Six months ago I started a thorough initial study of the Elder Futhark. Each week I would focus on a new rune, reading the rune poems and a number of published interpretations. While these posts are old (originally posted to my Tumblr), I want to move them over here for easy reference.
Week 1: Fehu
Basic meanings: Cattle, wealth (moveable)
Further meanings: Energy, luck, hamingja*, fire/spark of creation, initiation of life-force, fertility, becoming
Divinatory meanings: Possessions, wealth in a moderately strong sense (as in, not extreme excess – more like a job promotion rather than winning the lottery), financial strength in present or near future. Reputation, social success. Good luck. Energy in a recycling sense (energy, like money, is nothing unless it is spent and taken in in a cycle), fertility, creation/destruction (the act of becoming).
*Hamingja is a store of energy that one is born with that has the element of luck associated with it. It’s kind of like how some people are naturally going to be tall or short based on their genes, some people are naturally born with a better chance of good things happening to them. This is considered to be inherited from ancestors, possibly past lives if you go for that. It is influenced by your reputation. That’s not to say that you have to be popular and wealthy, simply people’s impressions of you. While hamingja is inherited, you will change yours throughout your life by your acts, how people perceive you, and you can apparently support those changes through runic magic depending on the other runes in play.
Magical uses: Fehu can help in more material aspects of your life, such as your workplace, finances, and possessions, but can also aid you in a spiritual sense by helping you connect to your own energy. Magic is all about bringing up and even creating energy, then sending it out, and more energy will return to make up what was given – a cycle.
Personal Thoughts on and Associations with Fehu
When I started learning this rune, I only looked at the shape, learned how to say it, what sound it stood for, and the most basic meaning (so for Fehu, “Cattle and wealth”). Then I spent a day thinking about it before I did any further study. Over that day, I made a list of words that began with that sound – “F”. I thought about the basic meanings in terms of the words I came up with, what it means in my own life, which often lead me to uncover some of the deeper meanings before I read about them. While the runes are much more than an alphabet, to me associating the sound of the rune with what it means helps me understand and memorize its meanings more.
I’m not going to make the entire list, but here are a few highlights if you’re interested.
Fulfillment, finances, faith – Money and possessions can make one feel fulfilled, but fulfillment has many other levels. In my own life, despite having a well-paying job, I hated what I did and spent most of my time miserable. Spiritually I felt nothing, which led to depression. When I began to understand spirituality as a choice and not something I had to follow based on my upbringing. As I began to study and make my own path, it felt very much like a spark to a new beginning. It changed many other aspects of my life, even taking me from the previous job to one that paid less but that I enjoyed much more.
Feast, food, fame – A lot of us want so much – money, fame – but there are millions of people who don’t have the means to get what they need to live without fear of starvation. Fehu gives the ability to begin anew or grow from nothing or a loss. It won’t be from one extreme to another, but a reintroduction of energy towards a gain.
Family, friend, father – We inherit material, physical, and less tangible things from our families. This includes ideas based on upbringing and those we are around. Our identities are formed by this until we are capable of forming other ideas or forge new friendships. To me, while I have strayed quite a bit from the beliefs of my family, I still love them and would not be the person I am today without them and their influence in my life.
Fertility – This one’s hard for me. I understand it in terms of Fehu – nurture, creation of new life, etc etc – but to someone who has been pressured to have kids and decided not to (both due to lack of interest and due to a SO of the same sex) this is always a touchy subject for me. I do not worship reproduction, I see it as one of nature’s many cycles.
Most meaningful to me, Fehu is that small yet significant thing that saves you when you feel like it’s over. It’s happened to me multiple times. When I was out of a job and spending the last of what was in savings so I wouldn’t lose my house. I was too depressed to even fill out applications anymore after sending in dozens with no luck. As we were driving home, I passed one of the buildings on our usual route home and saw a sign going up for a book store. I applied (and hoped and prayed) and got the job. I still have it and I love it. As I said above, this happened to me in a spiritual sense as well.
There’s a lot more, but me and words don’t get along so well after awhile, especially when it comes to less tangible experiences and stuff. I expect to understand it more as I go along and learn more, and hey, maybe even figure out how to explain it better!
Sources for meanings:
- Runelore by Edred Thorsson
- Futhark: A Handbook of Rune Magic by Edred Thorsson
- Principles of Runes by Freya Aswynn
- Northern Mysteries and Magick by Freya Aswynn