Sunday, 30 April 2017

Some Thoughts on Rig of the Rigsthula

The Rigsthula is one of the most important sacred documents that has survived the onslaught of xtianity in the Germanic realms and I make no apology therefore in returning to it time and time again for there is still much to be gleaned and learned from this poem found in the Elder or Poetic Edda.

The God Rig is credited with the formation of the Germanic caste system but this should not be confused with the creation of man which is dealt with as a separate event in both the Elder Edda and the Younger or Prose Edda. Rig's intention is to create an order of caste within Germanic society by the mixing of divine blood with that of mortal man. Of course we know that the caste system is to be found throughout the Aryan world. The Rigsthula is simply an account based on how the Germanic peoples thought of how the caste system came into being.

One question that we are faced with straight away is the identity of Rig and this is something which I have long pondered for several years now. The Rigsthula is prefaced with the following statement:

"People say in the old stories that one of the Aesir, who was called Heimdall, went on a journey, and as he went along the sea-shore somewhere he came to a household and he called himself Rig." (Carolyne Larrington translation)

It would seem from this that the Lay of Rig was already well known but it is possible that the writer of the lay may have repeated a mistake regarding the identification of Rig with Heimdall. Even  Miss Larrington states in her notes that "The identification of Heimdall with Rig is not absolutely secure, since it is based only on the prose introduction, but the beginning of the Seeress's Prophecy, asking for attention from all 'the offspring of Heimdall', seems to suggest that the god did have some connection with the creation of mankind."

Rig is said to be "derived from the Irish ri (rig in other cases) meaning 'king'." Why this term should be derived from an Irish source we can only speculate but I will leave discussion of that issue for another day. The important point to grasp is that the term is said to mean 'king' and this position was not Heimdall's but Odin's. Let us visit the line in question from the Voluspa in the Elder Edda:

"Attention I ask from all the sacred people, greater and lesser, the offspring of Heimdall;" (verse 1, Larrington translation)

Miss Larrington in her notes states that the 'sacred people' are the Gods but this is not how I read the line in its English translation. It appears to be referring to the 'offspring of Heimdall' as the 'sacred people' rather than the Gods and this makes sense when we consider that these people are divine offspring. In fact the translation of this verse by Benjamin Thorpe supports my contention:

"For silence I pray all sacred children, great and small, sons of Heimdall,"

So it is clear then that it is the men and women who are descended from Rig are 'sacred' but without studying the original Old Norse (something which I intend to do) I cannot be categoric in this. It is simply my initial theory.

From my understanding the introduction to the Rigsthula may have been written 100 years or so later than the poem itself by way of providing some insight into who Rig may be and if this is the case it makes the contention that Rig is Heimdall stand on a much faultier basis. Rudolf Simek seems to share the view that I hold:

"It is extremely doubtful whether Rigr can be identified with the god Heimdall, as occurs in the prose introduction added later to the lay. The picture of a god wandering about and spreading the knowledge of the runes would appear to fit Odin more than Heimdall." (Dictionary of Northern Mythology

My readers will note that Professor Simek states that the prose introduction was added later to the lay thus making it seem somewhat unreliable in my opinion. The whole picture of a wandering God who teaches runes to His son Jarl fits better with the qualities of Odin Himself who is known as The Wanderer and is the High Lord of the runes. Unlike Heimdall He is also the rig, the king of the Gods. Most ancient Germanic royal houses included Odin or Woden in their ancestry. Heimdall never appears in this way. Finally the main function of Heimdall is to guard Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge. For Heimdall to leave His post for extended periods of time thus leaving Asgard vulnerable to attack does not make an iota of sense to me.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

The Celtic Caste System, a Comparison with the Germanic

On this blog and on my Aryan Myth and Metahistory blog I have written many times about different aspects of either the Aryan or Germanic caste systems. What I propose to do in this article is focus particularly on the Celtic caste system and discuss where it differs from the Germanic one.

