Friday, July 28, 2017

The Sonnenrad

Earlier we took a look at the fylfot (swastika) and its connection to, and meaning for, Yule and the New Year. While there is much that can be expanded on therein, it is basic to note that the fylfot is connected integrally to fire, creation, rebirth, the return out of darkness, and specifically connected with Freyr, Odin and Thor. We also uncovered the connections of Freyr and the swastika to the greater Indo-European stream of knowledge, with his proper name Ingwi being of the same origin as the Indo-Aryan Agni, and likewise Thor being Thur-Agni or Thuragna among the Asuras. And subsequently, the mythology of the breath of life being blown into Ask and Embla, or Mashya and Mashyana, and the gift of Vayu-Wotan to the children of the Sun - the Urfyr, or Fa. The rune Fa, doubled and inverted upon itself, forms Gibor, the concealed swastika, and thus the fire-whisk, or creation.

Now we take a look at an even more mysterious symbol of the Runic paths, one which may be thought of as the fylfot's completion and ascendance. Like the fylfot, this symbol has long been honored by the noble, shunned by the ignoble, suppressed by the herder, and despised by the sheep. Like the fylfot, there is much disinformation being spewed about it, insomuch as it is mentioned at all outside of Runic circles.

We are, of course, speaking of the Black Sun. Or more specifically, its Germanic form, as the Sonnenrad (sun-wheel) or Schwarz-Sonne. For there are similar symbols in the Slavic and Scythian traditions as well, though not all of the same esoteric meanings carry over.

What is this mysterious, mesmerizing, and (some would say) fearsome symbol?

We have two streams of information on this ancient holy sign. The first is the ancient lore, some archaeological, some esoteric, passed down through "Armanist" or "Irminist" family traditions over the centuries. The second is purely modern, tying into Wewelsburg castle, the spiritualists of the Third Reich, and the more clandestine circles of the Vril and Edda societies, as well as postwar mystics who resumed their quest for power beyond the purely earthly, viewing runes and solar symbols as wisdom of alien origin, and the first Aryans as a not-quite-earthly people, whose culture influenced all ancient civilizations from Greece to Babylon to Tibet. In some ways these two currents of knowledge are in stark contrast with each other. One cannot truly say that everything the more traditional Armanist/Irminist clans believed about the Black Sun has anything in common with what people like Karl von Sebottendorf, Maria Orsic, Miguel Serrano or the UFO chasers understood from it (and even these did not share one unified view on the greater Indo-European cosmology of which it is such a major part). So the meanings of it have to be viewed through as initiatory a lens as possible.

We are not saying it is an alien symbol from a cosmic race in the Aldebaran system, though that doesn't mean it can't be. We are also not saying that it is a direct revealed message from Odin in the earliest times of the Ur-Aryan tribes - though that doesn't mean it can't be. More important than any such assertions by convinced adepts of either path, is the esoteric meanings of this symbol, in which there is significant overlap between the Armanic traditionalists and the Vril-Babylon modernists, regardless of whatever else they may disagree on.

The Armanist Narrative

The true origin of the Black Sun symbol, in the archaeological record, is likely to be some time before the Migration Age (1st millennium BCE) in Eurasia, as we know that the Alamanni, Goths and other Germanic tribes with both a western and and eastern presence at the time, made bronze brooches with a similar sunwheel design. These ornamental disks, or Ziercheiben, were found in Alemannic women's graves in Germany. The significance of these symbols in women's graves of the period is not lost on people who understand one of the Sonnenrad's major meanings: the Black Sun is in one sense a womb, the mother of all things, the darkness from which creation emerges. In a theosophical sense (and here we speak of "theosophy" in a general vein as the synthesis of science and spirituality, not as the movements founded by Blavatsky, Gurdjeff, etc.), the Black Sun symbolizes the gigantic Black Hole at our galaxy's center, which is indeed the mother of the galaxy, for by its gravity waves and magnetic waves spinning the gas into a spiral, it triggers eddies of star formation, literally birthing entire systems. Yet there is also a chaotic and destructive side to the Black Sun, as getting too close (literally, too oft attached) can result in being torn apart. This understanding of the primal feminine energy was integral to the Cult of Nerthus, for much as this primal Goddess of the Depths gives, she also takes away.

This however was not the only meaning of the Black Sun, nor perhaps even the foremost. Nor was it considered a symbol of femininity in an overt sense, as lunar symbols sometimes were in the Nordic-Slavic centers in Kievan Rus, but in this aspect, more of a primal energy of the creative mother which is a sort of supernatural archetype of vitality for women to seek out. Yet because it is also a solar symbol, and thus a manifestation of primal fire (Fa), it also has a strong masculine creative aspect of which the female wearers of these brooches were also aware. For it is Odin's fire-whisk and Thor's thunder-cross manifested threefold. A man embodying both the Odinic (commanding and beguiling) and Thoric (purely dominant) essences was their ideal man, the ideal singularity of strength around which the Black Sun can rotate. This is a fundamental truth of traditional societies, and of genetics.

The sun-wheel itself has been represented in many different forms throughout the Indo-European experience. One thing that can be agreed on, is that many ancient cultures began as solar cultures before later incorporating lunar and planetary symbols into their lore. The Sonnenrad can therefore be seen as a primal manifestation of solar symbols stretching back into the prehistory of the Aryan mind. We know that some of the earliest Middle Eastern societies to build lasting monuments, such as the Sumerians and the Egyptians, began as sun-tracking cultures under the influence of southern Aryan tribes from Aratta, Urartu, and Dilmun, which contrary to mainstream scholarship, was not in Arabia but rather in northern Iran on the Caspian Sea, which kept the name Deylaman into medieval times. (Notice something about these terms: Aratta, Urartu, Dilmun. How do they carry over into other IE languages? Ar-Ata, Ur-Ar-Tu, Dey-La-Man in Iranian languages. In proto-Germanic, Ar-Asa, Ur-Ar-Tiw, Dag-Laf-Man.) These are all runic names! These are all primal Aryan runic epigrams, easily convertible into Armanen runes. They are also the oldest known civilizations in the "Middle East", predating the literacy and agriculture of Mesopotamia's semitic cultures by at least two millennia. 

In fact, one does not even need to be a convinced Armanist, let alone Ariosophist, to understand that these ancient Aryan kingdoms taught the Mesopotamians of Sumer, Akkad, Asshur, and Bab-Ilu literally all they knew of maths, science, farming, astronomy, medicine, building, metallurgy, and time. We know this because the mythology of the semites says so, in fairly explicit terms. These seemingly divine teachers of knowledge, the Mesopotamians called Abgallu, literally "water-men" or "fish-men", describing them as gods in human form, covered in fish-like scales and pointed helmets like the head of a fish, riding on the backs of gigantic sea serpents down the rivers of Abzu (water-rush), most likely the Arvand-Rud. It is the longest river in western Iran, and fits with the description of the fundamentally agricultural and metallurgic mastery of the Dilmuni people. The mainstream view of Dilmun being located in Bahrain (coastal Arabia) is clearly false, as Bahrain was historically a cluster of coastal sandy islands with no rivers, no mountain springs that could produce rivers, and no fertile soil for agriculture to speak of. Bahrain at the time produced only stone-age herdsmen, not technologically advanced farmers and builders. The mainstream view serves to obscure reality.

While pop-conspiracy crackpots such as Zechariah Sitchin spread wild rumors that the serpents refer to alien UFOs and "reptilians" from "Nibiru" trying to enslave humanity, there is a far simpler and more solid explanation of far more worth to the Runenmeister: The Abgallu were not aliens, not "nephilim", not reptiles - they were proto-Aryans, the historical "Atlanteans". The fish scales were not literal scales, but scale-mail armor, which is referenced in the ancient tales of Persian epics going back millennia before Greece and Rome. The fish-heads were not literal fish-heads, but ornamented conical helmets, the spangenhelm, which were a common feature of Iranian, Slavic, and Germanic tribes in the Bronze Age, with the Greeks referring to them as "barbarian helmets". The serpents on which they rode, were advanced boats similar to Scythian river vessels, and the ancient forerunners of Viking ships. It is interesting that mainstream history expects us to believe that the Viking longboat seemingly appears out of nowhere in the 7th century, whereas Armanism takes the view that all Germanic technologies evolved out of an earlier pan-Indo-European cultural heritage. Perhaps loons like Sitchin spread disinformation regarding the true origin of the Abgallu for their own interests, to further inter-ethnic fragmentation and weaken any awareness of a greater ancient connection between north and south Arya. Weak attempt, Zechariah. We know the tactics of your ilk.

Migrations of southern Aryan branch. The Abgallu were the western migration into Ubaid
As the legend goes, the Abgallu rowed down the Abzu (Arvand-Rud) to the region of Ubaid (now known as Sumeria), swiftly dazzling all who saw their shining scales, their serpent-like ships, their seemingly otherworldly technology, and their (sometimes) golden hair. We know of course that in Iran and Anatolia, they clearly didn't all have the same hair color (even among Swedes there are plenty of brunettes), but golden hair was unheard of among Sumer and Akkad, so they chose to emphasize this trait in their accounts of these advanced strangers. Note that the fish and the fish head below are highly stylized, indeed even the gill slits form the triple horns on either size of the crowns worn by Babylonian gods.

Among the earliest symbols that came with the Abgallu to Mesopotamia was the sun-wheel, and this was represented among the Assyrians and Akkadians as a solar cross. In fact, this equilateral cross was thousands of years older than Christianity or crucifixion, and represents the real origin of the equilateral crosses of Europe; for as the Abgallu took the solar Aryan symbols south, so did their kin north of the Caucasus take them north. The Assyrian sun cross is in appearance no different from the Germanic knight's cross, which was also a brooch emblem dating back thousands of years. Critically, in both contexts the message is the same; this is a solar symbol of divine kingship, not a torture device. In Assyrian carvings it is almost always shown above the head of a king. In Germanic brooches, it is found in the graves of kings. Though not the Sonnenrad, it represents a related aspect of the solar powers, namely the resplendent aura (Farr) of divine favor, bestowed by Freyr/Fravar/Faravahar upon the worthy kings. The natives of Mesopotamia knew nothing of these symbols until the Abgallu ruled over them as kings wearing these symbols, but later as the races mingled somewhat in the late Bronze Age, they wholeheartedly accepted these solar symbols as their own. 

