Monday, 27 October 2014

The Neolithic Battle Ax and its Associations with the Indo-European Thunder God

Many times on this and my Aryan Myth and Metahistory blog I have discussed the metamorphosis of the Thunder God's axe into the hammer in the Germanic mythology and how the original axe was a stone rather than an iron weapon. Amongst the Balts and Slavs the axe maintained its original form. It is significant that even with the transition from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age the Indo-Europeans, known as the Battle Ax people preferred to carry their original stone axes rather than the new bronze ones even when bronze became more readily available. Even with the replacement eventually of the stone axe by the bronze as a weapon of war the chieftains still carried a polished stone axe as a symbol of their regal and divinely santioned authority. This is exemplified in the Stonehenge Bush Barrow and Clandon Barrow maces.

The Clandon Barrow mace is very similar to the one found in Bush Barrow. Describing the Bush Barrow mace Patrick Crampton states:

"His sceptre, mounting a rare type of fossilferous limestone from Devon, with wood and ornamental bone shaft, was laid with him." (Stonehenge of the Kings)

Leon Stover elaborates in much more detail about the mace:

"Its mace head of polished shale (fossil Stromaporoid, common enough in the tin mining area of South Devon) is perforated to accommodate the now perished wooden handle. Around its hole are traces of a bronze ring with which it was attached to its shaft with a bronze pin, the work of a skilled craftsman, as are the three perfectly cut bone cylindrical mounts of zig-zag form." (Stonehenge City. A Reconstruction)

Professor Stover goes on to compare the mace with the description that Homer gave of the lightning sceptre of King Agamemnon of Mycenae.  Similar zig-zag mounts have been discovered in a dolmen at Kerlagat in western France.

"Some authorities suspect Mycenaean influence, but this is not possible because Mycenae did not arise until 500 years after the construction of Stonehenge III. A true explanation has to lie in the foundations of Indo-European cosmology, which everywhere posited a thunder-and-lightning god not unlike the well-atested Thor of Norse mythology." 

Describing the Clandon Barrow mace Stover states:

"Its mace head is of polished jet or shale, with five gold studs inset, two in front, two in back, one on top: the Five Directions indicated, with Center at Stonehenge."

Both Stover and Cramption taking their cue from Professor R.J.C. Atkinson in 1953 (Stonehenge) believed that the Mycenaeans were in some way responsible for the construction of Phase III of Stonehenge but by 1982 when Stover republished his 1972 novel Stonehenge under the new title of Stonehenge: Where Atlantis Died he admitted in his Afterword that this theory was no longer accepted generally by academics. Many of Stover's theories and arguments were already posited in Crampton's book in 1967 and indeed Crampton even suggests that one day someone may care to address his theories in a work of fiction which Stover subsequently did just 5 years later!

I believe that the reason why the Battle Ax people still clung tenaciously to their stone battle aes is because of their religious significance. The cult of the axe and the Thunder God can be traced back to Neolithic times:

"The hammer is Thor`s most sacred weapon. Before Sindre forged one for him of iron (Gylfaginning), he wielded a hammer of stone. This is evident from the very name hamarr, a rock, a stone. The club is, as we have seen, the weapon of  the Teutonic patriarch, and is wielded side by side with Thor`s hammer in the conflict with the powers of frost." (Teutonic Mythology Volume 1, Viktor Rydberg)

And in Chapter 111:

 "In the Teutonic mythology, Thor`s hammer was not originally of metal, but of stone."

Ryberg in his Teutonic Mythology volume 2 (Investigations into Germanic Mythology Volume II Part 1]) Chapter 29 repeats this argument:

" "And in the poem, verse 51, it is said that Thor`s sons shall possess Vingnir`s hammer after the battle of Ragnarok-doubtlessly referred to as such, because Thor received his first hammer either from Vingnir or in a battle with him."(Section 97) 

"Thor`s oldest weapon is made of stone. The name itself says so, hamarr, and this is confirmed by the folk-idea of the lightning bolt as a stone wedge. Likewise, Indra`s oldest weapon was made of stone; it is called the `celestial stone`(Rigv. II 30,5) and is said to be `four-edged`{Rigv. IV, 22,1,2. This `four-edged` weapon has its symbol in the swastika, a figure that is rediscovered in the realm of Germanic memory and therefore must have derived from the Proto-Indo-European era." (Section 110)

 "It is certain that Thor took a stone hammer from Vingnir`s home as a spoil of victory, which he always used against the giants afterwards, except during the short time he possessed an iron hammer that Mimir`s son Sindri had forged for him."(Our Fathers` Godsaga, )

And from the Asatru Edda:
"Thorr was brought up in Jotunheimr by a jarl named Vingnir, and when he was ten years old, he received the stone hammer, Vingnir`s Mjollnir."

Even before the emergence of the Thunder God's axe the original projectile that He hurled from the skies was the stone:

"In Germany, Stone Age celts known as Donnerkeil ('Donar's wedges') were supposedly thrown to earth by the thunder god. Similar ceraunia were also treasured in Viking-period Scandinavia, as well as elsewhere in Europe into the nineteenth century." (The Divine Thunderblot. Missile of the Gods, J.T. Sibley-which I highly recommend.) 

