The Ehwaz rune represents the swift steed and the divine twins. Its shape is sometimes likened to two horses heads: a pair of divine horses gazing at each other. A horse, a lover, a dream, a nightmare, a union. The loss of Self and the embrace of the Other through whom you come to know yourself again. Ehwaz holds within it that strange dream-like state where boundaries blur, time runs both fast and slow and anything is possible.
Both the horse and twins are known throughout many cultures for their magical, other-worldly qualities. They possess wisdom, luck and the ability to pass through worlds and inhabit liminal spaces.
The horse is wild and powerful, its speed and grace speak to us of the untameable force of nature. Yet man enjoys an intimacy and partnership with horses that can make horse and rider seem almost as one. Our ancestors read the movement of horses as a form of divination and they are associated in mythology with sovereignty, fertility and, of course, the ability to journey through the worlds. Sleipnir, Odin’s horse, is probably the most famous steed in Norse mythology but there are many others. The World Tree itself, Yggdrasil, means ‘Odin’s Steed’. Like Raidho (the road), Ehwaz also has links with burial and death rites. The steed of Ehwaz provides safe and speedy passage for all journeys – including those into the underworld.
The close partnership of horse and rider hint at the importance of partnership for the Ehwaz rune; its associations with twinship take this further. Everyone is fascinated by twins. Two lives entwined, sharing experiences, thoughts, and feelings. Twins have often been thought to bring luck and good fortune to their tribes. Horses are one of the animals sacred to the goddess Freyja, herself a twin.
The idea of the steed, and of the twin also link Ehwaz to the aspect of the soul known as the fylgja, fetch or ‘follower’. This is normally seen as a guardian spirit linked to an individual throughout their lifetime. It is a key component of the Germanic soul complex which has been likened to a personal power animal, anima/animus, or shadow self.
Anglo Saxon rune poem: eoh
meaning horse, specifically a steed or war horse
Horse is, before warriors, the joy of noble folk,
a horse hoof-proud, when the warriors around it,
wealthy on steeds, exchange speech;
and it is, to the wanderer, ever a benefit.
Translated by Plowright, The Rune Primer
Ehwaz is a rune of speed and connection, it removes boundaries, drawing like to like, spanning the barriers that hold us apart. Horses were held in special esteem in Old Norse and Icelandic society ‘serving man while he is alive, dreaming and dying’ (The Role of Horses in the Old Norse Sources: Transcending worlds, mortality, and reality).
The Ehwaz rune can be challenging to work with because it represents both our power and our weakness; it is the rune of witches and trance workers who journey to the hidden places at the edges of the worlds and the depths of the soul.
Literal meanings: Steed
Rich meanings: Partnership, horse and rider, twins, crossing boundaries, speed
Deepening your connection with Ehwaz
- 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 Ehwaz. Make a note of any that stand out for you.
- Make sure you know the shape of Ehwaz; if you have a rune set select the Ehwaz 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.