A Rune Awakening: Elder Futhark – Kenaz

Kenaz – Poems


All poems, despite their origins, will only be provided in English. It’s someone else’s translation as I’m barely bilingual and that second language isn’t Indo-European in origin at all.

If you don’t have interest in the poems you can skip down the next section where we discuss the rune in a reading setting.

You’ll notice as more of these are posted that the Anglo-Saxon poems all have a pretty heavy Christian bend to them, but out of all the versions of the poems, they’re usually the most clear.

Anglo-Saxon:
Torch to the living familiar aflame,
Is blinding and brilliant, it burns most often
Where royal folk within are resting

Norwegian:
Kaun (boil or scab) is fatal to children;
Death makes a corpse pale.

Icelandic:
Kaun is the bale of children
And a scourge,
And the house of rotten flesh

While Kenaz was read more as a Cen by Anglo-Saxons (a torch that was basically a pitchy knot of pine and trimmings), Norwegian and Icelandic version read the rune as Kaun – which is more of a boil or scab, which makes the change in tone of the poems more understandable.

Healing through fire though – especially for something in need of cauterizing – is certainly an, we’ll say, Old World Theme. As such it seems most readers and users view Kenaz as a torch or flame – from the light of ritual, to the creative engine of the forge, to the final pyre of burial.

Kenaz – Reading

Fire is something that warms, protects, and provides illumination. That very same fire can consume flesh, and home alike. Fire burns in passion and motivation (having a fire lit under one’s ass, for example), but it also burns as a fever.

This duality shows in readings with Kenaz. Be it guiding light, a weapon against the dark, a beacon to bring friends, a hearth to warm heart and food, or a destructive force that burns everything without remorse.

I think it’s important to remember that even devastating fires still have life afterward. Grasslands and plains are often rejuvenated after a fire – soot and carbon and ash can replenish nutrients required for growth that aren’t normally provided.

In Relation To…

Kenaz relies on other runes to really define what type of fire you’re dealing with, so keep a sharp eye on placement and tone of the entire read when it appears. It’s the difference between being filled with a fiery passion, and enduring a trial by fire.

Whatever the case, I’d warn against dismissing it, even if it appears in a casting face down I wouldn’t ignore it. (Everyone reads their own way but I often view face-down runes are secondary to the main message of face-up runes. Like different paragraphs of the same story.)

Even a small spark can turn into a roaring fire consuming everything in its path. Passion is both a positive and a negative depending on how it’s handled, and one can be both consumed by their own passion, or by the unnoticed passion of another.

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