The Spear of Life

In its most archaic and sacred symbolism, in the context of an inititory ritual of reincarnation, the spear was a representation of the umbilical cord: I will try to unveil this image through a brief examination of three episodes selected from the Arthurian cycle, the Celtic mythology and the Norse mythology.

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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:
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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.

optimal-foetal-position

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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”.

-Hávamál

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:
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The Universe in Flames

Giordano Bruno was an Italian philosopher burned at the stake in 1600, declared guilty of heresy by the Roman Inquisition in consequence to his criticism of Christianity and the conclusions that, during his search for truth through philosophy, he reached and promulgated: now I will briefly describe his vision of the Universe.

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According to Giordano Bruno the Universe is eternal (indeed in order for something to have a beginning there must already be a space in which such a beginning can manifest itself) and infinitely extended (if instead it was spatially finite in what would it be contained? Keep in mind that all that is spatially finite must inevitably be contained in a larger space), whereby motionless and without a center, a vast living organism animated and endowed with intellect, a homogeneous and indivisible whole governed by the interdependence of all its parts, which are in relation to the organism understood in its unity (therefore an organism made up of organisms), unity that coincides with the concept of divinity: consequently the divine resides in the multiplicity that exists in the Universe, in all its parts. Everything is matter, i.e. energy and life, and the Universe consists in infinite matter that changes perennially, able to transform and renew itself constantly in an incessant becoming marked by cyclic rhythms, passing from an opposite to its contrary: the universal matter consists thus in infinite energy provided with intellect, a metaphysical reality in which unity and multiplicity coexist harmoniously and reflect each other.

“Perhaps you pronounce this sentence against me with greater fear than I receive it”.

-Giordano Bruno

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Related posts: Eternal Regret (Part 1 of 2), The Harmony of OppositesEternal Regret (Part 2 of 2)Words of Wisdom #51

The Book of Coming Forth by Day

The Book of the Dead of the Egyptians consists in a numerous series of chapters intended to reveal the initiatory process through which a divine ancestor could reincarnate in a chosen descendant.

The Weighing of the Heart:
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I will try to interpret some brief quotes that have caught my attention:

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“I am the Today.
I am the Yesterday.
I am the Tomorrow.
Through my numerous Births
I subsist young and vigorous”.

-Chapter LXIV

Through his numerous rebirths (in this context rebirth and reincarnation are always interchangeable terms) the honourable ancestor has lived in the past, is living in the present and will live in the future, returning periodically to be young, healthy and strong.

“He aspires to eternal life
As is the Sky, without end and without limits.
Because, in truth, to the Sky belongs your Soul,
But the Earth owns its corporal form”.

-Chapter CLXIII

The honourable ancestor aspires to live eternally through endless rebirths: the soul, i.e. the spirit, is associated with the Sky, since they are both eternal and immutable entities, whereas the body is associated with the Earth, since they are both temporary and mutable entities.

“May my Soul dwell in my Body,
My Body unite with my Soul!”.

-Chapter CLXIII

The deceased aspires to a rebirth that will necessarily takes place through the reconciliation of the soul with the body.

“Know this, your head will be saved!
It will not be stolen from you, for all eternity!”.

-Chapter CLXVI

For our ancestors the head was the symbol of the wisdom, memory and identity of a person: the skull had thus an essential role during the initiatory ritual of rebirth, and the text assures to the deceased that his head will be preserved and that his identity will belong again to him by means of future reincarnations.

“In truth, you are the same Horus
shining in the middle of your Cosmic Egg”.

-Chapter CLXX

Horus – the child that attempts to accomplish the initiatic ritual of rebirth – and the divine ancestor inside the pyramid – which is like a fetus inside the womb – are the same entity: both are waiting to be born from the cosmic egg.

The cosmic egg wrapped by a snake symbolizes the womb during pregnancy and the umbilical cord:
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The ankh was the symbol of life and represented the female reproductive system, intended as universal matrix:
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“Horus himself puts you erect
Like many times he has already done, with the sanctified”.

-Chapter CLXX

The child puts in erect position – a prerogative of those who are alive and a synonymous of life and return to life – the mummy of the divine ancestor, like many times has already happened in the past.

“Behold, I rise up from the Bowels of the Universe,
And for the second time I come to the world…
I return little child, without father, a new-born…
Nobody will be able to prevent me, when the time will come,
From answering to the questions that I will be asked…”.

-Chapter CLXX

The divine ancestor inside the pyramid has finally reincarnated in the body of the chosen descendant which has accomplished the initiation ritual: back in the world of the living and he will be able to answer to all questions concerning the metaphysical truths.

“Your navel is the Realm of the Dead.
Where Light and Darkness are in equilibrium”.

-Chapter CLXXII

The concept of “navel” (as well as those of “navel of the earth”, “navel of the world”, “center of the earth” and “center of the world”) symbolized the realm of the dead, in this context the pyramid, the place where life and death are in equilibrium, the divine ancestor being not alive but not even definitively dead: he is in an intermediate state between these two, awaiting to be reborn.

“In truth, in the moment when I was born in the world of the Beyond,
A new deity was born: and it was me!
Now, with my own eyes, I can see…
I look around me; I exist.
My vision is clear and piercing.
Erect, I resume the interrupted thread of my existence…”.

-Chapter CLXXIV

The divine ancestor is reborn inside the pyramid, he returns to see with his own eyes and becomes aware of his renewed existence: alive again, he resumes the thread of his existence, interrupted only by a temporary death.

“The Yesterday has generated me.
Behold, Today
I create the Tomorrow”.

-Chapter CLXXIX

He who becomes aware of his own cycles of rebirths owns the past, the present and the future.

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