I had never (consciously) heard of Johan Bure until he was mentioned in the second volume of the Tyr magazine (reviewed elsewhere) where also an add for a book about this Swede was present. The man seems to combine two interests of mine: Renaissance esotericism and Norse religion/mythology. Searching the internet didn’t result in much valuable information, so I decided to see if I could get the anounced book. Amazon doesn’t have it, the American publisher asks very much money for postage and shipping and in the end I have been able to get a copy (along with some other material) from “Chaos International”, a UK publisher in which Ian Read of the Tyr magazine (and the band Fire + Ice) is involved.
The book under review is a small A5 photocopied booklet of about 30 pages. It contains the elemental information about Johan Bure (1568-1652) and the booklet itself focusses mainly on the man’s “grand opus” about the Adal Runa. Bure proves to be a highly interesting person from a highly interesting time. Johannes Thomæ Agrivillensis Bureus (as his complete Latinsed name is) was born and raised in in Lutheran environment Sweden. Being part of the Renaissance of Northern Europe, he first found himself learning a variety of languages (such as Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Arabian), being introduced to medieval magic, Kabbala, the early Rosicrucian movement and the theology of his time. He was born in no other place than Uppsala which we of course know for having been the primal place for religious practises in Northern Europe in antiquity. Bureus was therefor very familiar with the past of his region and eventually was caught by one of the many runestones in his surroundings. He started to focus on the ‘pagan past’ of his ancestors and eventually develloped (or ‘discovered’ as he would have called it) the system of the “Adalruna”.
Before the time the Eddas where officially discovered (however they may be circulated as manuscripts before), Bureus was one of the first people to investigate and write about the religion and mythology of our ancestors and the runes. About the runes Bureus said that there were the ‘normal’ runes that we are quite familiar with, but also a system of “noble” runes (“Adalruna”) which were their magical counterparts. The knowledge of the Adalruna has faded, but Bureus has tried to reconstruct the system.
This system is a strange mixture between Kabbalistic practises, a minor drop of Hermeticism, some medieval magic, but most of all the Christianity of his time. Flowers gives the basis of the system of the Adalruna, but this I can’t describe in a few words. Bureus makes figures with the runes and interprets these esoterically.
By far most of the work of Bureus is unpublished or even unknown. Much is left to investigate and the man is interesting enough for a serious study. It seems that a person called Susanna Í…kerman is going to be the person for this task. She is not yet in the bibliography of this 1998 booklet, but in the latest “Rûna magazine” she is mentioned in the bibliography of an article about Bureus’ system. She has written a book called Rose Cross over the Baltic: the spread of Rosicrucianism in Northern Europe (1998) and the text of her lecture at the IAHR conference in Durban, South-Africa, 2000 would have the title The use of Kabbalah and Dee’s Monas in Johannes Bureus’s Rosicrucian papers and be published by two heads of the only two Hermetic university chairs in the world: Antoine Faivre (Paris) and Wouter Hanegraaff (Amsterdam) in the conference booklet. As far as I know Í…kerman’s lecture was about the midnight-lion of the North in Bureus’ Rosicrucian papers. -9/1/05-
For articles about Bureus see here.