Saturday, 30 August 2014

Odin Stones as Symbolical of Woden's Eye

In English folklore it was believed that the Odin Stone, also called the Holey Stone, Witch Stone, Hag Stone, Wishing Stone and Seeing Stone had particular magical properties. It could be used to protect people from nightmares and as a defence against thunder and lightning but also it enabled the possessor of the stone to see into the future and other worlds. As pointed out in http://celto-germanic.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/odin-stones-and-odin-stone.html (12/8/13) it was associated both with Woden and Thunor.

What I would like to focus on in this article is its association with Woden and His All-seeing eye. In the Eddas it is said that Odin was the occupant of the throne Hlidskjalf. Rudolf Simek in his Dictionary of Northern Mythology suggests that the etymology of hlid is opening. We know of course that skjalf means tower, being linked to the Old English scylf and scef. The Middle Dutch schef means scaffolding. John Lindow in his Handbook of Norse Mythology suggests doorway-bench or watchtower as possible meanings. Apart from Odin only His consort Frigg is allowed to occupy this watchtower. On one occasion of course Frey did so but this resulted in his temprary madness when He became infatuated with the giantess Gerd.

This High Seat enables Odin to view the nine worlds. This transforms Him into the All-Father, who is All-knowing. His ravens Huginn and Muninn perform a similar function as His eyes and ears. This ability is only intended for Odin who alone of the Gods is All-seeing and All-knowing. However Heimdall does appear to have certain similar abilities but it should be noted that there is already a certain overlap between these two Gods. Rig, the father of the three Germanic castes is represented in the prose introduction to the Rigsthula in the 14th century Codex Wormianus as Heimdall. I believe this to be a mistake and Rig is merely the title which rightly belongs to Odin, as this means king in Irish. It also cognate with the Latin rex.

Going back to Odin Stones it is believed that by looking through such a naturally formed holed stone one can see into the future:

"In English folk tradition, smaller stones with natural holes through them are seen as magical and used as amulets. While speculative, it is thus not beyond the bounds of reason to suggest that 'Hlidskjalf' could actually have reflected such a belief, and that Odinn's capacity to see through all the worlds from his seat there was as much a function of the holy/magical opening in the boulder-cf. the scene in Saxonis Gesta Danorum where the battle-maid Ruta tells Biarco to look through the opening in her bent arms so as to see Othinus (vol. I, II, vii, verse 26, p.60)" (Miscellaneous Studies Towards the Cult of Odinn, Stephen Grundy, 1994)

These small Odin Stones are a portable version of the large megalithis that contain large holes, some of which still survive today. The most famous one, the Odin Stone was destroyed in 1814 and was located near the Stanness Standing Stones on Orkney. Parents would often pass their sick children through them for healing as they were regarded as sacred. Trees sometimed fulfilled a similar function:

"These trees, when young and flexible, were severed and held open by wedges, while ruptured children, stripped naked, were pushed through the apertures, under a persuasion that by such a process the poor babies would be cured of their infirmity.
 "This custom, and that of passing children and cattle through perforated earth or rocks, or through natural or artificial openings in trees, especially the ash and the oak, is common to most European countries."(Curiosities of Indo-European Tradition and Folk-lore, Walter Keating Kelly, 1863)

Dr Grundy also refers to the Externsteine:

"The German sandstone formations called the Externsteine include one crag with a hole bored in the northeastern wall of the plateau to catch the light of the rising Midsummer sun, though there is considerable question as to whether this was done by native worshippers, or in the post-conversion period...."

In the Germanic and Cetic worlds kings were crowned upon sacred stones. Phase III of Stonehenge fulfilled such a purpose and it is significantly round in shape. The hole in the Odin Stone megalith and those in the smaller Odin Stone amulets represented the Eye of Odin. In exchange for wisdom Odin deposited His eye in Mimir's well. His eye also signifies the light and wisdom of the sun. Significantly the so-called Celtic Cross or Sonnenrad is also called Odin's Eye or Wotans Auge.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Further Research into the Goddess Isa

In previous articles on this blog I have drawn my readers attention to an obscure and rather mysterious German Goddess who is variously called Isa/Zisa/Cisa and how there is a clear association between Her and the Dutch Goddess Nehelennia and that Tacitus in his Germania does refer to the worship of Isis. I have pointed out that Isa/Zisa/Cisa was worshipped by the same Bavarian Suebian tribes as Isis and how Isis was probably just Tacitus' classical interpretation of the name of this deity.

