Review: The Book of Rune Secrets by Tyriel & The Terrible One’s Horse by August Hunt
The Book of Rune Secrets
Publisher: Rune Secrets in Vancover, Canada
Pages: 59 (E-Pub Edition)
Perhaps I was not as clear as should be about how I feel about this book. I know the author sent it to me with a caveat that it was for ‘secular’ people and for that I am in agreement. The book gives you a basic overview of his own theory on the runes. It is a light read, in that it is shorter than other rune books which can top over 200 pages at times…and this makes it more portable than those.
The book however, lacked research and I realize the caveat …but in all honesty I don’t think people can separate the runes from heathenry as much as this author has tried to. The author states in the introduction: “This is a secular study of the runes. You may keep your beliefs, whether they be pagan, heathen, wiccan, asatru, or completely atheist. You may practice your rituals, whatever they might be. These aspects are not important to my system of understanding the runes. You can be a solitary practitioner and you need not worship any gods, or you may worship many gods” and so wrote it for an audience that was coming to runes as a singular path (that is not combined with heathenry). Although, people might not ‘know’ what heathenry is (or any of the other paths mentioned), most authors at least make some attempt to at least define what these paths might be. The author could have provide a short couple of definitions for each.
I felt that there is a disservice to readers when a rune book does not point out the cultural significance of the runes and their roots. Frankly, I think this book (although clearly introduced as a ‘secular work’) should have at least made some nod to this fact.
There were several moments where I found myself uncertain of the research presented. The quote within the first few chapters: “We must continually bear in mind that the responsible archaeologist will insist that there is virtually nothing that remains of the culture that used the Elder Futhark runes. When it comes down to it, we can only imagine and contemplate — and that is precisely what I want to help you do. But we do have the science of today to help us recreate our rune system. Psychology, sociology, ecology, evolutionary biology, memetics, semiotics, western and eastern philosophy — all of this can be drawn upon. The runes talk about the same phenomena, with their idiosyncratic metaphors, that all other pursuits of knowledge and wisdom are interested in — using different symbols and different methods, but all pointed toward the same universal truths” I am not sure why the author states there is ‘virtually nothing’ remaining about the runes. There are countless research articles, and proof of runes in various documents all readily available online that point to a historical tradition of runes, archeological proof of their use and so forth. Perhaps he meant in comparison to other cultures that had more documents preserved but the runes themselves have a rich history that almost gets completely neglected in this book in favor of modern psychology.
I believe the author was attempting to ‘modernize’ the runes, but you cannot apply modern psychology to the runes. They are not ‘diagnostic’ tools. Runes are a ‘glimpse’ into the well of wyrd. I see them as a moment in the eyes of the Norns, a quick glimpse and then nothing….but they are not absolutes and do not always reveal themselves in such ‘clear’ ways.
The book is meant for occultist or people interested in more occult views on runes but not for scholars. In my opinion, the runes were presented in ways that don’t match any of the research or current thoughts on runes.
I hate to sound so negative and perhaps elitist here….but the book is not one that I feel serious rune students will benefit from. The reference to rune alchemy is the first bone of contention and not something that I teach anyone who is interested in the runes, mostly because I fail to see the relationship between the two The fact that the author fails to explain what this is until the end of the book when he states that he invented this ‘alchemy’ means that you do not understand that this is not something factual but instead invented. Not that this is a ‘new’ thing. In many rune books, authors do invent their own methods, readings, cast, interpretations and whatnot but most provide a lot of information as to how and why they got to this method. In this book, we are left with a big question which apparently was the author’s intention as he hints to a full book dedicated to this very subject.
I found the use of the Valknut in the Appendix particularly odd in that he claims it as “the interwoven nature of our complex life pattern”. I would have to disagree and again say the author should do more research. The Valknut is a symbol which many heathens cautious about and in my opinion does not have any associations to ‘life patterns’ but instead is a symbol that has far deeper and somewhat darker associations. The author should have researched the meaning of the Valknut and it’s associations with Odin whom the symbol is constantly associated. I believe understanding the true meaning of the Valknut would have been beneficial to rune students, as misusing this symbol usually does not go well.
I should have been more honest the first time around….and I was not. I was trying to be nice and give the author a fair score as a first time author I felt it was at least a ‘nice’ thing but this was not the ‘right’ thing. I was a bit worried about giving it my full opinion, but after a second read through, I have determined that I would give this book a lower rating only based on the fact that it does not provide accurate information on the history, it does seem to lack research, and a lot of it comes across as conveniently made up facts to back up the authors theory. Not that this is an issue….authors do that….but they usually have some clout or document or something to base it on. I would say again, that this book is fine for people who may just want a simple rune book but I would not recommend it for serious students.
I would rate this a 2/5
The Terrible One’s Horse
by August Hunt
Publisher: Stag Spirit/CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Published: October 2012
From the Author: “A PREFATORY NOTE TO THE READER: This book is a collection of essays on various aspects of Germanic/Norse mythology and religion. All were written in the past few years and although originally I did not intend for them to form a cohesive whole, it occurred to me recently that perhaps I should revise the earlier ones and polish the newer and then make all of them available in book form. While the range of material is not entirely comprehensive, the different pieces of the whole do dovetail fairly well and all interrelate to each other on one or more levels. There is some inevitable overlap, but I’ve tried hard to avoid excessive repetition or redundancy. It is my hope that anyone who has an interest in the subject, and in particular those who consider themselves adherents of the old Eddaic-derived faith, may enjoy and even appreciate some of the interpretations I offer. If any of my findings, no matter how theoretical they may be, actually benefit the reader, then my rationale in preparing this volume will have been amply justified. My only caution would be that this is NOT an introductory treatment of Norse myth. Some knowledge of the Eddas and related matter is assumed.-August Hunt”
The Terrible One’s Horse is the ultimate companion book for anyone studying mythology. August Hunt provides extensive research, information and companion articles that provide insight into many of the myths studied in heathenry. I would agree with August’s statement that a person would have to have knowledge of the Edda and related matter, actually I would say you might also need to have some knowledge of a lot more than just that. The book covers an extensive copulation of material that compares some of the concepts contained in myths with other mythological systems such as the Greek and Celtic providing people with alternative theories on perhaps where and what inspired the stories. It was interesting to find the author’s theories mixed in with hard core resources as this would allow independent research (something which I think more authors should allow for and ensure that sources are provided in full detail).
The writing is academic in nature, which some might fight a tad dry…but if you give it a chance it actually provides a lot of information to chew on. For those in Eddic studies, The Terrible One’s Horse would make an excellent companion for further scholarly research!
My Rating: 4 Stars
The Terrible One’s Horse can be purchased on Amazon