Saturday, 28 May 2016

The Survival of the Irminsul and its Connection to Ziu

There has been much speculation over the years about the location of the historic Irminsul with the most popular choices being Eresburg and the Externsteine but I believe that it is a error to assume that there was only one Irminsul. I have now come to the conclusion that Irminsul columns are to be found all over continental Germania and England and indeed many of these pillars have survived down to the present day in the form of Jupiter Columns in Roman occupied Europe and indeed even in the humble marker crosses which are to be found all over rural England.

Eugene Goblet d'Alviella in his most interesting The Migration of Symbols (1894)mmakes reference to the perrons/perons (French) or perroen (Dutch) of eastern Belgium which are stone columns usually surmounted by a cross. In particular he discusses the Perron of Liege:

"The most celebrated of those perrons is still standing, above a fountain, on the market-place at Liege; it consists of a white marble column placed on a square base with five steps, guarded by four lions. The capital is surmounted by the three Graces, who support a Crown encircling a Fir-cone with a small Cross on its point."

Some of my readers may already be aware that the Fir cone or Pine cone is a symbol of the Goddess Zisa, the consort of the ancient Germanic sky God Ziu.  According to Nigel Pennick Cisa/Zisa had a shrine at Augsburg in Germany and her annual festival took place on the 28th of September. (The Complete Illustrated Guide to the Runes), the original name of this city being Zisenburg (A History of Pagan Europe, Pennick/Jones) or Zizarim (The Book of Primal Signs, Pennick). The Roman name of the city was Augusta Vindelicorum. The symbol of Zisa is the pine cone and many large stone pine cones survive from Roman times. Mr Pennick states that the Stadtpyr is the emblem of Augsburg and Her cone appears as a weather vane on the church of St. Peter-am-Perlach, which was built on the site of a holy hill dedicated to the Goddess.

This Goddess is referred to extensively in Jacob Grimm's Teutonic Mythology Volume 1:

"Sie bawten einen tempel gross darein zu eren[in honour of] Zise der abgoettin, die sie nach heidnischen sitten[after heathen ways] anbetten zu denselben zeiten[adored in those days]. Die stat ward genennt[city got named] auch Zisaris nach der abgoettin[after the goddess], das was der pris. Der tempel als lang stund unversert[stood uninjured], bis im von alter abgieng[as from age it passed away], der berg namen von im empfieng[the hill took name], daruf gestanden was[whereon had stood] das werck, und haist noch huet[hight still to-day] der Zisenberck."

So the combination of a pillar surmounted by a cone reinforces the identification of the column with Ziu and His consort Zisa. There is a strong argument for assuming that Irmin, Saxnot and Ziu are in fact different names for the same deity. All three are both highly important and ancient sky deities who reach far back into the Germanic past. If this theory is correct then I would suggest that it is Ziu who is the oldest form of this deity; Irmin and Saxnot being later developments.

Indeed as a deity Ziu is so ancient that His existence can be traced right back to Proto-Indo-European times and He was clearly The God worshipped by the still undivided Aryans. He is the Welsh duw, the Latin deus, the Lithuanian dievas, the Sanskrit deva, the Avestan daevo (demonised as a 'false God' by the Zoroastrians), the Jupiter of the Romans and the Zeus of the Greeks. Our ancient Aryan ancestors would have called Him Dyeus, 'celestial being'. He was literally the Sky Father and this is particularly reflected in the Latin Iupiter (pronounced Jupiter), Dis-Pater, Deus Pater and the Greek Zeu Pater which is remarkably similar to the Sanskrit Dyauspitah. This deity's dominance as the primary God of the undivided Aryans diminished as the various Aryan tribes went their separate ways and evolved their own pantheons of Gods. The main area of operations of this God was in the daylight sky.

As Jupiter is the Roman version of Ziu we have here a further connection between Ziu and Irmin as the Jupiter columns which are to be found in the Romanised parts of Germania are clearly a form of the Irminsul.

Returning to The Migration of Symbols the author states:

"Lastly, old chroniclers relate that in the thirteenth century the destruction of the Irminsul by Charlemagne was still commemorated at Hildesheim on the Saturday following the Sunday of the Laetare, by planting in the ground, on the cathedral square, two poles six feet high, each surmounted by a wooden object one foot in height, and shaped like a pyramid or cone. The young people then endeavoured with sticks and stones to overthrow this object. Does not this tradition directly connect the Irminsul, or rather the Irminsuls, with the stake which, surmounted by a Cone, is presented to our view in the Frankish buckle, just as the stone column of the Hildesheim cathedral links them with the perrons of Belgium?"

