Sunday, 10 April 2016

A Connection Between Cuthman, Cuthbert and Fro-Ing

In the writings of our Folk Warder Wulf Ingesunnu there are occasional references to the mysterious figure of Cuthman http://inglinga.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/the-white-stone-of-ing.html
It would be helpful to look at the etymology of this character's name. Cuð is Old English for 'known'; some define this as 'famous' which in my mind is not exactly the same thing. It is the past participle of  cunnan, to 'be or become acquainted with' or more interestingly 'be thoroughly conversant with, know, know how to, have power to, be able to, can.' (See A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary by J.R. Clark Hall). This word in turn is derived from Proto-Germanic *kunthaz.

I believe that there may be a connection between the Cuthman discussed by Wulf and the Cuthbert of Northumbria. Now I am not saying that this is the same person but it is indicative of a certain archetype, possibly a divine archetype or maybe a name or badge of office. Certainly both Cuthman and Cuthbert have miraculous powers in the surviving Old English and Norman texts.

Wulf draws a comparison between Cuthman and the ancient God of the English, Ing, Ingwe, Fro-Ing. Indeed he may be a heavily xtianised version of this God. Let us not forget that the church did not just seek to destroy or eradicate our ancient Gods but they incorporated them into their own mythology as saints-or demi-gods if you will!  One of the reasons for this is because these divine archetypes were too ingrained in the Collective Unconscious or Blood Memory of our folk to be completely eradicated so instead they outwardly changed them but the inner essence remains the same.  

Cuthbert has an additional element which I believe to be of significance. The suffix to the name, bert is derived from Old English beorht, meaning 'bright, shining, brilliant, light, clear, loud: excellent, distinguished, remarkable, beautiful, magnificent, noble, glorious: pure, sublime, holy, divine.' (J.R. Clark Hall). We get here the feeling that this is not meant to be brightness in the ordinary mundane sense of the word but a divine brightness, a sacred shining light that was an attribute of Fro-Ing. Cuthbert is said to have power over animals, the elements, had the ability to prophesy, he could detect the presence of hidden water, turn water into wine, able to supernaturally extinguish fires, cure the sick and after his death not only did his supposed dead body perform acts of healing but it lay uncorrupted (see Bede's Life of Cuthbert and Ecclesiastical History of the English People). I am reminded here of the account of Fro-Ing's 'death' in the Ynglinga Saga:

" When it became known to the Swedes that Frey was dead, and yet peace and good seasons continued, they believed that it must be so as long as Frey remained in Sweden; and therefore they would not burn his remains, but called him the god of this world, and afterwards offered continually blood sacrifices to him, principally for peace and good seasons." (Ynglinga saga 13)

According to  Snorri Sturluson therefore the body of this 'dead' God still had the capability of producing good seasons for His believers. There is an indirect link between this myth and the legend of the continuing powers of the dead body of Cuthbert, the 'powerful shining one'. I believe that this connection between Cuthman, Cuthbert and Fro-Ing merits further research and I am sure that further revelations will be brought to light.

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