40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2000
This is an incredibly interesting piece of work written by a truly enigmatic and fascinating individual. Guido Von List was an expert in Indo-European linguistics, Norse mythology, German folklore and had a broad understanding of etymology, anthropology and archaeology. He obtained this knowledge during his life-long study of the esoteric roots of pre-Christian Germanic society.
There have been many vocal detractors of List and his work, especially in the decades following the conclusion of World War Two. His writings have been described as "fascistic" and "fantastic". Perhaps List understood better than his critics did that documenting the racial/philosophical/religious/linguistic roots of the ancient Aryans was never meant to be a demonizing process.
'The Secret of the Runes' (first published in 1908) offers the reader a chance to explore many of List's basic themes in a very easy to read format. The translator and editor, Stephen Flowers, treats his subject matter objectively and fairly. Not once is there a hint of heavy handiness of politically correct whitewashing. The work is allowed to stand on it's own.
'The Secret of the Runes' is not a piece of work that will appeal to everyone. Modern practitioners of Wicca or "rune magik" will most likely find this work offensive for it's pro-Nordic, racial themes. However, anthropologists, mythologists and those who study language or the occult will undoubtedly find many interesting nuggets of information thanks to Lists' exhaustive research and insight.
47 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2002
Guido List was a visionary who lived in Vienna at the turn of the 19th-20th century. The most extroadinary thing he did was develope the Armanen Futhork. He also was deeply steeped in the local traditions of Lower Austria, and had much insight into the secret Norse-Germanic symbolism in the archetecture of the Middle Ages. Linking him with the Nazis is rather like putting the cart before the horse. His political intent was to champion pan-Germanic unity for which reason he won the enthusiastic support of many German and Austrian aristocrats and industrialists. The fact of the matter is that the ethos of the Norse-Germanic faith is 100% opposite that of National Socialism. The racist content of List's writings, as well as those of the rune writers of the generation that followed him, is certainly open to criticism. It certainly did color his understanding of the meanings of several of the Runes which, in the light of scholarship in Norse-Germanic etymology and mythology, makes his material less valuable than it first seemed. It is unfortunate that many of his followers still choose to be racists and bigots, none of which has any positive value in the field of magic or in Norse-Germanic cultural development. It must be pointed out that the 19th-20th century form of racism has nothing at all to do with the ancient Norse-Germanic people. It is entirely the evil fruit of church propaganda as well as the stupid blather of Mme. Blavatsky who had a big influence on what came to be known as the Ariosophist movement in Germany. The Ariosophists were just the apes of the Theosophists with a German bias. One needs to look at this ugly chapter of German history with the eyes of the historian. Germany, in the late 19th and earlier 20th centuries was struggling to free itself from foreign oppression. This book is of historical importance. It was had a big influence on later German rune book writers, the best of whom is Karl Spiesberger. Spiesberger wrote in the 1950s in Berlin. His work is excellent and entirely free of the foul stench of bigotry. If you read German, look for his books: Runenmagie and Runenpraxis der Eingeweiten - Runenexerzitien. In The Secret of the Runes, called Das Geheimnis der Runen, in the original, the translations of the Spells of Odin from the Havamal are interesting and poetic, if slightly incorrect. The translation from the German of Guido List to the English of Stephen Flowers is good, but loses some of the beauty of List's German translation. Since the time of List, and certainly since after the two wars, there has come about much good scholarly research into the Norse-Germanic faith in Germany. For the German reader, I very much recommend reading professor Rudolf Simek's Lexicon der germanischen Mythologie. The restoration of a viable Norse-Germanic magical praxis depends on scholarly research, deep contemplation into the meanings of the Runes and intelligent experimentation. Bombastic and heavy-handed spouting about the master race and all that sort of nonsense has nothing at all to do with this tradition. The sooner the students of the Norse-Germanic tradition stringently divorce themselves from this senseless evil and work toward elevating their intellect to the tremendous heights of the true Odinic genious, the sooner this tradition will revive in a positively meaningful way.
