Gefn, the bountiful giver
The image of Gyfu is Gefn,‘the gracious giver’. It is difficult to escape nature’s bounty even when we try. Leave the lawn alone for a while and edible weeds will sprout. From the dandalion alone, you can get a salad, a cooked green, a wine and edible flowers. In my yard, I also get volunteer oaks. Hire someone to kill all of the weeds and plant flowers. At least half of the flowers will be edible or they will have medicinal value. The flip side of being medicinal is the likelihood of being a deadly poison. While living in the large city I would often speak with people from foreign countries who would point out how many edible plants we used decoratively in landscaping our cities. The varities of plants will change the varities of insects, birds, rodents and predators.
As the wildlife changes, the insects, spiders, birds, and micro-organisms change. As all of these change, there is bounty. Sometimes the bounty is beneficial to the microscopic creatures that cause plagues. Plagues are also things that our ancestors dealt with in the Dark Ages. Plagues are not just a product of civilizations. All of these experiences informed them. Through language, they inform us. This is another way that ancient knowledge benefits us. History instructs us, if we listen. The time and distance insulate us so that we can take a measured, objective look.
The image here is : Where there is bounty (GYFU), needs (NYD) will appear.
All of the above are examples of the balance between NEED and GIFT, NYD and GYFU. We cannot always get it right and nature cannot always get it to suit us. No matter how wise we are, there will always be something that we did not and could not anticipate. Language is the tool that we use to help us learn and to manage what we learn. We have lots of words in English; but, what we lack are clear images. Those images are the ideographic symbols from which English was translated.
Images are the visuals for what we call ideas. Runically: ‘ i – mage’ is the static form of ‘great knowledge’ ‘id – ea’ is the id-knowledge in a form that humans (EA’s beings) can use it.
We do not need to change the way that we speak, read, or write English in order to benefit from this symbol system. We don’t have to become runemasters either. I envision this as a way to clarify what we are saying, a kind of math notation that sets values for words. Runically, math is ‘m – ath’ man-path or ‘man’s way’. Math is another one of our languages which transcends cultures.
NYD- GYFU is an international issue.
I mention this background information because the GYFU-NYD energy is a difficult phenomena with which to deal even when we grasp the symbolism. It is also very important for us, as the symbolism appears frequently and in several forms. While the concepts are straight-forward, they are nevertheless complicated. NYD-GYFU or GYFU-NYD is the foundation of economics. It is also at the root of most wars and most international violence, as well as national, corporate, business and personal, tribal, local, familial, and household dissension. It is a major contributor to disease epidemics. The conflict occurs in small families and large tribes. Conflict takes place over small gifts and over large inheritances. It is even difficult when the dynamic occurs within oneself, a conflict with ones’ own inner elf or alternate ego. (We do all contain multitudes.)
Sometimes the conflict is over a need not met and sometimes it is a gift scorned. Sometimes a ‘gift’ is not given; the gift itself may not have been needed; but, the thought behind it was. (like remembering a special occasion or honoring some sacred tradition) I once read that before the Second World War, a Japanese diplomat to Washington had committed sepuku over an insult. I do not know the whole story. I just happened across it in an old pre-war magazine at my father-in-law’s second-hand bookstore. It has stuck in my mind for fifty years. I have wondered if that was a factor in the hostilities. We know that the Nuremburg accord was a factor in the Hitler saga. A people punished excessively for their leader’s actions. The Berlin Airlifts and the ‘Marshall Plan’, after WWII, demonstrated the benefits of a prudent generosity.
Understanding greed and need, give and take:
The observation made by our ancestors, that giving is a force of nature, was undoubtedly based on their experience of nature’s bounty while living close to the earth and experiencing all the seasons. To really appreciate this worldview, it helps to imagine a time and place where there are fewer man-made fences and people live more in tune with the lands, the waters, and their many denizens. Nature does give us everything we need and so, it is ‘natural’ that we give and unnatural if we are ungenerous.
