Rune meanings – Ansuz

The ancient Nordic Runes have a lot in common with the Tarot, in that they are a system for increasing our self-awareness and personal understanding. In addition, as with the Tarot cards, each rune has its own meaning or associated story through which we can gain insight into our own spiritual development.

The Breath of Odin

Literally translated, Ansuz means ‘Woden.’ However, it has other associated meanings, such as ‘Breath’ or ‘Sovereign God.’ According to Norse legend, Odin’s first gift to mankind was his breath. This breath is supposed to have ordered our faculties, giving us the abilities to think, reason and speak. The energy of Ansuz is reputed to be the sovereign energy from which we are able to govern our conscious minds.

It is no surprise then to discover that Ansuz, when drawn in a reading, is concerned with order. Odin’s breath has given us the power to name all things and, in accordance with ancient Norse beliefs, when you are able to name something, you gain power over it. Drawing this rune also suggests that you will be able to create order from chaos; that events or circumstances that may appear beyond your control can actually be shaped into an ordered experience. By tapping into the power of Ansuz, nothing is truly beyond our abilities.


In addition, Ansuz is used to represent our ability to speak and communicate. However, the rune reminds us that listening can often be more important than speaking; true communication is a balance between the two and if you do one more than the other, there is no balance. Ansuz is also preoccupied with honesty, suggesting that the best communication is that with no hidden agenda, for manipulation and falsehood ultimately damage the speaker more than anyone else. Words were attributed with great power in Norse legends and it pays for 21st Century man to be reminded of this - too often words are spoken without thought and with little care for the consequences.

Ansuz is one of the most potent of the runes of the Elder Futhark and, if shown in a reading, should be listened to, carefully.

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