View Full Version : Thunor / Donar / Tanarus

Sunday, December 4th, 2005, 07:10 AM

The most obvious reference to the thunder god Thunor is contained in the fourth day of the week, Thursday, which in Old English was Thunresdaeg or the day of Thunor. Thunor's name is also found in a good few English place names. His name can be found in Thunderfield, Thundersley, Thunorslege, Thunderley, Thunrefeld, Thunreslau, Thunreshlaew, Thurstable, and there are two examples of Thunrelea. Obvious cult sites are those placenames ending in the ley element, which mean grove of Thunor. Interesting is Thurstable which, is said to mean pillar of Thunor and tends to suggest strong devotion to Thunor. While Woden may be considered the god of kings and royalty, Thunor was most certainly the god of the common man and farmer. Some of the place names containing the name of Thunor are situated in what could be called no man's land, in other words out in the remote countryside away from the towns where Christian influence was strongest. This could be the reason why the above place names retained their Thunor element, as the farmers were free to worship Thunor for much longer, even after their so called conversion. So the place names containing Thunor's name became permanent.

An interesting word found in Old English that could have come from a belief in Thunor is Thunorrad, which means thunder riding or Thunor riding. In Old Norse belief Thunor's Scandinavian counterpart, Thor, is said to ride across the sky in a goat drawn chariot, so it's possible that when the Heathen Anglo-Saxons heard the sound of thunder in the sky, they may well have believed it was Thunor riding across the sky like Thor, and called such a belief Thunorrad or thunder riding.

Archaeology has shown that a veneration of Thunor was popular amongst the Anglo-Saxons in England, in graves small amulets have been found resembling hammers, which probably shows the Heathen Anglo-Saxons believed Thunor possessed a hammer like the Norse Thor. Also discovered many times is the symbol which is known today as the swastika, this symbol was holy to the thunder god throughout the Germanic world, it has been found on brooches, weapons, cremation urns, manuscripts and even in churches. The swastikas found on cremation urns are interesting as they may connect Thunor to burial rites or the after life, or if not Thunor, then the swastika itself. Also sacred to Thunor is the oak tree, the connection between Thunor and the oak may have come from the frequency of which the oak tree was struck by lightning. The custom of the Yule-log, which comes from Heathen belief, may also have been associated with the thunder god due to the fact that it was commonly made of oak. In his book 'The Golden Bough', James Frazer has this to say about the custom of the Yule-log in England:

'That the Yule-log was only the winter counterpart of the midsummer bonfire, kindled within doors instead of in the open air on account of the cold and inclement weather of the season, was pointed out long ago by our English antiquary John Brand, and the new is supported by the many quaint superstitions attaching to the Yule-log, superstitions which have no apparent connection with Christianity but carry their heathen origin stamped upon them.'

'The old custom was to light the Yule-log with a
fragment of it's predecessor, which had been kept
throughout the year for the purpose....the remains
of the log were also supposed to guard the house
against fire and lightning.'

'As the Yule-log was frequently of oak, it seems
possible that this belief was a relic of the old Aryan
creed which associated the oak tree with the
thunder god'.

(Taken from 'The Golden Bough by J.G. Frazer)

Very strong evidence suggesting that there was a cult devoted to the god Thunor is found in the story of Saint Mildthryth. The start of this story relates the tale that Saint Domneva, who was the mother of Mildthryth, founded an abbey as result of the death of two Kentish princes whom are said to have been murdered by a certain Thunor. Part of the story reads:

"Until they came to that place which is now called 'Thunors barrow'. And he then, this Thunor, bowed down to the king and said to him: "Sire, how long will you listen to this dumb beast that will run around all this land? Do you want to give it all to the queen?" As soon as he spoke these words the earth split asunder...

This story of a certain Thunor seems to be a tale that may have arisen as a result of the success in destroying the cult of Thunor amongst the Heathens of Kent. Like much in Anglo-Saxon Heathenism, Thunor here is belittled and demonised as being evil. And the founding of an abbey in compensation for the murders of the two princess by Thunor could be seen as a show of strength from the Christian religion in it's victory over the cult of Thunor in Kent. At the end of the quoted story we read:

'As soon as he spoke these words the earth split asunder...'

The mention of the earth splitting at his very words seems to be very much in custom with the character of the thunder god, a god of strength and power capable of splitting oak tree's, and here it seems, the very ground itself.

The thunder god was one of the most venerated gods amongst all of Europe's Heathens, and this was no different amongst the Anglo-Saxons in England.

Source (http://www.englishheathenism.homestead.com/thunor.html)

Saturday, March 3rd, 2007, 10:34 PM
This is a Thunor's hammer in what may have been the Anglo-Saxon design. I drew this one based on the picture (http://www.homestead.com/englishheathenism/othersymbols.html) shown on the ASH site where Sigurd got the article above.


Sunday, March 4th, 2007, 06:16 AM
Hail Thunor, indeed.

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007, 05:50 PM
I was reading "The Lost Gods of England" by Brian Branston and his theory is that the name Thunor and Donar came from the Gallic Tanarus, which later developed into the Norse god Thor.

Thunor means 'thunder'. The god was christened (if the verb is permissible) in the Lower Rhineland although one could not say that he was born there. It was at a time when Saxons and Celts were rubbing shoulders: they traded goods, they traded ideas and they traded gods. The name Thunor I take to come from the second element of Celtic Jupiter Tanarus, the 'Thundering Jupiter' and it must have been adopted into a Saxon dialect during the period before the North West European Sound Shift, that is, before AD 1.

The Old English, while still on the Continent, equated Thunor with the Roman Jupiter or Jove the father of the gods. We can see this identification fossilized in one of the days of the week. When our ancestors accepted the Roman calendar after AD 300 they named the fifth day Thunres-dæg (now called Thursday) after the Latin Jovis dies, Jove's or Jupiter's day.

But I have already pointed out that Jupiter really fits into the series Zeus, Dyaus and Tiwaz. Jupiter is first and foremost a sky god, a Sky Father, and not a weather god. Again, as I have suggested, it is not difficult for sky and weather gods to share or exchange attributes. The Saxon neighbors of the Celtic worshippers of Jupiter Tanarus were calling their weather god after the Tanarus part of the name and not after the Jupiter: it was the attribute of being able to thunder that at this point they were personifying. So we can see that while Thunor was 'christened' in the Lower Rhineland he was born centuries before among the Indo-Europeans. As the tribes split apart they carried with them their idea of the weather god, each idea tending to be modified by the environment in which the tribal weather gods began influencing each other and even taking on attributes of the old sky god. In this way did Thunor arise.

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007, 11:41 PM
I don't personally think that one came from the other whatsoever. It is obvious that of all thunder gods in Europe, Taranis/Tanarus and Donar/Thunor/Thor are the most similar to each other - but that is kind of obvious, since Celtics and Germanics are parts of the family that split very late, and their sphere of influence can, even now, not be completely marked, as most countries in NW Europe will have been influenced by both elements. So, even though, they are very similar, I would say that it is a parallel development, not unlike the differentiation between Perun and Perkunas (and in further consequence the split of the latter with Perkele) in Eastern Europe ... humans didn't come from apes either, even though they are similar, remember? ;)