Saturday, 17 February 2018

Gauts, the Ancestral God of the Goths

Very little information is available in book form regarding the spiritual beliefs and practices of the Gothic tribes, certainly not in the English language although I have seen a number of publications which have been published recently. As I have not had a chance to obtain and read the aforementioned books I will not comment on them at this stage. From an esoteric point of view I can recommend two excellent books which cover various aspects of their beliefs which were published some years ago. These are Nigel Pennick's The Inner Mysteries of the Goths (1995, Cappall Bann Publishing) and Edred Thorsson's The Mysteries of the Goths (2007, Limited First Edition, Runa Raven Press).

What gave me the impetus to write this article were a series of recent meditations that I had on the ancestral aspect of the Gods and this ancestral aspect is particularly pronounced in the beliefs of the Goths. According to Rudolf Simek:

"Anses. A Gothic term for 'gods' used by Jordanes (a Christian historian from the 6th century) that refers to a mythical dynasty which, according to Jordanes, used to be honoured as heroes (semideos). Etymologically speaking, the Anses are identical with the Aesir and the word-element Ans is found in numerous personal names from the Migration Age, although it is not totally clear what it means." (Dictionary of Northern Mythology)

My readers will surely note the similarity between Anses and ancestors. However I would point out that this word has French and Latin roots, being absorbed into Middle English as ancessour. (See Concise Dictionary of English Etymology (Walter W. Skeat) Whilst Anses has a similar meaning to Aesir to me it reminds me far more of our ancestral connection to the Gods. This short article is not the place for me to discuss the various ways in which we can claim kinship with the Gods. I intend to explore this concept more fully on my Aryan Myth and Metahistory blog in the near future. 

Edred Thorsson refers to four principal deities in his book: Gauts, *Teiws, *Fairguneis and *Iggws. My readers will note that only Gauts does not have an asterisk before the name. This is because Gauts is historically attested whilst the latter three are reconstructed deities using the disciplines of comparative linguistics and comparative mythology.

Gauts is said to be the original ancestor of the Goths and He has the alternative appellation of Gapt. Edred makes the interesting observation that "Gaut is identical with ON Gautr, which is in fact one of the many heiti, or bynames of the Norse god Odinn. In ON the name seems to have something to do with being a progenitor. This is very much in keeping with Odinn's general function as the All-Father. Like Gauts, Woden appears at the head of the Anglo-Saxon genealogies of kings." Rudolf Simek makes the additional observation: "The name Gautr is also found in the form of Gapt/Gaut as the mythical ancestor of the Langobards, as Geat in the genealogies of the Anglo-Saxon royal houses and as Gausus in the Langobardian Edictus Rothari. As such, he should be considered as the eponymous ancestor of the Goths who perhaps was identical to Odin in the common Scandinavian homeland of the Germanic tribes, which would explain why he was worshipped as an ancestor in so many places." Regarding the alternative form of the name Gapt he states: "According to Jordanes, the ancestor of the kings of the Amales, who was worshipped as a god. The generally accepted interpretation of the name is that Gapt is a misspelling here for Gaut which is connected with the ON name for Odin>Gautr and Anglo-Saxon Geat." According to an early 14th century saga Bosa saga ok Herraud King Hring of Ostergotland is the son of King Gauti, the son of Odin of Sweden. Some versions of the lineage of the House of Wessex place Geat above Woden but scholars view this as a later interpolation.

As I have made clear in the preceding paragraph the Gothic version of Odin places great emphasis on the chief deity being the ancestor not only of the royal house but the entire tribe or nation. We see an aspect of this in Eddic mythology in the Lay of Rig in the Elder Edda. Although Rig is generally identified with the God Heimdall I believe this to be an error and have argued this point before on my blogs when discussing the Germanic caste system. I believe that Rig (King) is none other than the ALL-FATHER Himself, Odin. As such he implanted His divine DNA in all the castes of Germanic society, making Him our divine progenitor in the same way that the Goths viewed Gauts. http://celto-germanic.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/the-germanic-caste-system-reappraisal.html

Regarding the other principal Gods, Edred comments that the Gothic *Teiws is the same deity as Tiwaz/Tyr and points out that the Gothic letter tyz is reconstructed by scholars as *teiws which corresponds with the Elder Futharc *tiwaz Rune. The God *Fairguneis is the reconstructed Gothic Thunder God and my readers will remember I discussed the possibility of a 'lost' alternative term for the Proto-Germanic Thunder God *Thunaraz in my article http://celto-germanic.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/fjorgynn-early-term-for-thunaraz.html I pointed out how this early name acted as a linguistical 'bridge' for similar deities in other Indo-European cultures. Edred states: "This name etymologically is connected to a word for the oak, and would have translated 'oak-god'. This name would then have been related to the weapon the god carried (an oak club, perhaps)." *Iggws is linked by Edred to the Germanic Ingwaz, known as Yngvi-Freyr in Sweden. Edred makes the claim that there is real evidence for the existence of this deity in the Gothic family of Gods and "that he was consciously syncretised with the new Christian cult. Iggws is the Gothic letter which corresponds to the Greek letter X (Chi)

In this short introductory article I have attempted to give my readers a taster of Gothic mythology and I maintain that we need to engage in further exploration of this fascinating Germanic culture as part of our general efforts in reviving the exoteric outer religion of Germanic heathenism amongst our peoples.