I have mixed feelings about the writings of Stephen Flowers / Edred Thorsson. Often they are wildly interesting. The subjects he finds and the way he works them out. At other times they are mildly interesting. The latter ‘category’ usually includes Thorsson’s ‘system’ and working for his Rune-Gild organisation.
The Nine Doors Of Midgard is a book that you have to work through and report on when you want to join the Rune-Gild. I guessed it would say a lot about the Rune-Gild system, symbolism, etc. and it sure does! The Nine Doors have been revised a couple of times and if I am not mistaken, the 2016 edition is the last one. The “doors” refer to sets of practices and exercises. These often involve meditation and visualization exercises, chanting, runic postures and the like. The book is supposed to form a path to allow the practitioner first to be able to join the organisation (after two or three doors) and later expand his/her magical abilities. The exercises mostly have to be performed for many days, which makes a period of several years to work through the entire book. The Rune-Gild certainly is for people with perseverance only!
As I know from other practical books of Thorsson that I read, his system is not for me. Pretty soon after starting the book, I started to quickly read through the exercises and see if the more theoretical parts would be of more interest. Here and there they are, but also in these parts, Thorsson is often not my kind of thinker.
Obviously the Rune-Gild is not for me, nor is Thorsson as an esoteric author. I guess I better stick to his more scholarly works. That said, if you are curious what the Rune-Gild is all about or are you in general interested in an esoteric take on the Norse way, just get yourself a copy of this book and see what you think of it. Should you enjoy the book, there are references to many, many other books to study next.
I think I have more issues than the three that are new reviewed, but it has always been hard to keep up with “Rûna”. I do not know how to learn of new issues and so far ordering went through email and with a lot of patience. A while ago I ran into Arktos Media that sells “Rûna” and who have a descent webshop. I think #24 is the last issue, so I got my one of them. In my head “Rûna” is a nice Asatru magazine with links to the Rune-Gild, an organisation that has an ‘alternative’ approach to the Northern path. Reading back my two reviews it seems that I am not always totally happy with “Rûna”. Actually, this also goes for #24… “Exploring Northern European myth, mystery and magic” the cover always says. There is a lot of stress on the “magic” part this time. After a nice, but not groundbreaking essay about “Luck, Fate and Heroes” we have a very uninteresting article of Thomas Karlsson about “Dark Initiatory Witchcraft”. Thomas also returns interviewed about his Dragon Rouge order with its LHP (“left hand path”) magical approach and there is also an article about “Dragon Runes” which also smells of Dragon Rouge. Not that I have anything against that order and certainly not against Thomas who did some excellent work investigating Johannes Bureus, but just to stress the stress on the “magic” part. Further there is yet another interview with Stephen Flowers (of the Rune-Gild), an article about Northern gematria of Wulfila, Robert Taylor tells his history as a heathen and the highlight is kept for the end, Annabel Lee investigates medicine in the grail legends and compares the references to Hildegard von Bingen and some other medieval sources. Actually I only like Annabel’s text… Perhaps in another issue the focus will lay more on the Northern way again. We will see.
Click on the cover to go to Arktos Media where you can get a copy as long as they have them.
This is the third part of a ‘runic divination’ trilogy with the titles Runelore: a handbook of esoteric runology and Futhark: a handbook of rune magic. I just happened to be able to buy this book cheap, second hand and in my own country. My first printing is called At the well of wyrd: a handbook of runic divination, so the title was changed for the reprint it seems. Stephen Edred Thorsson/Flowers is the founder of the Rune Gild, “a school of esoteric knowledge based on the Odian system of the Runes”. He is a sholar (PhD) and esotericist, making him an authority in the eyes of some. Of course I haven’t read a whole lot of Rune Gild literature, but their website has some (nice) writings, the Finland header has a blog (PYHÄ) and I am currently reading Thorsson’s 1986 dissertation Runes and Magic. However it is all interesting in a way, I am still not convinced of the historical justification of some of the systems and ideas of Thorsson. In At The Well Of Wyrd Thorsson says several times that there are only hints about the historical systems of runic divination, yet he builds a complete system and sometimes even refers to Tacitus’ Gemania as source, while Tacitus only gives a very loose remark of “lots” and “signs”. In all my ignorance, I cannot see in this booklet much difference from all too wanting, modern interpretations of possible functions of the runes in the past. Nice is that Thorsson names every rune in the elder Futhark with quotes from the famous rune-poems, but when it comes to casting systems and the like, I am off. No worries of course, I will just stack this booklet with my other runebooks, continue to read the disseration and probably come to the conclusion that these texts of Thorsson are not meant for me.
I know Edred Flowers/Thorsson because of his writings in the Tyr Journal and later from his Bureus booklet. Of course I learned that the man is the founder of the Rune Gild. I had no intention to read the man’s ‘standard works’ until I had some discussions with another Rune Gilder. At The Well Of Wyrd (see elsewhere) arrived earlier and wasn’t too much of a good encounter. Runes and Magic is Flowers’ dissertation. Written on a typewriter and with a pen for the uncommon letters, impossible to get, so I got a library copy. Runes and Magic is (of course) a much more scholarly work than that other booklet. It deals with runes and magic (and not ‘runic magic’). Flowers investigated a great many Northern magical and runic scriptures and inscriptions, cataloged them, gives interpretations, looks for systems, etc. Very interesting for sure! Flowers is very open about the level of speculativity, but his theories are founded as well as possible (and his masters agreed of course). I had never seen so many inscriptions together (even though the writer doesn’t give the actual runes very often) and so much information on this kind of Northern magical systems. Runes and Magic didn’t change my view on Flowers’ and his Rune Gild system though. In any case, I can advise this book to anyone interested in runes and/or Northern magic, either or not affiliated with the Rune Gild. -20/9/06-