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Thread: Nerthus in the North - Woden Further South?

  1. #41
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    All I’ve done is go on about Nerthus. So, what of Odin..??

    I guess we can start with this quote from Occidental Mythology..

    And so it appears that we may safely assert that whether in the early Greek and Celtic, or in the later Roman and Germanic zones, the European Neolithic heritage produced largely homologous mythic forms, derived from and representing the old order of the great Age of the Goddess: and it was upon this basic stratum that the later layering of high culture myth were superimposed.

    The question remains then as to what these later layering may have been; and germane to his question is Tacitus’s naming of Hercules, Mercury, and Mars as the Latin counterparts of the three important German deities to whom, in his time, sacrifices were addressed. These have been identified unquestionably as Thor, Wodan, and Tiu--after whom, as we have seen, our Thursday, Wednesday, and Tuesday have been named. In the brilliant literature of the Icelandic Eddas and the Middle High German Nibelungenlied, from which Wagner drew his might Ring, they are among the most prominet male divinities. And just as in the period of Tacitus’s account, so also in the Eddic period, one long millennium later, the figure of Wodan-Mercury was the god paramount, above all.

    Page 477
    And, then go with this..

    ..in the character of Wodan (Othin, Odin), primitive traits have all but disappeared, giving place to a steely-bright symbolic figure, highly fashioned and of great surface brilliance, but also of astounding depth. Wodan is the all-father of a securely structured, vastly conceived cosmology, inspired, like all the great orders that we have studied, by the system of the priestly minds of ancient Sumer: developed, however, under influences from Zoroastrian, Hellenistic, and possibly, also, Christian thought; with the force of a type of warrior-mysticism that has already been represented to us in the military mysteries of Mithra and with a particular sense of destiny that is epitomized in the awesome old Anglo-Saxon word wyrd--from which our own word “weird,” as meaning “fate,” derives: the weird of the Weird Sisters of Macbeth.

    We have already remarked that in Wodan’s heavenly warrior hall 432,000 warriors reside, who, at the end of the cosmic eon, are to rush forth to the “war with the Wolf,” the battle of mutual slaughter of the gods and giants. On the dawn of that day the watchman of the giants, Eggther, would strike his harp, and above him the cock would crow, namely Fjalar, red and fair. To the gods would crow the cock Gollinkambi; and below the earth another cock would crow, rust-red, in the bowels of the goddess Hel. And then, as we read in the fate-laden verses, the hellhound Garm before its cave would howl, the fetters would burst and the wolf run free: “Much do I know,” states the prophetess of these lines, “and more can see of the weird of the gods”:

    Brother shall fight and fell each other,
    And sisters’ sons shall kinship stain;
    Hard is it on earth, with mighty whoredom;
    Ax-time, sword-time, shields are sundered,
    Wind-time, wolf-time, ere the world falls;
    Nor ever shall men each other spare.

    Yggdrasil shakes, and shiver on high
    The ancient limbs, and the giant is loose.

    How fare the gods? How fare the elves?
    All of Jotunheim groans, the gods are at council;
    Loud roar the dwarfs by the doors of stone,
    The masters of the rocks: Would you know yet more?

    Another apocalypse thus appears before us.

    From eastward came the giants faring in their ship Nagalfar, formed of fingernail parings, steered by the giant Hyrm with his shield held high. Alongside swims the Midgard Worm, and a giant eagle screams above. From the north there sails another ship, filled with the people of Hel, the shape-shifter Loki in control. And from the south appears a third ship, having Surt, the ruler of the fire-world at its helm, with a scourge of branches. Othin comes to engage the Wolf. The god Freyr seeks out Surt. Othin falls and his son Vithar avenges him, thrusting his sword to the Wolf’s heart. Thor confronts the Worm again. The bright snake gapes to heaven above and Thor in anger slays him, but turning walks nine paces and falls dead.

    The sun turns black, earth sinks in the sea,
    The hot stars down from heaven are whirled;
    Fierce flows the steam and the life-feeding flame,
    Till fire leaps high about heaven itself.

    But then, behold!

    Now do I see the earth anew
    Rise all green from the waves again;
    The cataracts fall, and the eagle flies,
    And fish he catches beneath the cliffs.

    Then fields unsowed bear ripened fruit,
    All ills grow better, and Baldr come back;
    Baldr and Hoth dwell in Hropt’s battle-hall,
    And the mighty gods: Would you know yet more?

