Ansuz Galdr

Ansuz is that which gives animation to the otherwise lifeless body. Ancient man associated the breath with life, and likewise, associated it with the spirit or soul. We are given insight into this rune in the very word animation. To “animate” means to “give life or spirit,” something the god Odin is known for gifting mankind with. It is said in ‘Voluspo’ verses 17 and 18:

“17. Then from the throng, did three come forth,

From the home of the gods, the mighty and gracious;

Two without fate, on the land they found,

Ask (man) and Embla (woman), empty of might.

18. Soul they had not, sense they had not,

Heat nor motion, nor goodly hue;

Soul gave Othin, sense gave Honir,

Heat gave Lothur, and goodly hue.”

Here we see mention of Othin as the “soul giving” god; one that grants the Self, the breath, and the life within us. Odin is the force that animates life as one would consider Chi or Prana. Ansuz can be related to the wind in this way, as the wind is the same as the breath. When we reach back into antiquity, we find the proto-Indo-European word hems- meaning “to engender, beget, give birth to,” eluding to this life-giving, all-encompassing force associated with the breath. The ancient man knew he was much more than just the physical workings of his body or impulses of the mind, therefore, the idea of the breath took on the utmost sacred context, as this is something that happens within us, invisible to the eye save the movement of the chest.

In Sanskrit, we have the relative words ásu meaning “life force, breath, spirit” and ásura meaning “godlike and powerful.” This word would evolve to become related to demons or foreign tribes in later Hinduism, similar to the Thurs of Germanic tradition. The original Asura can be equated with their cognate family of gods in the Norse pantheon, the Aesir, who were essentially Sky Gods. Ansuz encompasses this family of gods and ultimately represents the chief of the pantheon, Odin/Wotan/Wodanaz.

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