Guido Karl Anton List was born in Vienna in the Austrian Empire to Karl Anton List, a prosperous middle class leather goods dealer, and Maria List (née Killian). His father was a prosperous dealer in leather goods. He grew up in the Leopoldstadt bezirke of Vienna. Like the majority of his fellow Austrians at that time, his family was Roman Catholic, and he was christened as an infant in St Peter's Church in Vienna. In 1862 a visit to the catacombs beneath the Cathedral of Saint Stephan made a deep impression, and List regarded the catacombs as a pagan shrine. As an adult he claimed he had then sworn to build a temple to Wotan when he grew up.On June 24, 1875 he was camping with four friends near the ruins of Carnuntum. As the 1500th anniversary of the Germanic tribes defeat over this Roman garrison in 375, the evening carried a lot of weight for List. Carnuntum became the title of List's first full-length novel, published in two volumes in 1888

After its success, it was followed by two more books set in tribal Germany; Jung Diether's Heimkehr (Young Diether's Homecoming, 1894) and Pipara (1895). These books led to List being celebrated by the pan-German movement. Around the turn of the century, he continued with several plays. Between 1903 and 1907 he began using the noble title von on occasion, before finally settling on it permanently in 1907. As this was only permitted for members of the aristocracy, he was put before an official enquiry. Here he produced spurious evidence supporting his tenuous claim, which was accepted by the officials heading the inquiry. However, there is no extant evidence demonstrating independently verifiable proof of direct lineal descent from a noble family for the Lists.

During the final stages of World War I the naval blockade of the Central Powers created food shortages in Vienna. This caused poor health in the now seventy year old von List. In the spring of 1919 he set off to recuperate in Brandenburg, Germany, but his health deteriorated quickly and he died of pneumonia in Berlin on May 17th within a few months after the end of WW1 whilst on a visit to his followers in Berlin. He was cremated in Leipzig and his urn then buried in Vienna Central Cemetery, Zentralfriedhof, on the 8th of October 1919 in the gravesite KNLH 413 - Vienna's largest and most famous cemetery (including the graves of Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert and Strauss.) in Vienna's 11th district of Simmering. Philipp Stauff wrote an obituary which appeared in the Münchener Beobachter.

Das Geheimnis der Runen was originally first published in 1908 and the Guido von list society was founded chiefly by the Wannieck family. Das Geheimnis der runen better known in English as The Secrets of the Runes remains to this day a unique work by the German Ariosophist and Volkish rune magician Guido (von) List. List was an important figure among occultists and Pan Germanic nationalists who borrowed from the Theosophy of Madame H. P. Blavatsky as well a suggested ancient Aryan (Teutonic and Indian) legend to create a unique system of rune magic. From his childhood days, Guido List was prone to mystical fantasy, and at a young age visited the catacombs under the Saint Stephen's Cathedral in his native Vienna and declared that he would build a Temple to Wotan there. Taking his inspiration from early Germanic religion (Wotanism, or Wuotanism) including references from Tacitus and the Eddas, neo-romanticism, and later incorporating elements from Theosophy, Guido List developed a system of Armanenism which was supposedly the earliest belief system of the Germanic Indo-European (Aryan) tribes.

Völkisch" is a German adjective derived from the noun "Volk". The closest translation of the noun would be "people", making the adjectival version "popular" as in "of the people", but the German encompasses far more. Völkisch Movement" worked actively to instill Germanic traits and aggressively eliminate all foreign, contaminating influences. It started in the 1870's and reached a high point following the First World War. Hitler built on many of the themes and subsumed all Völkisch groups into the Nazi party in 1933..

In this latter day book translated in 1987 by Stephen Flowers aka Edred Thorsson, Guido List explains the role of the runes in uncovering early Germanic belief. An important substructure underlying von List's conceptions is his baptism into Roman Catholicism, which he believes serves as a cover for more ancient pagan beliefs which have been subsumed by Christianity. List shows the importance of the runes and the unique meaning of each of the runic elements. Subsequently he shows how the runes were incorporated into such systems as heraldry, freemasonry, folk tradition and belief, and even into baked goods and pastries, as well as holidays. List notes that early Germanic (Aryan) society consisted of individuals who served as farmers with three principal classes (castes), that of the peasantry, the military, and the nobility/intellegentsia (Armanen).

Guido-von-List-Gesellschaft (Guido von List Society), circa 1905, reveals that List had a following of some very prestigious people and shows that the man, his ideology and his influence had widespread and significant support, including eminent public figures in Austria and Germany. It is little wonder that List decided to include the self imposed aristocrat title of VON to his namesake in order to gain acceptance in such high circles. Amongst the 50 signatories which endorsed the foundation of the List Society were:

1) Industrialist Friedrich Wanniek, the president of the "Verein Deutsches Haus at Brno and chairman of the "Prague Iron Company" and the "First Brno Engineering Company" - major producers of capital goods in the Habsburg empire)

2) Friedrich son Oskar Wanniek

3) Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels

4) Karl Lueger (mayor of Vienna)

5) Ludwig von Bernuth (health organisation chairman)

6) Ferdinand Khull (Committee member of the German Language Club)

5) Adolf Harpf (editor of Marburger Zeitung)

7) Hermann Pfister-Schwaighusen (lecturer in linguistics at Darmstadt University)

8) Baron Wilhelm von Pickl-Scharfenstein

9) Amand Freiherr von Schweiger-Lerchenfeld (editor of the popular magazine "Stein der Weisen" and a distinguished army officer)

10) Aurelius Polzer (newspaper editor at Horn and Graz)

11) Ernst Wachler (author and founder of an open-air Germanic theatre in the Harz Mountains)

12) Wilhelm Rohmeder (educator at Munich)

13) Arthur Schulz (editor of a Berlin periodical for educational reform)

14) Friedrich Wiegerhaus (chairman of the Elberfeld branch of the powerful "Deutschnationaler Handlungsgehilfen-Verband" DVH (German Nationalist Commercial Employee's Association)

15) Franz Winterstein (committee member of the "German Social Party" DSP at Kassel).

