Revival of the Runes: The Modern Rediscovery and Reinvention of the Germanic Runes - Stephen E. Flowers Ph.D. 2021
The Runes in Germany Today
The Rise of Contemporary Scientific Runology and the Re-Emergence of the Rune-Gild
No other land is more esoterically bound up with the runes in modern times than Germany has been. Since the dawn of the occult revival there, the runes have been playing a significant part in that process. Therefore, when we look at the ways in which the runes are used in magical circles in Germany today, we see a deep-level network of interconnections that is much richer, but also more diffuse, than that which we might expect to find in England or the United States. There is at least one German order based on what are essentially runic ideas: the Armanen Orden (Armanen Order). This is a direct continuation of the legacy of Guido von List and is also connected to the Guido von List Society. The magical order Fraternitas Saturni, which maintains an eclectic magical curriculum, probably also continues to have instruction in the art of rune magic as a part of that curriculum.
Ralph Tegtmeier is an important figure in the world of esoterica in Germany. In 1988 he published a book, Runen: Alphabet der Erkenntis (Runes: Alphabet of Knowledge), which made use of the twenty-fourrune futhark system. This appears to have been influenced by Rune-Gild research and it was dedicated to Edred Thorsson, “Runenmeister sans pareil.” Tegtmeier was also the translator of the German version of my book Runelore.
The Armanen Orden was, for all intents and purposes, a moribund institution before it was revived by Adolf Schleipfer in 1968. He received the charter of the order from the then aged president of the Guido von List Society, Hanns Bierbach, and proceeded to rebuild it based on what seems to be a syncretization of not only List’s ideas but also those of the other rune mystics and magicians of the German past (Marby, Kummer, Gorsleben, etc.) as well as the traditions of the Order of the New Templars and the Fraternitas Saturni. The rune magic of the Armanen continues to be taught mostly within the confines of the Armanen Orden itself.
A review of chapters 7 through 10 of this book will clearly show the dynamic and ever-changing nature of the Armanen tradition. It had various phases and faces over the course of the twentieth century. The first phase was that defined by the works of List himself. The next phase was characterized by the practicalizing of the runes in occult exercises as presented by Marby and Kummer. The third phase, quite distinct from the first two, was a politicizing of the runes under the Nazi regime. In the next phase, which came in the postwar period, the runes were universalized by writers such as Spiesberger and brought, in Germany at least, into the mainstream of Western occultism. Following this, the runes and the Armanen tradition were situated more firmly into an overtly heathen context by Adolf and Sigrun Schleipfer from the end of the 1960s forward. Toward the end of the twentieth century, the Armanen system was brought to the attention of the English-speaking world by my translation of List’s The Secret of the Runes (1988) and the first edition of Rune Might (1989).*13 Subsequently, the various phases of the history of the Armanen Movement have been synthesized in ways that are not necessarily reflective of any one of the actual individual phases of Armanen history. Gone, for example, is List’s respectful tone toward Christianity and now present are the occult practices of Kummer, Marby, and Spiesberger, which are quite foreign to the spirit of List’s original presentation.
Another almost exclusively rune-based system is that of Rune Gymnastics. This magical system continued to be promoted through the works of F. B. Marby, as published by the Rudolf Arnold Spieth Verlag. In the 1980s another latter-day runic school gathered around Werner Kosbab, essentially based on the runic divinatory system elaborated in his 1982 book Das Runen-Orakel (The Oracle of the Runes).
During the 1990s the Germanic religious revival experienced a new upswing in Germany. Not all of these groups and organizations were in any way allied with the political right. But since the time of the reunification of Germany, runes and runelike signs and symbols have increasingly been the object of legal persecution in Germany as the federal authorities seek to ban and prohibit what they have determined to be symbols dangerous to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany.
There really has not been a new explosion of interest in the runes in Germany; the original explosion already took place back in the beginning of the twentieth century. What is taking place there now is a slow and steady, and not always smooth, readjustment to the indigenous national esoteric traditions of the German people. In this instance there is a good deal of influence from the Anglo-American schools, such as the Rune- Gild. This is perhaps because the pioneering Germanic spirit appears especially strong in cultural outposts, and hence the vitality of what seems to be a “new” idea is full of a special energy there. This vitality can expand from its epicenter to the rest of the world. In the beginning of the twenty- first century, the Rune-Gild itself began the process of expanding into Germany and the rest of German-speaking Central Europe, and beyond.