The Gifting Cycle is a Heathen philosophy of reciprocity. Unlike our commercialized idea of gift-giving, with its obligations and monetary focus, the Gifting Cycle is about right relations through the action of exchange. A ‘gift’ is anything that speaks to the wellbeing of an individual. This could take the form of a favor, protection, love, time, space, or even sharing something. Physical or monetary gifts may also be given, but aren’t the focus of the Gifting Cycle.

The Gifting Cycle relates to Orlog, or the relationship of actions and outcomes. Our actions create outcomes that can affect other individuals, which in turn affects their actions. A ‘gift’ in this instance is defined by the outcome it brings in the form of the wellbeing it fosters, not by what the gift is or by the mere fact it was given. The purpose of the Gifting Cycle is to promote a sense of peace and happiness in not just each other, but in the greater social environment around us, which will in turn reflect back onto ourselves (Frith). This is also the principle behind the holiday Jül (Yule) and the action of Blót.

If gifting is performative or used as a tool of manipulation, debt, or exclusion, that will show up in the Wyrd. Alternatively, repeatedly receiving gifts while not giving any will also show up in the Wyrd. A functional, accessible balance is easy to maintain if all parties are honest. We may not always be able to give gift, but when we do, it can’t be faked. This is part of Heathenry’s orthopraxic nature as a life-affirming religion.

Video Explainer

A Gift Calls for a Gift – The Circle of Gift Giving

By Arith Härger