The Runic Renewal

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

The Runic Renewal


In May of 1945 the Third Reich underwent its final death throes. Germany was in ruins, but the spirit to rebuild the country in a new way was strong. Those who survived the war would take some years to reorient themselves before they could again take up their old interests. In the case of the runes themselves, they had become closely associated with the National Socialist regime simply because runic images were so widely used in Nazi insignia. Few people had any awareness of Himmler’s private obsessions or the quasi-esoteric studies of the Ahnenerbe. But the runes did have to be reenvisioned in much of the public eye in order to separate them from their conspicuous association with National Socialism.

No one did more in this effort to “rehabilitate” the runes in Germany’s esoteric and occult subculture than Karl Spiesberger (1904—1992). Spiesberger trained as an actor in Vienna. In 1932 he made his way to Berlin, which at the time was the center of world filmmaking. He was a student of hypnosis and other occult arts when he arrived. In Berlin, he became friends with the Grand Master of an occult order known as the Fraternitas Saturni (Brotherhood of Saturn) named Gregor A. Gregorius (= Eugen Grosche). In 1948 Spiesberger was finally initiated into the order, taking the lodge-name of Frater Eratus.

In the 1950s Spiesberger wrote two important contributions to the esoteric runic traditions: Runenmagie (Rune Magic) in 1955 and Runenexerzitien für Jedermann (Rune Excercises for Everyone) in 1958. In these works, he presented the esoteric Armanen tradition as founded by Guido von List, but he incorporated ideas and practices developed by Marby, Kummer, and others. He also tried to purge the tradition of what was perceived to be racialist aspects and position what he was teaching within what might be termed a “pansophical,” or eclectic, context.

A comparison between the contents of table 7.1 in chapter 7 (see here) and table 9.1 below will show the dynamism of the Armanen rune meanings and how these meanings evolved over just a few decades. Although List founded and shaped the original Armanen system, it did not remain simply a replication of his ideas; rather, several other writers contributed to its character and content. The main influence for the evolution of the runic symbolic values stems from the world of practical occultism and esoteric physics as expressed in the works of F. B. Marby, S. A. Kummer, Friedrich Teltscher, Emil Rüdiger, and Karl Spiesberger.

Another exponent of the new runic revival was Roland Dionys Jossé (birth and death dates unknown), who published a work, also in 1955, called Die Tala der Raunen: Runo-astrologische Kabbalistik (The Numeric Interpretation of the Runes: Runo-astrological Kabbalism). In this work he made use of the sixteen-rune futhark, which was a major historical departure for the practice of runic esotericism in Germany. Jossé rightly assumed that the seventeeth and eighteenth runes of the Hávamál (taken up by List as gospel) were actually additional runes lying outside the numerological system. Jossé presented a complex but highly workable numerology and a system of astrology based on the formula of sixteen.


Jossé presented a system for transliterating names into the sixteen runes of the futhark in the following way. This table accounts for sounds in Norse, German, and English.


Jossé’s numerology involves first transliterating a person’s name into the sixteen runes of the Younger Futhark, then reducing it to a key number by units of 16, and finally adding the remainder until a number below 16 (or 18) is reached. For example, the name Aelfric Avery would be treated in the following manner:


= 81 = 16 × 5 + 1 = 6

That is, there are five units of 16 in the sum of the numerical values of the name (16 × 5), with one left over. These are added to the number of units to arrive at the key number of the name, which is 6. Therefore, the key-rune for this individual, according to this system, would be the Kaun-rune, which Jossé interprets with the Listian motto: “Your blood, your highest possession.” This rune, or Raune,*10 as Jossé called it, is also connected with the idea of artistry and a deep concern with beauty.

As far as the great number of personalities involved in esoteric runology in the pre-Nazi period are concerned, only one seems to have weathered the storms of war: F. B. Marby. Although he had been persecuted by the Nazis and even imprisoned in Dachau, he was given no compensation for his losses by the Allies, as he was judged to have been a Nazi supporter. At least he was not re-imprisoned by the new authorities! Marby began to republish his material from the early 1930s and reestablished himself as a figure in postwar esoteric circles in Germany. In 1957 he came out with what is perhaps his greatest work, Die drei Schwäne (The Three Swans), which had been completed before his arrest by the Nazis in 1936. This book is a kind of mystical autobiography, and, as published in 1957, it contains copious notes and commentaries by the author that make it invaluable for understanding the Marbyan system.