Ulcer – disease fatal to children and painful spot and abode of mortification.
Icelandic rune poem, Runic and Heroic Poems, Bruce Dickins
Traditional meaning – torch, or ulcer
Association – fire, heat, inflammation, or inspiration that increases
Pronunciation – kehn-na, kehn-az
Galdr – Kehn, Kenuh, Kawn, Kawnuh, Kain, Kainuh
Element – fire
Dates – 13–28 September
Verb – to imbue
Animistic Qualities – imbuing our agency in a way that allows our inspiration to hone our calling
Challenge – To find supportive outlets to focus our inspiration
Traditional lore – Kenaz represents something festering under the surface. Symbolized as faint light in bleak darkness or painful sores on the body, the imagery is that of a dynamic slowly becoming more lit, or more intolerable, and likely one that we’ve learned to grin and bear. With Kenaz that prodding blooms into an AHA moment!, which allows us freedom to focus what was needing to come to light, ro relief.
Animistic lore – Humaning well with Kenaz encompassse the ultimate fire human-persons feel, which is our calling. We feel it, though we don’t always know what to do with it, hot to express it. Through the recipe of Ansuz (soothsayer/to create) + Raidho (storytelling/to move) = Kenaz (lore/to imbue), we imbue our agency with our truth and bear it to the world, which is the calling we all share. And through our Kenaz experiences, we internalize that we have to keep revisiting our truth and calling to continue taking them deeper in how we live.
“Kenaz puts us front and center to both the enlightenment and the tension it brings to needed change in our lives.” Runic Book of Days
Kenaz motivates us to imbue our truth with agencyto create the lore that guides the Descendants
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, deathwalking, and how all of those are in relationship on my path.
I started working with the runes in season as a devotional practice to keep my Selves together. As such I give thanks to my ecosystems, Allies, and Ancestors for their support in that, and to all the listeners who find meaning in the weekly runecast and this podcast. I’m grateful to be relations with the Elder runes and you, right here, right now.
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The Weekly Rune has been published, and it’s a runecast that I’ve done for quite a while focused on Nigel Pennick’s calculation of a pan-cultural runic calendar. It’s focused on the current half-month rune, which I center in ecosystem with the elements, directions, season, and Spirits of Place. I invite you to do the same and see how your rune work deepens.
There are many approaches to runic calendars. Check out Nordic Animism if you haven’t, and their work with the Nordic animist calendar, currently honoring the year of Aun in a worldwide celebration.
If you want to learn more about runic calendars, listen to the early episodes of What in the Wyrd, or just go read The Weekly Rune. It’s explained fully at the beginning of every runecast. The full version of TWR is available weekly through Patreon, though you can read the highlights for free on my website – soul intent arts dot com. All runecasts are fully available two weeks after publication there. You can get notified when they come out by subscribing to my substack.
In this episode of verbing with the runes, we’re focusing on Kenaz
With the Kenaz galdr, we have though are not limited to – Kehn, Kenuh, Kawn, Kawnuh, Kain, Kainuh. I’ve even heard Keen, Keenuh. In the audio blog every week I tell listeners how you feel the galdr in your body is how you do it. Galdr is its own sound ecosystem that evolves by syllable, in the moment, with your body. How you feel it is how you do it, and if that changes each time, each utterance–so it is. Period. There you go. We know how the runes might have been pronounced in ON cultures, and to cultivate relationship with them and feel those relationships across time in the way our ancestors might have, we galdr them. We feel the runes in our body, we feel the ancestors in our body. On that breath we are All Things.
