Monday, April 5, 2010

Fehu

For many people, the pre-Christian Nordic and Germanic worlds were all about war and plunder. In fact, Scandinavia and Germania were primarily mercantile cultures: their longboats were far more likely to carry goods and tradesman than pillaging Vikings. (Alas, most of the surviving sagas focused on warriors: imagine trying to reconstruct American culture from Rambo, Platoon and G.I. Joe and you'll get some idea of how misleading this can be).

It is no coincidence that Fehu, the first rune in the Aetts, is intimately connected with value and the exchange of goods and services.  It is associated with cattle because in an agrarian society cattle were wealth. Its name has also come down to us in English as "fee," a term which means, as per Merriam-Webster:
1 a (1) : an estate in land held in feudal law from a lord on condition of homage and service (2) : a piece of land so held b : an inherited or heritable estate in land
2 a : a fixed charge b : a sum paid or charged for a service
In Vodou Money Magic, I talked about how many in our culture look down on money, shunning it as dirty and unspiritual. Fehu reminds us that wealth honestly earned can be a sacred thing and that good work can and should benefit both the worker and the recipient. Fehu is also a fiery, fast-moving, expansive rune: this is not a rune of wealth horded by a miser but of money earned and money spent.  (Its connection with fire also reminds us of the Laws of Thermodynamics, which teach us that energy is not created but transferred from one place to another and from one form to another: in the macrocosm as in the microcosm there is no such thing as a free lunch).

I've been involved in discussions on several mailing lists about payment for spiritual goods and services. Some see this as the worst form of blasphemy, but to me it reminds us that everything worthwhile has a price. Workers in the spiritual realm are no less craftsmen than those who lay bricks, program computers or cut hair.  Those who believe their pedicurist should be paid but their Tarot reader should work for free belittle both the diviner and the act of divination.

Fehu obligates both buyer and seller. If the querent should be expected to pay for services rendered, the diviner should be expected to give the best possible reading. The charlatan takes money in exchange for platitudes and false promises: honest workers fulfill their contracts to the best of their abilities. Fehu is about receiving what is owed and providing what is promised. In situations where either of those conditions are wanting, Fehu can burn away the dross like a fire and help bring about an equitable end to the problem.

In an earlier post I talked about the sweat lodge deaths at James Arthur Ray's "Spiritual Warrior Retreat." While many people were outraged that Ray charged $9,000 for his debacle, I was outraged that he didn't provide his participants with $9,000 worth of safekeeping.  He could have used those proceeds to ensure medical professionals were on site: he could have hired trained water pourers who would have taught him how to hold a safe, sane sweat.  Instead he assumed he was entitled to large sums of money simply because he was a New Age celebrity, and that he need not concern himself with the safety of his clients. The ensuing deaths remind us that when the social contract of Fehu is broken, terrible things can happen.

Fehu is an excellent rune for use in prosperity magic: it may not help you win the lottery but it will aid you in getting a job you can do for a wage that you deserve. It will not protect you from your profligacy or your bad judgment, but it will help you to meet the obligations you have already incurred and to avoid making the same mistakes again. When you treat money as sacred energy which empowers our civilization, and remember to expend and receive it with wisdom and reverence, you will find that many of your financial problems take care of themselves.