Thus as its various forms, the sunwheel embodies various meanings. As the fylfot, the fire-whisk, which ancient Persians called Gardune-Mehr or "cyclone of light", it is a symbol of unconquerable power and triumph over circumstance, with the breath of Vayu-Vata making man of a higher order than the mere instinctive beast. As the solar cross or knight's cross, it is the embodiment of divine favor and holy kingship, something that was stamped on everything royal to legitimize a dynasty in nearly every people influenced by Aryan culture, from the Anglo-Saxons to the Achamenids.

The Sonnenrad itself is more mysterious. It has twelve arms or branches, each of which resembles a Sig-rune. So this could be taken as a sign of victory. The 12th rune of the Armanen system, which is the rune row culturally most attuned to the same tradition as the Black Sun, is however not Sig, but the following rune, Tyr. Hence, Sig is repeated Tyr number of times. Twelve victories is symbolic of Tyr, of literally God-like status. 

Its importance may also be tied to the seasons. There are twelve months to a solar year, and four seasons, three months in each. The Sonnenrad can be said to compose three swastikas of various tilt, with four arms to each, hence twelve. As representing the turning of the seasons, this is an obvious connection.

The Black Sun as a calendar, with the 12 original solar months of the Teutonic year, as named by Guido von List in The Religion of the Aryo-Germanic Folk, Esoteric and Exoteric.

However, we come back to the question of the Black Sun in its mystical significance: why black? And is it literally black, or simply "hidden"?

In the German rune traditions, the notion of the Black Sun was more oral than written. Even today there is precious little information about it, and most of what one does find is extreme postwar Allied propaganda about some supposed top-secret SS ritual in Wewelsburg castle with Himmler presiding over the obligatory Hollywood blood sacrifice/satanic mass/[insert favorite paranoid zionist fantasy here]. In reality, the original Black Sun - the ancient Germanic symbol - is far more elegant than the hype, and has a mystical aspect little revealed outside the Armanist/Irminist circles of Germany and Austria. The Schwarze Sonne's true origins are hidden in the mists of time, much like the origins of the Runes and indeed the Odinic Journey itself. This fact is generally not disputed by people with a real interest in Indo-European cultures who delve deeper into the past. The symbol's history is far older and deeper than the brief period from 1933 to 1945. Here are a few basic insights.

There are, to put it simply, different kinds of light. Of course in science we understand this all too well: visible light in white or yellow wavelengths wakes us up, whereas gamma rays will destroy tissue and in large amounts kill you. In a metaphysical sense, light also is of different forms. Much like the visible sun - the "white" or "yellow" sun we see - illuminates the earth, the eyes, the physical world; so does the black sun or the invisible sun illuminate the mind of man. 

Much as visible light guides the steps in Midgard, the invisible energy of this Dark Sun guides the inner work of the enabling of the Runenmeister towards excellence in all focused actions. Habit is modified by ritual. Ritual is guided by Immanence (if it is sincere ritual felt in the bones and blood, rather than a mere repetitive tradition handed down by rote). Immanence has a source. 

The ultimate source of Immanence, creative fury, and Will to Power, is the void from which Being emerges, and into which Non-Being is annihilated - the Black Hole, the Black Sun, the Deep of Yggdrasil, the greater universal Hel, the Event Horizon, the Schwarzschild radius. Thus a connection with the Black Sun energy is a microcosm of the Odinic Journey of the Runes, a rebirth in miniature, that informs the soul, in ways not quite intelligible to one who has not experienced the connection, of the simple yet radical changes that must be taken so that all obstacles can be toppled.

Unlike the "light" of Kabbalists and Freemasons, who work only with the low-tone vibrations of material concepts and materialist symbology (tools, walls, enclosures, pillars, candles) which can easily be manipulated, the energies of the Runenmeister are beyond the material plane, beyond either extreme of enslavement to it or denial of it, on the very essence-level of movement behind matter and energy on a primal level. This is a high-tone vibration of the solar essence of resonance, and to master its use requires far less formality and far more intuition - far more Immanence, and this is not something which just any person can master. Indeed it ultimately requires going far outside the comfortable mainstream of "bliss-seeking" and navel-gazing which popular mysticism of various flavors has degenerated into. It often requires one to go against the herd, to risk controversy, to have the spark of desire to seize karma by the throat whenever possible, to burn with the craving not to be "at one with Odin", but rather, to become for oneself, as Odin is. It requires one to understand the cycles of Deep Time, and when necessary, to defy it. Only then can one be reborn greater in any desired sphere, and not merely meander about with one's mind already asleep and catatonic in Hel.

Thus, the Black Sun is the key to understanding not just the annual solar wheel, but the wheel of Time itself, from origin back to origin, or literally S'ur-T'ur, Zu Ur von Ur. Surtur, in the Armanic sense, is not the simple crude fire-giant that the Surt of late Icelandic lore was reduced to, but rather the Eldest of existences, the agent of change since before Gods and Giants began to be. Thus Surtur ruled Muspellheim and fired the cosmos with power before any giants, even Ymir, had life. Surtur is time itself - the march of the wheel of Time. Surtur, corresponding to Saturn in the Roman tradition and Zurvan in the Iranian (and oddly the German Zu Ur von Ur seems cognatistic with this) is the supreme deity of Time itself. From Time much can be learned, but it ultimately kills its students.

From Surtur much can be wrested, but only by racing against him; only by opposing the blind conformity of one's own Age can the deeper truths of life be discovered; only by standing against Time can one rise above one's own. Thus Freyr does not stand passively by as Surtr ages the worlds towards Ragnarok. Odin does not stand idle despite knowing what will happen. He still opposes the decline; for without augmenting the self and opposing entropy, how can one get a better result in the rebirth? What is the next incarnation worth, if the current one was neglected and thrown away? What happens in an age, when the people of the previous one let everything they inherited go to waste? 

And yet in the end, as Guido von List reveals to us, Surtur is really the primal form of All-Father - not a demon, but a prime mover. Odin or Wotan is the personal manifestation of Allfather, whose source-state is Surtur. Though largely amoral and impersonal, Surtur is essential to the cosmos both as undercurrent and adversary. Meister von List elaborates:

"The oldest divine triad to be named is: "Wuotan, Wili, We," later they are called "Wuotan, Hoenir, Lodur," ... and in the Younger Edda they appear once as "Har, Jafnhar, Thridi." Wuotan or Odin is always the First One and his name remains unaltered, while the Second and Third change their names. Even more telling is the third triad: "Har, Jafnhar, Thridi," which literally means: "the High One (Har = Ar = Sun, Right, the High, etc,), the "Just-As-High," and the Turner (trie = to turn [drehen], to wind, not "the third"). The Ases can only shape the form of humanity, and only Wuotan provides humanity with spirit, the human soul, while Hoenir conveys the lower soul or intellect, and Lodur gives the material body. The name Wuotan or Odhin (Od-in = spirit within), however, indicates that its bearer is the most powerful of the three, and that he himself is actually the One and Only. But this singular One is actually the second manifestation of the divine spirit revealing itself through materialization. He is the Second Logos, and as such he is the "All-Father," who can be portrayed in a human form superimposed over Wuotan, while he can also appear in human form as Wuotan himself. All-Father, who is also called Surtur (the Dark-One, not the Black-one), as his name indicates, is the All-creator and Wuotan is his reflection in human form, and as such Wuotan is also rightfully called the "All-Father -- for he is "One with his Father in Heaven."

That which concerns the essence of the Triad of Gods as such symbolizes the three stages: "coming into being -- becoming -- and passing away (toward new arising)," and this is expressed by all groups of names in all mythical triads." 

- Guido von List, The Religion of the Aryo-Germanic Folk: Esoteric and Exoteric (translated by Stephen Flowers, PhD)

Thus, the term "Black Sun" can be treated in a similar context; Schwarze Sonne, or Svart Sunna, is not literally black in color, but hidden, darkened, concealed. Surtur, for the Armanen, is the concealed primal form of All-Father, as Wotan is the personified, refined form. In times of breakdown and crisis, a conflict is forced between Surtur as "Father Time" and the conscious manifestation of All-Father as Wotan. This is not due to any hatred between the two forms, but rather the accumulation of regressive karma (en-karma) in the cosmos due to the chaotic aspect of the Od force overpowering the ordered form in the actions of beings - a classic "Kali-Yuga" paradigm. Wotan seeks to fight this process as long as possible, whereas Surtur, the unconscious and impersonal turn of the wheel of Time, has no qualms of pushing through it to its fruition; a brutal cosmic cleansing and rebirth. Thus he is a wider principle, beyond mere "good" and "evil", the inexorable gravitas of change between higher and lower states of complexity. Surtur does not change in the next cycle without Wotan, the active manifestation, pushing for a change in this one. Likewise, the Black Sun is the primal form of the solar principle, holding, as it does, an entire galaxy in its orbit, but the energy of the Black Sun can only be unlocked by ritual changes in one's actions. The yellow sun we know is only a temporal manifestation, as reflection of its power, one of many, just as Odin, Vili, Ve, Grimnir, Sigtyr, Hangatyr, Hroptatyr and so forth are multiple manifestations of the All-Father, in a means far more accessible to man than the primal mover of the Time-wheel, Surtur. The Arya-aware man is fully cognizant, at last, of the tendencies of Odin and Surtur present within himself as microcosm of Yggdrasil, the universe.

For all of that, the Black Sun is the illumination of the soul, the exposing of the lie of absolute peace and passivity, and the revelation of action in the cosmos, and interactions and indeed conflict between different karmas, different Wyrds, as the cause of all increase and manifestation. To manifest a reality, there must be passion and action. There must be the vortex, the inward flow, the concentration of will. There must be the Sonnenrad, in microcosm, in the man.

