Today is the runic new year.
One of the greatest sources of attraction and dismay about the Third Reich is that it is the sole instance since the time of Constantine that there has been any large-scale restoration of the runes attempted—such has been the dominance of the Christian church over thought, belief, and politics in the West.
It is significant that the weight and wealth of a major state was behind this restoration. As a result, for better or worse, anyone devoted to the runes must look to the National Socialist state to at least see what was done. For the collector interested acquiring museum-quality artifacts, this is nearly the sole source of accessible runic objects. This is the attraction.
The dismay, of course, is that so many sacred runic symbols have become associated with such a reviled political movement and even outlawed in some places in the world… but thankfully not in the United States.
There is a surprisingly small number of surviving authentic runic inscriptions—about 6,400 total. About half of these are Viking-age Younger Futhark inscriptions in Sweden, usually on large stones. Another large number are medieval runes, usually found on small objects, often wooden sticks. Only 350 inscriptions are Elder Futhark.
The image to the right shows Younger Futhark inscriptions on the Vaksala Runestone (Sweden 1200 AD).
One of the primary organizations tasked with this revival was the Deutsches Ahnenerbe-Studiengesellschaft für Geistesurgeschichte (German Ancestry-Research Society for Ancient Intellectual History). This group was funded in July 1935 by Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler as a registered club and nonprofit organization. Hermann Wirth, (a Dutch historian) and Richard Walter Darré (creator of the NS blood-and-soil ideology) were its original co-creators. Later in 1935, SS-Obersturmmführer Wolfram Sievers was appointed Reichsgeschafsführer, or Reich manager, of the organization. He rose to the rank of SS-Standartenführer by the end of the war.
It has been said that the Ahnenerbe was part of Himmler’s greater plan for the creation of a Germanic culture that would replace Christianity in Germany after the war. Accordingly, massive resources were devoted to the Ahnenerbe. I have not been able to confirm this, but I have found several sources alleging that Germany spent more money on the Ahnenerbe than America spent on the Manhattan Project. The Ahnenerbe had huge archives which should have confirmed or disproved this amazing fact, but they mysteriously disappeared after the war.
A central function of the Ahnenerbe was the publication of materials as part of the effort to investigate and revive Germanic traditions. The organization had fifty different research branches called “institutes,” which carried out more than 100 extensive research projects such as Tibetan research, archaeological expeditions, linguistic studies—especially the ancient language of the Nordic and Aryan peoples and their runes.
According to Wikipedia, some of the Ahnenerbe’s “most extravagant activities” included:
• Edmund Kiss tried to travel to Bolivia in 1928 to study the ruins of temples in the Andes mountains. He claimed their similarity to ancient European construction indicated they were designed by Nordic migrants, millions of years earlier.
• In 1938, Franz Altheim and his research partner Erika Trautmann requested that the Ahnenerbe sponsor their Middle East trek to study an internal power struggle of the Roman Empire, which they believed was fought between the Nordic and Semitic peoples.
• In 1936 an Ahnenerbe expedition visited the German island of Rügen then Sweden, with the objective of examining rock-art which they concluded was ‘proto-Germanic’.
• They took a huge interest in the Bayeux Tapestry, going so far as to attempt archaeological digs to find other contemporary artwork which would support their assertion of Germanic might.
• In 1938 the Ahnenerbe sent an expedition to Tibet with the intention of proving Aryan superiority by confirming the Vril theory, which was based on Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s 1871 novel Vril, the Power of the Coming Race, an account of a superior subterranean master race and an energy-form called “Vril.” Some theosophists, notably Helena Blavatsky, William Scott-Elliot, and Rudolf Steiner, accepted the book as being (at least in part) based on occult truth. The Ahnenerbe study included measuring the skulls of 376 people, comparing native features to those associated with Aryans. The expedition’s most scientific findings are associated with biological finds.
The organization was also instrumental in promoting the arts, especially the arts that depicted Germanic subjects derived from the “Alte” Germanic past. Hitler Youth were taught in Ahnenerbe-sponsored classrooms the art of carving and creating articles reminiscent of historic Germanic culture groups and eras.
It is likely this highly-carved wooden chest, which now sits on my desk, was constructed under Ahnenerbe influence and possible tutoring. It has the Irminsul symbol with swastika in the sun-wheel pattern as its central theme. This design was the symbol most closely identified with the Ahnenerbe.
All around the sides of the chest are runic symbols: the Wolfsangle on the front, As and Beorc on one side, Elhaz and Tyr on the other, and Sigel on the back. All over the sides, top back are other sun symbols with the ever-turning rays, while the edges all around have diamond-shaped star design as borders.
The chest’s latch and hinges are made of hand-wrought iron. Ironwork also completely frames the lid and top. The opening of the lid is odd in that only half the lid lifts—but why is unknown. The box measures 14½” x 9½” across the lid, by 9½” wide and 6″ deep… plenty of space for me to write about more weird things on my desk.
Friend: “Why do you have so much Nazi shit?”
Answer: “For the runes. The Germans invested more than we paid for the Manhattan Project. You can’t throw the baby out with the bath water. We have much to learn.”
49° and Cloudy, Rain