People all around the world have offered up sacrifices of gratitude to their gods for thousands of years. We have found sacrificial remains of hundreds in Egypt and China and sacrifices of one or two beautifully adorned, precious children frozen on a mountain top in the Andes. We identify closely with our gifts. To this day, if we tell our citizens that we need them to fight, and possibly die, for someone’s freedoms and civil rights, there will be no shortage of volunteers ready to give their life for a righteous cause. Almost half of the mail that I receive is requests for donations to special causes.
Gyfu is also the giving of the gift of our own abilities or talents to the service of another. Our talents and abilities are gifts from God. Gyfu signifies unification through exchange and cooperation between individuals. Therefore, having ones’ gifts received and appreciated is honor and having them despised is shame. That was the hurt which Cain suffered that caused him to kill his brother, Abel, the idea that he was cut off, that God despised his gift.
The issue behind antisemitism was contained in the refusal to offer up, in Egypt, blood sacrifices of the first born child. The historian,Tacitus, reproached the Jews for being impious and overly attached to our children. Being a people who refused to offer their children as blood sacrifices, in places where that was the local custom, was seriously frowned upon. Among the Hebrews (Jews), the first born male child was still given to God; but, only the first born animals were offered as blood sacrifices. Both history and archaeology indicate that, for thousands of years, we humans have felt this compelling need to give (or gift) with ‘blood’ sacrifices. Even today, if someone calls upon us to make this sacrifice to secure the blessings of Liberty (freedom) etc. for someone, there will be no shortage of volunteers if people believe the cause is real and just. Most humans that I know are that generous. ‘Giving’ is built into religions and is a basic tenant of most. We have found a way of avoiding some great excesses by recognizing a specific tithe.
In the ‘Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem, Gyfu’s reading is: “To people, giving is an ornament of value, and to every outsider without any other, it is substance and honor,” This does not mean that everything is given free and without exchange of money. That could be an insult as many economies function with symbols of value (gifts) known as money. It does mean that the necessities of life should not be withheld from anyone, should not be hoarded and kept from those in need.
The need to give:
This idea of gifting has expanded my awareness. By seeing the many ways that giving/gifting are expressed, I’m coming to see this as an organic whole. Something about doing this kind of work sensitizes one. I didn’t have to start a search for elements of sound/sense. They just jumped out at me. There is something about this screen of ideation that conducts searches even in deep sleep. I can be grooming a dog or cat, washing a floor, or doing laundry, and an idea will appear before me in my range of vision. Sometimes an idea awakens me from a sound sleep. The deep, imperious need to give is one of those awakening ideas. I awakened remembering all of those articles in the paper about how we have carried complex technologies to people who have neither the skills nor the desire to have those skills that are required to appreciate our gifts. I have frequently erred in this way- confusing giving with my needing (to give).
Processing images and ideas –and learning from them:
I had a college professor who used to ask me, frequently, just where I got my ideas. I think that we all have them and just have to develop a system for processing the ideas that we are gifted with. I have been collecting those patterns that have related sounds, made lists of words which contained those sense elements, and then checked to see if their definitions were related to the idea of giving. Later, I checked the Anglo Saxon Primer to find related words which will connect the AS. with modern English. gif = if, giefu = gift; grace (of God) [giefan], giefan = wedding, giefta = marriage, to see how related words are structured and – to catch the sense of the words rather than their definitions (defined limits). There is a big difference between the sense of a word and its’ definition. For instance, wif = wife. The root, -if , has the sense of ‘choice’ and when WYN /w/ meaning ‘joy’ with the sense of ‘activity’ is placed before it, the word ‘wife’ acquires a sense that I find more descriptive than any job description or legal definition.
I had never connected the word ‘if ‘ with gifts or with ‘choice’. The if/ then reasoning is actually about relating choices to outcomes. (I had not caught on before.) The words ‘I believe’ mean ‘I would have it be so.’ That is also about choices. This is one great way that we make our world with our own words. If we would choose to have something be so, and then we behave as though it is so, the world that we live in will change. The evidence of that is in the myth of ‘The Chosen People’. Many peoples were offered a ‘gift’ by God and many refused. Only one tribe accepted. Thousands of years later the remnants of the tribe are still striving to keep their part of the covenant. Many other peoples have decided to make this choice and accept the ‘gift’. The world that has resulted is not perfect; but, many important and wonderful changes have been made. We have to be the changes that we want.
