Without a detailed account of how the Twelve Days of Yule were celebrated (let alone that any given day had specific emphasis), I have chosen to write on these days as a way to discover Old European Heathenry. Last year’s post was also on the Solar Ship; a subject Tacitus mentions among the Germanic Suebi .. from Germania 9:
Pars Sueborum et Isidi sacrificat:
unde causa et origo peregrino sacro,
nisi quod signum ipsum in modum liburnae figuratum docet advectam religionem. Some of the
Suebi sacrifice also to Isis.
I cannot determine the reason and origin of the foreign cult,
but her emblem,
fashioned in the form of a Liburnian* ship, proves that her worship comes from abroad
*Modern-day Croatia; a Slavic tribe
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 #SkyWatchers, 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.
Another interesting perspective is the idea of the ship as lineage. Hávamál 10 and 11, for example, are what I refer to as “companion verses”, in that they have identical verbage, acting as a continuation of an idea. Further, they are examples of Galdr.
In these verses the word ‘lineage’ is *byrði, which means both “birth, descent; lineage”, and “board side of a ship”. Overall, there are eight references to ships in Havamal (that I have been able to identify).
Now, from a cultural perspective, there are numerious historical references to the cradleboard, where a child was swaddled, and to burial-boards being used in death rites. Freely considering the ship imagery on runestones and carved on wooden objects at burial sites, the board as lineage could easily be representative of life’s journey from cradle to grave – born upon a ship’s board, perhaps as a solar symbol (akin to the Sun Chariot).
If so, not only is this a lovely idea to consider .. but quite fitting on this Eighth Night of Yule.
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Photos: Fossum Panel, and Trundholm Sun Chariot, Nordic Bronze Age, Denmark