"Gift is for every man / a pride and a praise / help and worthiness / and of every homeless adventurer / it is the estate and substance / for those who have nothing else"
(Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem)
The name of this rune has been, variously, gift, hospitality, generosity and wedding. Both the name and the stave-shape fo this rune show its being as the embodiment of equal exchange of those energies which, as shown by fehu, are set froth in earth as wealth. To the Germanic people, the act of giving was a highly meaningful one, the process of exchange also being a binding of loyalty. A common kenning for a lord was "ring-giver", speaking of the duty of a lord to give freely of his wealth to his followers. By accepting a gift, one pledged one´s trueness. It was, indeed, thought of as shameful for a man to live past a battle in which his ring-giver was slain. The breaking of this holy bond is always followed by disaster as shown in the end of Beowulf, in which the hero´s death is caused by the cowardice of his men, who abandon him in his fight against the dragon. Widsith, the only man who remained faithful, reproaches the others with the gifts which were the outward sign of the binding between themselves and the lord.
Gebo also relates to the practice of sealing alliances between clans by either
marriage or an exchange of hostages, usually the sons of the lords who would
then be fostered by the families of their earlier foes and slain if treachery
took place. This is the reason for the presence of Frey and Njord among the
Aersir, they being the hostages who ended the war between the Aesir and the
Vanir, their Aesir counterparts being Hoenir and Mimir. The understanding of
loyalty through exchange works on every level, as described in the Havamal:
"Friends should share joy / in weapons and clothes / that are evident to one another. / Theose who share gifts stay the fastest friends, / when things go well. / A man shall ever be a friend to his friends, / and give gift for gift, laughter for laughter, / but give lies for lies... He who gives gladly lives the best life, / and seldom has sorrow, / but the unwise suspect all / and always pine for gifts."
Generosity in every guise is one of the chief Teutonic virtues, whether it
is expressed as gifts, as hospitality, or as the blessing of sacrifice. The
ability to give freely is the only way to gain, not only the loyalty created
by the act of giving, but also the haminja might which comes from right action.
The strict Teutonic code of hospitality is grounded on this understanding, as
spoken of in the rune poem. The homeless wanderer relies on this code for the
food and shelter which, in the icy northern lands, often mean the diference
between life and death, whicle the host gains the weal of working rightly as
well as the growth of his/her good reputation.
The setting of Grimnismal writes forth the workings of gebo.Odin has gone to settle a wager with Frigga by seeing whether it is true that king Geirrodhr is stingy towards his guests. Frigga warns the king of the approach of n ill-meaning wizard and he thus questions Odin, who refuses to talk, then strings him up over a fire. Finally, Geirrodhr´s son Agnarr brings Odin a horn of beer, to which Odin replies: "Eight nights I sat between the fires. / No man dealt me food, except for Agnarr alone, / the son of Geirroth / he alone shall rule the land of the Goths. / Hail Agnarr! Veratyr bids your greetings / You will ever get / better payment for a single drink."
Odin´s gift to Agnarr is the chanting of mystic wisdom, which, as described in the king/shaman initiation of kenaz, raises the subject to the kingship and frees the worker. Odin ends by turning the woe-working power of gebo on King Geirrodhr, returning woe for woe by causing him to stumble and die on his own sward, paying Geirrodhr back and bringing Agnarr tohis inheritance.
Gebo governs both the religious work of sacrificing to the gods and the mystical
work of sacrificing self to self, as Odin does endlessly for Wisdom. In Teutonic
thought, sacrifice is more than simple supplication or payment for favors; rather,
it is the binding of loyal love which shapes the relationships between individual
heroes and their gods. This can be seen with special clearness in the case of
Odinic heroes: either Odin comes against his hero to claim him in the final
battle, or the dying warrior must have himself marked with the point of a spear
to show that he is himself a gift to Odin. In return for the gifts of victory
which Odin gave them in life, these heroes become members of his troops of einherjar
who will fight beside him in Ragnarok.
The runic section of the Havamal contains several references to sacrifice, the most notable being Odin´s telling of his ordeal in Yggdrasil. "I know that I hung on a wind-swept tree / all of nine nights / wounded by spear and given to Odin / myself to myself."
Remember: you must always be ready to sacrifice your current ideas and state
of awareness and being for the sake of reaching a greater wisdom. Every act
demands a payment of some sort; you cannot gain without experiencing loss.
Gebo reppresents the endless exchange of energies, especially those in which a binding is wished. The power of gebo brings friendship, loyalty and hospitality. In workings of woe, gebo may be used to bind someone to an unwanted obligation or to return woe for woe.Gebo is the rune most often used in love magick. Properly used, it creates awareness of the self-sacrificial and balanced nature of love between two people.
In ritual, Gebo represents the payments which must always be made: the gift of energy or food made to a plant before cutting it; the blood and life of the vitki which give life to the runes, and the mead or ale poured over the altar to the gods. The initiatory value of gebo is that of Nietzche´s "going under" - giving up all that you are for the sake of becoming something higher, as Odin did on Yggdrasill.Gebo works as a moderator with other runes, especially fehu, the force of which it beinds and guides for a balanced weal, warding off the woe that comes when fehu is blocked or misguided. The stones associated with Gebo are emerald, which is a traditional emblem of love and loyalty, and jade, which is said to open you to an awareness of the need and fitting times for sacrifice to seal your relationships with the gods and other wights.
1. Instead of a visualization, do something practical this time to ground the
power of the rune gebo within and without yourself. Firstly, think of your path
so far along the Runic Journeys, the insights and the tears, the discoveries
you made about yourself and the world around you. Have you used a bit of your
runemagick to ensoul the world? And the people around you?
2. Think of what you have learnt and of what you sacrificed, consider all implications of your acts, and
3. Examine how and where you stand at this stage of your spiritual quest.
4. Finally, the following day, offer a gift to the gods as a sign of your dedication to the path, your vow of service, dedication to the Mysteries and most of all, your love for Them and all things sacred.
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