Fehu: Elder Futhark

Rune Stone - Fehu

“Every beginning has within it the seeds of its own end.”

Historic Information

Highland Cattle

Harkening back to Old Norse societies through the second and eighth centuries, a primarily agricultural period, a tribe or family could count their wealth and status by how many heads of cattle they owned. It makes sense because cattle were and still are an incredibly versatile asset to the farmer and paying customers, by supplying meat, milk, leather for shoes and clothes, as well as being able to pull plows and heavy carts. They also happen to be a portable asset, physically and financially, so it can be driven in a herd to another location and can also be sold or traded.

Linguistic Information

Where fehu is the name of the rune–as an alphabetic character–the sound of fehu is [f], the equivalent of an American-English /f/.

Reconstructed from the Old English feoh, High German vieh as well as the Old West Norse , and derived from the Proto-Indo-European root peḱu, which translates to “livestock, cattle.”

EnglishRuneIPA (phonetics)Proto-GermanicOld EnglishOld NorseMeaning
Fffehufeohfécattle, livestock, wealth

Phonology

The pronunciation of the word fehu, is [fə huː]

Semantics

The word fehu, or “cattle,” came to represent the idea of money and wealth and none-too-surprising became the root of the modern English words such as fee, fief, and feudal. Over time and evolution of the word, fehu has come to mean cattle, wealth, reward, generosity, ownership, livestock, nourishment, a beginning or an opening gambit. The modern interpretation of fehu signifies money, a fee or payment, as well as the ability to achieve and sustain success or accumulated wealth.

Esoteric Information

To those who have more esoteric interests, the Fehu rune represents the true energetic nature of wealth, power, and success–in both spiritual and material aspects.

Associations & Correspondences

AstrologyAries
ColorLight Red
DeitiesFrey & Freyja
ElementEarth & Fire
PolarityYin
BirdSwallow
MammalCat
PlantStinging Nettle
TreeElder

Even though possessions were valued by the Germanic peoples, the accumulation of wealth for an individual was generally frowned upon because the financial well-being of the community was more highly regarded.

Fehu is considered sacred to the Norse deity Frey, the god of abundance, prosperity, harvest, and fertility, as well as the representation of generative male energy. With expansive energy, he animates all living things, signifying the divine power that is available within nature and should, therefore, be available for the benefit of all and not create divisions in status. An accumulation of Fehu energy causes stagnation, since it’s intended to circulate freely, and it can poison a person into becoming a miser who holds on to wealth for its own sake.

Elements

One of the four classical elements in ancient Greek philosophy and science; Earth was commonly associated with the qualities of heaviness, matter, and the terrestrial world. The direction of Earth is North.

Another one of the four classical elements, Fire was commonly associated with the qualities of energy, assertiveness, and passion–the direction of fire is South.

Stinging Nettle

Fehu’s corresponding plant is the stinging nettle, which speaks volumes about how to deal with the energy of the rune–the nettle does not sting if grasped firmly.

Nettles constitute between twenty-four and thirty-nine species of flowering plants of the genus Urtica in the family Urticaceae; they are mostly herbaceous perennial plants, but some are annual and a few species are shrubby. A majority of the species have stinging hairs on the stems and leaves–due to this trait they are rarely eaten by herbivores, so they provide a sort of sanctuary for insects such as aphids, as well as the caterpillars of many butterflies and moths. These insects, in turn, provide food for small birds.

Historical evidence of the use of nettles in medicine, folk remedies, cooking and fiber production is mainly for one species in particular Urtica dioica, but may also be in reference to Urtical turns, the small nettle, which is often preferred due to the number of stinging hairs per leaf area than the more common species.

Nettle tea, a tisane, can be made from nearly any species of nettle. Nettle fiber was used to weave fabrics that have been found in burial sites that date back to the Bronze Age.

Holistic Usage

There are a number of folk beliefs about nettles; if nettles are kept in the pocket, they will keep a person safe from lightning and bestow courage to the bearer and a room with nettles kept within, will protect anyone inside. It is said that nettles enhance fertility in men and that a fever could be dispelled by plucking a nettle from the earth by its roots while reciting the names of the sick person and their family.

DISCLAIMER: None of the information provided
about plants on this website is meant to be taken as medical
advice. It is here solely for the purpose of education.

Traditionally, to treat arthritic joints, a branch of stinging nettles would be used to whip the affected joint, with the theory that it stimulated the adrenal response and therefore reduced swelling and pain in the joint–various studies have been performed that actually support the effectiveness of this particular treatment. Many different species of nettle have been studied for their effects on prostate hypertrophy, diabetes mellitus, rheumatic disease, hypertension, gastrointestinal disease, headache, nausea, the common cold, arthritis, asthma, bleeding, respiratory tract disease, allergic rhinitis, kidney disease, prostate cancer, skin disease, and urinary tract disease. In regards to allergies, the nettle contains antihistamines that can be used to treat reactions associated with the respiratory system.

Divinatory Meanings

Mundanemoney, success, health, status, power, prosperity, productivity
Esotericgenerative energy, mobility, creativity, destruction

Upright

Rune Stone - Fehu

In esoteric terms, it can be used to include a broader interpretation–meaning good health, fulfilled love, good fortune, but also a reminder to be generous, charitable, and show empathy for your fellow man. Share your true emotions and your true self and you will prosper and grow. In relationships, it can mean working to turn an existing romantic relationship into something stronger and deeper, and existing friendships in a new phase–possibly into a romantic one.

Photography by EddieCoyote

Reversed

When Fehu is reversed, it tells you to be careful with finances, otherwise, you may incur a loss. This is a good time to re-evaluate your plans, especially in the financial realm. It can also indicate failed ambition, health problems, bad luck, or obstacles that must be met instead of total complete failure. If you are planning something in a relationship, this is an indication to wait and be patient. If you’re having relationship problems, it is a signal that you are very likely blowing things out of proportion–remember to not allow negative emotions to tear you apart.

Rune Mythology & Poetry

Old Norwegian

Fé vœldr frœnda róge;
føðesk ulfr í skóge.

Wealth is a source of discord amongst kin;
the wolf lives in the forest.

Old Icelandic

Fé er frœnda róg
ok frœðar viti
ok grafseiðs gata
aurum fylkir.

Wealth is a source
of discord amongst kin
and fire of the sea
and path of the serpent.

Anglo-Saxon

Feoh byþ frofur fira gehwylcum;
sceal ðeah manna gehwylc miclun hyt dœan
gif he wile for drihtne domes hleotan.

Wealth is consolation to all men
Yet much of it must each man give away
If glory he desire to gain before his god.

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