Personal Gnosis – J.R.R. Tolkien and Guido von List

The Armanen Futhark, which was the only known Futhark at the time of the early Germanic Runic Revival, and which was an essential part of the spark and impulse of all that flowed therefrom, came not from some fragmented and debatable ancient text, but like Tolkien’s inspired mythos, from the Personal Gnosis of a master.

I’m about to reread The Silmarillion, and I want to explain why.

I had of course read Tolkien as a child, and since I was reading him, I guess, in the early 1970’s, I, like the many others of my generation and the ones just around it, had the fortune of being exposed to a pure source of genuine vision in the form of fantasy before the vision was watered, contorted and mangled by both sincere imitators and infiltrators, disinformationists. Of course I didn’t know what I held it my hands when I had those books, but even today certain personal visions from moments experienced reading them remain with me: the genuine fear experienced by the Hobbits as they hide from their first Black Rider. The vision of the corruption of the forests, which recurs more and more to me as I look about my declining world today. The nasty, depraved humanness of the cleansing of the Shire. And of course so much more.

Tolkien, as a body of work, works with us who understand it, and him, because it touches the deepest archetypes of our people. The work functions, in fact, as an alternative religion, for some, or it could. I remember all those re-enactors, those Tolkien fanatics, of my youth. How many of them were distracted later by meaningless garbage – The Rocky Horror Picture Show? And yet, being a “new” vision when it emerged, in the 50’s and 60’s, it was free of the accretions of crap which attached to the actual religions which we’d rejected as youths. The theme of Good vs. Evil of course resounded with us, but we knew that the version we’d been fed through Christianity was deteriorated and corrupted; intuitively I think I knew even then that it was a tool of the oppressors. What then was this fresh clear light? Where was the true good, and where the evil? And what better quest is there, in one’s youth?

The first three Peter Jackson LOTR movies are surprisingly true to form; I was and am surprised that he was allowed to make them that way, with only mild concessions to form, with most of them (the Arwen character, for example) being harmless. I enjoyed the Hobbit films, too, though they do require the re-donning of the filters I’d been able to remove for most of the first three, as the normal Hollywood propaganda came back in, but that’s to be expected. Who financed these things?

Near the beginning of my Awakening, a friend who had been a bigger fan of Tolkien that I ever was, gave me the Silmarillion to read. I read it, and although I appreciated its poetry, I thought it read a bit too much like the expanded Appendix it was; but most of I felt that I was to some extent wasting my time reading Tolkien’s reworking, or personal visualization of a myth, when I should be studying what I had been told were the elder works of our people – The Eddas, including the Havamal, etc.

I was correct of course, that those works deserve study. But as I have studied the text of the ancient Norse and Germanic teachings, and the works of their revival, I have realized more and more, that the texts available to us are not sacred lore, not Sruti – if those texts ever existed, if they were ever written down, they were lost or retained by some group too esoteric to have come into my view. What we have is the reworking of the myths by an obviously sympathetic Christian Priest and politician named Snorri. There are other works of course – the works of Saxo Grammaticus, etc. – but they are all at best secondary sources. Inevitably, we come to the conclusion that the original teachings, the teaching behind all our teachings, to the extent they were ever truly manifest in our world, were oral teachings, from an age before writing appeared, along with deterioration of the mind and memory of the predecessors of the creature we call Man. Perhaps the ancient texts were best preserved in the Vedas, whence they devolved into the various sorts of Hinduism still retaining much of their original truth, and in the Avesta. They fared less well in the hands of the ones who corrupted them and used only their gleaming core to provide the sense of Truth which lies buried in the mass of lies which are the holy books of the Abrahamic religions.

I think that Tolkien, in some way of which he was not even conscious, channeled these eternal truths on a deep level, and with his natural and evolved skills as a writer, and with his amazing knowledge and skill with ancient languages and lore, crafted a vision, a Personal Gnostic, which is complete in itself and true, for him, and for the rest of us provides a template and a map for our own Gnosis. And it touches all the chords for those of us who retain a spark of the old blood.

Tolkien also wrote a lot of letters, and just a lot in general, and it appears from some of his other works and the works about him, that he may not have understood how the truths he perceived in ancient lore, were manifest in his contemporary world, but that is common, and it is also a lesson for us. It is possible that when the Archetype manifests in a human, that human personality is also still there, and has its own behaviors and its own life which expresses itself quite differently that the archetype. This is very important to understand especially when considering the historical figures of our century, where manifest reality has fallen so far from the bone of Truth.

Another recent example of Personal Gnosis came to me recently, as after a few years of studying the Runes in various forms and Futharks, I came to appreciate the value of the Armanen Runes as voiced by Guido von List. When I began to study Runes six or seven years ago, I was led, fortunately, to the works of Stephen Flowers writing as Edred Thorsson, Futhark: A Handbook of Rune Magic and its sequels, and the Nine Doors system through the Rune Gild – all excellent work which appreciates the Folkish nature of the Runes themselves and of these teachings, and which I recommend, especially after seeing the flood of disinformationist crap out there and available today. And of course I appreciate Dr. Flowers’ scientific method, utilizied with his own gnosis in hand, but still adhering to historic principles concerning the historicity of the Runes, and the various Futharks (or alphabets, for the uninformed). And based on this, I sought the deepest meaning in the Elder Futhark, supposedly the oldest Runic system available to us. This is what most Rune scholars study today, and with good reason, especially in light of the light it shines on the younger Futharks, and their influence on our language, culture and consciousness into our times.