Sunday, 19 October 2014

The Axe/Hammer as an Iconic Representation of the Thunder God

According to J.T. Sibley in her remarkable book The Divine Thunderbolt. Missile of the Gods (2009), a work which I highly recommend, there is evidence for worship of the Thunder God going back to before 2000 BCE in the Neolithic Denmark where an 'Axe God' in the form of a flint celt mounted on a wooden shaft has been found in Follenslev lake/bog. The shaft of the axe was originally buried in the ground to its horizontal line. "It is unclear whether the spherical 'head' above the axe might have been carved to resemble a human face."

This artifact is evidence for a very early knowledge of the single-bladed axe being a divine thunderweapon and precedes the Bronze Age rock carvings which depict God-like figures waving single-bladed axes in the air. Miss Sibley posits the theory that the axe was worshiped as a divine representation of the Thunder God and I am inclined to agree with her. Later on in her book she draws our attention to the fact that in the Baltic lands huge iron hammers were "worshiped in the ancient cult sites." These iron hammers were erected in a vertical position in either a grove or a temple as a "proxy for the humanoid idol of the god."

The Scythians likewise venerated Ares via a mighty iron sword:

"The impressive personification of the sword matches well with that of the hammer, and to my way of thinking each confirms the other. Both idea and name of two of the greatest gods pass over into the instrument by which they display their might.
"Herodotis 4, 62 informs us, that the Scythians worshipped Ares under the semblance or symbol of an ancient iron sword, which was elevated on an enormous stack of brushwood ['three furlongs in length and breadth, but less in height'] (Asgard and the Gods, Wilhelm Waegner, 1886).

Parjanya, Perkunos, Perun, Thunaraz, Taranis-a Comparison

Whilst in Germanic mythology *Thunaraz became eclipsed by the increasingly more dominant *Wodanaz, in the Balto-Slavic world His equivalent maintained His dominance, although He was not always the most prominent deity in their pantheons:

"We will now examine it a little more in detail, commencing with the ideas attached to the early inhabitants of Russia to those solar gods who are supposed by many eminent scholars to have originally held higher rank than the wielder of the Thunderbolt, Perun." (Songs of the Russian People, William Shedden Ralston, 1872)

Readers of my blogs will realise that I have maintained consistently that over the millenia there has been a shift of power from *Tiwaz to *Thunaraz and then to *Wodanaz which is mirrored in the Celtic mythology also or at least the transfer of power from Nuada to Lug is. Taranis does not appear to be so prominent as *Thunaraz at the time of the recording of the Irish myths. The primary divine archetype that the folk requires does change from era to era to meet their current needs. We see a similar thing happening today with the gradual eclipse of the Woden archetype by Widar, His son.

Referring to the early solar deities of the Slavs Ralston states:

"The most ancient among these deities is said to have been Svarog, apparently the Slavonic counterpart of the Vedic Varuna and the Hellenic Ouranos. His name is deduced by Russian philologists from a root corresponding with the Sanskrit Sur-to shine, and is compared by some of them with the Vedic Svar, and the later word Svarga, heaven."

The Sun is the child of Svarog and is called Dazhbog. Dazh is identical with the Germanic Dag which in modern German is Tag, day. Thus Dazhbog is the Day God. Bog of course means God. Another son of Svarog is Ogon, fire and is cognate with the Indian Agni, which is where we get the modern English ignite from. As mentioned in my recent article http://aryan-myth-and-metahistory.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/parjanya-original-indra-and-cognate-to.html the Indian Thunder God Parjanya is a more ancient God than Indra and performs very similar functions but appears to be less war-like. Clearly Parjanya is etymologically linked with Perun and Perkunas, being derived from the ancient Proto-Indo-European *perkunwos.

"Russian mythologists identify the name of Perun with that of the Vedic Parjanya. Whether the latter was an independent deity, or whether his name was merely an epithet of Indra, does not appear to be certain, nor are philologists agreed as to whether Parjanya means 'the rain' or 'the thunderer;' but 'it is very probable that our ancestors adored, previously to the separation of the Aryan race, a god called Parjana, or Pargana, the personification of the thundering cloud, whom they believed to rouse the thunder-storm, to be armed with the lightning, to send the rain, to be the procreator of plants, and the upholder of justice. Afterwards the Graeco-Italian nation, bent on the adoration of Dyaus, forgot him entirely; the Aryans of India and the Teutonic tribes continued to worship him as a subordinate member of the family of the gods, but the Letto-Slavonians raised him to the dignity of a supreme leader of all other deities." (Ralston)

The description of Parjanya, more so perhaps than Indra corresponds more closely to the Balto-Slavic Thunder God:

"The desription of Parjanya is in all respects applicable to the deity worshipped by the different branches of the Slavo-Lettic family under various names, such as Lithuanian Perkunas, the Lettish Perkons, the Old Prussian Perkunos, the Polish Piorun, the Bohemian Peraun, and the Russian Perun." (Ralston)