Most people never manifest a reality worth being proud of, even to their own minds.

Yet another ancient interpretation hints at the days of Ragnarok, the end of the current great cycle and the start of the next. The black sun in that sense is an actual phase of the cosmos in transition, and a time of both destruction and rebirth. This is attested in the Völuspá:

Now valiant comes Valfather's son,
Vidar, to vie with Valdyr in battle,
Plunges his sword into the son of Hvedrung,
Avenging his father with a fell thrust.

Now the son of Hlodyn and Odin comes
To fight with Fenris; fiercest of warriors
He mauls in his rage all Midgard;
Men in fear all flee their homesteads;
Nine paces back steps Bur's son
Retreats from the worm of taunts unafraid.

Now death is the portion of doomed men,
Red with blood the buildings of gods,
The sun turns black in the summer after,
Winds whine. Well, would you know yet more?

Earth sinks in the sea, the sun turns black,
Cast down from Heaven are the hot stars,
Fumes reek, into flames burst,
The sky itself is scorched with fire.

I see Earth rising a second time
Out of the foam, fair and green;
Down from the fells fish to capture,
Wings the eagle; waters flow.

At ldavollr the Aesir meet:
They remember the Worm of Midgard,
Ponder again the great twilight
And the ancient runes of the Ruler of Gods.

Ponder indeed. For only by plunging to the darkest depths of Yggdrasil were the runes gained. Only in the deepest void was their source found. And only in the Black Sun is there a symbol anywhere in the Runic paths that is both "void" and "source" in one. It is both the concentrator and dissipator of power. Both the attractor and the accelerator. Dark Matter draws together, Dark Energy scatters apart.

And so on.

The Wewelsburg Narrative

The second and perhaps more hyped-up story regarding the Sonnenrad is related to its significance as a floor mosaic in the Remaissance castle of Wewelsburg, a three-towered triangular fortress which was purchased and repaired by the NSDAP (more specifically the SS) from 1933 to 1943 at the direction of Heinrich Himmler. It is here that the story surrounding this symbol takes a sharp detour from the metaphysical to the downright insane.

Mainstream history tells us that Himmler restored the castle to be an occult center for his SS commanders, as sort of Camelot-Vatican hybrid for the 'black knights' of his planned SS warrior aristocracy to use as both a spiritual and political center. Mainstream history also tells us that Himmler invented the Black Sun symbol and ordered the installation of the Black Sun mosaic in the North Tower, that there were allegedly ancient "occult" pagan rites performed in the same room under Himmler's direction, that there were runes and runic shields everywhere on the property, and (paradoxically) that satanic "black masses", child sacrifices, and the entire litany of paranoid Christian Fundamentalist delusions from the "satanic panic" of the 1980s actually took place there. All this tall tale is missing is "Ilsa the She-Wolf" and a few of her faux-leather BDSM companions for maximum tabloid cheesiness. 

The Black Sun mosaic (actually green) at Wewelsburg today. The castle is now a youth hostel, complete with Ikea bookcases and beanie pillows.

Mainstream history does not tell us the reality of Wewelsburg's reconstruction - that Himmler's original plans for the North Tower did not make any mention of the Black Sun floor mosaic. Mainstream history also does not mention that the Schwarze Sonne in various forms predates the Third Reich by thousands of years, and that even in its modern 12-spoked form, was already present on the Bismarck memorial in Hamburg in 1906, long before the National Socialist ideology (let alone the party) was even formed. Himmler never mentioned the Schwarze Sonne in official documents took no interest in the ruined North Tower, occult or otherwise, until 1935. We were not told that there is no actual evidence that Himmler had the mosaic installed, nor that its precise age is not even known! There is also no confirmed evidence that Himmler ever planned any sort of rituals in the North Tower beyond a remembrance ceremony for slain SS generals, and that would have been in the cellar crypt of the tower, several meters below the floor that contains the Black Sun mosaic. Mainstream history also does not provide any verifiable proof of the existence of any actual private SS rituals, apart from marriage ceremonies, which were purely secular affairs, with no mention of the Old Gods or anything distinctly "pagan" or "heathen" (unless one insists on taking an explicitly heathen meaning from terms like "blood and soil"). Likewise there is no evidence that anyone at Wewelsburg combined ancient Germanic rituals with "black masses" or "satanic" child murders, which historically were little more than paranoid fantasies of the Catholic Church, and later, various Protestant churches and had no connection to Germanic heathenry. We were lied to.

The Crypt at the North Tower - beneath the mosaic floor.

This false linkage of the Black Sun to the National Socialist era (aside from the aforementioned delusional rumors and lurid tall tales) lies primarily due to Heinrich Himmler's and his personal mystic Karl Maria Wiligut's misguided interest in Germanic Heathenish spiritualism, Wiligut's own personal quasi-runic magickal system, and their shared interest and usage of Wewelsburg. On a side note, Wiligut had so little regard for traditional Germanic rune-masters that he personally abused Guido von List's Armanen rune row, which was far older than Wiligut's and was far more influential then, as it is also today - in favor of his own invented one. Wiligut also fabricated German history with a false conspiracy theory about Wotanism supposedly usurping Germanic religion from a fictitious "cult of Krist" which he invented, claiming "Christ" was actually a Germanic deity predating Odin/Wotan (never once considering that the roots of the name Vili-Ve-Wotan predate Germanic identity itself). He also cooked up impossible dates and timespans for his imagined ancient sect which do not merely stretch credulity - they snap it past the breaking point.  

That said, the facts about Wewelsburg are interesting on their own merits. It is a rather unusual castle, being shaped as it is, and it is known that Himmler and some of his friends believed it to have ancient esoteric significance and to rest on an ancient site. Yet as it dates from the Renaissance or Late Medieval era, there is nothing to link it to Germany's Heathen past, and all its original decorations and inscriptions were Christian ones. Precisely why Himmler would have attached an occult significance to it, apart from scanty rumors of witch trials in the area in centuries past, is not well-understood. The mundane reality is that very little is known for sure about what Himmler actually planned for Wewelsburg; there isn't even a sense that the various occultists he was alleged to have employed besides Wiligut even agreed on what to do with the place, beyond using it as a meeting hall for senior SS officers - many of whom despised Wiligut. Rumors that Himmler believed the castle to be the original location of the Holy Grail, or that the 12 spokes of the Black Sun floor mosaic represented the 12 knights of King Arthur, are just that - rumors. We simply do not have many hard facts about this place, much less hard dates about the mosaic or other "occult" features in the tower.

Nevertheless, it is important to avoid the tendency for fanaticism. There is a pathological tendency on the part of many academics to censor free discussion of this period or to demonize any symbol that was associated even indirectly with it, with a blinding brain-fog of "political correctness" replacing conscious thinking about runic and quasi-runic symbolism. Even well-meaning academics are too quick to distance themselves from the Sonnenrad, the Swastika, various runes, and other Germanic symbols for fear of being called "racist" simply because the Third Reich adopted (I repeat, adopted) such symbols for its various internal organizations. Leaving aside whether 'racism' in the modern dog-whistle identitarian sense even had any place in the Reich (as opposed to racial idealism, the belief in the improvability of all races), the groupthink of mainstream academia has largely stopped any sort of rational discussion about the true meanings and merits of these spiritual symbols. 

For that matter, even many things that were actual inventions of the Reich were not overall detrimental. The first enforceable animal rights and conservation laws, the first anti-smoking campaign, the first effective cancer treatments, the first regular use of x-ray machines in private clinics, and many of the first national workplace health and safety regulations we take for granted in the Western world, were enacted first by the "evil Nazis" in the Third Reich period. A great deal of technology we take for granted today, from synthetic motor oil to jet engines, was literally funded by the Reich, at a time when much of mainstream science dismissed it as unworkable. Scientists working in Germany had in many cases far more leeway to innovate radical new technologies (some of which we are still just beginning to understand) without fear of losing funding or public face to the arbitrary machinations of "industry consensus" (i.e. corporate collusion). A Werner von Braun, a Walter Horten, a Viktor Schauberger, or even a Heisenberg likely could not survive today in the parsimonious and gossip-enslaved conformist climate of today's western scientific institutions. It's time to grow out of the postwar groupthink and take the good with the bad from every era.

On a spiritual and anthropological level, it is also to be understood that despite the misinformation put out by some Reich organizations such as the Ahnenerbe, and despite the rather ironic suppression of German's own runic traditions under Wiligut, the general understanding of ancient cultures among German universities of the time was at a very high level. The achievements of Babylon, Persia, India, and even the obscure kingdoms of China's western regions, Khotan and Tibet, were more extensively researched by German archaeologists in the 1930s than any other nation. It also comes as a surprise to many people raised on a nonstop diet of Allied propaganda since childhood, that the Reich's official understanding of who is an Aryan, was far more inclusive than most of the race laws in America and Britain at the time. The same Fuhrer who was fingered as "the evil racist" by self-admitted apartheiders and eugenicists Roosevelt and Churchill turns out to be the same man who denounced colonialism throughout Mein Kampf, praised Reza Shah and the Persian Empire as founding Aryans, and offered citizenship to India's Subhas Chandra Bose as a fellow Aryan.

To His Imperial Majesty, Reza Shah Pahlavi, Shahanshah of Iran – With the Best Wishes – Berlin, 12 March 1936
- Adolf Hitler

So an honest discussion of the Sonnenrad in the context of the Third Reich period will have to do away with all emotional rhetoric. There are some texts from "esoteric Hitlerist" circles after the war which deal with the understanding such groups had of the Sonnenrad. These materials are still obscure to most people, and of varying quality. Some may be based on ancient family traditions like those of the Armanen, others are the personal synthesis of powerful authors like Miguel Serrano, in which personal gnosis is difficult to separate from hidden traditions simply because of its author's potency as a writer, and yet others are pure speculation of the UFO/Aldebaran variety. Whether any of these beliefs can be traced for certain to actual Third Reich figures is uncertain at best, as we are speaking of "occult" i.e. secret knowledge that people would not have publicly admitted to believing in, particularly given the still-powerful influence of Christianity in the public opinion of the time.

