Revival of the Runes: The Modern Rediscovery and Reinvention of the Germanic Runes - Stephen E. Flowers Ph.D. 2021
Adulruna: The Priestly Office
From the Renaissance to the Baroque
The third section of Adulruna Rediviva deals with the office of the pastor or priest. This section is an extensive commentary on a cruciform arrangement of adulrunor widely used by Bure, yet seldom fully explained. The symbol appears as depicted in figure 3.8. Note the three crowns arrayed at the top of the cross and above each side of its horizontal beam.
Fig. 3.8. The cruciform symbol of the priestly office
The mythical priest-figure Byrger, who is said by Bure to have been an originator of the runic system, is used as an archetype of the ancient priesthood. Byrger illustrates the seven eternal adulrunor in a cruciform arrangement according to the seven days of the week.
Each of these is shown to correspond to the image of the crucifix—the image of Jesus Christ (= Byrger) hanging on the cross—as shown in table 3.2.
This esoteric runic information is combined with the words of Jesus: “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). The practice of “taking up the cross” is equated with the daily meditations known as the Stations of the Cross. This, like other Christian forms of practice and belief, was seen as something that actually belonged to the original faith predating the time of the historical Jesus.
Although Bure’s melding of mystical Christian and runic iconography may seem at first to be indicative of his subjectivist approach, one should not be so quick to judge his ideas harshly. Studies have more recently shown the degree to which early medieval Christianity was in fact “Germanized” centuries before the first Christians ever came to Sweden (see Russell 1994).
Bure maintains that Thursday is considered by Swedes to be the holiest of days. He takes this as an indication that the secret spiritual heritage of the Swedes (embodied in the adulrunor) antedates that of the Jews (whose holy day is Saturday) or the Christians (whose holy day is Sunday). Bure traces the Swedish tradition back to King Ninus of Babel, who established the holiness of Thursday in memory of his father, Bel, who is identified with Jupiter (Jove = Jehovah). From this primeval time until the coming of Roman Christianity, the Swedes had kept their holiest day as Thursday.
There are two groups of four runes each, which form the actual cross under the body of Byrger/Christ—one group of four runes horizontally across the arms, the other vertically along the length of the body. The runes positioned across are (RUNA) = literatura, experientia (because runa is, according to Bure, derived from rön, “experience”).*5 These adulrunor can also be combined as follows:
to form an image of grace and honor opening a gate to eternal peace and rest. These same four runes are also significantly combined as (AURN) = örn, aquila—the eagle. These are equated with the eagle standards of Caesar Tiberius, which represented Gothic soldiers from the Pontus under Pilatus. The runes that form the vertical beam are —which Bure says can be read as PIGKind = virginis filius (“son of the virgin”). He comments that the sequence shows the “son of the virgin,” the righteous guide, leading his followers out of bondage (the “fetter-hut”) by means of ider (repentance) through the embrace of the all-containing ᛡ (a combination of ᚾ grace and ᛅ honor) and throughout into the highest level of freedom in .
So the vertical column describes the initiation of an individual from a state of bondage to one of liberation, while the crossbeam is the experience (rön) of the mystery (runa) of the world.
Four adulrunor are identified as the shepherd runes as depicted here and that guard an inner seven, which is identified as the flock. The shepherd runes consist of the divine trinity Thor—Odin—Frigg () along with , which is the valor of the shepherd. The image of the is likened to the breasts of the maiden, which feed the shepherd, as well as to the double doors of a sheep pen for the entrance and exit of a flock. The runes signifying the “flock” are shown in figures 3.9 and 3.10.
Fig. 3.9 and Fig. 3.10. The seven cruciform runes and the sevenfold Holy Spirit
From these seven cruciform runes (fig. 3.9) is formed a glyph (fig. 3.10) that signifies the sevenfold Holy Spirit united with the Word of God. These runes can be arranged from above to below to form the phrase = gæghn mis = ocurre mihi (run to meet me). This is the voice of the one who calls from above, and those who answer from below call out sim äghn k(ynd) = simus possessionis filij, quasi unus (we are of the property of the Son, as if one). Note that is here read by Bure as an ideographic rune and that the formula is created by reading the seven runes from the bottom upward, reversing the order of the original “call.”
The remaining four runes at the outermost arms of the cross are = trol(l) (trolls), the “evil spirits,” daemons—indicating the spiritual wolves that seek to scatter and gobble up the flock. At first these wolves seem to entice the flock with both and (time and space, tid och lag)—and then they drive members of the flock down into the infernal regions with a three-pronged fork ᛣ (trident). The reversal of this formula is (lort) [Sw. lort, “dirt, filth, muck”] defraudatorum symbolum (sign of the deceived)—those who have been lured by the trap and snares.
Bure has the mystical Byrger lay out the adulrunor in two groups: a horizontal one of nine staves and a vertical one consisting of seven staves. The horizontal row defines the two outstretched arms of him who calls (kallare), and on the “caller’s” heart stands the ᚼ, which radiates sacrality. On the right arm stand the signs (= NORD). At first glance this reads nord (north), but Bure interprets the initial rune as an ideograph: N(ådens)ORD/N(ödens)ORD = Word of Grace/Word of Need. Read in reverse, this yields tron, meaning fides (faith). On the left arm we find the runes , which can be read äful, “permanent fullness.” But this, too, can be interpreted with an initial ideograph ᛅ (äro, “glory”), thus Ä(ro)FUL = “glorious.” Bure reasons that since the “caller’s” right arm is God’s Word, then it follows that the left arm must be the Holy Spirit: because without these two, he says, no one could be called or follow.
The runes (lof) can also be read as meaning “praise,” but, according to Bure’s esoteric reading, these signs should be understood as (lyf) = “love.” From lyf Bure alternatively reads l(i)uf—ful , which refers to faithfulness—with all its legal hooks and bitter barbs ᛚ, and also to the gospels and the grace-full horn of oil .
The group of seven staves depicts the “collector’s” vertical body, the head of which is , while the feet are . Between these extremes, however, are the five-runged ladder (see next page).
On the downward climb the “caller” began in Thor’s stave and completed the journey in byrgall—and there the ones who have been called are to turn around and begin their ascent up the ladder. In Thor () the return journey is complete. The descent begins by passing through doors from which all good gifts come. The first rung is —the highest realm of the Father. The second is ᚼ (hagal)—the one that completes the Father’s will. The third is ᛉ (man, manna), which is the heavenly bread. The fourth is ᛁ (ider), which is repentance as the result of sin (guilt). The fifth is , which shows the rays of the sun—take note of temptation (Rev. 16:8), the sun does the same (Luke 22:31). The one who is in is sitting in fetters or bonds, being threatened with death. The savior wishes that all those who doubt will come to know that life is the great reward.
The shepherd himself made the ascent into heaven along the ladder of staves described here.
Fig. 3.11. The ascent to heaven
Figure 3.11 shows the immeasurable power received by those who have been united with God.