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.

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