However, a few basic concepts can be gleaned from the existing postwar sources.

1. The Black Sun in Reich-era mystic circles (not necessarily Reich-approved, just from the same time period) was viewed largely through an alchemical context. This means there was extensive reference to medieval and Renaissance grimoires regarding its position in the refinement of the human soul, which metaphorically was referred to as the transmutation of base metal to gold.

2.  There was often reference made to Jung, in his understanding of the alchemical process as a psychological one of transformation. In this sense the Black Sun (though originally not represented by the Sonnenrad in alchemical texts) represents the first stage of awakening, the nigredo, in which you are forced to confront your "shadow aspects" or the uncomfortable truths about your own nature and past, before a conscious change in your life path can be made.

3. There was also input from non-European cultures in the Reich-era (and slightly earlier) Ariosophic circles about the Black Sun, ranging from ostensibly Aryan-influenced mythologies such as the Vedas, to seemingly unrelated Black Sun legends among the Mayans and Aztecs. This may seem odd given that we have been bombarded with so much Allied propaganda painting Ariosophy as morbidly racist, but the reality is that many Volkisch-spiritual organizations such as the Germanen-Orden, the Edda Society, as well as Thule and Vril, had a comprehensive knowledge of many ancient cultures and their mythologies, and a healthy respect for the Lore of solar cultures worldwide.

It also may have been a common belief in at least some of these circles, that every solar-centric culture around the planet was the successor to a society founded by a few Aryan migrants fleeing the destroyed Thule or Atlantis. It was no coincidence to the Volkisch mystics of the early 1900s that nearly all major solar cultures throughout history were also great farmers and great builders of stone monuments, nearly all of them circular or pyramidal, with the circles tracking the sun's motion and the pyramids representing its power. It was also no coincidence in their view that all such cultures also had a mirror image, the Black Sun, representing the forbidden connections of death and birth in the underworld unseen by human eyes - we see only the zenith of the Sun's progress, not the nadir.

In general these were the primary sources of Black Sun material in the 1920s and 1930s. There is little in the written Germanic lore that references the Black Sun. However a cyclical Indo-European understanding of the sunwheel as wheel of time was seen as important to Germanic mystics, and so this forms the fourth source of solar Lore:

4. The Germanic Lore (Eddas, Sagas, Nibelunglied, Beowulf, etc.) Here the Völuspá was considered the most important text due to actually mentioning a black sun, then the Hávamál, as its account of the Odinic Journey resembles the Aztec concept of the Black Sun in the underworld, transformatively. Where there were not obvious proofs for an Ariosophical concept in Germanic texts, German translations of ancient eastern Aryan texts such as the Avesta were consulted. The Vedas and the Mahabharata were also well-known in these circles, and it is alleged that Tibetan texts regarding the underworld were also studied.

In the first instance, there were plenty of old Renaissance-era texts to draw from. However these were taken in with a view towards purifying them of contradictory and (supposedly) kabbalistic material.

In a text ascribed to Marsilio Ficino three suns are described: black, white, and red, corresponding to the three most used alchemical color stages. “The body must be dissolved in the subtlest middle air: The body is also dissolved by its own heat and humidity; where the soul, the middle nature holds the principality in the colour of blackness all in the glass: which blackness of Nature the ancient Philosophers called the crows head, or the black sun.

The black sun is used to illuminate the dissolution of the body, a blackening of matter, or putrefaction of the ignoble or impure husk in the brightly illuminated German grimoire Splendor Solis, and Johann Mylius’s Philosophia Reformata.

The Dark Sun page in Splendor Solis. Note the butterflies.

In the second view, Jungian archetypes were viewed as tools or keys to unlocking the inner states of man as defined by Aryan societies in the past.

In the third view, the Atlantean theory dominated. The Black Sun became a metaphor for a hidden knowledge or energy that had been lost, leading to the decline of man. In this context, the mythology of the Maya and Aztecs was seen as a far-removed dilution of an Atlantean solar culture brought to its shores by ancient Aryan explorers in much the same way as the Abgallu raised the Mesopotamians to a major world culture. In this, the Ariosophists found many parallels between Aryan mythology and at least a fraction portion of the New World mythologies.

The Black Sun in Mesoamerican mythology has many mystical meanings, among them it is connected to the solar god Quetzalcoatl and his penetration in the Underworld through the west door after his daytime passage in the sky. For the Aztecs there were two suns, the young Day Sun and the ancient Dark Sun, which is unseen by the naked eye, but nonetheless is the greater of the two, and exerts its pull on the Day Sun. Some scholars regard the mythological Black Sun as a primal mother of all, it is both tomb and womb. This way, it is the oneness that uniformly integrates unawareness, death, and yet an expectation of fertility. This is remarkably similar to both the Germanic cult of Nerthus as well as our modern understanding of the galactic center.


                                                                    Entrance to Nerthuz                              Entrance to Itzpapalotl

The Aztecs associated the passage of the Black Sun, on its nightly journey through the underworld with the image of a butterfly. The butterfly, in turn, is an archetypal symbol of the transcendent soul (it was also seen as such in Germany for centuries, hence its presence on Beethoven's grave long with Jormundgandr/Ourboros), transformation and rebirth, and it was also seen in the figure of the frightening earth goddess Itzpapalotl, the "Obsidian Butterfly," that took souls during solar eclipses, while the Aztec underworld was the eternal dwelling place of the souls (i.e. Helheim).

According to the Codex Ríos, the underworld was made of nine layers (the primal number of the cosmos in Aryan mythology as well). The first level was the Earth's surface, which also had the entrance that gave access to the other eight lower levels.

The connection with the Black Sun is also ascribed to the god Tezcatlipoca, son of the primordial god Ometeotl who was a god of dualities (which parallels Buri). Dark Tezcatlipoca, as he was known, was one of the Five Suns of the creation myth of some Nahua peoples; he was known as “Dark” because he was cloaked and rarely revealed himself to people, and ruled over the north, winter, night, sorcery, and judgment (parallels Odin/Vayu-Vata). Another interpretation holds that the sun god Huitzilopochtli crossed the underworld during the night bestowing “light” or new life to “lost” souls whose names had been forgotten (again, parallels with the inhabitants of Hel, and the steady cycle of reincarnation towards Valhalla in the Armanen understanding of the Eddas). However, he demanded blood as payment for his work (which parallels the practice of offering Blot on behalf on ancestors). Before his nightly effort, Huitzilopochtli was accompanied from zenith to setting by the Cihuapipiltins, the souls of women who had died in childbirth, which then reappeared as crepuscular moths on Earth (parallels moths being associated with Odin as symbols for both ravens and Valkyries; a point which Tolkien also made use of in the cloaked Gandalf imagery).

At archaeological scenes, the Plumed Serpent shows a man beneath a black sun within a yellow sun. In this manner the spinning of the sun and black sun shows a wheel crossing with an obfuscatory motion where four black rays move out of four yellow rays. According to some authors, these sets of four rays relate to the four cardinal points and the four quarters, they represent the governance held by the gods over the human race since its infancy, as well as the annual rotation of the heavens, and the universal rulership portrayed in the great dance called "Mitotiliztli," which reproduces the appearance of a wheel.

Now where else have we seen a solar symbol with four rays rotating like a wheel?

Note the solar cross and feathered serpents in the Aztec version. On the right is an Anglo-Saxon brooch.

Triple this (clearly for the Armanic understanding of Arising, Being, and Passing towards New Arising) and you get...

... the twelve spinning rays of the Black Sun.

In the fourth instance, the Black Sun became emblematic of the Odinic Journey itself. For one must awaken to one's own inner darkness, to reshape into a being taking ownership of his destiny. The Black Sun is hence both a symbol of death and rebirth, for before every great transformation and ascendance, comes a great sacrifice, a great renunciation of what has been holding you back. This holds true for both an Armanist or a historical Runic approach, as well as for a modernist mystic one.

It is not a symbol for everyone, but the true reason for this is internal rather than external. Those who prefer a quick fix in life, or even believe that another can offer it, need not pursue this symbol. When fully implemented, it is the Singularity - the point of no return.

The question to be asked with this symbol, is: what do I have to sacrifice, to achieve those things I truly desire? What part of my old self do I have to sacrifice, myself to myself, so that a superior self can emerge unshackled? And what must I cast off forever in order to do so?

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Wisdom in Nature

A Powerful Meditation: Do as Nature - validate yourself from within.

Fortunate is he
who has within himself
praise and esteem as staves;
Treacherous is that
which a man must own
from within the breast of another.

- The Hávamál, verse 8 

"One must flee those places where life throbs and seek out lonely spots untouched by human hand
 in order to lift the magic veil of nature

- Guido von List  

Ar Kar Har Gar. Alaf Sal Fena!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Runic Symbolism of Fire and Renewal

It is a new year, a new Yule has passed, and the Sun is once again on the Arising course.

Let's take a moment to honor our kinfolk and loved ones (whoever that may be for you) and also consider the symbolism of Yul-tag (or Yal-da for those of the Southern/Eastern lines) and its significance with Fire.

Yule and the New Year, symbolically the Re-birth of the Sun as well as the Earth, are symbolized by fire as well as by the sun-wheel, in its various incarnations as the Sonnenrad, the Fylfot (swastika), the Trifos (triskelion), the "Celtic Cross" (really a pan-Indo-European symbol) and the thunder-wheel (equivalent to the Slavic Kolovrat).

These symbols all refer to either thunder or fire, as a vessel of light, renewing light.

The Proto-Indo-European language, at least as currently reconstructed, gives us two roots for the word fire. *paewr- (payvar) is the origin of  'fire' in the physical or chemical sense. *egni- is the metaphysical spirit of the fire, fire as a living force or mystery. This is the origin of the word ignite.

