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Thread: The Germanic Sword In The Tree: Parallel Development Or Diffusion?

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    The Germanic Sword In The Tree: Parallel Development Or Diffusion?

    Littleton, Scott C. & Malcor, Linda A.

    The Heroic Age, Issue 11 (May 2008)

    Abstract

    In this paper we consider whether the Norse story of the “Sword in the Branstock” and the Arthurian tale of the “Sword in the Stone” may represent two variants of a tale about a celestial event that occurred 2160 B.C.E.

    Scholars have long pointed to the Arthurian tale of the “Sword in the Stone” and the Norse story of the “Sword in the Branstock” as examples of the parallel development of an Indo-European myth that became part of an epic tradition in the Celtic and Germanic cultures (e.g., Bruce 1958, 1:145). In this paper we reexamine these two tales and consider whether they may represent two variants of a story that was born as the result of a celestial event that was viewed from somewhere near the northern shore of the Black Sea in 2160 B.C.E. (Barber and Barber 2004, 210).

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    'Bran' is a Celtic name, not coincidentally I presume. I don't want to spoil the fun, but why wouldn't the Norse have picked up this story-element on their expeditions and conquests in Britain and Ireland?

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    Pulling out father's sword, timeless myth...

    Arthur gets Pendragon sword out of stone/anvil.
    Siegmund gets Wotan sword out of tree.
    Siegfried reforges Siegmund sword.

    Sword & stone are in Britain/Britanny as weel as in Ireland mytho:
    Sword of Nuadu "Silver Hand" & Stone of Fal/Tara
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Treasures

    All this are always the 2 same symbols:
    1) Weapon stands for military power & technology
    2) Earth symbol (Stone or Tree) for the "Vaterland" mainly the rock for celts who settled less in the woods than german (for whose the "world" is Yggdrasil)

    The legitimate ruler,king of whatever recover the military force once lead who he claim to be his ancestor (*) of his "Vaterland" by symbolicaly recovering/reforging the ancestor weapon out of a piece of this "Vaterland"

    (*) note that for people nearby, it was not evident that Siegmund, Siegfried, Arthur were out of Wotan, Siegmund or Pendragon brood.


    After the stone age, the first weapons of quality (brass then steel) were very rare, valuable, difficult to made.
    Anybody could melt metal and hammer it in a shape bar, but how many of them did not break a the 1st battle ?
    If not taken, the sword would be left in a tomb (this mean is a stone tumulus...) or forgotten in a wood where battle took place. Only a daring heroe would get it back, building the legend by becoming the tribe new ruler.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hemerik View Post
    'Bran' is a Celtic name, not coincidentally I presume. I don't want to spoil the fun, but why wouldn't the Norse have picked up this story-element on their expeditions and conquests in Britain and Ireland?
    My first impression was that Branstock is (the Englished? version of) a compound of ON brandr 'sword' and ON stokkr 'trunk'. It's very easy to lose a /d/ between an /n/ and an /s/.

    But then I took a look at the Old Norse text and read the original name was Barnstokkr, which is understandably explained as 'child-trunk'. However, I think that might very well be a distortion of an original word *Brandstokkr/*Branstokkr, so that my explanation above still holds.

    (I have only scanned the text Wurfaxt supplied, by the way.)

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    Hi,

    Joseph Campbell in his Occidental Mythology has maybe something of interest to say about this..

    The earliest matrix of the Celtic culture...The first was characterized at the outset by a gradual introduction of iron tools among bronze, fashioned by a class of itinerant smiths, who in later mythic lore appear as dangerous wizards--for instance, in the German legend of Weyland the Smith. The Arthurian theme of the sword drawn from the stone suggests the sense of magic inspired by their art of producing iron from its ore. Professor Mircea Eliade, in a fascinating study of the rites and myths of the Iron Age, has shown that a leading idea of this mythology was of the stone as a mother rock and the iron, the iron weapon, as her child, brought forth by the obstetric art of the forge. Compare the savior Mithra born from a rock with a sword in his hand.

    ...

    We may surmise, then, that the iron implements found among the earliest Hallstatt remains (c.900 B.C.) must represent an entry into Europe of the ritual lore of drawing swords from stones, both in the smithy of the soul and in the fires of the forge.

    Pages 291-292
    Later,
    -Lyfing

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