Ansuz the fourth rune of the Futhark runic alphabet translates as „mouth“ , „estuary“ or „god“. It is the rune of communication and divine inspiration through the great divine that makes itself known to us. Its shape has been identified as Odin with his blue coat fluttering in the wind as he watches us. I certainly felt his breath and his wisdom when I worked with Ansuz. A plant linked to Ansuz is the fly agaric, a mushroom that has hallucinogenic properties when properly prepared. This hints at the power and ecstasy of Odin as a shaman. Ansuz can bring this ecstasy and this peeks into the other’s worlds and the wisdom of the spirits without the use of pharmaceutical substances. It is the clean and legal entrance into the spirit world. There are others aspects about Ansuz though. Like all runes, it has many faces and facets that reveal themselves to those willing to pursue deeper knowledge.
One such aspect is the idea of the estuary. Where rivers flow into the ocean our ancestors gathered to build villages and cities, trading posts, and markets. In short, there were places of community and communication. Ansuz facilitates that communication and taking it further facilitates order and civilization. I´ve come to understand Ansuz as the ordering law-giving aspect of Odin. Being a creator god and a king he brings order and law to humans and expresses it through Ansuz. He is the mouth through which law and order are spoken. But it is not a law where might (or money) makes right. It is a just law that makes peaceful coexistence and prosperity for all possible. Peace and diplomacy were much more uncommon for our Norse ancestors than they are common for us today. It was the exception rather than the norm that conflicts were settled by words rather than swords. But where words of wisdom prevailed, life could prosper.
The inspiration of the word became the foundation for a peaceful life and from there abundance flowed as rivers flow into the ocean. If we look at the Ukrainian war an it’s repercussion we can see the wisdom in that concept. Ironically, one reason for this war is the strategic access to the harbors in the Baltic Sea that Russia wants. This idea makes the war almost a perversion of the Ansuz rune. Of course, wars have a way of perverting everything but for me, that thought reflects the wisdom that is hidden in Ansuz. Inspiration and communication are always to be preferred to violence. The proper and just dividing of land according to universal laws prevents conflicts and saves lives. If I ever wondered how wise the runes are, I wonder no more.
And that brings forth another side of Ansuz that can also be related to the wars of the present. Ansuz is known as the “Unfetter”. It can break down limitations and restrictions. It can bring on many levels the most precious thing we have. It can bring freedom. I experienced that in many ways. Here is a trivial, almost comical example.
Like a dozen times, I used Ansuz and the following rune Raidho to clear traffic jams. It worked way too often to be a mere coincidence. Ansuz and Raidho somehow – literally out of thin air – cleared whatever blocked the traffic and it flowed again. Like a river flowing to the ocean one might say. Be it a construction site, a slow driver, or a huge agricultural vehicle. They just got out of the way. As I said, this is trivial and comical. Ansuz can bring liberation in freedom physically, mentally, and spiritually. How is that possible? It is magic. Or if you prefer another term, it is the energy contained within the rune. We can release and harness that energy for our own purposes.
The fifth rune of the Elder Futhark, Raidho is the horse and the ride. For me, the rumbling “arrr” sound of the rune always reminded me of a wagon wheel rumbling down a road whether the ground is smooth or not. Raidho is the rune of being underway to your destination. it can be found when you literally travel. Raidho can also be found in the deepest cosmic cycles. You find it in the movement of the stars in the night sky. You find it in the journey we undertake from birth to death. A reverse Raidho rune showed up in my readings when I felt out of the flow. It reminded me that my gut feeling that I was not doing what I was supposed to do ha been right in the first place. When you feel blocked, when things are not moving as they should Raidho can help. When you feel like inside a hamster wheel and everything seems to work against you, maybe you want to consult Raidho.
Raidho´s rolling “arrr” is all about cycles and getting from where you are to where you want to be. Raidho will be with you even if the road is full of bumps and holes. Like the prairie wagons of the American pioneers, it will take you and your life even through rough terrain.
