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by Chris Travers
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Occult & Paranormal
  • Author:
    Chris Travers
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  • Publisher:
    BookSurge Publishing (February 2, 2009)
  • Pages:
    192 pages
  • Subcategory:
    Occult & Paranormal
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    1151 kb
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    1347 kb
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    1800 kb
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"The Serpent and the Eagle" is the most transparent and accessible book on Runes available today. By exploring the rich lore from Germanic mythical sources as well as comparative studies, this work shines light on the Runes like never before. Among the subjects covered include the mythic cosmology, the sources for knowledge, and how to use the Runes in various ways. Anyone interested in Runes, whether a novice or an advanced student, will find a wealth of information and insight in this book.

I've done runes a bit as a hobby, and read some simple texts on them which basically treat them as a novelty item, with minimal information about the deeper aspects of it. The Serpent and the Eagle was a completely different kind of introduction, which grounded me in the traditional mythology, philosophy and culture behind the runes, therefore putting their practical use in a real context. The writer does a great job of presenting the concepts in a way that is well researched without being dryly academic: its full of footnotes but you never lose the sense that the writer regards the subject as a deep living tradition, complete with all the mysteries of the divine.

My only wish was that there was more. It was a complete introduction, but you get the sense of having only seen the tip of the iceberg as far as what this writer could say. I will be looking out for more books by Chris Travers.
No scholarship included even though the author seems to think his personal opinion should outweigh historical evidence. No matter what Mr. Travers claims this is a purely modern take on the runes, in other words made up (or borrowed from tarot if you prefer). If that is your thing there are better books on the market like Futhark by Edred Thorsson.
This book needs to be in the library of EVERY rune worker. Travers has taken any other book that serves as an introduction to the runes and swept it away. Unlike most books that are this accessible, he has taken each rune and explained how it fits in with primary sources (Eddas, sagas, the rune poems and other poetry). This is something that I have always stressed when trying to teach the runes, and I applaud his meticulous and thorough research.

My only personal issue with the book is the heavy reliance on Georges Dumézil's theory of tripartite structure of Indo-European mythology. I personally have issues with Dumézil's theory, but Travers has made a valid case for using that idea as a guide to the runes.

If you have ever wanted to experiment with runes in divination or magic this book is for you. Even as a somewhat experienced rune worker I found the information to be invaluable compared to the moderate price tag.
Lets be honest here: we all love the books of Edred Thorsson (Dr. Stephen Flowers) but his work demands a dedication and sophistication that most of us with a casual interest in rune magic will, quite frankly, not posses. On the other hand, many other books on the subject are written by Wiccans or Kabbalists who are trying to fit the runes into their own philosophy. While comparisons between magical traditions can be fruitful, this is not the best place to start. There are also writers who have bad source material (like when writers use the Elder Futhark ordering with the Anglo-Saxon rune-forms and names) or make things up as they go along (like the blank rune). This book admirably avoids each of these pitfalls.

I have had the privilege to meet Chris Travers during his rune lectures. He is a Master in the Rune Gild (like the Golden Dawn, except about Runes and Norse Gods instead of Hebrew Letters and Kabbalah) and has a firm grounding in the history of the culture that produced these mysteries and experience in magical practice. He elucidates the meanings and rituals well using what is known about the ancient traditions. He also spells out clearly what other writers only hint at. The only downside is the grammatical errors, but other than that, this is the best place to start learning about the runes.
Chris Travers has written a highly readable book that is suitable for beginners and more advanced runic practitioners alike. Travers offers his own valuable insights and experiences on the runes, European mythology, and magic in general.

The book is divided into three parts, perhaps reflecting three divisions that Travers explains is fundamental to Nordic mythology, and the runes themselves. The parts are: I - Runic Fundamentals; II - The Runestaves of the Elder Futhark; III - Runic Practice.

'Runic Fundamentals' introduces the background material that is needed for understanding and working with the runes. This includes the cosmology, a runic theory of magic, and the three divisions of the Universe, with introductions of important figures and symbols such as Oðinn, Yggdrassil, The Norns, and Wyrd (Urð).

Travers offers some good insight with his discussion on the three-fold division structure that can be found throughout European cosmology. He postulates that this structure is reflected in the mythology with beings that are "Celestial (Dwelling in the Heavens), Terrestrial (Dwelling on the Earth), and Chthonic (Dwelling in the Earth or Sea)." (Page 30). He footnotes this, commenting that "One should also note that Roberto Assagioli postulated a model for the psyche with a similar structure for use in psychotherapy." It is also useful to consider the "three veils" of the Kabbalistic tradition, as well as the "Three Worlds" described by Michael Harner as part of core shamanism.

'The Runestaves of the Elder Futhark' contains a good introduction to each of the runes, looking at the three aetts (divisions) of the runes, and describing the relationship each rune has to each other. Each rune's entry contains etymology, descriptions relating the runes to the rune poems and sagas, as well as their uses in divination and magic.

'Runic Practice' covers three areas fundamental to runic practices: mediation, divination and rune magic, as well as appendices covering The Valkyrie, Oðinn, sample rituals and further resources. The rune magic presented by Travers especially focuses on rune poems, and gives good advice for learning and developing the techniques for writing magical poetry. This is an aspect that could be very useful to magicians interested in non-Runic paths, as the basis could be easily adapted to other practices. The role of language in magic is of cross-cultural importance, and any magician or pagan could well benefit from mastering language for magical purposes.

While the book is easy to read, it contains plenty of material that can be re-read multiple times, and the meditations and magical practices need to be worked to gain a true understanding of the runes.