Again, the big problem is language. We forget who we are, what our words mean, what we are doing, why we are doing what we are doing, and for whom. Please note all of the ‘wh-‘ question words.
I started noticing that ‘g’, the alphabetic symbol of GYFU, was often paired with ‘n’, the symbol of NYD. Seeing give/ need placed together seemed too coincidental so I analyzed those patterns. Patterns always have purpose; but, I wasn’t certain at first that there was runic purpose. Those patterns do contain runic sense and one of them is another rune, ING. That means that ang, eng, ing, ong, ung, also contain the need/give sense. The big stumbling block to decoding is the habit of defining a word instead of perceiving the sense of it.
Sensing this brings us to a different kind of energy. This is the tension/tension-release that is an essential part of nature. Our planet builds up this force or energy which then releases as volcanic activity, sometimes exploding suddenly with clastic activity showering rocks and dust and burying cities and entire communities, like at Pompei and Krakatoa. Sometimes they create lands and sometimes blow them to smithereens (Gaelic). Then there are the molten volcanoes which grow islands and also destroy them. This same kind of energy affects the Waterworld and the Atmosphere and, when it does, the results are literally overwhelming. There is a part of human nature which is similarly both disruptive and regulatory, our autonomic nervous system. I had not noticed this trait or phenomenon in our language until the presence of INGWAZ in the runes pointed it out to me with the positioning of ‘-ng’. I am not the only one who has noticed the parallel between our autonomic nervous system and the rune INGWAZ. The runemaster, Mr. Pennick has likened this rune to the male orgasm. The NYD–GYFU energy is present within another rune. I find it of compelling interest that the sense can follow the letters of the italic alphabet as well as the rune symbol. I mention this because these incidents are supporting evidence of the presence of this sense code in our English language. That other striking pattern is -ign. I just noticed another……’gn-‘. Both of these patterns have the sense of ‘knowledge’ and of ‘fire-starting’. Fire and knowledge have an ancient symbolic relationship, as in the Greek myth of Prometheus. I will illustrate these elements when I figure whough (how) to.
Attempting to trip myself up:
When I was in my early teens, I learned about the convenience of memory. I found something I had written which expressed an opinion with which I totally disagreed. I do not remember what it was but it was an opinion that I would not own. However, it was in my handwriting so I could not and would not deny having written it. Not that I had to, as it was a matter between me and myself; no one else was challenging me. This disjointure between what I ‘said’ and what I believed caused me to make a point of writing down things immediately if there was a chance that I would have to remember facts of an event, like particulars of an accident, especially when I had mixed feelings about it. More importantly, I make a point of not writing things that I do not mean, such as answers to test questions with which I take issue. If I take issue, my answer goes in quotes. The same thing applies to ‘taking a message’. If it is someone else’s words or opinion, it goes in quotes. I have been applying a similar discipline to this Project. I make a particular point of not sorting words or symbols that will support my point of view. I have used several ways of listing the words and elements, trying to use the format that best suits the words and elements. Simultaneously, I’m avoiding listing them in text format so that the patterns at issue do not get lost in the text.
I’m using a chart format to list some of the sense-elements and some of the words that fit the runic formula. While these are not all of them, I try to find enough to either support or refute my assertion and to give a broad view of the sense of these elements. The ‘lists’ of words using these elements are laid out in the form of charts so as to be easier to evaluate. When words are laid out in horizontal lines like text, we try to read them like text. That gets too confusing as our minds are habituated to trying to ‘make sense’ of lines of text even where there is negligible sense. I’m leaving the following lines in place as an illustration of this confusion. The element -elf is analyzed later and separately. Some elements requires more thought, more actual analysis:
the word ‘if ‘[AS gif, if ] -ife (knife, life, rife, strife, wife); -ift (drift, gift, grift, lift, rift, shrift, thrift); -ive (give, live, rive, shrive, strive, thrive); -elp (help, whelp); -erve, -erf (serf, serve, service); -ove,(above, cove, dove, grove, hover, love, stove, trove, wove,); -eve, -ieve, -ief, (belief, believe, grief, grieve, berieve) -elf
The words which contain these sense elements are about giving, exchanging, sharing, choosing and protecting- nouns, verbs, things, thoughts, actions.
