Rune Study: Gebo


Today, compelled to do my very first ever rune draw ... Gebo. Actually, two runes came out. Gebo and the blank.

First, lemme say, I still have yet to study runes. I read my copy of this post this morning, and then later on decided to head over to the Runes forum. That's IT for how much I've studied runes. I still don't know what half of them even are, because I still need to match the rune to the word. Good thing Gebo is such an easy to describe shape.

"Easy to describe shape" ... an interesting digression. In choreographic terms, this means making shapes in spaces that are accessible to the eye, easy to see. Metaphorically, a statement that's easy to understand, or a point that is easy to get.

In light of another post, Gebo's appearance is extremely telling.

Sacrifice. I sacrificed my ego for a second in this above-mentioned experience, but did so acting on a spiritual basis of love and compassion.

Magickal exchange, indeed. And, I gained. I gained tremendously in one experience. I did not seek it, but rather it happend upon the moment. It was not coveted, but simply a random discovery, like all real epiphanies.

Gebo (ghei-bow). Airy g sound in my head.

What a wonderful rune to welcome me into this study.


Gebo Analysis

First, I am not sure that it is better to give than to receive. The Gebo rune and associated lore seems to advocate a balance in which what one gives is roughly equal to what one gives.

In the Runattals Thatr Odhinns, we see the following passage:

It is better unasked than offered overmuch
For a gift often looks for a gain.

There is a distinct concept that one's expectations from a gift are generally equal to what we see in the value of the gift. Give too much in exchange for promises, and you will be disappointed.

Anyay, the etypmology is *gebo -> OE gifu -> Mod.Eng. gift.

In the Flyting of Loki, we have Loki addressing Freya as Gefion (sp?, "The Giver"). Although Freya appears later in this poem under her own name. Loki briefly alludes to the sexual favors that Freya gave the dwarves in exchange for the Neckace of the Brisings.*

* It is certainly possible that Gefion and Freya were originally different goddesses given that no other god or goddess appears to be attacked by Loki twice during the Flyting. However, the attacks Loki makes on Freya (that she lured all gods and elves to lust with her) and Gefion (exchanging sexual favors for the necklace) are close enough that this is a hard case to make.

Pagan X

I was thinking about sacrifice recently myself, because we don't sacrifice in the US anymore (most of us).

Exceptions are the religions of Voodoo and Santeria. Worshipers will leave sacrifices of food and animals in crossroads or on beaches. My gut reaction is to view that as just a waste; after all, nobody is going to use them. And there's the issue: because such sacrifices, or the sacrifice of burning food and objects in potlatch or at Chinese funerals is in the belief that those objects are not wastefully destroyed, they really do go somewhere and really do provide a benefit to the departed.

The giving of money to church, or to perform volunteer work as sacrifice, gives immediate feeling of the sacrifice having accomplished some positive good...but at the expense of the requirement of faith.

Personally, I like to donate blood at the blood bank as a form of sacrifice. It's hard to get more personally giving than that; it will save lives; and as a Wiccan I can put just a wee bit of magical ooomph on it for the patients who will receive my blood.

I was told once by a fellow occultist that it was just too dangerous a thing to do, to which I say, "A religion that prevents one from saving lives through fear is not a religion worth having."


I find it interesting that every time my 7-year-old pulls a rune, it is Gebo. I tell her she is my gift.


zorya said:
could we please elaborate on this?
i've spent the last couple of days pondering what "sacrificing to your Gods", might mean in contemporary terms.

at the risk of seeming obtuse, here are some of the things, i have considered.
1. literal offerings
2.bonding with the runes using blood. part of your day to your Gods. being constantly aware of your Gods. (this one just doesn't seem like much of a sacrifice)
4. the releasings and letting go's that are required for growth and evolution. of self to others. (seems too indirect)

maybe i'm struggling with this because of the way i view the word "sacrifice". must a sacrifice be experienced as something painful? "binding of the love"; doesn't that make it less painful?
if a sacrifice becomes a pleasure, does it then lose its value? if so, are you then required to make deeper and larger sacifices?

As for sacrifice:

- think of the (ritual) weapons that were thrown into wells/rivers/sea, eg remember when Bedivere/Lancelot returns King Arthur's sword by throwing it into the lake? Or remember the wonderful Celtic shield that was found in the Thames? Or think of the Sky Disc of Nebra which was buried in a miniature burial chamber in a field.

- think of the ritual blood sacrifice be it man or beast done in various cultures.

- or think of Odin hanging from the Tree of Life for 9 days and after that he received the runes.

- think of the Native American Potlaches.

- think of the food sacrifices in Voudoun, Santería, etc.

Pagan X

It could also be a warning against developing an attitude that one can bribe the Gods, or that ritualistic acts have automatic benefits regardless of the sincerity of the giver.

Could also point to the fact that sometimes, no-one can hate someone like they can hate their benefactor. The ability to recieve help graciously without resentment or feeling demeaned is also a moral skill.

I agree with Caitlin that some "modern" sacrifices don't seem to quite cut it. Time spent meditating? That's no sacrifice, that would be wonderful. Bonding with blood? Eh, what's a little blood?

Now, giving up an addiction, like quitting smoking, that would be a sacrifice, because it is *hard*. Fasting, that's good. Going without sleep to pray.

I like the sacrifices that do good though, like spending time picking up litter, or doing a canned food drive, or donating blood.

One thing that is a lot of fun is when I go to Pagan shops, after I buy what I want, I give the cashier a $5 bill with a note, "customer-to-customer $5 off purchase special." so that the next person will get a nice surprise. Just to make buying at independent religious shops more *fun*. I don't see the person, I leave immediately. Is that a sacrifice?