A torch, a blacksmith, a fever, the warm body of a lover, the inspiration of the artist. Kenaz is just as much about heat as it is about light. With light comes clarity and insight, but with heat comes transformation. Fire provides warmth, food, the gifts of the forge, the passion to create, the electical impulses of the nervous system, the touch of a loved one; but it can also run out of control – the volcano erupting, the child burning his fingers on the cooking pot, a fever raging through the body.
Kenaz speaks to me of enthusiasm and curiousity, it is a rune of risk taking, appearing in the Futhark after Raidho which promotes a steady course and responsibility. In terms of risk taking, think Indiana Jones: self-starting, adventurous, autonomous, curious, intelligent but not a great team player. Kenaz is the rune of the artist who is unafraid to pursue their inspiration, and the greatest masterpiece of all is the one that is never finished – the self.
Traditional meaning: Torch, sore, ulcer
Old English Rune Poem: Cēn meaning ‘torch/ firebrand/ lamp’.
Torch is to every living person
known by its fire,
it is clear and bright
it usually burns
when the athlings [nobles]
rest inside the hall.
Translated by Thorsson, Rune Lore
Present significance: Kenaz provides no end of difficulty to those trying to link its various meanings together in a logical fashion. In its positive aspect it can signify the fire that brings enlightenment or directed creativity (The Rune Primer: A Down-to-Earth Guide to the Runes). The other rune poems focus on its negative aspect and, reversed, this rune might indicate adversity and illness that maims and weakens. A potential link between the Old English Cēn and the other poems may be the heat of fire – or the heat of fever that needs to be fought and leaves the person weakened and needing to recuperate. A common theme is the impact of this rune upon the physical body (known as the lyke in soul-lore).
Key terms: Enlightenment, creativity, learning, knowledge, technical ability, children (as the result of creation)
Gods: Bragi, Freyja, Heimdall, Weland
Colour: Red, blue, orange
Elements: Fire is, of course, the primary elements associated with Kenaz. It is the creative fire of the forge and the inspirational flame of enlightenment. The element of earth is also important for Kenaz as the materials of earth are worked upon through its flames.
Half month: September 13th-September 28th
Plants: Pine, cowslip
Body: Eyes, hands, ulcers, fevers
Animal: Dragon, night-owl
Aroma: Pine, ginger
Object of power: Torch
The fire rune, controlled energy. Smithing and crafting towards a willed result. The flame of the torch, the firebrand, a torch fixed at an angle to a wall. The responsibility of leadership. Voice opinions, share your strength of conviction with others and spur them to action. Lead, join, participate, organise, unite, direct. Ideas, understanding, kenning. Control, creativity, regeneration. (Galdrbok: Practical Heathen Runecraft, Shamanism and Magic)
Kenaz is the sixth rune in the First Aett (first family) of the Elder Futhark. I have developed a series of recorded journeys to help you experience the energies of the runes in an accessible way. There are three downloads available for purchase covering the first, second and third Aetts. Each download comes with a PDF guide explaining what to do and giving the rune correspondences; a track to open sacred space and a track to close it; and eight rune journeys. Take a journey to encounter the rune Kenaz for yourself, the guided meditation provides an accessible way for you to encounter the rune. Journeys with the Elder Futhark – The First Aett costs £9.00, you will be sent the download automatically by DigitalDelivery following payment by Paypal.
- Oswald the Runemaker’s summary analysis of Kenaz (Kauno)
- Magin’s discussion of the half-month of Kenaz 2010