my direction and stated out loud, "You can read these runes better than I." Before I knew what was happening or why, I heard myself reply, "You're correct. I can."

While other people expressed excitement about the strange runes, I quietly pondered what had just occurred. I had never seen runes before and knew nothing consciously of their history or usage. Yet, suddenly, I knew them as well as if I had created them. This puzzled me.

Later, after almost everyone else had left, I was finally able to speak with the woman. When I asked why she had said what she did, her answer only puzzled me more: "I knew that you knew." There was a mysterious smile on her lips when she said that, and I found myself requesting a pouch of stones like hers before I had a chance to think. "For fifteen dollars I'll make you a set," she said, and then went on to explain what kind of stones worked best and how each would be selected. "You're getting a bargain, you know, for I meditate on each pebble to make certain that both glyph and stone fit each other perfectly. The pouch is all hand-sewn." I accepted. Several weeks went by until, on the night of the full moon, during a prayer-and-meditation gathering, she appeared and presented me with the finished pouch of pebbles. I paid her, but felt a strong inner sense not to open the pouch, that it must first be blessed and dedicated as part of the evening's spiritual service.

Using the enhanced energies I felt at the service, I enclosed the pouch within my cupped hands and, in my mind's eye, envisioned beams and splashes of radiant light and pure love filling and cleansing the new bundle. In prayer, I asked for divine guidance to know how and when to cast the runes, and then I dedicated them to God's Holy Will. The pouch grew hot and tingled as if an electric current had passed through it. Afterward, I gently placed the rune pouch in my purse and spoke no more of it.

A week later I left Boise, Idaho, literally closing the door on a lifetime and leaving behind everything and everyone I had ever known. This was in August of 1978.

A year and a half before, I had physically died three times, revived after each incident, only to suffer three major relapses later that same year. I was now newly healed. During those events when death had come to call, I had undergone the phenomenon known as the near-death experience; that is to say, I had crossed over to The Other Side. Each experience had been different, yet each one had somehow led into the next as if they were progressive. This had affected me so radically that life on earth lost relevance. Thus, it had become necessary for me to relearn the basics: from having to crawl and stand to telling the difference between left and right, from seeing and hearing properly to rebuilding my belief systems. In the course of doing this, I discovered myself to be different than before. Somehow I had expanded both in my capacity for analysis and inquiry and in my ability to detect and respond to subtle energies and impressions.

In this new state, I sold a house I had recently purchased, gave way, sold, or stored everything I owned; and quit an excellent job the very day a significant promotion and raise were offered. What seemed necessary for survival I stuffed into my little Ford Pinto. The next day I embarked on a spiritual odyssey that led first to the Shanti Nilaya Center of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, at that time located near Escondido, California, where I shared with others the discovery we were all making - that there is life after death. From there I zigzagged across the entire continent, leaving behind the Pacific's silver sunsets to find to my delight that sunrises over the Atlantic are indeed drenched with gold.

It was during this odyssey, near the "knife's edge" of the Grand Canyon's deepest drop, that I opened the rune pouch for the first time and spilled across my lap the strange stones, all sixteen of them, complete with a small slip of paper (instructions for their use in casting). I felt like a child again, holding my new toys. From that moment on I played with them daily, experimenting, studying every possible variation and nuance of question and throw. Sometimes I would involve others in my play, even groups of others, as I probed further, wondering if I could manipulate answers with my mind and thereby control or direct a cast. There wasn't anything I didn't try. No question or throw was too absurd or too complex or too impossible. I even tallied the accuracy or inaccuracy of each result on a written scorecard.

During this playtime, I noted a few peculiarities about using casting runes. When I read for others, patterns of the cast would change according to how each individual felt about the question he or she asked of the runes. Unexpressed motives behind the questions would alter or change the outcome. Runic answers would invariably address what was most important for the querist to know, rather than the exact question asked. I also found that runes would answer my own questions the same way they did for everyone else if I was honest enough to be objective and detached.

I came to realize that I could not control or direct rune casts in any manner, even on my own behalf. The runestones always remained independent, obeying faithfully whatever laws governed their movement and whatever source guided their revelations. They were not toys and I did not "own" them. I came to regard them as friends; and, in our friendship, we became equal partners on the same team. With the passing of years, our teamwork arrangement evolved. The pouch transformed into a "Medicine Bag" in the sense that I eventually filled it with all manner of symbolic reminders of sacredness and unity. Native American teachings of "The Medicine Path," a lifestyle anyone can adopt that is dedicated to the responsible service of healing and helping others, came naturally to me, so I integrated my rune friends and The Way of A Cast into that worldview.

