However for a really strong esoteric understanding of Runes, it is also important to have a working knowledge of the themes behind Indo-European cultures in general, so you can see the overall cultural context of Runology and Rune Magick at least similarly to the way that the great Rune-Masters of the past saw them. People who fail to understand Indo-European cultural phenomena, usually end up using or interpreting Runes in ways totally contrary to their authentic meanings - especially many of the more eclectic New Age authors. This is why you see so many people who want to be "pagans" eventually getting confused and giving up - because pseudo-pagan New Age authors have no standards - they copy from piles of unrelated, non-Indo-European traditions, stick completely off-the-wall meanings onto Runes, and invent fake rituals - when in fact there is plenty of writing on real Indo-European rituals and cultural mythos by people like Guido von List, Peryt Shou, Georges Dumézil and even more accessible authors like Edred Thorsson.
If you have at least a basic grounding in Indo-European concepts of time, karma, the supernatural, the hero's journey, the tri-phase reincarnation cycle, the concepts of perpetual improvement (Asha), blood-memory and farmer-cultural ethics, then you will be far less likely to make silly mistakes or "stumble around in the dark" to paraphrase Master Egil.
Sometimes I will quote from these books and authors, to give a gist of the general flavor of Indo-European Ur-culture and its archetypes and ethics that underpin all true Rune-Magick, especially of the Armanen variety, but just as applicable to the other runic systems if you are so inclined. But if you want your Rune-Magick to be truly effective in real life, at least a few of these books are must-read items.
Keep in mind that many of the books on this list, I do not see eye-to-eye with. These are for background material on various Indo-European cultures, which tend to overlap in areas relating to the primordial Ur-culture of the proto-Aryans. Many of these authors have different viewpoints, with some of the authors' theories and side commentaries even being antithetical to true Indo-European cultural archetypes. So it is important to read multiple authors to get a balanced view of things. Some of the rarer German books have not been translated so at least a basic understanding of German is required for those.
- The Bundahishn
*The Horse, the Wheel and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World, Princeton University Press, 2007.
*The Lost World Of Old Europe: The Danube Valley, 5000 - 3500 BC, (2009)
*A Bronze Age Landscape in the Russian Steppes: The Samara Valley Project (2016, co-editor)
*The Fate of a King. Trans. Alf Hiltebeitel. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1973
*The Fate of the Warrior. Trans. Alf Hiltebeitel. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1970
*Mitra-Varuna. Trans. Derek Coltman. New York: Zone Books, 1988.
*The Stakes of the Warrior. Ed. Jaan Puhvel and David Weeks. Berkeley and Los Angeles, UC Press, 1983. [Mythe et épopée II.1]
*The Plight of the Sorcerer. Trans. David Weeks. Berkeley and Los Angeles, UC Press, 1986. [Mythe et épopée II.2]
Marija Gimbutas: a major author in Indo-European archaeology and culture, generally her later works on paleolithic European “Goddess culture” got a bit worse and more personal speculation rather than solid cultural grounding, but these basic ones on Indo-European (neolithic and later) culture are fairly solid.
*Bronze Age cultures in Central and Eastern Europe. The Hague/London: Mouton,1965.
*The Gods and Goddesses of Old Europe, 7000 to 3500 BC: Myths, Legends and Cult Images. London: Thames and Hudson, 1974.
*Die Ethnogenese der europäischen Indogermanen. Innsbruck: Institut für Sprachwissenschaft der Universität Innsbruck, Innsbrucker Beiträge zur Sprachwissenschaft, Vorträge und kleinere Schriften 54, 1992.
*Das Ende Alteuropas. Der Einfall von Steppennomaden aus Südrussland und die Indogermanisierung Mitteleuropas. Innsbruck: Institut für Sprachwissenschaft, 1994.
J.P. Mallory: a solid author and researcher on Indo-European cultures, though I disagree with his putting the Urheimat in Anatolia... otherwise, a pretty informative source on the subject.
*In Search of the Indo-Europeans: Language, Archaeology and Myth. London: Thames & Hudson,1989.
