Runes are a series of symbols that come from immemorial times. They are archetypical symbols containing different potentialities, both in their more common use as an oracle, as well as for their magical use for protection and spiritual guidance. Each rune contains in itself a potentiality which can be invoked when needed, both for good and evil purposes.
This is why Egil (character in the Nordic mythology) warns us about the risks implied in an un-earnest use of the runes: the forces contained in the runes shall turn against the profaner. Runes have the power to destroy, compel and curse, as well as to heal and bless.
Runic symbols of the northern cultures are used both for spells and rituals and for divination. We rely on ancient sources which inform us about these aspects: in the Edda Volupsa (The Clairvoyant?s Prophecy, whose text is kept in a manuscript dated back to 1270) and in Beowulf, runes are used for divinatory purposes, and also as tools utilized by shamans to alter reality.