Learn the Viking Runes: Gebo

Posted by Cindy Potts on

Generosity and hospitality were very important to the Vikings, who understood that giving and receiving were equally important components in a relationship. Gebo is the rune of gift giving, whether that means material goods or of your talents and service. 

Gebo’s form is balanced, stressing the importance of being generous and receiving generosity. To maintain healthy relationships, both parties must be able to give and to accept gifts. These gifts, over the course of the relationship, should be relatively equal - not in monetary terms, necessarily, but in importance to both parties.

In the Havamal - an epic poem containing a great deal of Norse philosophy - it says “A man should be loyal to friends through life and return gift for gift.” Gift giving was viewed as a way for members of a community to demonstrate care for each other. An extension of this concept is to view Gebo as a reminder to demonstrate care for the planet and all of the creatures that live there. 

Gebo in History: Examining the Anglo-Saxon Rune Poems

We see Gebo used to explain the  importance of gift giving detailed in the Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem thus:


 Generosity brings credit and honour, which support one’s dignity;

it furnishes help and subsistence

to all broken men who are devoid of aught else.


What Does Gebo Mean in a Rune Reading?

Gebo is strongly associated with making and keeping promises. If Gebo appears in a rune reading, it may be a sign to see if you’re being too selfish. Are you contributing your share in relationships, whether these are your romantic relationships, family relationships, friendships, or professional connections?

Gebo may also provide confidence that the gifts you have to offer will be appreciated. If you’ve been holding yourself back from fully participating in community because you’re not sure what you have to offer, Gebo is here to remind us that the willingness to give is the first and most important gift anyone can give.

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