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Runes are ancient alphabets, technically referring to the ancient lettering used by the Germanic tribes, Anglo-Saxons, and Vikings, or to modern derivations and variations on those letters. While their exact origin is unknown, they seem to be related to early Etruscan or Italic writing, or some other alphabet derived from early western Greek letters.
 Modern variations
One such modern derivation is found in J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy novels The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Another modern variation, the Armanen runes invented by the crank Guido von List, were used by the Nazi party during World War II as military rank and unit emblems (the SS logo is two Sig-runes). Rock and heavy metal bands (e.g., Slayer and Kiss) are fond of using the Sig-rune.
 Incorporating a historical writing system into the New Age movement
While used as an alphabet for writing in much of pre-Christian Europe, Norse mythology includes reference to runes as supernatural mysteries discovered by Odin and of course runes are more mysterious than the Latin alphabet that we use. This ascribing of supernatural woo to the runes has led to a considerable interest in them in the modern New Age movement and neopagans, who use them for Fortune-telling and spell casting. Ralph Blum's The Book of Runes probably started much of this interest in runes among the New Age, but then again Blum chose his orderings randomly, created a previously unused blank rune (because there are 24 runes in the Elder Futhark and each copy of his book came with a 5x5 sheet of plastic "rune cookies"), and then assigned meanings based off his own beliefs with help from the I Ching, a fact even other runicists (if that's a word) point out and are horrified by.
The other main source of modern interest is the books of Stephen Flowers, alias Edred Thorsson, a Germanic "left-hand path" occultist who at least went back to the primary sources to get his meanings, but that doesn't make them any less full of woo.
It's just letters, folks. Nothing to get excited about.