On this day in ancient Egypt, the Nativity of Isis was celebrated. Her image holding baby Horus is perhaps the oldest depiction of ‘Mother and Child’ that we know. Using interpretatio graeca, she is re-born as Greek Demeter and Astarte, while in Rome she retained her name and reigned over the Priestess/Prophetess’/Pythia of Delphi. Further, Tacitus recorded that, among the Germanic Suebi, she was worshipped and her symbol was a ship.
Solar Ships and Heavenly Barges are ancient. The Khufu Ship, for example, had an entire chamber to itself at the Great Pyramid of Giza. In fact, this vessel has been a recurring theme throughout these Twelve Days.
Ship rock art is found at several locations in Old Europe, mostly dating to the Bronze Age (3d millennium BCE). Generally, these depictions detail the journey of the Sun as it ‘navigates’ the Milky Way, or ‘heavenly highway’ of lore. The sheer number of ancient stone sites that precisely mark the equinoxes and solstices is enough evidence to affirm the Old Europeans as Sky Watchers, and by extension – and documentation – superb navigators. The stars and constellations found along the Milky Way’s undulating contours were well known to the ancestors of yore. And if I were to freely interpret here, I would compare the Milky Ways’ center, with its radiating spokes, to the spinning wheel upon which the Goddess Frigg weaves the Wyrd of Life itself.
Yet again, we find an idea so powerful that it has survived into modern times (and as typical, assumed by the Church). The numerous ship grave sites (to include the actual ship burials), and votive hip churches across Europe attest to this. This great World Ship finds its way in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic myth as Noah’s Ark. And what of Naglfari, or Loki’s ‘Nail Ship” from the Prose Edda? Does that vessel too carry a significant message of traveling across the night sky during this Yule Tide?
It is easy to see on this day an opportunity to consider the idea of transitions in one’s life; especially when considering yesterday’s import. As such, on this Eighth Night, consider the fleeting flow of life, among your Faith, Folk, and Family. Consider the Knots of Power (that both sailors and cunningfolk make) that bind weal and wellbeing, that the sun’s life-giving rays will return/resurrect, and know that the Ship that takes us from this life, also returns us anew.