"Part of the Suebi sacrifice also to Isis; I have not ascertained the source from which this foreign rite originates, but the fact remains that the image itself, fashioned in the form of a light ship, proves that the cult is imported." (Tacitus' Germania 9.1, Rives translation)

"Some of the Suebi sacrifice also to Isis. I do not know the origin or explanation of this foreign cult; but the goddess's emblem, being made in the form of a light warship, itself proves that her worship came in from abroad." (Tacitus' Germania 9, Mattingley/Handford translation)

Tacitus makes the assumption that this Isis is a foreign deity. However I disagree. J.B. Rives in his commentary to Germania states:

".....most scholars agree that Tacitus (or more likely his source) identified a native goddess as Isis because of similar rituals involving ships. We should note that this is more a case of mistaken identity than of interpretatio Romana, since Tacitus seems to have thought that it was the actual Graeco-Egyptian goddess Isis whose cult these Suebi had adopted."

Rives goes on to discuss how in the Graeco-Roman world the chief priest of Isis would consecrate a small and beautifully adorned ship, loaded with offerings and send it out to sea. Nehalennia, a Frisian Goddess worshipped on the Dutch islands of Walcheren and Noord-Beveland is depicted on votive altars as having sometimes an oar or a ship's prow. We are reminded also of the Goddess Nerthus referred to in Germania 40.2-40.4 who is likely to have had some connections with sea-faring.

 "Nehalennia, the protectress of ships and trade, was worshipped by the Keltic and Teutonic races in a sacred grove on the island of Walcheren; she had also altars and holy places dedicated to her at Nivelles. The worship of Isa or Eisen, who was identical with Nehalennia, was even older and more wide-spread throughout Germany. St Gertrude took her place in Christian times, and her name (Geer, ie spear, and Trude, daughter of Thor) betrays its heathen origin."  (Asgard and the Gods, Wilhelm Waegner)

 There is also a connection between the Goddess Isa and the island of Iceland:
"Rassmann identifies Island as derived from Isa, a goddess of the under-world, probably the same as Holda, and not as Iceland."(Legends of the Wagner Drama by Jessie L. Weston)
Furthermore Weston also draws a link between Isolde and Isa:
 "German scholars give as the derivation Isolde, Iswalt or Iswalda (Eis-walterin=ruler of the ice), which explains the fact that the early German form seems to be Isalde, as in Wolfram, and not Isolde. The heroine then is no Celtic maiden, but a child of the north, a Viking's daughter; hence the legends always represent her as fair and golden-haired-she is 'die lichte' in the Northern versions, as distinguished from 'die schwarze', the rival Isolde." (Weston)
Isolde/Iswalt/Iswalda is clearly a personification of the Goddess. In the Nibelungenlied Iceland is not the island  that we know of today located in the North Atlantic Ocean but a mythical realm of the dead:

"With this closely agrees the Nibelungen-lied, which represents the princess as ruling over Island and dwelling in the castle of Isenstein on the seashore. (Rassmann identifies Island as derived from Isa, a goddess of the under-world, probably the same as Holda, and not Iceland.) (Weston)

In other words Isa is the Goddess of the underworld, comparable in part to the Goddess Hel of Norse mythology. Iceland is a representation of the mythical Island, the land of the Goddess Is or Isa.

"Common observation would teach the inhabitants of polar climates that the primitive state of water was Ice; the name of which, in all the northern dialects, has so near affinity with that of the goddess, that there can be no doubt of their having been originally the same, though it is a title of the corresponding personification in the East Indies." (An Inquiry into the Symbolical Language of Ancient Art and Mythology, Richard Payne Knight, 1818)

The northern origins of Isa are very clear:

"Her name seems to come from the north; there being no obvious etymology for it in the Greek tongue: but, in the ancient Gothic and Scandinavian, Io and Gio signified the earth; as Isi and Isa signified ice, or water in its primordial state; and both were equally titles of the goddess, that represented the productive and nutritive power of the earth; and, therefore, may afford a more probable etymology for the name Isis, than any that has hitherto been given. The god or goddess of Nature is however called Isa in the Sanscrit;...." (Knight)

