The rune pages are designed to help you explore the runes and form deep and meaningful connections with them based on your own interests and practices. There are lots of resources, which I continue to build on, and suggestions for ways in which Mystics, Magicians, Seers, Sages, and Healers might choose to work with them.
A little introduction to Kenaz…
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 traditionally a rune of illness associated with fever, bruising, discolouration (lividity, pallor, rashes), ulcers and the heat that the body generates at sites of wounding and inflammation. As a rune of transformation it is also linked to the transitions the body makes through death. As such, you might th9nk it wise to steer clear of Kenaz for the purposes of healing, but this would be a mistake. Many of the symptoms associated with Kenaz are also the signs of the body’s attempts to heal itself and, as such, Kenaz might be used to prompt the body into a healing crisis during a lingering malaise or to draw out an illness or wounding from deep inside the body to its surface so it may be released. The mysteries of Kenaz are perhaps uncomfortable to the modern sensibility which prizes youth, ultra-fitness and perfection over experience and the natural processes of time and nature.
You might liken Kenaz to the flames of the forge which heat metal so that it tkes on many varied hues and can be transformed into objects of beauty, usefulness and power. Kenaz is also linked to the arts of the alchemist or chemist who is able to make one substance act upon another.
For people with strong links to the elves or dwarves of the World Tree Kenaz may be a powerful tool. Both elves and dwarves can use magic to bring on illness (there are long traditions of humans believing illness to be brought on by ‘other-worldly beings’). If I have learned one thing about the runes it is that each has negative and positive aspects and it stands to reason, therefore, that those who can effectively wield Kenaz for malicious purposes can also do so for good. Use Kenaz to find the source of illness (it may be detected as heat by the hands) and to bring controlled, healing heat to the body.
Kenaz is a very magical rune. Although it is seen as a ‘feminine’ rune it has strong associations with the Smith who has traditionally been said to posses magical powers. Its feminine qualities perhaps stem from its transformative, generative nature – it is the rune of creativity in manifestation (following on naturally from the inspiration of Ansuz and the ordering quality of Raidho which the skilled artist must possess if e/ she is to turn inspiration into manifestation).
The power of the dragon is associated with Kenaz and the rune can be combined with Fehu to help you connect with dragon. While Fehu evokes the magical, living power of the dragon (and the qualities of avarice and jealousy personified by the dragon on his hoard), Kenaz is the destructive and creative power of dragon fire which, when properly channelled can be a creative as well as a destructive power.
Some practitioners couple Kenaz and Laguz to cleanse a space (drawing on the cleansing and purifying qualities of the runes of fire and water). Try making a Kenaz talisman by burning its shape into wood or leather; metal will also work well due to its connections with the forge and Smith. Kenaz will bring you skill in the creative arts, the power to make your dreams manifest (note Jera, the rune of successful harvest is made of two Kenaz runes), and connection to your magical skill and abilities.
Kenaz is the flaming torch and, as such, it will guide you in dark places and help you burn away fear, trepidation and dread. For many people seership is an unsought ‘gift’ rather than a choice or cultivated skill. So many people I have worked with describe experiences they did not seek or understand which led them to eventually shut down their psychic abilities. As you open yourself back up to your psychic potential Kenaz can help guide your path and make the darkness of fears long repressed, or lack of trust in yourself, recede. Unlike Sowilo which connects you to guidance outside yourself, Kenaz re-kindles your own inner knowing and confidence – it is the torch in your own hand rather than the one ahead. Practice by chanting ‘Kee-narz’ and feeling warmth gently grow inside you (I find that this normally begins in my stomach). You can also draw it in ink or oils on your palms and third eye to enhance the connection.
Kenaz is an excellent rune for the sage as it is the rune of knowledge; the word ‘kenning’ is a direct descendent of Kenaz. A major part of my rune work is the development of my ‘kenning hoard’. This is my own hoard of rune knowledge and it rests deep within me like the dragon’s hoard. I feed the hoard through research and meditation on the runes; the hoard is built just as much on intuitive knowledge as it is on facts learned by rote. The hoard rests within my subconscious and is fed by different aspects of my soul complex including those connected to the Gods and the deep wisdom of the ancestors. Kenaz is the symbol of the hoard and when I lift up the lid of the hoard Ansuz and Kenaz help me draw the correct pieces of rune lore and intuitive wisdom to the surface of my conscious mind. This is an invaluable skill for anyone working with the runes and, for me, signifies the difference between the ‘dabbler’ and the ‘practitioner’.
You will notice Kenaz in my bind rune for the Sage (above). It has been coupled with the Othala rune of inheritance and the ancestors to signifying the wisdom and experience the Sage amasses. In this bind rune Kenaz becomes a mouth, an opening to a mound, or the forked tongue of the dragon through which the experience and wisdom held within the Othala rune is released.
What other practitioners say…
I would highly recommend that Mystics also read the Kenaz ‘Sages’ section above; building your kenning hoard requires the discipline of the scholar combined with the deep meditations of the mystic. Work with Kenaz to develop your understanding of the way in which our reality is forged through our creative ability and skill (or lack thereof). Make the Kenaz shape by holding your thumb and index finger at a right angle to each other. Rest your dominant hand on your abdomen in the shape of the rune and let is fire burn deep inside you as you invoke its power with chanting, colour and fire. You may notice that it also appears burning at your third eye, you can harness this energy to travel to the dragon’s lair, the Smith’s forge, the fiery realm of Muspelheim and the home worlds of the dwarves and elves (or let Kenaz take you where you need to go to learn of its mysteries). To start you off why not try the Kenaz meditation below or Kenaz rune journey at the end of the page.
Kenaz is the sixth 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 Kenaz journey.
Magin’s articles featuring Kenaz
- Let thought become action
- Kenaz – fires of enlightenment, fires of pain
- Seven realms, seven chakras – seven rune spreads
- Half month of Kenaz
- The Wheel Turns – Kenaz and Imbolc