Saturday, 20 September 2014

The Heruli, Ancient Rune Masters and Männerbund

At one time the Heruli were considered to be a Germanic tribe but scholars are now of the opinion in the main that instead of being a tribe they were in fact members of a cultic association. Historical records indicate that Heruli were involved in wars during the 3rd to 6th centuries CE in Italy, Greece, Spain, Gaul, Scotland and in North Africa. These were highly trained Germanic warriors that were members of Männerbünde and were extremely mobile horse-riding shock troops that would have been deployed in difficult situations.

However as I have indicated by the use of the term cultic they were not merely warriors but also highly trained Rune Masters.

"Hoefler's very convicing theory connected the campaigns of the Heruli with the expansion of the runes. Helmet A from Negau would serve as a link, as it bears the name Erul, a Germanic centurion in Roman service from the 1st or 2nd century A.D. If this is the case, then members of the Heruli (like the above named Erul) would have created the runic alphabet on Etruscan and Roman models at this early stage. This knowledge of runes could have spread quickly as far as Scandinavia because of the rigid organisation and great mobility of the bands of Heruli. As a result, it is likely that for a long time the knowledge of the runes would have been considered as the privilege of the members of this band of warriors who were bound to Odin by cult." (Dictionary of Northern Mythology, Rudolf Simek)

Dr Stephen Edred Flowers (Edred Thorsson) discusses in his Runes and Magic how the terms erilaR and gothi "later evolved into clearly defined social functions, or official titles (cf. ON jarl < erilaR, and gothi < gud-on". He also reminds us of the connection between the OE eorl ('warrior') and erilaR. He states "One has only to compare OE eorl: 'warrior', to see that erilaR must have had quite a broad semantic field. On the other hand it cannot be doubted that erilaR, whether it was originally an ethnic or functional designation, must have taken on the special, virtually titular, meaning of 'rune-master' in the North Germanic territory from between ca. 450 and 600, however the actual etymology of erilaR < *er-il-az remains obscure".

Likewise Simek theorises that the time of the spread of the runes into North Germanic territory (ie Scandinavia) occurred at about this time:

"During the conquest of Italy by the Odoaker in 476 A.D., the Heruli belonged to his main troops. After the downfall of the Danubian state of the Heruli by the Langobards, the majority of the Heruli migrated to Scandinavia."

As Simek points out the Heruli were a cultic organisation of warriors who were "bound to Odin". Odin is thus the lord of the Heruli, being master of both war and of the runes. It is clear to me that no-one can call him or herself a Rune Master unless they are bound to Him. Simek is wrong to assume as so many scholars do that the runes have their origin in the alphabet of another people. This article is not the place to discuss this but the runes had developed as special sacred and magical signs from the Proto-Germanic period onwards and they are just a remnant of our lost runic heritage. It is also worth remembering that the cult of Odin imported itself into Scandinavia from Germania, no doubt in part at least due to groups like the Heruli.

The association of the term erilaR with the ON jarl or the OE eorl (earl) is an ancient one that can be found in the myth of the founding of the Germanic caste system in the Lay of Rig or the Rigsthula in the Elder Edda. The Jarl caste is the 3rd one to be sired by Rig and Rig calls the child Jarl-Rigr. Jarl sires children and names them Adal, Barn, Sonr and Konr ungr, in other words, noble, child, son and young descendant or king. Both Simek and Flowers reject the notion that Rig is Heimdall, in favour of Rig being Odin, the sire of nobles and kings and the lord of the runes. Rig teaches Jarl the runes and I do not consider it to be merely a coincidence that the Rune Masters of Germania should be designated as Heruli which we know via erilaR is cognate with jarl/eorl. There is a mystery here for us to ponder on.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Lodurr, a Hypostasis for Loki?

I have already explored in previous articles the links between Loki and Lugos/Lugh/Lleu and how He is a hypostasis for Woden, and further links to the entity known as Lucifer. There is a further connection to Woden via the God Lodurr who is mentioned in Voluspa 18 with Odin and Hoenir as being responsible for giving life to man who incidentally already existed:

"Until there came three mighty and benevolent Aesir to the world from their assembly. They found on earth, nearly powerless, Ask and Embla, void of destiny.
"Spirit they possessed not, sense they had not, blood nor motive powers, nor goodly colour. Spirit gave Odin, sense gave Hoenir, blood gave Lodur, and goodly colour." (Voluspa 17-18, Elder Edda, translated by Benjamin Thorpe).

