Runes From A Vanic Perspective: Gebo
The Vanir are those most concerned with bringing the harvest to its fullness and thus this rune is intrinsically connected to Them. Those deities connected to Gebo are Freyr, Idunna and Sif. Freyr gives his own life essence back to the earth at Loaf-Fest (also known as Lammas) each year, as the sacrificed God. In the act of being cut down, his blood returning to the earth nourishes it and makes it fertile. The secret being that He is again born in the crop the following year. Thus you get the essence of what the saying "The king and the land are one," truly means. Without the willingness to give in such a manner the land would simply be a hunk of earth, without the consciousness of this mystery the people would simply be eating a bit of grain, it might nourish their bodies but not their spirit.
Sif also is a deity of the grain; She too sacrifices a part of herself, her beautiful golden hair. Each year it is shorn short so that we may eat and become nourished. Though this does not seem as heavy a sacrifice as the blood which is given by Freyr, it is indeed, for each portion of the body holds a secret; and in Scandinavian and Germanic society a woman's worth was measured in large part by the length and beauty of her hair. This sacrifice shows that Sif is measured by more than the beauty of her hair, but by what she has to offer, and this is the ability to nurture and kindle within each individual that which they value. Sif by nature is a nurturer as can be seen by the way in which She raises a blended family with skill and with patience. If one concentrates on these traits when making bread or eating products of any kind of grain, whether they are maize, or wheat, rye or barley then you can partake of Sif's true gifts and not just fill your belly.
Idunna also is a deity connected with Gebo, though not a deity of grain; She embodies the concept of generosity with a kind of quiet grace. It is She who raises the trees that put forth the apples of youth and health for the Gods; and it is She who bestows them as well. None can partake of these treasures except that they come from her hand. As has been demonstrated when Thijazi captured Her and tried to force Her to give him one. When he reached for it himself it withered and shrank from his touch. The relationship which Idunna has with the trees themselves is one which expresses the give and take of Gebo, it is almost symbiotic, with a kind of love being exchanged between them, at least this is what I believe; I believe that the love that is exchanged between Goddess and tree is contained within the apples and this is what causes them to be so potent and to give the years of youth and to restore health to the other Deities.
Because these Deities do so much for humanity, for the earth, and for the other Gods, They embody the essence of Gebo. A gift for a gift. We, in return must be mindful always that where we put our feet upon this earth we tread lightly and that we leave little trace of ourselves. We must always try to conserve and pay attention not to create more strife in our wake. This is our part of Gebo, to honor and give back in as many ways as we can; Because it is truly a gift for a gift. Our hearts must be filled with gratitude for those things that are bestowed upon us, and where we can help others that too we must be mindful to do. This exchange instead of taking advantage is the essence of Gebo. .
Written by, Ayla Wolffe©2008