The name Isa thus has a clear link with the Rune of the same name! Interestigly Isa was even known amongst the Laplanders (Sami):

"On a Lapland drum the goddess Isa or Disa is represented by a pyramid surrounded with the emblem so frequently observed in the hands of the Egyptian deities;
".....and it seems that the ancient inhabitants of the north of Europe represented their goddess Isa as nearly in the same manner as their rude and feeble efforts in art could accomplish; she having the many breasts to signify the nutritive attribute; and being surrounded by deer's horns instead of the animals themselves, which accompany the Ephesian statues. In sacrificing, too, the reindeer to her, it was their custom to hang the testicles round the neck of the figure, probably for the same purpose as the phallic radii, above mentioned, were employed to serve.

The Goddess was also worshipped in the temple at Old Uppsala in Sweden:

"...and in in the ancient metropolitan temple of the North, at Upsal in Sweden, the great Scandinavian goddess Isa was represented riding upon a ram, with an owl in her hand." (Knight)

Also Isa was portrayed with a quiver of arrows. I am reminded here of the Goddess Skadi who appears to share some of Isa's attributes and may be an aspect of Her:

"A similar union of attributes was expressed in the Scandinavian goddess Isa or Disa; who in one of her personifications appeared riding upon a ram accompanied by music, to signify, like Pan, the priinciple of universal harmony; and, in another, upon a goat, with a quiver of arrows at her back, and ears of corn in her hand, to signify her dominion over generation, vegetation, and destruction." (Knight)
It would thus appear that Isa's worship was not confined to the southern Germanic tribes such as the Suebi but She was known further north in Scandinavia, making Her a far more important deity than initially assumed.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Woden as the Sleeping King in the Mountain

In Germany there are a number of legends concerned with a sleeping king or emperor who will awake to save the Vaterland at the time of its greatest need. The sleeping hero is usually Karl der Große (not a hero but a xtian butcher in my opinion), Friedrich Barbarossa or Heinrich der Vogler (the Fowler, 876-936).

Karl der Große (Charlemagne/Charles the Great) was born in either 742, 747 or 748. There is no agreement on the date but we know he died in 814. He became King of the Franks in 768, King of Italy in 774 and Emperor in the West from 800. He is remembered particularly for his wars of extermination against the heathen Saxons in the 770s and the 780s along with the destruction of the Irminsul and many other shrines and temples.

Heinrich was the founder of the Ottonian dynasty, the first emperors of the First Reich. His son Otto I became Germany's first emperor. Heinrich became Duke of Saxony in 912 and was elected as the first Saxon king of East Francia (Deutschland) in 919. East Francia was the eastern division of the Carolingian Empire and lasted from 840 until about 962. This was the foundation for the modern German state. Wagner regarded Heinrich as a suitable historical figure for the pan-German movement to rally around and featured him in his 1850 music drama, Lohengrin.

Friedrich I (Barbarossa, 1122-1190), Duke of Swabia from 1147-1152, became King of Germany in 1152 and Holy Roman Emperor of the German Nation in 1155. He became known as Barbarossa because of his red beard.
A detailed history of mediaeval Germany may be found in Benjamin Arnold's Medieval Germany 500-1300. A Political Interpretation, 1997.

Regarding Karl der Große he is said to slumber in many places, in particular in the Desenburg near Warburg, in the castle of Herstalla on the river Weser, in the Karlsburg on the river Spessart, in the Trausberg and in the Donnersberg in the Pfalz. Interestingly the Donnersberg is named after the German God of Thunder, Donar. The Romans called the mountain Mons Jovis after their Jupiter who as we know is also a deity associated with thunder and lightning. The highest point of the mountain is called the Königstuhl (King's seat) and the mountain itself is the highest peak in the Pfalz.

Heinrich der Vogler is said to sleep in the Sudmerberg near Goslar. Goslar as my Harz born mother always used to fondly tell me was a Kaiserstadt (an imperial city). However the German king who is most often associated with this legendary motif is in fact Barbarossa.

