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Rune Number 4: Ansuz (AHN-sooz)
Welcome to Kids' Runes! We're making steady progress on our journey through the Elder Futhark. Today's rune is Ansuz. It's in a lot of ways the opposite of the previous rune, Thurisaz. Thurisaz has to do with giants, and a lot of unpleasant things that go with them. Ansuz is the rune of the gods and goddesses. The word Ansuz has the same root as the Aesir, one of the two tribes of gods in our tradition. The other divine tribe is the Vanir. Asgardh, the world where the gods dwell, is another derivative.
While the words "god" and "good" have different roots, it is still a good memory aid for this rune. Our gods and goddesses are friendly, practical and reliable. They do not expect us to live contrary to our human nature. Instead, they help us to become the best people we can be! We Heathens are not afraid of our gods; they are our friends and Elder Kin.
Ansuz is not only the gods, but also what they bring to us; things like inspiration, blessings, good fortune, wisdom, magick, guidance (one of Odin's many names is "giver of good council), good influences, help (especially from an unexpected source), and allies (those who help us reach our goals, and that includes the gods themselves). This rune can also indicate mystery and worship.
Most Heathens have a patron god or goddess, who is a special teacher, mentor, and friend to them. Here, Ansuz is at work in a special way. Some see Ansuz as associated with the North. Many Heathens face north when praying or doing a blot (ritual). I've heard that Thurisaz, by the way, is associated with the South. Some associate it with the East.
As you can see from the previous paragraph, the gifts of the Aesir and Vanir are very good indeed. They are things that we want and can use in the here and now. Many religions worry more about what happens after they die than about our lives here. Heathenism isn't like that. While we believe in life beyond the grave, we focus on the here and now. The things that help us become better, stronger, more caring people before we die will help us after we die!
We are really lucky to have the kind, generous gods and goddesses that we do. Good Heathens try to show their gratitude by living well, honorably, and joyously. We don't have to wait until we die to enjoy life.
Nevertheless, wisdom does come with a price. Remember the stories of how Odin hanged himself on Yggdrasil to win the runes, endured great trials to get the mead of inspiration, and sacrified an eye to drink from Mimir's well of wisdom. Usually gaining wisdom involves hard lessons in daily life. "Book learning" is very important too. Kenaz is its rune. Havamal, the "Words of the High One" (Odin) tells us that one should be wise, but not too wise. There is such a thing as TOO much wisdom. Maybe that's why we don't know a lot about our futures. It would keep us from living NOW. What will YOU give for wisdom?
We experience our gods and goddesses in our everyday lives. Earth herself is a goddess, so we experience her everyday. We experience something of Freya when we fall in love, of Frigga in home and family life, of Odin in writing a poem or seeking for knowledge, of Heimdall in silent meditation, of Tyr in justice, of Eir in healing, and this list could go on and on. Many have seen our Elder Kin in visions, and when they do seidhr. All the good and pleasant things in our lives have an element of Ansuz, the rune of the Aesir!
Listen for the voices and signs of the Aesir and Vanir at work in your life. Make small and sincere offerings; it can be as simple as a bit of a food you love left under your favorite tree, or a song offered to them at bedtime.
Even when life is difficult, and we feel all alone, Ansuz is still there with us. The gods don't leave us. We are family to them. They can't always stop bad things from happening. Remember the story of Balder. The gods and goddesses tried every way they could to save his life, but couldn't. Much of the unhappiness in the world is due to people's greed, cruelty, and bad choices. Not even the gods themselves can change the laws of nature. Our religion has the courage to admit and accept that. Many others do not. Still, there are many wonderful things that our gods and goddesses can and do bring into our lives. Look around you, and within you to experience these gifts, and their Givers!
When you write with runes, Ansuz takes the place of the letter "A."
last modified 07/21/2003