Yesterday saw the end of the half-month of Gebo and the beginning of Wunjo – the rune of joy. I had a lovely half-month with Gebo practising some new breath and body techniques and re-visiting old ones. I also read The Gift: How the Creative Spirit Transforms the World by Lewis Hyde which I would definitely recommend for anyone exploring the mysteries of Gebo.
Growing up in the UK I used to associate gifts with Christmas and birthdays, strange rituals of excess where material goods are used to temporarily fill an emptiness we can’t name. Ceremonies of exchange have, in many ways, become infantalised, consigned to childish joy that adults participate in vicariously. As I grew older I looked to the gifts of the natural world - to the changing seasons and the beauty of sun and starlight, and that sense of emptiness lessened. Thinking about Gebo again and, reading The Gift, I saw that the power of Gebo is still alive in our communities and cultures, we still maintain rituals of exchange that resist commodification, and there are more and more people striving to connect with each other and with the world that we are part of. To wear the badge of Gebo upon your heart is to give, to accept, and to reciprocate, in a very personal way; it is to allow the act of gift giving to touch you and to change you.
If the commodity moves to turn a proft, where does the gift move? The gift moves towards the empty place. As it turns in its circle it turns toward him who has been empty-handed the longest, and if someone appears elsewhere whose need is greater it leaves its old channel and moves toward him. Our generosity may leave us empty, but our emptiness then pulls gently at the whole until the thing in motion returns to replenish us. The Gift (pg. 23)
Now we reach the half-month of Wunjo, which brings us another positive and, seemingly, gentle rune. If Gebo is about social partnership and obligation, Wunjo is joy in one another, it is kinship and warmth and happiness within the self. Thinking about the rune calendar, it seems to me that Gebo warns that change must come, the wheel must turn – Wunjo gives us time to prepare ourselves for the winter ahead and the coming of Hagalaz.
An important concept for Wunjo is that of will-power; this week a close friend of mine reminded my that there is a difference between ‘will-power’ and following your true will, and this is very important for Wunjo. When we think of will-power we think of force, of ‘mind over matter’; but the will-power of Wunjo is of a different type, tying in with personal happiness and fulfillment rather than outward success and accolade. In stories and meditations Wunjo is often illustrated with a tale of an individual who visits family and is filled with a happiness which then sustains them during a difficult journey that must be undertaken alone. During this half month think about the things that bring you true joy and happiness, what makes you feel warm inside and will sustain you as the hardships of winter set in.
Suggested reading: The Ultimate Happiness Prescription: 7 Keys to Joy and Enlightenment