Learn the Viking Runes: Kenaz

Posted by Cindy Potts on

A favorite of scholars and authors, Kenaz embodies the bright flame or torch. Symbolic of illumination and the desire to create, Kenaz is strongly associated with learning. The pursuit of knowledge can lead one away from the crowd onto their own path. 


Looking at the historical usage - detailed further below - we see Kenaz also associated with sores or ulcers. These types of issues often have a burning pain associated with them, which can be represented by a torch.


Understanding Kenaz: A Look at the Rune Poems

Runes are complex symbols. They’ve meant different things to different people at different times. When we look at the rune poem verses about Kenaz, we see references to both illness and inspiration. 


The Old Norwegian Rune Poem reads thus:


Ulcer is fatal to children;

death makes a corpse pale.

In the Old Icelandic Rune Poem, we find: 


Disease fatal to children

and painful spot

and abode of mortification.


The Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem reads thus:


The torch is known to every living man

by its pale, bright flame; it always burns

where princes sit within.


What Does It Mean When Kenaz Appears in a Rune Reading?


Kenaz often signifies clarity and insight. If you’ve been struggling to figure out a complex situation or are seeking artistic inspiration, Kenaz can be a very positive sign. Torches illuminate, but they also transform. Be aware that creative pursuits change the artist. Kenaz is associated with skill building and technical mastery. 

Additionally, Kenaz has a role to play as a healing rune. Whenever Kenaz appears in a reading, it’s a good idea to assess your physical condition and address any issues. The transformative nature of the torch can help the body’s fight against illness or injury. Of course even the Vikings didn’t rely exclusively on runes for their medical care - their healers were skilled at wound care, bone setting, bandaging, delivering babies, herbal medicine and more.

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