The ancient Teutons did not think in terms of linear time. This mindset was imposed upon them by the Christian church with its concept of a Beginning (Genesis) and an End (Revelation). Ultimately this thinking was encapsulated in the concept of the Christ (the Alpha and Omega). This alien and faulty thinking has had a negative effect on the psyche of the Teutonic peoples, inculcating a fear of death and divine judgement. Returning to our ancient Gods and embracing the knowledge of the Runes modern Teutonic man can escape this negativity and embrace a life of courageous action and purpose.
The Teutonic concept of time appears on the surface to be similar to the Christian one but as I have said, 'on the surface'. How did the ancient Teutons view Past, Present and Future? The concept of time as posited by the Master Guido von List can be formulated as : Arising-Becoming-Passing Away to New Arising and so time rather than being linear as in the Semitic world view, is in fact circular as in the movement of waves upon the sea. This analogy is the best way of looking at it. According to the Master Edred Thorsson this can be expressed in mythic terms: Urdhr (That which has become)-Verdhandi (That which is becoming)-Skuld ( That which ought to become). Thus the 'future' is not something which is fixed and unalterable but can be shaped by the Initiate if he or she has sufficient knowledge and will.
Most modern Rune Casters tend to favour the 3 Rune Reading and indeed this tends to be the one which I naturally gravitate to as within this simple reading we can engage meaningfully with the Nornir, those mysterious divine ladies who give counsel even to the Gods. Who are we then to spurn their counsel? So very simply the drawing of the first Rune represents the counsel of Urdhr, the second, Verdhandi and the third, Skuld. As Edred points out in Northern Magic. Rune Mysteries and Shamanism, the "dynamic opposition" between Urdhr ("significant [real] past action") and Verdhandi ("ever-present point of [real] existence") produces a "synthesis of which will result in predictable channels." This analysis of the first and second Runes by the Rune Caster enables informed choices to be made. The third Rune does not in itself predict what must come to be because the future is not predetermined but it is an indicator of the probable results of the interplay of the first 2 Runes. The Initiate who makes use of this knowledge can work within his or her own Wyrd to shape the future.
There is some historical evidence in support of the threefold reading of the Runes and this can be found in Tacitus' Germania:
"For omens and the casting of lots they have the highest regard. Their procedure in casting lots is always the same. They cut off a branch of a nut-bearing tree and slice it into strips; these they mark with different signs and throw them completely at random onto a white cloth. Then the priest of the state, if the consultation is a public one, or the father of the family if it is private, offers a prayer to the gods, and looking up at the sky picks up three strips, one at a time, and reads their meaning from the signs previously scored on them. If the lots forbid an enterprise, there is no deliberation that day on the matter in question; if they allow it, confirmation by the taking of auspices is required."(Germania 10, Mattingley translation, revised by Handford)
"They attend to auspices and lots like no one else. Their practice with lots is straightforward. Cutting a branch from a fruit tree, they chop it into slips and, after marking these out with certain signs, cast them completely at random over a white cloth. Then a civic priest, if the consultation is official, or the head of the family, if private, prays to the gods and, gazing up at the heavens, draws three separate slips: these he interprets by the previously inscribed mark. If the lots are opposed, consultation on that matter is over for that day; but if they allow, the confirmation of the auspices is still required." (Germania 10.1, Rives translation)
As an aside observation the reader should note that contrary to the assertion of Caesar (De Bello Gallico, 6th Book, paragraph 21) "They have no druids to preside over religious matters, nor do they concern themselves with sacrifices.", the Teutons did have an organised priesthood. There clearly was a Germanic priestly caste: what they were called it is irrelevant. Indeed the actual terminology in Germania; 'priest of the state/civic priest' is suggestive of this. Also the hotly debated issue of what these 'signs' were does not really matter. What is important is the method.
The simple 3 Rune layout can be developed if needs be into a more complex model. Edred in his aforementioned book discusses a 9 Rune layout where each aspect; Urdhr, Verdhandi and Skuld have 3 Runes a piece. This enables the Rune Caster to gain a more detailed interpretation from having more information at his or her disposal and the number 9 has clear mystical associations, being sacred to the Rune Lord Himself, Woden. The layout of these 9 Runes should form a Valknut. Not surprisingly he calls it the The Valknutr: A Ninefold Method. This makes the layout more Teutonic than the better known Celtic Cross method.