"The German people still maintain the same faith, for their hero has been seen by many of them in the Kyffhäuser mountain, in the old palatinate of the Saxon imperial house. There, in a cavern, with all his knights and squires around him, he sits to this day, leaning his head upon his arm,at a table through which his beard has grown, or round which, according to other accounts, it has grown twice. When it has thrice encircled the table, he will wake up to battle. The cavern glitters with gold and jewels, and is as bright as the sunniest day. Thousands of horses stand at mangers filled with thorn-bushes instead of hay, and make a prodigious noise as they stamp on the ground and rattle their chains. The old Kaiser sometimes wakes up for a moment and speaks to his visitors. He once asked a herdsman who had found his way into the Kyffhäuser, 'Are the ravens' (Odin's birds) 'still flying about the mountain?' The man replied that they were. 'Then', said Barbarossa, 'I must sleep a hundred years longer.'
"That Frederick and all the rest of the caverned princes and warriors are no other than Woden and his wild host, is clear from many details of the legends concerning them. People who visit the Emperor in the  Kyffhäuser receive just such presents as are given by the wild huntsman,-horses' legs or heads that afterwards turn into gold; and there is a lady in the Kyffhäuser, who is variously called the Princess, the Kaiser's housekeeper, Mademoiselle or Jungfer, and sometimes Frau Holle (Holda), who is beyond doubt Woden's wife Fria."(Curiosities of Indo-European Tradition and Folk-lore, 1863, Walter Keating-Kelly)

Tales of famous mediaeval kings can also be found in the folk-lore of other European Aryan peoples but what is significant about the legend of Barbarossa in the Kyffhäuser is the direct association with the God Woden. This is what makes the study of folk-lore so important to us. Folk-lore provides a continuation of the myths of the Eddas into post-conversion times upto the modern era.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Frigg and Freyja, Originally the Same Deity?

One thing that has troubled me over recent years is the connection between Frigga, the supposed wife and consort of Woden, and Freyja, the Vanadis and sister-wife of Frey. There appears to me to be too much overlap in their functions and levels of importance for me to perceive these as separate deities. I have come to the conclusion that they are one and the same Goddess but with slightly differing emphasis placed upon their functions by the writers of the Eddas. We must remember that the Eddas as written literature only date back to the 13th century and are a reflection of post-conversion belief in Scandinavian society. Other Germanic peoples from different time periods and geographical locations would have viewed the Gods rather differently. However as they comprise our only complete written accounts of our deities we must take them as a starting point.

It is my argument that originally in Proto-Germanic times they were both the same Goddess. Freyja was mainly known within Scandinavia in early times and as modern day heathens of Germanic (but not necessarily Scandinavian) descent we must bear this in mind. Frigga however as a Goddess is attested to all over the Germanic world and is more dominant in Germany, England and the Netherlands. Let us explore the etymology of these two deities! Freyja is derived from Proto-Germanic *fraujaz, meaning Lady. In the Vanatroth Frey and Freyja are the Lord and Lady and this is reflected in a distorted form in modern Wicca which is an Old English word for witchcraft and is properly pronounced as witchuh. (See Witchdom of the True. A Study of the Vana-Troth and the Practice of Seidr, Edred Thorsson, 1999). In Old High German She is frouwâ. A later form of this is frû. In  Old Saxon She is frūa, in Old English frōwe and in Gothic. *fraujô. Ultimately the Germanic forms of the name derive from the Proto-Indo-European *pro-w-(y)o-s which means first as in foremost.

Frigg is derived from  the Common Germanic Frijjō. The Old Saxon Fri and the Old English Frig are related to this term. Interestingly the Sanskrit prīyā́ is related to Frijjō and has the meaning of wife, dear or beloved one. Frigg is clearly an important deity as Friday is named after Her. In Old English this day is called Frigedæg. The Modern German Freitag is derived from the Old High German Frîatac and Frîgetac. The names of the days of the week are ultimately derived from Roman Gods, translated into their  Germanic equivalents. This is often referred to as the Interpretatio Germanica. In the Roman system Venus is the deity associated with Friday so one would have expected that Freyja be the most appropriate deity to associate with this day as Frigg is more of a domesticated Goddess. However Frigg was more widely known than Freyja and direct Roman influence did not extend to Scandinavia. Interestingly Friday has two versions in Old Norse: Freyjudagr (for Freyja) and Frjádagr (for Frigg). No doubt the latter version is the result of South Germanic influence. So there is a certain amount of confusion between these two deities.

