Sunday, 30 August 2015

Frau Perchta, the Goddess Sacred to Berchtesgaden

It is well known that Adolf Hitler had a home and a retreat at Obersalzburg, called the Berghof in Bayern, Deutschland. The Berghof overlooked the town of Berchtesgaden. What is not so well known is that Berchtesgaden is linked to the Germanic Goddess Frau Perchta or Berchta.The original German name would have been Perchterscadmen, Perhtersgadem, Berchirchsgadem or Berchtoldesgadem. Perchta is derived from the Old High German beraht, bereht from the Proto-Germanic *brehtaz, meaning 'the bright one'. An alternative etymology points to 'covered' or 'hidden'.

Jacob Grimm in his Teutonic Mythology Volume 1 links this Goddess with Holda and believes that whilst She once had a:

"benign and gladdening influence, yet she is now rarely represented as such; as a rule, the awe-inspiring side is brought into prominence, and she appears as a grim bugbear to frighten children with. In the stories of dame Berchta the bad meaning predominates, as the good one does in those of dame Holda; that is to say, the popular christian view had degraded Berchta lower than Holda. But she too is evidently one with Herke, Freke and some others (see Suppl.)

Nigel Pennick in his Pagan Magic of the Northern Tradition. Customs, Rites, and Ceremonies (2015) refers to the Perchtenlauf, one of the ancient heathen carnivals of alpine Germany where the participants wore masks. He refers to Berchtesgaden as being the "spiritual home" of Frau Percht and the carnival there was not banned until 1601. This ban was overturned during the German Revolution of 1848, in which Richard Wagner was a prime mover. The Perchtenlauf is from late December to early January and thus is connected with the ancient feast of Yule. There is a link here with Woden who is also known as Grim.

"There was an especial hatred or fear of people wearing masks and putting on ritual animal disguise. One of the bynames of Odin is Grimnir, interpreted literally as 'the one with the grimy (blackened face)', or 'the masked one'. Grime means frost or dirt, and a grim face, and a grim face is one frozen in a forbidding expression. The Old Germanic words isengrim, a mask covering the head, or egesgrima, a 'terrifying mask', refer to this."

Of course masked processions or carnivals are common to all areas of Germanic Europe and guising continues up to this very day in England and other countries. Undoubtedly there is also a further connection with the Wild Hunt of Woden at that time of the year in which Woden's hoardes also wore masks. Isengrim is the name of the wolf in the tale Reynard and the Fox. Isengrim was also a name used by Tolkien several times in his Lord of the Rings mythology.

Grim or Grimnir is a significant byname for Woden. Rudolf Simek interprets the name as 'the masked one' (Dictionary of Northern Mythology). In England we have place names incorporating this byname for Woden: Grimsdyke, Grim's Ditch (Berkshire Downs, Harrow, Hampshire, South Oxfordshire, Grime's Graves, Grimsbury, Oxfordshire, Grimsbury Castle, Berkshire, Grimley, Worcestershire, Grimspound, Dartmoor, Grim's Cote (Grimm's Cott), Northamptonshire, Grimsthorpe (Grim's Thorpe).

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Odin and the North Country Charm against the Night Mare

Robert Graves in his The White Goddess (1948) brings to our attention an ancient charm dating back to at least the 14th century from the North Country which is attributed to Odin:

"The mon o' micht, he rade o' nicht
  Wi' neider swerd ne ferd ne licht.
            He socht tha Mare, he fond tha Mare,

            He bond tha Mare wi' her ain hare,

            Ond gared her swar by midder-micht

            She wolde nae mair rid o' nicht

            Whar aince he rade, thot mon o' micht."

A xtianised version of this charm appears in Shakespeare's King Lear, which I may add is a reference to the Celtic Sea God Llyr (Cymric) or Lir (Irish):

"Swithold footed thrice the wold.
           He met the Night-Mare and her nine-fold,

           Bid her alight and her troth plight,

           And aroynt thee, witch, aroynt thee!"

The charm should be receited nine times or thrice times thrice, both 3 and 9 being sacred numbers in the Northern Tradition.


Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Woden in Mediaeval English Literature

This may surprise some of my readers but even in the 12th century Woden was still being referred to in English literature. One specific example is from Geoffrey of Monmouth's (1100-1155) Historia Regum Britanniae. This work is described by Professor Laurence Austine Waddell as being part of the British Chronicles which he regards as being historic:

"The further excuse for rejecting these Early British Chronicles, that there are no contemporary inscriptions to support their ancient tradition, is one which, if accepted, would sweep away not only the early traditional history of Greece and Rome, which is accepted although resting on mere literary tradition, but also nearly all the Old Testament History, and much of the history of the Early Christian Church. There is absolutely no inscriptional evidence whatsoever, nor any ancient classic Greek or Roman reference, for the existence of Abraham or any of the Jewish patriarchs or prophets of the Old Testament, nor for Moses, Saul, David, Solomon, nor any of the Jewish kings, with the mere exception of two, or at most three, of the later kings. All of these are accepted and implicitly believed to be historical by our theologians merely on the strength of their having been believed by our Christian ancestors, because they were believed by the Jews themselves. The only difference between the accepted Jewish tradition and the rejected British tradition is that the former is actively taught as true by incessant repetition in church and Sunday schools to everyone from childhood upwards; whereas the equally well authenticated Early British traditional history is actively disparaged and stigmatized by modern writers, the one mechanically repeating the other, as mere fabricated fables or forgeries, despite the above-cited facts to the contrary." (The Phoenician Origin of Britons, Scots and Anglo-Saxons Discovered by Phoenician and Sumerian Inscriptions in Britain by Pre-Roman Briton Coins, 1924)

Now the reference to Woden in Geoffrey's work is as follows:

"The king, at the name of Mercury, looking earnestly upon them, asked them what religion they professed. 'We worship', replied Hengest, 'our country gods, Saturn and Jupiter, and the other deities that govern the world, but especially Mercury, whom in our language we call Woden, and to whom our ancestors consecrated the fourth day of the week, still called after his name Wednesday. Next to him we worship the powerful goddess, Frea, to whom they also dedicated the sixth day, which after her name we call Friday."

It is surely significant that even though the English had been xtianised for over 500 years at the time of Geoffrey's writing still the names of Woden and Frea had not been forgotten! Furthermore Geoffrey used the Anglo-Saxon and not the Scandinavian names for these two deities.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

The Iceni, a Germanic Tribe?

People are beginning to wake up to the fiction that Britain was 'Celtic' prior to the Roman invasion of 43 CE. At not time did the British tribes or classical writers describe the inhabitants of Britain as being 'Celtic'. That does not of course exclude the possibility of a Celtic presence in Britain but the facts of the matter are far more complex. Interesting recent genetic surveys uphold the presence of Germanic DNA in the English and British gene pools but fail to identify any evidence for a "single 'Celtic' genetic group". Indeed the Scottish, Norther Irish, Welsh and Cornish do not show up in the genetic evidence as an identifiable and different genetic group. http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/mar/18/genetic-study-30-percent-white-british-dna-german-ancestry

Of course one could interpret this as evidence of the genocide of local native populations by the waves of Germanic colonisers such as the Anglo-Saxons. This would of course fit the historical narrative presented by the 6th century CE British monk Gildas in his  De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae. A interesting exposition of his work can be found in Celt and Saxon: The Struggle for Britain AD 410-937 by Peter Berresford Ellis (1993). His work is very interesting but the latter referred to book comes across as very anti-English but I would still encourage my readers to read it and overlook the 'Celtic' bias.

Modern writers and 'scholars' writing about first century CE Britain tend to fall into two camps, those who claim that 'we are all Celts' and deny the English their very real Germanic identity or try to polarise the differences between the English and other native populations. Perhaps it is time for a third position on this issue, that 'we are all Germanic' now?

In the light of the absence of clearly identifiable Celtic DNA we should look again at certain accepted truths and one of these concerns the ethnic identity of Boudicca, the first century CE queen of the Iceni who occupied what became Norfolk in East Anglia. She is descibed by Cassius Dio as having 'tawny' hair which is reddish-brown. She was tall, had piercing eyes and a harsh tone to her voice. Indeed she was a veritable Valkyrie of a woman. This description would be as equally as fitting for a Germanic queen from say the Nibelungenlied or the Volsunga Saga!

