Reflections on Gifu


nother Monday, another rune pull! Runes have been quite a theme in my life the last two weeks, and I think it’s worthwhile to restate the intentions of these posts. I’m writing reflections of the runes as they come to me in the moment - informed by but not exactly their traditional meanings. Not the way I might use them in magic, nor even the deepest of my meditations with them. Rather, these are all reflections and musings to carry with you through your day, and offer more support in your own practice of exploring your own associations with the Elder Futhark.

Today I pulled Gifu or Gebo - a very familiar rune for me. Gifu or “gift” creates a good foundation for this rune, but what does gift mean? The way I was trained and instructed in working with spirits, and nordic folk roots, there is an unspoken reciprocity in gift giving. For every gift given, so is there an equal balancing action or offering. There is such thing as “too much” of a gift, something that is too much of a burden for the receiver, in their effort to offer balance.

I often think of Tomten when I think about Gifu. The little guardian of the house, who helps with the children and animals, and takes his job very seriously. Each year at Jul we give him his pay - porridge and butter, and maybe a bit of ale. If you're like me, and your Tomte works every day, perhaps you offer him a little more often, something to drink or eat. But, the legends say, do not offer him clothes, or else he may think he runs the house now!

And so you see, the nature of exchange and gifts that are too big.

In that way, there is a contractual nature to Gebo. And for me, it also brings up the idea of a boundary - “if this threshold is crossed, so shall the one crossing be unburdened of all lies and so shall I speak the truth in equal measure.”

In my own American culture, X, the symbol for Gifu, is entrenched in meaning. X marks the spot. X, a cross in the road. X, you shall not pass! X, a signature in lieu of a given name. X - stand here.

What I like about this rune is that it is so adaptable. It absorbs meanings and offers countless more in exchange. Do you need a guard? X!!! Do you need a direction? X!!! Do you need permission? X!!! Do you want to know where you are? X!!!

However, heed this note: be thoughtful of the runes that tell so many stories, and remember that each gift will require an exchange.

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