Meaning: Wealth (Cattle)
Supporting Meanings: Marriage, Virility, Conception, Community prosperity.
Ancient Meanings: According to Diana Paxson, “Wealth” is the most basic meaning of this rune in all the old rune poems. However, it originally mean livestock, especially cattle, which makes sense given how integral dairy products were to the diet of early Germanic peoples. It is important, however, to note that wealth is a double-edged sword. Although it brings prosperity, several rune poems agree that “Wealth is trouble among relatives.” If wealth is not treated as a gift of the gods and hoarded instead of being freely shared, it will lead to a spiritual poverty among you and your loved ones.
Modern Meanings: Paxson reports that modern commentators ascribe meanings to fehu that range from the mystical to practical. Tony Willis believes the wealth represented by cattle is that which grows when cared for and which can produce more money when wisely invested, but that the rune sometimes means the need to conserve resources. Edred Thorsson, on the other hand, sees in the rune motion and expansion of power, mobility, luck, and fertility. Paxson herself notes that wealth today is represented by money instead of cattle and that money is also a symbolic form of energy. Money gives power, but it becomes useless if it is conserved too tightly. For the community to prosper, money and energy have to move on.
My Take-Away of the Meanings: Whether we’re talking cattle or community economics, I think it’s important to understand the importance of the collective in determining wealth. If a man had a number of cattle but not enough workers to care for them, guard their safety, and responsibly slaughter them, milk them, and craft cheeses, butters, and yogurts from that milk, his wealth would become a mismanaged burden and eventually be his ruin. So to does modern money only have value if it is in circulation. If one hoards money like Scrooge McDuck, all one has is a vault with metal and paper. It is the value the community ascribes to money as a symbol that translates it into a potential to obtain food and comfort. If one does not reinforce that symbol by maintaining its constant circulation within a community, it will lose its power and eventually be the community’s downfall.
Paxson’s Interpretation and Use: Fehu is always a rune of productivity, though its context may vary. It can connect to spiritual or artistic creativity, physical fertility, or the ability to create or to maintain wealth, or it can mean an improvement in one’s finances or health. In conjunction with runes of caution, it may indicate a need to conserve physical or emotional resources. When using fehu in a spell, you need to be very specific about what kind of ‘fertility’ you mean, lest you find your cats proliferating instead of the dollars in your bank account. Fehu can also be used in gardening (especially along with uruz, jera, and ingwaz), and it can be used in any work relating to the Vanir or with Freyr or Freyja. IT can be inscribed on the forehead to increase attractiveness and sexual vigor (so long as you clearly intend this, or you may conceive). As such, it can be used to invoke passion, productivity, and prosperity in a couple being married. It’s generally considered a fortunate rune.
Paxson’s Ritual for Abundance: For this working you will need a package of seeds and a pot of good soil. The ritual should be done within sacred space. Invoke Freyr and Freyja and offer them the seed. State very clearly that as each seed in the bowl, once planted, has the potential to multiply, you desire your own work to be fruitful and bring you abundance. Focus on the seeds and visualize them sprouting and flourishing, then visualize your own prosperity as customers, contracts, or some other appropriate form of prosperity increases. Affirm that this will be so. Sing the rune into the bowl and draw it through the seeds with your finger. Then plant some of them (at least 9 seeds) in the pot. When you have finished, deconstruct the sacred space. Since true prosperity can only occur in the context of a prosperous community, package the remainder of the seeds to send to friends. Carefully tend the pot you have planted, and each time you water it, repeat your visualization. Collect seeds from the fruit/flowers that grow and save them for luck pieces or to plant in future rituals.