*Mallory, J.P.; T.E. McNeill. The Archaeology of Ulster. Belfast: Dufour Editions,1991.
*Mallory, J.P.;Victor H. Mair. The Tarim Mummies: Ancient China and the Mystery of the Earliest Peoples from the West. London: Thames & Hudson, 2000.
*Mallory, J.P.; Adams, D.Q. The Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-Europeans and the Proto-Indo-European World. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.
*Mallory, J.P. (2013).The Origins of the Irish. London–New York: Thames & Hudson.
Jens Elmegård Rasmussen: a less well-known author, focuses on the ancient interactions between Indo-European and Finno-Ugric peoples and cultures.
*Studien zur Morphophonemik der Indogermanischen Grundsprache. Innsbruck: Innsbrucker Beiträge zur Sprachwissenschaft,1989.
*Selected Papers on Indo-European Linguistics. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 1999.
Martin L. West: mainly a Hellenic expert and mythologist.
*Indo-European Poetry and Myth. Oxford: Oxford University Press 2007
Albert T. Olmstead: expert on Persian culture
*History of the Persian Empire. Achaemenid Period. Hrsg. George G. Cameron. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Ill. 1948,
Richard Frye: general expert on ancient Iranian cultures, though he also writes about the Rus.
*The Heritage of Persia: The pre-Islamic History of One of the World's Great Civilizations, World Publishing Company, New York, 1963.
*Greater Iran, Mazda Publishers, 2005,
*Ibn Fadlan's Journey To Russia, Markus Wiener Publishers, 2005.
OLDER EXOTERIC WORKS:
*The culture of the Teutons (1909) – public domain.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak: Indian mathematician, mytho-archaeologist, major leader of the Indian Independence movement, and early Arcto-Aryanist:
*The Arctic Home in the Vedas (1903) – public domain
*Die Germania des Tacitus, erläutert von Rudolf Much; Winter, Heidelberg 1937, 3. Auflage unter Bearbeitung durch Wolfgang Lange und Herbert Jankuhn, 1967.
*Der Name Germanen. Hölder, Wien 1920.
*Deutsche Stammeskunde. Göschen, Leipzig, Berlin (u.a.) 1900.
*Der germanische Himmelsgott. Niemeyer, Halle a. S. 1898.
*Deutsche Stammsitze − ein Beitrag zur ältesten Geschichte Deutschlands. Niemeyer, Halle a. S. 1892.
Guido von List: the Master himself! You may be surprised to know how many books on ancient Germanic culture he wrote. In addition he went beyond just Germanic Lore and placed the Runes and their associated symbols in a primal Pan-Aryan context. Even his rune books, cover far more than just the Runic symbols. A lot of the cultural and mystical insights in his works are things that the pure academics are just beginning to uncover.
|1888||Carnuntum. Historischer Roman aus dem 4. Jahr-hundert (two volumes)||Berlin|
|1892||Tauf-, Hochzeits- und Bestattungs-Gebräuche und deren Ursprung||Salzburg|
|1893||Litteraria sodalitas Danubiana||Vienna|
|1894||Jung Diether's Heimkehr. Eine Sonnwend-Geschichte aus dem Jahre 488 n. Chr.||Brno|
|1894||Der Wala Erweckung||Vienna|
|1895||Walküren-Weihe. Epische Dichtung||Brno|
|1895||Pipara. Die Germanin im Cäsarenpurpur (two volumes)||Leipzig|
|1898||Der Unbesiegbare. Ein Grundzug germanischer Weltanschaaung||Vienna|
|1899||König Vannius. Ein deutsches Königsdrama||Brno|
|1900||Der Wiederaufbau von Carnuntum||Vienna|
|1901||Sommer-Sonnwend-Feuerzauber. Skaldisches Weihespiel||Vienna|
|1903||Alraunen-Mären. Kulturhistorische Novellen und Dichtungen aus germanischer Vorzeit||Vienna|
|1903||Das Goldstück. Ein Liebesdrama in fünf Aufzügen||Vienna|
|1908||Das Geheimnis der Runen||Gross-Lichterfelde|
|1908||Die Armanenschaft der Ario-Germanen||Leipzig and Vienna|
|1908||Die Rita der Ario-Germanen||Leipzig and Vienna|