Here is why I like the image of the wheel better than the traditional image of the horse and the rider. If the flow of life is a wheel then you immediately notice when one of the spokes of the wheel is broken or too short. The wheel simply doesn´t spin anymore. The travel gets difficult and tiresome. But once you identified the spoke that is broken or too short you can replace it and the wheel turns again, gently and smoothly.
Astrology and horoscopes and by extension any form of divination and fortune-telling relate to Raidho. In the end, a horoscope, a divinatory tarot spread or a rune cast to peek into the future all have the same purpose. They map out a part of your way that still lies ahead of you. Raidho contains within it the energy of our life path. Not only is it a great guide in readings about the future it is also a great Geiger counter to let you know when you stray from your path. Most of us feel it anyway. We just know deep in our guts when we are not on the right track. But Raidho can confirm that feeling, specify it and give us the nudge necessary to correct the course.
But Raidho does not only reach out into the future. The rune also connects us to our ancestors. I utilized that power to connect to my family members who had passed on before me. We did a lot of healing together. We settled old issues. It was a most profound experience where I could express a lot of things that I could not express while they were still around in physical form. Now I have a desire circle – my circle of ancestors – that accompanies me in my shamanic work. It is an incredibly happy and liberating feeling that I cannot put into words. And I owe to a large degree to Raidho and its power to connect the past, present, and future. Again I come back to the imagery of the wheel. Everything goes in circles, round and round and everything that happens to us has happened to someone before. When we reach out through Raidho we can grasp this old knowledge and the experience of the past. We find the guidance to shed light on our way.
Most often Kenaz – the sixth Futhark rune – is called the “torch”, the light of creativity and passion that burns for us. Another thing I see in its shape is an open book as this rune opens us up to new knowledge, both academic and intuitive. Kenaz is in many ways what enlightens us. Where Ansuz gives us the spark to understand where we want to go and Raidho grooves us into the cycles of life, Kenaz casts light onto that path when it is dark.
Just a few days before3 I wrote this line, Kenaz revealed a very practical side of itself. I had to get a new smartphone because the battery of the old one gave up. At first, the SMS function did not work. Then I used Kenaz on the smartphone and a few minutes later I could complete an SMS-based authorization for a credit card transaction. So Kenaz is also the rune of engineering and technology. It is the fire in the forge of the blacksmith, the creator of things. Even before my experience with the smartphone, I linked Kenaz to Weyland the divine smith of unlimited creativity. Weyland was an artisan without pear but he also had very dark episodes in his life. An evil king mutilated and enslaved him. Weyland struck back by killing the king’s sons and raping his daughter. That reminds me that both creativity and craftsmanship have light and dark sides. Mjolnir the hammer of Thor is probably the most powerful hammer ever forged, an absolute masterpiece of smithery. Still, the handle is ridiculously short and the power of Mjolnir can be used both for fertilization and utter destruction. So Kenaz is both the fire of the forge and the killing heat of the fever, Ancient poems actually emphasize the sickening and negative aspects of that rune. The raging fever and the discoloration of a bruise is Kenaz. At the same time, it is the passion that drives me to create and research. It is the purifying flame that cauterizes a wound. It is the fire in which the sword that caused the wound was forged in the first place. Passion can drive us to create works and acts of unparalleled greatness and mercy. Kenaz was also the power behind nuclear bombs and preemptive wars. Kenaz represents the flames of the holy spirit as much as the fire of hell. That is one characteristic of the energy of the runes. They do not judge. They provide raw power and leave us with the responsibility to wield it wisely – or not.
That is why runes are not for the faint of heart. They do not relieve you from the responsibility for your own life. Quite to the contrary. They enforce this responsibility and sometimes shove it into your face.
That is part of destiny. Everyone has to make his or her own decisions about these issues. My personal view is: I´d rather face responsibility and choices and forge my own destiny in the furnace of Kenaz. It is better than being trapped in the chains someone else forged for me in his own furnace. The second way is easier. The first way is being alive.
In this sense, Kenaz continues where Fehu ended and Uruz began. Fehu is the raw energy. Uruz is the form or the mold we pour the energy into. Kenaz is the process of inspired creation where we follow our call and make it happen. Whatever “it” is, we need to know through wisdom and responsibility.