God Jól … and, the God – Jölnir / Jölföðr
Now, this is something of a tautology – as in fact, we find Jóln utilized as a term to mean “Gods”, itself.
Indeed, presuming that one speculative Proto-Indo-European etymology for Jóln and Jól is correct – that it derives from a term for ‘uttering’, putting on a pageantry (PIE: *Yek) … then this should form an intriguing resonancy with at least one of the etymologies for ‘God’ – PIE *ǵʰewH , for ‘That Which Is Invoked’.
How does Jóln pertain to Jól ? Because The Gods are invited at the Jól to come and Feast.
We find this attested in the verses of Eyvindr Finnsson skáldaspillir in the Háleygjatal –
enn vér gôtum
Now this is a fascinating verse. The first two words are, of course, key – the ‘sumbl’, the ritualized coming together for consumption and engagement (a ‘feast’ or a ‘banquet’); and ‘Jólna’ – ‘Of the Jóln [Gods]’.
The actual context of the verse is a thirteen-section poem bedecked in bloodshed, Odinic references, and frequent invocation of previous Holy Feast rites. The Whaley translation surmises that the ‘Feast of the Gods’ intended here is, therefore, poetic eulogy – and that is not untenable. However the Faulkes presentation instead presumes that it is the much-fabled Mead of Poetry that is intended here.
Certainly, both can be feasibly true – and likely, at once. Indeed, given the opening verse of the Háleygjatal : it should seem quite likely that the one is intimately entwined with the other to the point of outright co-occurrence.
The reason why I have emphasized that is because it should seem rather plausible that this custom – the Jólna Sumbl [‘Feast of the Gods’] – is much similar to what we know from the Vedic sphere, wherein Gods are invoked, eulogized, as guests – and offered Their Shares of the Soma, the Empowering Elixir; or other such consumable offerings in a conspicuously feast-like fashion.
Quite a logical thing to do around this time of the year.
It would be tempting to then ponder whether the Ruler(s) mentioned in the third line of the verse are simply the mortal-human patrons at whose court this was being sung, or The Gods Themselves – or, as is so often the case, a seeming-deliberate intermingling via allusion of both at once.
And, further, whether the ‘Bridge of Stones’ referenced in the last line is, as others have contended, a figurative metaphor for .. well .. one metaphor placed upon another in verses to construct an enduring ‘bridge’ to the past – or whether, additionally, the utilization of the Press-Stones to produce the Mead (c.f my work demonstrating the Hnitbjorg in myth to be correlate to the Vedic Press-Stones utilized in Soma production rites) and therefore the Verses and Divine Connexion via Sacrifice, may be a feasible interpretation.
God Jól is ‘Good Yule’, with the ‘Yule’ in question being an invoking, a ceremonial observance for The Gods. That is to say, ‘The Invoked – The Called Upon, The Offered (Un)To’.
As it happens, this is fairly exactly what ‘God’ means – in both of its PIE potential etymologies: *ǵʰewH, as we have already met, for ‘That Which Is Invoked’ or Called upon ; and *ǵʰew – for ‘That Which Libations Are Poured Unto’.
This has further interesting implications.
For it should therefore lead us to consider Jölföðr in a manner perhaps similar to Vedic Sanskrit ‘Brihaspati’ – the ‘Lord / Pater’ of the Sacred Speech of Prayer (c.f Galdraföðr). A ‘Father of the Rite’, we may say.
And Jölnir in similar terms – ‘The Yule One’ – to how Agni is likewise regarded as the essential Essence of the Yagna in Vedic terms.
We have already considered at quite some length elsewhere various points demonstrating that Odin and Brihaspati / Agni are ‘running off the same Indo-European Deific’, if you will, with voluminous mythological, iconographic, and theological points of coterminity to evince such.
Oh, and one final point:
It may seem somewhat curious for a figure ostensibly resonant with Odin to be bearing a Sword.
Except it isn’t.
We find various mentions for the ‘Flame of Jolnir’ in the Þórsdrápa of Eilífr Goðrúnarson as a kenning for ‘Sword’. Something which tracks rather well for the occurrence elsewhere for Odinic kennings for Swords built around both His Name and the concept of Fire.
So – once again :
God Jól !
And Hail to the God Who Is God Jól(nir).
ॐ नमः शिवाय