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The Book of Runes: A Handbook for the Use of an Ancient Oracle: The Viking Runes with Stones: 10th Anniversary Edition Hardcover – Deluxe Edition, August 15, 1993

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 10th Anniversary edition edition (August 15, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312097581
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312097585
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.2 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #448,861 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"The Runes are one of the world's greatest spiritual resources. They always speak to us from the depths of our own hearts." --Marianne Williamson, author of A Return to Love

"A guidepost for our dark and troubled times." --Seattle Times

"Its wisdom is remarkable." --San Francisco Chronicle

About the Author

Cultural anthropologist, writer, and publisher Ralph H. Blum has been working with and teaching the Viking Runes as a tool for self-counseling since 1977.

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Customer Reviews

The runes are Germanic/Norse, not Celtic.
Wyatt C. Kaldenberg
I've read other books on runes and am much more comfortable with Ralph Blum's version of both stones and book.
The Runes have changed my life and I would recommend this book to anyone.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

131 of 151 people found the following review helpful By Linda J. Barrett on November 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I discovered this little book about 8 years ago, at a time in my life when I needed to seek answers from deep within myself. I had tried the Tarot and several other methods of divination, but none of them really clicked with me. However, I immediately felt comfortable with the runes and Ralph Blums book on the subject. Now, as you read some of the other reviews, you will find several people who truly detest Mr. Blum's work and see it as an affront to "true runic masters". That's all well and good, but I would guess that the vast majority of people contemplating purchasing this book are anything but runic masters and just want a written source that will give them a good start. If you are one of those individuals, then this is the book for you. As for the rune stones themselves...okay, they are not works of art, but they serve the purpose...and in the end, that is all that matters. Yes, you undoubtably will want to make your own at some point, but probably not in the beginning, and that's fine. These little stones, as crude as they may be, will do the trick. I have found great wisdom in the messages of these runes and a greater understanding of my own inner world. This book is a great tool in the quest for spiritual awakening. I have recently felt the need for a more in depth understanding of the runes and have discovered Edred Thorsson's books on the subject. He is definitely a runic master of the highest order and I would recommend him to anyone who already has an understanding of the rune stones and is ready to move to another level. But, Mr. Blum's book is an excellent resource as well and I wouldn't hesitate for a moment in recommending it.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By P. E. Johnson on December 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Yes, this book comes with a set of runes. That's the upside. The reason this book causes so much controversy is that some of us are Asatru, we actually believe in the Traditional Northern European religion. To us, the story of Odin hanging from the world tree to uncover the runes is like Jesus walking on water to Christians. So when man from some other faith comes along, takes our ethnic divination system, changes the esoterically significant order, fumbles the divine meanings, and creates new parts (e.g. the blank rune), well you can see why some of us would be a little put off by this. If you are a student of Norse culture, an Asatruar, or looking for a spiritual tool that resonates with the Ancient Tuetonic soul then I would suggest ignoring this book. Try Edred Thorsson instead.
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37 of 42 people found the following review helpful By S. Plowright on April 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book should be part of any collection for those interested in the recent (c 1980) revival of interest in the runes. It is still the highest selling rune book, but also one of the least researched.

When it was first published, the academic sources were not very available to the public, although they would have been available to Blum had he made the effort. Instead, he created a simple divination system, based more on his own readings of the I Ching than the known historical sources of runic knowledge.

There is a wealth of information in the old rune poems, and in the original futhark ordering of the runes. Blum ignores both. However, at least Blum never claimed to be reconstructing an old system. On the other hand, unfortunately, most of his readers assume that there is some real historical content in the book.

For those who are looking for an esoteric book about runes based on the real available historical knowledge, this is certainly not it. Try these instead:

Rudiments of Runelore

Runic Amulets and Magic Objects
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58 of 69 people found the following review helpful By "cybercorpse" on November 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Blum's book was my first exposure to "nordic" runes. I bought it after being intrigued seeing one of the Irish character's on the TV show Earth Final Conflict using runes. My girlfriend had just bought her own set and commented that she had "played" with them many years ago and found them enlightening. I was intrigued.
I enjoyed the book, and it was a very easy read. As all others have written it comes with a bag and the rune stones (ceramic). The stones are brittle, and I actually broke one pulling it out of the plastic shipping case, so I advise caution handling them.
Web searches and Dejanews searches of runes find much criticism about Blum and his interpretations. I'd like to give my thoughts on some of the critiques:
I didn't notice a heavy Christian slant into his interpretations of the meanings, but I haven't read the references most of the naysayers cite as being better. Any spiritual undertaking must be a personal journey, and I believe that if there is any truth to any of the many methods available (tarot, numerology, astrology, runes, i-ching, even prayer to a god) that our own personal psyche and psychic influences play into the journey. With Blum's interpretations as all I know for reading runes, I believe that my own guides on my journey influence the runes drawn and placed to meet the interprations that are appropriate for me. (Example, on the same reading, if I told myself that I would be using Blum's interpretations I would draw a different set of runes than if I were to state up front that I would use some more traditional meanings.) Do the naysayers really place so little faith in the power of runes that they would believe that whatever power influences them would allow a misinterpretation simply because we'd read Blums' book?
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