Interview with author and runologist Andy Mercer
We present the interview to the author and runologist Andy Mercer, author of the book Runa the wisdom of the runes, a book that has just been published in its second edition in various formats. The first edition was issued with a special edition and a luxury edition, a marvel for collectors
Greetings Andy, we would like you to explain your beginnings with the runes, what was your first contact with them, first books….What was the most important reason that led you to write your Rune book?
At the time when I originally wrote the first edition, which was actually way back in the early 2000s, there were simply no published English language books that were solely dedicated to the Armanen runes. Of course, Stephen Flowers AKA Edred Thorsson references them a number of times in his books, most especially in Rune Lore and Rune Might, as well as in books and pamphlets from his own ‘Runa-Raven’ publishing house, but that was it, legitimately at least. I say that because there’s also a book that was published in the 1980s that contains a partial uncredited translation of the German occultist Karl Spiesberger’s Runenmagie. I’ll not go into too much detail with regards to that book as it’s basically an illegal rip off. However, other than Thorssons’ legitimate titles, there wasn’t a book that was exclusively concerned with the Armanen runes. There is, of course, Thorsson’s translation of Guido von List’s ‘Das Geheimnis der Runen’ – which includes an introduction, so technically it is the first English language book solely dedicated to the Armanen runes. However, The Secret of the Runes focuses solely on translating von List’s work and not actually expanding in any great detail what von List states, although it is of course essential reading if you want to truly understand the Armanen runes. While my book relies on Thorsson’s translation as I don’t speak German myself, I have tried to expand upon what von List said, as well as exploring other aspects of the runes that are not covered in the previous titles. Of course, between the publication of the first edition, and now the new second edition, other books have appeared, however, they’re not as widely available as the second edition of Runa will be and I’m hopeful that, like the first edition, the second will help further spread knowledge and interest in the Armanen runes
What would you say about the Runes to someone who does not know them? What can you find on the path of the runes? What can they contribute to your life?
The Runes, the Armanen in particular, deeply connect both internally and externally. The daily rituals and practices can all help you to connect with them more completely. To answer your question more fully could well be a future book (which I may write someday) so I’ll not say too much more as they are complex questions. What I would it’s a very personal experience for anyone who works with the Runes, both in terms of internal growth and exploration of other realms, either within or beyond, depending on your perspective.
When the armanen runes came into your life, what was it like?
Whenever I work with any magical system I 100% dedicate myself to it. So I ‘lived and breathed’ the runes for quite a while when I first found them. My first introduction came through reading Thursson’s Rune Might, which pretty much blew me away. The Armanen runes offered a more complete system than any other of the ‘historic’ Futharks. Not just magical practices but also rituals and daily exercises, thus offering a comprehensive system. These rituals and exercises certainly help one feel fully connected to these particular runes, more than any other.
Why did you choose the sacred 18 runes for your book and not the traditional systems?
I must admit I felt a strong connection to them, far more than to any of the other Futharks, particularly with what I would call their magical properties. I also like that It’s possible to understand and study their origins. By that, I mean that we have not only Guido von List’s original writings, most especially’ the Secret of the Runes, but also we have the Havamal, from which the Armanen runes are drawn. So it’s possible to trace their full history and that it’s not lost in the ‘midst of time’ like the traditional futharks.
Can you tell us what we can find in your Rune book? What peculiarities does it have compared to others?
As well as offering a detailed exposition of each Armanen rune, quoting the relevant Havamal text and discussing their meaning. I have created a correspondence system linking a series of nine bind runes, formed by the pairing of two runes, and have matched their combined meaning to the nine realms of Yggdrasil. That probably sounds rather complicated when lain out in a single sentence, however, the process of forming the bindrune, why which two were chosen, and how that bind rune fits with a realm of Yggdrasil, is actually easy to understand once you’ve followed the process as explained in the book. I’ve also included ritual work that’s specifically linked to what I’ve called ‘the bind runes of Yggdrasil’ to help the reader to connect with the realm and the runes. I’ve also included a section on how to create your own Armanen bind runes, as well as my own ‘take’ on runic divination, all of which I hope makes in an interesting read.
We know that your book has been updated in a new edition that has just gone on sale. What can we find as news or updates with respect to the first edition?
There is some additional material and expansion of ideas, but nothing substantial. Although that said, there are approximately 3000 extra words, so I’ve perhaps added more than I realise! However, the main change is the tone, as I’ve also rewritten sections that I wasn’t happy with. As I said before, the book was originally written nearly 20 years ago and some of my thinking has changed, as has my writing style, and I wanted the second edition to reflect that. It has been said to me before that I write long, complicated sentences, this is something I’m trying to get away from. Runa’s rewrite hopefully reflects that.
We know that in your book you tell us about runes as an archetype, tell us a little about it.
Ah, now that is a complicated question and I’m going to be both lazy and enticing! I’m afraid you’ll have read Runa to find that out. Seriously, it plays a significant part in later chapters of my book and I’d sooner let the reader discover that area for themselves.
Do you think it is positive to put the armanen runes back into daily rune practice as they should be?
As I also include daily and occasional runic rituals, I’d certainly agree that daily practice is an excellent idea.
What are your favorite runologists and what books on Runes do you recommend?
Obviously, I’d say Thorsson’s translation of Guido von List’s Secret of the Runes! But also Thorsson’s Rune Might and Rune Lore are both excellent, as indeed are all of his books. However, if you’re looking for a more academic approach I would recommend R.I. Page’s ‘Runes and Runic Inscriptions’ and R. W. W. Elliot’s ‘Runes’, although neither mention the Armanen runes, they do give an excellent summation of the history of runes, as well as some interesting examples of historic runic documents. Lastly for pure ‘eye candy’ G. Stevens’ ‘Handbook of the Old-northern Runic Monuments’. I’m fortunate enough to have a first edition of this book, which dates from 1884, and it’s huge! The book includes 100’s of detailed, hand-drawn illustrations of said runic monuments and artifacts from across the UK and Scandinavia. Although, sadly none of them are Armanen. Indeed, I specifically looked for examples of Gibor as its design is unique to the Armanen Futharkh, sadly I didn’t find a single example. However, as the saying goes ‘Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence’.
The second edition of your book has come out in three editions. Can you tell us what each edition is like and how they differ?
Unfortunately, I’ve not yet seen physical versions of the three designs, only digital mockups. At the time of writing (Late Nov 2020) the book hasn’t been published, that glorious event will not occur until Jan 2021. However, you can order now. I’ve been assured that they will all look fantastic. There will also be a very limited hand bound edition, we’ve yet to decide on the design of that particular edition. At the other end of the scale, one great thing is that, for the first time, there will be a paperback edition, which is unlimited, so the book will be able to reach a much wider audience than the first ed, which was limited to around 500 copies.
Some words for the web?
The only thing I will say is that it is unfortunately still the case that many, even ‘seasoned’ runologists, automatically assume that if you work with the Armanen runes you also associate yourself with certainly political Ideologies. While some may well do so, and that is their choice, however, people should not assume that we all share the same political views simply because we work with von List’s runic discoveries. My book makes no political statements whatsoever, Although in examining their history, I inevitability have to explore the politics of Germany in the 1930s particularly in relation to the runes. Beyond that, I have no interest whatsoever in any political associations that have been made with the Armanen runes. My interest is solely in the runes themselves.