    There is no need to argue. The entire system of images of the cosmic tree of life and runic wisdom, the four cosmic directions with their companies of powers, the great eon of 432,000 years terminating in a comic battle, dissolution and renewal, accords perfectly with the pattern with which we are by now familiar.

    Pages 485-487
    The pattern he is talking about goes something like..

    A decisive, enormous leap out of the confines of al local histories and landscapes occurred in Mesopotamia in the fourth millennium BC, during the period of the rise of the ziggurats, those storied temple towers, symbolic of the axis mundi, which are caricatured in the Bible as the Tower of Babel. The leap was from geography to the cosmos, beyond the moon, whereupon the primal, limited and limiting tribal manner of thought ( which the Hebrew prophets chose deliberately to retain ) was by the Gentile civilizations left behind. That was the period when writing was invented; also, mathematical measurement, and the wheel. The priestly watcher of the night skies at that time were the first in the world to recognize that there is a mathematical regularity in the celestial passages of the seven visible sphere--the sun, the moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn--along the heaven-way of the Zodiac. And with that, the idea dawned of a cosmic order, mathematically discoverable, which it should be the function of a governing priesthood to translate from its heavenly revelation into an order of civilized human life. The idea of the hieratic city-state made its appearance at that time, with kings and queens symbolically attired, enacting together with their courts an aristocratic mime in imitation of the celestial display, the king crowned as moon or the sun, his queen and the other members of their court as planetary presences. And those allegorical identifications were to such a degree taken seriously that when celestial signs that were interpreted as marking the end of an eon appeared, the kings and queens, together with their courts, were ceremoniously buried alive. Sir James G. Frazer, in The Golden Bough (12 volumes, 1907-1915), published evidence from many parts of the world of the practice of such rites. Buried courts have been unearthed from Sumer and Egypt to China.

    Some notion of the whole, profoundly conceived, macro-microcosmic import of such courtly mimes may be gained from a consideration of the mathematics of the mythological and actual cycles of the calendars to which such rites were attached. For example, in the Hundu sacred epics and puranas (popular tellings of ancient lore), the number of years reckoned to the present cycle of time, the so called Kali Yuga, is 432,000; the number reckoned to the “great cylcle” (mahayug) within which this yuga falls being 4,320,000. But then reading one day in the Icelandic Eddas, I discovered that in Othin’s (Wotan’s) warrior hall, Valholl, there were 540 doors, through each of which, on the “Day of the Wolf” (that is to say, at the end of the present cycle of time), there would pass 800 divine warriors to engage the antigods in a battle of mutual annihilation. 800 x 540 = 432,000. And so I asked myself how it might ever have come to pass that in tenth-to-thirteenth century Iceland the same number of years were reckoned to the present cycle of time as in India.

    In Babylon, I then recalled, there had been a Chaldean priest, Berossos, who, c. 280 BC, had rendered in Greek an account of the history and mythology of Babylonia, wherein it was told that between the time of the rise of the first city, Kish, and the coming of the Babylonian mythological flood (from which that of the Bible is taken), there elapsed 432,000 years, during which antediluvian era, ten kings reigned. Very long lives! Longer even that Methuselah’s (Genesis 5:27), which had been of only 969.

    So I turned to the Old Testament (Genesis 5) and counting the number of antediluvian patriarchs, Adam to Noah, discovered, of course, that they were ten. How many years? Adam was 130 years old when he begat Seth, who was 105 when he begat Enosh, and so on, to Noah, who was 600 years old when the flood came: to a grand total, from the first day of Adam’s creaton to the first drop of rain of Noah’s flood, of 1656 years. Any relation to 432,000? Julius Oppert, a distinguished Jewish Assyriologist of the last century, in 1977 presented before the Royal Society of Sciences in Getting a paper on “Dates in Genisis,” in which it was shown that in 1656 years there are 86,400 seven-day weeks. 86,400/2 = 43,200

    Insert Antediluvian Patriarch table here..

