Dr. Charlotte Pipes: misguided fluffy-bunny or just opportunistic idiot?

It so happens that I read most of the essays on as they come out. Many of them will have some broad applicability to paganism in general, and occasionally one will have some more specific applicability to my interests, such as traditional witchcraft, Asatru, or … runes.

This week, we are treated to The Origin of Runes by one “Brunehilde”. A quick game of follow-the-links brings us to her real name, which is Dr. Charlotte Pipes, a professor of music at a university in Louisiana, and affiliated also with the “Psychic Schoolhouse“. Turns out this lady has also been featured on the Lamplight Circle podcast, wherein she graced the world with a brief talk on the Elder Futhark.

In the latter, she leads off with the gem that there are runes to be found in neolithic cave paintings (4:50 into the podcast). It gets worse from there. Those cave-paintings are examples of operative magic, and are “prayer centers”. Runes are not an alphabet. Those little lights you see when you rub your eyes? Those “have got to be some kind of energy signature” built into the human brain (6:00 in the podcast), rather than just random firings of the optic nerve-endings, like every neuro-scientist on the planet seems to think. And “we think this may be how some of the early rune symbols came about” (7:00 in the podcast). We who? I don’t know of anyone who has been using runes in a serious manner for any amount of time who believes this drivel. Oh, and the runes were given to mankind by Odin. Sorry, Rig/Heimdall… Dr. Pipes just wrote you out of the picture. Oh, and magic? Nononono… that’s “just prayer” (8:45 in the podcast).

You get the point.

There is most certainly a magical tradition associated with the runes, and its workings were well understood by the ancient Germanic peoples. This is well attested-to in surviving inscriptions, literary evidence, and so forth. However, that does not mean that anyone is free to make wild associations willy-nilly about it. The magical tradition of the runes has its own internal logic, and trying to link it with whatever the latest fad in Newage pop culture is, is not only doing that tradition a disservice, but is also a disservice to those who think they’re getting information rooted in historical practices.

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