Rune Books and Curriculum

The Curriculum of Rune Magick

I highly encourage you to build your library starting from these sources. A lot of good stuff is out of print, but these books have stood the test of time and/or popularity. All links go to Amazon, where you’ll find more reviews, similar books and pricing information. Enjoy!

Featured on Huffington Post’s Books, The Book of Rune Secrets is taking the ‘net by storm, truly “a timeless well of wisdom & inspiration.” Its author has spoken to hundreds of active rune masters, and thousands of newcomers over the years, as well built a popular blog and community purely surrounding the topic of the runes. This is the one book that you will read again and again as you delve deeper into the meaning of the runes.

This handy little pocket book is aimed at complete beginners, and in that respect does its job quite well. There is basic information on divination, the rune meanings and magick. If you outgrow it quickly, that’s may only be a testament to how effective a learning aid Peschel’s book is.

Freya Aswynn is worth her weight in gold. Though many of her works are out of print, fortunately the soul of her work can still be located in Northern Mysteries and Magick. If you can get her other ones used, you’ll be all the richer for it.

Paxson is very devoted to the runes and her bestselling book, Taking Up The Runes, is a thick, extensive survey of the popular literature on the subject. She frequently references many of the authors on this curriculum, and her book is organized as to contrast the rune meanings with one another. She spends a lot of time in the second half on the topic of spells, rituals, divination and magic. This book is definitely one to own.

These three books are probably the harshest of the historical, filled with ‘hard facts’ and the scorn of scholars. Beware, ye ‘fluffy new agers’ of the reality sandwich in store for you here. But don’t be intimidated. No one truly interested in the runes can pass up an opportunity to see what evidence the archaeologists and historians have to work with. To be fair, I think these bunch are hard on the spiritual and magickal-minded folk. After all, there is evidence that the runes were used for divination (Germania by Tacitus), and why not? However, no perspective on the runes is complete without at least adding the Rune Primer and Runes (Reading the Past) to your library.

Another historical book, Runic Amulets and Magic Objects is hardcover, and fully illustrated, a beautiful vision and a fascinating read. This may put a dent in your wallet, but it is just about one of the most highly recommended books on the artifacts that the runes show up on over the millennia.

Edred Thorsson’s work has been so successful that many swear his is the only valid perspective , period. Naturally this is not the case, however, he does know what he’s talking about. To engage in ‘serious’ conversation about the runes today, familiarity with Thorsson’s work is virtually a requirement. The Nine Doors of Midgard was the handbook for his organization, the Rune-Gild, and Futhark doesn’t pull any punches as it delves unapologetically into esoteric lore.

Edred Thorsson is Stephen E. Flowers’ pen name when writing about magick, but this work is a translation of Guido von List’s infamous book, which is often cited as having inspired the Nazi’s to warp the runes to their own purposes. Regardless, it is important to know what is influenced to this very day by the contents of this book — but beware! It’s influence is corrupting. Not for the feint of heart.

Some people detest Ralph Blum due to his popularity in bookstores, his little plastic rune sets, and his absolute inaccuracy when it comes to rune meanings. However, this is also the book that many people started with. Taking a look at The Book of Runes, 25th Anniversary Edition, I qualify this as a good investment, because it will help you understand the creativity and imagination we are all allowed to exercise when it comes to interpreting the runes, and at very least, help you understand where most new students of the runes are coming from.

Other great treasures:

Am I missing something? Do you have a short review you’d like to make of something else? If it can be ordered ‘new’ on Amazon, and you want me to add it to this list, just contact me at runesecrets [@] with the information and if I agree, we’ll get it added ASAP!

Tyriel Requests Your Patronage!

Hail, friend!

You may know me as Tyriel, author of “The Book of Rune Secrets”, but in every day life, I am simply James. I come to you today seeking support and patronage to bring my recent work on the runes to fruition, using Patreon, at

I have been a quiet observer of the Rune Secrets Community a few years now, and engaged in an overwhelming amount of personal correspondence from those interested in the runes, hailing from all over the world. It has sometimes been a challenge to know what to do next, things have gotten so big.

