The Proto-Germanic Pantheon

‘Norse Gods’ and ‘Germanic Gods’ often seems to be used interchangeable – I have to admit even I did it before I started to research the difference. I have found that there are very few sources when it comes to continental germanic religion, and even less so written in English.

We all know the Edda(s) and stories of Richard Wagner, who after all was doing what he did in Germany and who used the same Gods as Snorri. Maybe that’s where the interchangeability started? I wouldn’t know but one has to note that Wagner wrote his plays and music around 1840, pretty late, an probably used the same sources we did today. (E.g. Snorri, 12th century, and Gesta Danorum, 11th century.)

But before Odin even entered this pantheon there was an entire different set of Gods ruling the skies and earth in Germany. Those were written in details about by:

The first main God was Tiwaz-Ingwaz, also called Tiwaz-Istwaz or Tiwaz-Irmin (variation of different tribes). He was a God of sky, peace and the sun. As his name indicated his symbol was the Irminsul. Alas, due to the attribute ‘Tiwaz’, meaning ‘the high one’, somebody identified him with the norse ‘Tyr’ and said he was a god of war. He wasn’t, not in general – although he did what he had to to protect his people. Other people identified Ingwaz with the norse Frey, and I guess he was a good mix between those two.

Ingwaz was called the allfather and had been given human sacrificies. He was worshipped in woods and grooves, around 100 AD. Often, an eagle figure was set on his pillar, facing east where the sun would rise.  Another one of his symbols was a wheel, also hinting at the sun.


Irminsul, pillar of Irmin, in front of a sun wheel and yet another wheel engraved at it’s down end.

He had a wife, the allmother. The name used the most was Frija – meaning woman, loved one. She, also, had connections to the sun, but to it’s softer side of ‘giving life’ and ‘abundance’, thus also referring to the earth and therefor underworld. Widespread names of her were ‘Erce’ (Earth), ‘Nerd’ (lat. Nerthus), ‘Tanfana’ (abundance, giver of food) and Austro (‘of the morning’).

Both gods had a wagon cult, fire cult and were connected to the yearly seasons and were, even if it sounds cliché for todays times, the Divine Pair that married each year to fructify the soil. Most likely the were called Divine Twins, which doesn’t signal relatedness but rather hints to their origin as two sides of a dema/hybrid entity. (Though I guess by 100 AD this was already forgotten and the gods had become more individual each.)

Also interesting at this point is the third main god, proto-germanic Donraz, later Donar, Thor and, for the celtic folks, Dor. He represents divine forces as well as human behaviour and was, because of the latter, the god closest to the ‘common people’. He also makes the earth fruitful, protects the family and had a fire cult, mostly in the private homes. The hearth was his stone that he threw down from heaven to the earth, and he was called for at weddings.

Once again I want to call out the similarities between these gods and the Baltic Gods Dievas, Saule and Perkunas. They practically are the same (especially ‘Dievas’ and ‘Tiwaz’ are identical in etymology), and assuming that the Proto-Germanics came from the East (as a tribe of the Indo-Europeans) I think we can learn much about their religion by comparing those pantheons. I for one was stunned when I discovered it. Not only that but the reconstructed religion of the Proto-Indo-European shows the same similarities.

From that I conclude (for me privatly, because who can ever know for real?) that the more war-like gods and religion added to it later, before or with the arrival of the Mongols and Huns. But my research isn’t done, so who knows what else I’ll discover. 🙂

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God is a Circle

Picking up where I left things in my latest article (february). This is as far as my research goes and I feel like there is nothing more to discover in written history. From there on it’s all speculation, mixing stuff and UPG. I’m okay with that, although it does make it harder to find books and stuff.

Well, I made the connection between what we know about the Vanir, Baltic religion and PIE-religion. I can’t say that I’m reconstructing, I’m no scholar/expert. So I guess I’m (re?) building a pantheon?

The sun is the center of my worship, as it was the center of most old religions. And the sun travels in a circle. It has four phases, expressing themselves in a day (morning, noon, afternoon, night) and a year with it’s seasons. I do believe each of those phases has a God and Goddess ‘assigned’ to it.

For example, there are the two deities Morning Star and Evening Star, in Baltic Auzrine and Vakaryne, in German Ostara and Westara. (I am very much in love with Westara, also called Westia/Westya, Goddess of autumn, home & hearth, fire, magic and twilight! I feel that she is the goddess that has always been there with me but whose name I didn’t knew. I just called her ‘the fall goddess’.)

westara.jpg

The noon is associated with the Sun Goddess herself (Saula, Freia) and the night with a dark Goddess – but make no mistake, they are all connected and basically one. Like the Hindu-Gods that are all aspect of only one divine source. Again, this is my view, and I don’t claime that any old folks have seen it that way. They might have, or they didn’t.

The same goes for the male Gods associated with the phases, e.g. Balder is the Morning Star, and Weland (Loki) the Evening Star. And the fifth element are simply God & Goddess (which I mostly call Freia & Ingvi).

Those four phases, seasons or directions lie on a circle, the Wheel of Life. This is my focus, this is what I discovered works for me. Honestly, I felt very weird with that so I didn’t write about it until now. I only do because recently I read an article about the ancient native-american concept of the Medicine Wheel – and had a pretty great aha-effect! Sure, there was no mention of Gods connected to the directions but in general they feel that this Wheel is life, god, the universe.

But now I’m thinking – is this still Vanatru? Can I honestly still call myself that? I have written a mythology that is unlike the stories known, but then again radiats with all the old tales. I am very sure about this concept – but not about what to call myself. Please, give me your opinion.

About Thor’s hammer

That’s right. ‘A female view on Vanatru’ starts with the topic of a male Aesir God – because here’s the thing. I like men, I adore them and feel they have a lot to bring to this world. I want to make clear that I am supporting equal rights for all genders but also want them to live out all the unique details they carry.

That being said, I think Thor is Vanic, anyway. He is riding a wagon, is called a God of fertility and weather and his hammer is a tool for sanctifying marriages. It was laid onto the lap of the woman to guarantuee many offspring, and wearing Mjöllnir as jewelry was popular among women. (And still is – I am wearing it right now. 😉 )

thors-hammer

Also, he is said to be married to the Goddess of corn and harvest, Sif. Sif’s name means ‘bride, family’ so it might be a title. She has long golden hair and can take the form of a swan – all of which links her to the Great Lady Freia. Personally, I think she is Freia.

I have so much to say about Thor, Sif, Freia, Loki (yes, that’s right, him too), Ingvi and all the other Gods! I have this blog now and I just can’t wait to spread my wild theories. 😀

Oh, and happy first Advent – only four weeks and a few days now until the Sun get’s reborn. I am taking up my Yule decorations today. And yes, I stick to the ‘Advent stuff’ because I borrow shamelessly from Christianity (hey, they have it coming) and other religions, whatever floats my boat. I warned you.

Hope to see you soon!