Saturday, 17 May 2014

The Saxon Origins of the Cult of Woden

The Cult of Odin/Woden/Wotan is of continental Germanic origin, indeed of Saxon origin to be precise. The irony is that He is often considered to be primarily a Scandinavian deity whilst in fact the opposite is true. The Cult of Odin was transported into Scandinavia from Germania. 
"The apex of Odin's victorious career is reached in the Migration Age. The story in Snorri's Heimskringla and the preface to the Edda tell us about this; they make Odin emigrate from Saxony to Scandinavia and, after various vicissitudes of warfare, force the Vanes to acknowledge him as supreme god. We can see that he became the chief god of the Saxons from the oath of abjuration, but he did not yet supplant the favourite native gods. The conversion of the Angles was more complete: all their royal families derive themselves from Woden."  (Our Forefathers the Gothonic Nations Volume 1, Gudmund Schuette, page 229)
Snorri Sturluson and Saxo Grammaticus both euhemerised the Gods, explaining their cults as the result of the deification of historical heroes. This is a tactic used by the church to denegrate our Gods and I for one do not accept their premise. However I do believe that this story tells us that the Cult of Odin, not Odin Himself travelled from the Saxon lands to Scandinavia.

Snorri tells us that Tror or Thor originated from Turkey, a land of twelve kings and one High King. He says that:
"in the city there were twelve chief languages. The twelve rulers of the kingdoms were superior to other people who have lived in the world in all human qualities."
Tror was the son of Munon or Mennon, one of the kings and Troan, the daughter of the High King, Priam. Tror was fostered to a duke in Thrace called Loricus. He inherited his foster father's realm of Thrace, otherwise named Thrudheim. He travelled throughout the world, defeating dragons, giants and Berserkers. He married a prophetess from the "northern part of the world" called Sibyl or Sif. He begat Loridi, who begat Einridi, who begat Vingethor, who begat Vingenir, who begat Moda, who begat Magi, who begat Sescef, who begat Bedvig, who begat Athra, who begat Annar, who begat Itrmann, who begat Heremod, who begat Scialdun or Skiold, who begat Biaf or Biar, who begat Iat, who begat Gudolf, who begat Finn, who begat Friallaf or Fridleif, who begat Woden:

"He had a son whose name was Woden, it is him that we call Odin."
Snorri thus tells us that Woden is the great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great grandson of Thor! In other words there is a distance of 19 generations between the two of them. Of course we know that Thor is much older deity than Woden. The Proto-Germanic *Thunaraz can be traced back to the Proto-Indo-European *Perkunos. *Wodanaz is a much more altogether mysterious deity. Snorri states of Woden:

"He was an outstanding person for wisdom and all kinds of accomplishments. His wife Frigida, whom we call Frigg. Odin had the gift of prophecy and so did his wife, and from this science he discovered that his name would be remembered in the northern part of the world and honoured above all kings."

Snorri tells us that Odin migrated from Troy with a great following and the countries which they passed through glorified them as Gods.

"And they did not halt their journey until they came north to the country that is now called Saxony. Odin stayed there a long while and gained possession of large parts of that land."

Odin placed three of his sons in charge of Saxony. Veggdegg was put in charge of East Saxony. He was the great grandfather of Hengest. Hengest's nephew was Svebdegg or Svipdag. Odin placed another son Beldegg or Baldr in charge of Westphalia. Odin's son Siggi was the father of Rerir:

"This dynasty ruled over what is now called France, and from it is descended the family called the Volsungs."

Afterwards Odin moved north to Reidgotaland and set over the area His son Skiold, the ancestor of the dynasty of the Skioldungs. He then went north into Sweden and set up His base in Sigtunir. There He appointed twelve chiefs following the pattern of government in Troy.

Odin set up His son, Saeming as ruler in Norway. He appointed His son Yngvi as the ruler of Sweden and from Yngvi are traced the Yngling dynasty. Odin was thus the father of Germanic kings and heroes and most dynasties trace their ancestry back to Him.

There is a theory that Indo-European languages may have spread from Asia Minor into Europe and this myth may be an echo of an historical event that has been mythologised. Clearly Snorri is using the myth of Virgil's Aenid as a template for his story. Snorri also refers to the language of the Aesir spreading throughout the northern lands:

"These Aesir found themselves marriages within the country there, and some of them for their sons too, and these families became extensive, so that throughout Saxony and from there all over the northern regions it spread so that their language, that of the men of Asia, became the mother tongue over all these lands. And people think they can deduce from the records of the names of their ancestors that those names belonged to this language, and that the Aesir brought the language north to this part of the world, to Norway and to Sweden, to Denmark and to Saxony; and in England there are ancient names for regions and places which one can tell come from a different language from this one."

This is a remarkable preface to the Younger Edda and deserves to receive far more attention than hitherto has been the case. It tells us clearly that Odin's cult spread north from Saxony and with the cult came the Proto-Indo-European tongue which eventually became the Proto-Germanic language, the basis of the Scandinavian, German, Dutch and English languages. It also reveals that *Thunaraz is a much older deity than *Wodanaz. Eventually Woden eclipsed Thunar to become the primary Teutonic deity. It is interesting to know that Snorri was aware of the name Woden and he rightly equated this deity with Odin. The preface also indicates to us that Snorri was aware of the ethnic and cultural bonds that unite the German and scandinavian peoples.

"This leaves only the Corded Ware culture of Upper Saxony and Thuringia to be associated with the original Indo-Europeans." (The Germanic People. Their Origin Expansion & Culture, Francis Owen, 1960)
 "On the basis of the archaeological and anthropological evidence the conclusion must be that the people of the Single Grave-Corded Ware-Battle Ax culture were the original Indo-Europeans." (Owen)
 "That the people of the Single Grave-Corded Ware culture in their original home in Upper Saxony and Thuringia were physically of the Nordic type can scarcely be disputed, and this is equally true of all the areas into which these colonizers carried this culture, either by peaceful expansion or military conquest." (Owen)
"The amalgamation of the peoples and cultures of the Northern Megalithic and the Single Grave-Corded Ware-Battle Ax cultures which resulted in the formation of the Germanic people, was followed by a relatively long period of internal development before the first phase of Germanic expansion began." (Owen)
"The religion of the Sky God was introduced into Northern Europe by the Indo-European bearers of the Corded Ware culture." (Owen)


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