You have been a part of this journey. You have at some point heard the runes call to you, just as I have. You feel how deep they go. The time has come for you and I to gather our courage and go further.

My task is to produce the greatest work of my life to date, in the form of a new book entitled “Questioning the Runes” and a 24-track album, “Rune Songs for the 21st Century”. I do this for my love of rune wisdom, and for you, who have long been on a similar path.

There is a huge gap in the resources available for today’s rune practitioners. The previous generation has written at length on ritual, history, tradition and beliefs, on Norse myth, or Asatru and Heathen ideas. The runes have been popularized in book stores by Ralph Blum. And yet, I always felt there was a void, a blind spot. Something that wasn’t being explained! I think you have felt it too.

We want to produce observable results with the runes. The world has radically changed since the time the runes were first carved, nearly two thousand years ago. I believe they have also evolved with the times, fresh and relevant to our unique challenges in the 21st Century. In many cases, we simply need to use the runes to learn how to ask better questions.

We also know better that there is a dark side, a shadow, an unconscious element at work in spirituality, magic and psychology. The positivity of the New Age wears thin. I have finally gathered the courage to venture into exploring the murkstaves, the negative aspects or hidden and uncomfortable truths of the runes. I have increased my understanding of Jungian psychoanalysis, evolutionary psychology, and social power dynamics. All of this has formed an incredible rune system for me. I absolutely must share these ideas with you, because they are important to all of our lives, and our understanding of the world at large.

Writing this new book & composing music for each rune’s specific energy will take a huge amount of my time and I need your support in the form of patronage. Rather than try a kickstarter, I want to invite you into my personal creative life long-term, not as only ‘Tyriel’, but more humbly as James, using

There are some great benefits of working like this:

  • Spiritual studies are very personal for both you and I. Patronage is a much more personal relationship.
  • I do not wish to ‘take over’ the space I have created for others by using the Rune Secrets Study Community a platform for unfinished work. It’s too important that others speak there.
  • By founding patronage on the principles of Fehu, Gebo and Othala, I tie the financing of this work and the runes together, in practice rather than theory. It is a symbol of the seriousness of this task.
  • Patronage helps me identify who amongst the community truly desires to invest themselves in helping me bring an important work into the world of rune studies.

Perhaps greatest of all:

  • The work has early feedback from you. As you learn and ask questions, I am able to write a better book and provide greater resources, customized to your needs. As you comment on my music, I am able to refine my style to suit the ears of an audience I care so much for.

With your patronage and support, I can dedicate the next part of my life’s journey to the overwhelming task of writing “Questioning the Runes” and composing “Rune Songs for the 21st Century”. The challenge is both financial and community-oriented. I cannot do this in a bubble, alone. I need you.

Help me provide you one of the most powerful and useful rune resources available. I welcome you, Patron, and look forward to growing closer to one another in our explorations of the mysteries and secrets of these fresh rune teachings.

Learn more and become a patron at — I cannot thank you enough for your part in this, though I will certainly do my best to make the experience rewarding!

James Stratton-Crawley, 
Known as Tyriel

Author of “The Book of Rune Secrets
& Creator of the Rune Secrets Study Community at

Free Rune Course Beginning March 1st 2012

Welcome to Rune Secrets! Many of you know me as Tyriel, the admin of Rune Secrets and the author of The Book of Rune Secrets.

The Rune Secrets Study Community at started Beta in March of last year, and has since grown a vibrant and active membership base.

Now, I am going to conduct a massive 48-week online rune course. For free! To sign up, just create an account at and you’ll always be notified when course material is posted.

Every two weeks, we will focus on one rune. The site is very active, and there’s bound to be a lot of material outside of this rune, but the idea is to thoroughly explore one rune at a time for the rest of 2012.

During this time, you are free to participate in a number of ways. Of course, if you prefer just to be a silent reader, that is your choice and you’re still welcome to do so, even though I’d love to hear from you.

Members often chose their level of involvement from a variety of features on the Community site.

