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.
The term ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’ most decidedly does NOT apply to Ansuz. This is a rune that is all about the power of words and sound. It is particularly associated with Galdr which has qualities similar to the Japanese Kotodama and the satirical power of the Irish Druids who were said to be able to ‘rime a man to death’. Legends throughout world religions which speak of the power of sound to create and destroy. Ansuz is the power of that sound, and the means by which we acquire the knowledge and wisdom to wield it.
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.
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).
Traditional meaning: God, mouth, river mouth
Key terms: Inspiration, communication, language, conscious mind, enthusiasm
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
Individuals with the Sun in Ansuz are eloquent, persuasive and rational. They have a flare for understanding, and working within, the complex rules of big organisations and society. They are more interested in what power can do than in holding it for its own sake. They are versatile and reference to the rest of their birth chart will be helpful in determining where their undoubted talents, interests and desires might take them.
Learn more about birth runes.
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, Freya Aswynn
Deepening your connection to Ansuz
My Elder Futhark journeys are based on the traditional meanings of the runes. To get the most from the journey follow these steps:
- Make sure the room in which you are working will be free from disturbance. Do a simple warding if you want to.
- Have a look at the basic correspondences for Ansuz. Make a note of any that stand out for you.
- Make sure you know the shape of Ansuz; if you have a rune set, select the Ansuz rune and hold it for a short while.
- Listen to the recording.
- If you feel a bit light headed or not fully back from your journey, have something to eat.