The Elder Futhark – Ansuz

Ansuz means As, one of the Aesir or Norse Gods – later rune rows split this into three variations (o, a, ae) which translate as god, oak and ash.

The Anglo-Saxon rune poem uses a later translation of Ansuz as Mouth or Estuary. It says “The mouth is the beginning of all speech, a support to wisdom and a comfort to the wise, and a prosperity and trust to every jarl.” 

These different concepts kind of meld together when I think of Ansuz.  While it can literally represent the Gods, and in particular Odin the Allfather, I think of it more in terms of how we relate to the Gods – we look to them for guidance, support, authority, wisdom, principles, honour and a moral code.  

The glyph to me resembles the torso and one arm of a parent standing behind their child – or a god standing behind a person – it doesn’t have the protective feel of runes like Elhaz/Algiz, it has more of a “stand up for yourself” feel – but knowing that someone has your back.  It’s sticking to your principles, backed by wisdom and knowledge. Or using the resources you can draw on to guide your actions. I remember one of the early conversations I had with other runelore students where the comparison was made between “Ansuz” and “Answers” and that kind of fits too, as well as being a useful mnemonic.

I feel the oak and ash of the later variations are symbolic of the connections between us and the divine – my world view is quite panentheist, and I believe that all living things have something of the divine within them including us.  Looking to Norse mythology trees are important symbols.  The first people were Ask (Oak) and Embla (Elm/Vine) – Odin, Vili and Ve were walking along the coast one day when they came across two trees which they gave the gifts of life, breath, thought and communication turning them into man (Ask) and woman (Embla).   And of course Yggdrasill is the world Ash that embodies Wyrd and connects all the nine worlds. The roots of a tree spread out the same way as an estuary spreads around the mouth of a river.

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