You can:

  • Leave comments about the post or in response to other comments.
  • Ask or answer questions on the forum.
  • Write your own blog on a rune-related topic.
  • Contribute videos.
  • Form or join focus groups on topics like rune-linguistics, creating a beginner’s guide, Poetic Eddas study.

When you create your account, I’d love to see you upload a picture of yourself. The default picture is a grey outline of a person, which will hardly do you justice. Uploading a photo just as so many benefits, and makes everyone realize that you are a real human being, not just some text on a screen.

There’s a vibe of mutual respect and harmony on the site that I’m positive you’ll all enjoy, and those participating in discussions will tell you that they are learning a lot and having a great time. Come join us, and participate in the largest ever online rune course… all for free!

Wishing you the warmest of welcomes,


The Book of Rune Secrets & Study Community: Major Announcement!

I have two exciting announcements for you this weekend, both of which I have been working to perfect all year.

The Book of Rune Secrets is now available on and Barnes & Noble!* 

Rune Secrets has become a favourite resource, and now all new, completely fresh insights on each rune are available for your contemplation and inspiration, each page written with clarity and power. It is undoubtably a book you’ll love going back to again and again, and a prize on any bookshelf.

Also included for you in this book is a 24-rune alchemy technique designed to push the limits of self-discovery with the Elder Futhark.

My second major announcement has to do with a new resource I created just for study of the runes: a social network called “The Rune Secrets Study Community”. It has been in beta for a few months to get the kinks out, and now it is ready for you!

You can find The Rune Secrets Study Community at HTTP://RUNESECRETS.NET

Come meet others like yourself and connect to an international community composed of lovers of wisdom and the mysteries of the runes. It’s free, and much more than an average forum. Sign up now! I can’t wait to see you there.

Many thanks for all your support,


Rune Secrets

“The symbols of the ancients, in the language of today, for the people of tomorrow.”


*Shipping from the US. It will be available from UK, Europe and Australian distributors in 4-8 weeks.

Lessons of Hagalaz: Rune of Disaster and Healing

In my personal rune set, I replaced the elder futhark Hagalaz symbol with the younger futhark Hagalaz variation a while ago, a personal choice, and I should take this opportunity to explain why.

In the face of disaster, compassionate human beings discover that they do not break, but become stronger. We discover that our communities come together, even on a global scale, in face of unimaginable destruction. When the universe shows its inimical side, the side that couldn’t care less about average human affairs, it’s as if we come together to show overwhelmingly that we care for one another. When the universe demonstrates that it cannot be depended upon, that it is more than able to wreck havoc, we react by showing that we can depend upon one another.

This reactive human response to the crisis and catastrophe that Hagalaz can often represent is a strange magic, but one of great potential.

We can also point to the immense wisdom in preparing for the worst, in allowing ourselves not only to imagine catastrophe, but to incorporate it into our plans for the future.

We see from the Japanese, in the past few days, after their massive 8.9 earthquake, tsunami and the threats to their nuclear power plants, a tragic event that will have taken 10,000+ lives. But consider this: the Japanese have for a good number of years held incredible standards for their buildings and construction — everything is made to bend, to wiggle. These standards were in place to protect their cities and their people against the worst forms of earthquake… the kind they recently experienced. It likely saved millions of lives.

While it is hard to wrench our focus from the spectacular chaos and destruction of Hagalaz, we ought to keep in mind a great, untold story: that planning and foresight, that the willingness to contemplate the worst, is a powerful form of wisdom for an individual to have, and even more-so an entire people. It may not be positive thinking — but it has positive consequences. It is an example of taking the negative aspects of a rune and transmuting it for positive ends.

So today, let us contemplate the younger futhark symbol for Hagalaz — the potential for us to unite and heal in the face of unimaginable destruction, to show our strength and courage in the face of catastrophe and the wisdom of looking ahead in order to safeguard against the worst the universe can throw at us.

Don’t forget to subscribe via email,  because there’s some incredible new content on the way!


A Social Network Exclusively For Rune Study?

[Update: We’re now beta testing the new social network for rune study! WANTED: Volunteers … click here!]

