Friedrich Bernhard Marby’s Theories of Runology

After writing a number of articles on the Runes in the late 1920s, in 1931 F.B. Marby (a Dutchman who immigrated to Germany) began publishing a multi-volume work: Runic-Writing, Runic-Words, Runic-Gymnastics [Runenschrift, Runenwort, Runengymnastik ] that detailed some complex theories around Runic Exercises.

In the first volume, Marby gives his Runic Philosophy, which is based on: Sacred Writing, Sacred Speech, and Sacred Action [Die heilige Schrift, Die heilige Sprache, und Die heilige Tat ].

Sacred Writing (or Sacred Script) consists of Line-Forms, Script-Forms, and Sign-Forms.

Sacred Speech consists of Sound forms, which go with the Image-Forms of the sacred Script in-Itself.

But Sacred Action consists of a Shaping (or Forming) of the Body, in which the Image of the Characters, the Sound-Currents and the Vibrations of the Speech are brought into Doing (or are Performed)!

He says that with the successful combination of Sacred Writing, Sacred Speech and Sacred Action, one has Sacred Causal-Action [Die heilige Tat-Sache ] which results in Salvation and/or Healing [Das Heil ].

The German word Heil  has many different meanings when translated into English: hail; heal, healing, cure, curative; well-being, welfare; good; salvation, deliverance; intact, unhurt, undamaged, in one piece.

This shows us that this term includes not only ‘salvation’, but is also connected with ‘health/healing’, ‘well-being’ and even ‘hail’ (a greeting or praise-giving phrase):

Heil  = Hail = Health = Well-Being = Salvation

And the German word Heilige  (meaning holy, sacred, saintly, devout, sanctified) has Heil  in it… Which means that in Marby’s Runic philosophy, all these concepts are connected together in a way that is not so easily translated into English. He further explains:

“Sacred Writing arranges Salvation-Conceptualizing [Heil-Denken ].

Sacred Speech translates the Concepts into (Power or) Force [Kraft ].

Sacred Action shapes the Force and sends it out through the corresponding Body-Positions in the Rune-Exercise.

Marby regarded the human being as a receiver and transmitter of cosmic waves & rays that animate the entire universe. His theories for how to practice “Rune-Gymnastics” were based on gathering Runic energy from “The Lodge of World-Space” (or the “The Lodge of Cosmos/Universe Space”) [Die Loge der Welt-Räume ].

He also gives his description of the “The Lodge of World Space” in this first volume, which had 5 aspects or zones:

 Zone     Original German   Literal Translation Explanation
Uber-Welten-Raum ‘Ultra/Beyond’ – ‘Worlds/Universe’ Space Cosmic Space
Welten-Raum (Sternenraum) ‘Worlds/Universe’ Space (Starry Space) Planetary & Starry Space
Wellen-Raum ‘Wave’ Space Earth’s Atmosphere
Erdstoff-Raum ‘Material-Earth’ Space Earth itself
Erd-Innen-Raum ‘Within/Inner’ Earth Space Inner-Earth

Zone 1 is considered a zone of tranquil space that radiates energy.
Zone 2 is charged with radiations from zone 5 and is influenced by the physical bodies (stars, planets, etc.) that occupy it.
Zone 3 includes everything above the surface of the earth and that our physical bodies inhabit. It receives energy patterns from the zones above and below, and they are most freely exchanged in this zone.
Zone 4 is the physical planet, which is supposedly filled with ancient forms of energy in various patterns.
Zone 5 is also a zone of tranquil space that radiates energy (like zone 1).

In the second volume (1932), he gives detailed instructions on the practice of the Is or I-Rune, that he called the “I-Rune-Form-Exercise” [I-Runen-Form-Abung ]. The two final volumes of his 4 volume, 8-part, book (both of which were published in 1935) are where he gives detailed “Rune-Gymnastics” exercises for additional Runes.

For Marby, the exchange of forces within the various energy zones constitutes the phenomena of the universe. He claimed that the methodology for the internalization of these cosmic forces was something that was practiced throughout Germany, Scandinavia, and the British Isles in ancient times. He noted that, in Scandinavia, it is still a folk custom to teach the alphabet to school children by having them strike poses similar to the shapes of letters, while making the sound each letter represents. In this way they quickly internalize the shapes and sounds.

Thus, Marby saw the Runes not just as letters or phonetic values, but as representations of postures & movements that could be performed in order to improve one’s reception, absorption, and projection of certain cosmic influences. By imitating the forms of the Runes one is able to enjoy the particular influences associated with them, and this is augmented through the repetition of the associated sound or mantra. Meaning that by practicing the Runes, one makes oneself capable of receiving and sending patterns of energy like an antenna.

He considered nine basic factors (or “Nine Mothers” as he called them) to be the keys to using the runes:

1) posture or shape
2) environmental space
3) place or location
4) direction or orientation
5) stream of breath
6) vowel sound
7) consonant sound
8) will or concentration
9) motion or movement (such as when postures or shapes are made dynamically in dance, etc).

His theories for how to gather Runic energies (from “The Lodge of World Space”) seem to have influenced several others and especially practitioners of similar Runic Body Postures.

According to information provided in his own records, Marby began to use the Runes in an esoteric fashion in 1907 (right about the same time Guido von List published his famous The Mystery/Secret of the Runes ).

Marby is often cited as the first to develop and use Runic Body Postures or “Rune-Gymnastics” [Runengymnastik] as a means of channeling Runic energy. However, this does not appear to be the case since Peryt Shou did publish a single Runic Body Posture about 10 years earlier and also gave similar theories about receiving cosmic messages or energy.

In his writings, Marby emphasized the health benefits gained from meditating on the Runes. He says that the first effect of practicing “Runic-gymnastics” should be the transformation and healing of the individual. If a group of people (or folk) are engaged in the practice of the Runes as a body, then that whole body will be gradually purified and strengthened.



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