|1909||Die Namen der Völkerstämme Germaniens und deren Deutung||Leipzig and Vienna|
|1909/10||Die Religion der Ario-Germanen im ihrer Esoterik und Exoterik||Zurich|
|1910||Der Bilderschrift der Ario-Germanen (Ario-Germanische Hieroglyphik)||Leipzig and Vienna|
|1911||Die Armanenschaft der Ario-Germanen. Zweiter Teil||Leipzig and Vienna|
|1911||Der Übergang vom Wuotanstum zum Christensum||Zurich|
|1913||Die Armanenschaft der Ario-Germanen. Erster Teil (second edition)||Vienna|
|1913||Deutsch-Mythologische Landschaftsbilder (second edition)||Vienna|
|1914||Die Ursprache der Ario-Germanen und ihre Mysteriensprache|
Rudolf Gorsleben: one of the most influential but least remembered Armanists
*Hoch-Zeit der Menschheit
Peryt Shou: another very influential though largely forgotten Armanist; he was a great expett in Indo-European esoteric Lore and many lost occult Aryan traditions. He is believed to have been part of a secret family Runic tradition, like his contemporary Tarnhari (Ernst Lauterer). All his books are out of print, though a few have been reprinted. If you can find any of them past the first two, you are fortunate.
*The Edda as Keys to the Coming Age
*The Mystery of the Central Sun: from the Scientific and Metaphysical Viewpoints
*Zeiten-Wende: Not, Transformation und Erwachen
*Der Hüter am Tor: Uranisches Zeitalter und Ur-Religion
*Atlantis - Das Schicksal der Menschheit
*Die Geisteswaffe des Nordischen Menschen
Robert Sepehr: an interesting new author on esoteric history and archaeology, he explores many metaphysical and paranormal topics in Aryan history that have been considered “too fringe to touch” by the mainstream. While I don't agree with all of his conclusions (especially his statements confusing Cro-Magnons with Aryans), he does fascinating work on worldwide Aryan Diffusion theory and the re-dating of Indo-European cultures to far earlier than mainstream consensus preaches.
He also makes some pretty informative videos, and also does research into the historical antagonists of Indo-European culture.
*The Occult Secrets of Vril. Atlantean Gardens, 2015
*1666: Redemption Through Sin. Atlantean Gardens, 2015
Edred Thorsson/Stephen Flowers: Like him or hate him, a very important author in the Runic Revival - he is famous for his rune books, less famous for his cultural books (see below), and infamous for his messing around with Setianism. That said, if you can ignore his occasional hermetic babblings, he can be a very useful author. He has also recently focused on the Iranian (more specifically, Mazdean) branch of Indo-European cultures and spirituality.
*An Introduction to the Germanic Tradition, Rûna-Raven Press, 1994
*The Northern Dawn - A History of the Reawakening of the Germanic Spirit, Volume 1: From the Twilight of the Gods to the Sun at Midnight, Rûna-Raven Press, 2006 (preface 2003). Second edition, Arcana Europa Media LLC, October 30, 2017.
*The Mysteries of the Goths, Rûna-Raven Press, 2007
*The Good Religion: The Occidental Temple of the Wise Lord, Lodestar, March 20, 2014
*The Mazdan Way: Essays on the Good Religion for the West, Lodestar , October 14, 2017
*Original Magic: The Rituals and Initiations of the Persian Magi, Inner Traditions, November 16, 2017
Alain de Benoist: a French philosopher usually associated with the practical revival of Indo-European consciousness and values in a western context.
*On Being a Pagan. Albin Michel, 1981
*Summoning the Gods
*What is a Rune?
Ernst Radusch: a long-forgotten and obscure author on esoteric Runology in both a Germanic and pan-Aryan context. Good luck if you can find a copy of his sole surviving book:
*Ich las eine Rune. Ein Ruf an das junge Deutschland. Breslau, F. Hirt, 1933.