Some More Thoughts on Fehu and Connections with Uruz and the First Aett by Mahryan
Thanks to Tyriel and the thought-provoking comments people contribute to Rune Secrets I have recently spent time pondering Fehu. The following are just some thoughts going through my mind – they are offered to you for consideration, which some of you will hopefully share back again, so we can all learn more together. Some of my thoughts likely reflect things I said in my previous Fehu article or in comments I have posted, but Tyriel encouraged me to write up these latest reflections as an article. Hopefully they are not too rambling!
Photo by Andy Allen
Fehu and Uruz – the Primal Cow and Ox
First of all, some of the commentary on Fehu has raised questions about whether the energy is male or female. I think that, just as each rune contains positive and negative polarities, so both male and female energy is present in each. Runic teachings actually seem to really underline the necessity of combining those energies in order to achieve the spiritual wholeness for which we strive. The deities most associated with Fehu are the male and female twins Freya and Freyja.
That said, some runes are more strongly associated with a male, or a female, core energy. In the case of Fehu, there is no real debate among Runesters that Fehu represents the female, Mother Goddess energy – the creative fire that melted the primordial ice and gave birth to all – both the Giants and the Aesir (Gods). Fehu is fiery energy associated with Adhumla the primal cow and linked to the Muspellheimr the fire world… I note the links we had to great page on Yggdrasil and the nine worlds are broken. I couldn’t find anything I liked as well, but at this link is a diagram and an interesting discussion associating the worlds to Chakra’s: http://home.comcast.net/~chakra_system/other4.html
Uruz, the following rune, is associated with Nifelheim – the world of frost and represented by an Auroch – a wild bull Ox. Uruz is primal earth (originally frozen) energy. For life to occur this ice must interact with the creative fire, which melts the ice releasing raw, primitive, indestructible energy (‘brute strength). It is the primordial will to survive.
When disciplined by the creative will and energy (Hamingja), Uruz is a force of health, healing and growth, which in turn feeds the Fehu fire and creativity. Undisciplined the force can be destructive.
These two runes are inseparably interactive and dynamic– both are necessary to create and maintain life.
Fehu and Abundant Wealth
To the best of our current knowledge, the wealth associated with Fehu is of the movable kind and represented by cattle that could be exchanged for other material needs – used to pay a ‘fee’. It is pecuniary (from pecos, Latin for cow) wealth that the individual or community earns. Tied to cattle, and other exchangeable commodities, we should expect it to ebb and flow, but also that if we work as we should that we will receive at minimum what we need to survive.
Our current global economic construction is so far removed from the ancient notion of simple exchange that understanding the concepts of abundance and wealth imbedded in Fehu are, I think particularly challenging. ‘Wealth’ to the ancients quite likely meant having all basic necessities met.
One very important question is, “what do we do with an abundance of wealth?” To me, the Rune poems and Hávamál seem clear – if there is abundance it should not be stockpiled. When some have more than others trouble will quickly follow if it is not shared freely. This is a cycle of reciprocity (Gebo), for wealth is fleeting and one who has much today may have nothing tomorrow:
Wealth is a comfort to all men,
Yet everyone must give it away freely,
If he wants to gain glory in the Lord’s sight
[Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem: Translation R.I Page; Aswyn suggests the Northern Lord of Judgement is Tyr]
Full-stocked folds had Fitjung’s sons,
Who now bear a beggar’s staff;
Wealth is brief as the wink of an eye,
Of friends it is most false.
The unwise man, if he should get
Wealth or woman’s love,
His arrogance grows but not his sense –
On he goes deep in delusion
[ Hávamál: 78-79; Translation Diana Paxon in Taking up the Runes]
It must be remembered, that in ancient mobile societies, an abundance could not be easily transported – wealth was what could be taken along – priority would be to meeting life’s necessities: Live cattle; dried foods; enough water to get to the next drinkable supply; and materials (clothes for warmth). It is also notable that the Hávamál specifically indicates that a woman’s love is as important as material wealth – neither should be taken for granted.
Fehu, Wealth and New Beginnings
How then is wealth understood in the context of Fehu new beginnings? Today, moving to a new location does not mean leaving our money behind – although we may at times have to make hard decisions about property and other belongings. Nevertheless, as Tyriel recently reminded me, Fehu can indicate the need to make a new start – walking away with our head held high and only what we can carry.
For people who have experienced war or natural disaster, this is starkly true in a material sense when the ‘wealth’ they carry with them may be simply the Uruz-driven will to survive.
The rune may also be very apt in indicating the need for new emotional and/or psychological beginnings – where again we will also need to draw on the survival energy of Uruz to get ourselves to safety and new growth.
In today’s economic downturn it can also indicate a need for new material starts. We must ‘cut our losses’ and begin again to seek material security (a new job, a new home perhaps), but Fehu brings us the dynamic and creative energy we need for that. Uruz adds the physical stamina and sheer will to keep goinAg.
Fehu wealth then, in my ponderings, is very dynamic: sometimes abundant; sometimes scarce. It is about material need; but not material excess. It is about Hamingja – the creative energy that creates life; but also about the need for interaction and balance (positive-negative; male female).
First Aett Interconnections
All this got me thinking about how the whole of the first Aett could be seen as representing essential aspects-energies of life: Fehu and Uruz, the essential and inseparable primordial pair; Thurisaz, both Giant and Defender (Thor) – chaos and control. A dangerous barely conscious power unless tempered by wise application and direction (Ansuz). Raidho the road to be ridden and the wheels to ride – the means to move. Kenaz the torch – controlled and applied fire that creates “hearth and hall’ and guides communities; the knowing and the passing on of the knowledge. Gebo the essential balance – equal exchange or equalizing of energy and material necessities. And finally Wunjo the joy of being; and that being is good enough.