The primary sense seems to have been ‘beloved, friend, to love’, which in some languages (notably Germanic and Celtic) developed also a sense of ‘free’, perhaps from the terms ‘beloved’ or ‘friend’ being applied to the free members of one’s clan (as opposed to slaves).
Interestingly, ‘friend’ (Old English ‘freond’) was paired alliteratively with ‘feond’ or ‘fiend’ (the enemy) although of course they weren’t directly related.
Astrologically, the state of your friendships can be understood through the symbolism of your 11th house.
I have no planets in my 11th house and Taurus is on my 11th house cusp.
I don’t have many friends. I’m not sure why this is the case, however, because it hasn’t always been this way. In my teens, I happily belonged to a very popular clique. My best friend in those days was a Virgo (Virgo is on the cusp of my 3rd house which symbolises among other things – neighbours – of which she was my closest one).
Today, I tend to attract Taurus types. And although you’d think that all my planets in Libra would get on well with Taurus (both Libra and Taurus are ruled by Venus), it hasn’t worked out that way. Initially it seems that Taurus and I have much in common. I’m attracted to their strength and practicality. I enjoy basking in the motherly warmth they radiate.
But then it all goes wrong. They become cold, critical, exacting, and possessive.
My Gemini moon (fast-footed and ‘free’) takes fright…. and not surprising, suddenly they drop me.