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What is a Rune? & Other Essays

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Collin Cleary
What is a Rune? & Other Essays
Edited by Greg Johnson
San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2015
256 pages

Collin Cleary’s new book is now in print and shipping. The next one hundred orders will be autographed. Let us know if you want your book personalized.

Hardcover: $35 

Paperpack: $20 

To visit our secure order page, click here

In these nine remarkable essays, Collin Cleary expands upon the ideas of his path-breaking book Summoning the Gods and ventures into entirely new territory:

  • “What is a Rune?” explores the nature of mytho-poetic thought and the problem of recovering the mysteries of runa.
  • “The Fourfold” uses Martin Heidegger’s phenomenology of “dwelling” as a means of approaching our ancestors’ way of being in the world.
  • “The Ninefold” offers a philosophical interpretation of the nine worlds of Germanic myth.
  • “The Gifts of Odin and his Brothers” unveils the inner meaning of the account of human origins found in the Eddas.
  • “The Stones Cry Out” advances the revolutionary thesis that “openness to Being” explains the sudden appearance of art in Europe 40,000 years ago.
  • Cleary’s controversial essay “Ásatrú and the Political” argues that Ásatrú is inseparable from White Nationalism.
  • “Are We Free?” skewers the false conception of freedom to which Westerners are in thrall.
  • “Heidegger: An Introduction for Anti-Modernists” offers readers the best English-language introduction to the most important philosopher of the last century.
  • The Prisoner and Ibsen’s Brand” is a sequel to Cleary’s popular essay on The Prisoner from Summoning the Gods, exploring this enigmatic television series in the light of Henrik Ibsen’s classic play about implacable moralism.


Introduction by Greg Johnson: The Philosophy of Collin Cleary

Author’s Preface

1. What is a Rune?
2. The Fourfold
3. The Ninefold
4. The Gifts of Odin & His Brothers
5. The Stones Cry Out: Cave Art & the Origin
of the Human Spirit
6. Ásatrú & the Political
7. Are We Free?
8. Heidegger: An Introduction for Anti-Modernists
9. “All or Nothing”: The Prisoner & Ibsen’s Brand

Index (Print edition only)

Praise for Collin Cleary

“The writings of Collin Cleary are an excellent example of the way in which old European paganism continues to question our contemporaries in a thought-provoking way. Written with elegance, his work abounds in original points of view.”

—Alain de Benoist, author of On Being a Pagan

“In What is a Rune? and Other Essays, Collin Cleary delves headlong into the world of Mystery in a way that brings clarity and light. An inspired mind linked to the vehicle of rational thought and profound memory for the mythic past leads the reader to deep insight. Cleary has done his homework on all levels, and with this book gives us a port of entry into a fascinating world of ideas.”

—Edred Thorsson, author of Runelore 

“With his second book, What is a Rune?, Collin Cleary makes another powerful contribution to the intellectual foundations of modern Heathenry. Cleary approaches a wide range of topics, from the theological to the political, through his well-developed and cogently argued Heideggerian brand of Radical Traditionalism. Given the depth of Cleary’s penetrating analysis of so many topics relevant to modern Heathenry, What is a Rune? belongs in the library of every thinking Heathen.”

—Christopher Plaisance, editor of The Journal of Contemporary Heathen Thought

Collin Cleary, Ph.D. is an independent scholar living in Sandpoint, Idaho. He is the author of Summoning the Gods: Essays on Paganism in a God-Forsaken World (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2011). Cleary is one of the founders of TYR: Myth-Culture-Tradition, the first volume of which he co-edited. His essays have appeared in TYR, Rûna, and at Counter-Currents/North American New Right. A Master in the Rune-Gild, his work has been translated into Czech, Danish, French, Portuguese, Russian, and Swedish.

Hardcover: $35

Paperpack: $20

To visit our secure order page, click here.


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  1. DebbieC
    Posted July 11, 2015 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    My copy of “What is a Rune” arrived a few days ago and I am nearly done. Magnificent work! And a very worthy successor to “Summoning of the Gods”. My particularly favorite essay is the “Stones Cry Out”. Dr. Cleary presents the most well-argued thesis of the origins of European sacred thought/experience that I have ever read. Though I consider myself well-read in areas of European philosophy, history, literature etc., I very much appreciated his detailed explanation and footnotes, which are never overbearing or condescending. Everyone interested in European origins should read this!

    I would like to offer a small observation. In the latter part of the essay “The Stones Cry Out”, Dr. Cleary suggests that when a person “reflects upon this order and asks what its purpose is, the answer seems to be the asking of the very question.” (p. 139, “What is a rune?”) The “order” being, the divine order of the universe itself. This to me is a very important point. In the Grail stories of the Fisher King, it was because the knight did not ask the question, that the wounded King was not healed, the magical world held in wasteland. Perhaps much as the Wounded Man in the cave paintings is never “fleshed out”. Perhaps the artist/men who went into the caves had to do just that…ask the right question and their answer was art. Their answer was the in painting. Dr. Cleary shows that they intuited in a brilliant flash of understanding the nature of themselves, their world, their universe.

    The author writes very poignantly of trying to regain a sense of the mytho-poetic mind. I agree that poetry, especially haiku, is a great way of seeing a glimmer of that mind. Man/object/transcendent essence are one in the best of poetry and art. There is also another practice their our ancestors used, I believe. Riddles. Because the point of a riddle is to ask the right question, artistically, and understanding only follows if answered correctly. You can only answer correctly, if you think mytho-poetically. Our ancestors love of riddles was a way of practicing and passing down that ancient truth. The Grail legends, beloved by all Europeans, is also a glimmer of that tradition.

    I can’t wait for Dr. Cleary’s next work, and intend to go back and re-read “Summoning of the Gods”!

  2. Alex
    Posted April 17, 2015 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    I guess I’ll take mine personalized as well.

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted April 18, 2015 at 5:32 am | Permalink

      Send me an email with your name in it.

  3. Peter Quint
    Posted April 17, 2015 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    I too would like mine personalized.

  4. rhondda
    Posted April 16, 2015 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Yes, I would like my copy personalized.

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