Fehu. Pronounced “Fay-hoo” the phoenetic “f” sound, such as in fortune, food, full, fulfil, fruit, etc.
Fehu! The word means cattle, the image is of two cow horns. Fehu and cattle represented wealth to the Norse. Wealth in more than just the monetary sense, but in the aspect of where you lived, what you ate and the air you breathed. In short, Fehu represents physical abundance and the transfer of matter between beings. When this rune comes up, it is a positive sign that you will receive and enjoy wealth in some form or another.
Fehu is the transfer of energy known as the food web
Fehu is one of the most straightforward runes. Fehu is the transfer of energy known as the food web. This is the story of how matter is moved between beings to create life. This is what life is, this is the material world. The cow is its symbol because, to the Norse, this was a major resource for meat, milk, clothing, etc. The cows would eat the grass, the people (and their dogs) would eat the cows. The grass was fertilized by the wastes and bodies that the animals (including people) left behind, and the cycle continued.
Scientifically, we now know that it is about atoms, which make up molecules, which make up living beings. The continual transfer of atoms is what keeps us alive, life is atoms in motion. By eating, drinking or even breathing, we take up atoms from the environment and they become a part of our body. We then exhale or excrete those atoms in a ‘waste’ form which is used by other life forms. Sometimes those life forms create chemicals that then become fuel for our bodies. Fehu at its simplest can be seen as an atom.
Fehu is a major earth rune, that relates to physical abundance of any kind
Fehu is a major earth rune, being that of matter. It also relates to physical abundance of any kind. This includes money and your home, but a person can also be wealthy in their food and surroundings. Being able to swim in mountain rivers, eat chocolate regularly, or breathe a clean ocean breeze are all forms of wealth that are contained in Fehu.
The image of Fehu is that of a cow. The two lines upwards are the cow’s two horns. Here the cow is docile and sweet. She is content in her being. Perhaps she knows her fate is at the hands of her master, and is content in the knowledge that the purpose of her existence is to feed him. This may sound grim, but technically that is the purpose of all life, to feed something else. Or perhaps she is in ignorant bliss, as Fehu is about matter with little mind.
In the sequence of runes, Fehu comes first but it is also after Othala. Othala was the home and the hearth and Fehu is now the cattle around it. The home came first, and then this space of safety bred abundance and life, which we see now in Fehu. Fehu may represent a new hero in babe form, as of yet undifferentiated and unhardened.
The apples represent the goddess Idunn’s apples of youth. She tends these apples and gifts only bites to the gods as needed to maintain their youth. There is a story where Loki brings Idunn and her apples to the giant Tjazi, after being tortured into the deed. The gods are all in dismay as they are quickly becoming old and grey without her. The gods eventually find out this was Loki’s doing, and send him back to steal her and her apples from the giant. This highlights the value of apples, which were a prized and delicious fruit of the fall harvest. Apples fall in abundance off trees, and was undoubtedly an important life giving food item for the old Norse.
Merkstave, Fehu represents hard times. It will often come on the days you find you cannot spend money the way you would like to, and are perhaps feeling anxious about how to bring abundance to your life. Now might be a good time to appreciate that which you do have and to focus on other ways of fulfilling your desires.