For a rune of communication Ansuz does not lend itself to straight forward explanation. Looking to the nature of its patron deity Odin, may help to explain why. God of the High Seat, Trickster, Shaman, Wanderer, Poet – he is ever shifting, ever changing, yet ever Odin.
Ansuz speaks to me of the rush of the wind, of feathers that catch it and harness it. Ansuz is a powerful aid to voice work and can help you when chanting other runes as well as its own sounds. For me it is also a rune of listening, of being open to the creation and reception of sound in all its forms.
A gentle method of getting to know the rune is through breathing meditation. Ansuz is the very life force of breath. It is sometimes called the container and the contained which makes sense if you consider that air is all around us as well as circulating within us. Think also on the words inspiration and aspiration.
One of my teachers, Jack Gale, taught me to use Ansuz to ‘clear’ my rune set prior to divination. This is a very simple and effective technique:
- Hold the rune pouch in your hands and connect with your runes (i.e. greet them affectionately in your mind and feel them greet you back).
- Visualise a bright red Ansuz rune inside the pouch. Watch it glow brighter and brighter with pure red light. (Using red is best as this is the ‘generic’ colour of the runes and not specific to Ansuz – you are clearing the rune set, not invoking Ansuz).
- See any energies and remnants from previous readings disappearing, cleared away by the red light. If it helps you might also want to whisper or chant ‘ansuz’ over the pouch.
- See the red light and Ansuz fade away, leaving the rune set balanced, clear and ready for the reading.
Ansuz is very powerful, particularly when chanted or invoked to aid with voice work. When using the rune for this purpose it can be helpful to remind yourself just how powerful this lovely, tricksy rune is:
- do ensure the space you work in is protected (e.g. with a rune circle or rite of the Hammer);
- do remind Anzuz firmly that you are just as breakable as it is enthusiastic;
- do ground thoroughly after your work (salt on the fingertip is helpful, continue tasting it until it tastes like salt).
Traditional meaning: God, mouth, river mouth
Old English: ōs meaning mouth, deity, estuary. The phonetic value and shape of the stave changed in the Old English Rune row, making the consistency in meaning between the rune poems (five in all) particularly significant.
Deity/mouth is the origin of every language,
Wisdom’s support and counsellor’s consolation
And to any warrior gladness and confidence.
Translation by Plowright, The Rune Primer: A Down-to-Earth Guide to the Runes
Present significance: Through its connections with Odin and divine ecstasy Ansuz has come to signify communication and inspiration (the latter being considered a form of sacred communication). Breath, language, poetry and the conscious part of the self are all signified by Ansuz. Pollington associates the word ‘wōðz’ with this rune, explaining that it is ‘the battle-madness which affects berserks and also the ‘altered perceptual state’ experienced by the diviner, the seer and the poet’. Pollington indicates that some experts ascribe a primary meaning of ‘binder’ to the rune – referring to Odin’s ability to bind his enemies into paralysis and panic (Rudiments of Runelore).
Key terms: Inspiration, communication, language, conscious mind, enthusiasm
Gods: Odin, Bragi, the Aesir
Colour: Dark blue, indigo
Elements: Air is the obvious element for Ansuz, the swirling wind of inspiration, the divine breath of Odin, the frenzied cry of the trance worker and the warrior.
Half month: August 13th-August 29th
Plants: Ash, oak, fly agaric
Body: Throat, mouth (throat chakra and power of speech)
Animal: Wolf, raven
Aroma: Cedar, clove
Object of power: Spear
It [Ansuz] is specifically the rune of intellectual learning, understanding, abstract thought process and the ability to communicate these in concrete terms. Also language skills, the ability to write and speak in words as well as the language of symbols. Ansuz is one of the runes of leadership connected with spiritual leaders, teachers or Elders, these older, wiser people from whom advice is sought. The chanting of Ansuz or meditation on Ansuz can open channels of inspiration previously inaccessible. (Power and Principles of the Runes)
Ansuz is the second rune in the First Aett (first family) of the Elder Futhark. Visit the Resources page to download your free Journeys with the Elder Futhark – The First Aett includes the Ansuz journey.
Magin’s articles featuring Ansuz
- Let thought become action
- Ansuz – breath of the divine
- Seven realms, seven chakras – seven rune spreads
- Divination: four rune spread
- Half month of Kenaz
- Ansuz to Raidho, rune calendar, birth months and hours
- Rune calendars
- Rune of the day – the report