This art is taught by the pairing of a mentor with an apprentice and follows various stages as any other craft does. Those interested, or those gifted as is usually the case, are paired with their mentor at a relatively young age and begin minor tasks that will guide them on a path to understanding the runestones.
The apprentice learns through observation, study, and by the completion of tasks set forth by the mentor. The process can take many years and be filled with tasks whereby the apprentice never knows if they have achieved their mastery until they are specifically given that title.
Indeed, in this unit there is no rank other then mentor and apprentice. When an apprentice is finally given the title of mentor it can frequently be said that the bond between the pairing has grown to such a degree that the apprentice will only accept the title of mentor when his or her own is no longer able to complete the task of divination. It is only then that the apprentice will become the mentor and take on an apprentice of their own, while frequently providing care for their own mentor in the case of old age.
Part of learning this art is not confined to the ability to memorize what each rune on the stones mean, but in the ability to create the runes and their place in clan life. Typically, the mentor will provide services for the band they travel with that range from inscribing runes on items of value to blessing and then, of course, the service of divination.
Typically, and most frequently, the runestones are found contained in a basket woven of natural, yet stiff, material. Fronds, river reeds, sea grasses, and other pliable but firm items are used in its creation and then dyed to colors that are appealing to the practitioner. The stones are also natural and it can be understood that a mentor and apprentice will search their entire lives for smooth stones that are uniform to one another. Once a set of forty-two identical or nearly identical stones is accumulated they are painted with symbols that fall into four categories - Earth, Air, Fire, and Water.
Translation of the stones varies very little amongst the Ariame Clan, though many of the other clans have either their own complete set of translations or an adaptation of the base translation that the Ariame use. And while there are forty-two stones painted for this use, it is not confined to only forty-two translations, for if the rune is drawn upside-down, or inverted as the practitioners favor, then there is a completely different meaning for the stone. This allows that there are a grand total of eighty-four possible outcomes for one basket.
However, the runestones are never drawn alone. Depending upon the elemental magics used to bond a basket to its owner, the runestones are frequently drawn in groups of three, six, and nine. Each of these groups is read as a whole and not alone.
For example, the Blizzard Rune has a meaning of clearance, testing, karmic lessons, but reversed it means drastic changes. It is part of the Air Family.
|a pair of crossed war hammers||justice, clairvoyance||Shaman||air|
|blizzard||clearance, testing, karmic lesson||drastic change||air|
|empty waterskin||counseling, intuition||things hidden||air|
|glory||success, recognition of achievements||reward||air|
|a pair of boulders||discipline, knowledge||focus||earth|
|harvest||change, cycle turning||reward||earth|
|landslide||sudden loss, ordeal, destruction||disaster||earth|
|sheaths of wheat||inevitable development, productivity||motion||earth|
|the dot within a circle||inheritance, home, permanency||legacy||earth|
|the horse||transportation, motion||assistance||earth|
|the ram horn||protection, defense||warning||earth|
|the shoot||farming, growth, health||balance||earth|
|spear shaft||conflict, strength, physicality||a wound||earth (a Warrior's path)|
|the acorn||fertility, health, growth||new beginnings||earth (feminine)|
|a boulder||hardship, painful events||introspection||earth (masculine)|
|a pair of ox horns||the unconscious, primitive mind, irrationality||Shaman experience||fire|
|a torch||creativity, inspiration||enlightenment||fire|
|birch tree||change, initiations||confronting fears||fire|
|black willow||turning point, transformation||death||fire|
|empty pot||poverty, hardship||discontent||fire|
|energy||power, will, communication||recklessness||fire|
|sun||success, positive energy||power||fire|
|the star||happiness, success, fulfilling life||hope||fire|
|an ox horn||passion, vitality, fertility||rite of passage||fire (masculine)|
|flame||wisdom, insight||solution to a problem||fire (feminine)|
|a waterskin||emotions, unconscious mind||revelations||water|
|box||rebirth, new beginning||prophecy||water|
|fate||change, destiny, progress||life lessons||water|
|ice||inactivity, blockage, potential||stagnation||water|
- a bone-toggled woven black ash basket
Woven of thin strips of black ash, the basket is simple, yet sturdy. Dangling decoratively from its surface, small bluejay feathers and bits of bone are suspended from short sinew cords. The toggle is made from what looks like a goblin finger bone.
Slipping your hands into your woven black ash basket, you pull forth three smooth stones. You slowly open your hand and arrange the runestones in the palm of your hand. After a moment's study, you tilt your hand to display an inverted waterskin rune, a sheaf of wheat rune, and a shield rune. Slipping his hands into his woven black ash basket, Giantman pulls forth three smooth stones. He slowly opens his hand and arranges the runestones in his palm. After a moment's study, Giantman tilts his hand to display an inverted waterskin rune, a sheaf of wheat rune, and a shield rune.
The baskets can only be used by giantmen.
You reach inside your woven black ash basket for one of the rune-painted stones laying at the bottom, but the stones feel awkward in your hands and you are filled with an overwhelming sense of wrongness. Perhaps you should find a giantman. Human begins to rummage around in a bone-toggled woven black ash basket, but stops suddenly and withdraws his hand.