    And so it appears that in the Book of Genesis there are two contrary theologies represented in relation to the legend of the Deluge. One is the old tribal, popular tale of a willful personal creator-god, who saw that “the wickedness of man was great in the earth..and was sorry that he had made man on earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the ground, man and beast and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them’ (Genesis 6:5-7). The other idea, which is in fundamental contrast, is that of the disguised number, 86,400, which is a deeply hidden reference to the Gentile, Sumero-Babylonian, mathematical cosmology of the ever-revolving cycles of impersonal time, with whole universes and their populations coming into being, flowering for a season of 43,200 ( 432,000 or 4,320,000) years, dissolving back into the cosmic mother-sea to rest for an equal spell of years before returning, and so again, again, and again.

    The Inner Reaches of Outer Space: Metaphor as Myth and Religion, by Joseph Campbell, Pages 8-11
    I’ve thought about the above for a long time now, and I wonder just what some of ya'lls thoughts are on this matter..??

    Later,
    -Lyfing

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    Nerthus.

    The reason why I have been quiet is because I realized that I will have to dig up my old leather bound Edda from the shelf among other tomes, as it is obvious that this already has the makings of a very solid thread. Your'e making me work.

    I liked your bringing up the Boar's connetion to the Goddess. It also made me think about the raven, which is so associated with Odin. I think spending some time on Odin might be in order right about now, as the research on nerthus, which is my main Interest here is likely going to go a bit slow because of the paucity of texts on the subject.


    Quote Originally Posted by Lyfing View Post
    All I’ve done is go on about Nerthus. So, what of Odin..??

    I guess we can start with this quote from Occidental Mythology..



    And, then go with this..



    The pattern he is talking about goes something like..



    I’ve thought about the above for a long time now, and I wonder just what some of ya'lls thoughts are on this matter..??

    Later,
    -Lyfing

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    Most certainly you need to consider it from the point of the view of the Edda - that's what its all about! Endless posting about the Hindu cults is not that helpful here ; the thread topic is quite specific and lies within the Germanic domain. By the level of this detail, the thread has clearly past well beyond the stage of any IndoEuropean earliest formulations.... assuming that such things existed (- which nodoubt we should).

    Quote Originally Posted by Lyfing View Post

    Frigga, Odin’s wife, is Njord’s sister.

    .....The World War* was caused by Gullveig being kin to Gerd, Frey’s wife. Or so I've heard.


    There seems to have always been the notion of the Vanes being of the Matriarchy and the Ases of the Patriarchy, a war coming about, and a “meeting of the two”..?? Odin ended up with Mimir’s head, who’s well his eye is in (it). He must have found wisdom with the world.

    We know the patriarchs “conquered” the matriarchs, what is important to the understanding of our mythology is how the two mingled together, and what came out of them. In our case, the world is made from a giant, to war with them we go, and the world is made again..with Balder in it..??



    Later,
    -Lyfing
    I am impressed that things have followed through to a new topic of concern; there would seem to be some inner logic emerging from the historical circumstances of these divine beings. Perhaps it is indeed the Wyrd of the Gods themselves....


    I propose to start a new thread on the subject of the War in Heaven. --- er, that is what it was here . Calling it the *'War of the World' risks mixing it up with Ragnarok - the final conflict (?). It is a very difficult subject and demands its own space! Why did it happen probably sorts out sheep from goats --- am I afraid?


    The issue of Matriarchy and Patriarchy must surely be one aspect of this debate. As has already been said, Nerthus was the great mother earth of the north (Tacitus) (there were other I am sure).... but further south, at least in early (Roman) times, there were several gods of the sky - keeping a broadest definition. They were all warlords! Those were the times when the Germanic tribes began their first intraGermanic expansions - perhaps even prompted by the arrival of Roman legions in Gaul and on the Rhine - who knows. Cause and Effect. ( I recall it being said that the Viking explosion started when the Church moved northwards from Germania into (or towards) Scandinavia).

    Highlighted by the Roman .... were Mercury ( ? with later a spear!) - unto whom the greatest war sacrifice (!!?), Hercules - ending up with not with a club but a hammer - and thunder) - and Mars - with a Sword.... and an identity appearing to resemble, at first anyway, the old SkyLord Zeus...? father (z)Ju-pater [Ziu - Tiu ]... but maybe only in dim Roman eyes! The fate of Tiwaz was to greatly change after this time.


    And Nerthus acquires a son in the north - a true Ingvaeone, destined to rule in Sweden across the waters. (Yes, and sacred chariots). There, Ingvi-Frey rules (with his father, Njord)... the/a male form from Nerthus, linguists seem to say. And if by then, Nerthus is also known as 'Frikka' in the south , so surely then her son is also Fricco (=Frey ) in Sweden.


