Supporting Meanings: Trust, partnership, power, privilege, transportation between realms
Ancient Meanings: Ehwaz does not appear in the Younger Futhark, likely because the “e” sound it stood for in old Germanic languages migrated to a long “a” sound. In the Anglo-Saxon rune poem, ehwaz is aligned with the horse and associated with aristocracy, prosperity, and mobility. It calls the horse “a joy to princes in presence of earls” and calls the horse proud of its hooves with rich men mount it and bandy words. It also calls teh horse a comfort to the restless.
Modern Meanings: Edred Thorsson sees ehwaz as a symbiosis between partners, be they man/horse, man/woman, etc: any form of complementary dyads working together toward a single goal. Osborn and Longland call it the vehicle of transcendence that increases physical power, or the body which is the soul’s vehicle. Freya Aswynn views it as that which forms a link between one’s emotional attitudes and the external world and, like Thorsson, sees it as a rune of partnership, cooperation, and adjustment. For Gundarsson, ehwaz is the vehicle of communication between the worlds, and can symbolize the joining of mystical interpretation and earthly prosperity. Paxon calls attention to the relationship between horse and rider, calling it “significantly empowering” and saying that together they are able to do things that neither would accomplish alone. She also notes that ehwaz seems to represent extension of strength through union and spiritual or physical energy, operating in both the physical and spiritual realms.
My Take-Away of the Meanings: Riding a horse is a powerful experience. You have to trust the horse to be conscious enough of you to not kill you, and the horse has to trust you to direct it upon a safe course and to care for it. It’s a real partnership, not simple tool utilization such as driving a car. And that’s nothing compared to how it feels to ride a horse at a full run! It is like flying! No wonder people associate this rune with bridging the spiritual and physical realms!
Paxson’s Interpretation and Use: Depending on context, ehwaz’s meaning in a reading can include change and movement or an increase in capacity in either the physical or spiritual realms as a result of cooperation with another. It can also indicate the possibility or need to change a situation through changing one’s relationship to it. It can be used as a protective rune in workings involving trance or altered consciousness. Thosson holds that it stands for connection, loyalty, and the principle of teamwork. Willis feels that it may mean one is on the right track and success is imminent. Peterson associates it with physical or astral travel, and Aswynn says that it refers to the relationship with a mother or an older female in divinatory readings. It can be combined with elhaz in a bind rune to hunt a wandering spirits.
Paxson’s Practice for Living Ehwaz: The obvious practice here is to experience riding a horse. However, this is not practical for everyone as it involves a level of physical fitness and coordination…not to mention a healthy pocketbook! You can find the next best thing in literature, though. Paxson recommends viewing the film The Black Stallion which skillfully transforms the relationship between the boy and the horse into a metaphor of transcendence. Similarly, reading Laura Hillenbrand’s book Seabiscuit or even watching the later film can help give you insights into this profound sort of relationship.