However, as Dr. Flowers knows and discusses extensively in his works, the Runic Revival began much earlier, and first flowered as a complete system (in modern times) in the works of Guido von List. Von List was of course a godfather of German Neopaganism, if you want to call it that, or the revival of ancient German esotericism, which occurred alongside and as a part of the general awakening of German Romanticism and Idealism, at the end of the nineteenth into the earlier twentieth centuries, along with the birth of the German nation itself. His work, and Rune lore in general, has generally been vilified by the association with the defeated German Nationalism of the Twentieth Century, and indeed his followers and successors were a part of the Volkish movements which preceded that Nationalism.

But what’s interesting to me for the purpose of this writing is the genesis of von List’s Armenen Runes.  The Armanen Futhark came to von List during an eleven-month period of blindness following cataract surgery.   He said it was derived from eighteen verses of the Havamal, but it does indeed take a mystical vision to find those Runes in their specific form there.  In other words, the Armanen Futhark, which was the only known Futhark at the time of the early Germanic Runic Revival, and which was an essential part of the spark and impulse of all that flowed therefrom, came not from some fragmented and debatable ancient text, but like Tolkien’s inspired mythos, from the Personal Gnosis of a master.

It seems to me that when one seeks to transcend worlds, as one does when he goes too deeply into the past – when reality was of a different gradient, a less concretized substance – he must go like Odin went, nine days hanging from the eternal Irminsul or Yggdrasil, starved and deprived and shriven, and hungry beyond the desire of this existence.   It is only then that one can gather up the Runes, and most import, can fall back with them into this world.   The seeker picks up the essentials of pre-material, mystical and necessarily esoteric knowledge and present them into his lower existence in some form.  And that form is not, cannot be, conditioned or shaped by others, or by the limits of the world in which they are made manifest.  They must rather express themselves, cloaking themselves only where necessary in the trappings of the lower Age in which they must appear.   And this is what I see in the writings of Tolkien and von List, who would never consider themselves authors, I think, but rather of transcribers of the works made manifest through them.

It is to Tolkien’s written work, rather than the Norse lore recycled by a sympathetic but worldly politician and priest, and von List’s vision of the Runes, rather than the dry and historical researches of the modern Runologist, that I look for inspiration.  Their work is best imbued as poetry, and that is said not to demean it, but to open the pores of perception beyond the linear, or even the liminal.  The mead of inspiration leads not to calculation but to exaltation.

I have spoken before of how deep meditation led me to a breakthrough, and my belief based on my own experience is this:  That it is true that after long and well-done meditation, as they say, that normal reality falls away – that you can see it break into componets like ball bearings, steel particles that fall and clatter away across a concrete floor – or that was the metaphor I experienced.  And many say that what one experiences then is Nothing.  Those with commitments to the experiences of the Eastern ways will quibble with my word choice here,  but I am speaking of Samsara, or Nirvana.    And that is for them true.  But some of us who stare into that solitary and lonely space will see emerging through the fog the true Runes which are cognizable for us.   They will experience Something, not Nothing.  And that for me was the gate to what I have heard described as Kaivalya – supreme Individuation.

In the philosophy of the Vaishnavas there is an alternative school (to Advaita, which although very much a minority religion in India forms much of the background of what Westerners have experienced as higher Hindu philosophy), called Vishishtadvaita – the mature teachings of Ramanuja, for example, which formed the basis of the teachings and the sects that led to Prahupada in our recent ages.   Advaita teaches that all essence is Brahman, and that one soul – all souls, modern teachers say – may pass beyond individuation to be subsumed into that essence.  Vishishtadvaita teaches that the souls are all of the essence of Brahman but upon realization remain separate.   Of course being a component of Hinduism, which itself is a religion of the masses, it is taught by these Vaishnavas that the mature form of these souls is as spiritual beings which devote themselves eternally to service to God, or to Krishna (or Vishnu, or Narayana) – to eternally sit at his lotus feet.

Those of us who consider that we have the destiny and the ability, the enabling light to go forth into the darkness and pick up the Runes, but most importantly to fall back with them, had better consider to what purpose we need wield those eternal powers as manifest.  And for inspiration, we look better to poetry than to the mundane exhortations of those who have power only in this world – for they, at the bottom, serve another Master, one who traps in the material, in the body and whose essence is Lead.    Whereas one whose essence is Alchemy, whose destiny is Gold, acts according to a Will and to laws not easily accessible through prose.  And that one must remain true to the vision obtained beyond the Nine Worlds and his own Personal Gnosis, which in its unmanifest form is that of the true Person or Purusa, and not of the mere scholar.

And this is why I am about to reread The Silmarillion.

Veit ec at ec hecc vindga meiði a
netr allar nío,
geiri vndaþr oc gefinn Oðni,
sialfr sialfom mer,
a þeim meiþi, er mangi veit, hvers hann af rótom renn.
I know that I hung on a windy tree
nine long nights,
wounded with a spear, dedicated to Odin,
myself to myself,
on that tree of which no man knows
from where its roots run.
Við hleifi mic seldo ne viþ hornigi,
nysta ec niþr,
nam ec vp rvnar,
opandi nam,
fell ec aptr þaðan.
No bread did they give me nor a drink from a horn,
downwards I peered;
I took up the runes, screaming I took them,
then I fell back from there.[6]
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One Comment

  1. May 14, 2016
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    Insightful essay Kalki. This is one of your best in my opinion.

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