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Monday, 14 October 2013

Thunor/Thunaer/Donar/Thor-the Importance of Using the Saxon Name


For a while now I have reflected from time to time on the importance of using our own ancient Saxon and Anglo-Saxon names for our Gods. Too often I see non-Scandinavian Germanic people use Norse terms for their deities instead of their own more valid native names. A typical example is the use of the Norse Thor/Thorr/Tor when Thunor/Thunaer/Donar would be more valid. Sometimes this is out of laziness, sometimes due to lack of knowledge.

On occasions I have used the Norse terms but only so that the person I am talking to would more readily understand who these Gods are. I believe the time has now come when we as Saxons should refer to our deities by the correct terms. This article is a starting point for this.

Rudolf Simek in his Dictionary of Northern Mythology has this to say in the opening entry for Thor:

"Thor (ON Thorr, in southern areas >Donar.)"
"Donar. The southern Germanic equivalent of the Germanic god of thunder who is called> Thor in the north, and Thunor in Old English."
"Thunor (OE). The OE of the Germanic name of the god of thunder > Thor/Donar."
 "Thunaer. Old Saxon form of the name of the god Thor/Donar."

Phonetically the Old English and the Saxon names for this God are very close and either would be appropriate for us to use. Even Donar would be closer to the name of the God than Thor.
All these terms are related to the Germanic *thunar-`thunder`. The original name for the Proto-Germanic Thunder God would therefore have been *Thunaraz.

Simek states that in 9th and 10th century England the ON Thor/Thur was used predominately which he suggests is indicative "that the native name of Thunor had already been forgotten and that as a result of the very early Christianization of England the ON form had to be borrowed." He goes on to point out that place names in honour of Thunor such as Thunderley, Thursley and Thurstable are in Saxon areas. He is clearly a God much loved and honoured by the Saxon folc.

However the 9th to the 10th century Old English Dialogue of Solomon and Saturn does refer to Thunor:

 "Se thunor hit thryscedh mid thaere fyrenan aecxe."

Translated into Modern English: "Thunor threshes with his fiery axe."

I believe that it is important that we adhere to our native God names, not only because they are native but in most cases they are more ancient than the Old Norse terms. We do honour to our Gods by taking this approach.

2 comments:

Rayne said...

This is important and I agree that proper names should be used, and too much emphasis goes towards the Norse/ Scandinavian myths instead of the whole Germanic tribe stories and myths. I'm guilty of calling Him "Thor" but this is because most ppl would know who I'm on about. He knows who we're calling though.

angelz921 said...

I question when in terms of Norse mythology is it only appropriate to use "Thor" and for Germanic "Donar" and never crossing the two? I am doing research and have come up with the their names linked together, I am trying to differentiate which name is appropriate for my situation. Thanks