To think of Frigg as domesticated and Freyja as being more wild and untamed is perhaps a simplistic way of viewing these two deities as the etymology of words connected to Frigg will show. The A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary by J.R. Clark Hall reveeals the following:

A sample of words connected to Freyja:

freod- "peace, friendship, good-will, affection."
freodohtor-"freeborn daughter".
freodom-"freedom, state of free-will, charter, emancipation, deliverance."
freogan-"to free, liberate, manumit, love, embrace, caress, think of lovingly, honour."
freond-"friend, relative. lover."
freondlufu-"friendship, love."

A sample of words connected to Frigg:

frigea-"lord, master".
friclan-"to dance, to desire, to seek."

There are far more words in Old English which are cognate with Freyja than Frigg and there is also a noticeable overlap in meenings, particularly in words associated with freedom and love.  Figga's name continues today to be associated with the verb frig. Etymologically there is little difference between freo and frig and indeed the above-referred to dictionary does link the two words together in the following entry:


Frigg we certainly know was part of Anglo-Saxon religion but we have no such evidence regarding Freyja.However the lack of evidence is not in itself evidence of lack! The preponderance of freo related words is simply an illustartion of the connectivity of these two terms, nothing more.

In Lokasenna in the Elder Edda Loki makes the same kind of amorous accusations against Frigg as He does against Freyja, indicating that there is little to choose between them when it comes to morality. People often overlook this. In the Ynglinga Saga when Odin goes wandering He leaves His brothers Vili and Ve in charge and they also share His wife, Frigg! No doubt these are the indiscretions referred to in Lokasenna. Also we have the mysterious character Odr to contend with. He is regarded as the husband of Freyja in Gylfaginning and Skaldskaparmal in the Younger Edda. Rudolf Simek has this to say about Him:

"The most obvious explanation is to identify Odr with Odin; the similarity of the names (which show a parallel with Ullr/Ullinn), the long absence (cf. Odin's exile) and his marriage with Freyja (whom Grimnismal 14 identifies with Frigg, Odin's wife) support this suggestion." (Dictionary of Northern Mythology).
A marriage or union between Woden and Freyja is also indirectly supported by the fact that Freyja and not Frigg receives half of the heroic dead in Her Folkvangr (Gylfaginning 23 and Grimnismal 14) The fact that this is referred to in both the Elder and Younger Eddas is significant and likely an archaic concept. The sharing of the brave dead may be the result of an agreement made after the conclusion of the war between the Aesir and Vanir but why Freyja and not Frey or Njord should have this honour is not explained in the sources so it is my contention that this was a kind of gift bestowed upon Her as the result of Her union with Odin. With the subsequent separation of the Frigg/Frejya Goddess into two separate deities the reason has been lost and thus not revealed in the Eddas. After the conclusion of a war, especially one which ended in a truce it would have been natural for the two families of Gods to be united in marriage and this would have taken place between Woden and Freyja who in later times morphed into the separate Frigg. So in essence Frigg and Frejya represent two sides of the same being.

For whatever reason our ancestors saw the need to separate the role of Mother Goddess from Love Goddess but we should not be surprised about this. An analysis of the Eddas reveals scores of deities who are little more than names in many cases.


Tuesday, 12 August 2014

The Holy Land: Iceland and its Patronymic Naming System

Iceland is a repository of ancient Germanic religion and lore. If it were not for the Icelandic Elder and Younger Eddas along with the saga material and Galdrabooks we would know precious little about our ancient religion so we must always be grateful to this hardy and isolated Germanic people.

One thing in particular which interests me about modern day Iceland is their surname naming system which until the early 1980s was unique in the Germanic world and yet is hardly ever commentated upon. Generally new- borns' surnames are patronymic, sometimes matronymic. In other words their surname is their father's (sometimes the mother's) forename or middle name (if preferred) with sson if a son or dóttir if a daughter, added to it as a suffix. Occasionally as a surname some Icelanders have both a patronymic and a matronymic name as a sort of double barreled surname! Thus the surname is likely to change from generation to generation. There are some Icelanders who have inherited surnames either because they are of foreign origin or if their surname was incorporated before certain legal changes in 1925. Since the early 1980s other Germano-Scandinavian countries such as Norway, Sweden, Denmark and the Faroe Islands have allowed for the use of patronymic or matronymic surnames.

