Saturday, August 29, 2015

Runes 201 - Indvidual Runes - Gebo

Gebo may appear to be the simplest Rune to interpret; it means gift.  But, that is just the on the face.  So much more lies just under the surface that needs to be explored, because a gift implies so many other things, such as an exchange or balance of power in a relationship, acceptance and rejection, and highlights the differences between classes.  The latter is especially prominent in the Old English Rune poem, where the notion of a gift is relative to one's societal stature:

Gift for men is adornment and complement, support and dignity; and for all the dispossessed, forgiveness and sustenance, who would otherwise have nothing.
-interpretation from the Rune Primer, Sveyn Plowright

These deeper meanings enticed me to explore this Rune in more detail.  When I asked the Runes what they would like me to know about Gebo, the first Rune they gave me was Jera.  For me, this was an especially powerful message, because Jera is my guiding Rune; it is the most important gift I have received from the Runes.  Drawing this Rune first also signifies to me that everyone's greatest gift is different.  For example, Jera is the Rune of the year and represents time and process and, in the end, a good harvest.  This is a reminder that serves me well on a regular basis.  However, I have a friend whose greatest gift is Ansuz and he uses it to represent the importance of clear communications in his relationships.

Now that we know how the gift is defined and that it is different for everyone, the next question I posed was about giving a gift.  In response to this question, the Runes offered Thurisaz.  This Rune often times has negative connotations related to giants and thorns.  However, at its core is a sense of power.  Giving a gift can prove a powerful act.  If can forge alliances, win someone's favor or even just make someone's day.  That last one may seem a bit sappy, but a simple act can be very powerful.  At first glance, this Rune might seem like a calculated effort, but giving a gift actually is calculated, whether we realize it or not.  Most times, we probably give a gift in celebration or appreciation of something, but sometimes we do it only out of obligation, which can taint the gift.  I think what this Rune is telling us is that giving a gift is important and there are implications on both sides of the act, but as the gift giver, if you don't put genuine thought into it, it will show.

So, what about receiving a gift?  What do the Runes have to say about that?  Must we be gracious, even if we hate the gift?  Must we accept the gift?  Sowilo appears to address this angle. This strikes me as an interesting placement for the sun Rune, because it seems to say, "Yes, of course, you must accept the gift and be gracious."  However, what the sun does is shed light on things and makes it easier for us to follow our path.  In a sense, it offers guidance.  Perhaps, then, its guidance goes beyond the simple act of graciously accepting a gift.  Perhaps it is guiding us to wisdom about the relationship we have with the person giving us a gift.  This fits nicely on the heels of Thurisaz, because essentially what it is saying is we will know the meaning of the gifts we receive if we seek to understand the intention behind their presentation to us.