Kennaz – the blazing torch that leads to inner Sovereignty

As we go into the Autumn Equinox, we can seek guidance from the rune Ken or Kennaz – the Old Norse rune most associated with this turning of the seasons. And it seems to me that this year, its guidance is needed more than ever, because Ken symbolises the ultimate in the sort of blazing enlightenment that leads to inner Sovereignty. It is a flaming torch that lights up the shadows of our ignorance and blindness as to how we are bound to maya, and it’s where the words ‘ken’ – knowing – and ‘kenning’ – a poetic form – come from.

According to Nigel Pennick in his book Runic Astrology: “Ken symbolises a flaming brand illuminating the royal halls of olden times, and the deal branch from which it is fashioned. The Anglo-Saxon rune poem says: ‘The torch is living fire, bright and shining. Most often, it burns where noble people are at rest indoors.'”

Now, while I have great respect for Nigel Pennick’s work, I think that associating Kennaz and ‘noble people’ with royal halls stems from a classic misunderstanding. And I believe it’s important to highlight this misconception – to shine the flame of the Kennaz torch on it. Why? Well, because it’s the sort of intellectual blunder that can create the kind of mass formation psychosis in which, for instance, tens of thousands queue for days to file past the corpse of a woman worth £300 billion while they themselves face a bitter winter due to the colossal errors that these so-called ‘nobles’ made in their dealings on the world stage.

It was the same mistake that was made by the early Victorian translators of The Vedas of the ancient Indians, that went on to cause much academic confusion for centuries afterwards, so much so that it fuelled the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich.

The British Raj transcribers wrongly assumed that the Sanskrit term ‘noble Aryans’ meant that the Aryans were royal aristocrats. And the fact that the Aryans were often described as ‘fair nobles’ convinced them that such sublime poetic verse must have been composed by white-skinned, invading nobles from Europe. After all, they reasoned from their imperialistic, racist mindset, the indigenous Indians were far too ignorant to have ever composed their own literature. Hence Hitler’s belief that the Aryans of The Vedas were a superior race of white Indo-Europeans, and this led, not long after, to many of the atrocities of World War II.

But to our ancestors, who could be described as the actual ancient Indo-Europeans, the word ‘noble’ had a very different meaning. It referred to those who had attained wisdom through shamanic or spiritual practices. Instead of projecting Sovereignty on to another individual or group, ‘fair nobles’ were deemed, by the Indian rishis or shamans who composed The Vedas, to be those whose brows were alight through achieving inner Sovereignty, like them, through spiritual practices.

Before Christianity, the fire altar or hearth of the home was considered to be a blazing portal to this form of inner enlightenment, which came from the spirits of the ancestors. So the people immortalised their household and totem gods in figurines which stood on their mantlepieces to guide them as they gazed deeply, in trance, into the Kennaz flames for wisdom and inspiration.

That’s why, before the Roman conquest of Britain, at the heart of every home – no matter how humble – was a flaming hearth in which the fire was kept alight at all times, as they practised a form of divination that we call today ‘pyromancy’.

Pyromancy is rather like the practice of seeking omens from say, the flights of birds or the shapes perceived in moving clouds. The flames in the hearth would take on the forms of spirit guides, or illustrate and illuminate pictorial tableaus that ‘spoke’ to their subconscious minds. You may have experienced this yourself. I know that I’ve seen visions in the flames.

But when the Romans began their mass conversion to Christianity across Europe, one of the first taxations they introduced was on fireplaces. So not unlike today, the cost became so high that no ordinary person could afford to spark up their hearths, and the only places to get warm were the large communal buildings that had fires… and which eventually became churches.

In this way, people eventually switched their focus from their own personal gods on their mantlepiece to the more universal Judaeo-Christian god depicted over the high altars; from the gods within to the one God without. So this is how they were effectively severed from the roots of their own Sovereignty, which comes from the ancestral spirits of the land.

This winter, we in the West will face a similar fate as our ancestors, with our central heating thermostats set to ‘Off’ due to the blunderings of probably some of the most innoble and clownish of rulers that this world has ever seen.

Otherwise, I can thoroughly recommend the rest of Pennick’s explanation of the meaning of the rune Ken or Kennaz, which is as follows:

“Ken therefore signifies illumination, being the mystery of transformation, regeneration through death, the destruction of the pine wood giving heat and light. In the darkness, Ken brings light, allowing us to see and thus is the bringer of knowledge, inner light. It is the bringer or starter of the fire of the hearth, the power of the forge where material is transmuted by the will into something which reflects the human intellect, and reflects the divine harmony. As a rune of balance through transformation, it is present at the Autumnal Equinox.”

To me, the true nobles are those who pursue the royal road to wisdom and enlightenment by firing up the crown within their heads with the visionary flames that come from the darkness within, of inner space. And so as the nights start to drawn in, surely there’s no better time than to go within to contact our own gods again? Until we pick up the reins of that practice of our ancestors, and reclaim our own inner Sovereignty, we will always be bound and bonded to the reigns of the most innoble of rulers.


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