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)
A meditation to draw out negativity, pain, frustration and illness using the chant and mudra for the rune Kenaz. Use this rune’s powers of alchemy and transformation, change, healing and growth.
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Kenaz is the sixth rune in the First Aett (first family) of the Elder Futhark. I am releasing the rune journeys on each of their half months through 2018.