Saturday, 21 February 2015

Vidrir and Vidurr and their relationship to Vidar

Woden has in the region of 200 by-names in the Eddas, one of which is Vidrir, which appears on face value to be uncannily similar to Vidar, His son.  These are the references to Vidrir in the Eddas:

"Be silent, Frigg, you're Fiorgyn's daughter and you've always been mad for men: Ve and Vili, Vidrir's wife, both were taken into your embrace." (Lokasenna 26, Elder/Poetic Edda, Larrington translation).
"Be thou silent, Frigg! Thou art Fiorgyn's daughter, and ever hast been fond of men, since Ve and Vili, it is said, thou, Vidrir's wife, didst both to thy bosom take." (Thorpe translation).
"The warriors went to the trysting place of swords, which they had appointed at Logafioll. Broken was Frodi's peace between the foes: Vidrir's hounds went about the isle slaughter-greedy." (The First Lay of Helgi Hundingsbani 13, Thorpe translation)*
"He is called All-father in our language, but in Old Asgard he had twelve names. One is All-father,.........the eleventh Vidrir,......." (Gylfaginning 3, Younger/Prose Edda, Faulkes translation)
"The poet Bragi said this: Vidrir's [Odin's] heir's [Thor's] line lay by no means slack on Eynaefir's ski [boat] when Iormungand uncoiled on the sand." (Gylfaginning 4)
"And on the island, instead of the Vidrir [warrior] of the mail-coat's troll-wife [axe], the victory-preventing witch of a woman had her way." (Skaldskaparmal 50, Younger/Prose Edda, Faulke's translation)
"I used to win land for myself like earls of yore with staves of the rod of Vidrir's [Odin's] weather. I had a reputation for this. (Skaldskaparmal 50)
"I go west over the depth, and I carry Vidrir's [Odin's] thought-strand-[breast-] mere [mead of poetry]; this is my way." (Skaldskaparmal 61)

It is interesting that Vidrir alliterates with Vili and Ve which may be an indication of its antiquity. Rudolf Simek in his Dictionary of Northern Mythology interprets the name to mean 'weather god' and yet he goes on to state that "Odin is naturally not the actual weather god of Nordic mythology; he influences it, however, by magic." However he fails to take into account that amongst the continental Germanic peoples Woden had a greater association with weather, especially stormy weather than the later Scandinavian Odin. See my article http://aryan-myth-and-metahistory.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/woden-and-vata-vayu-comparison.html

Another interesting by-name for Woden is Vidurr. Simek is unsure as to its interpretation but speculates that it may mean something like 'killer'. It could also indicate that Vidurr (Woden) is the eponymous ancestor of the Wederas or Weder-Geatas from Gautland. (Simek). Grimnismal 49, Elder/Poetic Edda refers to "Vidur in battle." Vidur is also listed as one of Woden's by-names in Gylfaginning 20. Like the name Vidrir, Vidurr can also mean 'poetry', one of the specialities of the All-Father:

"No need for men to nurse fear about my poetry. In Vidur's [Odin's] booty I use no spite. We know how to order praise-works." (Skaldskaparmal 3).
"I shall continue to compose more praise about the renowned son of Sigrod; I shall pay him the stipend [poetry] of the gods' atoner [Odin]. Thor sits in his chariot." (Skaldskaparmal 54)

There is certainly an overlap of meaning between Vidrir and Vidurr (battle and poetry) and it is tempting to see a relationship between these two by-names of Woden and that of his son Vidar (Widar). V and W are interchangeable in Germanic languages and we see the following coincidences:

Woden (Voden/Vidrir/Vidurr) + Wili (Vili) + We (Ve) = first generation of Aesir and

Widar (Vidar) and Wali (Vali) = second generation of Aesir.

The All-Father truly lives on in His son. This is certainly a theme that requires further development.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

The Ambiamarcae and Ambiorenses, Germanic Matron Goddesses from Western Germany and the Netherlands

In the German city of Köln (Cologne) in Nordrhein-Westfalen (North Rhine-Westphalia) there is a Roman votive stone dating back to 252CE with the following inscription:


This translates as:

"In honour of the divine house and the protective spirits of this place, Ambiamarca, Ambiorenae, the victorious Mars, Mercury, Neptune, Ceres and for all the gods and goddesses."

