It is ironic that the bank holiday in Greece starts on the first day of the fortnight (June 29-July 13) governed by the rune Feoh or Fehu. The rune’s phonetic value is “F” and its literal meaning is “cattle” to be interpreted as “wealth.” In the traditional society of ancient Europe, the main negotiable property of a person, family, or clan was cattle. In Scandinavia the homestead was immutable inheritable property, and could not be sold or bartered away. Thus “cattle” literally refers to mobile wealth. The shape of the rune is like a horned bovine head.
Feoh was looked upon as a completely positive rune. It was associated not only with possession, but with honor as well. Great wealth has always enabled men to make rich presents, which won them esteem. The meaning of Feoh may also at one time have included slaves (or human cattle), who were looked upon as beasts of burden and units of wealth. To give slaves captured in battle, and later to give the equivalent measure of gold, was to give some of the battle glory to another. A man‘s courage and strength were measured by his plunder.
On a material level, Feoh symbolizes the accretion of power and control, both directly over the herd itself and through its possession and manipulation. But, by possessing anything, we automatically have certain responsibilities that ownership confers. To own a herd of cattle wisely and responsibly entails correct stewardship. Wastefulness and greed lead to disaster, either through the collapse of the enterprise or interpersonal discord.
In modern times, Feoh refers to money in general, but more specifically, to the ability or opportunity to gain worldly success and great wealth, and keep it. The word “fee,” meaning a payment, comes from the name of this rune.
As with all things, there are two polar aspects of wealth. The Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem expresses them both: Wealth is a comfort to everybody, yet we must give it away freely if we want to gain favor in the sight of the lord. But The Norwegian Rune Poem emphasizes the problems of wealth engendering greed and envy, which can bring the downfall of all: Wealth causes friction between relatives, while the wolf lurks in the woods.
I have always believed that possessions—especially fine possessions likely to arouse feelings of envy in others—are a curse unless one is willing to share their enjoyment with others. Yet your material wealth must not be wasted on the undeserving or squandered on things unlikely to result in material increase.
In matters related to your spiritual wealth, however, it is important to recognize that it cannot be reduced by use. Share as much of your spiritual wealth as you can and you will become stronger, not weaker.
In general, Feoh is a rune of fulfillment and can apply to relationships, friendships, health, and ambition, as well as to financial matters. The important point is that humility, generosity, and stewardship must be your bywords as you enjoy the fruits of your labors.
Magically, Feoh can be used for good or evil. If used to signify that someone has power over his environment or that his wealth will increase, it is beneficial. If applied with respect for one’s adversary, it can break the opponent’s spirit and render him incapable of effective action. However, if applied with scornful regard, Feoh can backfire and create cowardliness and hubris in one’s self and fawning dependence and fear in others who could be supporting you.
In contemporary American culture, the great secular sin is being poor and powerless. However, Feoh’s wisdom reminds us that the greater sin—the spiritual sin—is misusing the resources we presently possess to increase their quantity and quality and thereby be in a position to achieve the greater good.
The great lesson I have learned since moving to West Texas is that, by adopting a lower standard of living that is more commensurate with one’s available resources, one can achieve a higher satisfaction with life. For example, I no longer drive a fancy sports car with a burdensome monthly payment; instead, I drive a used pickup truck that is 100% paid for and requires no monthly payment whatsoever. My home is about a year from being fully paid-for.
I can no longer imagine returning to the outer world and the treadmill of existence that would entail. This is the closest I have ever been to total freedom since I was a child.
Groove of the Day
94° and Clear