Sunday, 27 March 2011

Saxnot, Tribal God and Divine Ancestor of the Saxons

Who is the God Saxnot? Rudolf Simek in his Dictionary of Northern Mythology states: "In the baptismal vow, Saxnot is named in a divine triad together with Thor and Wodan and as such we may assume that he must have been an important god." Some have sought to identify Him with Tyr or Freyr. In particular Freyr is often mentioned in the same context as Thunor/Donar/Thor and Woden/Wotan/Woden. The name also occurs in the genealogies of Anglo-Saxon royal houses[Essex]. It takes the form of Seaxnet, Saxneat and Saxnat.He is thus considered to be the divine ancestor of the Saxon folk just as Ing was the divine ancestor of the Angles.

Hilda Ellis Davidson in her Gods and Myths of Northern Europe states: "Saxnot could originally have been Sahsginot, 'sword companion', and this is a fitting name for a war god in whose honour swords were wielded and to whom swords were sacrificed. The worship of Tiwaz under this name may have been brought into Essex when the Saxons came over to Britain." Jacob Grimm in his Teutonic Mythology Volume 1 speculates that the Saxons named themselves either after this God or after their "sword of stone[saxum]".

There is clearly a connection between the Saxons and their tribal name, the name of their short sword the seax and the name of this tribal God. It may very well be that the importance of this God declined after the Saxons started to settle down to a more peaceful form of existence after their colonisation of southern Britain and their adoption of christianity.

Little more is known about Him but bearing in mind that He was considered important enough to be named in the christians` vows of renunciation which accompanied baptism then we need to consider giving honour to this God especially those of us who are of Saxon blood.

Old Saxon

End ec forsacho allum dioboles uuercum and uuordum, Thunaer ende Uuôden ende Saxnôte ende allum thêm unholdum thê hira genôtas sint.

Modern English

'I renounce all the deeds and words of the devil, Thunear, Wōden and Saxnōt, and all those fiends that are their companions'.