Have you been as frustrated as me in finding an online community exclusively for studying the runes? What is the solution?

Most people I talk to — and I include myself among them — seem dissatisfied with the old forum-style community. Now that we have powerhouses like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, social interaction on the web has been redefined. Forums become obscure places lorded over by passive aggressive admins and small cliques of users who dominate any discussion to the point where the discussion doesn’t happen often because it descends into arguments.

But I don’t think that’s the main reason there’s no ‘major’ (ie. central) rune community online. We’re a diverse bunch of misfits, clearly dissatisfied with the mainstream and rightly distrustful of anything that looks mainstream. I can’t help but giggle the odd time I get feedback that suggests that Rune Secrets is somehow mainstream (as if I were secretly Justin Beiber?)

Some of these forums and cliques are thinly veiled online focal points for dogmatic cults, which of course I’ll have nothing to do with. I am a solitary and anonymous practitioner, period. That Rune Secrets has become so popular is a freak occurrence. Readership decided that — I never bothered with advertising, search engine optimization, link exchange or any of that nonsense. I’m interested in one thing only: deep understanding of the runes.

The runes saved me from the brink of oblivion, reorganized my mind, and revealed such touching wisdom… but demanded I repay the favor by sharing what I’d learned. It was only after I gained a deep understanding of the runes that I developed a strong sense of responsibility toward the global community.

But there is no functioning and healthy community, no social network, for people who share this interest in the runes themselves, directly. The symbols. The meanings. The uses. That’s all… no cryptic utterings, no mysterious play-acting, no exclusive ‘club’ and no one claiming they have some private monopoly on rune wisdom.

I demand clarity, order and honesty, and so should you.


So what do we do?

I dislike Facebook — the system is geared toward turning users into advertising revenue, not toward actual community. Their design philosophy is abhorent and their privacy policy so unethical that I felt I had to delete the rune secrets fan group in order to protect my readers.

But there is a framework I could use once I have generated some revenue from booksales (it costs a couple hundred dollars per year on top of other expenses I already pay to run this site). We could set up our own social network, and begin an ambitious project: the first collectively written study of rune meaning.

The internet allows us to collaborate in a way that dozens and perhaps hundreds of people could purposefully come together and hash out a brilliant work of genius that one person could not possibly hope to write themselves. Then we could release this work under a creative commons license (free to use, distribute, modify, build upon — but never sell for profit), format and self-publish it as a hardcover/paperback and offer it at cost for collectors or at nothing as a pdf or on a website dedicated to it.

We’d need to come up with a contemporary, forward looking, rune system, based soundly in psychology and philosophy, that would profoundly inspire anyone who was exposed to it, regardless of prior beliefs. With a properly discussed methodology and a carefully programmed social network (personal blogs integrated with activity feed, twitter/facebook/youtube integration, the works — I’m thinking at the moment) and a core group of dedicated people we could easily generate an open, crowd-sourced manuscript of some size.

I’ve made major inroads with “The Book of Rune Secrets”, which is almost ready to hit the press. I’m confident that the work will speak for itself. If it is worthy, I know it will reach the people who need it — after all, this website has. But after focusing and channeling, I have come face to face with my own limitations. In order to exceed them, a community will be necessary, and a community that works, not just some obscure forum.

I just wanted to talk that over with everyone, and try to generate some feedback. I can build this, and make it work with your help. But I need discussion!

What are your thoughts on the online rune communities you’ve encountered? Are you a part of any? Would you share their URL in the comments?  Any experiences, positive or negative?

What kind of things do you wish a community could DO or BE, on the net? What would help you the most? What features would you like to see? What kind of people would you hope to find there — like minded, or very diverse?

My thanks for considering this,




Do You Have Any Deep, Unanswered Questions?

Greetings, O Seeker of Rune Wisdom!

I am in the final stages of completing The Book of Rune Secrets, and I would like to ask you: “Do you have any deep, unanswered questions about the runes?”

So this is a kind of “Ask Me Anything” discussion.

Are there things you haven’t found answers to anywhere, in all the literature you’ve read on rune meanings? Things that are missing?

