A torch, a blacksmith, a fever, the warm body of a lover, the inspiration of the artist. Kenaz is the rune of both light and heat. 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.
Work with Kenaz through baking, smithing, pottery, carpentry, painting and the development of any technical or creative skill. Chemistry and, indeed, alchemy are disciplines particularly attuned to the mysteries of Kenaz. Kenaz is also associated with healing as its powers include the transformation of the physical body.
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. Old English Rune Poem (Translated by Thorsson)
In its positive aspect Kenaz signifies enlightenment or directed creativity (The Rune Primer: A Down to Earth Guide to the Runes). With the exception of the Old English Rune Poem quoted above the rune poems focus on the more negative aspects of the rune as a harbinger of discomfort and disease. Reversed Kenaz can, indeed, signify 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 northern soul-lore). Light and colour are strongly associated with Kenaz. The hues of sunset, the artist’s pallete and the discolouration of the body through wounding, sickness or emotion are worth meditating on if you wan to connect strongly with Kenaz.
Literal meanings: Torch, sore, ulcer, lamp, firebrand
Rich meanings: Enlightenment, creativity, learning, knowledge, technical ability, children (as the result of creation)
Deepening your connection with Kenaz
Articles about Kenaz
The intention behind my rune pages is to help you develop connect with each rune creatively and with confidence. The pages are by no means comprehensive but I hope they inspire you to journey deeper into their mysteries both through further research and personal gnosis.