To sit with Kenaz in action, we have to look back a bit at the previous runes. In the last episode, we talked about my recipe:
Ansuz + Raidho = Kenaz
So when I say this, I’m talking about:
inspiration + storytelling = meaning
soothsaying + storytelling = meaning
soothsaying + movement = lore
confidence + experience = authority
When we make active this progression of Ansuz being the place we first express our agency, we start to understand our relationship to the godden. We start to realize we aren’t just here to take up space. We can do some pretty amazing things with focused expression of our agency–that is, sharing our truth. We learn with Ansuz that we have a role in exchange between ourselves and other human-persons, other-than-human persons in and out of form, to systems and collectives that are above our pay grade, and to ones that are precisely our duty to take on. And therein lies the greater wisdom of Ansuz–it’s the beginning whisper that we’re responsible for what we put out into the world.
When we approach Raidho, we begin fulfilling the drive to bring our agency into the world. In that way, it’s sort of a sneak preview of the second aett–the fun of the joy ride but without the head-on collisions. Here we realize that our agency needs movement, not just to fulfill that human soothsayer ‘hear me roar thing,’ but also to keep the inspiration stoked. Raidho brings dopamine to Ansuz. Sit with that for a second. It gives it focus and fire, on-the-move, while it, too, whispers to get ourselves clear in what we’re bringing, how we’re bringing it, and with whom we share our truth.
In that way, Kenaz is the only logical next stop to make. Kenaz means flame or boil, depending on which rune poems you read. What both of those things have in common is mounting tension, burning inflammation that begs relief in some way. Kenaz brings that relief. It’s an AHA! Moment. So maybe we have the tension of deep personal truth (Ansuz) meeting a world that is constantly in motion (Raidho)? A tension that expects us to both heed the responsibility of bearing that truth while also self-motivating to keep it alive, worthy of our agency, and of sharing with the world? A tension that aligns us with core aspects of ourselves and community to discern our calling?
When we bring that into an animistic framework, that’s a pretty big AHA!
Ansuz and Raidho have these playful creative nuances, which start to get a little more serious and risky with Kenaz. The light flashes on. We initiate into a first stage of personhood, of embodiment, with the awareness that we can shape our own lore, that we can, through our own embodiment, bring other things into being. We can create and stoke the fires of that creativity with movement, literal and figurative.
With Kenaz, human-persons bring the fire, and we need to know what we’re doing with it, or people–human and other-than-human–get burned, including ourselves. Few things are as excruciating as unexpressed truth or a totally bungled expression of it.
As humans–our agency has to count. It has huge impact on everything on this planet, which also means our truth has to count (Ansuz). This is why in the progression of the Elder Futhark we are called to leave familiar territory and take our truth out into the world (Raidho). It’s not just for our own benefit, but that of our people and our creations. And we can’t hone it on our own. We need experiences and allies, we need diversity and a few shitty neighbors along the way, to encourage us to really value what we bring here, personally, and as a species. This is the humaning journey. It’s what we do here.
What we do here must be made mythic, because it already is. We are not taught in American settler culture what a miracle it is to come here, to be soul in form–specifically, to human. And the way we remember that miracle, is to breathe life into our truth in a way that it lives on after us, to give it meaning. And when I say meaning, I don’t mean an interpretation of what we did here. A building up of what we did here. I mean to imbue what we did here with our truth. This is Kenaz in action.This is Kenaz as a verb–to imbue our agency with our truth and bear it to the world. We give meaning to our lives not in the stories we make up about our lives, but in how we whisper our truth into those stories and bless their agency in how they go on.
Not for ourselves. Not for the glory of our own truth, or to serve some personal outcome. It’s to transmit the truth of what it means to be soul-in-form, to human in all its joys and challenges, to live in support of the community, so that the outcomes and consequences of that life affirm the descendants.
Kenaz is to imbue our agency with our truth and bear it to the world, which is the calling we all share.
So maybe that recipe is really more like agency + movement = calling
Ugh. Now I have to rewrite the whole book.
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 if 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 Learn… 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.
Imbuing with Kenaz Introspections
- How do you recognize your truth?
- Where do you feel it in your body?
- What guides you in focusing it?
- How do your skills and talents align with your calling?
- What lore are you leaving the Descendants?
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