16) Hugo Goring (Occultist and editor of theosophical literature at Weimar)

17) Harald Arjuna Gravell van Jostenoode (theosophical author at Heidelberg)

18) Max Seling (esoteric pamphleteer and popular philosopher in Munich)

19) Paul Zillmann (editor of the Metaphysische Rundschau and master of an occult lodge in Berlin.)

List defines an occult doctrine in which he outlines what Flowers translates as the "biune-bifidic-dyad", the "triune-trifidic-triad", and the "multifidic multiune-multiplicity". List shows how each of these relates to God and the need for man to conform his will (his ego) to that of God. List also presents a system of reincarnation in which Aryan individuals fallen in battle are taken up into Walhalla. In fact, List himself was to write another important novel named _Carnuntum_ dealing with the Germans under the Roman empire as well as encounter an individual named Tarnhari who was a supposed reincarnation of an Aryan chieftain. List incorporated racial notions of Aryan supremacy into his writings and of course was politically aligned with Pan German nationalists who wanted to see Austria united with the other Germanies. List's ideas were used to found a Masonic society, which later was to embrace National Socialism. Subsequently, many indidividuals associated with National Socialism and the NSDAP were to examine List's ideas and writings and find them interesting in furthering their own political agendas.

Guido's Armanen Futharkh

Guido’s self created row of 18 so-called "Armanen Runes" then became what we know today as the "Armanen Futharkh". His followers claim that a secret vision came to List during an 11 month state of temporary blindness after a cataract operation on both eyes in 1902. This miraculous vision in 1902 allegedly opened what List referred to as his "inner eye", via which he claimed the "Secret of the Runes" was revealed to him. List claimed that his Armanen Futharkh were encrypted in the Hávamál Poetic Edda, specifically in stanzas 147 through 165 reported as being the 'song' of the 18 runes. It must be pointed out that Guido's claim has no historical basis?

However it is not too hard to see where he borrowed the idea from as the mythic lay, Runatals-thattr-Oδhins" of Wuotan's Runic Wisdom knows of 18 rune charms:

146. Oδinn Such lays I know that a lord's  wife dies not, and no man's son;
Lay one is called Help, and that will help you
against lawsuits and sorrows and every sort of affliction.

147. I know the second that sons of mankind need
 those who wish to live a healers life....

148. I know the third if I greatly need
my raging enemies restrained, 
I blunt the edges of my adversaries blades,
neither weapons or bludgeons will bite for them

149. I know the fourth if men fasten locks on my limbs
I sing a spell so I may step free---
The fetters snaps off my feet,
the hasp off my hands!

150. I know the fifth---if I see fatally aimed---
an arrow enter the fighting;
it does not fly so inflexibly that I do not forestall it,
If I, with my eyes I see it.

151. I know the sixth  if a man scrapes wounds for me
on roots of raw wood, 
then it's that brave fellow who breathes curses on me,
that the ulcers eat---and not me!     

152. I know the seventh 
if I see a hall of sleeping men  catch fire over my comrades;
It does not burn so insatiably that I do not save it---
I know how to chant the chant.

153. I know the eighth which is for all men
expedient to acquire:         
wherever hatred spouts among a warlord's sons,
I can remedy that rapidly.

154. I know the ninth: if the need confronts me
of saving my boat on the sea, the wind I calm
The wind I calm over the waves and I soothe the whole ocean to sleep

155. I know the tenth: if I see riders on fence-tops
sporting in the sky, I work it so    
that they wonder astray---   
from the bodies they have at home,
from the minds they have at home.

156.  I know the eleventh if I am to lead into war
long-loved friends d friends,
I chant beneath their shields and dominant they stride---   
safe into battle, safe out of battle,
they come back from anywhere unharmed.

157. I know the twelfth: If I see on a tree up high
a corpse dangling in it's collar, I carve in such a way,
and colour-in the runes---   
that that man walks,
and talks with me.

158. I know the thirteenth, if on a young thane. 
I shall sprinkle water;
He will not fall, though he fights in a battle---
that stalwart does not sink before swords.

159. I know the fourteenth if I must before a forum of men
 give the number of the gods;
Of Ǽsir and elves I know every detail---,
few without wisdom can do that.

160. I know the fifteenth which Þioδreyrir chanted,
the dwarf before Dellingr's door:
he chanted strength to the Ǽsir, prosperity to the Elves,
and insight to Oδinn wise.

161. I know the  sixteenth if you want from a girl of good sense
to have all her liking and love, I make the mind whirl;
In Lady White-Arm,
and turn all her thoughts about 

162. I know the seventeenth I know, so that seldom shall go
that will make her slow to leave me, the maidenly young maid. 

163. These lays, Loddfafnir, you will long feel the lack of ---
though they would be good for you if you get them;
useful if you absorb them,
indispensable  if you adopt them. them.

164. I know the eighteenth, that I never impart
to maiden or man's wife ---
(everything is better that only one man knows of :
with this conclusion, the lays close) ---
---except to that one who shields me in her arm,
or, it might be my sister.

Havamal, Ursula Dronke. The Poetic Edda Vol III Mythological Poems II. pga 34/35