Guido von List, 1848-1919, Austrian writer and occultist, was born in Vienna to a prosperous merchant family. At an early age enjoyed outdoor pursuits and became a writer and scholar.
After unsuccessful endeavors in the family leather business, he earned a sparse living by writing magazine articles. His novel Carnutum, 1888, a historical romance pitting heroic Germanic tribesmen against villainous Romans, won him much acclaim.
This was followed by two more successful novels and a series of plays exhibiting similar themes. These works gained him popularity, especially among the German nationalists then struggling to define and defend a German identity within the polyglot Austro-Hungarian Empire.
In 1902, List turned more toward occultism following eye surgery which left him blind for almost a year and a mystical experience associated with ancient Nordic runes. He was studying fragmentary materials concerning ancient Germanic paganisn which convinced him that a caste of priest-kings, the Armanen, had governed all Germanic tribes in ancient times, and had preserved their secrets after the coming of Christianity through a series of secret societies including the Knights Templar, the Masons, and the Rosicrucians.
He further said that the Armanen had been forced to entrust their secrets to Jewish rabbis in the Rhneland in the eighth century in to preserve them from Christian persecution; this, he believe, was the origin of the Kabbalah.
List produce the first significant work for modern occultism on the runic alphabet, Des Geheimnis der Rumen (The Secret of the Runes, 1908). His research also traced the pagan roots of fairy tales and folklore. From his 1902 revelation he devised a somewhat idiosyncractic approach to runes, and made it one of the central elements of his magical system.
He also ventured into prophecy, predicting that a “Strong One from Above” would arrive in the near future to reestablish the ancient Armanist state and lead the German people to the mastery of the world. This prophecy was arguably fulfilled by Adolf Hitler who rose to power shortly after List’s death.
He greatly influenced European occultism at the beginning of the twentieth century. Such influence was fostered by the founding of the Guido von List Society in 1908 to promote his ideas.
The membership included the wealthy and those from the conservative and nationalist circles, as well as the occult community, the society evolved an inner circle, the Hohere Armanen-Orden, “Higher Armanen Order,” or HAO, which conducted pilgrimages to pagan religious sites.
For decades following List’s death his ideas were the main stay of the occult movements within German-speaking countries. They also provided the magical dimension of the Nazi movement, and serve as partial foundation for current Norse and Germanic neopaganism. A.G.H.
Greer, John Michael. The New Encyclopedia of the Occult. St. Paul, MN, Llewellyn Worldwide. pp. 275-276.
Des Geheimnis de Rumen. <http://geocities.com/fnrswulf/index1.htm>.
Guido von List. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guido_von_List>.
TheGuido von List Website. <http://geocities.com/fnrswulf/welcomeguido.htm>.