History of the Rune-Gild. The Reawakening of the Gild 1980-2018, by Edred Thorsson - Review


A version of this book was first published in 2007 but this volume is really quite a new thing. A lot has happened since then. This volume is still principally a history of Edred Thorsson's own re-creation and involvement with the Gild, as should be the case, but it also honours those who have contributed to the Rune-Gild in the last few decades, including myself, by way of declaring an interest.

This is 'volume 3 of a much larger project', which will start with a history of the Rune-Gild in ancient times and continue via the Rune-Masters of the late mediaeval and early modern period. Also, as evidenced by the substantial changes in this over the 2007 edition, it is not a final version but an 'ongoing chronicle'.

Few esoteric organizations have as much interest in chronicling their own history. I am one of nature's archivists, so I like this. I think it's important that groups of people involved in initiatory endeavours reflect on what has happened so far, as a resource for new people who come along.

The cover starts the book off well, showing a rune-stone carved and raised by P. D. Brown, one of the world's foremost rune-carvers and a Master in the Rune-Gild. The beauty of this modern interpretation of an ancient Germanic aesthetic is plain to see, and demonstrates how successfully some artists have internalised those ancient patterns.

Edred writes about his personal history, the beginnings of his runic work, his involvement in the worlds of publishing and academia, his re-creation of the Rune-Gild and his part in organizations that Thorsson also had a big part in creating or nurturing, including The (Ring of) Troth.

What is the Rune-Gild about? Edred disposes of the notion that it's somewhere we go simply to learn runic sorcery (though you won't find anywhere better for doing so!) Rather, the Gild is an organization whose purpose is to revive Germanic esoteric culture in a context of radical traditionalism, a wider transformation of culture along traditional lines.

Edred talks us through his involvement with the 'dark side' which phrase is an actual chapter heading. The chapter is a detailed account of what went on between him and the Temple of Set and Michael Aquino, so part of its function is to set the record straight.

This is a magical biography. Some of the events that glimmer in the Rhine of this book are parts of a process of illumination. As with anyone whose life has been rich in magical work, personal history can be broken down into a number of stages which may, in the hands of a subtle enough writer, amount to articulations of the initiation process. The book can be read as a memoir of initiation experiences that, in Midgard, were developments in the Rune-Gild.

One of the most interesting features of this layer of the book is Edred's discussion of the 'higher man', a meeting with whom is necessary for initiation in all proper traditions. The aspirant sees living, breathing evidence in another person of the effects of initiation, and this forms a vital stage of realisation.

The book is beautifully produced and includes a number of photos which bring the narrative to life. If you're a Gild member, if you've ever wondered about the Rune-Gild, if you're interested in modern magical history, or if you want to read a well-written account of a magical life, buy this book.


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