Interestingly the name of her tribe, the Iceni could mean 'blade' from the Brythonic ceni. My readers will be aware that the Germanic Saxons were named after the sax, also a blade! The fact that Boudicca and the Iceni could have Germanic origins should not surprise us as Stephen Oppenheimer in his remarkable The Origins of the British: A Genetic Detective Story (2007) reveals that Germanic people have been crossing over from mainland Germanic Europe to eastern England for centuries prior to the Anglo-Saxon invasions of the 5th century CE. He also ably demonstrated that English is much older than commonly accepted and rightly should exist in its own category as a Germanic language outside of the West and North Germanic language groups. We also now know that Stonehenge Phases II and III was the product of colonising Indo-Germanic Beaker Folk and Battle Axe Folk thousands of years ago! Furthermore the Germanic or partly Germanic Belgae were also already present in England by the time of the Roman Conquest and it is widely accepted that they introduced the Cult of Gwydion or Woden into England.

The Iceni minted their own coins without the need for importing Roman ones and this was a mark of how advanced their civilisation was. Remarkably they featured what appears to be Woden on some of their coins and His horse on the obverse side.

Thus we may summarise that for thousands of years England has experienced wave after wave of Germanic immigration before the Anglo-Saxons with the coming of the Beaker Folk, Battle Axe Folk and the Belgae. Rightly can England claim to be a part of greater Germania and long may it be so! The Anglo-Saxons were in a very real sense COMING HOME!

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Anglo-Saxon Thunder Lore

It is ironic but in the xtian churches' desire to eradicate genuine Germanic and Aryan heathen lore they inadvertantly saved some of it. The shavelings brought literacy to the converted peoples although this self-same literacy was denied to the bulk of the people, being the preserve of cloistered monks. Nevertheless some real gems of heathen lore were preserved by the clerics although to the casual reader it may not always be so obvious.

One example of such heathen lore is that concerning thunder. One work which is traditionally attributed to Bede is De Tonitrius Libellus:

"If thunder arises in the east on the coast, then according to the wise traditions of philosophers, it indicates that during the course of that year there would be a great outpouring of human blood [i.e. a battle].
If the thunder comes from western regions, then...it is said to presage death for the offspring of Adam, and a terrible plague approaching in the course of that year.
If the thunder is in the south, then, as wise and astute philosophers assert...it foretells that the inhabitants of the ocean [i.e. fish] will die off in some great misfortune.
When thunder is heard from the north...it signifies the death of the worst transgressors, that is of pagans and of heretic Christians." (Aspects of Anglo-Saxon Magic, 1996, Bill Griffiths)

Although attributed to Bede this is disputed by modern scholars but nevertheless appears to date back to the late 9th century at the latest. The reference to "pagans and of heretic Christians" could well be an addition to and an interpolation into the original lore which would of necessity have been oral in nature. What the clerics did preserve they contaminated as in the example of the Rune Poems and Saxo Grammaticus. The great work of Wodenism today is to cleanse our lore of xtian contamination as much as we are able. The Asatru Edda (2009) and the more recent The Odinist Edda (2014), both published by The Norroena Society are worthy attempts at doing so and in the spirit of Viktor Rydberg they present our lore as a consistent epic with material not found in the Eddas being included.

If of course De Tonitrius Libellus is the work of Bede then we must consider that this lore was written down at a time when England had only just lost its last heathen king.

"The last part of England to remain worshipping the old gods officially was Sussex, whose king Arwald (died 686) was the last Pagan king in Britain." ( Pagan Magic of the Northern Tradition. Customs, Rites, and Ceremonies, 2015, Nigel Pennick)  

Little is known of this Saxon king but is it not time that we acknowledged him as the last defender of Anglo-Saxon heathendom? Even his name is significant-Ar-wald. Now before anyone tells me that he was regarded as a xtian saint, this is simply not true! Arwald was killed by the xtian Caedwalla, king of Wessex in the Isle of Wight. Arwald's two younger brothers betrayed our ancient Gods by accepting xtianity before they were executed. No doubt they were tricked into doing so with the false promise that they would be saved if they did so, this being interpreted possibly as they being spared execution! This was a common xtian trick! Consequently because the names of these two brothers was unknown they were collectively cannonised and the two became known as St. Arwald! St. Arwald's day is 22nd April, very close to England Day (23rd).