Here the author is referring to Fir cones placed at the end of pillars and venerated by the Franks in eastern Belgium and north east France.

Ziu was the God who presided over the ancient Thing so it is not surprising that we find miniature Irminsuls in the form of market crosses in the market squares of England and other Germanic countries where it was the tradition for public assemblies to be held. As Christopher Fee points out in his interesting book Gods, Heroes, & Kings: The Battle for Mythic Britain (2004):

"Tiw was the protector of judicial assemblies; this fact is attested by a Roman inscription in Britain to 'Mas Thingus', who watched over legal proceedings, which were held on his day (Tuesday) of each week."

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Wodan and the Brocken

As I have mentioned several times before on this blog the Harz mountains in northern Germany which is situated in the German states of Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen) and Saxony-Anhalt (Sachsen-Anhalt) was a centre of Germanic heathenism for a very long time and in the later Middle Ages it became associated with 'witchcraft' which was simply a demonised and debased form of the ancient Germanic religion.

In particular the Brocken or Brokenberg which is situated just inside the territory of Saxony-Anhalt stands at over 3,743 feet and is the highest point of the Harz. I have never climbed the Brocken as whenever I was in Germany the weather conditions were never appropriate but it can be seen for miles around. It is not surprising that this was the centre of the Cult of Wodan in ancient times as Wodan/Woden is more associated with mountains and forests than His Scandinavian counterpart, Odin. He is of course the Wild Hunter who haunts the German forests and mountains:

"In Lower Saxony and Westphalia this Wild Hunter is identified with a particular person, a certain semi-historic master of a hunt. The accounts of him vary. Westphalian traditions call him Hackelbarend, Hackelbernd, Hackelberg, Hackelblock. This Hackelbarend was a huntsman who went a hunting even on Sundays, for which desecration he was after death (like the man in the moon) banished into the air, and there with his hound he must hunt night and day, and never rest. Some say, he only hunts in the twelve nights from Christmas to Twelth-day; others, whenever the storm-wind howls, and therefore he is called by some the jol-jaeger (from yawling, or Yule?) (page 921, Teutonic Mythology Volume 3, Jacob Grimm)

Of course after the forced conversion of the Germanic peoples the Wild Hunter became associated with various historical or legendary personalities for this ancient Germanic archetype could not be eradicated from the German folk-soul.  Interestingly in some Scandinavia folktales we also get a glimpse of this older and more terrifying Wuotan:

"Wuotan appears riding, driving, hunting, as in Norse sagas, with valkyrs and einheriar in his train; the procession resembles an army. Full assurance of this hunting Wode's identity with the heathen god is obtained from parallel phrases and folktales in Scandinavia. The phenomenon of howling wind is referred to Odin's waggon, as that ofthunder is to Thor's. On hearing a noise at night, as of horses and carts, they say in Sweden 'Oden far forbi.' "(page 919, Grimm)

However it is true to say that this ancient archetype has survived longer in the German speaking lands and it is only in folktales that we see this more ancient God, whose original name was Wode:

 "The name of Woden or Wuotan denotes the stormy or furious goer, being derived from a verb which is closely related to the Lowland Scotch word Wud, mad or furious. The verb itself survives in English, but greatly tamed down and restricted in meaning, for it now signifies nothing more violent than to walk through shallow water, to wade. Originally it meant to go like one that is 'wud', to go as the winds go when they rend the forests in their furious course. So went Woden or Odin, whose original nature was that of the storm-god; and it is that character he sustains at this day in the popular legends of Germany. They picture him as sweeping through the air in the roaring winds, either alone or with a great retinue consisting of the souls of the dead, which have become winds, and have, like the Maruts, taken the shape of men, dogs, boars &c." (Curiosities of Indo-European Folklore, Walter Keating-Kelly)

Although primarily a Germanic deity we found a parallel deity in Indo-Aryan religion:

  "O The Wind`s chariot, O its power and glory! Crashing it goes and hath a voice of thunder. It makes the regions red and touches heaven, and as it moves the dust of earth is scattered. Along the traces of the wind they hurry, they come to him as dames to an assembly. Borne on his car with these for his attendants, the God speeds forth, the universe`s Monarch. Travelling on the paths of air`s mid-region, no single day doth he take rest or slumber. Holy and earliest-born, Friend of the waters, where did he spring and from what region came he? Germ of the world, the Deities` vital spirit, this God moves ever as his will inclines him. His voice is heard, his shape is ever viewless. Let us adore this Wind with our oblation."(Rig Veda Hymn 168)

The primary deity of the Germanic peoples has His origins in an ancient storm giant who our ancestors worshipped for thousands of years:

"The primitive conception of Odin is the German storm giant Wode, leader of the 'wild army', O.H.G. Wuotis-her, i.e. the procession of the homeless dead through the air. The development Woden raises the name on to the same level as royal titles like Gothic thiudans and Scandinavia drottinn. (page 227, Our Forefathers the Gothonic Nations Volume 1, Gudmund Schuette)

 "The German Wode=O.N. Odr is a storm giant, the Wild Huntsman and Leader of the Host of the Dead who is finally exalted to the chief god under the name of Woden, Odin." (Page 216)

It should be remembered that where our mythology refers to 'giants' this is in essence a reference to an earlier race of divinities. This is equally true of other Indo-European mythologies such as the Greek mythology and its 'Titans'. It is said that in ancient times a giant 'portrait' of Wodan was situated on the Brocken. It may be that this image was a rock craving of the God. It is on this mountain that the sacred marriage between Wodan and Freya was celebrated. 

Sunday, 1 May 2016

The Germanic Physical Characteristics of the Caledonians and the Diamond Shape of Albion

I have already dicussed the probability that the Germanic peoples had a presence in England thousands of years before the accepted date of around 449 CE. The Ancient Presence of the Germanic Peoples in Britain

In addition to the presence of the Germanic peoples in England their presence is also to be found in other parts of the British Isles. http://celto-germanic.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/ancient-presence-of-germanic-peoples-in.html.

The Germanic peoples brought their Cult of Woden with them and Woden appears to be the same daity associated with Gwydion. http://celto-germanic.blogspot.co.uk/2015/06/woden-as-gwydion-belgic-god-of-ash.html

There is potentially further evidence for the presence of the Germanic peoples in Scotland. Certain interesting passages from Tacitus' Agricola seem to indicate this:

"Who the first inhabitants of Britain were, whether natives or immigrants, is open to question: one must remember we are dealing with barbarians. But their physical characteristics vary, and the variation is suggestive. The reddish hair and large limbs of the Caledonians proclaim a German origin; the swarthy faces of the Silures, the tendency of their hair to curl, and the fact that Spain lies opposite, all lead one to believe that Spaniards crossed in ancient times and occupied that part of the country. The peoples nearest to the Gauls likewise resemble them." (Agricola 11, translated by H. Mattingley, revised by S.A. Handford, my emphasis)

This physical description of the Caledonians is matched by an obervation by Eumenius who wrote that both the Picts and the Caledonians had red hair. However we must be cautious and bear in mind that Tacitus does not reveal the identity of the language spoken by the Caledonians

Another interesting  passage from Agricola concerns the perceived shape of England and the island of Britain:

"The general shape of Britain has been compared by Livy and by Fabius Rusticus-the finest of ancient and modern writers respectively-to an elongated diamond or a double-headed axe. Such indeed is its shape south of Caledonia, and so the same shape has been attributed to the whole." (Agricola 10)

This perception by the ancients of England or Britain as being diamond shaped is significant for the diamond is the shape of the Anglo-Saxon Ing rune and the Common Germanic Ingwaz rune. This rune is the rune of the God of the English, Ing. Indeed we have a mystery here for the association between the God of the English and the perceived shape of the homeland of the English are both encapsulated in this rune's shape. This is a powerful argument for the case that the English have always resided in Albion and that their supposed arrival in 449 CE was nothing other than a RETURN. One could thus argue that England or Britain is their Urheimat and not simply a territory colonised by Germanic tribes in the mid 5th century CE. To find therefore a people such as the Caledonians residing in the north of the island and being likened by Tacitus as Germans further strengthens the argument that these islands have always been in the possession of the Germanic peoples.