Interestingly in Russia (heavily influenced by the ruling and dominant Swedish Russ) the middle name is a reflection of the father. Originally Russians had the same kind of system as in Iceland. Also Icelanders are not free to adopt alien and exotic names. Forenames have to be approved by the Mannanafnanefnd (Icelandic Naming Committee). Only names that can be pronounced using the Icelandic (Old Norse) alphabet may be used. This all goes to preserving the Germanic inheritence of the Icelandic people who by the way were the first to legally recognise the Odinic religion in 1973.

Icelandic as a language is peculiar in the North Germanic language group as it alone unlike modern Danish, Swedish and Norwegian (which are mutually intelligible) has changed very little from Old Norse due to Iceland's geographical isolation. 

This geographical isolation is helping to culturally and racially preserve the Icelandic people and has inculcated a strong sense of independence in the national character. One only has to recall the Icelandic government's refusal to bail out the Icelandic banks. To do so would have been to bankrupt this small country. So despite their small size as a population (322,000) they show a pluckiness that does them credit and shames the sheeple of England. If only Greece, Spain and Portugal (not to mention the United Kingdom) were to have followed their brave and sensible example!

Iceland has never started any wars or invaded any other country and this should be a lesson for us because by minding their own business they have retained their way of life and the biological integrity of their gene pool. It is to Iceland that we should look to as an example and revere as a holy land, not Israel. The moral difference between the peace-loving and hardy Icelanders and the war-mongering, genocidal but western-backed illegal state of Isreal could not be more astounding!

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Yngly, the Slavic Ing

Much of what we know of Slavic mythology is contained in their surviving poetry, some of which is ancient and can be traced back to pre-xtian times. William Shedden Ralston in his Songs of the Russian People (1872) is one of the earliest works in English to throw light upon Slavic mythology. Even today his book remains one of the few available in the English language. This is a shame as the more we can learn about Slavic and Baltic mythology the more insight we can get into our own Germanic mythology and religious practices.

Ralston on page 62 of his book (Chapter : The Old Gods) refers to this surviving literature as the "Slavonic Vedas". Today one sometimes comes across the term Slavic Vedas or the Slavic-Aryan Vedas. These are still (to pardon a pun) a closed book to us in North-West Europe. It is hoped that in the course of time that this will change. Interestingly one branch of Slavic heathenism, Ynglism regards the creator of the universe as a God named Yngly and His followers as the Ynglings who were the patriarchs of the Slavs and other Indo-European peoples. How close indeed is this name to the Germanic Ing, the Ingling dynasty and the Ingvaeone division of the Germanic peoples! Incidentally if anyone is able to advise me where to obtain a printed copy of the Slavic-Aryan Vedas in English (or German) I would be grateful!

The main symbol of the Ynglists is a type of Swastika. Their religion appears to be firmmly rooted in an Indo-European Weltanschauung and this should be of interest to us. An awakening is ocurring amongst the Aryan peoples as they seek to recover the lost and battered lore of their pre-xtian ancestors who were forced to accept the alien and semitic religion of xtianity. We can only succeed in our endeavours if we take a two sided approach to this. Everything that we teach and practice must ultimately be grounded in the traditions of our ancestors but at the same time we can recover knowledge through the Blood Memory. We must be rooted but not stuck in the past as if we were merely a re-enactment society but venture forth into the future as the form of our religion evolves over time, suited to our current and future needs.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

The Use of Images of the Gods in Germanic Religious Practice

There is a rather misleading statement contained in Tacitus' Germania in which he states regarding idols of the Gods:

"In other matters, they judge it not in accord with the greatness of the gods to confine them with walls or to liken them in appearance to any human countenance. They consecrate woods and groves, and the mystery that they see only in their awe they call by the name of gods." (Germania 9.2, Rives translation)

"The Germans do not think it in keeping with the divine majesty to confine gods within walls or to portray them in the likeness of any human countenance. Their holy places are woods and groves, and they apply the names of deities to that hidden presence which is seen only by the eye of reverence." (Germania 9, Mattingley and Handford translation) 

We do know from archaeological excavations that the ancient Germans did in fact possess idols of the Gods and as I have already demonstrated in earlier articles they also built temples for the worship of the Gods. Anthropomorphic wooden idols have been found in Germanic speaking areas going back as far as the Bronze Age. A good example of such an idol is the Broddenbjerg idol which dates back to the 6th century BCE and discovered in a peat bog in Viborg in Denmark. These idols are known as ithyphallic(the male variety of course) and referred to as Pole Gods. There are female versions of these wooden idols as well. Such idols were not confined to the Germanic peoples but are also to be found in formerly Celtic speaking and Slavic speaking areas, indicating that this was a northern European religious feature.

