Sunday, April 14, 2013

#508: Ralph Blum

You should’ve seen this one coming. As you know, the Germanic peoples of old used runes for writing, and as such people are wont to do, ascribed supernatural powers and woo to them. It was thus just a matter of time before some ridiculous New Ager would pick it up as well. Enter Ralph Blum and his book The Book of Runes: A Handbook for the Use of an Ancient Oracle”. Most people with an interest in matters old Germanic peoples and traditions would point out that Blum chose his rune orderings randomly, created a previously unused blank rune, and assigned meanings based on his own beliefs assisted by the Chinese fortune telling system I Ching, but whatever. The distinction between reality and imagination was apparently a little too hard in this case, and who doesn't like a good portion of Eastern mysticism mixed in with their Viking magic. He has followed up his book with at least six others, among others The Rune Cards: Sacred Play for Self Discovery”, which is a tarot card system using runes, The Relationship Runes: A Compass for the Heart” (with one Bronwyn Jones), and two books with one Susan Loughan: “The Healing Runes,” and the illuminatingly titled The Serenity Runes: Five Keys to the Serenity Prayer” (both concern using runes for divination).

Blum has also written books on the Tao Te Ching, Zen Buddhism, and UFOs.

The rune magic silliness is not exclusive to Blum, of course. It has also been picked up by the incoherently garbled Stephen Flowers under the name ”Edred Thorsson”, and by the equally unhinged Stephen Grundy under the name ”Kveldulf Gundarsson”. Grundy claims that Runic magic uses the runes to affect the world outside based on the archetypes they represent, which sound like the map-terrain confusion that riddles postmodernist relativists, combined with an unhealthy dose of wishful thinking.

Diagnosis: I’ll give the New Agers credit for their ability to fill in every conceivable niche of dumb, and Blum particular credit for wringing seven books (targeting the gullible) out of a rather shallow topic. He’s still your ultimate mushhead New Age crackpot, though.


  1. I nominate Tim Dunkin if for no other reason than this column:

    That alone should earn him a spot. Of course that is nowhere near all he has written.

    1. Wow...I think my brain fused from utter stupidity of that screed. He certainly belongs among the Alan Keyes crowd of neo-Puritan fanatics.