Rune Study Group: Ansuz


My background

Umbrae said:
With Yggdrassil as such a metaphor (“for the human condition”), a ‘Voice of the Gods’ reference makes sense, as does the aspect of ‘Urdh’s Well’.

My only concern is how does such knowledge come from Chelan? (lol).

I spent four or five years studying in the Rune Gild (an initiatory organization devoted to the Runes) and as a part of becoming a Rune Master, I researched and wrote a (currently) unpublished work I called "The Serpent and the Eagle: An Introduction to Runic Magic." As such I was expected to know the material well enough to make informed disagreements with other Masters in the Gild.

I will probably create a few new threads that we can link from the main index involving the cosmological framework that the Runes fit into. Some possible topics include:

1) Ymir, Odhinn, and the World Tree
2) The Role of the Serpent
3) "Fate" and the Norns
4) The Tripartite Universe

I moved to Chelan two years ago due to family obligations and am happy here. Ever been to Chelan? (lol).


I recently drew this rune, together with Fehu, regarding a specific, rather difficult, situation in my life involving, among other things, slowed-down communication and the search for insight.

Together I saw them as meaning - sacrifice immediate returns for long-term gain. Hold back now and be wise in your speach, so that things might have a chance to grow and flourish.

Would that be a correct way of looking at it?

I am also thinking about it indicating the inner voice. Is that hopelessly anachronistic?


I read a bit about the Yggdrasil tree and found this interesting rendition lifted from wikipedia:


" In stanza 137 of the poem Hávamál, Odin describes how he once sacrificed himself to himself by hanging on a tree. The stanza reads:

I know that I hung on a windy tree
nine long nights,
wounded with a spear, dedicated to Odin,
myself to myself,
on that tree of which no man knows
from where its roots run.

In the stanza that follows, Odin describes how he had no food nor drink there, that he peered downward, and that "I took up the runes, screaming I took them, then I fell back from there."[7] While Yggdrasil is not mentioned by name in the poem and other trees exist in Norse mythology, the tree is near universally accepted as Yggdrasil, and if the tree is Yggdrasil, then the name Yggdrasil directly relates to this story.[8]

Ansuz is the rune of divine force. From Liza Peschel, I also gathered similar to what others have shared - it means "mouth", and as such usually indicates the spoken word, the taking of advice or the acquisition of wisdom.

I am quite new to the runes so I am trying as much as possible to absorb and integrate everything I read here in the thread and in other researches I have been doing. I do find it amazing that the Ansuz rune pertains to something more powerful that may lie within us.

The Yggdrasil tree is seen as the cosmic axis that links all the worlds of creation. It is a symbol of stability. There is an Anglo-Saxon rune poem that runs (lifted from Pennick:

"Humans love the ash tree, towering high. Though many enemies come forth to fight it, it keeps its place well, in a firm position". Pennick further adds: "Ansuz thereby represents the divine order that stands firm no matter how difficult conditions may become."

As I try to understand the Ansuz, I am reminded of three universal laws of principles of life, and I do love it that learning the runes helps me to integrate what insights I have learned across life:

We have three principles --

Change - this principle forever affects our lives - sometimes, we initiate it to create a new order in our lives and in others, or to manage the changes which have been introduced from the outside, such as upheavals, natural disasters, etc. I already see this principle operating in the Thurisaz and what we need to do in order to protect ourselves and manage these changes.

Choice - this principle has a direct impact on us because it is the one principle which humans can exercises freely. But there is the necessity to use this freedom to choose responsibly and wisely because every choice of thought, emotion and action we have wiil always yield these consequences. I do perceive that the runes of Fehu and Uruz do bring this principle of choice into our consciousness - how we choose to earn prosperity and take care of it, and how we choose to renew and preserve our energies to maintain a healthy sense of balance.

Changelessness -- I got this from a book by Stephen R. Covey where he talks of these core principles and emphasizes this word - changelessness -- every human and every living creature has something from within that keeps it alive in order to create, bring life, and forever deal and manage the hurdles of life no matter what. This is the principle that preserves us. All of us have a changeless core which will help us deal with difficult times. It keeps us resilient and continually strong.

