Meaning: A God, Mouth
Supporting Meanings: Mentally creative activity, spiritual development
Ancient Meanings: According to Diana Paxson, the meanings ascribed to this rune in the old poems center around the communication, which is extended to include the god who gave us the runs. In Old Norse, the word As, or “a god”, so resembled the Latin Os, or “mouth” that they’ve been conflated. In the Anglo-Saxon, either makes sense; the Icelandic clearly means Odin; and the Norwegian uses it as “river mouth.”
Modern Meanings: The general agreement among ansuz’s ancient meanings has led to a happy consensus of its modern meanings: communication in general and Odin in particular. This is the rune of the Word: song, poetry and incantation. It governs the power of oratory, speech, and poetry and through them is also a rune of wisdom, knowledge, advice, and teaching. Freya Aswynn in particular says that ansuz represents consciousness, intelligence, and reason in addition to communication. With all this in mind, it represents the organizing forces that balance the chaotic energies of the Jotnar. In regards to Odin, ansuz especially reflects his aspect as a source of inspired, ecstatic poetry and his energies as a god of mental powers. To tap into ansuz is to fall into a rich universe of relationships, symbolism, and perception. To tap into ansuz is to tap into the meaning of language itself.
My Take-Away of the Meanings: It may be my English degrees talking here, but I think there’s a fine line between language and divinity even without the As/Os interplay. The richness of our human communication is what has given us so much power. We can describe to each other how to construct and use microscopes so powerful that we can ‘see’ individual atoms. Our discussions have led us to casting machines into the far reaches of our solar system. Our communication has given us a tremendous capacity and is what has allowed us to create such complicated civilizations. It’s what’s made us gods among the animals. Well, that and opposible thumbs.
Paxson’s Interpretation and Use: In readings, ansuz indicates mental or creative activity in general and verbal in particular; wisdom, the need for it, spiritual power as differentiated from physical or action/development on the spiritual plane. On the physical plane, however, it may relate to problems with breathing, the lungs, or the action of the wind. In a practical reading, Freya Aswynn interprets ansuz as communication and transmission, or an indication of something with sources in the past. In a negative position, it can mean a separation from one’s true spirit, communication problems, or a spiritual imbalance. When it appears in a spiritual context it may have to do with inspiration or ecstatic experience.
Paxson’s Ansuz Exercise: To experience ansuz, exercises that sharpen the wits and train one in wordcraft or useful. Play grames like Scrabble or do crossword puzzles. The time when you are studying ansuz is also the time to go to a reading or play or practice writing poetry. If you are working with a group, playing “free association” word games is fun. Starting with a seed word, subsequent people offer a word they associate with it. For example, with the word “home” one person might say warm, another security, and so forth.