From *egni we also get the name of the Primal Aryan Fire-God Agni, or Agna. His sacred sign is the swastika, which Guido von List also pointed out was known to Germanic peoples as the fyrfos or "fire-whisk" in one of its forms. In the Vedas, Agni's wife is Svaha (“well-spoken”), who decides the worthiness of all offerings and pyres. Many Hindus to this day believe that it is Svaha who gave her name to the swastika - Svaha (“well-spoken”) and asti, (“it is”) with the affirmative suffix ka. The symbol came to mean "well-offered and done!" and its name was spoken at the end of many rituals and offering in addition to the symbol itself being drawn in red ochre at their beginning. The use of red ochre also has many significances among Indo-European lore, which can be discussed for so long that they are better saved for another time. Among the Anglo-Saxons, Agni was rendered as Angi, and eventually as Ing or Ingwe (Yngvi in Old Norse). It is from this name we derive the Ingwaz rune, as well as Anglo- and Angliland (England).

In turn Ingwe is also known as Freyr in Old Norse. This is not actually a proper name, but a title meaning “Lord” or “Noble One”, cognate with the Old Persian Fravar, he who bestows the Farr or “divine Favor” on Kings. Though also associated with agriculture, the fire-symbolism of Agni/Ingwe remained significant throughout all these societies. The importance of Freyr in regards to fire and renewal is clear, in that he is associate with both agriculture and fire – the primal fire of new beginnings, sacred fire of temples used to burn away the dead wood of weeds and chaff in autumn, and the renewal of new life and new crops the following spring. His title Freyr is also represented by the Fa-rune, which symbolizes “Primal spark, Primal Fire”, renewal and and new changes in the Odinic (or Armanen) Futharkh. In the Armanen system of 18 runes, the first rune is Fa, signifying the beginning of a cycle, much as Freyr's rebirth at the winter solstice or Yule, marks the beginning of a new year and the return of the Sun and life to the land. In the Gothic or "Elder" Futhark, the first rune is also Fa/Fehu, and the first eight of the 24 runes within are known as "Freyr's Aett" since they begin with the Fa or Fehu rune.

Although the straight-armed swastika or “thunder cross” is a symbol of Thor or Thur-Agna (Vire-Thragna in Avestan), the one with curved, scythe-like arms is the symbol of Freyr or Ingwi (Agni or Agna in the Vedas – note that this name is the suffix of Thuragna/Virethragna as well). Thus the curved swastika, representing both the scythe of Freyr (and hence agriculture) as well as the curved flames of a fire, encapsulates the death and rebirth (or reaping and re-planting) that ends one year and begins another. Although the festival of Freyfaxi, set by modern Ásatrúars as August 1, is a time of harvest, the Yule-Tide is also significant for Freyr-oriented celebrations as it represents the end of shorter days and the beginning of longer ones, the Sun being vital to agriculture, and Freyr being as much a Solar Deity as Odin or Thor is, if not more so.

Thus Freyr sacrifices himself and is reborn. Yule-tide is celebrated with great fires and the curved swastika or "fire-whisk" (fyr-fos) was an ancient emblem of this rite, a wooden one being traditionally lit on fire to symbolize the turning and sparking-to-life of a new season. The Sun declines to its shortest daylight on Yule, and is then "reborn" and the days lengthen again 'til farming can resume in the new year.

The sacred fire or flame of the fyrfos is symbolic of the spirit or soul of the universe as mush as of the a person. This is the flame of being. It is integral to the existence of the human as a being. And yet, in a very real sense, it is only the central state of mankind - insomuch as man and woman, as the Gods and Goddesses and the cosmos itself, are constantly in a cycle of Arising, Being, and Passing Away towards a New Arising. Thus the flame of being is not eternally or constantly a flame of being, but was once a flame of arising, and will in turn smolder and pass away til it is rekindled. The Eddas and Sagas describe the first humans as a male and female called Ask and Embla. As in other Aryan mythology (such as Iran/Persia) they were formed from trees. The trees are Ash and Elm in the North, though in the South they were more likely the Plane Tree and the Sarv (spear-tip cypress).

It is especially poignant here to note that it was trees that the Aesir chose to form humans from, given the closeness of Indo-European cultures in general to forests and to nature, the reverence which ancient trees have been given in all such cultures, from Thor's Oak to the Irminsul to the Bodhi Tree to the Cypress of Kashmar. To some extent this idea was able to influence Assyria, Babylon and other semitic cultures which were acclimatized by Aryan contact to settle, irrigate the soil and plant fruit orchards. By contrast, nomadic "west semitic" cultures tended to view clay or dirt as the essence of man, and as desert herdsmen, tended to see trees as merely cash commodities with no environmental or spiritual value. Anders Hultgård observes what many of us have long known: "myths of the origin of mankind from trees or wood seem to be particularly connected with ancient Europe and Indo-Europe and Indo-European-speaking peoples of Asia Minor and Iran. By contrast the cultures of the Near East show almost exclusively the type of anthropogenic stories that derive man's origin from clay, earth or blood by means of a divine creation act".

The giant Cypress of Abar-Kuh in Yazd, which may be a descendant of the legendary Cypress of Kashmar.
As young trees these are spear-tip morphs, which bend but never break.
As they age several centuries they thicken and split into halves, symbolic of Ask (Mashya) and Embla (Mashyana). 
The Bundahishn recounts in its first section, the first assault of evil against the order of the Asuras or Aesir, and how their efforts to salvage their creation led to the formation of a World Tree, and from this, man and woman, and  still other mortal beings which could replicate themselves: The Lord of Wisdom's sixth creation is the primeval beast Gayumardh, who was neither male nor female. Ahriman (Angra Mainyu), the Spirit of Evil that dwelt in the Absolute Darkness, sought to destroy all that the Lord of Wisdom had created, and sent the deev (troll) Jeh to kill Gayumardh. In this she was successful, but the moon captured his seed before the animal died, from which all animal life then grew. From Gayumardh's corpse grew a tree, the seeds of which were the origin of all plant life (this tree may be the same as Harvisptokhm, the "Iranian Yggdrasil"), and from the branches of which grew the first man Mashya and the first woman Mashyana.

They promised to aid the Lord of Wisdom in his battle with Ahriman, and gave birth to fifteen sets of twins which scattered around the Earth and became the races of mankind. Some of these lines continued to honor the Asuras and practice their noble ethics of the Solar Farmer. Yet others who failed in their quest and were tempted by deevs and the lure of easy plunder, or depravity, became disfigured like unto crude and uncouth deevs by their own corruption.

This story, in various forms, was already known since the time of Grimm to be closely related to the Norse version. The trees were not simply sacred for the Aryan - they are flesh and blood as much as the soil is, if not more so. So this Ur-man and Ur-woman were of intertwining trees (or parts of one great tree) carved out.

The Eddas tell us that the Gods bestowed various gifts and abilities on Ask and Embla - specifically Odin, Hoenir and Lodurr (which may have meant Odin, Vili and Ve`) - these were gifts such as sense, thought, heat, blood, etc. Odin, however, surpassed the other Gods in generosity - he gave spirit to the man and woman - which he blew into them. This 'spirit' was the Fa, or Urfyr - the Primal Fire of being. That is yet another reason for the Fa-rune being at the beginning of the Runic Cycle. When Odin blew this spirit into them, he ignited their flame of arising and they became humans, not mere machines or automatons. Ask and Embla are often translated as "Ash" and "Elm" - but perhaps Ash and Embers would also make sense - for these carry the potential for fire (symbolized by Fa or life-spark), which can be rekindled by blowing into them, so long as the other components are there. Hence even if it passes away, it may Arise yet again, stronger than before. It was said in Armanist circles also that Wotan/Odin breathed life into Midgard through the Fire-Whisk, that the primal life-force of the Earth was "whisked" into rotation and stabilization by means of this multi-directional blast of Fa-energy that resulted in a spinning fire-whisk. And thus before Ask and Embla were, so was also their home made by means of the process of Svaha-asti-ka, with Ymir's flesh and bones being the burnt sacrifice for the soil of the Earth.

These are NOT Vili, Ve and Odin... but you get the idea.

A more detailed exploration of the swastika and its variants (such as the Sonnenrad) in its esoteric Germanic and pan-Aryan contexts is a subject for another time, but this much can be said in short. That which Freyr provided, Odin put within us as well. Those individuals who feel the impulse toward qualitative improvement of both themselves and their Folk-soul, regardless of what that may be, whatever its current "identity" or base-state, burn with the rare light of Ar-Yr (Arya) or Arising Creative-Passion, to burn off all that is wasteful and corrupt, and refine all that is noble, wise and honorable in our lives - we seek to re-whisk those Embers within us to new light, to reclaim the original form of our own internal flame, which Odin, Wotan, Vayu-Vata, gave us from Freyr's self-sacrifice to mark that first Yule so many eons ago, when the Aesir knew Midgard's first Sunrise. Hence we are not merely children of nature and the trees, but also children of the Sun.


Hultgård, Anders (2006). "The Askr and Embla Myth in a Comparative Perspective". In Andrén, Anders; Jennbert, Kristina; Raudvere, Catharina (editors). Old Norse Religion in Long-term Perspectives. Nordic Academic Press.  

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The problem with most "Runic Divination" books and "experts"

It seems almost every new book you find on runes these days is about ever fancier and more complicated ways to do runic divination, i.e. runecasting. There are a lot of "experts" writing divination books full of baseless arm-waving and claiming that everything they preach is "ancient" or based "directly on old Norse practices" when it's nothing of the sort. One term I particularly hate seeing bandied about is “rune spreads” - as if runic divination is somehow in any way related to the “spreads” in Tarot cards or other such neo-Hermetic foppery.

Whatever way the early Indo-European peoples used staves, lots, sticks carved with symbols, etc. for divination (and yes, I said Indo-European, not just Germanic – Herodotus records the Scythians doing the same thing), we can know for sure that this had nothing whatsoever to do with post-Christian Renaissance inventions such as Tarot or reformed Hermetica. So no “spreads” please.

