Some time ago I posted some articles on the lesser known Saxon God Krodo who had a localised cult in the Harz Mountains which covers the modern German states of Lower Saxony and Thuringia. See: Krodo, a Lost Saxon God, Traceable to Aryan Times , Irmin and Krodo, Saxon Gods , Krodo Represented in Saturday and The Worship of Krodo and Ostera by Sacred Fire It is important that you read these articles as well as I do not intend to cover old ground in this article.
Since then I have carried out some further research into Krodo and I wish to report some of these findings in this short update. We have of course references to this God in Grimm's Teutonic Mythology where Grimm refers to Conrad Bothe's Sachsenchronik which refers to this deity. It should be noted that the Sachsenchronik dates back to the 15th century so those of you who may be tempted to write this God off as a 19th century 'forgery' need to think again! Our ancestors worshipped many deities other than the major ones which most people have heard about such as Woden and Thunor etc. Many of these deities had very localised cults of worship which may not have extended beyond certain geographical limitations and may be Gods associated with particular mountains, hills, rivers, streams and wells etc.
According to Bothe the God Krodo was the same deity as the Roman Saturn but was referred to as Krodo by the "common people". An image of Krodo was erected on the Harzburg and subsequently overthrown by Charlemagne. Bothe describes the image as representing a man who stands on a column on top of a great fish, a basket of flowers in his right hand and a wheel in his left. According to Bothe the image of Krodo is representative of the four elements:
Fire. The wheel may be a sunwheel and thus representative of the sun.
Earth. The basket of flowers is an indication of fruitfulness of the earth.
Air. The blowing tails of his coat represents the wind, the 'breath of life'.
Water. The fish.
Bothe indicates in his writings that he has found references to Krodo in other sources which are presumably now lost to us. There is nothing to indicate that any of this has been made up by Bothe. There are references to many other Saxon and German Gods in ancient German writings which many modern 'scholars' are dismissive of for no (in my opinion) valid reason. There is a tendency among many modern academics to reject anything that does not neatly fit into their paradigms. This was not the case in the 19th and early 20th centuries when scholars were more open-minded (surely a necessary prerequisite for any authentic research?).
Apart from the reference to Krodo in the chronicle of Bothe there exist localised myths which make reference to Him. I draw my readers' attention to the fascinating collection of tales contained in Marie Elise Turner Lauder's Legends and Tales of the Harz Mountains, North Germany (1885).
"In the grey days long ago, when paganism ruled the land, there stood on the hills near the cave called the Steinkirche-altars to the gods.Bright were the fires to Krodo in the darkness of the night, and on the opposite cliffs rose
the fire pillar in honour of the goddess Ostera.
The crackling flames illuminated the country and the mountains, and invited the
inhabitants of the nearlying vales and heights to the wild customs, the bloody sacrifices,
and the raving dance of heathenism."
By virtue of a supposed 'miracle' a Christian 'holyman' managed to convert these heathen Saxons. Consequently:
"And the hearts of the wild Sassen were opened...…..They vowed to a man henceforth to forsake the worship of Krodo, to remain true to the new faith."
We are told in Lauder's account that this 'holyman' was a "hermit" from a "southern land". On hearing the noisy celebrations the hermit climbed the mountain and commenced preaching to the Saxons and "he began to condemn the gods so dear to them, and challenged them to break in pieces their idols, and turn to the worship of the only true God, their rage kindled." (Not surprisingly!) The Saxons voted unanimously that the hermit should die. They led him to the summit of the mountain "to a place suitable for the execution." The hermit prayed to his god for "strength and courage in the trying moment" and receiving strength managed to free himself from them, seized a wooden battle-axe from one of them and "addressed the bloodthirsty multitude."
The hermit boasted that with the power of his god he could use the axe to split the rock which he succeeded in doing. "When he had uttered these word, he struck with trembling arm the rough cliff, and lo! the firm rock yielded like soft clay to the weak blow of the wooden axe!" The crowd accepted this trick as a 'miracle' and were subsequently baptised by him in the river Oder. On the cliff they built a chuch in an ancient cave-the Steinkirche ('stone church'). This became the meeting place of these first Christians in the Harz mountains.
If the reference to Krodo in the Sachsenchronik is entirely fictitious then this does not explain the existence of this legend which more than likely is based on (possibly distorted) fact. Friedrich Gotthelf in his Das Deutsche Altertum (1900) states that "In Einhard there is no news of Charlemagne's destruction of such an image, neither in the Life of the Emperor Charlesmagne nor in the Annals." Whether the image of Krodo was overthrown by Charlemagne or not, that does not matter. The important point is that an image and a cult existed. Again if there is no truth to this legend then why was the 11th century Krodoaltar in Goslar named after Him? Indeed we find certain places in the Harz named after Krodo such as Grotenleide (Crotenlaide) and Goetzenthal ('valley of the idol'-a reference to Krodo).
Johannes Pomarius writing in his Chronika der Sachsen und Niedersachsen in 1588 refers to "the Idoll SEATER, fondly of some supposed to be Saturnus, for he was otherwise called CRODO, this goodly god stood to be adored in such manner as here this picture doth shew him. First on a pillar was placed a pearch, on the sharpe prickled backe whereof stood this Idoll. He was leane of visage, having long haire, and a long beard: and was bare-headed, and bare footed. In his left hand he held up a wheele, and in his right he carried a paile of water, wherein were flowers, and fruites. His long coate was girded unto him with a towel of white linen. His standing on the sharpe finnes of this fishe was to signifie that the Saxons for their serving him, should pass stedfastly, & without harme in dangerous, and difficult places. By the wheele was betokened the knit unity, and conjoined concord of the Saxons, and their concurring together in the running one course. By the girdle which with the wind streamed from him was signified the Saxons freedome. By the paile with flowers, and fruits was declared that with kindly raine he would nourish the Earth, to bring foorth such fruites, and flowers. And the day unto Name unto which he yet give the name of SATER-DAY, did first receive by being unto him celebrated, the same appellation."
The reference to Saturday is an interesting one and Grimm speculates that the original Germanic name of this day was Roydag and thus sacred to Krodo.
Albinus in his Novce Saxonum Historiue Progymnasmata has this description of Krodo: "Crodus is an old man, in the form of a reaper, standing with naked feet upon a little fish, called a perch. He was clad in a white tunic, with a linen girdle, in his left hand a wheel, in his right a small vessel filled with water in which floated roses and every sort of garden-fruit. The picture is in the Brunswick Chronicle."
The Steinkirche by the way does exist and is located near Scharzfeld in the Harz. It is rumoured that the hermit was none other than Boniface ( about 675-754) who felled Donar's Oak at Fritzlar in northern Hesse. However there is no way that this can be substantiated.