In the most mundane sense, runes are an alphabet much as our own
alphabet and others such as the Greek and Cyrillic alphabets. Each rune
represents a sound and was/is used to write words with.

But that is in the most MUNDANE of senses.

Runes were used long before the concept of writing was around. Each rune
is an archetype of a force. People had concepts for such things as Fire,
Honour, Birth, and each of these concepts were given names to make
them easier for us to comprehend. In this way, runes are very similar to
the Hebrew alphabet. Each ‘letter’ not only has a sound and a name, but
is a complete word with all associated concepts.
This similarity with Hebrew extends even farther. Each hebrew word is
made of several Hebrew letters, therefore each Hebrew word is made of
several Hebrew words. The initial letters of several words in a sentence,
or of the first letters of each sentence or paragraph may be gathered to
form a new word that is used to help explain and expand upon what is
already written. The same can be done with runes.
Runes lend themselves readily to numerology. The Runic alphabet is
properly shown as three rows of eight letters. Therefore each letter can
be identified by row:column number. Additionally, each rune has it’s
sequential number identified by it’s placement in the alphabet. Much like
us numbering A as 1, B as 2, and Z as 26.
Each rune can be placed in position on a tree pattern much like the
traditional Qabbalah. They may represent the different worlds or paths of
the tree and can be expanded and expounded upon as much as the Qabbalah
itself is. In fact, Runic Qabbalah is quite intriguing and does contain a
life of study (as do all other facets of Runework).
Runes can be used for fortunetelling. They can be drawn and placed and
read much like tarot cards. The can be cast or strewn and the
relationship of groupings, distance and angles and patterns formed will
tell the caster what he wishes to know.
Runes are also entities in and of themselves. Much like the angels,
princes, demons, sylphs, undines and watchtowers of the ceremonial
magician. Each rune can be invoked or evoked and the power harnessed to
work ones will to enlighten the intellect. They are a fantastic meditation
tool and will always increase ones knowledge.
Much as the primal elements of Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Spirit, each
rune also has it’s part in the manifestation of all things manifested.
Chaos, grass, people, sunlight, honour, dragons, hopes, and sex are all
replete with runes are could not ever exist without the runic force that
creates, shapes, releases, destroys and changes them.