I perceive the Ansuz as representing this Changelessness within us. I feel that this rune tells us to pause, sacrifice active time for reflection time - look within ourselves to see what it is we need to preserve, and what it is we need to alter so that we can manage the present circumstances we are experiencing.

There are interesting parallelisms also about the story behind this rune - in the Christian Bible, Christ went to a mountain and fasted for 40 days and nights, tempted by the devil in order to gain divine wisdom and strength. His crucifixion involves being nailed and hung on a tree (cross) which is considered a divine sacrifice. Since as Catholics we were taught Christ is the Son of God, I may also see a slight similarity -- Myself to Myself - I sacrifice myself to save mankind - is what Christians believe in.

There is something about the notion of taking a pause from everyday things, giving up something in order to restore something, hanging oneself upside down - figuratively - if we want to change our perspective, we should change our location -- find the right position, the way of thinking so that we may be guided in how we are to behave.

Most importantly, we need to look into what we need to preserve within us, or what strength we can call on within so as to deal with hurdles thrown at us at any given point in time.


Continuing on the journey through the runes:

Anglo Saxon rune poem:
The mouth is the source of all language,
a pillar of wisdom and a comfort to wise men,
a blessing and a joy to every knight.

Estuary is the way of most journeys;
but a scabbard is of swords.

God, aged Gautr
and prince of Asgardr
and lord of Vallhalla.

This is a rune to reflect on- for a LONG time. Like Odin, this rune will not reveal all of its secrets until you have given some blood, sweat and tears. So, that being said- to tackle the poems....

The AS poem is straightforward as usual- giving the idea of this runes primary meaning- that of sacred breath, as seen by language that can be used for both communication and magical purposes. The Icelandic poem praises Odin, the master of this rune and is also straightforward. Now.. to take on the Norse poem- which can be tricky. The above translation is the one most commonly seen- but has been picked over by scholars to determine what the cryptic language means.

First, we see the word estuary (N oss) but the word can also mean god. Interestingly enough, the word "oss" was used in both Icelandic and Norse poems, but for some reason the initial translator decided to use Ase (god) as the meaning for the Icelandic, and estuary for the Norse- when in fact they spoke the same language and in reality it is probably the same word and meaning. So, either estuary or god, either way you slice it- we are looking at a verse that speaks of journeying. An estuary is historically considered a place of betwixt and between- the ship holding the dead that moves from the river, into the sea, into the horizon to the land beyond. So, our initial verse speaks of journeying, and may in fact refer to the practice of the volva and spaemadr- the oracular form of spae and the use of galdr meeting with the journeying of the volva.

Then the second verse comes to light- the scabbard and the sword. So- there is debate on this one- some say that it is a warning to remember the balance between "rational"/physical fighting vs "irrational"/spiritual fighting- or a message to stay balanced between this world and the next. It also can refer to the Havamal, in which Odin refers to a rune that can "dull the swords of my enemies", hence, leaving them stalled in their scabbards. In my mind, it refers to both- because the edge of the sword between enlightenment and madness is thin, and there are times where you doors will be closed and things will be shut down because you have become imbalanced and are teetering too far to one side.

In it's primary aspect, Ansuz is the breath of magic, of opening doors, of galdr as well as seidhr. It can bring inspiration and thought- though remember that it also refers to Odin in his Lord of the Wild Hunt role- with the breath of wind being the fury and rage of the wild winds. In that aspect, it can help you to journey beyond this world; the shaman aspect in its completeness. In it's woe-working aspect, Ansuz can cut off that primary breath, close doors and blind. It is demanding that you maintain that perfect balance, and if you cannot, it will easily take it away from you. It can also be used to bind effectively that which it gives- a woeful curse indeed!

Aett triad associations:

Ansuz- Odin's gift, the seed planted; Jera- growth of the godly seed in humanity; Mannaz- the vitki claiming the full godly inheritance.


And this journey I keep to myself. Though you know who it was I met in that distant place, the lessons above are all that I can give. The rest of the journey and lesson was for me alone. But I bid you journey to Him as well, so that you may learn. But be prepared, for there is no learning from the All Father without the willingness to sacrifice.