Many of the word possibilities which relate to gifts, giving, and generosity deserve attention. The words ‘I believe’ meaning, ‘I would have it be so.’ is about ‘choice’ and is a very compelling ‘gift’ to consider; but, the word element which commands my attention is ‘self’. I grew up with that word. But, most of my adult life I have seen the word ‘self ‘ paired with ‘help’. The ubiquitous ‘self-help’ of the late 20th Century is an intriguing phenomena. What is a self and why has it been so beset? Understanding this word should be quite informative.
Self is a word that we use frequently. We use it for emphasis, e.g. ‘She, herself, said it.’; to underscore the specific person of whom we are speaking, e.g.’The president, himself, did it’.; Selfless is a highly touted moral quality, e.g. ‘Saint Francis of Assisi selflessly loved all living creatures.’ And, selfish is a moral failing. What is a self and what does it do or not do that gives it such importance? How does a self differ from the person? What other words or ideas are self related so that they could tell us something about this thing called ‘self’? Is it an element, a particle, an energy? After some reading, I think that these are epistomological questions. Epistemology, as Will Durant said, is the “great dragon” of philosophy and he warns us not to “wander too near the mouth of the dragon, and be charmed by his majestic language, and suddenly be swallowed up in his cavernous vacuity.”  To address this subject we are going to be smelling dragon’s breath. So much has been said and written about the ‘self’ in the last century, without not knowing what it is, that we are already in that cavernous vacuity.
When ‘self’ is attached to a pronoun like him, her, or it, it becomes a reflexive pronoun. The only elemental word that I find is elf. All definitions of self identify self as part of a person, and all definitions of ‘elf’ identify it as a nature sprite of some sort. The rune SIEGEL represented by ‘s’ is ‘magical will and a spiritual quality that resists death and destruction’ so, it seems that self represents an immortal quality like ‘soul’. Now for some dictionary definitions:
self pl. selves [AS. self, seolf] 1. The identity, character, or essential qualities of any person or thing. Webster’s p. 1733 (Sounds like another word for ‘soul’.)
elf pl. elves [AS. ælf, ylf] 1. In folklore, a diminutive wandering sprite or fairy; an imaginary being supposed to exercise magic powers and haunt woods and hills. Webster’s p. 587 (Let’s see how ‘soul’ compares.)
soul [AS. soul, sawol; akin to Gothic saivala] 1. an entity which is regarded as being the immortal or spiritual part of the person and though having no physical or material reality, is credited with the functioning of thinking and willing, and hence determining all behavior. Webster’s p. 1733
The next move is to find a similar element that might enlighten the meaning. There are only three, eleven , twelfth and shelf.
eleven [AS. endleofan an one & -lif remainder, as in Goth. twalif AS. twelf, twelve] Webster’s p.587 (From here I go to Oxford’s Unabridged indepth reading about possible origins)
eleven Many and diverse origins including: OHG. einlif MHG. eilf Ger. elf MDu. elleven Du. elf also ainlif (shortened from aino) ONE + lif “of uncertain origin” Oxford Unabridged p. 844
shelf [AS. scylfe] Webster’s p. 1671 a plank or shelf
The only other elf/elve word that I find is ‘shelf ‘ and all it has in common with elves is wood. After an indepth analysis of the etymologies of eleven and twelve, their given root ‘ lif ‘ (meaming ‘life’) is based on “of uncertain origin”. “Of uncertain origin” is a common “origin” of words that can only be decoded by their runic sense. Both numbers could very well have the same root as elf and self. Why should an ideographic origin have less substance or less validity?
Here comes the dragon.
