What is the fehu?

What is the fehu?

We at the Ethical Butcher are consistently asked about the branch-like symbol that we use across our packaging and communications.

So, for those who don't know here is the explanation!

It's called the Fehu and is an ancient symbol called a rune. We chose it to represent the business for a number of reasons....but, let's look at it's history and origins.

What are runes?

Simply, runes are letters in a pre-latin ancient alphabet created by the tribes of Germany, Scandinavia and then introduced to Ancient Britain. However, this definition only tells us a small part of their true meaning.

Tribes and communities not only relied on the symbols for writing but also to tell fortunes, cast spells and provide protection.

Each rune can be thought of as a letter but is more accurately described as a sound. The sound carries meaning and subtle nuances...incredibly interesting but very difficult to explain!

Wealth in cattle

Our Fehu means:

"Mobile wealth, cognate to the original meaning of "sheep" or "cattle" (Dutch Vee, German Vieh, Latin pecū, Sanskrit pashu).

The rune derives from the unattested but reconstructed Proto-Germanic fehu in the Elder Futhark alphabet, with the original meaning of "money, cattle, wealth."

It signifies wealth and prosperity through the ownership of cattle. 

Motion and Vitality

The Fehu can also symbolise motion and vitality - as pre agriculture humans followed cattle and tended to them rather than owning and farming. The vitality comes from the nutrition they provide for us. It is said by students of runes that this energy of 'wealth' must be in constant motion as stagnation leads to hoarding and possessiveness. 

As a business we interpret this as a commitment to always move forward. Be progressive, innovative and regenerative.

The colour red

The colour most commonly associated with Fehu is light red. This is the traditional colour for the runes. Red was almost universally the first colour named across human cultures; it is also the colour most easy to create with natural dyes.

Fehu also represents life force and is strongly associated with the heart and blood.

Modern interpretation

The ongoing interpretation of Runes have been used to help people with a variety of problems and issues and can (some say) foresee what is likely to happen. They’re not a form of fortune-telling and don’t give exact answers or deliver clear advice - but they can offer different variables and suggestions of how to behave.

The opportunity to understand the symbolism of runes can shift our mindset and help us see things in a different way. 

We discovered an ancient poem on the Fehu.

Old English Rune Poem: 

Wealth is a comfort to any man
yet each person must share it out well
if he wants to win a good name before his lord

Translated by Pollington, Rudiments of Runelore (Book)