I’d like you to please think deeply and summon up these questions, and send them to me at, or through my contact form, or even the comments of this post! If you can fire a great question at me, I’ll do my best to think it over as I add to and edit my final draft and make this book even more connected to the real needs of the vast community that uses Rune Secrets.

About the Book:

This new work of mine is the culmination of over a decade of intense spiritual introspection and learning for me, and the opportunity at long last to share with you something powerful and complete. My plans are to release it as a self-published hard cover book, have it listed on Amazon and available to libraries and brick and mortar stores if they desire to order it. It should be available in some form from this website though by the end of April, at the latest.

It represents a total, coherent system of new rune knowledge. I have taken my understanding of the symbols and combined it with an understanding of contemporary science and cosmology to create a fresh and powerful work that should profoundly move readers. I’ve taken risks with it, not to cause deliberate controversy or because I think I know better than anyone else, but to show that the runes are extremely relevant to the 21st century.

I also include details not on making your own rune set, but on making your own rune system — of how to take their power into your own hands. My system seeks to turn you into your own best teacher. No esoteric, secretive gurus required. ;)

In many ways, the book departs from this blog and transcends it. It is my best work yet, I’m sure of it, and I am excited to see in what ways it empowers and illuminates the many members of this community, old and new, known and yet unknown to me, who I’ve grown to love. I can admit to you that it has already affected me greatly… I don’t know what provoked this transcendent clarity within me, but I thank the forces at work.

So, that’s the big news, and I am eager to share the fruits of my labor. I humbly request your questions so that I can edit with a vigor that incorporates your questions and curiosity into the fabric of this new narrative about the elder futhark runes.

Get in touch. Seriously!

Yours truly,


Kenaz – Rune Meaning Analysis

Photo by Frédéric BISSON

I originally wrote this article several months ago. My contemplation of Kenaz sparked a deep investigation into myself and into the ways in which we obtain knowledge of reality, determine truth and transmit wisdom to one another. I’ve since read many things by R.D. Laing, a famous psychiatrist (The Politics of Experience) and Carl G. Jung, a psychoanalyst who is considered one of the founding fathers of modern psychology. I also began to search through Greek philosophers and other Eastern spiritual texts such as the Tao Te Ching and the I Ching for parallels to the runes.

At any rate, Kenaz is a remarkably powerful rune to meditate upon and contemplate, and the journey this single rune can send the seeker upon is nothing short of life long and life changing. I apologize to the rune community for my long absence, and I cannot promise that this absence is over. But here, at least, is my current analysis of Kenaz…

It is commonly agreed that Kenaz relates to the Dutch/German ‘kennen’, and the English word ‘ken’, which means “to know”, with an alternate meaning of “to be able to” — immediately invoking the old adage “knowledge is power”. In Old English, another related word ‘cennen’ means “to beget” or “to bring forth from the mind,” and is without much doubt related to the word ‘cunning’ — skillful deceit. Prior to the 14th Century we find similar words over much of europe which link Kenaz to learning, knowledge and intellect. “Kunst”, Dutch, is said to relate as well, as it means art, or craft.

Another related word here is ‘kin’. The idea of kinship between and amongst people is particularly important – and thus Kenaz has been argued to refer to ancestry.I have suggested with Othala and Ansuz that there are many distinct ways in which the idea of ancestry plays itself out, that do not necessarily have to do with blood ancestry. Kenaz represents the knowledge handed down from generation to generation, which is built upon and honored. This sort of ancestry in turn associates the rune with a knowledge of origins and of causation, which are the chief functions of both myth and science. Both the known and the unknown meet here.

In the elder futhark, Kenaz means “Torch” or “Torchlight”, as a source of heat and light.

Kenaz also represents  the inner-fire/body heat that is passed on — as cold means death. In terms of progeny, this inner-fire is feminine: the womb, a necessary heat carried by mothers all the way back to the beginning. (Fathers contribute the seed, INGUZ).

The word “Kaun”, which means sore, is another loose interpretation of Kenaz — and due to this, we could say that the rune also refers to knowledge of medicine, particularly midwifery, traditional lore, and any feminine occult knowledge.

