God – aged Gautr and prince of Ásgarðr and lord of Vallhalla.
Runic and Heroic Poems, Bruce Dickins, translation
Traditional meaning – mouth, Odin
Association – that which is carried or moved along, as by a river or breeze
Pronunciation – ahnsoo, awnsoo
Galdr – Ahn, Ahnsoo, Awn, Awnsoo
Element – Air
Dates – 13-29 August
Verb – to create
Animistic Qualities – speaking our truth, soothsaying
Challenge – To master the internal process of choosing how we express our agency.
Traditional lore – Ansuz is represented differently across the runic poems. It is Os, or Odin, and it is also river mouth.
Animistic lore – Approaching Ansuz as both godden and mouth, we’re met with great power that moves things, that shapes things. At a human level this power turns the conversation to agency, and cultivating our expression of it in a way that is godden-like: that our expression of it aligns with our sacredness, which can only act in alignment with sacred order; and that our creations venture out into the world with their own agency. In this creative act we see ourselves as creators, we can see the wyrd we weave, and we internalize and send it out into the world as lore.
“Ansuz calls our attention to that sticky place between inspiration and how it’s expressed, between thoughtform and how we empower it.” Runic Book of Days
Ansuz expresses creative energythat transmutes into a being with its own agency.
I’m Kelley Harrell, author, animist, and creator of The Weekly Rune. Soul Intent Arts is my soul tending practice, and you are listening to What in the Wyrd–my podcast in which I talk about runes, animism, soul tending, and how all of those are in relationship on my path.
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This episode we’re focusing on Ansuz
With the Ansuz galdr, we have though are not limited to – Ansuz – Ahn, Ahnsoo, Awn, Awnsoo
When people talk about Ansuz it’s always, “Well that’s Odin’s rune,” “It means mouth,” or “It means breath.” So what? Unless you have some cultural context for what those things meant in the Old Norse cosmology, how do those responses give you guidance through the runes? What makes lore behind those meanings active in your life?
Let’s find out.
Odin was 3.0 godden in the ON cosmology, in as much as we know. FYI I say godden intentionally to remove the unconscious gender-hierarchy that comes when we talk about god/goddess. So, he came after his father, Borr (whom we think was Mannus), who came after Buri (whom we think was Ymir/Tuisto/Tyr). That whole succession thing is a fascinating read through the progression of the Elder Futhark, but we’ve covered that in TWR a few times. It’s really interesting–go look it up. What stands out in this context is Ansuz is equated with the new godden, the shinier, ‘I’ve got new plans, gonna get this thing back on track,’ godden.
A phrase that we hear often connected with this particular godden is “breath of Odin.” Loads of folx leave this at speech. It’s obvious, it’s easy, and there’s context to back it up. I’m not saying there isn’t. But when we view Ansuz through the lens of the breath of a godden, it really takes on a totally new level. Sure, we can go with godden speak their truth. That alone is a beautiful association with Ansuz.
But breath is a foremost quality that we read about Odin–and really about many godden–and in that light, the breath of a god is seen as not just quickening–as with Thurisaz–but transmutational. The thing receiving the breath is not left the same. And particularly with the breath of Odin, he breathed into two trees to create the first humans–Ask and Embla. That’s not just a really big deal because a godden’s breath has freaky cool powers, but it directly associates humans and Nature, as humans being children of Nature. Not just that we are relatives, but that we are related by a pluriversal animating force that lives within us. Isn’t that gorgeous? I swoon.
So what we arrive at in this association between mouth, transference of the breath of a godden is life force. We’re looking at creative energy that is transferred into its own… wait for it.. Agency. We also have the life force of Odin. We also have the skill to create and manifest in form. We have the power to create other expressions of ourselves that go on in life to have their own agency.
Yes, that. Always agency and interrelationship with animism. So when I sit with what verb stands out with Ansuz it’s to create. And to be honest, I sat with this one for a while. Definitely had to over think it, because there’s so much going on with this rune.
At the end of the day though, what struck me most about the action of Ansuz is that it represents expressed agency. It’s the first rune that we arrive at in the Elder Futhark that comes from our earthly awareness, rather than our unconscious rumblings. Associated with Odin, when we internalize that powerful connection as animists, we’re talking about how we hold and express our godden-ness. We are soul-in-form versions of divinity, and that unique formula comes with unique challenges, responsibilities, and expectations.
