Monday, June 14, 2010


Astrologer Dane Rudhyar referred to the outer planets (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto) as the "Higher Octaves" of Venus, Mercury and Mars, respectively.  In his words
The field of activity extending (symbolically at least) between the Sun and Saturn is the field of the conscious; it is energized by the Sun and structured at one level by Venus and at another by Saturn. The field of activity beyond Saturn's orbit represents all that is also beyond the strictly conscious activities of the individual, of the person defined by his or her ego structures and by the shape and the limits of his or her physical body. These two fields are essentially different in character.
This is a useful way to describe the relationship between the runes Ansuz and Os. Both of them are connected to communication: both can be called upon to establish a connection between the worlds of the Sacred and the Profane, and each can best be understood in light of the other. But Ansuz is more grounded in the mundane world and in the information exchanges which allow our society to function.  Os, by contrast, is intimately tied to the spiritual world. It offers access to the highest forms of inspiration. If Ansuz is a means by which we can communicate with the Gods, Os is a means by which They communicate with us.

Many people believe that the Gods spoke with men only in a long-ago Golden Age. As we have drifted away from our original perfection, They moved back to their divine realms and left us to our own devices. This idea appears in many cultures, from the Judeochristian Garden of Eden to the "Kali Yuga" cycle of Hinduism.  It explains the distinction between our flawed world and the perfection of divinity, and it also empowers a class of theologians to make sure scripture is interpreted in a way that best suits the needs of the ruling class.

Os puts the lie to that assertion: it reminds us that the Gods are intimately involved in our daily lives and in the workings of our world. Os simultaneously reaffirms and transcends the divide between the spiritual and material. It is the rune of omens, of prophetic dreams, of the lightning flash which turns its target into a Speaker for the Divine. Os transforms the artist into a skald, a channel for forces which can transform the world. In tandem with Ansuz, it becomes an engine which moves the world in accordance with the Will of the Gods, investing words and symbols with an irresistible force.

But Os also cautions us that the Gods are not always benevolent nor is their Will always merciful. If Os is a higher octave of Ansuz, it is also deeply connected to the Need-Rune Naudhiz. Os is not concerned with what we might like or what might be best for our personal interest: it tells us instead of that which Must Be. Like the outer planets of astrology, there is something vast and impersonal about Os.  As Humphrey Bogart said in Casablanca, "the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world." To Os we are but brushstrokes used to create the Big Picture. It will take exquisite care in placing us, but will erase us without hesitation should that prove necessary.

When Os appears in a reading it means that the spiritual world has taken notice of the situation. How that  interest will play out depends on the surrounding runes and the querent's actions, but for better or worse it will play out.  What seems of little importance to us may be of great value to the Gods: what seems priceless to us may be a mere trifle to them. When Os is in play we will do best to listen and to learn.