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on April 11, 2004
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Made available through the efforts of translator Stephen E. Flowers, _The Secret of the Runes_ is a unique work by the German Ariosophist and Volkish rune magician Guido (von) List. Guido von List was an important figure among occultists and Pan Germanic nationalists who borrowed from the Theosophy of Madame H. P. Blavatsky as well as ancient Aryan (Teutonic and Indian) legend to create a unique system of rune magic. From his childhood days, Guido List was prone to mystical fantasy, and at a young age visited the catacombs under the Saint Stephen's Cathedral in his native Vienna and declared that he would build a Temple to Wotan there. Taking his inspiration from early Germanic religion (Wotanism, or Wuotanism) including references from Tacitus and the Eddas, neoromanticism, and later incorporating elements from Theosophy, Guido List developed a system of Armanenism which was supposedly the earliest belief system of the Germanic (Aryan) tribes. In this book, Guido List explains the role of the runes in uncovering early Germanic belief. An important substructure underlying von List's conceptions is his baptism into Roman Catholicism, which he believes serves as a cover for more ancient pagan beliefs which have been subsumed by Christianity. List shows the importance of the runes and the unique meaning of each of the runic elements. Subsequently he shows how the runes were incorporated into such systems as heraldry, freemasonry, folk tradition and belief, and even into baked goods and pastries, as well as holidays. List notes that early Germanic (Aryan) society consisted of individuals who served as farmers with three principal classes (castes), that of the peasantry, the military, and the nobility/intellegentsia (Armanen). List defines an occult doctrine in which he outlines what Flowers translates as the "biune-bifidic-dyad", the "triune-trifidic-triad", and the "multifidic multiune-multiplicity". List shows how each of these relates to God and the need for man to conform his will (his ego) to that of God. List also presents a system of reincarnation in which Aryan individuals fallen in battle are taken up into Walhalla. In fact, List himself was to write another important novel named _Carnuntum_ dealing with the Germans under the Roman empire as well as encounter an individual named Tarnhari who was a supposed reincarnation of an Aryan chieftain. List incorporated racial notions of Aryan supremacy into his writings and of course was politically aligned with Pan German nationalists who wanted to see Austria united with the other Germanies. List's ideas were used to found a masonic society, which later was to embrace National Socialism. Subsequently, many indidividuals associated with National Socialism and the NSDAP were to examine List's ideas and writings and find them interesting in furthering their own agenda. Hopefully, further materials of List's will be made available in English one day; however, currently this remains one of the few available items for those interested in studying this individual, Volkish prophet and Ariosophist in the late Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 2002
This is a classic book on runic magic. A lot of New Age writers [copy] his occult ideas. The Right misunderstands him and the Left smears him. One of the most lied about men in occult history.
This book is well worth the price. Even though many of his ideas have been used by other occult writers, and some of his ideas on magic are standard New Age rite, it is always interesting to visit the soucre where these rivers sprung. Hopefully, all of Von List's book will be made ready to an English speaking market.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2002
For misinformed poeple, this book has no direct relation to National Socialism and its doctrines. Guido von List has definetely been demonized by modern propaganda and subjective historians. The Secret of The Runes has little to do with National Socialism, and for those who expect a clear connection, with List being the monstruous, unsrpululous racist-nationalist as he is usually presented, it will be a disappointment. However, I still recommend it to anyone who holds an interest in the occult aspects of the Third Reich and Occult Organizations in the German speaking lands in post-World War I Europe. It is, after all, a question of interpretation. It may prove informative and of special interest to students of the roots of Nazi ideology and symbolism after reading Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke's "The Occult Roots Of Nazism".
14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on April 6, 2004
As a piece of history, The Secret of the Runes is a fine addition to anyone's library on the runes. As a good source of information on the runes of the ancient Germanic peoples it is a total flop.
Von List made much of his interpretations of the meanings of the runes out of whole cloth. He lists eighteen runes as his futhork (which we know never existed before his writings) based on the eighteen runic formulas within the Havamal. As we have discovered since (and was probably known in his time) these eighteen stanzas in the Havamal are not associated to just one rune, but to a series of "bind-rune."
If you are looking for a piece of history, I highly recomend this book. Otherwise, get one of the books by Edred Thorson or Freya Aswinn.
10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on February 13, 2000
Von List presents the arangement of the runes as the northern Hiroglyphic script which transcends phoenetics and reaches into cosmic philosphies, which were a teaching of Armanen brotherhoods. (Ar= noble)
For example a certain rune will be known by various names for exampe Thorn is also Thurs etc. So basically this book presents a breaking down of the futhark and a reassembling. A short book that can be read in one sitting.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 23, 2007
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Covers the basics of List. The revelations and societies. If you want to know List or Armanen, you Must read this!
on August 6, 2013
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This book was my first more in-depth study of Armanen. It's a very small book, but there is definitely a slew of magical information, just not so obvious to the untrained eye. Buy it also for the sake of supporting the sharing and preservation of knowledge.
on October 15, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
this is a good source book on the understanding of Runes . Yet it would need to be followed up with other books on the subject matter to gain a greater understanding. much has been discovered since the time this book was written.