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Blum Draws a Blank on 25th Rune.

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Here is a recent E-mail I received:

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Dear Sweyn,

Checking through many of the rune-pages on the net, I keep coming across
references to a 25th rune, known variously as the 'blank-rune', the
'wyrd-rune', and (very occasionally) 'Odins-rune'. Try as I might, I
can find no reference to such a rune in the medieval norse sources that
I'm familiar with. Would you happen to have a reference for this? or
is it just a new-agey 'lets make it nice and mysterious' kind of
invention?

Your with thanks in advance for any help you can give me on this,

Karl-Erik P

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Over the years, I have received a number of questions along these lines.

Here is an excerpt from The Rune Primer

The Blank Rune

Perhaps the most hotly debated argument between rune users today. Traditionalists fume at the idea of adding a 25th non-rune. New-Agers like it. Where did it come from?

In 1982 Ralph Blum published his "Book of Runes". The book became a runaway success, partly due to the nifty set of ceramic divination tiles and pouch that came with it.

Blum claims that this blank rune idea came from a hand made rune set he bought in England the 1970s. He kept them unused for a few years, until one day he found them and started playing with them.

Blum decided to ignore the traditional Futhark order and three Aetts division (3 rows of 8 runes), and re-organised the 25 tiles into a random grid. Seeing no significance in the pattern, he decided to read them from right to left, and it happened that the blank tile was in the bottom left corner, thus last. It also happened that Mannaz was in the top right, thus first. These positions convinced him that there must be a deep significance to his new order. He then proceeded to use the I Ching (a Chinese method of divination) to assist him in interpreting each rune.

Traditionalists reading his account were horrified. Criticism was further fuelled by the fact that the book was such a commercial success. For most people who use runes for divination, this was their first, and often only, book on runes.

There are no references to a blank rune in any of the extensive literature on runes before Blum's book, so we can be quite certain that the idea dates to the mid 1970s at the earliest. There is certainly no evidence of a blank rune in the runic inscriptions, rune poems, or other Nordic literature dating from the time when runes were still in common use.

Sweyn
Organiser Rune-Net


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