"Until three gods, strong and loving, came from that company to the world; they found on land Ash and Embla, capable of little, lacking in fate.
"Breath they had not, spirit they had not, character nor vital spark nor fresh complexions; breath gave Odin, spirit gave Hoenir, vital spark gave Lodur, and fresh complexions." (translated by Carolyne Larrington)

Each of these three Gods gave something different to man but together they raised man that already existed into a higher state of being. I am reminded of the Lay of Rig where Rig (variously interpreted as being either Heimdall or Odin) also helped to improve man's condition but did so in the creation of three separate castes, the highest caste being the Jarl or noble caste that was clearly biologically superior to the other two castes, especially higher than the Thrall caste who are distinctly different in appearance and aptitude from the Jarls and Karls.

The only other reference to Lodurr occurs in the 12th century Islendigadrapa. Rudolf Simek in his Dictionary of Northern Mythology indicates that as Lodurr appears in the same company of Gods as Loki, ie Odin and Hoenir then scholars have speculated that Lodurr may in fact be Loki. It is certainly strange that such an important God should be barely mnetioned in the Eddas. Simek does not appear to be convinced by the argument that these two are one and the same deity. However I disagree with him. Loki as I have pointed out in earlier articles is a development of Loge or Logi, clearly a fire deity and this is emphasised in Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen in the character of Loge who is both the God of Fire and a trackster.

 "The name Loki, like that of the Latin Vulcanus, denotes the light or blaze of fire, and in such phrases as Locke dricker vand, Loki drinks water, described the phenomena of the sun drinking when its light streams in shafts from the cloud rifts to the earth or the waters beneath. The word thus carries us to the old verb liuhan, the Latin lucere, to shine, and to Logi as its earlier form, the modern German lohe, glow; but as the Greek tradition referred the name Oidipous......., to know and to swell, so a supposed connexion with the verb lukan, to shut or lock, substituted the name Loki for Logi, and modified his character accordingly." (The Mythology of the Aryan Nations, Volume II, George William Cox)

In a much earlier text, Vellekla (Einar Skalaglamm, 9th century) there is an Odinsheiti or kenning-Lopts vinr (Lopt's friend). Simek accepts that Loptr is an alternative name for Loki. There is a similar Odinsheiti in Eyvind's 10th century Haleygjatal-Lodurs vinr (Lodurr's friend). John Lindow in his Handbook of Northern Mythology makes the same comparison.

Snorri Sturluson in his Younger Edda replaces the triad of Odin-Hoenir-Lodurr with Odin-Vili-Ve, the sons of Bor and Bestla. Indeed Lodurr is entirely absent from the Younger Edda.

"'One day.` replied Har, 'as the sons of Bor were walking along the sea-beach they found two stems of wood, out of which they shaped a man and a woman. The first (Odin) infused into them life and spirit; the second (Vili) endowed them with reason and the power of motion; the third (Ve) gave them speech and features, hearing and vision. The man they called Ask, and the woman, Embla."(Gylfaginning, translated by I.A. Blackwell)

"Then High replied: 'As Bor's sons walked along the sea shore, they came across two logs and created people out of them. The first gave breath and life, the second consciousness and movement, the third a face, speech and hearing and sight; they gave them clothes and names. The man was called Ask, the woman Embla,..."(translated by Anthony Faulkes)

Why two of the original triad from the older work, the Elder Edda , ie Hoenir and Lodurr should be replaced in Snorri's account by Vili and Ve is intriguing but merits a separate discussion!

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Gwydion, a British/Belgic form of Woden

Jacob Grimm in Teutonic Mythology Volume I makes a comparison between Woden and the British deity Gwydion in his footnotes on page 150, Chapter VII (Wuotan, Wodan [Odinn]:

"In the Old British mythology there appears a Gwydion ab Don, G. son of Don, whom Davies (Celtic Researches pp. 168, 174. Brit.myth.p 118,204,263-4,353,429.504,541) identifies with Hermes; he invented writing, practised magic, and built the rainbow; the milky way was named caer Gwydion, G.'s castle (Owen, sub v.). The British antiquaries say nothing of Woden, yet Gwydion seems near of kin to the above Gwodan=Wodan. So the Irish name for dies Mercurii, dia Geden, whether modelled on the Engl. Wednesday or not, leads us to the form Goden, Gwoden (see Suppl.)"

It is interesting that according to Paul the Deacon (8th century CE) amongst the East Germanic tribes of the Vandals and Langobards Wodan was referred to as Godan or Guodan. Indeed the subsitution of the 'w' for a 'g' is to be found in other places in the Germanic world. Grimm refers to places which were sacred to Wodan which contain the initial letter 'g' such as Godesberg, near Bonn which in the Middle Ages was called Gudensberg. Indeed the older name of the city was Wodenesberg. Near the holy oak at Hesse there was a Wuodenesberg which has variously been called Vdenesberg and Gudensberg. There is also a Gudensberg near Erkshausen in Rotenburg and likewise a Gudensberg near Oberelsungen and Zierenberg. The Latin spelling would be Vodinberg. There is also a city referred to in mediaeval documents called Gotansberg. So there certainly seems to be a precendent in the Germanic world for connecting Wodan with Godan.