Later, while researching runic legends and stories, I took special interest in the tales of Odin (in Germanic lore) and how he "died unto himself" (had a near-death experience) before the secrets of the runes were revealed to him. Facing one's own death, whether symbolically or literally, seems to have been a prerequisite for a shaman, or "wise one," to understand the deeper meaning of rune signs in the Old European Cultures that originally developed runes. Each tribal grouping had its own tradition for testing initiates through a simulation of death, so the individual could transcend his or her ego and become spiritually transformed. Rune use altered drastically, though, when alphabets were later adopted and tribal clans became more sophisticated. What was once an earned privilege for the purpose of accessing greater wisdoms evolved into a routine skill for the purpose of marking public inscriptions and recording the ownership of property. Secular designs and usages can be trace historically, but only fragments remain of the older, more sacred glyphs and the manner in which they were used. The fact that the concepts of death, transformation, and rebirth were so entwined with ancient rune use affected me deeply, and I could not help but wonder about the timeliness of their entry into my life. It seemed no accident that runes came to me when they did, after my own journey through death's portal.

During my youth in Idaho, I spent my earliest years in a Norwegian household that honored traditions unique to the Sognefjord region of Norway. Although no one ever mentioned runes, the mind-set of a culture that once used several types of them was nonetheless instilled in me. Having temporarily lost a sense of personal history after my near-death experiences, I regained not only my memories but the ability to tap into any form of memory - be it from a rock or from collective sources of human consciousness (mass mind). I was able, quite literally, to retrain how I used my brain because of the unique way rune casting seems to unite left and right brain hemispheres - resulting in a healthy whole.


Goddess Runes is my way of saying "Thank You" to the runes and passing along the art form of casting to others. Truly, the book and products I have produced about Goddess Runes are a labor of love. --PMH Atwater

Books & Runes | Talks & Playshops | PDF Articles:

Goddess Runes and The Way of a Cast

Goddess Runes Meanings


Wendy Duke's Spiral of Life A Guidebook For Your Journey


Wendy Duke has produced one of the most beautiful divinatory systems I have yet seen. It is extraordinary in its depth of insight, the drama of life, and what can be learned about self and the journey of the soul. Truly extraordinary! I congratulate her many times over for her achievement, and count myself as lucky to have received one of the first sets to be printed.

The "Spiral of Life" system Wendy created from Futhark runic glyphs, combined with extensions of symbol-signs that furthered the original scope, at first glance, seems too complicated for regular use. Challenged by this, and without reading anything save the "Card Reading Instruction Page," I penned question and date to a piece of paper for reference and got busy. I must say that without being any kind of expert, I was able to obtain good advice and helpful wisdom from both the card layout and its interpretation.

What fascinates me in the connection the "Spiral of Life," as Wendy has presented it, is to quantum physics and what appears to be the way the life pulse oeprates throughout the universe. This is not just a simple toss system, but an in-depth look at the design and spread of our choices as a divine being experiencing what it means to be human. Naturally I prefer "Runes of the Goddess," a divinatory runic system that came to me after surviving death three times in three months back on 1977, and each time having a near-death experience; and because it is quick and easy and ever so instructive. Yet I must admit that what has emerged from the silence within Wendy Duke, has far greater depth and promise.

I highly recommend “Spiral of Life” as a runic-based divinatory system that is rich in beauty, upliftment, and insight. --PMH Atwater

Runes of the Goddess

Rune Set BookRuneCD

Rune set and cloth_face0
'Runes of the Goddess' was available in Kit from Galde press. But it has been discontinued due to quality issues with the mass production of the rune stones. I wish to publicly thank Brad Steiger, a dear friend, for suggesting that I contact Phyllis Galde about this project. By the way, Phyllis publishes Fate Magazine, as well as managing a lively publishing firm.

Blessings to all! PMH

Also available...

The Witches’ Runes

Dana (at left) reading the Witches' Runes
at an open air market in Seattle, 1995 -- Photographer unknown

Dana Corby, the one who originally introduced me to the rune set I use, still makes what she calls “The Witches’ Runes” and these are available for order. Contact: Dana Corby, 12215 Wapato Road, Avalon House, Anderson Island, WA 98303; or e-mail her at .