"Vayu-or Vata- 'Wind' is properly of atmospheric origin, a gale-god whose Indo-Iranian age is proved by his more important Iranian counterpart Vayu. Parjanya-(once [RV 1,164.51] in the plural [cf. Rudrah] is a related rain-god figure cognate in name with the Baltic (Lithuanian) thunder-god Perkunas and his Slavic (Old Russian) counterpart Perunu; in that case he is an ancient variant of the type, shunted to the Vedic periphery by the ascendancy of Indra." ( Comparative Mythology, 1987, Jaan Puhvel)

The Balts and Slavs lit a sacred fire before the image of the Thunder God:

"In Lithuania Perkunas, as the God of Thunder, was worshipped with great reverence. His statue is said to have held in its hand 'a precious stone like fire,' shaped in the image of the lightning,' and before it constantly burnt an oak-wood fire. If the fire by any chance went out, it was rekindled by means of sparks struck from the stone. His name is not yet forgotten by the people, who say, when the thunder rolls, Perkuns grumena, and who still sing dainos in which he is mentioned. In one of those a girl who is mourning for the loss of her flowers is asked,-

"Did the north wind blow,
Or did Perkunas thunder or send greetings?

In another it is told how when

The Morning Star held a wedding-feast,
Perkunas rode through the doorway,
Struck down the green oak" (Ralston)

There are many more such dainos or heathen hymns preserved by the Lithuanians which refer to Perkunas. It would serve us well to study them in more detail.

According to Jaan Puhvel the Goddess Frigg's father or lover was called Fjorgynn. Also a Fjorgyn is named as the mother of Thor. This is possibly an alternative name for Jord (Earth). These names Fjorgynn and Fyorgyn are cognate with Perkunas and they in fact have been a divine couple.

The German language Prussian Chronicle from about the year 1520 refers to the worship of a divine triad of Patollo, Potrimpo and Perkuno by  a high priest called Bruteno. The icons of the Gods were installed in three niches of an oak tree. A perpetual fire was burned before the icon. As Lithuanian heathenism was not abolished until as late as the 15th century and it still continued to linger on it would serve us well as Germanic heathens to study closely the Baltic myths to gain greater insight into our own closely related Germanic deities. It should be noted that heathenism is growing in the Baltic and Slavic lands at an apparently faster rate than in Germanic countries.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

The Sacred Rock Art of Bohuslän

The antiquity of our Germanic Gods is not in any doubt. Despite the written evidence of the Eddas and Sagas, historical records and folklore we also have the sacred rock carvings at Bohuslän in the province of Götaland in Sweden, the home of the Geats, referred to in Beowulf. Interestingly the Geats or gēatas in Old English were probably worshipers of Odin as Geat is etymologically linked with Gaut, one of the Odinsheite.

The rock carvings, dating back to the Nordic Bronze Age of the 2nd millenium BCE are scattered throughout  Bohuslän and they abound with solar symbols such as ships, horses, sunwheels and God-like figures wielding axes and spears. Felix R. Paturi in his Prehistoric Heritage (1976)  states:

"Sceptics have protested that the famous collection of legends was committed to writing only around 1220 A.D., which would mean that they were about 2,000 years more recent that the rock carvings. However Professor Herbert Kuhn meets the criticism with the remark that religious images live for thousands of years.
"Even more convincing is the fact that the descriptions of the gods in the Edda are illustrated with the old pictures of Thor, the most powerful of Germanic gods. His symbols are the wheel divided into four and the hammer, and his sacred animal is the stag. This is exactly how the ancient Germanic peoples portrayed him in their rock carvings. His body is the four-spoked wheel, he swings the hammer high above his head which is often represented by the head of a stag."

It should be noted that Mr Paturi was not a scholar of mythology and he is no doubt confusing the stag with Thor's goats. It is Indra, the Indo-Aryan equivalent of Thor whose chariot was pulled by deer. Nevertheless he is correct in drawing an association between these figures and symbols with the Gods of the Eddas.

H.R. Ellis Davidson in the now out of print but richly illustrated Scandinavian Mythology (1969) comments on the Germanic Bronze Age:

"From this period we find clear evidence of ritual from many symbolic objects recovered from the earth, and from the rich and crowded pictures of what appear to be religious ceremonies on the rock surfaces of Scandinavia. Now for the first time we find clear traces of a deity or deities connected with the sky and with battle, the god of a warrior people whose year was governed by the movements of the sun. The axe, already venerated in the Neolithic period as as man's most treasured tool and weapon, is brandished in the hands of a powerful phallic figure, dominating lesser figures on the rocks. A giant figure is also shown with a spear in hand, and spears and axes are represented many times as if they were sacred symbols, linked with the divine powers.
"The axe must be associated with the god who ruled the sky and sent thunder and lightning and the life-giving rain. Whether the spear-bearing figure represented him in another aspect, as leader in battle and giver of victory, we do not know for certain, but this seems probable. These male figures and the weapons which they carry are connected constantly in the carvings with ships and horses. It seems that the primary myth of the Northern Bronze Age concerned the wheeled wagon or chariot of the sun journeying across the heavens, and also the ship of the sun, which is thought to have symbolised the sun's journey below the earth when it disappeared beneath the western sea."