The fourth Rune of the First Ætt of the Elder Futhark
(for more information on the First Ætt per se, go to

This is an installment in a series covering each and every Rune of the Elder Futhark. In this series, instead of giving the esoteric meaning of the Rune by citing the Rune poems written in Old Icelandic, Old Norwegian and Anglo-Saxon (a.k.a. Old English), or any modern commentary, the etymology of the Rune name is presented.

A   A
A     A
A       A
A  A
A    A
A      A


Pronunciation: “ahhhn-sooz” with the stress on first syllable “ahhhn.” This “oo” is either like that in “book” (lax, short) or like that in “boon” (tense, long). As Germanic tends to reduce unstressed syllables, we can expect the lax/short “oo.” An earlier pronunciation, i.e,one closer to Indo-European phonology, with less of the Germanic phonology having kicked in yet, would be with the tense/long “oo.”

Writing: the ANSUZ stave stands for the phoneme /ɑ:/ as in the long “a” in “father.” You may use ANSUZ stave to write a word with the /ɑ:/ sound in it.

Etymology: ANSU(Z) is one of the Proto-Germanic words for “god.” With this meaning intact, the Proto-Germanic form comes through into Old Norse as áss, and into Anglo-Saxon (Old English) as ōs. ANSUZ does not necessarily go back to the Indo-European proto-language: origins deeper than Proto-Germanic ANSU(Z) are unclear, states Kluge’s book, though additional forms of this root can be found in German names in the form of the prefix “Ans-” [p. 56].The “Os-” in Oslo is this selfsame word, the “-lo” part meaning “a holy grove of trees.”

The Old Norse plural form of áss, Æsir, is the name for one of the two pantheons of Scandinavian mythology, the other being the Vanir. Odin (Old Norse Óðinn) is the head of the Æsir-pantheon. Thus, ANSUZ can be interpreted esoterically as meaning not merely “god” but “THE god,” in the sense of Odin himself. In that way this rune carries all the qualities associated with Odin - of which we can gain insight into by citing the etymology of His name: Odin goes back to the Proto-Germanic word Wōðanaz, which is based on the root wōða (obsessed about or possessed with; in heated excitement). In turn, the Proto-Germanic root goes back to the posited Indo-European proto-form wat (to blow at [e.g, so as to start a fire], to foment or stir up). Descended from the Indo-European root is Old Irish fáith or fáid (poet) and Old Indic vát(ati) (to inspire). Proto-Germanic root wōða (without the “-naz” ending) comes out in Old Norse as óðr (a mystical animating quality or breath of life given by Odin to the first man and woman in Vǫluspá, stanzas 17 and 18; and compare Genesis 2:7 “[…]and [God] breathed into his [Adam’s] nostrals the breath of life; and man became a living sou.”); Anglo-Saxon (Old English) wōth (voice, song); and the Old High German word wuot which was ultimately to come through into modern-day German as Wut (wrath). Latin vātēs (prophet, singer [think of the shamanic seeress here [Vǫlva] who is the narrator of Vǫluspá]) were possibly borrowed from the Celtic form; and from this Latin source we get in English such interesting words vatic, vaticinate, so on… Look for other English words with this root!

        Kluge’s Etymologisches Wörterbuch (23rd Edition)
        New Oxford American Dictionary
        Vǫluspá of the Elder (Or Poetic) Edda
        Gods and Myths of Northern Europe by H. R. Ellis Davidson
        The King James Bible

Additionally, the sound “ahhh” is very symbolic in itself. Think of the exclamation “Aha!” Think of the wind-like breathiness of the very sound “ahhh…” What does wind and this “breathiness” stand for metaphorically? An esoterically relevant (though unrelated) etymology to cite here is that of Latin “spirare” (to breath) and “spiratus” (breath, spirit), from which we get English “spirit,” and other words, such as “inSPIRed.” Look for other English words with these Latin roots!

NOTICE how the root meanings of Odin coincide with the word “inspiration” and the phono-symbolism of the “ahhh” sound as breathy wind. Think here of Genesis 1:2: “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God [ANSUZ] moved upon the face of the waters [LAGUZ].”

NOTICE the entire semantic domain covered by ANSUZ with its implied and inherent semantic and phono-symbolic extensions.  Let this all be the MYSTICAL MEANING of ANSUZ. Study it and ABSORB it.

AUTHOR: Francis Tokarski