But whatever you call them - “casts”, “methods”, or something else, the means of runic divination are essentially modern interpretations of alleged ancient practices. Because at the end of the day, we simply have little choice but to take Tacitus, Herodotus, Pliny, etc. at their word – and they weren't particularly honest fellows from what we know. Herodotus is even nicknamed the “father of lies” since there is so much dishonest and divisive micro-racist propaganda in his writings, most of which were meant to indicate how Greeks were “superior” and to denigrate “barbarians” (i.e. the other 99% of Aryan-descended peoples – Persians, Scythians, Dahae, Getae, Guti, Celts, Hyperboreans/Germanics) as stammering vermin only fit to be slaves. The very tolerance of slavery itself as “acceptable” in the minds of Tacitus and Herodotus was in fact the antithesis of all genuine Arya-derived culture, but that is a long and complicated matter for another day.

So were runes ever divinatory?

So what do we really know about the usage of runes in ancient times, from sources other than old Greco-Roman propaganda writers, the rather cryptic Lore of the Eddas, surviving linguistic rune-cognates and root-words, or the (sometimes reliable) visions of modern mystics?

There are no proper historical texts (at least not by modern definitions of the word 'historical') regarding how the runes (i.e. specifically the symbols known as Futhark) were used, other than the clearly altered and partially Christianized rune poems of the 8th-13th centuries CE. The only mentions of runes in the Eddas are either used to mean 'secrets' (the literal meaning of rune) or the cryptic carved symbols encoding them (which we call “runes” today). The Eddas and even the more “down to earth” Sagas, which refer to family histories and more worldly events including the use of magick by known historical figures, still do not make mention of runes being carved on pocket-sized stones or wood “lots” and thrown or drawn from a bag for divination. The 18 rune-verses of the Hávamál describe “songs” and do not literally refer to these magickal spells or devices as “runes”, though the preceding verses are all about Odin's discovery of the runes, as well as how he carved them and taught them to other beings - and thus it is usually understood that the 18 spells which follow this narrative are a reference to these same runes that Odin discovered through his self-sacrifice on the World Tree Yggdrasil. Does that mean that they must refer to the Futhark or letter-runes that we commonly know as “runes” today? No, but it's the best clue we have to go on.

The historical uses of runes that we do have surviving physical evidence for are from archaeological finds such as large standing rune-stones, weapons and household items carved with runes, a few rare wooden inscriptions, votive metal objects buried with the dead, etc.

So where does the idea of small wooden rune-tiles or portable “rune-stones” come from? And where do we get the idea of using them as tools for divination? The answer may surprise you – modern authors.

Writers like Edred Thorrson (Stephen Flowers), Freya Aswynn, Diana L. Paxson, Nigel Pennick and (*cringe*) Ralph Blum, have written many books about rune divination, from consulting the runes to resolve looming challenges or difficult decisions, to using them for all manner of questions.

Did they base their methods on historical works? Unfortunately, no. Could they have done so in the first place? Again, sadly, no. There just isn't any ancient text offering a detailed explanation of portable rune sets being used for divination. When Tacitus talks about the Germanic tribes cutting branches into lots inscribed with symbols, or when Herodotus mentions the Scythians (whom we can tie in with the origins of proto-Celtic, Cossack, Gothic, and some Indo-Iranian groups) using “linden tree branches” as lots for divination – we do not have any proof, in a literal sense, that these were “rune sets” as we understand them today. The symbols are never described in these accounts, nor are their meanings. Nor is there any indication that these people ever carried a personal set of divination staves or stones with them, or any explanation of what was done with those "crafted-on-the-spot" divination branches once the divination ritual was finished. Were they kept to be used again? Thrown away? Burned? We simply don't know.

So with these Greco-Roman accounts (which, even discounting the agendas and bigotries of their authors, were still based on third-hand hearsay in most cases), what we are seeing might be observations of runic divination similar to modern methods – or it may be something else, some other symbolic system or practice entirely. And the Greco-Roman sources are notoriously vague with the details. You could almost imagine Tacitus and Herodotus like modern border guards spying on their “barbarian” foes with binoculars, or playing a game of “telephone” with a long string of underground contacts, trying to figure out what the “barbarians” are actually doing without having seen any of it personally!

So of course the current batch of “rune experts” writing books have to look to more recent sources for their ideas.

Runic divination is (most likely) a modern practice - just accept it!

The basic idea of specifically using Futhark runes, i.e. letter-runes, as a magickal means for divining the flow of Wyrd, and what may be coming in the future, is a concept that comes from early 20th century writers like Guido von List. Already a long-established and practiced mystic and poet, List claimed to have received the complete divinatory and linguistic meanings of the runes, which finally made the Hávamál and all ancient runelore fit together, in a series of dreams and visions while temporarily blind following cataract surgery, with his inner senses thus greatly heightened. It was largely List and his early followers (such as Kummer, Marby, Peryt Shou, Lauterer, and Gorsleben) who developed the idea of rune-casting as an actual magickal practice, using the 18 Armanen runes promoted by List as a reconstruction of the original 18 Odinic “rune-spells” of the Hávamál.

The most basic concepts of modern rune divination, such as splitting the runes into three “aetts”, carving them on small tiles of wood (or bone, or even stone), interpreting upside-down or sideways positions as “murk-stave”, “merkstave”, or “negative” meanings, and even the idea of the three-rune “Norns' cast” symbolizing the past, present, and future of a particular problem or matter, are all derived from the writings and practices of List and the other Armanists. Of course List and his followers didn't make these ideas up out of thin air - they based them on the cosmology and Lore of their own Germanic ancestors' ancient Indo-European culture. But nonetheless, these basic elements of rune-casting are still uniquely Armanen-derived practices. Even if more recent authors and books using these concepts don't mention the Armanen rune row at all (and often they don't, preferring to only work with the “Elder” Futhark despite their meanings being far more vague), they still copy many Armanen ideas. Of course, they don't like to admit it or give proper credit to Guido von List.

Sure runic divination is a modern practice, but so what? The Armanists who invented it in the early 1900s were still using the wisdom of the Eddas and Sagas to design their methods - which is far more than I can say for many more recent "rune authors".

Really, if one wants to understand how modern German rune-masters (who were actually well-versed in their ancestral traditions and folk-spirituality) understood the Runes, these early 20th-century Armanen authors would be the ones to read – not the watered-down books of post-1960s eclectic writers like Paxson or Pennick. Some of these Armanen books are very rare, many of them long out of print, but a few online copies and English translations do exist.

Now these were some genuine Runic authors who actually got Germanic culture.
Maybe because it was their own ancestors' culture and they were taught to honor it?

You would be far better off reading these books by List and his contemporaries, or even the works of his modern interpreters like Edred Thorsson, than the "mainstream" eclectic authors like Paxson and Pennick. Thorsson, for all his quirks, has actually written some pretty solid research on both the Armanen system and the more "traditional" rune rows (this does not mean I agree with Thorsson on all things or all the time - it simply means that when it comes to runes specifically, he has done some solid work, and gives a far fairer and more informed treatment of Armanen runology than many other recent writers). Though it isn't a guarantee that you're 100% accurate to how the ancient Teutons used runes, and even though one could perhaps arrive at other divination methods by looking at runes from a Scandinavian, Anglo-Saxon, or Frisian cultural context, one can still argue that the Armanists of the Guido von List society at least had that cultural awareness, and in some cases secret family connections with the old ways - which many of the eclectic “rune experts” of today (predominantly British and American) lack entirely, and worse yet, make no effort to research and respect.

Thus what you get with Pennick, Paxson, and even Kvedulf Gundarsson in regards to runic divination, is a bit of a mishmash of ideas from both Armanist sources and still more recent (and far less culturally informed) “neo-pagan” sources, which are sometimes in open contradiction to one another. And in those instances the recent authors seem to just pick and choose as they see fit – and then call it “Viking” or “ancient” divination. Sure it is... if you think a photocopy of a photocopy is equal to an original! Even so, these authors are still far preferable to what comes next...

We're Heathens - wait, we're also Druids - wait, we're also... well you get the idea.

Increasingly I see the big internet booksellers overrun with the “every rune does everything” books of even lower-quality "neopagan" authors. These people make even Pennick and Paxson look consistent. You know the type - the sort of authors who abandon Ásatrú and Germanic Heathenry altogether and openly claim “Wiccan” or “Druid” leanings, yet still use rune-divination and try to claim it's a "Druid" or Celtic practice. They also often make nonsensical claims about the runes themselves - such as the claim that any rune can be used for any ritual purpose (i.e. that any rune can be used as a love-rune, or a healing-rune, etc.) even when this openly contradicts the distinct meanings of many of the runes given in the Old Norse, Icelandic, and Anglo-Saxon rune poems (or for that matter the Hávamál when applied to Armanen runes). For example anyone who recommends using the Thurisaz/Thorn rune as a "love rune" is clearly either a liar or an idiot - are you trying to attract a potential mate, or utterly destroy them like a troll struck by Mjolnir? Same goes for using Nauthiz/Not in a love-ritual, do you really want to cast a spell of neediness and potential misery on your prospective lover? Plus treating all runes as basically interchangeable catch-all symbols pretty much defeats the purpose of using a full set of runes in the first place. Why not just use a single symbol for all your rituals, if that's your attitude? Why runes? Why not a sun-wheel, or a swastika, or even a Celtic Triquetra (since most of these people claim to be following Celtic/Druid spirituality, wouldn't that make more sense for their "catch-all" ritual uses than a Germanic Futhark of multiple runes whose distinct meanings they don't even take seriously anyway?)

By the way, if they believe that all runes are interchangeable and every rune can stand for anything, how do these authors even do runic divination? How do they decide what a particular rune-cast reveals? Well, mostly they just fall back on the modern hypothetical "meanings" commonly attributed to the "Elder" Futhark, which are basically a crude mix of a few of List's Armanen meanings, some bits from the medieval rune poems, and a lot of pure speculation. But in so doing, they totally contradict their own claim that "every rune means/does everything".