    Perhaps Matriarchy and Patriarchy is in some way a part of this gender transition too. Such were the times perhaps, increasingly unsettled maybe, waring and wide aroving. Then, even Freyja gets drawn in - surely a most unexpected event? :


    There were really many (other) possible reasons for the (? norse) War between the Gods (- hence a new thread)!

    The outcome was a truce... and a close working together of the Gods. Ultimately, for the North Germanics, they were one pantheon; I believe that Odin and Freyja were central to the whole thing.....there occurs a sharing at the highest level : Freyja become a waring Psychopomp, with rights to the battle fallen ( - and for the same ultimate reason as Odin ) -- whereas Odin becomes master of yet another kind/mode of magic - which , it appears from sources, was the original strength of Freyja all along --- and which perhaps had protected Gullveig, the golden, from the (initial) wrath of the Aesir .......


    .
    .
    ps. Rather trust Grimm - not Rydberg - still less Xian Saxo!

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    I have now opened The War in Heaven thread as promised.

    http://forums.skadi.net/showthread.php?p=906727

    Do try to keep responses within the Norse context . Do not overload the thread with material which is not appropriate to the thread topic.... that is the expectation .

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carl View Post
    One thing we do know is what came to England at the migration (450 CE) - that's 350 years after Tacitus writes so extensively about Nerthus in the North Sea/ Baltic context. The Gods recorded by then are mostly male... Woden and Thor especially. These went into the record. Change had therefore occured in the north!
    ...
    Much the same with the Goddesses....Frouwa, Fricke...Holde, Harke, Berhte, Gaue...Stempe... names in later German folklore ...entering into mediaeval thought.
    Quite interesting actually, that the woman's side of the religious life didn't seem to embed itself much on our island. Or am I wrong? I was struck the other day that I'm going to have to start rooting out old books on folklore written about the various regions of our country. Will I find anything from Germanic heathenry's female sphere on my own soil?

    Could we have an interesting bit of 'fact' here to chuck into the debate on the nature of Germanic colonisation, re. the gender proportions?

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    What is your fear - that it was largely an invasion of warriors - who then proceded to grab all the celtic women they could find?

    My understanding is once the bridge head had been established by invited hilfstruppen , they settled here and invited their folks from across the water. It seemed all very civilized at first.... until the numbers grew and they started thinking of more adventurous western agendas. How Gildas cursed the folly of that invitation!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ulf View Post
    One of the tribes Tacitus mentions:
    The Aviones or Auiones (*Awioniz meaning "island people") were one of the Nerthus-worshipping Germanic tribes mentioned by Tacitus in Germania, and this tribe probably lived on Öland (Kendrick 1930:71).

    Schütte remarks they are mentioned in Widsith as Eowan. It is not only the meaning Island dwellers that connects them to the island Öland (meaning "Island land"), but also the Old English name for the island which was Eowland (mentioned by Wulfstan of Hedeby), "the land of the Eowan".
    ....
    However, this is not the first mention of the Eowans. There is an even earlier mention of the tribe in the Anglo-Saxon poem Widsith:

    Oswine weold Eowum ond Ytum Gefwulf,
    Fin Folcwalding
    Fresna cynne.
    Sigehere lengest
    Sædenum weold,
    How utterly fascinatingly ?curious and coincidental? that our Cyning Penda's brother and co-ruler (till he was slain at Winwaed 644 AD) was likewise named Eowa... I can't believe I'd missed that one so far! And how deliciously appropriate that the only British-based Germanic dynasty to descend from identifiable Kingly figures in the Old Country should name a son thus. We can at least dredge something from the oblivion from which their father Pybba Creoding has fallen, and suppose that he valued his blood and had big plans for his boys...

    Nice also to see that the Eowan had taste in naming practices, making good use of the excellent Os- element.

    Quote Originally Posted by Carl View Post
    What is your fear - that it was largely an invasion of warriors - who then proceded to grab all the celtic women they could find?

