Lineage is best to reveal the road a man should go towards –
and understand the greatness of his mind.
Better good fortune and esteem in an unknown place –
than a man should be wretched.

Lineage is best to reveal the road a man should go towards –
and understand the greatness of his mind.
The worse traveling provision he can maintain
on the road is a steady indulgence in ale.
-Havamal 10 and 11

“These are the first companion verses (a term I coined to feature two verses that share an opening line; as opposed to an entire section, like the “unwise verses”). These verses are not quite Galdr, but their alliteration-heavy words certainly draw ones attention towards Galdr. As such, I’ve taken to deciphering them Runically, with successful results. In this case, the companion verses mention ‘lineage’ – literally *byrði, which has two meanings: “birth, descent; lineage”, and “board side of a ship” (verse 49 also mentions lineage). In all, throughout Hávamál, this is the first of eight references/metaphors to ships.

From a cultural perspective, there are numerous historical references to the cradleboard, where a child was swaddled, and to burial-boards being used in death rites (3). 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). Otherwise, the advice given in this verse ties in to the ‘well-off’ verses (above); namely, that good fortune and esteem are traveling companions.

If verses 10 and 11 were combined, they would read:

Lineage is best to reveal the road a man should go towards –
and understand the greatness of his mind.
Better good fortune and esteem in an unknown place –
than a man should be wretched.
The worse traveling provision he can maintain
on the road is a steady indulgence in ale.

Again, these tightly controlled alliterations compose an expression which linguists consider ‘formulaic’; and in this case, making it a Galdr. The performed parallelism here is focused on “B” and “V” (4):

Byrði betri / ber-at maður brautu að
en sé mannvit mikið.
Vegnest verra / vegur-a hann velli að
en sé ofdrykkja öls.
Runically then, this verse could be rendered:
B B / B M B A
E S M M
V V / V H V A
E S O O

Deciphered Seiðwise (using the runes to interpret this verse), the strophe would read:

The Truth of Man’s Creativity is to grow from Man to Ubermensch
This is Man’s Natural Flow of Evolution
Patience and Discipline, Focus and Valor are His Protection
The Conscious Current that will guide Him to his Ancestors –
his Primal Home.

This interpretation matches the Old Norse to English intent in both verses; namely, that man’s lineage is greatness of mind (Hoher Muot), not peasant-mindedness. Ultimately, the reader will decide the Runic interpretation (if any). In any event, the Tivar are not known to reward those who stay at home, but those who seek adventure and fame. Which, as frequently shown in the Lore, is not just the acquisition of wealth and reputation but of knowledge, and so by extension, wisdom.”

-Valarie Wright, Havamal: The Language of Being, excerpt (forthcoming)

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