Runes first appeared in a text called the Havamal. Odin, the Norse god, finds them hanging from Yggdrasil, which is the world tree. Modern runes are based off of the Germanic alphabet, but vary depending on the rune set that is used.
Modern rune sets use 24 letter sof the Futhark symbols and have one blank tile, which represents Odin, the finder of the runes. Each letter or symbol has a meaning that corresponds to an answer to the question that has been asked. The symbols can represent gods and their powers, objects, people, concepts, animals, or occurrences.
Runes have been found in caves as early as 1300 BC, and are mentioned in many old texts including the Bible. How they were used and their original meanings have often been lost to time. They are thought to pre-date written systems of communication and were used as a kind of Oracle. No one is certain who exactly created the runic system.
Runes were used up until the 17th century as both a language and a tool of divination. During the 17th century, the Catholic Church banned their use as they believed the runes to be associated with the devil. Rune masters went underground, some passing along their knowledge quietly, while others were buried with their understanding of the runes.