In reading Oxford’s entries on ‘soul’ and ‘self’, the two qualities appear to differ in that soul has no physical or material reality; self, on the other hand, is very physical and material. Self requires love, restraint, care, control, mastery, indulgence. There are multiple quotes about the maintenance of ‘self’ going back to the 12th Century, including many remarks about not abrogating responsibility for the self. Shakespeare is quoted frequently, as he has many things to say about the ‘self ‘ including, “Self love …is not so vile a thing as self-neglecting.” The date of that quote is 1599. A later quote, 1899, after noting that self is “of one piece with the thing itself, part of the thing itself ” observes “so long as the self is not implicated in what is done by the body, the self is not responsible and cannot justly be punished”.  These observations about our self, our inner elf, suggest that mankind has been aware of this obstreperous side of nature, including human nature, since way before the advent of psychiatry.
We have made use of this part of our nature; eleven and twelve are evidence of that. I have wondered why these two numbers didn’t follow suit with our one through ten pattern, instead they are one elf, two elf (tw- is two). There are twelve apostles, twelve jurors, twelve in a coven yet, only ten are needed for prayer, a minyon. What essential function do these extra two serve? It seems that self-reference gives us broader perspective or deeper understanding; they function as a kind of ‘wild card in the deck’. We do acknowledge them as ‘life’ and, in the cases of apostles, jurors and coven members, very much counted like all human life.
This brings to mind experiences of my youth. The father of the house was referred to respectfully as “Himself”. Another was the discipline and practice of self-questioning, “I said to meself, ‘Meself, I said…’ ” That sounds a bit quaint perhaps, but it is eminently sensible. If you can’t get straight talk from your self, from whom can you expect it? If you don’t demand it from your self, how can you expect it from others? This is literally self-recognition of this inner, auxilliary life which informs our judgement. In the case of ones’ father, this is a recognition of a respected, authoritative life-form and source of counsel. This is another reason that we need to know what our words mean and to attend to what we are saying. Never know when you might startle your self with something particularly profound. This suggests important questions like, ‘ If we recognize and use our ‘self’ and the ‘self’ of others, should we not be responsible for its actions?’ Can we disown the actions of our inner elf?
It seems that our ancestors also wrestled with this aspect of human energy. The ‘Oxford’ also gives an Old High German definition as alp, nightmare. The “Archaic Dictionary” has several entries under elf-, including a mischievous person, a witch or fairy, and irritable; spiteful; peevish; mischievous; fantastic; intractable [AS]. Apparently getting rid of our pagan traits and customs has the dubious benefit of allowing us to dissociate ourselves from our unlovely qualities.
From both the sound and sense of this word, I think the element -elf may belong to the rune GYFU, a given, a gift. While such a gift can be a bit uncomfortable, it certainly has great value if you can bear inhabiting the same skin with sometimes unpleasant and unvarnished truths. I’m finding this reflexive pronoun to also be very reflective. Why worry about our immortal souls and then disown our very mortal -elves?
‘Self’, the magic dragon:
Maybe we really only ‘see’ our ‘selves’ on our screen of ideation and maybe we can not prove that this ‘life’ exists. Everything that we dream is a part of us and is about us, whether it’s visible or invisible, scary, funny, ridiculous, brilliant, inspiring, or just unsettling stuff. It is up to us to claim it, to understand it and to learn from it. According to our ancestors, the ‘holy elf’ is there to help us. Nothing in nature is put here for the purpose of harming us; although it may do so in the process of keeping itself alive. Our (s)elf is part of us and therefore has nothing to gain by harming us. Now for the epistomological dragon’s question: “If we deny our (s)elves, can we also disown responsibility?” However we answer the question, or even if we choose to ignore it altogether, self is real. We have recognized it forever. We have a word for it and ‘self’ is a useful word alone and in its many compound forms. Even if it “goes ‘bump’ in the night”, it’s part of us and isn’t out to get us.
