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
Psi: gratitude, forgiveness, appreciation
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
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 false 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.
Gebo is also tied deeply to the exchange of sexual energies between male and female, and so it deeply governs mystical union, sacred oaths of marriage and sex magic. For more on sacred marriage, one must uncover the mysteries of EHWAZ.