Revival of the Runes by Stephen E. Flowers
I have read Revival of the Runes by Stephen E. Flowers. Just as Icelandic Magic (review here) and Rune Might (review here) by the same author, it is highly insightful and interesting. I thought that the only reasonable course of action was to continue along the same path by reading more about the runes.
Stephen E. Flowers and Edred Thorsson
You may have noticed that Rune Might is authored by Edred Thorsson (Stephen E. Flowers’ pen name). Why does he write about the same topic under two different names? Simply put, it is to distinguish between his role as a scholar and as a magician. Stephen E. Flowers is the academic who presents certain topics in a more scholarly manner; Edred Thorsson presents them in a less restricted manner – allowing him some poetic license as well as some room to elaborate on certain magical practices as he sees them. On a personal note, I view this as a reasonable way to distinguish between the works. It must be noted that the style of the books is quite similar regardless of which name he uses.
Rune Might and Revival of the Runes
As you may have discerned from the information regarding the names above, Revival of the Runes focuses more on the runes from the perspective of a historian – Rune Might is more practically oriented. As I noted in my review of Rune Might, I appreciate practical instructions that I can implement, and experiment with, in my own meditations. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed Revival of the Runes as well. The story of the runes is, to a large extent, also a story about the Germanic peoples. Moreover, in reading the book, I was introduced more thoroughly to certain Swedish scholars whose names I had previously only been familiar with in passing – such as Johan Bure (more on him further down).
Pictured below: yours truly in Uppsala, a place of both spiritual and scholarly importance. Gamla Uppsala (Old Uppsala) was an important place for Pagan rituals, and Uppsala University (founded in 1477) has, as you may have surmised, always been an important place for all manner of studies and research.
The Shift From Elder to Younger Futhark
The Younger Futhark (of 16 runes – pictured below) was a shortened version of the Elder Futhark (24 runes) and was in use during the Viking Age (from about 800 to 1100 CE). The author notes that the motives behind the reform of the runic system – i.e. going from the Elder to the Younger Futhark – remain a matter of scholarly controversy. One theory is that the shift was done to shield the runes from the unworthy – on a practical level it was a way for runecarvers to preserve and promote their profession.
‘The newly reformed system also made runic texts more difficult to read, with single runes being made to stand for a variety of sounds. One might logically ask: Why was this obfuscation deemed necessary? Since the phenomenon did occur, and because it runs contrary to the normal and expected development of a writing system, we must assume that it was the result of a conscious plan. Here the simplest answer is probably the right one: The system was made more difficult so that it could not be casually learned by those outside the gild of runecarvers.’Stephen E. Flowers – Revival of the Runes
The author also notes that the Norse dialects became more phonetically complex at the time, meaning that a reduction of the runes was not a result of a linguistical changes. On a related note, the Germanic languages (Swedish and English for example) were more similar (basically identical) during the Viking Age than they are today.
Just as in Rune Might, the concept of Gothicism is presented, and the author notes that the legendary status of the Goths could be harnessed for European nations to increase their prestige. This is reasonable since the Goths left a great legacy.
I will elaborate on this at length in my upcoming book, but what we can note for now is the following: the nations that were infused with Gothic blood (from the Migration Era), primarily Sweden, Italy, France, Spain, and Portugal, would have a certain drive to pursue greatness in a Faustian manner. However, certain nations that were not touched by the Gothic migration (England and the Netherlands to name two) still had the same Faustian spirit of conquest and exploration. This is, in my humble opinion, due to the fact that it was the Indo-European (i.e. Steppe DNA) blood in the Goths that facilitated this spirit. The same Indo-European blood was, of course, present in the Saxons as well (as well as the ancient Greeks and Romans, as we have noted in previous articles). Moreover, as stated by Survive the Jive, it should be noted that there is no genetic difference between a migration era Lombard, Goth, Angle, or Jute. Thus, one can conclude that the adventure-seeking, glory-driven European spirit comes from a more distant past – i.e. from the Indo-Europeans.
