Ehwaz is the rune of partnership and union, its lore is mysterious and complex, weaving together all forms of co-operation and union in the inner and outer worlds. Its embrace encompasses all aspects of the Self and Other: willingness to sacrifice, acceptance of good and bad, an ability to be vulnerable with each other. Ehwaz is often represented as a horse and rider, co-operation between a strong creature and a weak. The strong horse accepts the leadership of the physically weak human who then provides purpose and direction for the partnership. This union is powerful, productive, and creative, but it comes at a price which many of us find difficult: words such as ‘weak’, ‘fragile’ and ‘submission’ are troubling to the Western mind which seeks ‘autonomy’, ‘independence’ and ‘control’. Diana Paxon provides a beautiful discussion of the Mannaz and Ehwaz runes in Taking Up the Runes: A Complete Guide to Using Runes in Spells, Rituals, Divination, and Magic, leading us through the partnership of horse and man through to the spiritual partnership between man and spirit.
There are three forms of partnership which I felt it important to touch on during this Ehwaz cycle: partnership with self, partnership with spirit, and partnership with animals.
Partnership with Self
The Northern concept of the soul is a complex and beautiful. It is not a distinct, separate entity, but rather as a gathering of energies or ‘threads’ which are integrated together for the period of the life – some then separating away at the point of death. The Algiz rune can be used to link with the higher aspects of the self such as the Valkyria so that the soul is protected and guided. Ehwaz, on the other hand, works with the whole soul complex and, particularly, with the Fetch (your power ‘animal’ or companion spirit). For those of you familiar with psychology, your Fetch might be thought of as the spiritual equivalent of your anima or animus, the complementary, hidden part of yourself which must find expression if you are to achieve wholeness of spirit. Work with the Ehwaz rune can help you to connect, and work with, the different parts of your soul.
Partnership with Spirit
The Shamanic concept of the World Tree posits three realms: the Lower World, Middle World and Upper World. The Lower World is where power animals tend to dwell, while the Upper World is the home of the Gods and spirit guides – man sits in the middle, the missing link between the two. Something in us drives us to connect with the animal kingdom, to have pets, ride horses, swim with dolphins; another deep instinctive drive tells us to reach out to the unseen realm of spirit, to connect with the Upper World. In spiritual and magickal traditions across the world, rites are undertaken so that spirit may speak through us: from light trance to full possession, we allow ourselves to be ‘ridden’ by spirit, stepping aside so that spirit may use our bodies to speak. The rune Ehwaz is the patron of these mysteries, the rites of trance possession and the processes of Seidr. There is much fear attached to these practices, perhaps rightly so, for they deal with the unknown and with power and forces which are stronger than us – it is difficult to be the horse. However, as with the horse and rider, much insight, wisdom and power can be gained through work of this kind, it is simply that we have to put our egos aside and face our fears before we can let go; as Paxon says ‘The paradox is that in the world of spirits, power and control can only be attained by first relinquishing them’ (Taking Up the Runes, pg. 206). There is so much more that could be said on this topic but, for now, I will simply direct you to two fascinating books Priestesses Pythonesses Sibyls: An Anthology of Essays Regarding Trance, Possession and Mantic States. Women Who Speak with and for the Gods and Seidr – The Gate is Open: Working with Trance Prophecy, the High Seat, and Norse Witchcraft.
Partnership with animals
I wanted to finish by talking about another form of special partnership: the bond we form with the animals around us and, particularly, our pets. The rune Ehwaz is an excellent way to promote communication with your pets so that you can provide the best environment for them and understand why they might be behaving the way they are. Sit with your pet and very gently whisper the name of the rune, visualising it forming between you; it may simply have a calming effect – but it can also promote deeper work, particularly if you have already journeyed to meet their own power animal (An animal with a power animal you say! Who would have thought it!) Try it.