In its most sacred symbolic function and in the context of an archaic inititory ritual of reincarnation, the spear represented the symbolic umbilical cord that inextricably binds us to the totality of our previous incarnations during the eternal circularity of existence: I will try to unveil this fundamental symbolism through a brief examination of three episodes selected from the Arthurian cycle, the Celtic mythology and the Norse mythology.
In the Arthurian cycle the Bleeding Lance is a sacred object that bleeds from its tip and that can give rise to a flow of blood, just like the Lúin of Celtchar, an enchanted spear described in the Mabinogion: it is the nourishment in form of blood that from the placenta (i.e. the Grail, with its life-giving liquid nourishment, and the Cauldron of the Dagda, full of blood in which the Lúin of Celtchar must be immersed in order for it to cool down and become safe to handle) arrives to the fetus, passing through the umbilical cord. The Fisher King feeds on the blood of the Bleeding Lance in order to heal from his mysterious infirmity, i.e. in order to be reborn, the Fisher King being no other than the divine ancestor that will reincarnate in the child who performs the initiation ritual.
The Bleeding Lance:
The Gáe Bulg or Gáe Bulga is the spear of Cúchulainn, a hero of the Celtic mythology: the name of this particular weapon means “belly spear” and “notched spear”, the umbilical cord being a “spear” inside the belly and the intermediary thanks to which the nourishment of the placenta reaches the fetus, allowing him to grow, so in a sense it is the “mouth” and the “teeth” of the fetus. The word “bulga” seems to derive from the Proto-Celtic compound *balu-gaisos, that means “spear of mortal pain” or “spear of death”, maybe in reference to the potential death of the mother after childbirth. Note that the use of the Gáe Bulg requires a preparation that can be realized exclusively along a water current, while it is held between the toes: the water current is the amniotic fluid while the strange position is a reference to the position of the child in the womb before birth, upside down with the feet near the umbilical cord.
In the Hávamál there is a section where Odin describes his initiatory sacrifice:
“I trow I hung
on that windy tree
nine whole days and nights,
stabbed with a spear, offered to Odin,
myself given to myself,
high on that tree of which none hath heard
from what roots it rises to heaven”.
In this case I will try to unveil also the other symbols: Odin is symbolically a fetus, hanged on Yggdrasill (the Tree of Life [i.e. the placenta], whose branches are said to be wet by the Norns with sacred water [i.e. the amniotic fluid]) and pierced by Gungnir, his own spear (i.e. the umbilical cord [one of his epithets is “lord of the spear”]). The nine days and nights (analogously, in the Mabinogion is said that the hero Cai can breath under water [i.e. the amniotic fluid] for nine nights and nine days) are the nine months of pregnancy (a residue, almost unrecognizable, of the archaic initiatic ritual of reincarnation and reintegration of the partial identity of children within the totality of a honourable ancestry persisted among the Romans, for which the ninth day of life of infants was the lustral day, during which the newborns were purified and received a name [name is equivalent to identity]), and the same is the case for the “nine worlds” sustained by Yggdrasill (the function of the placenta sustains the development and life of the child during the nine months inside the womb), every “month” being a “world”, in the sense of a definite and complete temporal cycle; moreover, as you may know, our ancestors used to let grow a tree above their burial mound (i.e. the womb of the earth). The time will come when Yggdrasill will fall, in other words the time of the rebirth, the event that decrees the end of the life-giving function of the placenta, its “fall” and “death”; Odin sacrifices himself to himself, because his symbolic death is a prelude to his own rebirth, after which will emerge in his consciousness the memories of his previous lives.
Odin and Yggdrasill: