How to do a Rune Reading — Part 6

Let’s keep right on with the process of turning over the Runes that had landed face-down…  For today’s post, we’ll be dealing with our second-to-last such Rune…

Rune-cast, pic 5: Please say hello to Gebo, the
Rune-cast, pic 5: Please say hello to Gebo, the “G”-Rune!

Readers, meet Gebo, the Elder Futhark’s “G”-Rune…  Like Ehwaz, which we examined a bit last time around, Gebo is one of the Runes that mimics the shape of one of our own modern letters, but which carries the sound functions of an entirely different letter.  That is, Ehwaz looks like a capital letter “M,” but it acts in practice like an “E.”  Similarly, Gebo sounds like our “G,” but it looks exactly like our “X” (interestingly, both letters are used by us to rate the maturity levels of films, with G being the least graphic, and X being the most…although I’ve never seen a Rune expert trying to establish a link between Gebo and the field of motion pictures and other related entertainment…).  But anyway, this is a chance to refresh your recollection that while most of the Runes will at first look like strange symbols never before encountered, a few of them look like letters in our own present-day alphabet…and these Runes usually do not sound like the letters that they resemble!

But so back to Gebo.  The literal meaning of Gebo is “Gift.”  Gebo is usually seen as a “good” or “positive” Rune, which makes some sense, given how much most of us like gifts, although as with Tarot, it’s probably best practice to try not to limit yourself to one-sided interpretations of any given symbol.  Each Rune covers a range of meanings, some tough and others rather user-friendly, and the best readers will take the whole spectrum of possibilities into consideration before arriving at their takes on what the Runes are saying.

The gift of Gebo...but what exactly is in that box...?
The gift of Gebo…but what exactly is in that box…?

So what then would be the full range of Gebo-meanings?  And remember, we’re exploring the notion that the four subtle Runes in this scatter — that’s the ones that landed face-down — are each describing traits that the worthy Rune reader will cultivate within herself/himself, and will try to bring forth into every reading.  Keeping that in mind…here, then, are some of the main “keywords” that will pop up almost every time you go strolling through some Rune resource’s summary of Gebo interpretations: gift, marriage, wedding, exchange, generosity, hospitality, relationship, obligation, binding…

Gebo can definitely indicate actual imminent gifts: material goods, money, favors, promotions, connections.  This is a large part of why this Rune is usually received pretty happily by someone who draws it.  Gebo can also be talking, though, about the perceived obligations and connections that the giving/receiving of a gift can create.  Is gift-giving ever truly one-sided?  If someone gives you a gift, do you owe them something in return, even if that something is simply the expression of sufficient gratitude?  And sometimes the debt can be even greater than that.  These aren’t simple questions (I’m reminded of a “Seinfeld” episode built almost entirely around the gang spending most of the half-hour agonizing over whether Jerry had thanked an acquaintance thoroughly enough after the guy had given him some hockey tickets…and another episode in which a fellow comedian “gives” Jerry a brand-new and expensive suit, but then wants multiple favors in return, hanging the gift of the suit over Jerry’s head in order to fan the flames of Jerry’s guilt-response…).  The point is that the giving of a gift can set up an undeniable energy-tie between the giver and the receiver.  Therefore, when Gebo appears in a reading, it’s wise to think not just about possible gifts, but also about the dynamic that might be established upon the receipt of any such gift.

If the people of Stockholm erect a statue of the Norse Goddess, Freyja, is this
If the people of Stockholm erect a statue of the Norse Goddess, Freyja, is this “gift” of theirs an isolated and one-way transaction? Or does it speak of a more ongoing bond involving Freyja and her devotees? Does the gift feed that bond? Does it obligate Freyja somehow, or does it further obligate her worshippers to live up to the kind of devotion that the statue would imply they possess…?

Since Runes hail from a culture that had a close and active relationship with its Deities, Gebo can take that sort of mortal/Divinity bond into account, as well.  The worship of mortals for their Gods can set up the kinds of ties that might not be out of place in a discussion about Gebo.  Such worship can bring favor upon the mortals, and it lends purpose to their lives, while in return, it strengthens those Deities on the receiving end of that worship — for the participants, this is an organic exchange that can take on a life of its own.  Looking for a possible spiritual component when interpreting Gebo is therefore not necessarily a wrong turn…

How does all of this then fit within that concept of these four subtle Runes capturing the qualities necessary for a strong Rune reader?  One highly possible interpretation would be that the Rune reader must view the bond with the Runes as a “gift.”  Working with the Runes, and using them to help others, should be approached as a profound undertaking.  The reading itself can be seen as a gift, too, and one that’s given to both the reader (who has a chance to do that which nourishes and enlivens them) and the querent receiving the reading (as they’ll gain wisdom through the process).  And finally, some Rune enthusiasts believe that each Rune is itself a living Spirit, like a Deity of sorts…so then in much the same way that a worshipper enhances bonds with their Deities through their reverence, so, too, can the Rune user further strengthen their bond with the Runes by way of respectful, grateful practice.

And to wrap things up for the moment, we shouldn’t lose track of how the Runes are oriented with respect to each other as we turn over the formerly hidden, subtle ones.  As noted last time around, the Runes continue to be more or less facing in the same general direction.  Gebo continues that trend.  Obviously, when we’re dealing with Runes such as Gebo and Nauthiz, which look the same regardless of which end you point up — that is, they have no “upside-down” or “rightside-up” orientations — the odds that the Runes will seem to agree in their facings definitely increase.  Still, the impression that the component parts of this reading are working harmoniously does still carry forward here…

Next time up, we’ll be turning over that final subtle Rune — please tune in for that!  I do promise to go on treating each and every column I write here like a Gebo-gift to you…

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