Johannes Bureus and The Adulruna - From the Renaissance to the Baroque

Revival of the Runes: The Modern Rediscovery and Reinvention of the Germanic Runes - Stephen E. Flowers Ph.D. 2021

Johannes Bureus and The Adulruna
From the Renaissance to the Baroque

Since I first wrote about Johan Bure in Runelore (Flowers 1986), considerable interest has arisen in the work and personality of this remarkable scholar-mystic. Unfortunately, information about Bure has been rather difficult to acquire. His own written works—which fill many volumes in Swedish archives—have gone for the most part unpublished. Works about Bure are also relatively rare. The first extensive treatment of his life and work in Swedish was perhaps the 1908 study by Hans Hildebrand, “Minne af riksantikvarien Johannes Bureus” (A Remembrance of Johan Bure, National Antiquary), published in volume 23 of the Svenska Akademiens Handlingar from 1910 (pp. 55—435). Subsequently, a good deal of work has been done in Sweden by scholars such as Susana Åkerman, Håkan Håkansson, and especially Thomas Karlsson. The most extensive work about Bure in English can be found in Thomas Karlsson’s “The Adulruna and the Gothic Cabbala,” which comprises the second part of his book titled Nightside of the Runes (Karlsson 2019).


Fig. 3.2. The symbol of Bure’s Adulruna

It is as an early practitioner of what can be called radical runology that we wish to approach the figure of Johannes Thomæ Agrivillensis Bureus (= I.T.A.B.), as his full name appears in the Latinized version that was fashionable in his day. As we briefly move through his life and work, remember that here we have a man living and thriving within the circles of power close to the royal Swedish government a scant four centuries after the destruction of the “heathen” temple at Uppsala. Interest in a nationalistic Swedish (Gothic) Renaissance had already been ignited by his predecessor, Johannes Magnus, but it was Bure who would synthesize the intellectual precision of scholarship with the inspired passions of magical enthusiasm. From our “postmodern” perspective we must forgive Bure his spiritual intransigence in the paradigms (myths) and terminology of Christianity. As one comes to understand who and what Bure was, one comes to see that his words encode deeper meanings than perhaps even he was fully able to grasp or articulate at the time.