The Ar prefix in Arwald's name is indicative of nobility and the very concept of Aryanness as embodied in the Germanic God Irmin, the Irish Eremon, the Gallic Ariomanus, the Vedic Aryaman, the Avestan Airyaman.
"The king of the Sons of Mil, Eremon, is etymologically the equivalent of the Gaulish Ariomanus, reflecting the same personified *aryomn 'Aryanness' as is seen in the Vedic Aryaman and the Iranian Airyaman. In addition, very specific traits connect Eremon with both of the latter. The dossier of Eremon in the Lebor Gabala involves his role as builder of causeways and royal roads. In the Historia Britonum of Nennius, the Book of Leinster, the Book of Lecan, and some other scources, Eremon arranged a protection against poisoned enemy arrows that consisted of pouring cow's milk into furrows on the battlefield. He also provided wives to his allies and arranged for hereditary succession in favour of the Irish, his own people."(Comparative Mythology, 1987, Jaan Puhvel)
Aryan god ( *h4eros). A deity in charge of welfare is indicated by a number of lexical correspondences (Skt Aryaman, Av airyaman, Gaul Ariomannus, OIr Eremon, and non-cognate functional correspondences, e.g. Vidura in the Mahabharata. The Aryaman-type deity is associated with building and maintenance of roads or pathways, with healing, especially involving a ritual where cattle urine or milk is poured in a furrow, and the institution of marriage. In this sense he is seen as a 'helper' in to the First Function deity of the Mitra type." (The Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European World, 2006, J.P. Mallory and D.Q. Adams)
Thus King Arwald's name could be interpreted as the Arman, the Aryan man of the forest; wald meaning forest or the military leader of the forest as Ar and Heri are cognate. Germanic kings were not only regarded as descendants of the Gods but also had by necessity to be effective military leaders.

In addition to thunder having a particular significance according to the four directions it may also be interpreted according to the month:

"In the month of January, if it thunders, it presages great winds, and the crops of the earth will turn out well, and there will be a battle (or, war).
"In the month of February, if it thunders, it foretells the death of many people and most of the kingdom.
"In the month of March, thunder signifies great winds, and crops turning out well, and discord among people.
"In April, thunder betokens a happy year, and the death of evil people.
"In May, thunder presages a hungry year.
"In the month of June, thunder signifies great winds, and madness among wolves and lions.
"In the month of July, thunder signifies crops turning out well, and livestock perishing.
"In the harvest month, thunder signifies a good yield, and people will sicken.
"In September, thunder means a good harvest, and the killing of powerful (or rich) people.
"In October thunder fortells a great gale, and crops yet to come, and a lack of fruits from trees.
"In November thunder bodes a happy year, and crops yet to come.
"In December, thunder predicts a good harvest from the soil, and harmony, and peace." (Griffiths)

Thunder also has a significance according to the days of the week.

"If the first thunder comes on Sunday, it signifies the death of children of your kin.
"If it thunders on Monday, that presages great bloodshed in some nation.
"If it thunders on Tuesday, that signifies a failing of crops.
"If it thunders on Wednesday, that means the death of land-workers and mechanics [craeftiga].
"If it thunders on Thursday, that means the death of womenfolk.
"If it thunders on Friday, that means the death of sea-creatures.
"If it thunders on Saturday, that means the death of judges and officials." (Griffiths)

The astute reader will notice that the thunder lore according to the days of the week signifies death on six days and crop failure on one! Also the thunder lore according to the direction is also in each case a warning of death! However the thunder lore attached to the months of the year has a more rational basis and is no doubt based on sound observation by our ancestors whilst the thunder lore concerning days of the weeks and direction is based on pure superstition. It is no wonder that our great God Thunor, the very personification of thunder was prayed to for protection and at the same time was held in awe by our ancestors.

"Se thunor hit thryscedh mid thaere fyrenan aecxe."(Dialogue of Solomon and Saturn) [translated as "Thunor threshes with his fiery axe".]
Not surprisingly our ancestors wore and were buried with axe amulets as a means of propitiating Thunor and seeking His protection in this life and the next.