Since we are on the topic, it is good to point out that there are no ‘pure’ Indo-European populations. Generally speaking, Europeans can be said to have three components: Indo-European, Early European Farmer, and Hunter-Gatherer. In conclusion, it can be noted that the Indo-European spirit can manifest itself as long as a touch of the blood remains. Moreover, I must add that this is an esoteric take on the spirit, not a comment on pure biology.
In my meditations on my own being, the following thought presented itself: perhaps the Indo-European spirit within me is particularly potent due to epigenetic factors. In my case, it may be that a great consumption of dairy products throughout my life, in addition to other factors, has facilitated the Indo-European spirit to dominate.
Again, this is a topic I will return to later on.
Theophratus Bombastus von Hohenheim (Paracelcus) appears in this book as well. He is introduced as one of the greatest intellectual heroes of the Northern Renaissance. We encountered him in relation to the arcane arts (in this case: magic, alchemy, and astrology) in our review of The Hermetic Tradition by Julius Evola (review here). Paracelsus was an inspiration for later Swedish mystics. In said Northern Renaissance, an interest for the runes was reignited. We will, as we continue on our esoteric path, most likely come across Paracelsus again.
The Swedish Mystic Johan Bure
In Rune Might, the author presents a number of German esoteric masters, primarily active during the early 20th century. In Revival of the Runes, the focus is on a number of Swedish men who were important to the survival and revival of the runes. Perhaps the most important one of these esoteric masters was Johan Bure, whose life is the main topic of the chapter titled From the Renaissance to the Baroque. In addition to his research on the runes, Bure was, to our great interest and admiration, a regular companion of Gustav II Adolf, also known as Gustav Adolf the Great. Gustav II Adolf was one of Sweden’s greatest kings and one of the most competent military leaders in history. Johan Bure instructed the king on matters of Swedish prehistory and esotericism up until the latter’s departure for Germany and the Thirty Years’ War. This royal patronage enabled Bure to pursue various esoteric paths:
‘This period was, of course, also rich with esoteric discoveries and explorations. Bure came under increasing attacks for his heretical ideas, but he was solidly supported by the royal house against any and all critics, the majority of whom were members of the Lutheran clergy.’Stephen E. Flowers – Revival of the Runes
The author notes that Bure’s esoteric works largely remain unpublished today, being stored away in archives in Stockholm, Uppsala, and Lund. On a personal note, I was actually admitted to the archives in Uppsala when I wrote a paper on the Swedish import of colonial wares during the 1700s. I will endeavour to get better acquainted with Bure’s teachings in the coming time. Pictured below: Johan Bure (to the right) and his mighty patron (to the left).
Controversies Surrounding the Runes
In a chapter titled The Rise of Contemporary Scientific Runology and the Re-Emergence of the Rune-Gild: Phase VI: 1975 to Present, the author discusses the view of the runes in later years. He notes that two opposing views came to prominence:
‘It might be said that from the early 1980s forward, there developed two schools of esoteric runology: the Blumian and the Edredian. The motto of the Blumian school would be: “Do your own thing” or “If it feels good, it’s right.” On the other hand, the motto of the Edredian school would be: “Verified tradition activated by experience leads to inner truth.”Stephen E. Flowers – Revival of the Runes
One could thus say that these disputes follow a similar pattern as today – where various ‘woke’ activists try to misconstrue the teachings of the ancients to suit their own political agenda. Survive the Jive made an interesting video on a similar matter which you can watch on Odysee: Good Walls for Bad Neighbours: The Meaning of Asgard’s Walls. On a personal note, I am more inclined to agree with the assessment of the Edrerian (as in Edred Thorsson) school – i.e. a healthy respect for the doctrines our ancestors.
Revival of the Runes is, just as Rune Might, a well-written and engaging book full of interesting insights. At 209 pages it is also not a big time-investment. For anyone interested in the runes, I can definitely recommend it. In closing, I will also add that I have grown fond of the writing style of Flowers and look forward to reading more books by him.