Supporting Meanings: Harvest, bounty, season, appropriate time, balance, reward of balance.
Ancient Meanings: According to Diana Paxson, jera is the year, but more specifically its culmination, or the season of Harvest. In the Anglo-Saxon rune poem, ger (a different symbol, but with the same meaning as the Elder Futhark jera), is associated with joy at the earth’s bearing of fruit for both rich and poor. The Icelandic poem says that “harvest is a blessing to men and good summer and fully ripe crops”, though the Hávamál tempers this by admonishing all not to take a harvest for granted, since “weather wrecks the acres.” The Norse poem, too, says that “Harvest is a blessing to men”, but ends with “I say that Frodhi (possibly Freyr) was liberal”, so the overall association with harvest and jera is largely positive.
Modern Meanings: Edred Thorsson identifies jera as a model of the universe’s cyclical pattern, and especially links it with the sun’s yearly cycle–especially the summer half where crops are sown, grown, and harvested. It represents the natural law of cause and effect (if you sow your crops at the right time and tend them well, you will most likely yield a good harvest, barring ‘acts of god’). For Freya Aswynn, it is a rune of time and, like the cycle of the season, jera manifests the principle of eternal return. Osborn and Longland focus on jera’s associations with farming and interpret it to mean “season” and feel that it sows the complementary nature of ice and warmth in making grain grow. Kveldulf Gundarsson reminds us that in the north, the year was only divided between winter and summer, and that a good ‘year’ was on in which all had been done according to the natural timetable to fulfill the cycle. Spiritually, jera governs the natural and harmonious unfolding of awareness, a productive progress that requires patience, planning, and continued care. Generally, it is agreed that jera is a rune of transformation and balance, the expression of the cycle of seasons in general and the balance between the primary forces of warmth and cold. When balanced, these provide the motion necessary for things to change and grow.
My Take-Away of the Meanings: To everything there is a season. There’s a time to reap and a time to sow, and paying attention to these times and doing all as should be done in its time will lead to a bounty.
Paxson’s Interpretation and Use: Jera can be used to move energy through the body and to tune into cosmic forces. It should be used in healing to encourage natural bodily processes to move back into alignment. It’s complementary energy can be used to vivify a relationship. It’s also one of the primary runes to use in gardening. In readings, it may indicate the harvest season or that the querent will reap a reward for previous efforts. In general, this is positive. However, if the work done was negative, the ‘reward’ will be negative, too. Peterson says it can mean prosperity for a whole community. It is used in charms to invoke abundance. Physically, jera is most likely to indicate prosperity, reward for labor, etc. Spiritually, it should relate in some way to the need for movement or balance. Magically, it can be used generally to rebalance things that have fallen out of alignment. Freya Aswynn says jera is almost always encouraging in readings with its potential to create gentle changes. It rules the creative process.
Paxson’s Practice for Living Jera: One way to experience the energy of jera is to work with growing things–even a potted houseplant. Better still is planting a plot of ground. If you’ve had little luck with other plants, try a pot of herbs, which are generally quite hardy and have myriad uses, both in the kitchen and in magic.