Friday, May 14, 2010


Before the Worlds began there was Audhumbla, the great cow who licked the salt from the primal ice and freed/formed Búri, father of the Gods. The myth of the primal ox appears in other cultures: Zoroastrians have a Great Bull whose blood waters the barren earth and brings it to life, while the Rig Veda says of the cow, "She is like the mother of the cosmic Forces, the daughter of the cosmic Matter, the sister of cosmic Energy, the centre of the ambrosia." That great and ancient mystery is at the heart of Uruz, the Rune of the Wild Ox.

Uruz does not represent the domesticated cattle (they would be covered under Fehu), but the Auroch, the great wild ox who once roamed throughout Europe. This massive beast stood over 6.5 feet (2 meters) at the shoulder and weighed over 1,000 kilos (2,200 pounds): it was known for its razor-sharp horns, great speed, and foul temper. The aurochs were the progenitors of modern-day domesticated cattle: hunted to extinction in the early 17th century, in their heyday they ranged from India throughout Europe and northern Africa.

Uruz represents the deep roots of our psyche. The animal drives and "primitive" urges hard-wired into our brain are the base on which our "civilized" ego and superego rest. We cannot understand our humanity without engaging with our animal selves: we cannot be tamed until we address that which is wild within us.  For those who spend a great deal of time "up in their heads" or who suffer from dissociative disorders, Uruz can be a powerful grounding and centering rune. By meditating on Uruz, you can come home to your body and recognize your place in the material world.

Uruz is not a rune which communicates in words or even in elaborate images. You understand Uruz in your gut, not in your mind. You can experience it by stripping away all the illusions and all the pretty lies you tell yourself. It is the force which drives all animal life, the basic responses to hunger and danger. When you get to the core of your being, when you realize what you will do to survive and to protect your herd -  that is when you are in touch with Uruz.  This is a rune which must be felt rather than explained.

Some have called Uruz a rune of initiation. For me, this initiation would be like the initiation of the Abramelin ritual or the Greater Arcana card The Chariot. Coming to an understanding with one's animal self is an important part of magical or mystical development. Many modern spiritual practices seek to tame or kill the inner beast: as Anton LaVey wisely said, this animal needs to be exercised rather than exorcised.  Learning when you can let Uruz run free and when you must call on a more controlled and controllable rune will teach you when you can rely on passion and that which underpins passion and when you must call on forethought and forebrain functions.

This is a powerful rune for both offensive and defensive magic.  Uruz can charge with an unstoppable fury and gore the stoutest opponents. It can also form a near-unbreakable circle around you like a ring of wild bulls protecting their calves.  Uruz can also help you to establish a kinship between man and beast: instead of Disneyfied anthropomorphism, it can help you to find common ground between yourself and your animal companion.  It is not a sentimental rune - sentimentalism is a vice which animals can ill afford - but neither is it savage or bloodthirsty.  Uruz accepts the world as it is and responds appropriately to food or threat without dithering or moralizing. By calling on it you can learn to do the same.