Jera. This rune means year and the German word for year is Jahr. Jera relates to the annual rotation of the earth and the harvest that comes with fall. This rune says that in order to reap the reward of a successful harvest, one must first sow ample seeds and then put in the work throughout the year tending them. If you have done your dues you will be more likely to find good fortune, but not then you may well find yourself lacking.
Jera is a rune of change, an inevitable force of nature. Its primary symbol is that of harvest, but the harvest is a year long process. This rune falls after the midwinter of Isa when we are planning our planting for the spring. The harvest and wheat aspect of this rune, however, relate it also to late summer and autumn. Winter is also an aspect of Jera, as harvests are what keep us alive throughout cold winters. So Jera simultaneously represents the entire year and all of the seasons and all of the transitions between them.
You shall reap what you sow
So how does one reap a successful harvest? It is about hard work and brings forth the adage “You shall reap what you sow.” There is so much more than just dropping some seeds in the ground and seeing what happens! There is plowing the fields, planting the seeds, tending the crops, watering the fields, managing the pests, the actual harvest involves work with a scythe, storing the grains and keeping that from spoiling, then you must finally grind your grains and bake your bread before you can actually enjoy the fruits of your labour. Each step is done with knowledge of what comes next, in a timely and practiced manner and with some level of luck involved. Even if you luck out with no pests and perfect weather, without the efforts done properly in preparation you will still end up with little or nothing!
If you find you have failed at any one step along the way and are disheartened, remember there is always next year. The harvest will come around again, your chance to sow will come around again, and this time you will be armed with better knowledge on how to succeed. Each year is different and with each year we grow and learn, as this is the nature of time which only flows forward. Jera says to not give up, try again next time. This applies not just when it comes to farming, but in any endeavour that we are undertaking. Jera has a nature based lesson but is relevant to employment and earning also, where hard work and luck in synchronization will bring about wealth.
In the cycle of the runes, Jera comes directly after the difficult three Norns, the space between it and the next rune, Eihwaz, is the midpoint of the cycle. It is asking us, the hero, how well we did in that traumatic endeavour. How hard we worked to meet our needs, if we did so mindfully, and if we took the space that we needed to isolate when we were asked to do so. Did we put in the hard work necessary in that difficult time to reap rewards? Jera is a respite, where even if we did not deal with the ordeal very well, we can be assured the worst is over, it has passed, and we can enjoy our place of solace even if we aren’t surrounded by the abundance we wanted.
Jera is related to the goddess Jord, the jotun (giantess) mother of Thor. Jord is pronounced like yard, and this goddess of golden hair is linked to grass and wheat. It is because of her that we call our patch of greenery outside of our homes our yards. Jord is a fertility goddess of the earth who connects with Odin, the father of the sky, to birth the heroic figure of Thor who defends Asgard. This is the timeless tale of mother earth and father sky pairing together in harmony to create a new and wonderful heroic god.
Drawn around the rune I have included a representation of a medicine wheel, a Native American spiritual symbol that represents the seasons as they rotate around the circle. The four pointed wheel is also found in Europe as the sun cross. This symbol is also the astrological symbol for the earth. All of these meanings are related, and is a great example of the universality of symbols; multiple cultures that drew the same symbol linked it to the same cosmic vibration.
The image of Jera is unique in the runes in that it is composed of two sections that are unattached. The two halves are an image of rotation, as each is in balance and harmony as they perpetually twist and orbit one another. There is no merkstave position for this rune; no negative or repressed version, it simply is what it is and there is no right or wrong about it.