Saturday, 12 May 2012
Gungnir, Symbol of All-Father Woden and its Significance
Gungnir is the chosen weapon and primary symbol of All-Father Woden and its origins stretch right back into prehistory. Both a spear God and a hammer God are represented in Scandinavian Bronze Age rock art and the spear is an intregal aspect of the Woden myth.
Originally spear heads as with axe-heads[the forerunner of the hammer] were made from stone and so these weapons as symbols are extremely ancient as our Gods themselves are and predate the Eddas by thousands of years.
Viktor Ryberg in Teutonic Mythology volume one states: "The oldest and most sacred weapons were the spear, the hammer, the club, and the axe
Its meaning in Old Norse is "swaying one" and this immediately brings to my mind the symbolism of the Irminsul or Yggdrasil, the world ash tree which is the gateway to the nine worlds which Woden mastered in His shamanic aspect.The shaft of Gungnir is also made from the ash and its head forged by the sons of Ivaldi. During the Ragnarok the world ash will sway, indeed it will be violently shaken in the destruction that is yet to come. Interestingly the first three letters of Ragnarok reversed spell Gar!
The image of the spear is represented in two Rune staves: Tiwaz and Gar. Tiwaz is most definitely spear shaped but also reprsents the celestial pole and the cosmic axis in the form of the Irminsul. Whilst this Rune is dedicated to the most ancient of our Gods-Tiw or Tyr, the original Sky God or All-Father it was in a sense eclipsed by the later Gar Rune which only appears in the Northumbrian Futhorc, a later version of the Anglo-Saxon or Anglo-Frisian Futhorc. By the emergence of the Germanic peoples into the history books Woden/Wotan/Wuotan/Wodan/Odin had become the most powerful of our Asa Gods and took over the title of All-Father. The Gar Rune is specifically dedicated to Him and even the very name of the Rune is Germanic for spear so there can be no doubt about its meaning.
Gar is the 33rd Rune of the Northumbrian Futhorc but it stands apart from the four Aetts. It reprsents a central position as the pole. It is the beginning and the fulfillment of all things.
Ideographically as a bind Rune it also represents the Gift of Ing, a subject which I may touch upon in a future article. Gar consists of a Gebo or Gyfu Rune superimposed upon an Ingwaz Rune. The Ingwaz Rune is disected into four smaller Ingwaz runes and four diamond shaped spear points are also found, representing the four cardinal directions and Woden`s lordship over them all. Contained within each of the four cardinal directions of Gar are 3 separate spear like shapes,a diamond and three open triangles. These 12 shapes symbolise the rule of the twelve primary Aesir, the twelve signs of the zodiac, the twelve months of the year, each governed by two Runes of the Elder Futhark.
Also contained within the Gar stave are four Sowilo staves although not of the usual form. This speaks to me of His victory and dominance over the four cardinal directions.
Gungnir is thus representative of the lordship of Woden over the universe and in times of battle He cast his spear over the enemy host to claim the victory. In ancient Germanic times our ancestors would employ the same technique in battle to dedicate the enemy as a sacrifice to the All-Father as Lord of the Slain and to gain favour from Woden.
Whilst hanging as a sacrifice upon the world ash as a gift or Gyfu unto Himself he pierced His side with Gungnir to further hallow and enhance the holy sacrifice. As an aside I would recommend that in the eventuality of a follower of Woden facing imminent death that He or She should make a symbolic cut upon their flesh to signify their self Sacrifice to Him to ease their acceptance into Walhalla.
The wearing of a Gungnir pendant will also mark you out as a follower of Him.
The spear of Woden plays a significant part in the first three music dramas of Wagner`s Der Ring des Nibelungen, Das Rheingold, Die Walkuere and Siegfried. The theme of the spear then continues in the Master`s final work, Parsifal where it appears as the male principle in conjunction with the female principle of the Grail.