Fehu – Extended Rune Meaning (by Mahryan)

FEHU –  reformatted for clarity April 2009

Alternate Names: Feoh, Fe, Feh
Elements: Fire, Earth
Sex: Feminine

Basic rune meaning: Cattle, Wealth

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Related material:
Basic Metaphysical Interpretation of Fehu

More ‘Thoughts on Fehu‘ by Mahryan

Extended rune meanings: Expansive energy, New beginnings, Control, Abundance, Social Success, Foresight, Travel, Reputation, Material wealth, Generosity, Power, Sexual Energy

Good things given
Good things received
Pleasure in life maintained

  • The primal cow Audhumla
  • Primal origin: life force; expansive energy
  • Cattle: mobile property, wealth, money, earned income
  • New beginnings
  • The circulation of power and wealth Personal attitude and expectations toward money/wealth
  • Self confidence/esteem [1] (Aswyn)
  • Sexual energy [2]

Fehu is important in probing what is profit and gain. Fehu usually represents fulfillment – something strived for is within grasp, but there may be opposing forces, which can be overcome with diligence. When in misery or grief, the drawing of Fehu brings comfort (Blum speaks of nourishment as a function of Fehu.)

Primary Concepts in the Fehu Rune Meaning:


The gifts of Fehu must be worked for, received with thanks and humility, and what is possessed must be looked after with respect. Resources must be guarded against time of need –- but not hoarded, and especially not for profit. This is a difficult balance to find and maintain on 21st Century Earth (or perhaps at any time for humankind, given the verse from the Hávamál, quoted under “Magic” below).


There is strong emphasis that the gifts of Fehu, in whatever form, must be circulated. Aswynn (Principles, p.8) underlines the non-monetary wealth associated with Fehu, pointing to the relationship of cattle to the food chain – the chain of energy re-cycling. Cattle feed on grasses (the Fehu symbol resembles grass or corn) and provided humans with mobile resources of necessities (meat, dairy, hides). Money in contrast is ultimately useless in itself (paper, metal) and so has no direct link to the necessary life cycle. [3]

Birch Air (1999) [4] suggests regarding the need to for circulation, that wealth can also be knowledge (and knowledge is a form of power). Denali states the same idea in terms of “mental energy units”. He notes that we are close having electronic transfers of money in a way that equates closely to the Fehu notion of energy transfer.5 He also points out that fire requires circulation (of air) in order to burn.

Expansive energy

Fehu is associated with the life giving cosmic fire of Muspellheimr that melted the hostile ice and was thus instrumental in the creation of Midhgardhr, but will be equally so in its destruction at Ragnarok (Aswynn; Mountfort; Thorsson):

“This is the fire generated out of water and in the dark depths of the multiverse – and in the dark corners of the self (Thorsson, Runelore p.115)”

This verse suggests a depth connection with Laguz, of the coming into consciousness (being) of energy born via water, which may burn out of control as Laguz may drown.

Both runes are associated with the mystery of creation and destruction through the eternal process of coming into being – dynamic evolutionary force.

On this Tyriel (2005) commented:

“Fehu is the expansive energy that creates the universe, but even in that creation, the seeds of its own destruction are inseparably sown, So, though Fehu can feel very fresh, always remember that new beginnings also mean old endings, and new endings at some point, that are inevitable.”

Another expansive energy relationship of Fehu to Hamingja, personal energy, power and good fortune inherent in each person. We inherit a store of Hamingja at birth from previous lives, ancestors, which may be added to or depleted depending on our actions. (Aswynn).6

The area of reputation (Aswynn; Thorsson) is therefore related to Hamingja and our reputation is not only part of our wealth in this life, but our legacy to our kin who follow. We can feed our Hamingja by the energies we call to ourselves (and Aswynn notes that thoughts are a form of energy.)

Cattle die, kindred die,
Every man is mortal:
But the good name never dies,
Of one who has done well

Cattle die, kindred die,
Every man is mortal:
But I know one thing that never dies,
The glory of the great dead

[From the Havamal; Trans. Auden & Taylor]

The Valkyries look after the bravest of the fallen warriors, and this is usually seen as relating to the after-life. Personally, I think it refers to the Hamingja of the previously ‘great dead’ in their present lifetime and explains why some people seem to have “the luck of the gods.” A fallen warrior may become great again and is looked after in a more troubled life period because of what has been earned in the past.

Other Thoughts

Fehu Rune position:

That Fehu the first rune represents mobile property and earned wealth, while OTHALA represents inherited property, strongly contributes to the argument for Othala as the 24th rune. On the other hand, most ancient concepts were of circles not straight lines (although three Aetts seems to point more to three rows that divisions in a circle (then again, astrology has 12 divisions in a circle, so why not 24?). In a circle Fehu and Othala would lie side by side – what we come into the world with and what we leave behind – except that we also begin with our inherited wealth, and part of our Hamingja is inherited. I’m still inclined to see DAGAZ as the bridge between life cycles – the process that carries the inheritance from Othala to the new cycle of FEHU.

