The Mannaz rune is a double Wunjo rune, the rune that brings joy in family and kin becomes the rune of one who blesses clan and society through the strength of self.   Mannaz means ‘man’ (in the sense of ‘human’ rather than a male), and to me it acts as a reminder that exploration of the inner world does little unless we bring the gifts we receive into our every day lives. 

It’s shape is balanced and strong with two diagonal lines acting as trusses to two horizontal ones.   Alongside Wunjo you can also see the Gebo rune in its shape.   Both, like Mannaz, are sacred to Odin.  Don’t be tempted to see this as a simple rune.  As one of the last runes in the Elder Futhark the mysteries of Mannaz are deep, multi-layered and complex.  Unlike the formative, primal energies of the first Aett (family of runes) or the testing, challenging energies of the Second Aett, the runes in the third Aett speak of spiritual maturity, integration and the ability to hold conflicting truths lightly and with wisdom. 

 A common image for Mannaz is that of Odin sitting on his throne with his ravens Huggin (thought) and Munnin (memory) on either side of him.  Huggin and Munnin fly out each day gathering wisdom for Odin and bring it back so that the great sovereign of the Gods has insight and vision of all things.  As they sit upon his shoulders collective thought and memory combine within his consciousness and inform his actions.  To work with this image imagine the central point of the Mannaz rune upon the brow of Odin.  His ravens become the two triangles and the vertical staves of the rune become the arms of his throne.  From here Odin sees all, knows all and decrees all.  It is the place of true sovereign power.   

Odin is the archetypal ‘shamanic practitioner’ of the north.  Perhaps the bane of humanity at this point in our history is that we champion thought over memory.  We believe that because our ancestors had not made the scientific discoveries we have, that the totality of their wisdom and experience is flawed.  We do not stop to consider the possibility that our age of ‘enlightenment’ has left us closed to those things which cannot be seen in the light nor experienced through conscious thought alone.

I have often wrestled with this rune’s meaning as, when used for mundane purposes, it is often cited in relation to personal success and power.  There are, for me, uncomfortable connotations of conquest, capitalism, imperialism, egotism and selfishness attached to this rune and I have to remind myself that all runes have negative aspects and it is perhaps simply that Mannaz is of particular importance to humanity at this time.  In the last one hundred years we have changed the face of our planet beyond imagining; we might say that humanity has become intoxicated by its own power.  To quote from Jurassic Park : ‘your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should’.  As I have developed on my own soul journey I have come to a point where I believe the role of spiritual explorers and adventurers is to seek for knowledge and experience beyond that which humanity currently has so that we are able to answer that important question ‘should we’?  The Mannaz rune helps us to tap into the Well of Wyrd (Urðarbrunnr) and Mimir’s Well (Mimisbrunnr)  which hold the individual and collective memories of the past, not just from Midgard (our world) but also from the other worlds on the tree.         

Old Norse Rune Poem:  maðr meaning ‘man’.

Man is earth’s increase;

the hawk’s grasp is great.

Translated by Pollington, (2008) Rudiments of Runelore 

When you work with Mannaz I would urge you not simply to channel this rune’s energies towards personal ‘success’ but rather to consider what it has to tell us about what ‘success’ might actually look like.  Over and over again I am reminded by my own experience, and that of the awesome array of people I have been privileged to work with, that our experiences are often leading us on a path quite different to the one we thought we were on.  Somewhere inside us, there is a core self (soul seed or valkyria) which seeks to gently guide us on our true path – even when the rest of our being doesn’t know what that is and has become fixated with possessions, or peak fitness, or fame, or a particular relationship.  Mannaz can help us move beyond those things to a connection with our soul journey which extends far beyond our current imaginings and aspirations.

Literal meanings: Man (humanity)

Rich meanings:  Sovereignty, integration of self, divine spark within

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