I’ve talked a great deal in the past about how Ansuz is about speaking our truth, and it is. Though to cast it in a broader and possibly more relatable light, it’s about expressing our agency with responsibility–godden-level responsibility. And the way we do that is by moving through life with our calling at the front of what we do here. What that means is literally prefacing every choice we make with “how does this support my calling?” because if it doesn’t, it’s not worth our effort.
And to be brutally honest, that’s not easy to do in settler culture. I’m not even going to pretend that we just move through life with the time and opportunity to soul-check every thing we do. The bottom line is we do a lot of shit here that doesn’t at all support our calling, because it supports our household or sanity–neither of which would be challenged if we were a culture that put everyone’s whole wellbeing first.
So i often talk about the challenge of Ansuz being that we have to have really clear internal processes (Fehu, Uruz, Thurisaz–what we value, what we embody, and what we commit to) in order to even formulate what our truth is. And that is 100% true. But again, why don’t we have clear internal processes? Why isn’t it just evident what and how to create? Broken path. Lack of elders. Culture that doesn’t want us to be fit, educated, supported, or courageous, AND actively disrupts our efforts to obtain those things.
My point–inability to know our truth let alone whisper it into being is not personal. There are collective reasons for why our personal relationship to creativity is complicated. If it wasn’t The Secret and the Abraham-Hicks crew wouldn’t be making out so well, because it’s the question on everyone’s lips, sooner or later. “Why don’t I get to create what I want?”. Sitting with the cultural reasons for why we may not be able to create the things we want in our lives and communities, why we may not be able to transmute the things we want in our lives and communities, why other people seem to do so with ease… it’s not just down to our choices and actions, but those of our Ancestors, or our culture and communities as a whole.
And… Ansuz is a good starting place for how to transmute some of that disruption. I often talk about how from an animistic standpoint, everything is in relationship. We are in relationship with the systems that harm us, and those systems are life forces. They don’t want to die. So, how we affect them is to change how we’re in relationship with them. When we pull our agency out of the agency of those systems, they weaken. And this is where Ansuz is key: we have to create what we want LIKE A GODDEN, which means to create with responsibility, which if you’re an animist means to create with the awareness of the interdependence of All Things. It’s what I want, yes, but it’s not just what I want. It’s as fully thought-out in terms of how it benefits others. It supports my calling and theirs. It outcreates the system.
And settler culture isn’t that.
And it’s about this point that someone always says, “You can’t just think away oppression.” Correct. Absolutely correct. This is not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is Oppression is a living being with agency. When we Ansuz with our relationship to the first three runes of the Elder Futhark in place, we’re creating with responsibility, with awareness of the calling of All Things. Which could be, I don’t know, sacred order?
Because when we’re aligned with sacred order from the inside and creating it through our agency in the world around us, the next thing to do is move that agency around…
And that is where this conversation will be continued.
Thank you for listening. If you have questions or insights about working with the runes as verbs, or in season, or however you feel called to work with them, or you just want to drop me a line you can do that at Kelley, that’s k e l l e y at soulintentarts.com.
Also check out earlier episodes by downloading them from all various podcast platforms. You can learn more about me, Runic Book of Days, and my work by visiting soulntintentarts.com or on Instagram @kelleysoularts. You can also find notes on this episode on my website, under the menu option Read… Liveable Runelore. The transcript of this episode can be found at Kajabi.
I’m Kelley and this has been What in the Wyrd. Thank you for all that you do in the world.
Creating with Ansuz Introspections
- How do you express your calling in a way that benefits your community?
- How do you incorporate your calling into your creativity?
- How does what you say match up with your truth?
A Guide to Living the Annual Cycle of Rune Magick
2019 Nautilus Silver Award Winner
2019 National Indie Excellence Book Award Finalist
A step-by-step guide to working with the runes throughout the year through rituals and initiations to come into direct relationship with them.
S. Kelley Harrell, M. Div.
I’m an animist, author, deathwalker and death doula. For the last 25+ years, through Soul Intent Arts I’ve helped others to ethically build thriving spiritual paths as fit, embodied elders, who upon death become wise, capable Ancestors. My work is Nature-based, and focuses soul tending through the Elder Futhark runes, animism, ancestral healing, and deathwork. I’m author of Runic Book of Days, and I host the podcast, What in the Wyrd. I also write The Weekly Rune as a celebration of the Elder Futhark in season. Full bio.
#beyourcommunity ~ #youareecosystem
elder well, die well, ancestor well
We don't heal in isolationbut in community
Gift of the Dreamtime Reader's Companion
~S. Kelley Harrell