As far as the structure of the Celtic caste system is concerned it would appear that it closely followed the original Aryan one:

Irish caste system

Druids (including Ovates and Bards)-priestly caste

Flaith-noble/warrior caste

Bo aire-"cow herds"-producer caste

Gallic caste system


Equites (Knights)


I would like to make two points here. Firstly my readers will note the use of the term aire which has exactly the same meaning as the term Arya or Aryan. This puts paid to the lie of many 'academics' that our European ancestors did not use this term to describe themselves. Peter Berresford Ellis writing in The Ancient World of the Celts compares certain Old Irish and Sanskrit terms. The Sanskrit Arya is translated as 'freeman' and the Old Irish aire as 'noble'. In the Germanic caste system the noble was the Jarl caste whilst the freeman was the Karl caste, the yeoman (or artisan) in other words.  I have proved before this term is not limited to the Iranians or Indo-Aryans. See http://aryan-myth-and-metahistory.blogspot.co.uk/2008/12/aryan-term-not-confined-to-indo.html Indeed there is also a close connection between the Aryans and agriculture. The Aryan was not just a warrior but a farmer and he revolutionised agriculture by the invention of the plough. The English yeoman of the late Middle Ages is the epitome of this. See http://aryan-myth-and-metahistory.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/the-aryans-and-farmer-caste.html The second point that I wish to make is that the above mentioned caste system is typical of Ireland but Caesar writing in his De bello Gallica stresses the importance of the two highest castes:

“In the whole of Gaul two types of men are counted as being of worth and distinction. The ordinary people are considered almost as slaves: they dare do nothing on their own account and are not called to counsels.
“Of the two types of men of distinction, however, the first is made up of the druids, and the other of the knights.” (Book 6.13, Carolyn Hammond translation)

If Caesar is correct in his analysis then this may be an indication that the Celtic tribes of Gaul were more warlike due to the unsettled nature of the times with the threat that they faced from Rome. This situation would have increased the importance of the warrior caste whilst Ireland was largely free from conflict from external enemies and so the dominance of the two highest castes was not so evident. It would appear that there was a fair degree of mobility between the priestly and warrior castes of the Gauls but less so between these two castes and the third caste although it was also possible to rise from this caste to either of the other two but it took several generations for this position to be consolidated and to be fully recognised.

The term bo aire literally means cattle chief and cattle were regarded as an indication of wealth in both Celtic and Germanic societies and this is of course reflected in the Fehu/Feoh/Fe rune, meaning cattle or livestock as a  form of mobile wealth. Eventually land became an indicator of wealth as the tribes became more settled. This was of course before the introduction of 'money'.

The ancient Brehon Laws of Ireland date back to the Iron Age and they developed from oral laws as did the Germanic legal systems. It is said that they have their foundation in Proto-Indo-European or Aryan times. The Brehons were judges or arbiters of the law. The Brehon Laws describe the structure of Irish society and show that there were five main classes of people:

Kings of various grades from tribal Kings to the High King.

Nobles (which included Kings)

Non-Noble Freemen with property

Non-Noble Freemen without property or with little property

The Non-Free

The first three classes were known as 'privileged' and known as an aire. The nobility held land which they owned and thus were the aristocracy. Another term for this type of noble or chief was Flaith. The Freeman with property although not classed as a noble was nevertheless an aire. This would seem to equate to both the gentry and the yeomanry of late mediaeval England. The bo aire was the equivalent of the English yeoman or franklin as I have said previously. A wealthier bo aire could rise to the lowest rank of noble. The Freeman with little or no property were termed ceile or producers. The Freeman whether he be the owner of property or not would have equated to the Karl caste of the Germanic system. Craftsmen or artisans were also regarded as Freemen of the lower rank. The Non-Free were not all slaves and some could own small plots of land for subsistence purposes and they would have equated to the Thrall caste of the Germanic system. The Druids are not represented in the structure outlined in the Brehon Laws as this concerned purely the structure of lay society, not priestly.

It is clear that the Kings and Nobles equate to the Jarl caste whilst the Freemen of both classes equate to the Karl caste and the Non-Free the Thrall caste, thus reconciling the system in the Brehon Laws to the tripartite Indo-European system. If one considers that the Non-Free as a type of Sudra caste fall outside of the Indo-European tripartite structure then what we have is as follows:

Druids-priestly caste

Nobles (including Kings)-warrior caste

Freemen (farmers, craftsmen with or without property)

Non-Free-slaves and others of low standing falling outside of the aire and equate to the Indian Sudras.

The Germanic system does not have a separate priestly caste as this function was subsumed by the noble caste and we see the two functions of the Jarl caste divided into soverignity (Tyr) and magic-religion (Odin) and thus the Thralls which would not have been regarded as aire by the Irish are formed into the third caste, the other two moving up one level to replace the lost priestly one. I have already discussed the reason for this in http://celto-germanic.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/the-germanic-caste-system-reappraisal.html