Mannaz’ rune meaning has been eroded perhaps more than any rune by Christian revision and values, so it is important to me to clearly analyze this rune and to emphasize that you should think for yourself, and think hard. If any rune has locked within it the potential to help you think powerfully, it is MANNAZ.
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Symbolism in Mannaz
Mannaz as a symbol can represent a number of things. Odin’s two ravens, Huginn, who represents mind (thinking) and Muninn, who represents memory, is a common theme here. The symbol could also be a representation of the arch at the top of an old well, implying the power of the mind to plumb the depths of Mimir’s Well: our collective unconscious or our ancestral memory.
It may represent a multiple of WUNJO, being the total of the human tribes, friend and enemy alike, and all the conflict inherent in our united, but divided world. Another possibility is that it is DAGAZ-on-two-legs, alluding to our potential to attain enlightenment. All of these ideas would make sense.
The Horizons of Human Potential
Mannaz is a rune whose principles hold true in scale from the individual to the whole of humanity. Range and variation in individual experience is unfathomably vast. It is both our individual human potential to perfect ourselves (the Perfected Human or savior idea is often alluded to here, as is our ancestral connection to the gods [see ANSUZ]) and humankind’s total potential to become a sustainable planetary civilization, utopia or paradise. The most positive energies of Mannaz make realizing our inner-savior and the possibility of heaven on earth into a real, attainable goal. If you feel strongly that we could solve the problems that beset and threaten humankind, then you are already activating Mannaz in your life.
The Building Blocks of Society
Mannaz is our ability to analyse and predict, to wilfully generate effects and shape our individual and collective future. It is the drive to better ourselves and society. This rune helps us realize our place in the big picture, where our energies and abilities are most perfectly positioned to shape Self and Society toward our ideals.
The harshness of the human world necessitates our co-operation with one another for our personal and collective survival, whether we like it or not. Here the joy and bliss of fellowship represented by WUNJO is balanced by the suffering of the human situation and its manifestations.
Socially, Mannaz can be seen as the tendency of anarcho-syndicalism — that is, the basic fact that humans organize into progressively larger groups, whether these be tribes, city-states, nations, cultures or civilizations. Many such organizations can exist along side one another, and that they exist at all is because we use our minds to create sense and order.
Whether you believe we do this for better or for worse, the human mind is an ordering-machine, spotting patterns and organizing tremendous amounts of data into knowledge, experience and wisdom. ANSUZ is also a rune of bringing order to chaos, but through language and poetry.
The mind has a stubborn drive to understand the human situation. Though knowledge of it seems so tremendously overwhelming and unavailable, we feel the pull of Mannaz to analyze, predict and think deeply about things, a drive that if faithfully followed will always push our intellect to its limits… for as mankind’s scope increases, so does our own.
Mind in Time
Mannaz speaks to us of our own shrouded origins, for instance, the lack of memory we have of our birth, and childhood. In a collective sense our species have existed for millions of years before recorded history, but living memory of those times have been lost.
Yet these secrets are still there to be discovered deep in our unconscious, for our ancestors have lived through them and they are in our breath, blood and genetic makeup. This is an aspect of Mimir’s well, or the Sanskrit Akashic Records, an eastern parallel.
Mannaz, too, covers the human situation in all its complex, chaotic scope in the present day. But rather than representing that chaos, it is the rune of the hidden structure and divine order to these affairs, the idea that there is reason and purpose to the affairs of humankind.
Projected into the future, Mannaz speaks of our limitless potential in face of the infinite years ahead of us. It is the horizons of all that each individual has ever thought or done, is thinking or doing, and can ever think or do. Mannaz is the rune of the genius and the visionary.
We see that the mind operates inside of time, and that a deep relationship to time is necessary for mental functioning. Without time, the mind goes silent. Both JERA and IHWAZ, positioned above Mannaz in the Aettir, have a lot to do with time.
Self-Knowledge and Self-Mastery
Fear of the unknown is absent with Mannaz, as the unknown only fuels those dealing with such magic to learn, excel, prepare, plan and master themselves to the fullest extent possible.
Perverted use of such powers will have us attempting to manipulate humankind and seeking to control those around us, as many in positions of great power have done. Properly understood, we seek instead to become the master of our own mind, with a strong, centered intellect and a firm knowledge of our position in society. We know our passions, our purpose, and we plan and revise those plans with graceful strategy, confident that there is a higher, rational order to things than we have yet understand.
The Vitki, or ‘Noble Mind’
On an individual level, Mannaz provides the inherent nobility in seeking to master one’s own mind, the triumph of reason over instinct and conditioning. It is tied to the ‘vitki’, the Norse word for an integrated and self-disciplined mind. Humanity, like nobility , is earned through deeds, rather than a birthright. This is a theme in the Northern mysteries, seen in RAIDHO, TIWAZ and OTHALA most often, and it is well that we should ponder over it at length. Why do we have such wickedness in human behavior alongside such beauty?
Mannaz in Relation to Nearby Runes
The human archetype is often seen as separate and divine, because of the radical differences between human behavior and that of other forms of life such as the plant matter of BERKANO and the animal nature of EHWAZ. But to avoid imbalance and toxicity (and our civilization has become dangerously toxic) we must also understand also what unifies us with all other Life, as the next rune in the third Aett, LAGAZ (analysis), will reveal.
Mannaz, combined and balanced with an understanding of Laguz, may reveal our roles as co-creator with nature. Further understanding of Life’s unswerving longing to create is witnessed as we understand INGUZ. That these runes are so solidly and sequentially linked in both their positions in the Elder Futhark Aettir and in conceptual analysis alludes to a greater unity in the rune row than is typically obvious to those beginning their studies of rune magic.
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