Returning to the subject of Gwydion being Woden Charles Squire in The Mythology of the British Islands states:

"It was a belief common to the Aryan races that wisdom as well as wealth came originally from the underworld; and we find Math represented in the Mabinogi bearing his name as handing on his magical lore to his nephew and pupil Gwydion, who there is good reason to believe was the same divine personage whom the Teutonic tribes worshipped as 'Woden' and 'Odin'. Thus equipped Gwydion son of Don became the druid of the gods, the 'master of illusion and phantasy', and not only that but the teacher of all that is useful and good, the friend and helper of mankind, and the perpetual fighter against niggardly underworld powers for the good gifts which they refused to allow out of their keeping."

We already have seen from earlier articles that Woden/Loki equate with the Celtic Lugos/Lugh/Lleu and yet the Mabinogi of Math makes it clear that Gwydion fathered Lleu through His sister Arianrod (Aryan Wheel). He is thus His own father just as Widar is both the son of Woden and Woden reborn. I do recommend Squire's work which incidentally was also studied by Savitri Devi no less!

Robert Graves in his The White Goddess states:

"Professor Sir John Rhys takes Gwydion for a mixed Teuton-Celt deity and equates him with Woden...." (page 51)

Also: "That the Belgae invaded Britain in 400 BC, and that their god was the [Celto-Teutonic] Gwydion [alias Woden, or Odin] and that the ash [Ygdrasill] was sacred to him." (Appendix A Two Letters to the Press)

It is interesting that Graves should identify the Belgae who invaded Britain as a Teutonic tribe. This is something which I have discussed in a earlier post concerning the colonisation of Britain by Germanic peoples much earlier than the accepted date of 449 CE. See: http://celto-germanic.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/ancient-presence-of-germanic-peoples-in.html

See also: http://celto-germanic.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/the-belgae-and-ancient-germanic.html

Saturday, 6 September 2014

The Image of Loki on the Snaptun Stone and the Gnezdovo Amulet

The two images above are extremely similar in form. The image to the left is a photograph taken from the Snaptun Stone, discovered in 1950 in Snaptun, Denmark and dating back to around 1,000 CE. It is believed that this stone was a hearth stone. The nozzle of a bellows would have been inserted into the hole at the front of the stone. Air blown through the stone would cause flames to shoot forth from the top of it. This is significant for we know that Loki is associated with fire.

"Logi, as we have seen, was a second son of  Forniotr, and the three brothers Hler, Logi, Kari on the whole seem to represent water, air and fire as elements. Now a striking narrative (Sn. 54.60) places Logi by the side of Loki, a being from the giant province beside a kinsman and companion to the gods. This is no mere play upon words, the two really signify the same thing from different points of view, Logi the natural force of fire, and Loki, with a shifting of the sound, a shifting of the sense: of the burly giant has been made a sly seducing villain. The two may be compared to the Prometheus and the Hephaestus (Vulcan) of the Greeks; Okeanos was a friend and kinsman of the former. But the two get mixed up. " (Teutonic Mythology Volume 1, Jacob Grimm)

Grimm goes on to make some comparisons between these two sets of Germanic and Greek deities which is rather convincing.

 "The name Loki, like that of the Latin Vulcanus, denotes the light or blaze of fire, and in such phrases as Locke dricker vand, Loki drinks water, described the phenomena of the sun drinking when its light streams in shafts from the cloud rifts to the earth or the waters beneath. The word thus carries us to the old verb liuhan, the Latin lucere, to shine, and to Logi as its earlier form, the modern German lohe, glow; but as the Greek tradition referred the name Oidipous......., to know and to swell, so a supposed connexion with the verb lukan, to shut or lock, substituted the name Loki for Logi, and modified his character accordingly." (The Mythology of the Aryan Nations Volume II, George William Cox)

I have noted before the etymological connection between Loki and the Celtic Lugh. The Proto-Celtic root *lug may be derived from the Proto-Indo-European *leuk, meaning to shine.

The identification of the  Snaptun Stone with Loki is also enhanced by the fact that the face on the stone has a scarred lip which we know was one of Loki`s features from the tale related in Skladskaparmal in the Younger Edda where the sons of Ivaldi stitched up Loki's lips.

The second image is of  an amulet found as part of the Gnezdovo hoard in Russia. It is commonly assumed (without any evidence) to be an amulet associated with Odin. However some feel that the deity it depicts is more likely to be Loki and when one considers the similarity in likeness between the amulet and the stone I must conclude that it is intended to be Loki which helps to weaken the assumption of most scholars that Loki had no cult!