    My understanding is once the bridge head had been established by invited hilfstruppen , they settled here and invited their folks from across the water. It seemed all very civilized at first.... until the numbers grew and they started thinking of more adventurous western agendas. How Gildas cursed the folly of that invitation!
    Reasonable, and how he fumed and gnashed his teeth, but I'm sure there would still have been a fair few Welsh women knocking around these settlements, in one role or another, and their religious attitudes (presuming they were less Romanised, and hadn't been too affected by official Christianity, which would have left ancient folk religion intact in its essentials for a good millenium or so) would have been in some competition with that of the incoming women. Don't forget the various Cerdics and Caedmons that were fathered in these times, by various Bebbas and whatnots. Or am I shamefully projecting my wicked suppressed fantasies onto our more righteous and upright forefathers in imagining such scenarios?

    "Dear darling old Hildeburh, welcome to Brettland! How I missed Thee! Oh, er, this is, er, Isolda, Thy new ... um, chambermaid!"

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    - ok some of that as well if you wish .... alongside the slaughter and drang nach west!

    But dont take it too far!! the AngloSaxons ruled the culture in the end (here) -- and promptly fell "under the wheel of Rome"! --- at least , in the south

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    Woden is an Iranic borrowing and Iranic influences, other than on the steppes, were most proximal to Pannonia. This is demonstrated by his Shapsegh cognate Wadana whose own name cannot be a borroring or source for the Germanic, but rather from a common Iranic source itself probably cognate with Vrddhana (Shiva/Rudra). A bit more controversial is the identification of Odin with the Heruli in a Scandinavian inscription. Scandinavia and the North Sea were furthest from the source of the borrowings. The Suevi were geograhically closer and Classical authors noted that the Suevic tribes, compared to other Germanic tribes, were very mobile and less reliant on agriculture. The only other acceptable etymology for his names, is Celtic rather than Germanic. Either way he was imported from another IE group.

    "Nerthus" is obviously an F3 deity. The Latin -us suffix is not accidental: it is the masculine (but neccessarily male) -r from Scandinavian. People chase Nerthus without seeing what stirs them in the face. It would be easier to reckon Snorri confused as to the sex of beardless Njord were it not for the late folklore being unambiguous about Njordr being male. (Although in the Orcadian folklore the sex of the Njordr and Skadi figures is definitively reversed.) In any case the sex of F3 deities is fluid and structurally it makes little difference to the pantheon: in Ingvaeonic Britain the Earth was regarded both male and female as is the case in other parts of Eurasia (ie. Japan, India). Besides polytheistic mythologies are rarely consistent as they lack a canon.

    Snorri was a late folklorist like Lonrot, not a primary source. Tacitus was at least as reliable although his information is more limited, also indirect, and filtered through the Interpretio Romana because of his cultural difference and geeographical distance (thiough less than you might think).

    Someone suggested that boar symbolism demonstrates a matriarchal origin of Freyr. Such misses the point as boars are animals in IE fertility symbolism and should not be read strictly as "matriarchal". Rather the femininity of the Vanir relates to their fertility function.

    In short; Nerthus/Njordr belong to the Baltic and nearby whilst Woden must have come from the east arriving further south.

    The attitudes people have to these two gods are interesting because in one case people refuse to accept the god's foreign origins (repeating an impossible derivation from wut) and in the other people go round in circles without addressing the obvious: Tacitus was extremely well informed about the northern Nerthus yet he nonetheless chose the -us suffix despite, not because of, Interpretio Romana implying an attempted translation from the original -r. I would like to see either of these points argued against, properly. The latter case demonstrates that when people see a confusion they dismiss whatever is the most obvious.

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    Interesting, I disagree, but the thought chains have the quality of creativity...

    Njordr being male?

    I do not believe that the gods could care less about humans views and standards on sexuality or forced polarity there of. After all, they are archetypes and archetypes are not nescessarily bound by human views nor bounds.

    Shiva have six arms, not two, and Horus have beak, not nose, and what Njord hides under the gown... who knows? That also high angels and spirits may be both sexes, or none... points to even less understandable ways of gods

    For all we know, Njord is multisexual, there are handsfuls of samples in myths and sagas... Njord is also a god of the sea, and the oceans flows over of feminine qualities, receptive and all embracing... Endless...

    However I have never met Njord personally else than as represented by Neptun under overseas Equatorial Baptism when crossing the Atlantic from Africa to South-America.
    Last edited by Hoarsewhisper; Monday, March 20th, 2017 at 11:00 PM. Reason: waves...
    .

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