One of the interesting things about this inscription is the honouring together of Roman Gods (Mars, Mercury, Neptune and Ceres) with native Germanic deities;  the Ambiamarcae and Ambioreneses. Clearly the Romans understood the importance of not angering the local native Gods and realised that they should be given all due honour along with their own Gods. The Ambiamarcae are also referred to on an inscription from Wardt in western Germany, dating back to 218CE. Rudolf Simek (Dictionary of Northern Mythology) is of the opinion that :

"The whole group probably belongs to the place-names *Ambia (nowadays Embt)."

However he also concedes that an alternative interepretation for the name could be 'the fenced in marchlands'. This is an opinion that appears to be shared by GardenStone in his remarkable Gods of the Germanic Peoples. From Roman times to the Viking Age Volume 1. He states that the name is "often considered a mix of Celtic and Germanic fragments." He points out that the word ambe is  Celtic and  means a 'river' or 'stream' whilst the second part of the name is indicative of the Germanic 'mark'-borderland. In other words the Ambiamarca or Ambiamarcae may be a single Goddess or a group of Goddesses (Matronae) whose responsibility is to guard the river which acts as a tribal borderland. I am inclined to agree with him.

GardenStone also applies similar etymology for the Ambiorenses but the latter part of the name reneses is interpreted as the Latin translation of the Germanic Rina/Rinaz meaning the river Rhein (Rhine). Rudolf Simek interprets this name as 'the matrons who live (or are worshipped?) on either side of the Rhine.'

Rudolf Simek also indentifies a similar inscription from Remagen in the Netherlands. The relevant part of the inscription is as follows:

"I.O.M. et Genio loci, Marti, Herculi, Mercurio, Ambriomarcis...."


Sunday, 8 February 2015

The Germanic Goddess Isenbucaega/Isenburcaga from the Netherlands

I have already written about the fairly obscure German Goddess Isa on this blog: http://celto-germanic.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/zisaisaistaisisischtarisais.html,http://celto-germanic.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/further-reflections-on-goddess-isa.html,http://celto-germanic.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/further-reflections-on-goddess-isa.html,http://celto-germanic.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/the-germanic-ethnicity-of-isolde.html.

GardenStone in his Gods of the Germanic Peoples. From Roman times to the Viking Age Volume 1 refers to a Goddess Isenbucaega/Isenburcaga (page 309). A votive stone from 222CE in the Dutch village of Zennewijnen near Tiel is dedicated to the Goddess:


Ulpius Filinus was a military tribune of the 30th legion and he dedicated this altar on behalf of the mother of the emperor Severus Alexander. Why it should be dedicated to a Germanic Goddess rather than a Roman one is anyone's guess. GardenStone interprets (correctly in my opinion) that Isenbucaega is connected with the Germanic *isarna and *isana, meaning 'iron'. He points out that sand found in this area is red-coloured and this may be the result of oxidated iron.

GardenStone also speculates that blacksmiths may have forged weapons in the area and thus "the goddess would have been their protectress." If this is the case then as GardenStone argues  the second part of the name bucaega would be Gaulish and a place name. This would make the Goddess a Gallo-Germanic deity and as GardenStone reasons She "must have been of some importance" for a high-ranking Roman officer to dedicate this altar to Her.

He offers another interpretation of the name, suggesting that the second part of the name could relate to the Germanic *buga, meaning vault. This he speculates could mean a vault where iron or weaponry is stored. Either way this is clearly a deity who presides over the sacred metal iron.

In Teutonic Mythology Volume 1 Jacob Grimm in discussing the Goddess Isis referred to in Tacitus' Germania states:

"We must not omit to mention, that Aventin, after transforming the Tacitean Isis into a frau Eisen, and making iron (eisen) take its name from her, expands the account of her worship, and in addition to the little ship, states further, that on the death of her father (Hercules) she travelled through all countries, came to the German king Schwab, and staid for a time with him; that she taught him the forging of iron, the sowing of seed, reaping, grinding, kneading and baking, the cultivation of flax and hemp, spinning, weaving and needle work, and that the people esteemed her a holy woman." (My emphasis).