[The Theosophist, Vol. IV, No. 9, June 1883, p. 234]
I shall feel highly obliged if you will kindly insert in the columns of The Theosophist the meanings and history of the two following names:
1. Runic; and 2, Arne Saknussemm.
I guess the meaning of the first to be the name of a language. Of the second the name of a professor or a learned man of the sixteenth century, a great alchemist of the day.
I want a regular history of the second expression.
“A JUNIOR STUDENT.”
Trevandrum, April 8, 1883.
“A Junior Student” makes a right guess in one instance. There is not much mystery in the adjective “runic,” though its noun “Rune” of Rûn (an Anglo-Saxon word) stood in days of old for “mystery,” and related to magical letters—as any Encyclopaedia might have told him. The word runic relates both to the language and the peculiar alphabet of the ancient Norsemen; and “runes” was the name used to indicate the sixteen letters or characters of which the latter was composed. It is of the remotest antiquity, and the few ones who were acquainted with the use of those
peculiar marks some old stones bearing yet inscriptions in the Runic character—were considered as great enchanters and magicians, until the runes began to be used in communication by writing and thus—their sacred and mystic character was lost by becoming vulgarized. Nevertheless, in some Occult books it is distinctly stated that those letters received in their subsequent usage a significance quite distinct from the original one, the latter remaining to this day a mystery and a secret with which the initiated descendants of the Norsemen will not part. The various talismans and charms used occasionally by the modern so-called “wizards” and “witches” in Ireland—supposed to have inherited the secret science of old—are covered generally with runic marks and may be easily deciphered by those students to whom no ancient mystery is one, they studying Occultism in its general or universal aspect.
As to the other word or rather name of which “Junior Student” wants “a regular history”—it will be more difficult to satisfy him since no such name is to be found either in the catalogue of mediaeval Alchemists and Rosicrucians, or in the long list of Occultists in general, since Apollonius of Tyana and down to the days of Éliphas Lévi.
It is most certainly not a European name, in its second —half at any rate; and if the name of Arne is to be occasionally met with, that of “Saknussemm” has an Egyptian rather than a Western ring in it. There was an “Arne” (Thomas Augustine), an English musical composer and the author of “Rule Britannia” in the eighteenth century, and two men of the name of Socinus—in the sixteenth and seventeenth. But these were no alchemists but great theologians, or rather we should say anti-theologians and infidels. Loelius Socinus—the first—was the friend of both Melanchthon and Calvin, though he denied the fundamental doctrines of popular Christianity and made away with the Trinity. Then came Faustus Socinus—his nephew, and a great sceptic, the protégé of F. de Medici, grand duke of Tuscany. This one openly maintained that the Trinity is a pagan doctrine; that Christ was a created and inferior being, and that there was neither personal God nor devil.
His followers were called the Socinians, but even this name answers very little to Saknussemm.
Having thus confessed our ignorance, we can suggest to “Junior Student” but one plan; and that is, to seek for his “Saknussemm” among the Egyptian deities. “Arne Baskenis” was the Greek name of Aroeris the elder Horus, “Sakanaka” is the mystical appellation of a great fire, which is mentioned in the hundred and sixty-fifth chapter of the Ritual of the Dead—and may have, perchance, something to do with the alchemist fire of Saknussemm. Then we have Sakasutu—the “Eldest-born of the Sun God,” one of the names of the planet Saturn in Chaldean Astronomy; and finally Samoulsamouken, the name of the rebel king of Babylon, the brother of Assurbanipal, king of Assyria. Having done our best, we can but advise our correspondent to let us know in what work he met with the name, as also his reasons for believing that “Saknussemm” was an alchemist, or a learned man of the sixteenth century.