Kenaz does not only represent a Torch, but any controlled use of fire:

It can represent the hearth, which for many eons was a central feature of the home. Keeping the home-fire burning was of utmost importance — those who gathered about the hearth were kindred, not always exclusively family, but sharing the bond of the hearth and the activities that went on around it, such as storytelling and teaching and crafts.

Kenaz can represent the forge. Here, the male aspect of Kenaz shines. Blacksmithing is a great example, in this case, of knowledge and craft being taught in a master/apprentice fashion. It is knowledge applied to create powerful tools and weapons. The transmuting power of human-controlled fire is obvious in the symbol of the forge; as should be the nature of the relationship between teacher and learner, the tradition of knowledge that dates farther back in many cases than does human record.

Knowledge as Power

Perhaps the deepest of Kenaz occult mysteries is the pursuit of knowledge — for the sake of power. That “The Truth will set you free” is a very old idea indeed, and it is this seeking, gaining, applying and recognition of the truth that lay behind every authentic search for occult knowledge. But this knowledge — indeed ‘cunning’ — is a double-edged sword — fire may serve us, but it is not our friend. So it is that our quest for truth can be seen as a purifying fire. We are not always going to like what we discover, but we must bow to what we know as truth, and recognize that which we, in fact, do not know.

Recollection, clarity of thought, sharpness of wit, insight and intuition — these are our inner-torch, that light of consciousness so necessary if we are to begin to uncover the secrets of a universe which doesn’t give up her secrets easily.

Kenaz’ energy propels the investigation of of hidden regions, a light in the darkness. It is concerned with origins, with the underlying cause and effect of the world. It is pre-scientific, though science can be viewed as an extension of the occult underpinnings of Kenaz. The ideas of science are often generated by intuition before they are proven or disproven. It is this generative fire that is important — more an art, a craft — but very pragmatic and totally necessary for the human psyche’s health.

Knowledge gives us a decisive advantage in the world — whether braving the elements (or other people). So radical is this advantage when applied that it is easy to compare its possession to the acquisition of fire — we need but imagine how profound a difference this has made for humans. A dedication to learning and truth-seeking bestows the same profound difference to the individual and their kindred.

Kenaz allows us access to our inner-forge. With applied self-knowledge, we may deconstruct our illusions, beliefs and habits and shape ourselves anew. This is the deepest alchemy, the greatest art and craft and the ultimate knowing: the craftsmanship of our self on the forge of inner-fire. Drawing from the amazing power and teachings of Kenaz, we can become whatever we will.

Ignorance is often compared to darkness, and we stumble sightlessly through it, unable to truly understand anything but our own blind predicament (if that). Illumination comes through the use of Kenaz.

A Note On Cunning

Stories tell us that even the noblest King requires a praiseworthy, cunning mind. This change in the meaning of cunning occurs sometime after the 14th century, as we can see from etymological research: cunning (adj.) early 14c., “learned, skillful,” prp. of cunnen “to know” (see can (v.)). Sense of “skillfully deceitful” is probably late 14c. As a noun from c.1300. Related: Cunningly.

I can think of no situation, aside from the feints of chess, bluffs of poker and innocuous trickery of the illusionist where deceit is purely positive. Cunning seems to easily lead to a darker side of Kenaz, the domain of Loki; mischief, trickery, manipulation. In my view, honor, and honesty, are much more powerful traits. Needless to say, the world is not black and white, and our particular biases over a word color our ideas. My point is merely that it may be useful to contemplate situations in which cunning could create clearly positive outcomes.


Reversed, Kenaz is a symbol of willful ignorance, deceit and the use of knowledge for purely destructive or manipulative ends. It signifies the loss of knowledge, over time, the extinction of bodies of lore, collective forgetting. Kenaz reversed is such a force of ignorance that it can rival, in raw power, the force of knowledge in the world.

As a result of this dynamic, it can be useful to consider this murkstave to represent the giant/god Loki, and all his unconscious cunning and destructive mischief — as well as its manifestations in human society.