“For every gift a curse.”
Gebo – “Gay-boo” – Literally: “Gift” – Esoteric: Fair Exchange, Sacrifice, Sacred Marriage
Key Concepts: gifts, giving, taking, trade, sacrifice, process of exchange, balance, compensation, equilibrium, law of reciprocation, altruism, the gravity of equals and opposites, generosity, hospitality, honor
|Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem:||English Translation:|
ᚷ Gyfu gumena byþ gleng and herenys,
ƿraþu and ƿyrþscype and ƿræcna gehƿam
ar and ætƿist, ðe byþ oþra leas.
Generosity brings credit and honour, which support one's dignity;
it furnishes help and subsistence
to all broken men who are devoid of aught else.
The corresponding letter of the Gothic alphabet is 𐌲 g, called giba. The same rune also appears in the Elder Futhark, with a suggested Proto-Germanic name *gebô "gift". J. H. Looijenga speculates that the rune is directly derived from Latin Χ, the pronunciation of which may have been similar to Germanic g in the 1st century, e.g., Gothic *reihs compared to Latin rex (as opposed to the Etruscan alphabet, where X/𐌗 had a value of [s]).
The gyfu rune is sometimes used as a symbol within modern mysticism, particularly amongst those interested in Celtic mythology. It's described, for example, in the book The Runic Tarot as a representation of the giving-receiving balance in friendships.
Psi: gratitude, forgiveness, appreciation
Runic Number: 7
Meaning: Love and partnership. Forgiveness, gift, skill, ability or talent.
Color: Dark Blue
Polarity: Male and Female
Gods: Odin, Gefn
Astrology correspondence: Pisces
Energy: Exchanged powers, sacrifice, dissolution of barriers through gifting
Divinations: Generosity, gift, magical exchange, honor, sacrifice, divine vision; or influence buying, greed, loneliness, dependence, over-sacrifice, unbalanced behavior, dishonesty
Mundane: material gifts, thankfulness, trade
Mystical union and ‘Sacred Marriage’ between partners
Understanding of the true meaning of gifting and binding
Giving of oneself from within
Harmony between brothers and sisters and lovers
Favours, contracts, obligations, debt and oath-taking
Gebo is perhaps one of the runes which has the most lore. When we say X-mas, the X is unconsciously representative of this rune. In the Havamal, the Cosmic Law of Compensation is written as ‘Better not to over-pledge as a gift demands a gift’, and ‘No man is so generous he will jib at accepting a gift in return for a gift’.
The exchange of gifts, whether physical or otherwise, is a highly meaningful act, as is the idea of trade. It is associated with magical rings, which give kings the ability to share powers with their followers, as is expected of leaders. The need for exchanged energies and powers to remain equal in amounts is at the heart of the rune Gebo. In the Havamal it also says ‘A man should be loyal through life to friends, and return gift for gift; Laugh when they laugh, but with lies repay a flase foe who lies.’ Though this might conflict with the New Age morality, it was the ancient way of expressing ‘what goes around, comes around’.
Elsewhere in Northern lore we find, that there is always a price to pay. Every decision you make requires the acceptance of one thing and simultaneous sacrifice or release of another. For more on that sacrifice, see INGUZ. Self-sacrifice (for honor in battle or for the greater good) is a common theme with the death of warriors. Odin on the tree sacrifices ‘himself to Himself’ in his shamanic initiation to discover the knowledge and wisdom of the runes.