In a most exciting development, today’s post sees us turning over the last of the subtle Runes in our ongoing Rune reading example! Let’s clear up that last bit of mystery:
The final piece of our Runic puzzle this time around turns out to be the Rune called Ansuz. While Ansuz doesn’t come first in the Runic alphabet, it is nonetheless the Rune that’s analogous to our own modern letter “A,” and it’s used to represent the same sounds that our A signifies for us. Ansuz also literally means “Odin.”
For those of you not familiar with that word, Odin — like Tyr, who we discussed a bit when we turned over Tiwaz — is one of the Norse Deities. He is, in fact, the undisputed monarch of the Norse Pantheon (and brave Tyr is actually one of Odin’s sons). Odin is also one of the more complex Gods you’ll come across anywhere in World Mythology. Among other attributes, Odin is a somewhat primordial figure, he’s a bit of a Creator (or at least a Re-Arranger of the Cosmos), he’s a Seeker of Wisdom, a Sorcerer, a War-God, a Sky-God, a Wanderer, a Shaman, a Death-God, a Father-Figure (often referred to as the All-Father), and a Language and Information God. The Ansuz Rune, then, definitely refers to Odin in his fascinating entirety…but it also holds some special focus aimed squarely at those latter aspects of him…
You may recall that earlier in this series, I mentioned something about Odin having subjected himself to a grueling trial of sorts that led to the introduction of the Runes into the Universe…and I’m going to recap that again here, because it’s important to Rune-usage in general, and to the understanding of Ansuz in particular. The very short version is that in Norse Mythology, there are Nine Worlds, and each of these Worlds hangs from a vast, cosmic Tree called Yggdrasil.
As part of his ongoing quest to amass all manner of wisdom, Odin at one point subjected himself to a rather brutal-sounding ordeal in which he gored himself with his enchanted spear, Gungnir, and then hung himself for nine days and nights upon Yggdrasil without food or water, a sacrifice made freely by himself, and dedicated to himself. At the end of his period of suffering, the Runes — never before seen or even guessed at in the Nine Worlds — appeared on the ground below him, and he scooped them up, thus bringing written language and communication into existence. And it’s this association with the Runes that Ansuz specifically invokes — as mentioned above, Odin is a Language God and an Information God, and these are the attributes to consider with some primary focus whenever Ansuz appears in a Rune-cast. Consider all of the major concepts that fall under this overall definitional umbrella as you work up your interpretations: Ansuz can refer to words, language, sounds, meanings, incantations, wind, breath, lyrics and poetry, names, categorization, communication, messages, symbols, and even the very concept of definition itself. There may also be a sort of metatextual or self-referential element about Ansuz, as it’s the Rune that conjures the image of the Runes being “born” into the Universe — that is, it’s the Rune that most seems to refer to the Runes.
How, then, do we incorporate this Rune’s presence into our growing tapestry of meanings within this specific Rune-cast…?
Well, if we continue on with this theory that the four subtle Runes in the scatter are describing traits that we need to embody when working with the Runes, then the message seems to be the notion that every Rune-cast should involve a deep reverence for the power of symbols and language, the realization that connecting certain sounds with certain meanings is a form of actual “magic,” and the idea that words and definitions literally affect our reality. Put another way, in very vital fashion, Runes (as letters, symbols, and words) can be seen as the building blocks of our lives! This is pretty heavy stuff, but not exactly an unwarranted approach for the practicing vitki (= user of Runes) to be cultivating. This is a Rune-centric way of saying “Knowledge is Power.” The Runes are sacred tools, is the concept here, and they need to be treated as such…
And we can close this installment of the series by noting that once again, another subtle Rune is revealed, and it can be seen to align very well with all of the others in terms of which way it seems to be oriented. Imagine a current of water or wind flowing from the lower left corner of the scatter toward the upper right, and you can see that with a few very slight deviations in rotation, the Runes are all pretty much lying in agreeable positions that might naturally arise from such a flow manifesting itself. I usually take this kind of orientational consistency to mean that the subject matter of the Rune-cast is one that should show evidence of a very natural and powerful internal harmony. In this case, that means that the more obvious thrust of the Runes that appeared for us here — as symbolized by Nauthiz (“Need”), the one Rune that landed face-up — as well as the more subtle undercurrents (discussed in the last few posts as we looked at Tiwaz, Ehwaz, Gebo, and now Ansuz), are all working together without much in the way of contradiction or of any of the Runes working at cross-purposes. Their messages are essentially unified, and supportive of each other. Again, the four subtle Runes do in fact seem to be illustrating the primary qualities that a talented Rune-reader will be bringing into each reading…
Next time, we’ll start getting into some wrap-up steps I like to employ at the back end of a Rune reading!
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