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The Secret Of The Runes

author: Guido Von List
Translator/Editor: Stephen E. Flowers, PhD.
Destiny Books
Inner Traditions International
ISBN # 0-89281-207-9

The Secret Of The Runes is a work that acts as an introduction to the main body of work written by German/Austrian author Guido Von List (1848-1919). Because List is not a well know author outside of his native lands, Dr. Flowers uses the first third of this book to "introduce" List to the reader - covering his childhood and adult years, showing how his ideas were formulated, different themes over specific time periods and how his ideas reflected the times that he lived in.

This is of particular importance because the "secret" that List speaks of in his writing relates to the translation of the Runes as a mystical, symbolic language - particular, in this case, to the Aryan people. He connects it not to divination, but to the religious, social and political structures of his land. Much of what List wrote was given to him in the form of "visions" - visions that came to him during the eleven months that he had his eyes bandaged following surgery for cataracts (1902). It is after this period that his ideas and hhis work moved more into the magickal (high magick) realm.

The definitions that List gives for the Runes in The Secret Of The Runes have little to do with divination, and more to do with mystical/Qabalistic concepts dealing with the formation of life, elemental qualities, the four worlds and the root names for each Rune.

List put forth the belief that the sounds and symbols of the runes are connected with geometric forms (which we also see in other mystical traditions). He also developed a system that he termed kala. In this system, each Runic sound goes through a three-fold permutation that allow one to reach the hidden meanings on three distinct levels: arising, being and passing away to new beginning. List also termed these levels of meaning exoteric, esoteric and Armanic levels of understanding.

Dr. Flowers has presented some very interesting concepts and principles here. While List was quite obviously racist (extremely pro Aryan), it was a feeling that came from his internal beliefs, and not a form of hatred. I found this book to be an interesting part of the Runic puzzle - especially as many of the devotees of the German military professed a great interest in List's work.

I recommend this book to all who are willing to put in the time and work to understand the writing of someone coming from a time completely different from theirs, and a background completely different from theirs. I certainly found food for thought here - even though much, if not most of List's material was concocted by him from the ethers.

(c) August 2003
Bonnie Cehovet

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