I have seen so many of these self-proclaimed “experts” make statements that are so far off-base regarding the history and meanings of the runes, with such assertiveness, that I could have easily puked every time I saw one of them in a video “lecturing” on their totally false suppositions about runes. I can't even count how many self-proclaimed “Druid shamans” or “wolf spirit shamans” I have seen, claiming to know the true uses of runes, inventing all sorts of New Age nonsense about “Celtic runes” or Druids having used runes (different culture, different symbols, no runes - how hard is that to understand?). Not that there's anything wrong with following a Celtic or "Druid" path if that's what calls to you, but if you want any sort of historical credibility you won't be using any system of Germanic runes for divination - and to claim (as Wiccans often do) that the ancient Celts or their Druid priests traditionally used runes at all, let alone for divination, is simply a historical falsehood.

Indeed the biggest challenge for Druidism today is that it's nearly all a modern invention - there is far less written history to go on than for Ásatrú. We know almost nothing about the original Druids - the Romans exterminated them in Gaul so thoroughly that no record of their actual practices is left, and nothing has been passed down even in isolated villages. In Ireland precious little was written about them by the invading Christians beyond the usual propaganda, and nearly all we have left is the Ogham stave letters - which may have been used for divination, but are unrelated to Germanic runes.

Indeed the only time any sort of "runes" or rune-derived symbols appear in Celtic regions is when they were conquered by the Saxons or the Vikings! In this regard the presence of rune inscriptions in Ireland or Scotland is not all that shocking, but modern Wiccan and "Druid" authors completely miss the real story. It was Saxons and Vikings who carved these runes and brought them to the British Isles, not the earlier Celtic population. If the native Celts there ever used runes, it would only have been after being influenced by the Saxons and/or the Vikings. The so-called "Coelbren Runes" of Wales are actually a fraud, invented by the infamous 18th century forger Edward Williams (a.k.a. Iolo Morganwg), and are not found on any genuine ancient Celtic artifacts.

Older Celtic cultures, such as the Gauls or Galicians, appear to have used a number of different modified alphabets, depending on whether they were living near Greeks, Etruscans, or Romans. The Celtic, or more correctly, Gallic peoples, were at one point extremely widespread across Europe, hence why there are regions named Galicia in both Spain and the Ukraine, the Gaelic Isles in Scotland, and of course Gaul in France. None of these alphabets are runes - they don't correspond to any Germanic rune row. And there is no proof that any of them were used for divination or even magick in general, or for anything beyond merely writing down information.

But of course since runes are ancient and European, many ignorant pop-spirituality authors just  assume they must somehow be Celtic, and in any case they tend to have a "who needs rules" mentality, and see fit to mix and match almost anything they like from any culture and call it "Celtic", "Nordic", "ancient", etc. and pretend that it is all historically proven pagan practices. Many of these pop-pagan “experts” even try to mix in Native American and Siberian concepts and motifs into their rune-casting techniques, and then claim this is “authentic rune magick”!


Mein arsch it is. It's about as authentic as claiming Taco Bell is real Mexican food. Or claiming that real Italians make pizza just like Domino's. Not that there's anything “wrong” or “bad” about Native American spirituality per se (again, if that's what speaks to you) – what's bad is when people copy bits and pieces of it and call it something else entirely, usually for profit. What's bad is when people claim it's for “everyone” and then try to market it in over 200 countries by mixing it with whatever unrelated cultures they think will sell in those countries. It's not “cultural appropriation” when you sincerely practice a culture in its context and respect the customs and interpretations of its native people, even if it's not your ancestors' culture. It is cultural appropriation when you recklessly rip off parts of it for a quick buck – when you steal Native American myths and claim they are Germanic, or when you stick runes on a Navajo medicine wheel or an Aztec calendar and claim that this is a “Nordic wheel of fate” or some other such syncretistic psycho-babble. And that's precisely what many of these “neopagan” cranks dumping worthless misleading “rune books” on the market are up to.

And then just when you think things can't get any sillier, you have the complete pop-spirituality conmen like Ralph Blum – who are on a whole different level of crazy. For these people, no amount of rampant syncretism and dilution of cultures and practices is off limits. Inventing fanciful rune “spreads” plagiarized from Tarot card layouts? Acceptable! Cooking up a set of totally off-base and fake rune meanings based on random passages quote-mined from the I-Ching? Encouraged! Inventing your own extra “blank rune” and cannibalizing the meanings of Ansuz, Uruz and Perthro in the process? You can be the first! Ripping off Christian prayers and even the Alcoholics Anonymous “serenity prayer” and claiming they are somehow runic or even compatible with rune-casting and a (Heathen) runic spirituality? Hey, why not claim that Odin wrote the Ten Commandments while you're at it! No lie or cultural travesty is off-limits, right?

Blum claimed he completely changed the modern reconstructed meanings of the “Elder” Futhark (which in turn are usually based on a few of List's cultural theories and a lot of more recent speculations) to suit his own feelings and whims, because he felt that the runes “resembled” the I-Ching and its workings and were thus an expression of the same ideas (a concept which has no basis in List, rune poems, or any Indo-European source!) He even changed around the order of the runes on this pretext. Where in Midgard did he get the idea that Chinese culture or divination is in any way relevant to runes? We may never get the answer. We do know that in the process of writing his fanciful and highly overhyped and over-glitzed books, he totally bowdlerized and disrespected both.

He also seems to have ripped off basically every cheesy, worthless new-age psychobabble book ever written about everything from addiction recovery to healing from trauma and fixing broken relationships, and repackaged it in a very thin veneer of "runes" (which of course means his personal distortion of the runes, not anything culturally relevant to actual Germanic rune meanings or Lore).

Seriously? It's as if John Gray and Margaret Murray had a love child...
Arrrrrgh, the sheer pop-foppish cheesiness of it all, IT BURNS!!!!!!!!

Other pop-spirituality hacks have reinterpreted the runes as a “Nordic Tarot” and mostly copied off the work of Blum and modern Hermetic and quasi-Masonic orders. Many of these fake books simply rip off the arrangements of modern Tarot card "spreads" and apply them verbatim to rune readings, conveniently changing their names to "Odin's Cross", "Thor's Cross" or "Freyja's Love Cup" to fool the naive into thinking that these are actual Norse/Germanic divination layouts invented by the Gods themselves! They are betting that their customers only have a casual interest in runes and are unfamiliar with Tarot or other occult systems - but anyone who is familiar with Tarot can tell that these books are scams and simply are ripping off Tarot methodology and dishonestly repackaging it as"runic". These "rune spreads" are utter hogwash, they have zero basis in either recorded history or Lore. Indeed the only runic divination methods that have even a slight hint of a connection to ancient Germanic culture or Lore are the three-rune "Norns" and "Germania" methods, and the scatter-cast method which uses the entire Futhark (whichever Futhark you prefer to use).

Of course since Futharkic rune divination specifically is a modern practice with no definitive proof of historical usage, you could argue that even making up your own rune-reading layouts is just as valid as using the "Norns" and "Germania" methods, since Tacitus didn't specify that the "past, present, and future" lots used by the Germans were any sort of Futhark runes, nor is there any evidence that the Germanic tribes didn't also have other divination methods for whatever sort of lots or staves they were using. Of course the "Norns" and "Germania" methods do draw on Germanic culture, so they are potentially more valid than other methods. They draw on the primal Germanic understanding of Wyrd, and on the Germanic concept of tripartite time cycles and levels of reality (Urðr, Verðandi, Skuld = Past, Present, Future = That which was, That which is becoming, That which may become = Arising, Being, Passing Away toward new Arising, etc.) Nonetheless, you could potentially invent your own more expansive layouts with many more runes drawn, and still attempt to "ground" them in the culture, though that would be needlessly complex as the "Norns" and "Germania" methods are literally usable with any sort of binomial decision or dilemma (i.e. should I go to war today, or not go to war today? - to use a very basic ancient example). One could expand the Skuld rune position into two or more runes if the decision in question has multiple simultaneous sub-options, but in real life this scenario is very rare.

But here's the thing - even if you argue that making up your own complex rune casting layouts is just as "valid" as the classic three-rune methods, that is still very different from the typical eclectic rune-author's tendency to simply copy off of Tarot cart "spreads", whose arrangements have absolutely no relevance or basis in Germanic culture. Interestingly, Armanen divination (which many of these Tarot-plagiarizers either hypocritically dismiss as "fake" or ignore altogether) is a lot more conservative and traditional when it comes to the simplicity of its casts - it predominantly uses only the three-rune "Norns" and "Germania" methods.

But Tarot-plagiarism is far from the end of it for pop-spiritualist hucksters in the post-Ralph Blum era. Some of these writers even throw zodiac horoscopes, Voudou, Santeria, Kabbalah, UFOs, “ancient astronaut theory” and Nostradamus into their "rune books", and at the end you are left scratching your head and wondering what any of this has to do with runes, Odinism, Ásatrú or Germanic spirituality! Thus what you get with most modern self-proclaimed “rune-experts” is pure fantasy and frivolous window-shopping from all sorts of non-runic and non-Indo-European sources. But of course they claim it's all legit since they all use the “Elder” Futhark (as if any one runic system is some sort of catch-all gospel – ironically a very Christian and un-runic perspective).

But "Modern" does not have to mean "Fake"!

Now just to make things clear, despite all the BS that is written about runic divination, I do not believe that runic divination per se is invalid. Not at all! I don't claim that the runes cannot be used for divination or that they never have been – indeed it's always possible that Tacitus was referring to some sort of carved Futhark runes in his account of wooden divination lots – the key word being possible. It's just that the idea of using runes for divination may also be a purely modern one, no older than Guido von List, and not, as some authors would have you believe, a well-established ancient tradition. And to truly be an honest practitioner of runic divination, you have to be comfortable with this fact.

That said, you can still honor the ancient Lore and customs while using a modern magickal practice or format. Indeed this is what the Armanen system was meant to do – the work of List and the other early 20th century Armanists is positively ancient and “traditional” in content when compared to all of the eclectic syncretist “rune books” of aimless psychedelic new-age authors flooding today's bookstores! List and his followers, whatever else they did, were at least culturally conscious about the runes, tying in everything they could find in runic root-word etymology with the Eddas and other Germanic Lore, and keeping their extra-Germanic mystical inferences limited to Indo-European sources only.