Murk Stave

Fehu Reversed:

Failure, Greed, Atrophy, Loss, Destruction, Discord, Dullness, Hoarding, Impoverishment

  • Greed and/or wastefulness
  • Collapse into success
  • Bad luck (resting on innate good fortune as in inherited Hamingja)
  • Lack of control
  • Loss of something valuable (probably material, but could be social, like a friendship or status)
  • Blockage: Lack of fertility, physical or creative; broken spirit (overly domesticated and slow; used, owned, cowardly) (Tyson)
  • May indicate a disguised blessing; a need for temporary retreat; conservation of energy or other resources

In an otherwise positive reading, such as this one, A reversed Fehu can sometimes indicate a frustrating delay or obstacle before the goal is successfully reached. There is an association with the wolf Fenris (offspring of Loki) who at Ragnarok escapes his chain and runs free wreaking complete destruction (Mountfort). Another association exists with snakes as blockages (Denali, Gundarsson) and Birch Air (1999) suggests snakes in association with Fehu may represent a need to shed old skins in order to recognize and enjoy the wealth we have.

Reversed in readings questions to ask are:

What is true profit?
What is the lesson of the loss?
Where is true nourishment? (Blum)

Magical Interpretation:

The first charm I know is unknown to rulers
Or any of human kind:
Help it is named, for help it can give
In hours of sorrow and anguish

  • Fertile harvest
  • Help in a crisis situation (Aswynn)
  • Money, friendliness, merit
  • To increase Megin (‘luck,’ charisma, energy reserves) (Denali)
  • Personal/social evolution (Thorsson)
  • Workings for power and control: power and energy needed to begin a working (Pennick); power channelling or transference (Thorsson); drawing projected power into the personal sphere (sun, moon, stars) (Thorsson);
  • Strengthen psychic powers (Thorsson)
  • Sending thoughts and delegating energy to another (Denali)
  • To break the spirit of an enemy; to render incapable of action; to create fearful dependence (Tyson)


Used with another rune Fehu will increase the power of its companion rune(s). Applied negatively, Fehu will be destructive (burn out of control). Birch Air gives the example of Fehu and Thuriaz as violently destructive. I would add this is likely even if the runes are used in their positive aspects – too much power for pretty much any human being to be hurling around!

Uruz – healing (Pennick)
Ansuz – wealth/success via intellectual means (Pennick)
Othala – reward through perseverance (Pennick)
Dagaz – increase in wealth (Pennick)
Gebo – to give Fehu’s sexual energy as a gift (Denali)
Raidho – to control and direct Fehu’s sexual energy (Denali)


Frey and Freyja(Pennick; Thorsson; Aswynn); Nerthus the earth goddess (Mountfort); Frigga (Thorsson); Niord, god of wealth (Aswynn)


Taurus (Pennick)
Aries (Mahryan) Aries is a fire sign and represents the beginning of the life cycle. Taurus is an earth sign, with a kind of strength associated with the Bull, more suited to Uruz
Tarot: Tower (Pennick)
Colour: Brown, red
Tree: Elder (Pennick)
Plants and Herbs: Stinging nettle (Pennick)
Metal: Gold (Aswyn; Mountfort; Thorsson)


[1] Aswynn relates self esteem to the Hamingja aspect of Fehu also.

[2] Birch Air (1999) wrote that Fehu relates to charismatic sexual energy, “pure sexual attraction… that fiery power that could just easily blaze out of control.” I am uncertain about Fehu’s role in sexual attraction, but it makes sense that our Hamingja energy affects our sexuality.

[3] But note Denali on this. We have to be realistic: in this time money is the primary form of material wealth, which is certainly one aspect of Fehu, and it is certainly mobile – far more so than a herd of cattle. Money is also power, and if circulated properly distributes wealth and power.

[4] She specifically discusses her travels with Sammie when he was sick and the number of conversations she had up and down the coast about caring for dogs.

[5] This is an interesting observation because it is free of critique. Social scientists have observed the trend to paperless wealth transfers quite negatively as “smoke and mirrors.”

[6] I wonder, therefore about the relationship to Inguz (but then I never do quite get Inguz)?

6 thoughts on “Fehu – Extended Rune Meaning (by Mahryan)”

  1. Hi Tyriel,

    I love your website and Runic blog!
    I refer, often, to your comments during my daily exploration
    and meditation on which ever from among the Runes that I may select
    on a particular day.

    Although I have, in past, been tempted to add to those comments already present, this morning, I feel “spiritually nudged” to do so regarding Gebo(
    the ongoing, continual “spiritual biofeedback” between The Divine and Humans.
    Inasmuch as Gebo rarifiea that “magical power present in the Ginnyngagap
    (the ‘energetically charged void’) (Knight 2000), might not Gebo ve conceived, also as a “spiritual synaptic cleft”; that “protoplasmic kiss” through which we humans both simultaneously give and receive through “God Mind”, thereby both creating, and constantly maintaining, biofeedback with Divine Consciousness and Wisdom?

    Thank you, again, for “listening”, and for providing your wondrously enriching blog!


    1. You use quotes like “spiritual synaptic cleft” or “protoplasmic kiss”. Are these from Knight? Perhaps you could explain a bit more what you mean… I’m afraid I can’t answer a question accurately that has too many idioms that I’m not familiar with. But I’m willing to try if you post us what you mean in a more plain language.

  2. i am new to the usage of runes… i used to read about them mainly about them being earlier forms of the alphabet… about 8 years ago,i got 4 of them tatooed on my arm… i am wondering if they are compatible (im not sure that compatible is the word i mean) i have Berkano,Uruz,Teiwaz, and Feoh (in that order)…what can anyone tell me? i would like to learn more… no,i would LOVE to learn more…

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