Reprinted from "Rainbow Wind" Magazine
Fehu is the first rune of the 24-rune Elder Futhark, and the first rune of the first aett. Fehu is the reconstructed Old Germanic name of this rune, which as its initial sound suggests, has the phonetic value of "F." It is known as Fe in Old Norse, Feoh in Anglo-Saxon, and Faihu in Gothic. The literal meaning of this rune is ‘‘cattle''. Its general meanings refer to money and wealth. Assets, money, wealth and goods in any (moveable) form, employees, followers, finances, and pay all embody Fehu. Since the ancient Germanic peoples often measured wealth in cattle, cattle, leather goods, and anything to do with dairying also fall under this Rune. Modern English cognates include fee, fine and fief. Three rune-poems have come down to us from medieval times: two of them, the Old Icelandic Rune Poem and the Old Norwegian Rune Rhyme, dwell on Fe being a cause of strife among kinsmen. Thorr and Audrey Sheil think that this has more to do with the fact that folks in that part of the world are notorious about squabbling with and holding grudges against kinfolks over unpaid debts, and that the information in the rune poems is often more cultural than having to do with the rune itself.
Runes are based in the cycles of nature and the cultures of the Germanic peoples. A knowledge of these will help greatly when learning to do runework. The meanings of the runes should be sought primarily in their names, and expanded on by personal experience from there.
Fehu represents movable goods; those other than land and buildings. Anything you use to make a living, whether tangible or intangible (skills, knowledge) is your Fehu. A magician's magickal knowledge is his or her magickal Fehu. Part of an employer's Fehu is the services of the business's employees. In this modern age, even electricity, like anything else that helps us carry out our will, can be Fehu! Fehu is a pretty tame Rune, especially compared with the following two Runes in the Futhark: Uruz (wild cattle) and Thurisaz (Giants/Jotnar).
Norse tradition seeks a balanced approach to Fehu. While there is no virtue in poverty (ever notice that those religions that preach poverty as a virtue are always begging for money!?!), greed is also to be avoided. Sound investment is to be preferred to wild speculation. Fehu is morally neutral. Our use of and persuit of it, and the attitudes behind our behaviour, is where morality comes in. Fehu includes those things we use to gain wealth, how we use it, what we exchange for it, and how we replenish it.
Magickally, Fehu is very useful. Money spells are among the most popular. I have found green to be an appropriate color, and patchouly an appropriate oil, to work with Fehu. I've seen sets of magickal oil blends, one for each rune of the Elder Futhark. While neat to look at, they are by no means necessary for your runework. The good wizard/ess works with what is at hand or readily obtainable!
All of us use Fehu in one form or another. It is appropriate indeed that this rune begins the Futhark. I did some fairly extensive research for this article, and wound up using only my own experience and Thorr and Audrey Sheil's volume on runes I reviewed in the first, introductory installment of this column. Many runologers try to get too mystical and esoteric in their runework. Runes, as a part of the structure of the Universe, are actually quite down-to-earth, and conceal themselves from the unaware by their very simplicity! Runes don't play around. They get down to the nitty-gritty, whether it be pleasant, unpleasant, or as is so often the case, a mixture of the two. Runes are more a part of daily life than some flight of fantasy.
Enjoy, learn from, and improve your life by means of your runic studies!
The following comments on this Rune are from my friend and fellow Thorr and Audrey Sheil fan Pam C. and are of course posted by permission:
"What I wanted to say was something about the differences in our teaching methods. While your suggestions for experiencing runic ideas sound like fun, and will do much to clarify basic meanings to those eager to know the futhark, I wonder if some might take these as conclusions rather than beginnings. I feel that Fe (Fehu) can be understood, more, HAS to be understood within the context of the student's life. I tend to steer (no pun) away from the cattle example since there are very few modern people that have ever raised cattle for profit and in the East, few that have ever even seen a cow. (Note from Jordsvin: I've milked them, raised them, helped butcher them, but Pam is right; most folks these day's haven't.) I find that it is much easier to understand if put in the context of daily life. If I don't perform maintenance on my Blazer, change the oil, add fuel, wash it, then that asset will cease to serve me. The same basic principal goes for friends and family. All are Fe. There is cow pasture that backs up on my land. I have to tell you, Cows are cute. They follow me like dogs, seeming to think that I can always pull peaches off the tree and toss them over the fence. But I don't get a hint of Fe from them. Flies, yes, Fe, no."
Note from Jordsvin: while our relationships with friends, family and employees may indeed partake of Fehu (and Gebo as well), do not use people themselves as if they were Fehu. That's what Jehovah does with his followers!
"I neglected to tell you that, upon our arrival here, one of the first things I did was point at the cows all lined up at the fence, and yell 'Fe!' And both girls ran up to them also yelling 'Fe!, cows!' Perhaps it was my comment that the girls had just been to "church" that offended my in-laws. They do not understand our religion."
Suggested News Resources
- The Weekly Rune -- Fehu Reversed
- Fehu - Intentional Insight's Weekly Rune by S. Kelley Harrell Fehu -- wealth -- well, this is new. For The Weekly Rune, Fehu has been rare, and we've never drawn a Rune, then had the same Rune reversed the next week.
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