What the Eddas, Sagas, and other ancient sources say regarding Germanic divination, mentions the consultation of Volvar (clairvoyant women in touch with the flow of Wyrd), the use of Seiðr (channeling the spirits of other beings to gain hidden knowledge of the past or future), and the reading of omens or signs in nature itself – from the movements of a flock of birds after an inquiry to the Gods or wights, to the behavior of nearby wild animals, to the direction in which harnessed horses would run when given no directions or prodding from a charioteer. There are many methods of divination described in these ancient texts and none of them explicitly mention the casting of runes in the sense of Futhark runes. That doesn't mean it didn't happen, or that the Sagas include everything there was to know about Norse divination, let alone all of Germanic divination – just that divination may not have been the primary purpose of the runes. The runes are mentioned in the Eddas and Sagas as being used for some very different purposes (i.e. healing, enchantments, curses, protective spells).

Divination and augury is, at its very heart, a personal experience. So long as there is a sufficient cultural basis to relate to, some sort of context that on a mystical level helps you tap into the experiences, archetypes, and ideals of an ancient path, so that at least it does not feel totally made-up and contrived, there does not need to be a 100% historical background for it to work for you. But I wonder if this realization is too painful for some people to wake up to. Or if people using “mainstream” modern “Elder” Futhark divination practices are aware that at best they are copied from methods developed only about a century ago by the Armanen masters – and often times they are not even that old or culturally informed.

It always annoys me when people refuse to do divination with the Armanen Runes or call them “less real” simply because they are a modern reconstruction with a largely esoteric source, yet continue to fanatically claim that “Elder” Futhark divination is somehow an established historical practice dating to the dawn of history! (Meanwhile they are usually getting their so-called "ancient" meanings and divination methods for the "Elder" Futhark from those same debunked new-age "Druid", "Rune-Tarot" and "wiccatru" books whose "venerable heritage" goes all the way back to the oh-so-ancient 1970s - shocking, I know).

There is no actual proof of the "Elder" Futhark ever having been used for divination, or indeed for anything except carving inscriptions on huge boulders, and we don't even have any proof of their meanings at the time of those inscriptions - everything we "know" about their meanings has had to be reconstructed based on much later sources pertaining to the "Younger" and Anglo-Saxon rune rows, and ironically enough, on some of  List's esoteric insights. And most of the pop-spirituality authors inventing "divination meanings" for the "Elder" Futhark today don't even follow those!

If anything, it's the Armanen runes that were actually designed for divination, while still preserving the essence of ancient Germanic Lore and revealing a great deal about the esoteric underpinnings of rune meanings that only survive in fragments in the Eddas, Sagas and rune-poems. The Armanen system draws heavily on the Hávamál, the skaldic works, the tripartite Germanic (and indeed, pan-Aryan) cosmology, and the multi-layered linguistics of the Germanic tongues themselves, and concentrates all this knowledge into a simple and powerful magickal system which does not even need to borrow from any eclectic or non-Indo-European system. In many ways the Armanen meanings are far less speculative, in a cultural sense, than the cobbled-together modern “meanings” attributed by so-called historical purists to the “Elder” Futhark, for which no lore or poems survive at all.

Indeed, the fact that no historical runelore survives for the “Elder” Futhark is precisely what makes it such a tempting target for all these two-bit pop-spirituality hucksters. They stick any meanings or divination methods they want on it, no matter how obviously fraudulent or plagiarized from unrelated cultures, and nobody can ever logically disprove them because “you don't know that the Elder Futhark couldn't have meant this!” Which of course is music to the ears of the wishy-washy "wiccatru" sheep who buy their books.

Nevertheless the only truly ancient (pre-Viking) mythology in the Germanic tradition which actually numbers a set of runes, or rune-spells, or even anything approximating runes, in verse, is the Hávamál which mentions 18 of them. This would make the 24 runes of the “elder” Futhark a redundant later expansion. This is the conclusion Guido von List came to, and it was also apparently the view of the Viking-age skalds themselves, who only produced the “Younger” Futhark out of concern that the “Elder” Futhark was not the Eldest, and needed to be refined back to its original and simpler Odinic/Eddic form. The Viking-age Norse wanted to avoid a decay of the magickal language and a dilution of Odinic spirituality itself, as had long since happened with the Christianized Anglo-Saxons they conquered. Interestingly the 16-rune “Younger” Futhark is almost as ignored by “mainstream” rune-casters as the 18-rune Armanen system, which is simply its modern Lore-based completion.

In my mind there's nothing wrong with doing runic divination (or rune-yoga, or any other modern runic practice) so long as you keep it culturally relevant, follow culturally informed and Lore-based meanings (both exoteric and esoteric) and you don't fool yourself that "this is the same exact way the ancestors did it". In this sense, the Armanen system is right on the money.

Essentially the whole issue of ancient vs. modern runic practices is like comparing the foundation of a building to the actual building - if you have a solid cultural foundation, your building will be far stronger and more beautiful, even if it has been destroyed and rebuilt differently every few hundred years. If you don't have a solid cultural foundation, your building will only be a flimsy piece of trash. And this is the real issue with comparing modern runic practices to ancient runic practices - there is no "one" type of ancient runic practices - indeed "ancient" Germanic culture encompasses several millennia of markedly different societies and practices. Inevitably the culture and even the magickal practices which were favored, evolved to suit the needs of the age, and thus Germanic Heathenry retained vitality and relevance because it was able to remake itself and evolve its rituals while staying true to its spiritual roots - something that orthodoxy-bound herder religions have had far more difficulty doing. Indeed, contrary to "mainstream" textbooks, Heathenry was never "peacefully abandoned" by Germanic peoples - it was only stamped out by force through centuries of torture, kidnapping, economic sanctions, genocide, and bribery by the Church and its mercenaries. And even then, Heathen culture survived under the surface, still remaking itself.

Every era of Germanic (and indeed all forms of Indo-European) magick and Heathenry, and even crypto-Heathenry, had their own unique qualities, different from what went before, and different from what was to come.  There were the ancient sorcerers, the solar mystics, the megalithic architects, the Bronze Age bog-buriers, the Halstatter smith-magi, the Migration-age warrior-priests, the Teutonic stave-casters, the Vendel crop-sacrificers, the Viking-age butchers, the corrupt Kings, the ocean-crossing Explorers, the covert Icelandic folk-witches, the Vehmic Jarl-judges, the Huldar of the Schwarzwald, the Adalrunar of Bureus, and finally the Armanen Order.

And during all the time of their development, the mystics and explorers who eventually founded the Armanen Order and the Guido von List society were mastering not just the magickal abilities and methods of their medieval and ancient predecessors, but their own - distilling it down into one solid, devastating line of revived Runic practice which covered every area of modern life - physical, emotional, spiritual, mental. And Guido von List? List was merely the culmination of generations of secret Germanic rune-masters, mystics and orders before him. In many was, he was Runecraft itself!

And all the serious Runenmeisteren who came after him, whether they like to admit it or not, modeled their practices and deeds in several ways after his.

So there you have it. Once you can sort out the culturally-based methods from the totally nonsensical paperback-profiteer-made ones, runic divination is a perfectly fine practice for someone who wants to honor the old ways. Especially if you use a runic system that actually channels Eddic, skaldic, and linguistic strands of meaning in a culturally valid way – even if it's a new or reconstructed system.

Obviously there were other methods of divination with far more historical documentation, but so long as you don't fool yourself that you're doing exactly the same thing as the Vikings, Saxons or Goths did centuries ago, a culturally informed runic divination method (such as that of the Armanen system) is just fine. Remember, Germanic magick changed and evolved, just as the religious practices did. That doesn't mean "anything goes", but it does mean that not all change or innovation is bad. So long as it's rooted in the same culture, symbolism, cosmology and fundamental Indo-European values, modern runic divination (including Armanen divination) is simply the logical newest step in this long and vibrant history. Our runic path doesn't require fanatical stasis with regard to tradition - rather it only requires loyalty to the deeper immanence of the immortal Aesic and Vanic culture, leaving the tradition and rituals free to evolve to fit the changing needs and challenges of the age.

(Beware though, there is a vast difference between evolution of rituals and blatant bastardization of them - I am certainly not treating all the new-age "wiccatru" hucksters or their Tarot-plagiarized methods as an authentic "evolution" of Runic culture).

By the way, the fact that the Armanen runes are a recent reconstruction isn't all that unusual in an Ásatrú context. They are a modern reconstruction of the Odinic runes, intended for a modern reconstructed Heathenry, which is exactly what we have today. And runic divination is itself a modern practice (even if it uses ancient symbols) which at best can only claim to be a reconstruction anyway. And given that the Armanen meanings are still based on Germanic culture, word-roots, cosmology and Lore, debating over whether divination with any other rune row is any more "historically valid" is a moot point. This is why the Armanen runes essentially are traditional now in Germany, Austria, and German-influenced kindreds around the world: they are deeply rooted in the culture, and suit the needs of the time. And they exist, in some form, in the other rune rows anyway.

If you decide to use another rune row besides Armanen for divination, that's perfectly fine too. Just don't fool yourself that it's any more "historical" since runic divination itself is a modern practice, regardless of the rune row used. So long as you at least use culturally valid symbolism and meanings based on what little does survive (the non-Christianized segments of the medieval rune poems, the Hávamál, the Sagas, and the runic root-words of the Germanic tongues themselves) then it's really a matter of which rune system works best for you. Whether you prefer the Armanen system's complete "ready-to-go" set of exoteric, esoteric and reversed meanings, Listian mantras and corresponding Hávamál verses, or some other (equally reconstructed) meanings for the more "traditional" rune rows, any runic divination based in Germanic culture is an equally valid Germanic magickal practice for our present age - just don't forget that it was the Armanen masters who actually started the whole thing (for our era, at least).

And it's a heck of a lot better than following the misleading and confused “every rune means everything” BS that pop-spirituality charlatans try to pass off as “ancient and authentic” by hiding behind the “Elder” Futhark and using it as a cover to justify nearly anything their whims can cook up.