Gebo – Poems
I love Gebo – Gebo also happens to be one of the first runes we come across that does NOT have a Norwegian or Icelandic poem associated with it. The G-sound that the rune represents doesn’t appear in the Younger Futhark.
There are plenty of stories about Gebo and it’s meanings in Havamal and we’ll cover those in place of the usual poems.
Also, considering we’re now on the 7th post of this series I’m going to omit my usual disclaimer. It applies going forward, but I’ve repeated myself six times now. I’m sure you got it =D
Giving, to all men, brings credit and honor,
help and worthiness – and to every outcast
is the estate and substance, that have naught else.
“To his friends a man shall always be a friend,
and return gift for gift;
Laughter for laughter [and] let him return
Falsehoods for lies.” (Havamal 42)
“It’s been not to pray than to make too many offerings;
One gift demands another,
It’s better not to send than to sacrifice too much.” (Havamal 145)
All three of these really break down into a sensible ideal of humanity, faith, and honor. That being “Give what you can.”
Now a common saying is something along the lines of “Give without remembering, receive without forgetting.” – and that sentiment doesn’t necessarily go against the concept of Gebo. Friends aren’t going to stay friends for long if you’re literally writing down every penny, fry, and blessing.
But Gebo neither means for you to put yourself into straits with your generosity, nor is it saying you should give without any return at all. Though while you may be in a place to gift someone money, what they’re able to do in return may be more akin to mowing your lawn for a summer or something.
Gebo – Reading
It’s important to look at Gebo in a variety of ways. Literally turning and tuning your reading until it clicks into place. Gebo can be a gift you receive, one you give, an exchange, a contract, a relationship – business or love. It can be a wedding, promotion, a new business venture, etc.
Unlike unfettered giving, Gebo warns that you can be bit in the ass for being too giving – either by pulling yourself into ruin, or by being taken advantage of. I lean heavily on balance with this run because that’s the trick of proper Gebo’ing – Your scales don’t have to be perfect, but it IS about give and get, not just give.
I think it’s important to place value on things received however, that aren’t necessarily valued in a monetary manner. Time spent with friends and family – especially those with limited mobility, vacation, means, etc. – is Valuable – and should be valued as a “get”. This isn’t penny to penny, it’s give to given.
In a negative position Gebo can be excess, stinginess, issues with cash flow, etc. Excess may sound good, but the saying is “More money more problems” so be mindful even of the prospect of more because – again – Gebo isn’t just about money.
In Relation To…
Combined with Ansuz it’s definitely a call out to Odin and his trial of self-sacrifice in exchange for the knowledge of the runes. You may be being called upon to give up a thing (or things) in order to end up with something better fitting/helpful/useful/etc.
Paired with Raidho your travels are likely enriched and may result in new friendships or networks. With Fehu there is prosperity – possibly exchanging hands to the betterment of everyone involved.
As long as you aren’t a greedy, miserable rotter then it’s difficult for Gebo to be a sign of bad things or to carry negative intent. Just be mindful of the pitfalls and make sure you balance your resources.