Rudolf Simek (Dictionary of Northern Mythology) is of the opinion that Pole Gods were known as early as the European Stone Age and thus represent probably one of the most archaic expressions of Germanic and Aryan religiosity. He conjectures that the Pole Gods may in fact be connected in some way with the Irminsul. Perhaps theses were smaller variations of this cult.

Tacitus does contradict himself as elsewhere in Germania 40 he refers to the sacred grove of Nerthus and the implication is that She was represented by an image, cared for by Her priest. Perhaps Her image was more elaborate than that of the Pole Gods.

Going forward to 11th century Iceland we have the bronze figurine of the Eyraraland Thor holding a Hammer which strongly resembles the famous Foss Wolf's Hammer. The Icelandic sagas frequently refer to temple images of the Gods. Adam of Bremen in 1070 wrote about the golden images of three Gods; Thor, Wodan and Fricco in the Uppsala temple in Sweden. So clearly the Germanic peoples consistently used idols or images of the Gods as part of their religious practice from the Stone Age to the Mediaeval period. Such practices continued in the Baltic lands right up to the 16th century.

I believe that it is a misunderstanding to say that the Germanic peoples literally worshipped these figures made by their own hands. This is a typical accusation made by xtian clerics. What they fail to understand is that these figures represented the Gods symbolically. Nigel Pennick explains this very well in his Secrets of the Runes. In discussing the mysterious force known as Ond he states that it can accumulate in sacred images and worshippers are in fact accessing the reserves of Ond located in the image, the inner essence in other words. This same energy may be found in sacred wells, groves and stones.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Further Reflections on the Cerne Giant

I have in previous articles speculated about the identity of the Cerne Abbas giant. Rather than repeat myself here the reader is directed to : http://celto-germanic.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/the-cerne-abbas-giant-and-donar.html , http://celto-germanic.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/heil-lost-god-of-anglo-saxons.html and http://celto-germanic.blogspot.co.uk/2009/08/horned-god-archetype.html

England has many chalk hill figures and some are open to doubt as to their antiquity but much less so the Cerne giant. It is also generally accepted that the figure symbolises an Indo-European deity but whether this be classical, Celtic or Teutonic is open to debate. I have in previous articles referred to 4 possible candidates: Hercules, Herne/Cernunnos, Heil/Helis/Helith (a lost Saxon deity) and Donar. All 4 candidates have their merits as to being "Cerne".

What is interesting to note is that to the north of the figure there is a miniature earthwork known as the Trendle or Frying Pan. It is speculated that there once stood a Maypole on the mound up until the 20th century, around which people would dance on May Eve or Walpurgisnacht. This is an indication of sun worship and the pole has an obvious masculine polarity as does the phallus and oak club of the figure. It is speculated that the mound once contained a heathen temple. South of the figure is the small town of Cerne Abbas which has the ruins of a Benedictine abbey founded by Aelmar, Earl of Cornwall. Near the ruins there is a churchyard containing a spring of clear water which contains healing properties and no doubt predates the building of the abbey and the church.

"One of the wishing stones framing the well is carved with a rosette or wheel-shaped design; some see this as a tribute to St Catherine, one of the female saints who absorbed pagan qualities, to whom the shrine could well have been dedicated." (Lost Gods of Albion. The Chalk Hill Figures of Britain, Paul Newman, 1987)
Mr Newman tells us that there has developed in the popular imagination a connection between the well and the figure that "the spring supplying the feminine principle to balance the Giant's masculinity. " I think that this is a valid theory despite Mr Newman's apparent negativity towards it. The concept of male/female polarity is evident everywhere in the sacred landscape of Britain and this fact is something that academics are only beginning to grasp. St Catherine who like most saints is not an historical personage is believed to be a xtianised Indo-European fire deity. Her symbol, the wheel and her feast day 25th November are suggestive of a connection with the ancient feast of Yule.