Let’s finish the runic analysis of the word: S is SIEGEL, magical will and selfless spiritual quality that resists death and destruction (Would a self with self be redundant?) E is EHWAZ, rune of combination associated with twins, brotherhood or horse/rider L is LAGU, life force, mutable uncertainties and fluidity F is FEOH, primal power, on the material level accretion of power and control which brings responsibilities. That sounds like an anagram for SELF.
I’ve just come across another tie between man and elf. “The word for wood and for knowledge come from the same root in Old Irish. The word wood could also be read as distinguished knowledge.” The names of two Irish heros Morainn and Cuchulain mean respectively, “distinguished man or wood and kinsman to the birch” An elf is a wood spirit. Another tie between ‘self’ and elf comes from the Northern tradition. Urd is the Fate of the present. Her maids are known as Dies. The Hamingjes are the Dies who are guardians of men through their lives. They are also known as ‘holy elves’ and appear in dreams to give warnings and to give counsel. They have care of babies before they are born and they also conduct souls of the dead to the afterlife. This would explain the ‘s’ rune of SIEGEL before ‘elf’, magical will acting beneficially throughout the world. These persuade me that ‘elf ‘ is both root word and meaning element. While it is used in few words those words have great significance and refer to a multitude since everything and everyone has an -elf.
I almost overlooked the obvious, Ælfred (the Great). His name is composed of two meaning elements, Ælf refers to that inner elf or guiding spirit. Red, like rod, comes from the same element as ‘read’ and means ‘counsel’. His name is fitting and it seems, based on all that he and his counseled progeny accomplished, that there is great benefit to be derived from taking counsel of our inner elf. Remembering that the years of peace ended with “Aethelred the Unready”, the one who was uncounseled and therefore made very unwise decisions, we can infer that there are sorry consequences for ignoring wise counsel. Do we shape our words or do they shape us, or both?
Addendum: Since writing the above, I have realized that the /e/ in elf, elves, etc., like the /a/ in Alfred, is actually Æ. It seems that the alphabetic letter, ash, has since been transliterated as either /a/ or /e/ which is a significant symbolic change. This changes the initial letter in these words to the rune of AS or (ASH) which means the ash tree, and actually makes more sense both symbolically and archetypally as this is Yggdrasil, the ash tree which represents the cosmic axis, a sort of axle-tree that maintains cosmic order and stability. The rune AS signifies the divine force at work. This adds a dimension to the sense of the word, elf and, by extension, ‘self’ ‘. Ælf, as a form of ‘elf ‘, would have this added dimension to its’ sense. This is a monumental change to make in the sense of a word. This alters our understanding of a significant part of our SELF. Self would then be a manifestation of ‘the holy elves’, a sort of axle-tree, representing our cosmic axis, which helps to maintain our inner order and stability. It would be a lot more difficult for us to recognize this order, and maintain it, when we do not grasp what the word means, particularly what it means to us.
Shake hands with your SELF, folks, and say, “Howdy”. It is not a nightmare or a boogey-man out to get us. This is ‘life’, a significant part of life which exists to help us live. This is a gift from the ‘Bountiful Giver’ whose symbolic tree is also – the Ash. While it may shake us up a little at times, even scare us until we cry and wet on ourselves, our subconscious or unconscious self is not here to harm us.
There are additional charts which contain words referent to other gifts of Gyfu. Notice that many of them contain, or end, with /f/ FEOH, the rune of well-being. /V/ is a vocalized form of /F/.
“Runic Astrology” Pennick, Nigel p. 56
Overwhelm literally means waves breaking over something.
“Anglo-Saxon Primer” p. 104
The Pleasures of Philosophy 1953 Will Durant p. 11 -also published as “The Mansions of Philosophy”
Oxford Unabridged p. 2715/411 also “The Yale Shakespeare, vol. 32, Henry the Fifth” 2,iv,l.75 (p.40)
Oxford Unabridged p. 2715/409
“Celtic Tree Mysteries” pp. 202,203 Steve Blamires
“German Myths and Legends” Donald A. MacKenzie p. 115 The Hamingjes are those Dies who are guardians of men through their lives, and appear to them in dreams to give warnings and noble counsel, and he whom the holy elf deserts for wrongdoing is indeed lost”
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